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On Venezuela, our government is lying to us again

National Security Adviser John Bolton
REUTERS/Jim Young
National Security Adviser John Bolton holds a pad of note paper with a note reading "5,000 troops to Colombia" as he waits to address reporters on Monday.

Our government’s illegal economic sanctions have created a crisis in Venezuela, where there is a lack of medicines, medical supplies and food supplies. This week the Trump administration illegally impounded billions of dollars of proceeds from the sale of Venezuelan oil in the United States. These dollars are needed to buy medical supplies and medicine. Our government is acting as a rogue regime as it defies international laws and norms. No doubt, Venezuelan society is divided, but instead of our fostering division we should support the call of Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay and the Vatican for dialogue in Venezuela.

Wayne Nealis

Americans should recall that it is John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, that among others in the G.W. Bush administration led us into the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bolton reportedly is thinking of sending 5,000 U.S. troops to Colombia to be on call in case they are needed in Venezuela. Any U.S. military operations in Venezuela will be met with resistance.  Do we want another war? More U.S. soldiers dying for oil and minerals? This is what this intrigue is about. It is a lie that we are defending democracy and freedom in Venezuela. They already have both.

The opposition is now represented by Juan Guaidó, who appointed himself president, with the support of the Trump administration. This same opposition, funded by a coalition of the rich and our tax dollars, boycotted the May 2018 elections. Why? Because they knew any candidate they chose to run against President Nicolás Maduro would lose. The opposition is not the majority. We are being told the election was fraudulent. That is just another regime-change lie to convince Americans to support another intervention for oil.

In 2016, Trump ran on not getting us involved in regime change interventions that have bled our national treasury and led to thousands of U.S. soldiers deaths and tens of thousands who have sustained catastrophic injuries. Recall we have been lied to by successive governments, including the pretext used by President Barack Obama for attacking Libya, which is now a nation in turmoil and a training ground for terrorists. Every intervention makes us enemies, not friends.


Americans must demand no U.S. military intervention in Venezuela and an end to all sanctions. Sanctions lead to conflict and war. We know this. Let’s stop the lies. Our congressional leaders must act now to stop the Trump administration’s attempt to engineer a coup in Venezuela. Where does our Minnesota congressional delegation stand? With coup leaders and Trump, or on the side of democracy and respect for sovereignty?

Wayne Nealis is a writer and longtime peace and labor activist living in Minneapolis.

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Comments (24)

  1. Submitted by Bob Barnes on 02/01/2019 - 04:32 pm.

    Maduro is no good. He has destroyed that economy. Supporting him would be absurd. We should not intervene with military force though. Venezuela is a prime example of how Socialism fails. As for the money, Maduro et al simply pocket it like Mubarak did in Egypt etc.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/01/2019 - 05:00 pm.

      This article is so bad that I mostly agree with a comment by Mr. Barnes.

      I would dissent in that this isn’t real socialism In Venezuela- its kleptocracy masquerading as socialism.

      • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 02/01/2019 - 05:24 pm.

        I’ll win you over yet Pat! They don’t have a pure Socialist system but Maduro did push Socialist policies when he took office and just gradually became basically a dictator over time. Venezuela should be thriving with all the oil they have to sell. It’s a sad state of affairs and unlikely the people will be able to rise up and overthrow the tyrant(s) as guns were basically banned in 2012. I doubt they can have meaningful elections without the UN or some other body stepping in.

  2. Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/01/2019 - 04:43 pm.

    This is a breathtakingly dishonest article.

    The crisis is not a result of U.S. sanctions. It is due to the corrupt and incompetent authoritarian leaders that have destroyed the Venezuelan economy and its democratic institutions. There’s no food, there’s no medicine and a full 10 percent of the population has fled the country.

    The idea that the last election was fair would be laughable if the result wasn’t so tragic. When you arrest opposition politicians and journalists, censor media and use state media to promote yourself, intimidate voters and engaged in outright fruad, its no suprise that outside observers consider the election a sham. Its not just right-wingers – its groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. This is a guy who, when his party lost the legislature, just created a new body and took awat their power. You should be embarassed to consider these kinds of actions democratic.

    I get the instinct to reflexively defend Maduro becauae he and his predecessor claim to be socialists. They reality is nothing of the sort. They have robbed the country blind and devastated the lives of the poor. If anything, Maduro and Chavez are a lot like Trump, except that Venezuela doesn’t have the checks and balances to keep tryants from taking over and destroying the country.

    • Submitted by Greg Pratt on 02/01/2019 - 05:25 pm.

      As someone married to a Venezuelan, I’m shocked at how poor this article or post is. I’m no fan of Trump or his policies, but Venezuela is way beyond “divided”. How misleading and uninformed this is!

  3. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 02/01/2019 - 04:44 pm.

    Nicely spun…Socialist dictators need love, too. Even if the people under Maduro’s thumb are starving, at least Capitalists arent making any money, which is all that really matter when you get right down to it.

  4. Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/01/2019 - 04:58 pm.

    And its not just the U.S. It’s Canada. And the UK. And France, Germany, and the E.U. I agree the answer isn’t to invade. Its to have new elections. Fair elections, unlike the ones last year. To oppose that is to be a cheerleader for authoritarianism. To be a cheerleader for government oppression.

  5. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 02/01/2019 - 05:46 pm.

    Perhaps our State Attorney General will file charges against the U.S. government for all of the illegal acts. It would be wise to get several other states to join the action and bolster the case.

  6. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 02/01/2019 - 09:13 pm.

