Many Countries at UN Oppose Trump Interference in Venezuela

Yves here. This Real News Network segment with Lawrence Wilkerson is a useful antidote to the impression much of the domestic media is trying to convey, that the US has broad-based support for its coup attempt in Venezuela.

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay.

On Saturday morning there was a somewhat extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council. It was an open meeting. Countries were invited to come give their opinion and response to the push by the United States, led by President Donald Trump, to recognize Juan Guaido. This is the man who is the president of the National Assembly in Venezuela who declared himself president. Apparently, as the Wall Street Journal is now reporting, that Vice President Mike Pence phoned Guaido the night before he made such a declaration. And either he suggested he make the declaration–that’s not clear–but at least what is clear, according to the report, Pence says that if he’d made such a declaration he would get U.S. support. And in fact, the United States supported Guaido’s declaration almost immediately after he made it.

Well, there’s been a very interesting split in the world that was–this was reflected at those meetings Saturday morning, where many countries refused to go along with this plan, saying that the UN Charter says there should be non-interference in the internal affairs of UN member countries, and that that should be respected. The United States says they don’t like the way the elections were held, and a bunch of countries have aligned themselves with the United States on this, on their position of recognizing Guaido and calling, essentially, what many people are calling a coup that Guaido should take power. And they are openly trying to foment support within the Venezuelan military, ‘they’ being the United States, to engineer such a coup.

At any rate, here’s a little sample of what took place at the UN on Saturday morning.

SPEAKER: Now we have a new leader, Juan Guaido, in Venezuela, who has promised to bring elections and constitutional order back to Venezuela, and security back to the region.

SPEAKER: This is not about foreign intervention in Venezuela. It is not an attempt to impose a result on the Venezuelan people. Democracy never needs to be imposed. It is tyranny that has to be imposed.

SPEAKER: But what about if we look at the international law, the Charter? Where is this based on? Are we simply setting aside international relations based on international law, and replacing the with international relations based on force?

AMBASSADOR FROM CHINA: China supports the efforts made by the Venezuelan government to uphold national sovereignty, independence, and stability.

SPEAKER: The meeting which we are being forced to be present is another element of the strategy of the United States to effect regime change in Venezuela. We regret that in this unethical ploy, in its unethical ploys, the United States is involving the Security Council.

AMBASSADOR FROM COLOMBIA: Colombia has come here to the Security Council to ask the international community to demand that the life and well being of Juan Guaido is upheld, and not just that he is protected but also the members of the National Assembly and all those who fight for democracy. And indeed, we have come to call for the international community’s support for all those Venezuelans who are sparing no effort to build a better future.

AMBASSADOR FROM BELGIUM: Belgium calls for the restoration of constitutional order in Venezuela. The presidential elections, which took place in May of last year, were in no way free, fair, or credible, thus stripping the government of Nicolas Maduro of any democratic legitimacy. The main threat to peace and security in Latin America and the Caribbean is, in fact, the bullying by the United States and its allies of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which is a flagrant affront to the popular will of the people of Venezuela, and to the institutional framework of this country.

SPEAKER: I ask the question honestly: If we look back through history, which country has been better after an intervention by the United States of America? Have we not discussed in this very Security Council the serious adverse impact and consequences of situations such as the current situation in Iraq, or Syria, or in Libya?

PAUL JAY: So that was a sampling of what took place Saturday morning at the United Nations. Now joining us to discuss this somewhat realignment of forces in the world, I think, as well as what’s really at stake at this issue with Venezuela, is Larry Wilkerson. Larry is the former chief of staff to Secretary of State, former Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Thanks for joining us, Larry.

LARRY WILKERSON: Thanks for having me, Paul.

PAUL JAY: So it seems you can–the fundamental issue that was seemed to be raised by many countries at the UN was that this is an issue of non-interference, not an issue of how you assess the Venezuelan elections, although some countries went even further and said one should respect the outcome of those elections. But other countries, it seems to me, were saying it’s not up to countries outside Venezuela to decide on the domestic affairs of Venezuela, and that that principle trumps everything else. What do you–what’s your view of this?

