Venezuela Under Siege

A Conversation with Professor Julia Buxton

 “This opposition campaign has been one of what was called the other day in the media, circus. It’s PR stunts. It’s about media publicity. As ever, the opposition has not learned the fundamental key root to change that they want to see in Venezuela, which is connecting with ordinary Venezuelan people.”

Professor Julia Buxton (quoted in this week’s show.)


Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

Nicolas Maduro can no longer claim to be the legitimate president of Venezuela.

This is a familiar refrain playing out in Venezuelan opposition circles. A tune that the heads of State of Canada, the United States, and the Lima Group of countries are dancing to. And one that began to crescendo when National Assembly member Juan Guaido declared himself Interim President in January.[1][2][3]

As if to provide backing vocals to this political tune, mainstream Western media have trumpeted the ‘economic and humanitarian crisis rocking the country” – a convenient cacophony drowning out any discourse around foreign interference via sanctions and clandestine operations.[4]

Those operations have shown signs of evolving in the past two months.

A convoy of aid trucks from Cucuta, Colombia attempted to cross the border into Venezuela on February 23rd urged on by Juan Guaido himself, front and centre like some philanthropic carnival barker. When the USAID trucks arrived at the border, major press organs like the New York Times reported that Venezuelan security forces set the trucks on fire. Thanks to independent journalists like Max Blumenthal, it is now well established that it was anti-Maduro protesters, not pro-Maduro forces who set the trucks on fire, clearly as a vulgar publicity stunt to sell regime change for ‘humanitarian’ reasons.[5]

In March, the country has experienced two major power outages, plunging most of the country into darkness for days at a time. Guaido and supporters of the opposition are blaming the outages on corruption and mismanagement. Meanwhile, the Maduro government is claiming the outages resulted from criminal attacks on the country’s electrical infrastructure by forces supporting the opposition.[6][7]

Venezuelan authorities have also arrested Guaido’s chief of staff Roberto Marrero and lawyer Juan Planchart, claiming their involvement in a plot to hire mercenaries to execute targeted killings and acts of sabotage, all in the interests of promoting regime change.[8]

The US has increased its sanctions. President Trump has demanded Russia abandon Venezuela, with his Vice President calling the delivery of military planes to the Bolivarian Republic “an unwelcome provocation.”[9]

With the prospect of a military conflict ramping up, the Global Research News Hour returns to the topic of Venezuela with analysis supplied by longtime Venezuela watcher and researcher Julia Buxton.

Professor Buxton’s exacting analysis incorporates an analysis of the roots of the political crisis in the country, including candid admissions of failures on the part of Maduro to adequately address ongoing economic challenges. She points to the shortcomings of the opposition as well as the background role of neoliberal Harvard University based Venezuelan ex-pat Ricardo Hausmann, as well as a new generation of activists, and intellectuals who cannot recall the pre-Chavez era. Maduro’s substantial dependence on the military comes under scrutiny in this week’s comprehensive interview. Professor Buxton also notes the country’s growing dependence on China, and how that relationship is threatening the aims of the Bolivarian revolution.

A presentation by Buxton to a group of Winnipeg based activists on March 25th, and a follow-up conversation at University of Winnipeg-based CKUW studio dominates this 60 minute program.

Julia Buxton is Professor of Comparative Politics at Central European University’s School of Public Policy, and Senior Research Associate at the Global Drug Policy Observatory, Swansea University. A specialist on Latin America and an expert on Venezuela, receiving her PhD from the London School of Economics, Buxton has thematic expertise on democratisation and transition processes, post conflict recovery, and conflict analysis, including conflict sensitive design and policy implementation, as well as gender and gender sensitive design. She has authored numerous books and articles on Venezuela in the Chavez period and on Latin America in general.

(Global Research News Hour Episode 254)


Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

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  1. Ana Vanessa Herrero and Ernesto Londoño (Jan. 15, 2019), ‘Venezuela Opposition Declares Maduro Illegitimate, and Urges Defections’, New  York Times;

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Articles by: Michael Welch and Julia Buxton

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