    It is all about the oil, minerals and regime change, and it is a lie that it is about democracy and freedom. If it were about democracy and freedom, our government could start by intervening in Saudi Arabia.
    One thing the large majority of members of both political parties agree on is intervention in foreign nations, covertly and overtly, to protect U.S. corporate interests.

  7. Submitted by Doug Ellingson on 02/02/2019 - 06:27 am.

    I am disheartened to see so many Americans parroting the right wing canards that have produced so much war and destruction. Unless we break out of our ethnocentric thought paradigm the interventions engineered by American oligarchs will continue and people across the world will continue to suffer.

  8. Submitted by Payton Powell on 02/02/2019 - 07:42 am.

    Having a large amount of family that live in neighboring Colombia I can safely say that Mr. Nealis has no clue as to what he’s talking about and basing his opinion solely on actions by our government over thirty years ago. Interventionism hasn’t always worked out well between the U.S. and Latin America, to say the least, however Maduro is a dictator who ran sham elections and was put into power by his predecessor.

    Currently thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing into Colombia, Brazil, and Guyana every day to escape Maduro’s regime. This has had a profound impact on families such as mine who rely on low skilled labor to make a living and have to compete with these migrants for jobs. Not to mention that this mass exodus is bringing with it a wave of crime as well. Maduro deserves no sympathy.

  9. Submitted by Terry Beyl on 02/02/2019 - 11:00 am.

    The history of Latin America is a history of European and U.S. pillaging, rape and plunder. Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano is an award winning history that tells the story. Historically, the U.S. has used economic and brutal military intervention to install its own governments in order to further U.S. business interests.

    To have an open and fair debate about those interests with regard to any sanctions or military intervention is long overdue. To call for peace talks, rather than military intervention, is hardly radical. Peace talks have been successful in many countries around the world. It is not about supporting or not-supporting the current government. It is about the best way forward for the country and its people – not U.S. or Europe’s economic or business interests. Recent history shows that U.S. intervention or support for coups often leads to equally bad authoritarian right-wing governments, e.g.. Honduras.

    President Obrador of Mexico is right to continue try to work toward a peaceful resolution to the crises – rather than more economic or military intervention from Europe or the U.S.

  10. Submitted by John Evans on 02/02/2019 - 12:08 pm.

    Venezuela has more oil in proven reserves than Iran and Iraq combined.
    Given that one fact, why would you not expect the U.S. not to invade?

  11. Submitted by Jim Marshal on 02/02/2019 - 12:59 pm.

    If we really cared about Venezuelans we would put an end to our crippling sanctions against them. I am deeply distrustful of any foreign policy initiatives being put forth by the likes of John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Elliot Abrams and Marco Rubio.

  12. Submitted by Jim Gabler on 02/02/2019 - 05:39 pm.

    Mr. Nealis, unfortunately, is likely well-intentioned, but mostly incorrect, especially on his history. The corruption of Chavez and now Maduro and his henchmen knows no end. The past elections were not true elections, the opposition party does now include some Chavistas and was not anointed by the U.S., the current National Assembly was put in place of the original elected legitimate one by Maduro by dictate, and no current oil revenue is going anywhere other than in the pockets of government officials, police, and Army.

    The current problems in Venezuela are severe and, so far, I believe the U.S. has done a decent job of handling them. There should be no military intervention by us, but targeted sanctions, especially on individual kleptocrats, and other pressures through established organizations like the OAS, etc. are working, albeit slowly.

    Mr. Nealis has it wrong. We didn’t create the crisis in Venezuela and it’s going to take years for that country to recover in any event. But he simply has no idea of the corruption that’s gone on in the Chavez and Maduro eras and how many billions have been stolen from the people. And the Venezuelans future has been also stolen in the process, too. Recall, lastly, these leaders were/are actually assisting druglords and are criminals in any sense of the word. They’re proclaming they’re all “Socialistas” to the people while sporting Rolex watches and to give any credence or credibility to the regimes of Chavez or Maduro is to express a sentiment that’s truly misplaced. Ask a Venezuelan.

  13. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 02/03/2019 - 07:04 pm.

    An entire article about Venezuela and not one mention of “failed socialism”.

  14. Submitted by Joe Musich on 02/03/2019 - 08:48 pm.

    The link is to an overview of the USA’s “intervention” into the affairs of other countries…The coverage should help promote more clarity in this thread…
    https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/shameful-history-us-intervention-latin-america?tab=summary

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/04/2019 - 07:58 am.

      Latin Americans don’t need this sort of reminder of our sordid history meddling in their affairs. They’ve lived it for over a century.

      But it’s very beneficial to us Yanks, who are taught little about the mayhem we’ve caused. When Reagan made the joke about “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help,” he should have been talking about the history of the US Marines in our hemisphere.

  15. Submitted by joe smith on 02/04/2019 - 08:51 am.

    What was the USA”s involvement in Maduro”s corrupt regime stealing the Venezuela peoples money? Did the USA confiscate private property in Venezuela or did their own Government? This idea that America is responsible for every mess created by other countries is absolutely wrong.

    Some believe that America owes the world for our success. We don’t !!!

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/08/2019 - 12:31 pm.

    I can’t say I know what’s going on in Venezuela, but there is absolutely no doubt that the US government is lying about it. The guys down there now, Elliot Abrams, and Bolton, and whoever they bring with, are documented liars and supporters of dictatorial regimes in South and Central America.

    Abram’s pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, and if you think he won’t lie now I’ve a gold mine for sale in North MPLS I’ll let you have for practically nothing.

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