LARRY WILKERSON: It’s all a discussion about how power should be managed and arranged in the world. And despite what anyone says, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, or Donald Trump, or Mike Pompeo, these kinds of things are all about the distribution of power in the world and who’s going to have influence over who.

And so when you look at Venezuela, on the rim of the Gulf of Mexico and subject to the Monroe doctrine, and its oil, some say–many with reason–and experts say that Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. Very difficult to get to, very difficult to get out of the ground, high economic costs for doing so, but nonetheless a lot of oil. And the United States has a long relationship with Caracas. And so you can understand this happening.

At the same time, the principle of non-intervention is just that: non-intervention. And not for a moment do I think that the United States, particularly with this administration, will restrain itself from intervening significantly in Venezuela. After all, I was there in 2002 when we began this more or less slow fuse coup d’etat against Chavez. And of course, I’ve read all about Salvador Allende, and Mohammed Mossadegh, and Jacobo Arbenz; all the other people in the world who we have overthrown from time to time.

So this is no surprise to me. It is somewhat of a surprise that we have this division of view in the world. And the majority of the world, if you want to go by population, seems to be in favor of a more pure definition of non-intervention than the United States likes to entertain.

PAUL JAY: Yeah, I think it’s it’s interesting the way that most of the corporate media is reporting on this. It’s as if the majority of the world, governments of the world, are with the United States with Trump on recognizing. But in fact, the governments that represent the majority of the people of the world are certainly not with this plan. India has refused to recognize Guaido, and considers this a domestic concern of Venezuela. China, Russia. And also, I thought, maybe even most interesting of all of this, is that Saturday morning the CARICOM, countries the Caribbean countries, they refused to buckle under U.S. pressure. Trump has been making a lot of threats about countries that take our aid and want to be allied with us, and then they “don’t even vote for us at the UN.” Well, they stood up to Trump. There were several very small countries that made a point of coming to speak at that meeting. They could have just gone with the CARICOM statement, which wasn’t as strong as what Barbados said, and St. Thomas and the Grenadines said, and some others. They really took up this position for non-interference in domestic affairs.

And the fact that Canada, which, you know, Canada’s whole international identity is supposedly based on its support for the United Nations and the Charter of the United Nations–of course, there’s a lot of history of that not being true. But Canada tries to pretend it’s true. Canada is supporting this. Germany, Spain, and France are now calling for elections. I mean, who are they to call for elections in Venezuela? And the hypocrisy of all this. Like, if they–if they don’t like the elections that took place in China–I’m sorry, in Venezuela–and that’s a reason not to recognize the government, then why don’t they apply that to China and Saudi Arabia and any number of countries, including the United States? There’s a lot of people that could say the United States, the American elections, weren’t all that democratic.

LARRY WILKERSON: I think you have to consider the situation in Venezuela. Now, I remember very well the words of Richard Nixon to his then-CIA director Richard Helms: Made the Chilean economy scream. That’s exactly what the President said to his CIA director as they prepared to overthrow Salvador Allende in Chile. So I’m not discounting the fact that–what I’m going to say now–might have in part or in large part been caused by the United States making the Venezuelan economy scream. That’s certainly a possibility.

Nonetheless, it is screaming. The Venezuelan people are flocking into Colombia, the only South American country that will take them, by and large. And the only reason Colombia is taking them is because it’s returning the good offices of Venezuela when the FARC was giving Colombia so much trouble and Colombians were going into Venezuela. So it feels like it owes Venezuela a debt, and rightfully so. But there are some three to four million Venezuelans now who are in the diaspora, and left Venezuela because of the economic conditions.

So whoever is responsible–Chavez, Maduro, the National Assembly, the United States–whomever is responsible for this chaos in Venezuela, it is, nonetheless, chaos. And so something needs to be done. But, as these other countries have said, I believe it’s up to the Venezuelan people to do this, and not the United States, and not Canada, and not France, and not Germany. That’s what non-intervention is all about.

