By Lee Camp
There are three things I know for sure in this fanciful, sometimes inglorious experience we call life:
- You will never have a safety pin when you need one, and you will have thousands when you don’t need one.
- Wild animals are breathtakingly majestic until they’re crawling up your pant leg.
- A U.S. presidential administration will never admit that it invaded another country or backed a coup attempt in order to essentially steal the natural resources (oil) of said country.
This is why it was so very shocking last week when members of the Trump administration admitted they were backing a coup attempt in order to essentially steal the natural resources (oil) of another country.
That country is Venezuela. I’ll get back to this in a moment.
Let’s take a second to go over the big three. There are three things that seem to provoke the ornery United States into overthrowing or bringing down a foreign government, no matter how many innocent civilians may die in the process. (If enough die, the perpetrators often get nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.) If your country has one of these things, the U.S. might screw with you. If your country has two of these things, the U.S. will definitely screw with you. If your country has three of these things, then look behind you, because the U.S. is currently screwing you:
1. Being socialist.
Pretty self-explanatory. If you don’t have the same economic system as we do, we treat it like you have candy and we’re not allowed to have any, so we slip razor blades in yours and tell everyone your candy kills people.
2. Dropping the U.S. dollar.
Iraq dropped the dollar. We invaded.
Syria dropped the dollar. We invaded.
Iran dropped the dollar. We want to invade.
Libya dropped the dollar. We invaded.
Pakistan dropped the dollar in trade with China, and the following day the U.S. added them to the list of countries violating religious freedom. (I guess you could argue they did indeed violate our religion: The dollar.)
Basically, we do NOT take kindly to countries dropping the dollar.
In unrelated news, Venezuela dropped the dollar.
3. Having oil or other natural resources the U.S. needs.
In case you were curious, Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the known world. (But we haven’t checked northern Wyoming yet, because it’s a long, cold drive with nary a 7-11.)
So these are the three ACTUAL reasons the U.S. has created an attempted coup in Venezuela over the past several weeks. And right now, you are falling into one of two categories. Either you’re saying to yourself, “Of course those are the reasons. Those are the only reasons the U.S. ever tries to bring down governments.” OR you still have some strange, deep-rooted faith in our Pepsi-and-pharmaceutical-owned media outlets, and therefore you’re thinking, “That’s not true. The U.S. supports the opposition in Venezuela because we want to help those poor starving people.” But if that were accurate, we would be tripping over ourselves to help starving and sick people around the world. Instead we (oddly) only seek to help them when they have oil under their feet. And in fact, data has proven this true. A study a few years ago from the Universities of Portsmouth, Warwick and Essex found that foreign intervention in civil conflicts is 100 times more likely if the country has a great deal of oil, versus none.
So who is feeding the average American the idea that our involvement in Venezuela is about helping people? Only EVERY mainstream media channel in America—from MSNBC to Fox News to NPR to Bill fuckin’ Maher. It’s truly mind-numbing to watch so-called “liberals” march in lockstep with the likes of John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Donald Trump and every neocon not currently in a coma.
These outlets froth at the mouth while presenting segments explaining that the Venezuelan people are starving, but they also purposefully avoid mentioning that a lot of Venezuela’s hardships are due to U.S. sanctions. This isn’t to say Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, has done an awesome job. But whether he has or not, saying we must sanction them to help them is like if somebody fell through a plate glass window and you said, “Let’s help him! Let’s start cutting the glass shards out of his skin with this rusty flathead screwdriver I found in an abandoned mine! Then we’ll pour Mountain Dew and sewage water in the wounds to help them heal!”
But that’s what our sanctions are designed to do. They’re devised from day one to hurt poor and average people the most, in order to make them angry enough to rebel. Over a year ago, when Rex Tillerson was secretary of state, he publicly said we could tell our sanctions on North Korea were working great because poor fishermen were washing up on the beaches starved to death. (One is perplexed by how difficult it is at times to tell the difference between “helping other countries” and mass murder.)
Sanctions are not smart bombs. They destroy everybody, except the rich—who have enough money to weather the sanctions. Come to think of it, sanctions are kind of like smart bombs. We’re told they’re only going to hit the bad guys, but in fact “smart bombs” kill all kinds of innocent civilians, just like sanctions do.
Furthermore, the U.S. “humanitarian aid” that we claim to be sending is not what it seems. Even NPR took a break from its traditional role as State Department stenographer-in-training to reveal that the “humanitarian aid” is actually meant to create regime change. And McClatchy last week uncovered that the North Carolina-based private freight company 21 Air LLC has made 40 secretive flights to Venezuela from the U.S. in the past month, and the Venezuelan government claimed the flights were filled to the brim with assault weapons and ammunition destined for opposition forces. (Apparently we thought the Venezuelans were going to cook up a fresh pot of bullet stew to ease their hunger pains.) To make matters worse, two executives at the company have ties to an air cargo company that helped the CIA “rendition” supposed terrorists to black sites for “interrogation” (read: torture).
The next piece of propaganda lovingly pedestalled by our mainstream media robot-heads is simply calling Juan Guaidó the “interim president” without mentioning that he was not elected to that position and only 30 out of 200 nations recognize him as such. He just declared himself president. Last I checked, that’s not really how governments work. But if it is—OK, I hereby declare myself governor of … let’s say, Idaho. No one will really notice. I’m pretty sure the current governor is a hedgehog in a bow tie.
