26 May, 2019


Venezuelan Crisis, Western Interference, Democracy & Socialism

By Laksiri Fernando –

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

The situation in Venezuela is more complex than what it appears. There are two major crosscurrents in operation. First is between President Nicolas Maduro’s national government and the US, the latter attempting to exploit the existing crisis to bring Venezuela under its economic and political control with the backing of other Western powers. Second is between the authoritarian regime of Nicolas Maduro and the opposition led by Juan Guido that dominates the National Assembly or Parliament of elected representatives. In the second case it is also a conflict between the executive presidential system and parliamentary democracy. 

The most irony is that both Maduro (United Socialists) and Guido (Popular Will) belongs to two socialist parties in the country although the latter has not clearly expressed his socio-economic programme to the people yet. He is mainly representing the joint opposition in Parliament. Their main campaign is to bring democracy to the country which is terribly lacking particularly under Maduro. What complicates the situation and raises doubts about Juan Guido’s intentions are his collision with some of the Western powers and particularly the US. 

Given the history of the country, crisis within the economic system, poverty and living difficulties of the broad masses and concerns of the people within and outside the country on democracy and human rights, the best option would be for all parties to dialogue and come to an understanding in holding both presidential and parliamentary elections without delay and also without confrontation and violence towards resolving the situation. It appears that undue interference from outside can both derail and distort the situation in the country further.     

US/Western Interference 

US interference in Venezuela and Latin America in general is long standing going back to the Monroe Doctrine (1823). The US wants to consider Latin America as its backyard which is resisted by many governments including those who are opposing President Maduro at present. What is wrong with Western policies towards Third World countries in general is not that they express concerns or even influence on democracy or human rights, but they try to impose policies, solutions, values and political changes disregarding the social conditions, political independence, cultures or people’s wellbeing in those countries. Their sanctions most of the time are like punishing the poor. 

It is not partnership that they aspire for, but subjugation or submission. It may be possible that in the case of some people or organizations this is not that conscious or intentional, but that cannot be said about most of the governments, politicians or even some organizations. If not racism, at least some form of superiority complex seem to govern their behaviour and views, underpinning economic and ideological interests. 

Venezuela is the most tragic case at present that the Western and particularly the US meddling and sanctions have produced with disastrous social effects. 

Democracy and Socialism 

There is no question that Venezuela is lacking in democracy at present. The policies and practices of President Nicolas Maduro or the ruling United Socialist Party are ideologically authoritarian although socio-economically socialist. This has been a perennial problem in most of the socialist parties and regimes in the world beginning with the former Soviet Union. This is also the nature of many socialists and socialist parties in Sri Lanka, either practicing authoritarianism themselves or aligning with authoritarian political leaders most of the time. However this is not a reason for the outsiders like the US to meddle in the internal affairs of Venezuela or any other country, if the US is truly democratic. The democratic problem or the contradiction in socialism is something that the socialists themselves should rectify, although there is nothing wrong in others pointing it out. 

On the other hand, what the world politics or international relations show is that although the countries like the US are internally democratic (yet to an extent), their foreign policies and actions are completely authoritarian or even dictatorial. We have seen this in Palestine, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. In the case of Latin America, this has continuously been the case and there had been direct military interventions in most of the countries throughout years making Latin America virtually a region of political and economic chaos. The feelings of the people against American ‘imperialism’ is depicted in the attached street drawing in Caracas.         


Who is Responsible? 

Who is primarily responsible for the current crisis and chaos in Venezuela today? Large responsibility should go to the United States because of their sanctions while the internal regime is also equally responsible. 

When Hugo Chavez won the presidential elections in 1998, it was through a mass upsurge of popular aspirations for national sovereignty and socialism that it happened. It was a democratic election no less than any American election. It overturned America’s theory of ‘end