Obama Administration Invokes OAS Charter to Promote Overthrow of Maduro Government in Venezuela
By ALAN BENJAMIN
Speaking at the May 18 meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States in Washington, U.S. Ambassador to the OAS Michael Fitzpatrick put forward for the first time openly the Obama administration’s stance on the unfolding coup against President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil.
Taking strong issue with the OAS ambassadors from Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua — all of whom have withdrawn their diplomatic missions from Brazil on the grounds that what is taking place in Brazil is a “coup d’etat” and that the Temer interim government is “illegitimate” — Fitzpatrick stated:
“Any notion of a ‘coup’ is preposterous. There can be no doubt that in Brazil there is clear respect by the judicial system, the lower House [of Representatives], and the Senate of Brazil’s democratic institutions. There is a clear separation of powers and the rule of law. There is a peaceful solution to conflict.”
Fitzpatrick even took issue with OAS General Secretary Luis Almagro, who on various occasions had questioned the judicial basis of the impeachment process. Fitzpatrick, echoing various editorials in the Wall Street Journal, went on to welcome Temer’s “first steps in helping to bring Brazil out of its recession.”
This was a direct reference to Temer’s May 12 announcement of measures aimed at slashing workers’ pensions and “reforming” workers’ collective-bargaining agreements — all part of the U.S.-promoted structural adjustment plans that have been so destructive to workers and peoples the world over.
An editorial in the Mexican liberal newspaper La Jornada on May 19 stated the following about Fitzpatrick’s speech to the OAS: “Just as the United States supported the military coup in Brazil in 1964, it is now supporting the ‘parliamentary coup’ in 2016.” Days earlier, La Jornada had run a front-page story featuring the Wikileaks report that Michel Temer for years had been a U.S. government informant.
But that was not all Fitzpatrick had to say. Speaking about the situation in Venezuela, where the government of Nicolás Maduro is facing a deepening political and economic crisis fostered by U.S.-financed rightwing opposition forces, Fitzpatrick noted: “Whereas in Brazil there is the rule of law, none of this exists in Venezuela, and that is our concern.”
Fitzpatrick went on to urge the OAS “to hold Venezuela accountable for its continued violations of the [OAS’s] Inter-American Democratic Charter.” The last time the U.S. invoked this Charter was in 2009, when a U.S.-backed coup (in fact, orchestrated by then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton), overthrew President Manuel Zelaya.
Not surprisingly, Fitzpatrick failed to mention that the U.S. government in 2002 gave material, logistical and political aid to the perpetrators of the coup that briefly overthrew the elected government of Hugo Chávez. He failed to mention that today the United States is actively seeking to foment a military coup against the government of Nicolás Maduro by continuing to provide tens of millions of dollars a year to opposition groups that are openly and brazenly violating “the rule of law” in a massive destabilization campaign that includes violent street provocations, as well as decapitalization and other forms of economic sabotage that are resulting in huge shortages.
Soon after he was elected president, Barack Obama addressed the April 2009 Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad-Tobago, stating that the “epoch of U.S. interference in the affairs of the nations on the continent is now behind us.” He said that the “United States now wants an equal partnership” and that it would no longer “dictate our terms” to the peoples of the region.
Tell that again to the workers and people of Brazil and Venezuela. Tell that to the workers and people of Mexico, Canada and the United States — whose leaders will be meeting in Ottawa on June 29 at the Summit of Leaders of North America on Security and Cooperation. The meeting is aimed at moving ahead to promote the goals of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement — that is, the dismantling of all the labor laws, public services and enterprises, and environmental regulations that are deemed to be “barriers to free trade.” All these are dictates of the U.S. transnational corporations and of all the U.S. governments in the service of Big Business and U.S. finance capital.
U.S. Hands off Venezuela and Brazil NOW!
No to the TPP!
Alan Benjamin is a long time Labor activist in the USA, editor of The Organizer newspaper, and member of the San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO)