Venezuela’s Middle Class Coup

From Elijah Magnier on February 5:

Kurdish forces in Syria are overwhelmed not by attacks, but by the hundreds of ISIS surrendering to its forces, unwilling to continue fighting, and preferring prison to death. What is more, the families (women and children) of ISIS militants of various nationalities are flocking into the deserted area under Kurdish control east of the Euphrates and surrendering themselves. They are hungry and humiliated, and they loudly express their disappointment at the trap they were drawn into years ago to by the so-called Islamic State. 

From Nafeez Ahmed on February 6:

According to the NYT, even the ostensibly anti-austerity president Rafael Caldera — who had promised more “state-financed populism” as an antidote to years of IMF-wrought austerity — ended up “negotiating for a $3 billion loan from the IMF” along with “a second loan of undisclosed size to ease the social impact of any hardships imposed by an IMF agreement…”

The vast bulk of Venezuela’s oil is not conventional crude, but unconventional “heavy oil”, a highly viscous liquid that requires unconventional techniques to extract and flow, often with heat from steam, and/or mixing it with lighter forms of crude in the refining process.

From Patrick Lawrence on February 7:

It is stunning, in the context of Ukraine and Syria, that the U.S. now proposes to embark on a series of three coup operations in Latin America, the first of which unfolds as we speak.

From Mark Perry:

“I want us out of Syria,” the Centcom officer with whom I spoke quoted Trump as saying. “There wasn’t anything ambiguous about it,” the Centcom senior officer added. “There were no qualifiers, no conditionals, and so far as I know, nothing about that conversation has changed…”

“You actually have to add to subtract,” a civilian Pentagon official told me, “which means deploying logistics personnel onsite to implement, catalogue, and coordinate the withdrawal. We’re at 2,200 right now, but as the withdrawal accelerates, we’ll be adding people. It’s the nature of the beast.”

From Michael Hudson at The Saker:

First of all, oil refineries were not built in Venezuela, but in Trinidad and in the southern U.S. Gulf Coast states. This enabled U.S. oil companies – or the U.S. Government – to leave Venezuela without a means of “going it alone” and pursuing an independent policy with its oil, as it needed to have this oil refined. It doesn’t help to have oil reserves if you are unable to get this oil refined so as to be usable.

Second, Venezuela’s central bankers were persuaded to pledge their oil reserves and all assets of the state oil sector (including Citgo) as collateral for its foreign debt…

Despite being nominally rich in oil revenue, its wealth was concentrated in the hands of a pro-U.S. oligarchy that let its domestic development be steered by the World Bank and IMF…

By imposing sanctions that prevent Venezuela from gaining access to its U.S. bank deposits and the assets of its state-owned Citco, the United States is making it impossible for Venezuela to pay its foreign debt…

The refusal of England and the United States to grant an elected government control of its foreign assets demonstrates to the entire world that U.S. diplomats and courts alone can and will control foreign countries as an extension of U.S. nationalism…

China, Russia and Iran don’t have a current capacity to refine Venezuelan oil.

From Monthly Review in June:

In Venezuela, the modernization process was ushered in by U.S. “missionary capitalist” to Latin America and godfather to the Green Revolution, Nelson Rockefeller. As the home of Standard Oil’s most profitable regional affiliate, the country held a special significance for Rockefeller, who made Venezuela his home away from home, even establishing his own hacienda…

In 1989, IMF-prescribed structural adjustment policies proved the final straw for an increasingly fed-up population, sparking the Caracazo, or “explosion of Caracas,” in which hundreds of thousands of people from the hillside barrios flooded the center of the capital in a massive popular uprising that rapidly spread across the country…

The constitution guarantees food security for all citizens, “through the promotion of sustainable agriculture as a strategic basis for integrated rural development…

Thus, more food programs for the poor meant more food imports, which further consolidated the import complex, reinforced through multiple mechanisms of the state…

In the 1960s, the introduction of precooked corn flour drove cultivation into industrial monoculture production. In the process, its more nutritious outer layers are removed, yielding a nutritionally poor substance. Within four decades, pre-cooked corn flour came to represent 88 percent of all corn consumed in the country…

The lines have largely formed outside supermarkets, where consumers wait to access certain specific items that have mostly gone missing from the shelves. These consist of the most consumed industrially processed products in the Venezuelan food basket, particularly precooked corn flour…

The regular discovery of stockpiles further suggests that goods have been intentionally diverted from supermarket shelves…

In Venezuela today, as in Chile in the 1970s, U.S. intervention relies on an ongoing counterrevolutionary effort, with elites using the revolutionary potential of the masses to frighten the middle class…

The protesters are mostly the grandchildren of the middle class that emerged in the period of modernization and “whitening,” with important links to the country’s elite, forming a middle class-elite alliance known as sifrinaje…

The violent protests disproportionately affected people in the poorest sectors, who could not afford to skip work and for whom basic activities became daily struggles, between transportation shutdowns caused by roadblocks and fear of physical violence…

Perhaps most emblematic of the early days of the shortages was the substitution of freshly ground corn for processed (precooked) corn flour in the preparation of arepas, as many dusted off their grandmothers’ grinders and put them to use…

The surge in interest in alternatives to industrially produced foods and the revaluing of the countryside have provided openings for social movements, helping forge connections between emerging grassroots responses and prior efforts toward food sovereignty under the Bolivarian Revolution…

The government purchases food directly from suppliers, both private and public, and coordinates with community organizations to distribute mixed food packages to individual households…

Today there are more than thirty thousand CLAPs throughout the country, with the aim of reaching six million families—nearly three-quarters of the population—with regular distributions by the end of 2018.

From Greg Palast:

Even though the Mestizo majority suffers today, they will not turn back to the pre-Chavez days of de facto apartheid.

From Georgy Zotov at The Saker:

“Demonstrations?” yawns Alejandro, a street vendor selling corn. “Well, Saturday there will be one, sort of. On one end of the city will be a rally of opposition supporters, and on the other, Maduro supporters…

“What do you have? Dollars? No, I won’t take that.” “Why now?” “I take only the Euros …dollar, man, is the currency of the aggressor, they try to tell us how to live!..”

“Will you accept dollars for lunch?” I ask hopelessly. “Yes, at the rate of “black market” they whispered to me. “But the change will also be in dollars…sorry, no bolivars at all…we’ve been hunting for them ourselves for weeks…”

I can’t believe that is a full tank of fuel costs FIVE CENTS?..

CNN and the BBC show videos of Venezuelans wrapped in rolls of toilet paper and sadly wandering across the border with Colombia. The toilet paper is found in absolutely every store, and without any problems…

Food imports into the country reached 95 percent. And now the situation is not too different…

“Chavez was a great guy!” says 75-year-old Raul Romero. “Maduro is nothing like him! There are speculators on the streets, he does nothing. In his time, Chavez arrested the dealers raising food prices, closed their shops, confiscated land from landowners, and gave it to the people. We need a firm hand, a real dictatorship!..”

According to CNN and BBC, impoverished people in Venezuela are revolting against the government. Nothing can be further from the truth; it’s a wealthy middle class that goes to demonstrate.

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