Sadly we do not always get what we vote for. Donald Trump has decided to acknowledge the self-appointed leader of a particular foreign country in spite of it already having an elected leader, which sounds like the type of meddling that Trump said he was against. But, on the plus side at least this is better than the usual invasion + nation-building scenario we have seen in the past and that Trump promised to stop.
The country in question is Venezuela. Mr. Trump officially recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the nation’s new interim president instead of the elected Nicolas Maduro. The motivations behind such a move can be both overt and conscious but often it is what is in the subconscious that we ourselves do not even notice that is actually the key motivating factor in our decisions. There is a very emotional/ideological side to Venezuela that may be influencing “The Donald’s” decision.
After Israel/Palestine, Venezuela is one of the most emotionally divisive nations in the world for Westerners. People really strongly project their own values, beliefs and personal identity to certain political situations in certain nations.
When it comes to Israel, Western Liberals sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians who have been “colonized” by “white” people and are being systematically oppressed. For them this view of the situation confirms the victim culture that they hold so dear.
On the opposite side, Republicans identify with the Israelis as an oasis of Westerness in a desert of heathens. They see the Israelis like some sort of cowboys taming the Wild Mid-East.
This ability to identify with or project one’s identity onto the Israeli/Palestinian question is what makes people get into fiery internet arguments over an issue that they know nothing about having never been to Israel, speaking a local language and being only informed by the “objective” mainstream media.
Israel is a nation/narrative that speaks to many but for vastly different reasons.
Venezuela is not as “big” as Israel in terms of provoking online emotions from naive Westerners but it could be a close second. The quasi-Communist visuals, and “fight the man” attitude of the Chavez|Maduro era are repulsive to dog-eat-dog Republican types whereas the Starbucks swilling Liberal crowd in their Che Guevara T-shirts has tons of sympathy for the “poor victims of colonization” that are just trying to fight back against “oppression”.
For example, influential and respected conservative media giant Alex Jones calls Venezuela “Communist and Socialist” and more or less blames the country’s current struggles on their lack of Westernness. Venezuela does not act like “us” so they are clearly bad and poor because of it.
And, of course, on the other side “The Young Turks” pretty much blame American “Imperialism” for all the problems in Venezuela claiming that the failures of Venezuelan Socialism do not count because of American interference.
We can see the left/right, Liberal/Conservative dichotomy in action when Caracas is in question. But there is one thing the Mainstream Media and Youtubers seem to not understand.
Systemically, Venezuela is not very different from the majority of the countries in the world including the West.
Despite all this talk of Communism and wearing red berets the only thing that is uniquely Soviet about the nation’s constitution is a right to work and housing which were featured in the Stalin constitution of 1936. However, in the very same “Communist” Venezuelan document, when speaking about workers rights we see…
“Article 89.4: Any measure or act on the part of an employer in violation of this Constitution is null and void, and of no effect.”
Yes the word “employer” meaning employer in the Capitalist sense. In fact nowhere do we see anything about “seizing the means of production” or giving rights to “the working class” as we did with the Stalin constitution. Additionally if you even bother to open Google maps you will see there are Western capitalist businesses all over the nation including good ole McDonald’s. You can package a product anyway you want but it doesn’t change the core product and most of this “Socialism” that divides Western thought on Venezuela is merely window dressing. Attention Western pundits, journalists and bloggers!
Venezuela is NOT COMMUNIST.
That nation has a Liberal constitution founded on individual rights in the Western tradition. What it does have is some “workers’ liberation” propaganda and a few government projects smeared on top of this solid Liberal cake. The current Venezuelan constitution was written during the Chavez era itself and yet is still fundamentally Western. In fact all over the EU we see Liberal constitutions with Socialist window dressing. Venezuela is hardly unique in this position.
The key reason for this dissonance has to do with the fact that what is appealing to the Venezuelan people is not very appealing to Washington. Latin America has a lot of gripes with the US for brutality and regime changes during the Cold War. “Fighting the big evil oppressor” and having a country “for the people” are things that commoners can rally around. This marketing strategy worked fantastic for Chavez giving him the popularity of a demigod. However, this sort of red banner quasi-Marxist marketing does not suit President Trump. It is exactly the type of advertising to make the current US leader despise you.
Venezuela’s internal advertising could be forgiven if it were not such an “uppity” nation that actually tries to pursue an independent policy. This stands in direct contradiction to what some see as Trump’s “Fortress America” policy of trying to pull bring American influence and interests back to the Western Hemisphere while at the same time completely and unquestioningly dominating it.
So motivation behind the Trump recognition of Guaido really boils down to three points.
1. Trump finds the Chavez-Maduro “narrative/marketing” repulsive.
2. Venezuela is too uppity and too independent in its politics.
3. Leaders like Maduro are a direct barrier to building “Fortress America”.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.