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Trump targets Latin American left

Trump targets Latin American left

United States President Donald Trump may be most looked down in his own country – he might be having the lowest popular rating among the US Presidents in the first six months of their respective tenures, but he has started his actions in bringing down the popularly elected governments in Latin America. Right now, his target is regime change in Venezuela ruled by the Leftist President Nicolas Maduro. This is being followed by instigating the rightwing forces in Brazil to see that the popular former President Luiz Lulla da Silva is not allowed to stand for the Presidential elections in October 2018.

Venezuela, with a 20 million population is in deep political turmoil due to an economic crisis in the wake of the steep fall in the prices of crude oil and the minerals. Venezuela under the former President Hugo Chavez had a strong economy and the right wing forces could not create any major problem for the Government because of the popularity of Chavez and the massive programmes for the upliftment of the underprivileged population. After Chavez's death due to cancer, Nicholas Maduro took over but things deteriorated as a result of economic recession and the opposition forces aided by the US companies, rallied against Maduro and organised violent demonstrations throughout the country. The support for the Maduro government is still strong but the right wing opposition is getting full support from the corporate media and US President Trump has encouraged US based Venezuelans to continue their operations against the lawfully elected government of Maduro.
The Maduro Government has scheduled to hold elections for a new Constituent Assembly on July 30 this year and already in its dry run, there was a massive participation of people in the country. The army also declared its full support to the election for this Constituent Assembly. The opposition held a referendum of their own amidst big propaganda by the media but the participation was only one-third of the population. This has given a setback to the right-wing forces but they have been emboldened by the declaration of President trump that the US will be taking actions including sanctions if the Maduro government goes ahead with holding the July 30 elections
President Maduro has denounced this announcement by President Trump and has said that the Venezuelans will act like one united nation to fight the US intervention. In fact, Trump's moves have united the Venezuelans and given a setback to the right-wingers since Bolivarian pride and nationalism have been hit by the US President's utterances. President Maduro is now confident that he will come out with a clear victory at the July 30 Constituent Assembly elections. President Maduro has improved his position in the recent days and despite organised rallies by the opposition, there have been massive demonstrations by his supporters in the last two weeks. The minimum wages for the workers have been raised in the country and the other welfare measures for the poor have also been improved despite acute financial crisis of the Government.
The Venezuelan right-wingers who are based in Florida are getting full support from senator Marc Rubio who is on exile from Venezuela and interestingly they are trying to rope in some Democrats also to present their legislation for regime change in Venezuela. All Florida Republicans are spearheading this legislation and they have urged Trump also to not allow President Maduro to hold elections on July 30. The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a former CEO of Exxon Mobil and he has personal animosity with the Maduro government because the leftist government of Hugo Chavez nationalised the Exxon oil assets. Tillerson is advising President Trump and things might deteriorate before July 30 if the Trump administration takes actions. The right wing Republicans have been joined by some Democratic Party politicians from Florida and New Jersey who have strong anti-left past. The proposed legislation calls on President Trump to be tougher on Venezuela.
What gives the United States the right to change other countries governments? Nothing in international law permits this but the US lawmakers mention always of Monroe Doctrine of 1823 and Roosevelt Corollary of 1904. Taken together, they can be seen as an assertion that the United States holds superior sovereign power over the nations of Latin America. Every time a US Republican or right-wing Democrat talks of Latin America, it is mentioned as the back yard of the US which means that it is a part of US property and the US has every right to decide what it will do with this property.
As of now, the US has a dubious record overthrowing governments in many Latin American countries. It was Guatemala in 1954, the Dominican Republic in 1965, Chile in 1973. More recently, the United States connived in the overthrow of the left wing government in Honduras. The US agencies and CIA tried its best to topple the government in Cuba but it could not succeed. The US corporations play a leading role in bolstering the anti left forces so that their business interests are protected. In the last five years, the left-tide in Latin America has ebbed and many governments have been changed through elections like Argentina. But in Brazil, the US conspired with the right forces to remove Dilma Rousseff from the President's position through a constitutional coup and they are now trying to keep the unelected President Temer in that position despite big corruption charges. The US agencies are trying to ensure that Lulla is barred from standing as a candidate for the next Presidential elections by implicating him in false court cases.
In Venezuela, the same game is on. It will depend now on the working class supporters of the Maduro government to rally behind him in July 30 elections and organise a massive mandate for the Constituent Assembly. The other left-wing governments in Latin America have to extend their full support to President Maduro to see that the US design of regime change does not take effect again in the continent.
(The author is Editor-in-Chief of IPA. The views expressed are strictly personal.)

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