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No CIA Regime Change in Venezuela

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Venezuela is in a state of crisis and collapse. The socialist economic system of President Hugo Chavez and his successor Vicente Maduro has plunged the nation into an economic black hole, one that, according to a front-page article in today’s New York Times, is even “claiming the lives of untold numbers of Venezuelans.”

The Times writes that the healthcare emergency that has been brought on by the economic crisis is “just part of a larger unraveling here that has become so severe it has prompted President Nicolas Maduro to impose a state of emergency and has raised fears of a government collapse.” In a nation that prides itself for its socialist healthcare system, “It is like something from the 19th century,” said Dr. Christian Pino, a surgeon at the University of Andes Hospital in Merida.

All this, of course, raises an important question: Should the CIA use the crisis to target Venezuela for regime change, one by which the Chilean military saves the country by ousting Maduro from power and installs a brutal military dictator who proceeds to cleanse Venezuela of socialists with round-ups, torture, reeducation camps, and executions.

Now, you might ask, “Jacob, that’s ridiculous. What does the CIA have to do with an economic crisis in Venezuela? Isn’t that something for the Venezuelan people to resolve?”

Well, you would think so. Except for Chile.

Recall that in the early 1970s, Chile was suffering the same type of economic emergency that Venezuela is now experiencing. The Chilean people had duly elected a socialist, Salvador Allende, to be their president, just as the Venezuelan people duly elected Chavez and Maduro to be their president.

The root of Chile’s economic chaos was the same as that in Venezuela — socialism.

Except for one thing. The CIA, which was intentionally and deliberately aggravating the economic crisis.

You see, President Nixon and the U.S. national-security state didn’t like Allende because not only was he a socialist, he was also a communist. Allende had no interest in joining the U.S. national-security’s state Cold War against the Soviet Union and was even striving to establish friendly relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba, much as President Kennedy had decided to do in the waning days of his administration and before he was assassinated.

So, Nixon, the CIA, and the Pentagon decided that Allende had to go, on the ground of “national security.”

CIA initiated covert actions designed to worsen the economic crisis so that the Chilean people would suffer even more than they already were suffering as a result of Allende’s socialist policies. For example, the CIA secretly paid truckers who transported food around the country to go on strike so that people wouldn’t have much to eat.

You might say, “Jacob, the CIA would never do anything like that. That would make no sense. What would be their motive?”

Their motive was simple: to make things so bad for the Chilean people that they would welcome a military coup, one that would destroy their decades-long democratic system. By this time Nixon and the U.S. national-security state had decided that the only way to remove the threat to the “national security” of both Chile and the United States was a regime-change operation involving a military coup.

There was one big obstacle, however: The Chilean national-security state itself. The commanding general of the Chilean armed forces, Rene Schneider, was opposing the coup. His position was that he, like all other Chilean soldiers, had taken an oath to support and defend the constitution of Chile, which did not provide for a military coup in an event that a duly elected president posed a threat to “national security.”

No problem. The CIA simply orchestrated Schneider’s kidnapping and assassination. Obstacle removed.

But there was still the Chilean military, much of which took the same position as Schneider. Enter the Pentagon. At the School of the Americas, U.S. officials preached to Chilean military officials a core principle of any national-security state: that when the president of a country is threatening “national security” with his policies, it is the duty of the national-security establishment to save the country by removing the threat to “national security” by removing the president from office.

So, with the full support of the U.S. national-security state, the Chilean national-security state attacked Allende and defeated him, installing military Gen. Augusto Pinochet into power. Pinochet and his national-security state goons proceeded to round up 50,000 people who had supported socialism, communism, or Allende. They tortured or raped most of them and killed some 3,000 of them. Their goal: to cleanse Chile of socialism, socialists, communism, and communists.

Could it happen in Venezuela? Of course it could. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the CIA was already there doing everything it could to worsen the economic suffering of the Chilean people, so that they would be more likely to welcome a coup that promises “order and stability.” Of course, if the CIA is doing so, nobody would learn about it for some 10-30 years, given that CIA regime-change operations are almost always covert.

It also wouldn’t surprise me if U.S. national-security state officials were, right now, exhorting their national-security state counterparts in Venezuela to do the same thing that Chilean officials did to Allende — protect “national security” by ousting Maduro from power and installing a brutal military dictator who could cleanse Venezuela of socialism and socialists and bring “order and stability” to the country.

If that were to happen, I wouldn’t be surprised if a bunch of conservative “free-market” economists rush to serve the coup leaders as economic advisers, much as the so-called “Chicago Boys” did with Pinochet.

The CIA, the Pentagon, and the entire U.S. national-security establishment did enough damage to Chile, and they’ve done enough damage with interventions in other Latin American countries, just as they have done enough damage with their interventions in the Middle East. They should butt out of Venezuelan affairs and leave Venezuela to the Venezuelans.

For more than one reason, perhaps America is better off that Bernie Sanders isn’t going to be president.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.


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