By Nélida Tello
During the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing on April 1, the Trump administration announced the deployment of US Navy warships to Venezuela and the Caribbean under the pretext of stopping drug cartels from smuggling drugs into the US.
While it remains unclear how close the warships will be to the Venezuelan coast, the US aims to double its naval capacity in the region. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper stated that the US Navy will deploy destroyers, surveillance planes, and “elements of an army security force assistance brigade” to counter “corrupt actors,” namely president Nicolás Maduro from “attempting to capitalize on the [coronavirus pandemic],”
The US utilizes accusations of drug trafficking against the Venezuelan government to legitimize their imperialist plots. The “Enhanced Counter-Narcotics Operations” in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea seeks to escalate its coup attempt against Maduro. The operation comes a week after attorney general William Barr indicted the Venezuelan government on charges of narcoterrorism, drug trafficking, and corruption, and shortly after the Trump administration proposed a “Framework for a Peaceful Democratic Transition in Venezuela,” another attempt at regime change.
The Venezuelan government was also charged with forming part of the drug trafficking organization “Cartel of the Suns” and conspiring to smuggle drugs into the US in collaboration with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Department of State has gone as far as offering a $15 million reward for information leading to Maduro’s arrest.
Juan Guaidó, the US backed opposition leader, was spotted with Colombian narco paramilitary members in 2019, demonstrating that the US is principally interested in regime change in Venezuela and not in stopping corruption or drug trafficking.
Creating the appearance of a so-called democratic transition of power, the proposal would require that Maduro and Guaidó step aside while the national assembly appoints a five member Council of State that would act as the executive branch until elections are held after 6-12 months. Chinese and Russian forces would be required to leave the country, guaranteeing US hegemony in South America. If the proposal, is accepted sanctions on oil would be lifted. The proposal aims to establish a government that would allow US corporations to monopolize markets in Venezuela, carving it from a semi-colony into a colony.
Maduro called the increasing US imperialist aggression a diversion from the US failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic. However, the US is not using this provocation as a diversion for its failure, but rather utilizing the pandemic as a diversion to increase its imperialist aggression, as it did in Iraq earlier last month.
The US has been in a low intensity war with Venezuela, attempting to overthrow Maduro. In 2019, the US backed Guaidó’s self-proclamation to presidency, and US sanctions against Venezuelan oil worsened the economic crisis within the country. The US failed coup attempt has now turned towards invading Venezuela and is gesturing towards an imperialist war of aggression.
US imperialism does not stop during a pandemic, but will utilize it as a scapegoat to justify its aggressions. Activists in the US must not be afraid to denounce, protest, and resist US imperialism in the midst of a pandemic.