Antiwar Hero Medea Benjamin Disrupts Venezuela Coup Circle Jerk

Caitlin Johnstone
6 min readJan 25, 2019

Before they launch missiles, they launch narratives. Before they drop bombs, they drop talking points. Before they implement crushing starvation sanctions, they demonize and condemn. Before they invade, they propagandize. Before the killing starts, manipulation paves the way.

For this reason, the front line of any antiwar movement is a fight against the establishment narratives about disobedient nations that are aggressively promulgated by the political/media class. And right now one of the very most adept Americans at doing that is an activist named Medea Benjamin.

Benjamin once again displayed her knack for getting her message seen in high-profile spaces in a way that grabs attention and punches through cleanly and concisely as she crashed the warmongering bloviations of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a meeting of the Organization for American States (OAS) in Washington, DC.

Following a speech in which Pompeo regurgitated already established Trump talking points referring to Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro as the “former president”, accusing him of being “economically incompetent”, “profoundly corrupt” and “undemocratic to the core,” Benjamin cut off his applause by standing at the end of the council room with a sign reading “OAS: DON’T SUPPORT A COUP IN VENEZUELA” and decrying the Trump administration’s attempts to topple the Venezuelan government.

“Don’t support the coup!” Benjamin shouted. “A coup is not a democratic transition! Do not listen to Secretary Pompeo! Do not support the coup! Do no support the coup in Venezuela!”

“We call on the OAS to support the democratically elected leader and work for a negotiated solution,” Medea continued to yell as security staff cajoled her out of the room. “Coups only bring more violence, war and destruction!”

And of course Medea Benjamin is correct. This US-led coup is not different from all the other US-led coups in South America and in oil-rich nations around the world; it is designed to be profitable for the already wealthy and strategically advantageous for the already powerful, with none of the interest in humanitarianism and democracy that it always pretends to have.

For those of you who haven’t been following this story, here’s a quick breakdown:

Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves of any nation on the planet, and if that one fact right there doesn’t raise your suspicions, you’ve got a lot to learn about US interventionism. US foreign interventions often boil down to resource control, so if a resource-rich nation refuses to be absorbed into the blob of the US-centralized power alliance it’s a safe bet that you’ll eventually hear the US State Department saying that the people in that nation are in bad need of some Freedom and Democracy (read: starvation sanctions and CIA coups). Venezuela has been no exception, and the economic strangulations which have been heaped upon the nation under both the previous administration and the current one have effectively made it nearly impossible for its economy to get its head above water. Add in the fact that the CIA Director all but admitted in 2017 that the agency was working to topple the Venezuelan government, and it’s not surprising that we’re seeing civil unrest there today.

Anyway, on Wednesday some guy named Juan declared that he was the real president of Venezuela and not Nicolas Maduro, who was democratically elected by an overwhelming majority in May of last year in an election which was found to have been perfectly legitimate by the international Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America. Juan Guaido did not win any election to this position, nor indeed has he ever campaigned for it. The basis for the claim of Maduro’s illegitimacy, a congressional interpretation of Article 233 of Venezuela’s Constitution, was struck down by the nation’s highest court as fraudulent. Nevertheless, on Wednesday the Trump administration announced that it would no longer be recognizing Venezuela’s elected government and would only be recognizing the office of Juan the guy. This move was copied by Canada and a host of South American US allies.

This is of course a huge move by the United States. The only thing that holds governments in place is people’s recognition of them, and on an international level that means their being recognized by other governments. If China ceased recognizing America’s current government and instead conducted all its diplomacy through some guy named Steve who works at the Home Depot in Newark, New Jersey, all diplomatic relations between the two nations would instantly crumble. In light of this brazen act, Maduro said all US diplomats have 72 hours to leave the nation, to which the Trump administration replied that it has no intention of doing since the order came from Maduro and not the rando named Juan (who as noted by Moon of Alabama is very keen on changing Venezuela’s oil policies to America’s advantage).

So now the US is, as WikiLeaks observed, effectively conducting “a small occupation” of Venezuela by keeping its diplomats in the nation illegally. If the Venezuelan government (the actual one, not the imaginary one) were to make a move to throw them out, things could get really ugly.

“And so the confrontation begins, as I anticipated just hours ago,” tweeted Venezuelan-American attorney and journalist Eva Golinger when this news broke. “Maduro expels US diplomats, they refuse to leave. If he tries to force them out, US will respond, with ‘all options on the table’ (military intervention). This is a total reality show, invent a reason to invade.”

And the Trump administration has indeed made it clear that it considers “all options on the table” up to and including a full-scale military invasion of Venezuela.

“All options are on the table for the United States in regards to actions to be taken,” a senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday, adding, “When we say ‘all options are on the table’ that means all options are on the table.”

So this is a full-fledged coup attempt, being pushed along by starvation sanctions, CIA covert ops, and copious amounts of propaganda, and it has become a tinder box that could erupt into a US-funded “civil” war or direct US military involvement at the drop of a hat. The mass media is as usual moving almost exclusively in the direction of unquestioning support for this trajectory. The time to protest is not when the bombs start falling, but when the war propaganda gets rolled out, as is happening right now.

Medea Benjamin is showing the way for anyone who’s sick of standing by feeling helpless while the US steamrolls another nation beneath the treads of its insatiable war machine. If you’re looking for ideas on how to disrupt the narratives of war, she’s setting a very good example for everyone.


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