Biden’s administration still supports the corrupt Guaido as the president of Venezuela, because “democracy abroad” is nothing more than a unity-building exercise in imperialism.
On January 23, 2019, Juan Guaido, a little-known political figure on the global stage, proclaimed himself the acting president of Venezuela against Nicolas Maduro, the nation’s democratically-elected leader. Guaido, who had stated he’d been looking to challenge Maduro’s spot for a while, claimed that he was freeing Venezuela from the long dictatorial grip of socialism. The Trump administration immediately backed him in this declaration. Guaido was touted by Washington and US media channels as the rightful leader, a leader who would restore democracy to a poor, brutalized country.
At the time, Venezuela was under harsh sanctions. In May of 2017, the US targeted their supreme court. And in August of that year, they struck the country’s oil, which the government relies on to bolster their burgeoning economy and help build much-needed public infrastructure. Throughout all this, Maduro was popular and celebrated among the country’s poor. ”The only thing [the opposition] have brought to the people of Venezuela,” Maduro has said, “is a threat to peace, sovereignty, criminal sanctions against the people’s health, against the people’s economy.” But, for some reason, none of this was on the US radar in terms of deciding the need for anointing Guaido as the interim leader.
It didn’t matter, of course, that right before this absurd assumption of power, Guaido had been part of the far-right opposition party who had long been looking to destabilize Venezuela, engaging in plot after plot after plot over the course of fifteen years. It didn’t matter that, in 2005, Guaido was one of five “student leaders” transported to Serbia on behalf of the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a group funded by the CIA arm for regime change, the National Endowment for Democracy, to begin training for insurgency.
It didn’t matter that he was part of Generation 2007—a group of students who took it upon themselves to undermine Hugo Chavez’s referendum that was supposed to “set the legal framework for the political and social reorganization of the country, giving direct power to organized communities as a prerequisite for the development of a new economic system”—nor did it matter that two years later, these same people, including Guaido, would mobilize against the arrest of a member of a far-right ally group by taking to the streets and dropping their pants to mock guerilla groups.
There was no concern for when Guaido headed Popular Will, an opposition party that planned to exploit one of Venezuela’s worst drought periods in order to create further trouble for the president and drive mistrust among the poor, or when Guaido and his “activist” friends planned to sow discord among the public with street violence. It certainly didn’t raise any eyebrows in the Trump administration that the interim president they were so staunchly supporting had taken part in killing 43 people, most of them civilians, when he and his allies set up fortresses known as guarimbas in 2014.
Absolutely none of this was cause for concern among US leaders then, and it would seem that the same is true for US leaders now.
Of course, that would require believing that “then” and “now,” Republican and Democrat, has absolutely anything to do with the question of fighting imperialism.
So here we are, with Joe Biden and his skullet; the segregationist who went to the mat for the Iraq War, like a Crypt Keeper Jesse Ventura. The great white hope of American democracy—as rotted, decrepit, starved of meaning, and useless as the lie he’s peddling.
But beyond the goofy bullshit, there is always something more insidious. Because now Joe Biden—who hides his racism with the sob story of a stutter, who disguises his sexual abuse scandals with folksy malarkey—is the vision of American Hope. But here, hope means complacency. It means settling. It means a rosier version of imperialism.
Joe Biden will supposedly right all of Trump’s wrongs and reverse the dying of liberty’s light, and restore the reputation of this country.
Yet as much as the man who once said he didn’t want his children living in a ‘racial jungle’ has hemmed and hawed and equivocated about the sovereignty of the USian people and the danger of Russian interference, he and his ilk still recognized Guaido as the president of Venezuela.
Within his first week, Biden also confirmed that he would not be letting up on sanctions, which have continued to devastate the country and have resulted in the deaths of about 40,000 people.
But this is hardly a surprising turn of events. Because this is what ‘restoring democracy’ means. It’s what it has always meant. Both at home and abroad, ‘democracy’ is a front, a nebulous term used to take the global violence this country is responsible for and twist it into something bigger and more noble than the simple cruelty it is. It’s a unity-building exercise in imperialism. US intervention is a specter that looms over pretty much every inch of the globe, and Biden is no stranger to it. He has a long history with Central America in particular, where he either sat idly or endorsed the wanton violence of previous administrations: death squads, the crude and sadistic extraction of resources, the vampiric hypocrisy of his impact on Colombia—where he passed the corpses of civilians off as a dissidents in order to make the imperialist “war on drugs” look more successful than it was. That this grotesque conglomeration of murder and lies helped bolster the legitimacy of mining operations that would ultimately benefit the US and the expanding neoliberal government digging its talons into that so-valuable Colombian soil was probably just a coincidence.
A blood-soaked coincidence.
It’s probably another coincidence that his pick for Director of National Intelligence is Avril Haines, best known for covering up the US torture program and running interference for Obama’s drone program. Open supporter of torture apologist Gina Haspel (Trump’s CIA Director from 2018 to 2021, who notoriously ran a black site prison in Thailand and encouraged the destruction of tapes depicting “enhanced interrogation techniques”), Haines was described by Salon as an “affable assassin” and “the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
As a ghoulish sycophant and garish servant of the most bloodthirsty and nakedly cruel facets of the US ‘intelligence’ apparatus, Haines serves as one of the many symbols of what the Biden administration is actually looking to accomplish, all bullshit about the ‘most progressive administration in history’ aside.
US liberty means the capacity to trample other countries and peoples it deems lesser while they’re already down. Extortion and exploitation are this country’s greatest exports, and any “freedoms” USians enjoy would not be possible without these tactics. Whether it’s smiling in people’s faces and telling them we’ve now defeated fascism while they lie about stimulus checks and perform Kente cloth solidarity with Black people, or getting to decide who controls a country without any concern for the violence their pick might’ve wrought on the most vulnerable, the US will sell you the democracy it wants you to believe in.
So believe. Because, as Venezuela knows, both Democrats and Republicans are ready to show you what happens when you don’t.
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