Well, you saw last week how the academic establishment (media?) In Belize treated the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of UBAD in February of 1969. They treated it as if it never happened. Of course, no one was surprised by Belizean academia’s perspective on this matter.
To the south of us in Venezuela, a dangerous drama is being played out which is frightening for conscious people worldwide. Pope Francis has recently warned of a possible bloodbath in Venezuela. The United States of America, planet earth’s superpower, has warned that it is not leaving a military option off the table. Washington, in other words, is threatening to invade Venezuela, where the military has continued to remain loyal to President Nicolas Maduro, successor to the charismatic Hugo Chavez.
At stake in Venezuela is US$ 30 trillion worth of petroleum reserves, the largest in the world. The United States is determined to control these oil reserves for the use of its economy and its war machine. In the Western Hemisphere, where the Americans declared their Monroe Doctrine hegemony way back in 1823, they have insisted on neoliberal capitalist governments and regimes in our part of the world. After World War II, which ended in 1945, the Americans wanted to prevent socialist and communist policies from influencing Western Hemisphere governments, because they wanted to prevent countries in the region from being infiltrated and influenced by Communist Russia. In this twenty-first century, the United States is more worried about Communist China than about Russia, but both China and Russia are prominent supporters of Venezuela’s Maduro government.
The reason the Venezuelan government refers to itself as “Bolivarian,” is because Hugo Chavez was a passionate admirer of the “South American Liberator,” Simon Bolivar, who fought for Venezuela’s freedom from Spain two centuries ago. Bolivar believed that the countries of Central America, the Caribbean, and South America should not allow themselves to be crushed under the heel of the United States, which had declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776.
So, what is it with the United States? The problem was and is that the United States is a white supremacist construct. It was built on the genocide of Native Americans and the slave labor of African people. The Haitian Revolution, a slave rebellion which overthrew French rule on the Caribbean island between 1791 and 1804, absolutely terrified the slaveholding states of the American South. It was the new black republic of Haiti which materially assisted Bolivar in fighting for the freedom of Venezuela and other South American states in the early nineteenth century.
Socialist and communist thinking appealed to many working class and oppressed populations in our part of the world after World War II had publicized the success of the Russian Revolution, which had come to power in 1917. (It was followed by the success of the Communist Chinese Revolution in 1949.) It had usually been the case, coming out of the Spanish Conquest and British colonialism, that the countries in our region were controlled by minority, neo-European populations which were absolutely supported by Washington because they were anti-communist.
But the majority of the populations in Central America and the Caribbean, and the upper part of South America, are what we sometimes call “people of color.” These are oppressed populations (Indigenous and African), to which various kinds of socialist and communist thought appealed because they were suffering under the so-called democratic, free market system.
So, ethnicity plays a significant role in the socio-politico-economic turbulence inside our societies in Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. So does religion, since traditional Christianity is the religion of the ruling neo-European classes in the region, and Christianity and neoliberal capitalism are seemingly inseparable.
We will consider ethnicity in the remainder of this column, so that you can better understand the crisis in Venezuela, but also so that you will be tempted to investigate the history of the UBAD phenomenon in Belize. The coalition which includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and several European governments which are attempting to run Maduro out of office, are completely ignoring the poor Venezuelans and Venezuelans of color who saw Chavez as a savior and accept Maduro as his successor. In order to control Venezuela’s oil, the Western coalition has to replace his government, and return the elite, neo-European class to power which basically ruled Venezuela before Chavez.
Many years ago in the neighboring republic of Guatemala, a reformist president named Jacobo Arbenz was in a situation somewhat similar to Maduro’s in that the United States wanted to overthrow him. Arbenz was supported by Guatemala’s Indigenous masses. It is hard to say whether the Guatemalan army would have remained loyal to Arbenz if he had decided to resist an invasion being led from Honduras by Carlos Castillo Armas, supported by the CIA, but Arbenz did not force the Guatemalan military to choose between his constitutionally-elected government and Castillo Armas’ invasion. He went into exile, arguing that he did not want to be the cause of Guatemalan bloodshed.
Che Guevara had been in Guatemala at the time. So, when the Cuban exiles, financed and trained by the Americans, tried to invade Cuba in 1961, Guevara urged Fidel Castro to do what Arbenz had not: arm the people. Thus, the Cuban exiles were defeated. Examine the color of the exiles in Florida and then study the color of the Cubans who remained at home with the Revolution.
This is a very bad situation in Venezuela, very bad. Personally, I do believe that the Maduro government is a better one for Venezuelans of color than whatever it is that Washington will set up as a puppet government. But only the Venezuelan people know what they are feeling presently. The Bible told us of wars and rumors of wars. It is what it is.
Power to the people.