PAUL JAY: And there is a proposal on the table from Mexico and Uruguay to help negotiate this. And it seems to me that this is–it is such a fundamental principle of international law, and it goes to the very core of why there is a United Nations, that it’s really something that Canada and some of these European countries that try to pretend they are believers in international law are going along with this. I can kind of understand the right-wing governments of Latin America that are supporting this in Brazil and some of the other countries. Although what a joke that they consider the Brazilian elections legitimate. You have a parliamentary coup against the Brazilian president, and then you have an election where the main opponent to Bolsonaro is sitting in jail. Lula is sitting in jail. They won’t let him run. And those elections are considered OK by the Trump administration.

LARRY WILKERSON: Let’s go back and look at Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on Honduras. In my estimation the Honduran–recent Honduran exchange of governments was unconstitutional, unethical, immoral, and illegal. And yet the United States jumped right on top of it to recognize the new, more conservative, Honduran president. And I’ve been in Honduras, I’ve been in Tegucigalpa, and I know the kind of person that we recognize.

So this is something we do. If it’s in our interest we do it; if it’s not in our interest we don’t do it. That’s the simple formula that we use. The difference with the Trump administration is you never know when that formula is going to be applied or how it’s going to be applied. And I would suspect that one of the reasons you got such instant agreement, if you will, from countries like France, like Germany, like Canada, is because Trump has frightened them. He’s frightened them with his approach to NATO, and he’s frightened them with his trade wars, and so forth. And so on this particular issue, where they really don’t have a dog in the fight, not up close and personal, anyway, they’re not going to turn against Trump.

PAUL JAY: Yeah, I think that’s a very important point. I interviewed a Canadian general during the early stages of sending troops to Afghanistan. And I asked him, why did we send troops to Afghanistan? Lots of the opinion at the time after 9/11 was that this could have been more of a police-style operation in Afghanistan, going after al Qaeda, the Taliban. It didn’t need to be a full-scale military invasion with so many countries involved. It wasn’t a proportional or even, to large extent, legal response. And he told me it’s very simple why Canada sent troops to Afghanistan. He says we sent troops to Afghanistan because we need to pay in blood to send our goods across the border into the United States. That if we want the same kind of this easy trade relationship with the U.S., we have to take up some of the burden of military operations. And he didn’t use the word empire, but that’s what it came down to. We have to play our role in the world.

And Venezuela, I think, is a very good example of this. And it wasn’t just now that Canada has played this role. Canada has been playing this role in Venezuela from around the time of the coup in 2002.

LARRY WILKERSON: That’s the empire. That’s the lessons of empire throughout history, whether it’s Athens dealing with Corinth and Milos and others in her empire, or whether it’s Britain dealing with the subcontinent in her empire. You demand obeisance, and obeisance is given so that your people can have some sort of stability and prosperity, until you get rid of the empire.

PAUL JAY: And I think it’s important, just to add to your point about Honduras and Obama and Clinton, that some of the–several of the leaders of the Democratic Party, including Nancy Pelosi, have actually endorsed Trump’s strategy in Venezuela.

LARRY WILKERSON: This is a bipartisan issue. I think I told you, the other day I came out of a room that had a bipartisan national security elite group debating things. And one of the things–debating the future and all manner of issues, everything from whether or not we should plus up State’s 150 account, the international relations account, how we should go after the defense budget, and so forth. And so I came out of that with the distinct impression that everyone there, Democrat and Republican, had decided that perpetual war is the concomitant of empire. Put in plain English: War, interminable war, is this Empire’s debt to the future.

PAUL JAY: All right. Thanks for joining us, Larry.

LARRY WILKERSON: Thank you for having me.

PAUL JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

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  1. Prime Minister Rev Kev

    Yep, it’s true. I decided that if I was going to live in a vassal state then I might as well be the boss. I got onto the phone with Trump and luckily he was on his meds. I told him if he supported my elevation to Prime Minister, then he can have half our oil. Little does he know we hardly have any. He has already tweeted Prime Minister Morrison to step down and is arranging to have all Australia’s off-shore assets transferred into my personal bank account. I have already emailed the Armed Forces to place themselves under my command. But not to worry. I will be a benign ruler – at first!

