Chavez, the US, and the Destabilization of Venezuela

Eric Draitser
October 7, 2012 

Venezuela goes to the polls this Sunday in an election many are calling a referendum on President Chavez and his policies.  Although there is surely such a dimension, the significance of the elections goes far beyond political opinion and partisan bickering, striking at the heart of the Venezuelan state.   This is because these elections will be used as a front for an attempt to overthrow, by brute force if necessary, the democratically elected government and put in its place a government more amenable to US interests.  If this sounds familiar, it should.  This is precisely the same tactic tried in 2002 in a US-instigated coup that, though it briefly deposed Chavez, ultimately failed.  Now, ten years later, the US imperialist ruling class is prepared to try their hand at regime change in Venezuela once more.

The Destabilization Strategy

Sunday’s election presents the ideal opportunity for US intelligence to instigate some kind of coup or “color” revolution in Venezuela.  However, in order to achieve this insidious goal, there are very specific strategies, tactics, and contingencies which must be understood.  In his paper, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, former US Ambassador to Venezuela Patrick Duddy presents a number of scenarios in which the election becomes the centerpiece of a destabilization campaign.  Perhaps the most important of these scenarios, one which would be in keeping with the tradition of “color” revolutions all over the world, is the outbreak of violence in the hours after the winner is announced.  Duddy writes, “most plausible scenarios for instability and conflict in Venezuela derive from the premise that the Chavistas will not willingly surrender power and would be willing to provoke violence, orchestrate civil unrest, or engage in various forms of armed resistance to avoid doing so.”  Naturally, Duddy fails to explain for whom such a scenario would be deemed “plausible”.  Because of the nature of the paper and the author, it is fair to assume that he is referring to the US intelligence community for whom this is “plausible”.  Of course, this assertion is made with no precedent of historical evidence of Chavistas engaging in such behavior.  Rather, this is precisely the type of unrest fomented by the United States in the service of regime change.