U.S. hemispheric policy reached a new low today when President Barack Obama invoked emergency powers to declare “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.” Thanks to Obama’s action, the U.S. has now blatantly rehabilitated its traditional imperial posture towards the South and challenged the continent-wide Bolivarian cause of Latin American and Caribbean independence and sovereignty. With such a wreckless declaration, Washington has sent a green light to the ultra right opposition that was behind the anti-government violence in Venezuela during the first quarter of last year. This contravenes the current efforts of a delegation sent to Caracas by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to maintain the peace, and thereby further alienates a region committed to defending their national sovereignty and independence from any power block on earth.
While Venezuela has identified the issue of corruption, is prosecuting a number of its security personnel for human rights abuses, acknowledges the need and is engaged in the reform of police training and practice, and is indeed in the midst of an economic crisis, Washington’s exceptionalism as applied to Venezuela, may raise more than some skepticism. For the U.S. continues to lumber aid to the regime in Honduras and Mexico, which have engaged in well documented systematic brutality and gross violations of human rights. While all human rights abuses merit attention and accountability wherever they occur, the Obama Administration’s selective indignation aimed at Caracas,and a complete lack of critique of the violent anti-government guarimbas (violent demonstrations) of the first quarter of last year, is bound to draw questions about the motives of U.S. hostilities towards Venezuela.