    This whole Venezuelan thing is demented. If this is a Trump doctrine, then at any time the US can elevate some nobody to the head of a country under threat of intervention. Do the other South American countries understand this? It may not stop there. What if in a few years Le Pen is elected head of France but Trump says no, the election got the wrong result and it must be Macron that stays as leader. And just who is this Guido anyway. The only Guido I know was from Star Wars-

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thank you. Your name shall be spared from my Proscription Lists! (I did say that I would be benign at first).

    1. JTMcPhee

      I’d say, don’t hang this on “Trump” as some kind of “doctrine.” Any more than one can honestly hang the “Monroe Doctrine” on Monroe, as discussed here in NC recently. It’s the Oligarchy’s behavior set, pure and simple — that Trump is the titular head of state at this moment is pure happenstance, and you know that this comes from an, ahem, “deeper” place in the political economic system. The Imperium has been “elevating” “sons of b!tches, but they’re OUR sons of b!tches,” both internally and externally, since the Europeans crossed the Atlantic way back when.

      It’s interesting that a lot of the commentary is mostly knowing asides about the patency and seeming clumsiness of this latest exercise in idiotic imperial hegeomonics, and much less about the horror of it all — the kind of horror sensations one gets watching Freddie Kruger slasher movies, horror at the impossibility of defeating the evil that kills for pleasure and can’t be stopped and keeps coming back even in the face of apparent “victory” by the Good Actors… Even “burning it with fire” does not defeat it.

  2. anon y'mouse

    That pretender better watch his life. His own side would do away with him just to dirty up Maduro and precipitate some kind of intervention, based upon how that would play as “totalitarian dictatorship” for the world, already primed to see that.

    I hope he has non buyable personal guards.

  3. Wukchumni

    “Bolivar cannot carry double.”~ O. Henry

    Bolt-on tools notwithstanding, he’s no craftsman when it comes to getting diplomacy done. What a country we’ve shown the world to be.

      1. tegnost

        He shows up in a step van with every weapon known to humans and apes, from rocks and sticks to nukes…
        “Whaddya need here? Let’s git’erdone, boo yah comrade!”

  4. Charles Leseau

    Great interview, though a bit short. Thanks for posting it.

    Some rambling thoughts, and maybe I’m wrong: I keep thinking that from a pure strategic standpoint this should be seen as a ham-fisted blunder on Trump’s part.

    He’s a very hammer-and-nail type, which is a helpful quality for overcoming some multitude of political problems. But it feels like a 19th century approach. It reminds me of Napoleon III’s little disaster in Mexico. Some subtlety is required. They already have a more modern method for overthrowing democratically elected leaders and installing obsequious toady dictators, they were some good percentage of the way there, and then this. It looks like a panic move, and one that tipped America’s – and by extension the whole globalist establishment’s – hand too obviously and too early. Makes me think of Don Corleone slapping Sonny for letting the other families know what he was thinking. (Not that the US plan for Latin America is particularly subtle, but there’s a way to do it where the media will barely report it and where it simply isn’t a global conversation.)

    I suspect the appointment of Abrams will fix things in the end, so there’s that.

  5. digi_owl

    It has been weird to follow the situation in Venezuela.

    Far too many of the early reports of problems were coming out of US media, written by people that at first glance had background in Venezuela but that on closer scrutiny had taken higher education abroad (more often than not, USA).

    At the time it seemed that European media didn’t care what was going on there, they are more busy reporting on the gender related protests against Trump and #meetoo goings on in Hollywood.

    But now all of a sudden Venezuela has become a hot topic, though mostly they are parroting the US line. A few however seems to have their own people finally in Venezuela to take a proper look at the situation.

    One may wonder how this will develop from here on out…

    1. Wukchumni

      Maybe a look back at how we coerced Ecuador in 2000 into giving up sovereignty of their own currency in lieu of the U.S. $ which also Dollar-denominated all of their oil reserves, would be educational, not that I know anything as far as the particulars.

      Can somebody shed a light?

