Prior to Hugo Chavez taking power in 1999, Venezuela’s leadership was predominantly white and relatively conservative and did not reflect the majority of the population. There was rampant poverty, crime and unemployment and no one cared -until Chavez seized power and declared an end to “Yankee Imperialism” something that immediately got the attention of the hawks and NeoLiberals in Washington.
Something that is considered anathema to the privatization paradigm of the NeoLiberal economic model, Chavez initiated a program of nationalization that included the takeover of the petroleum sector, completed in 2007 when Venezuela assumed operational control of the oil industry in the Orinoco basin—the world’s single largest known oil deposit—from foreign-owned companies. Chavez completed nationalization of PDVSA, the state-owned oil company, a 2-decades long process begun in 1976 and, with the extra cash from the PetroDollar, began a series of programs to get the population, mostly brown or mestizo, back on its feet, a program that provides monthly food rations for the poor (CLAP), dignified and descent housing and universal medical care. These programs were highly successful, resulting in his meteoric rise in popularity. Chavez’s popularity and the programs he began that transformed the country is a story for another article.
Prior to Chavez, the white-minority government did not reflect the majority of the population; there was rampant corruption resulting in poverty, crime, theft and unemployment but no one cared. The majority of the population was not adequately represented in government, a story not uncommon when Colonial powers are involved, to wit, the Dutch Apartheid Government of South Africa where a white-minority ruling class is in power, presiding over a majority mixed-race population.
Margaret Thatcher exported NeoLiberalism to the Americas during the first half of the 1970s where it was implemented in earnest in the United States during Ronald Reagan’s first term in office (1980).
In Latin America, the sad story begins in 1972 Chile when the democratically elected leftist president, Salvatore Allende, was overthrown in a violent coup orchestrated by Richard Nixon’s CIA and the United States government in coordination with and supported by the United Kingdom in the person of then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. This was the beginning of their so-called “Special Relationship“.
The Chilean monster Augusto Pinochet is legendary for his pogroms, atrocities, disappearances and mass murder to such a degree that his crimes rise to the level of genocide. He was a tyrant and war criminal of the highest order on a par with Pol Pot or Hitler; he was indicted for human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed in his native Chile by Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzon on 10 October 1998. He was arrested in London six days later and held under house arrest, protected and sheltered in Britain by Lady Thatcher for a year and a half before finally being released by the British government in March 2000. Authorized to freely return to Chile, Pinochet was there first indicted by judge Juan Guzman Tapia, and charged with a number of crimes, before dying on 10 December 2006, without ever being convicted in any case. It is instructive to point out that sixty years earlier,
the United States, in concert with Britain and the Allied Powers, waged a long, bloody war in Europe to defeat Adolph Hitler only to be complicit in regime-change programs, installing puppet governments and tyrants who would have made Hitler blush.
While discussing Margaret Thatcher, Pinochet, Latin America and Chile, it should be pointed out that, although Chile remained officially “neutral” in La Guerra de Las Islas Malvinas (Sp) or the War of the Malvinas Islands or, euphemistically, the “Falkland Islands” war, Margaret Thatcher publicly thanked Pinochet, expressing her indebtedness for his “support” of the British in their conflict with Argentina over that country’s territorial islands. It has emerged that Britain would have lost that war if not for the help of Pinochet and Chile, especially their long range radar and its ability to detect distant incoming aircraft and troop movements.
How did Pinochet fit into the geopolitical and economic vision for Latin America being pushed by the United States and many Western powers such as the United Kingdom? The flawed economic model known as “NeoLiberalism” was first introduced by Anglo-Austrian Economist Friedrich Hayek. His academic life was mostly spent at the University of Chicago, Freiburg, and the London School of Economics. Soon after being elected leader of the British Conservative Party in 1975, Margaret Thatcher met with Hayek and thus, the die was cast.
In terms of projecting geopolitical influence and power by the United Kingdom and, in turn, by the United States and, in deference to the more academically robust and successful Keynesian economic model, NeoLiberalism was chosen as it was aligned with Thatcher’s hard-right conservatism and socio-political world view. Academically, Keynes was, by far, superior in intellect, achievement and in renown but, because his system was more broadly “liberal”, it was rejected by the neo-conservatives in Britain and here, in the United States first, by Ronald Reagan and then by George H. W. Bush. It was rejected in deference to NeoLiberalism and its “Privatization Paradigm” where all goods, services and commodities should be least regulated by government and more “market driven” by private industry, Reagan’s so-called “Trickle-down” economics. Pinochet was probably a greater inspiration to Thatcher as the pioneer of radical free-market policies in the mid-1970s, a period when Keynesian policies still reigned in Britain and much of the rest of the world.
So now, what of Pinochet?
By the time Allende was elected in 1970, Hayek was well known and a decision was made by the Nixon Administration to “test” his theory in Chile with Richard Nixon’s famous comment “make the economy scream“. And so, the CIA regime-change operation in league with the infamous “Chicago Boys” went into overdrive, installing Augusto Pinochet in 1972 in a violent military coup, imposing the first iteration of NeoLiberalism on an unsuspecting population. And thus, Latin America entered a new dark era of US Imperialism, driven by a failed economic model and guided by the corrupt and hegemonistic Monroe Doctrine.
Guided by the NeoLiberal and Harvard Economist Ricardo Hausmann, the new crop of NeoLiberals in Venezuela, Juan Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez, are not simply “opposition activists” as described by the uncritical mainstream media. They are violent insurgents bent on turning the clock back to the NeoLiberal pre-Chavez days of a white-minority, apartheid government presiding over a majority mixed-race population, to privatize PDVSA and the country’s oil exports and thus, to give free reign to US Oil Interests and their Washington benefactors. The nonsense that this is in the interests of “Freedom and Democracy” is as transparent as it is ridiculous.
Orlando Figuera was brutally assaulted, burned alive and murdered by the violent mobs and followers of Guaido and Lopez, adherents to a failed economic model, first exported to this continent by War Monger and protector of tyrants and monsters, Margaret Thatcher.