Latin America, the United States and Democracy

Eva Gollinger has an interesting essay at Venezuela Analysis regarding the role of the US in trying to fund anti-Chavez forces in Venezuela. While the US likes to speak the sweet narrative of democracy, they simply find the way it has panned out in Venezuela to be unacceptable to US interests--and so they go to extreme lengths to work on ousting Chavez and to thwart the democratic will of the people.

Of course they went as far as to actually back a 2002 coup attempt
against Hugo Chavez, though the democratically elected leader was back in charge less than 2 days after he was kidnapped and jailed by opposition forces. But despite the failed coup, Gollinger notes, the National Endowment for Democracy are still quite busy undermining the will of the people in the Venezuela.

The US Congress has already approved $3.6 million for this office in Venezuela for the year 2007-8, which indicated that this subversion will continue increasing and threatening the Bolivarian revolution.

Historically, It has long been the policy of the United States to support coup attempts toward government's in Latin America that are not willing to play by Washington's rules. This is easily found in the public record. In 1965, a now-declassified memo (available in the Foreign Affairs Series) was written by then Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, to George McBundy, who was special assistant to President Johnson, clearly illustrates that the policy of the US is if the US military to work to overthrow governments that they felt were not interested in"the welfare of the nation" -- which amounts to the welfare of US economic interests.

The first such example, which preceded the McNamara-McBundy memo, was the the 1954 US backed coup in Guatemala that overthrew the democratically elected administration of Jacob Arbenz, which was justified as a means to counter Soviet expansionism.

Ever since the US has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into these types of operations. The overthrow of the democratically elected Allende government in Chile in the early 7o's is well documented since Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon are on tape speaking about the effort. In Robert Dallek's latest book, Nixon and Kissinger we see the contents of a Kissinger memo which read " 'Allende's election was a challenge to our national interest .... [Chile] would soon be inciting anti-American policies attacking hemisphere solidarity, making common cause with Cuba, and sooner or later establishing close relations with the Soviet Union.'" And so, the message was clear, despite the fact that Allende was elected fairly and freely even in the face of US efforts to defeat him, an "Allende government was unacceptable to the United States" and CIA Director Richard Helms instructed his agency to "prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him." Nixon, obsessed with this policy, sent Helms a memo that said " $10,000,000 available, more if necessary .... make the economy scream." Eventually the covert activities helped to take Allende down, on Sept. 11, 1973.

There are of course many other examples that are worth looking into.William Blum's Killing Hope, for an entire history of US military and CIA interventions since 1945, is an excellent place to start.

But the major lesson to take from these policies is clear: the United States and the NED are not interesting in promoting democracy, and in fact, are eager to undermine it if they do not like the way people voted. This is seen in Palestine, where now the people of Gaza are being collectively punished, living without electricity, and with little food, because the US did not like the way they voted in a an election that has been deemed free and fair by international bodies. The United States will support democracy only when it suits their geopolitical interest; they will oppose it at every turn when it does not.