  6. The Rev Kev

    I was wondering about future side effects of this bizarre attempted high-jacking of a country. For example, the Bank of England has refused to return Venezuela’s gold and the UK government is making out that it is nothing to do with them. If you were a country that had gold in the UK, how confident would you be about having your gold stored there now? By coincidence, I just saw a story on this where a Professor says: “One of the few things left for Britain is to be the financial center that London has been for so long. And one of the ways you stay a financial center is if you don’t play games with other people’s money”-

    The second thing is how the US has arbitrarily seized Venezuelan assets in the US and even more arbitrarily decided that a nobody is going to get them who would be expected to sell them on the cheap to the US. Any assets that you would have in the US might better be liquid so that if things went south, that you had a chance of getting them out. Have the people behind this scheme really gamed this all out? What am I saying. They don’t care. They just want the quick cash-out of Venezuela’s oil and gold deposits for their own bank accounts as well as their buddies.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Proven reserves are self reported and there has been a big history of OPEC members increasing their reserves implausibly because their production allocation from OPEC is based on “proven reserves”.

          But regardless, yes, Venezuela has a lot of oil.

  7. timbers

    Just a reminder that Obama declared Venezuela a National Security threat to the United States.

    I laughed when he did. How silly.

    What Trump is doing is bi-partisan as Jay and Larry noted, and the ground work has been worked on for a long time prior.

    What strikes as a little different this time, is how China and Russia spoke up against the U.S. About time.

    1. Susan the Other

      Obama opened the flood gates on fracking just as he pivoted to Asia. Almost in a panic; soon it was touted that we were the world’s leading oil “exporter”; we coerced Germany into accepting out LGN and threatened Russia to get out of the Nordstsream-2 deal and all the while there were signs that Saudi Arabia, our supplier, was a failing state. The ME has since turned into “Pipelinestan” as Pepe Escobar calls it, and a brand new player has emerged: Israel in a consortium with the UK and others, to become the “energy hub” of the eastern Mediterranean. And back in 2002 (when Wilkerson says we started a slow coup against Venezuela) we were focused on securing Afghanistan for no apparent reason except to have a strategic outpost in the center of Asia. Didn’t Rummy come up with the name of the war, at that moment, “Odyssey Dawn”? It wasn’t all that hidden. If we want to maintain the illusion that we are an oil-rich country, the world’s biggest exporter of oil and propaganda, then we are going to have to reclaim our control over the Caribbean and Venezuela’s oil. It all makes perfectly good sense. Even Nancy Pelosi, the masterful legislator that brought us to this ghost-town state of affairs, is on board. Go Nancy.

      1. RBHoughton

        I was told the war on Afghanistan was in part due to Unocal’s contract for ten trillion dollars worth of energy products from the Caspian which needed the Afghans and Pakistanis onside to bring to market. When the Taliban made that impossible, focus moved to the other great global reserve in Venezuela.

    2. False Solace

      Anyone who supported Trump over Hillary on the basis that he would be more non-interventionist has to be questioning that logic now. Let’s review.

      Trump made a lot of noise about North Korea but it doesn’t seem to have affected matters much. He himself ramped up tensions then lowered them with no apparent effect. We still have tens of thousands of troops there. They still have nukes.

      Trump withdrew some troops from Syria that he himself sent. Overall a plus, but the writing was on the wall. The US strategy was already cratered.

      His policy on Venezuela looks identical to whatever Hillary would have done.

      He doesn’t want to “lose” in Iraq. Whatever the heck that means, it doesn’t sound good if you think we shouldn’t be there. Under Trump’s rules of engagement the US and its “coalition” massacred hundreds of civilians in Mosul. That’s gotta be good for peace. /s

      He talks about leaving Afghanistan but all he’s done so far is suggest removing the troops he himself added. Withdraw by 2020? I’ll believe it when I see it.

      Anyone who calls themselves an interventionist must be disappointed in Trump. Hypocritical conservatives will console themselves by saying that Venezuela is “socialist”. To me Venezuela looks about as socialist as Denmark or Sweden, though slightly more corrupt. The key difference that the Venezuelan people own the oil, and that is not allowed. Hillary would fully support this idiotic coup.