There are many other things CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and all the rest don’t want you to know about Juan Guaidó. For example, until he named himselfpresident, 81 percent of Venezuelans didn’t even know who he was, according to a poll conducted by the Venezuela-based firm Hinterlaces. And he only won his own assembly seat with 26% of the vote. In order to win elections in any country, you often need more than 30 percent of the people to have heard of you. Pauly Shore has more name recognition among Venezuelans than Juan Guaidó.
On top of that, Guaidó went to George Washington University. As the Grayzone Project reported, “[In 2007] He moved to Washington, D.C., to enroll in the Governance and Political Management Program at George Washington under the tutelage of Venezuelan economist Luis Enrique Berrizbeitia, one of the top Latin American neoliberal economists. Berrizbeitia is a former executive director of the International Monetary Fund. …”
Guaidó went to GW, trained under Mr. IMF, and then we declared him president of Venezuela. That’s like studying at the WWE, training under Henry Kissinger, and then the U.S. declares you the King of Japan.
But it doesn’t stop there, according to the Grayzone Project:
“Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization.”
Furthermore, Juan Guaidó has already said he wants to sell Venezuela’s oil to foreign companies and let the IMF back in, which will drown the country in debt.
So he’s an American regime-change pawn who was groomed by the IMF to take over Venezuela and give away their natural resources. What a catch. … But if this is what the Venezuelan people really want, then we should respect their wishes. The corporate media tells us this is what the people want, right?
Except that it’s not.
“According to a study conducted in early January 2019 … 86 percent of Venezuelans would disagree with international military intervention,” Grayzone’s Ben Norton reported last month. “And 81 percent oppose the US sanctions that have gravely hurt the nation’s economy.”
So, based on the Hinterlaces poll, most Venezuelans didn’t know Guaidó until recently. Most Venezuelans still support Maduro even if they believe corruption in the government has increased (whether you personally like Maduro or not doesn’t matter), and most Venezuelans don’t want military intervention or U.S. sanctions. Yet CNN and NPR and Fox News and the BBC and every other corporate outlet will have you thinking everyone is starving to death, on their knees begging for America’s democracy bombs to rain down like dollar bills at a strip club.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe those people really need our help, and U.S. intervention will work out great—exactly like it did in Syria,
and Fraggle Rock,
and those tree forts where the EWOKS LIVED!
Now that we have a general understanding of the situation (and why Anderson Cooper is not keen to remind viewers what happened with Fraggle Rock in the early ’90s), let’s get back to the question of oil.
When I first started writing this, I didn’t have proof the American government wanted Venezuela’s oil; it was just a hunch. Kinda like if you put a balloon in a room with a porcupine, you have a hunch he’ll pop the balloon. But I didn’t have a quote from a top Trump administration official saying, “We’d like to take their oil.”
Then national security adviser and Mustache of Doom John Bolton said, “hold my beer.” While on Fox News he stated clearly, “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”
That’s Beltway Speak for “We want their oil.”
For 20 years we’ve been trying to destroy Venezuela, and our government always gives the standard line: “We want to help the people. We care about their democracy. They have a lot of inflation, and that’s why we need to drop our freedom bombs on their heads.” They’ve trotted out that bullshit brigade under Bush, Obama and now Trump. The officials never just say, “Yeah, there’s like, tons of oil there, and we want it.”
Yet, here it is. The disguise of neoliberal world domination has come off. (Ironically, the fake mustache was yanked off to reveal a much larger mustache.)
Also, it’s amazing how monotone and matter-of-fact Bolton is as he speaks. A U.S.-backed coup often ends in terrible violence with tens of thousands of innocent people killed. It’s truly heartbreaking, no matter which side you support. Sometimes it ends up with a brutal military junta taking control. Yet, here is John Bolton discussing it the same way he would analyze whether to have chocolate fudge ice cream or apple pie for dessert. (“Hmmm, possible death of a hundred thousand people? That sounds good—I’ll have that.”)
This is all the more horrifying because these policies are decided by unelected maniacs like Elliot Abrams, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton. Trump just named Abrams special envoy to Venezuela despite the fact the guy has a resume that would make Josef Mengele blush. And what’s even more jaw-dropping is watching the liberati like Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher and nearly every democrat in Congress get in line to support the talking points of right-wing warlords (the belligerati) like Bolton, Abrams, Pompeo, Trump, Hannity and nearly every Republican in Congress. The mountains of propaganda put forward make it hard to breathe (the air is thinner up here).
Worse yet—even the Wall Street Journal stated the U.S. push to oust Maduro is just the first shot in the oligarchy’s plan to reshape Latin America. It turns out sociopathy is addictive. Our American empire knows no bounds to its nation-building (after nation-destroying).
The Venezuelan people deserve self-determination, no matter how you feel about the current government. The absolute last thing they need is to be turned into a neocon / neoliberal parking lot in which America rips all their resources out from under them while calling it “freedom.” Luckily, there are already many signs this U.S.-created attempted coup is failing.
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This column is based on a monologue Lee Camp wrote and performed on his TV show, “Redacted Tonight.”