The US Press is spreading a false narrative of the events in Venezuela and the rise of tension between Washington and Teheran. Given the contradictory declarations of both sides, it is almost impossible to discern the truth. After having checked the facts, we need to deepen our analysis and take into account the opposition between the different political currents in these countries.
Covert intelligence groups sowing seeds of destabilization overseas, funding front groups to promote ‘democracy’, engaging in economic warfare, media propaganda campaigns – the playbook is quite familiar to those who know the dark art of unilateral empire building. For the last two decades Neoconservatives and the State Department have, with varying degrees of success, mercilessly pursued a foreign policy of regime change in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Ukraine and Iran (among others).
Many will be surprised to learn that Venezuela has been on the dubious list of sovereign nation states targeted by Washington for toppling since 1998.(1)
While this article was written prior to President Moreno’s December 2018 trip to the PRC (securing a new $900 million loan), you may find this article a useful sector-by-sector analysis of the relationship, with a comparison to China’s relationship with Venezuela and Bolivia, as well as discussion of President Moreno’s attempt to secure more equitable contract terms for his country.
The United States has long been a target of hybrid warfare by states seeking to disrupt or influence U.S. decision-making. Hostile activities can be categorized under four paradigms: nullification of political actors – creating discord within a constituency so that it cannot effectively unify around a policy, or undercutting the credibility of a prominent policymaker who champions unwanted outcomes; assistance to anti-government movements – identifying elements in society which are willing to attack (rather than participate in) the policymaking process with vitriol or violence; fomenting distrust of the U.S. policymaking process, in order to sap its legitimacy; and appearing to fill needs / wants that the U.S. government cannot and thereby supplanting the U.S. government in a specific area. (Of course the countries that have been most active in this area – Cuba and Venezuela – have been unable to sustain their own states.)
The head of the regional bloc announced the special committee will meet Monday to examine U.S. intervention in Venezuela.
The Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Ernesto Samper announced that a special a committee will convene next Monday in Montevideo, Uruguay to discuss U.S. destabilization efforts in Venezuela.
Although these alliances will primarily be closer to home, most of Latin America is a naturally ally not only because of its increasing trade and commercial relations with China, but because of its common interest in an international political order that favors respect for national sovereignty and independence over unilateral intervention and military force.
In the last week or so much of the international business press has been focused on the problems of financial stability in developing countries, some of whom have recently become more vulnerable to capital outflows.
The main cause is that investors are trying to get the jump on possible moves by the U.S. Federal Reserve to allow U.S. interest rates to rise, which will draw capital from developing countries and cause their borrowing costs to rise.
Argentina has gotten some of this attention, as it allowed the peso to fall by 15 percent in one day and increased some access for Argentines to dollars on the official market.
Venezuela is not so much affected by these market developments, but is always negatively portrayed in the international media, and more so in the last year since its exchange rate system problems have caused its inflation to rise to an annual rate of 56 percent over the past year.
The two countries face different sets of problems, but they will both likely have to stabilize their exchange rates in order to resolve them.
This is where international help can make a big difference, and there is one country that has both the ability to help and a compelling interest in doing so: China.
China has already helped Venezuela with tens of billions of dollars of loans – much of which has already been repaid – as well as investment.
It has also provided significant lending and investment in Ecuador, Cuba, Brazil, and other countries. But there is more that they could do at this moment.
I am writing to share with you my new article, “Russia, Iran and China in Latin America,” just published by the American Foreign Policy Committee in their e-journal “Defense Dossier.” The work comparatively examines the activities of the three extra-regional actors in Latin America and the Caribbean, including ways in which commercial and governmental initiatives by each compliment (and occasionally conflict or compete with) each other. I emphasize that each actor presents a different type of challenge to US interests in the region, on a different time-scale.
Given the amount of confusion that has existed about the role of external actors in Venezuela, the article seeks to present the key facts and data regarding Chinese loans, oil investment and other support to the Venezuelan petroleum sector, in the context of Indian and Russian activities in the sector as well. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to a number of experts in the Venezuelan petroleum, financial, and other sectors who shared their knowledge and dedicated the time so that I could get the story right.
Dr. Evan Ellis is a professor of national security studies, modeling, gaming and simulation with the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at the National Defense University, with a research focus on Latin America’s relationships with external actors, including China, Russia and Iran, as well as work on populism in the Andes, transnational criminal organizations and gangs in Mexico and Central America, energy security, and non-traditional national security topics. Dr. Ellis has published over 50 works, including the 2009 book China in Latin America: The Whats and Wherefores, as well as articles in national security, finance, and technical journals.
The America media, like a long chain of administrations, never really seems to understand the South American psyché, in all of its national complexity, nor what is going on there. So there is very little coverage or attention, and what there is trades in stereotypes and shallow commentary. In contrast I think the nations of our Southern Hemisphere, are undergoing an extraordinary transition, which constitutes one of the most interesting geopolitical developments going on. As you read this keep in mind Uruguay’s recent legalization of marijuana.