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Dublin: 14 °C Saturday 20 April, 2019
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Opinion: Ireland is wrong about Venezuela - US regime change never brings improvement

‘An impressive spin campaign has been waged to create an illusion that all ‘civilised nations’ support regime change in Venezuela – similar to the ‘grand alliance’ which invaded Iraq’, writes Eilis Ryan.

Éilis Ryan Dublin city councillor, Workers’ Party

EARLIER THIS WEEK, our Fine Gael Minister for Foreign Affairs formally granted Irish support to the US-led attempted coup which has plunged Latin America into dangerous insecurity. The move is historic – but not in a good sense.

For decades now, successive governments under Fianna Fáil, Labour, Fine Gael and the Greens have allowed the use of Shannon Airport by the US military. This has already made a mockery of Ireland’s ‘neutrality’ – as well as enabling vast numbers of civilian deaths in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and beyond.

Nonetheless, a cover of ‘plausible deniability’ was at least maintained by each government. For PR reasons, if nothing else, it was deemed necessary to maintain a facade of neutrality.

By swinging in behind Trump’s efforts to overthrow the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, Coveney has discarded even this last facade. An Irish foreign minister has now set a dangerous precedent by backing an aggressor – the United States – as it attempts to remove the legitimate, democratic government of another country.

Ireland, one of only two western European nations to remain outside NATO (the US-led military alliance), has now firmly positioned itself on the side of the United States.

Human Rights 

The United States National Security Advisor, John Bolton, has made clear in the media that a primary factor driving the United States efforts to overthrow Nicolás Maduro is the potential for United States oil companies to profit from Venezuela’s oil reserves.

This is not something the US has tried to hide. But naturally, it would be unseemly for Simon Coveney to align himself so explicitly to US economic self-interest.

Instead, a convoluted story of the need to protect ‘human rights’ in Venezuela had to be concocted. A supposedly brutal dictator (Maduro, and before him Hugo Chavez) was refusing to yield power to a supposed people’s hero (Juan Guiado).

The United States and its allies were sweeping to the rescue of the Venezuelan people, and of course, Ireland must take the ‘right side’.

This version of events not only lacks any basis in reality; it also bears a remarkable similarity to the justification for every other instance where the United States wanted to depose a foreign government.

The elections which returned the leftist Sandinistas to power in 1984 in Nicaragua are a particularly apt case. Reagan’s government encouraged the opposition not to take part in these elections, to remove their legitimacy.

When the Sandinistas were returned to power, the United States government denounced the elections – in spite of numerous other bodies recognising them as fair – and imposed a series of onerous economic sanctions, supposedly as punishment for this “lack of democracy”.

Between then and the 1990 elections, the United States funnelled money to right-wing militias and opposition parties, virtually ensuring a “victory” for the opposition in 1990.

US policy towards Venezuela over the last decade has been almost identical.

In Chile, Salvador Allende, a moderate leftist was removed under similar accusations of authoritarianism and lack of democracy – only to be replaced by the brutal dictator Pinochet.

More recently, in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, interventions by or backed by the United States have torn apart entire regions, forcing millions from their homes and, in the case of Libya, seeing the reintroduction of human slavery as a normal practice.

I would challenge Simon Coveney to point to any single instance where United States regime change has led to an improvement in the lives of the ordinary people.

Universally, whether it is achieved through bombings or economic strangulation, ‘regime change’ leads to the installation of governments which ensure the interests of big business and the United States come ahead of the lives and dignity of ordinary people.

Regime change

Make no mistake, Trump’s operation is one of Iraq-style regime change, pure and simple.

An impressive spin campaign has been waged to create an illusion that all “civilised nations” support regime change in Venezuela – similar to the “grand alliance” which invaded Iraq.

But, like Iraq, Trump’s alliance attempting is based on fiction and propaganda. We don’t hear about the fact that 75% of the world’s nations continue to support Maduro.

We don’t hear about the right-wing militias who roam Caracas and have made daily life impossible for the millions who continue to support Maduro. We don’t hear about the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Venezuela who has repeatedly restated his belief that the electoral system in Venezuela has always been entirely free, fair and democratic.

Our news feeds are instead dominated by the ‘dodgy dossiers’ which drove the war on Iraq – vague assertions and accusations which are outrageous enough to justify military intervention, and which are proven to be untrue too late for it to have any effect.

Irish people must resist the drive towards militarism, NATO and war. 

Irish people have a remarkable record of opposing military intervention overseas. From Palestine to South Africa to Cuba, an affinity with the ‘underdog’ has helped us to see through the murky lies which are used to justify invasions, bombings and war.

Now, in Latin America, governments in Honduras and Brazil which have stood up to United States economic imperialism – and in doing so have built a better life for working class people in those countries – have been picked off, one by one.

Venezuela is next in line. The increases in literacy, healthcare and equality that its people have seen since Hugo Chavez first come to power are under threat.

Now, more than ever, the oppressed overseas need the solidarity of the Irish people. 

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About the author:

Éilis Ryan  / Dublin city councillor, Workers’ Party

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