Doug Saunders has quite the wagon-load of wishful thinking on view in my Globe and Mail today. The headline gives it away; “Canada almost saved Venezuela – until Washington crashed the party.”
That’s right! Canada has been working really hard behind the scenes to restore democracy in Venezuela, and we nearly pulled it off, but then “one man walked into the room, late to the party, and began shouting his support.”
That man would be Donald Trump, of course, the know-nothing imbecile currently in the White House. Fearing that the deft diplomacy of Chrystia Freeland would knock him off the top of the news cycle for a few minutes, Trump elbowed his way into a situation that was none of his business, and wrecked all our hard work.
So there you have it. A peaceful transition was within reach, with perhaps a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Chrystia following soon after…
Hard to know where to begin. First of all, Trump isn’t exactly late to the party. America’s regime change strategy (also known as “restoring democracy,” per the time-honoured US tradition we have seen applied in Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Brazil, Haiti, Honduras, among others) vis-a-vis Venezuela dates back to the election of Chavez twenty years ago.
In the interval, the US has funded many opposition initiatives in Venezuela, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars through agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy. The “party” going on in Venezuela is pretty much Uncle Sam’s party. It’s Chrystia and Justin who arrived late.
Secondly, why no mention of US sanctions? I have no doubt that corruption and ineptitude have played a significant role in creating the current mess, but surely many years of US-led sanctions deserve some credit. Doug carefully avoids any mention of the recent Alfred de Zayas UN report on the impact of those sanctions.
Speaking of corruption and ineptitude, Canadians need to take a good hard look at our bedfellows in the “Lima Group.” We’ve tossed our lot in with the likes of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina… any of which could give Venezuela a run for its money in the corruption department. By the way, it’s worth noting that the new government in Mexico has been distancing itself from the Lima Group, an act of defying Trump, as opposed to what Justin and Chrystia are doing.
Finally, given that Doug’s column bears little or no resemblance to the actual political history of US-Venezuela relations over the past two decades, what do you suppose would be the point in writing it?
I see two objectives.
The reputation of the Freeland-Trudeau team on the world stage has taken quite a bruising after diplomatic screw-ups with India, China, Saudi Arabia, and the US. The brain-trust guiding Canada’s newspaper of record may believe a little turd-polishing is in order, and what better way to signal our virtue than by taking another gratuitous kick at the Orange Ogre.
The truth of the matter is that Canada and the rest of the “Lima Group” satrapys are 100% bent on advancing America’s two-decades-long regime-change strategy in Venezuela. Dissing Trump while kissing Uncle Sam’s backside is what used to be called hypocrisy… and that’s an arena in which Canada truly does punch above its weight.
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