Saturday, February 2, 2019

Fierce Latina Holds Her Fire

It seems that the Trump regime's coup against the government of Venezuela isn't going as smoothly as he expected, and I take some comfort from that.

I'm not surprised that most Democratic Party politicians and fellow-travelers have supported the coup.  Even Bernie Sanders couldn't oppose it without including some US propaganda against Maduro; but then he's always been weak on foreign policy.  Representatives Ro Khanna of California, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan have condemned the coup forthrightly, but they're the exceptions.

I am surprised, I admit, that new Democratic Congress member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has hesitated to take a firm stand.  On January 30 the journalist Max Blumenthal reported:
I caught @AOC rushing into a committee hearing today on the Hill and asked her about Venezuela. "We're working on a statement," was all she said before entering the room. Don't think her name was on @USProgressives letter against intervention. Will have more reactions soon.
I don't like to quote the Daily Caller, but only right-wing media seem to be reporting the statement she finally, belatedly made:
“Our office is monitoring it closely. I think that, you know, the humanitarian crisis is extremely concerning but, you know, when we use non-Democratic [sic] means to determine leadership, that’s also concerning, as well,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Daily Caller on Thursday. “So, we’re figuring out our response and making sure that we center the people of Venezuela first and foremost.”
This won't do, though the capitalization of "democratic" there is amusing and presumably not Ocasio-Cortez' fault.  I see nothing here that would justify her hesitation about issuing a statement before.  It's just typical both-sides equivocation.  The "humanitarian crisis," as she must know, is largely the US' doing, thanks to its support for the anti-democratic Venezuelan opposition, and especially the sanctions that are intended to harm the overwhelming majority of Venezuelans.  If she doesn't know it, she should probably have admitted her ignorance and refused to comment.  But it doesn't take much background to oppose US support for coups.  The burden of argument lies not on opponents of US interference in other countries, but on those who support it.

Ocasio-Cortez' customary forthright readiness to snap back at Trump's malfeasance is on hold here, and I wonder why. The other frosh Representatives she calls her sisters are on record opposing the coup; why doesn't she follow their lead?  I've been wondering if perhaps significant numbers of her Latinx base support the coup, but I haven't seen any evidence one way or the other.

For me, it's pretty simple, given the US' horrific record in Latin America generally, and in Venezuela specifically.  It's difficult to distinguish lies from truth in US coverage of the situation, which has been fanatically hostile and indifferent to factual accuracy ever since Chavez was first elected.  If you want an introduction to the matter, Alan MacLeod's Bad News from Venezuela (Routledge, 2018) is a good place to begin, and will point you to other discussions.  But even if Maduro were as bad as we're told, that wouldn't justify US interference in Venezuela, which our gangster leaders are not even bothering to hide.  (A "dictator"?  "Corrupt"?  "Incompetent"?  These are all qualifications for US support of a regime.)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has some good positions and proposals, and I still approve of her more than I don't.  But I'm monitoring her closely, and I find her reluctance to speak out against the US-backed coup in Venezuela extremely worrying.