Former US Ambassador Outlines Post-Election Interventions against Venezuela
Sep 17th 2012, by Lee Brown - Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
In an extraordinary paper released this week, former US Ambassador to
Venezuela, Patrick Duddy, outlined a range of military, financial and
diplomatic measures that the US should be prepared to take against the
Chavez government after the coming elections on October 7th.
In the paper, published by the Council on Foreign
Duddy's recommendations include that in the event of "an outbreak of
violence and/or interruption of democracy" the US should use various means
to "to communicate to the Venezuelan military leadership that they are
obliged to uphold their constitution, respect human rights, and protect
their country's democratic tradition" and "organize a coalition of partners
to limit an illegitimate Venezuelan administration's access to government
assets held abroad as well as to the international financial system."
The former Ambassador was expelled from Venezuela in 2008 after the
Chavez-led government cited an American-supported plot by military officers
to topple it. Having initially served under Bush he returned to Venezuela
at the start of Obama's term of office.
In the paper he outlines an even wider list of options that the US may
engage in. These includes that the United States "could demand that the
Organisation of American States declare Venezuela in breach of its
obligations as a signatory of the Inter-American Democratic Charter" or it
could "bring the issue of Venezuelan democracy to the United Nations
Security Council" or "freeze individual bank accounts of key figures
involved or responsible and seize assets in the United States". He
suggested the US "could also arrange for the proceeds of Venezuelan
government-owned corporate entities to be held in escrow accounts until
democracy is restored [and] ...block access to [Venezuelan government
owned] CITGO's refining facilities in the United States and consider
prohibiting [Venezuelan state] oil sales to the United States".
Duddy dresses these up as options for the US to take "in the event that the
government either orchestrates or takes advantage of a violent popular
reaction to Chavez's defeat...to suspend civil liberties and govern under a
renewable state of exception".
However there are obvious concerns that this fits neatly with the
objectives of those within the right-wing opposition in Venezuela who are
planning for the non-recognition of the coming elections if, as expected,
Hugo Chavez wins. With the polls showing strong leads for Hugo Chavez, a
campaign is already underway by sections of the right-wing opposition
coalition to present any electoral defeat as being down to Chavez-led
fraud. This has seen baseless attacks on the independent National Electoral
Council (CNE,) which has overseen all of Venezuelans' elections described
as free and fair by a range of international observers. The opposition has
announced plans to place tens of thousands of 'witnesses' at polling
stations on election day and then, illegally to release its own results
ahead of the official results in a clear bid to discredit them. These plans
have sharpened fears that opposition-led disruptions and destabilisation
will follow their defeat. This could easily meet Duddy's condition of "an
outbreak of violence and/or interruption of democracy".
Clearly the paper raises the spectre that, as with the US-backed coup in
2002, the US could seek to blame any right wing opposition-led post
election disruption on the Hugo Chavez government, with the US then taking
the measures Duddy suggests.
The "options" suggested by Patrick Duddy's, a former Bush era Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, form part of
ongoing hostilities to the democratically elected Chavez government from
neo-cons in Washington. Connie Mack, chairman of the U.S. House
Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, has openly advocated that Venezuela
is added to the US lists of states that sponsor terrorism. Whilst
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney earlier this year attacked
Venezuela during the US Presidential campaign as a threat to national
security and accused Venezuela of "spreading dictatorships & tyranny
throughout Latin America".
With less than one month to go until the Venezuelan people go to the polls,
and with it looking likely that they will re-elect Hugo Chavez, solidarity
in defence of the right of the people to choose their own government free
from outside intervention clearly remains vital.
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