    3. Synapsid


      “…China and Russia spoke up against the U.S. About time.”

      Venezuela owes China tens of billions of dollars, to be paid in oil, for past loans. A Chinese delegation was in Caracas about a month ago, I think it was, in response to a request from Venezuela for re-negotiation since the payments haven’t been being made in full.

      Venezuela owes Russia billions of dollars, to be paid in oil, for past loans. A Russian delegation was in Caracas right after the Chinese one.

      Both countries have strong concerns about ever having their loans to Venezuela paid back. Bits and pieces of Venezuelan infrastructure and resources have been turned over to the two lenders as a result, and one whopper is a lien on 49.9 percent of the value of CITGO, PDVSA’s refining and distribution network in the US, as collateral against loans. PDVSA is the Venezuelan state-owned oil company.

  8. RUKidding

    Well it just goes to show that Trump is at the, uh, er, “mercy” of Deep State/the PTB/the MIC/the whatever you wann call it just as they all are. Everyone’s hopes and dreams that it would somehow be “different” under so-called “Sovereign Citizen” Trump have proven to be the chimera they always were. Besides Trump could give a stuff about Venezuela, much less their peon citizens. Icky brown people, after all.

    Yeah and duly noted that Big D stepped right up to endorse this latest exercise in the usual US hegemony in our “backyard,” Central and South America.

    No doubt Bolton was hand-picked for his current position, so that he could be the Go-To Guy for just this very thing, which the Oligarchs – esp BigOil – have been salivating over for a while. I think I read something about how Team USA! USA! USA! BigOil are the “right peeps” to go in and rob, uh, steal, er, do something or other with Venezuelan oil. Methinks I smell the stench of the Koch brothers… who recently said that they wouldn’t be contributing to the 2020 campaign… ha ha ha fooled ya twice ya dummies.

    I also notice that Pope Francis expressed justified concern about a potential blood bath in Venezuela, which is a logical fear. Duly noted, though, that the Pope has some Augean stables of his own to clean up speaking of blood baths.

    And so the beat downs continue until morale improves.

    It is interesting to note both China and Russia protesting this new ham handed maneuver on our parts. I agree!

  9. Michael

    Great Interview!

    I always like watching Larry Wilkerson in action, as he always tells it like it is. My favorite part is his closing paragraph. It should be noted for history as a comment of our current situation.

    “This is a bipartisan issue… And so I came out of that with the distinct impression that everyone there, Democrat and Republican, had decided that perpetual war is the concomitant of empire. Put in plain English: War, interminable war, is this Empire’s debt to the future.”

    Other interesting aspects of this consensus were the following articles:

    1) Alastair Crooke’s article previously this week in Strategic Culture where he describes that the world is finally understanding the program, and possible repercussions:

    2) Today’s article in Consortium News, detailing Guaido’s history:

    3) and b’s analysis at MoonofAlabama posted Monday on effects of sanctions in Venezuela:

  10. Lee

    PAUL JAY: Yeah, I think it’s it’s interesting the way that most of the corporate media is reporting on this. It’s as if the majority of the world, governments of the world, are with the United States with Trump on recognizing. But in fact, the governments that represent the majority of the people of the world are certainly not with this plan

    Our famously free press has also ramped up its coverage of privation in Venezuela. Meanwhile, here in the USA, we have more food insecure and individuals without access to healthcare than Venezuela has people.

  11. shinola

    Memo To: Venezuela & all you other pipsqueak countries

    From: The Good Ol’ USA (GOUSA!)

    Subject: Elections

    It’s well past time that y’all got with the program. GOUSA has the final say as to whether or not an election is legitimate. It would save a lot of time & trouble if y’all would submit a list of potential candidates BEFORE elections so we can vet them for you. We’ll let you who is or isn’t acceptable and, presto-chango, you’ll have fair & equitable elections!

    I mean, Jeez Louise, don’t you people ever learn anything?


    A concerned GOUSA citizen

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