Venezuela is facing a crisis. Hyperinflation, record murder rates, and increasing poverty. The country is on the brink of civil war. The US would have you believe this is the fault of the current president, but there is more to the story. If this crisis continues, it looks like Venezuela will be the next in line for another US war for oil.
Venezuela is the country with the most oil, and has been fueling the US since it was discovered in 1922, when “Venezuela's dictator Juan Vicente Gómez permitted U.S. oil companies to write Venezuela's petroleum law”. Companies including Standard Oil, Shell, Gulf and Texaco owned Venezuela’s oil, serving private interests and the elite, while the working class suffered.
From the off, the precedent was set for exploitation of Venezuela for oil by the US and Europe. By the 1970s, US industry was running off Venezuelan oil, but half of the revenue was never returned to Venezuela.
“Despite possessing the largest proven oil reserves outside the Middle East, the country had seen its living standards crash” – Scott T Patrick
The money that did return during highs of oil sales remained in the hands of the countries elite because of corruption; meaning the country has constantly struggled to reinvest revenue in increasing living standards and diversifying industry away from oil, creating a vicious cycle of economic reliance on this one export.
Scott T Patrick explained via a Twitter thread, how relations between US and Venezuela have left the country debilitated by US imperialism and neoliberalism, NOT by the socialism the US claim has caused the crisis.
Venezuela is completely reliant on oil, to the point where even food was imported from other countries. Oil makes up shockingly 95% of the Venezuelan economy, and the price they can sell it for is out of their control. This means whatever happens to oil globally, completely defines what happens to the Venezuelan economy. Since the price of oil crashed in 2014, Venezuela have been plunged in a downward spiral of complete crisis.
In 2014 oil prices crashed. From 2013 to 2017, the Venezuelan economy shrank by 30%, a problem inherited by the presidency of Maduro. But the economic crash of oil was not something Venezuela or its government could control. In fact, Saudi Arabia had far more influence. They ramped up their oil production so significantly that the price was driven down. The effect was heightened by the oil deals Venezuela had made with its south American neighbours, to provide them discounted oil in exchange for political allegiance and support against the force of the US.
The Trump administration never liked Maduro, painting him as an autocrat who let Venezuelans starve, because he was the overseer of the oil price crash. In May 2018 the Trump administration issued sanctions on Venezuela, in an attempt to block Maduro selling government debt which they claim was to ‘enrich himself’ which would further corruption. The only thing the sanctions have furthered is the crippling economy. Sanctions mean the country cannot access foreign funding; economically speaking, they are restricted from selling debt to the US, forcing them to print more money and depreciate the currency further.
The president Maduro has tried to bring oil riches back to Venezuela, he even “embarked on a world tour to implore other nations with heavy influence on the oil market to take measures to push the price back”. As the overseer of these recent events, the US had a perfect opportunity to make Maduro the scapegoat for the entire crisis as he has been painted in most media publications.
Using the tag #HandsOffVenezuela, journalist Abby Martin reveals how the protest of thousands of Venezuelans against the US-backed coup has been completely ignored by the western media. It is reminiscent of the Iraq war, where “1 million Iraqis died for a war based on lies, paved by the so-called free press”.
The hypocrisy is shocking. The US claim they impose sanctions to ‘restore democracy’, while simultaneously underminding Venezuelas democratically elected leader. Less than a month after Maduro was re-elected by the people, the US announced a coup and declared the leader of the opposition Guaido (who didn't even stand in the last election) the new president. Their justification for this is that the re-election, where Maduro won with a 47% majority, was rigged. Inspectors say this is impossible - every Venesuelan voter must provide a fingerprint, and the whole system is electorally sound.
While denying the country imports of food, the US are publishing stories of a “starving nation”, blamed on Maduro. Trump openly ridicules Venezuela and even called citizens “illegal aliens”, yet powers his nation with Venezuelan oil. The whole situation reeks of manipulating narratives to serve US interests. As in Iraq, they are using their might to command oil reserves of the world, and it looks like mainsteam media is complicit. Lets not forget the quiet UK media on the Venezuelan crisis, while they are also a consumer of Venezelan oil.
The western media is blaming the crisis in Venezuela on Maduro and the socialist regime. In reality, the crisis is down to a long history of reliance on oil and attempts to regain control over their country from the US.
There are so many levels to what is happening, and there is certainly a bigger story here – one of democracy. What does it mean when its current definition is being completely abused? Democracy surely cannot mean freedom of choice if it means unseating someone who is democratically elected. In Venezuela the term has been used to destroy a democratic country. The US has shown itself willing to bring another country to the brink of civil war, in order further their own gain.