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Foreign Meddling in Elections? Talk to Venezuela

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Since 2016, US media has been filled with talk of “foreign meddling” and “foreign influence” possibly affecting the results. The focus has been on the claim that somehow Hillary Clinton’s e-mails were handed over to Wikileaks and Julian Assange by a Russian operative. The claim is still unproven and many intelligence experts have expressed doubt about it, but that has not resulted in the issue being dropped.

Anyone familiar with US and UK foreign policy since the end of the Second World War must be shaking their heads at such rhetoric. The claims that somehow Russia or other foreign actors bought ads on Facebook or helped circulate videos on social media pales in comparison to covert and overt activities across the planet from the two western powers known for their “special relationship.”

According to the Daily Mail “the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), a majority UK-government funded organization, has spent over £750,000 to “strengthen democracy” in Venezuela since 2016, according to documents obtained by Declassified.” At the same time talk of “foreign meddling” filled the US-UK airwaves in response to Brexit and the electoral victory of Donald Trump, a well-funded operation pushing for the ouster of Venezuela’s elected leader, Nicholas Maduro was under way.

The sanctions from the US and UK have also been key in making it difficult for Venezuela to import food, medicine, and other vital commodities. Various banks across the planet have frozen Venezuelan state assets at the behest of the US and UK, resulting in billions of dollars being inaccessible to the Latin American state. Juan Guiado has declared himself the interim President and had recognition conferred on him by the United States and United Kingdom, in direct opposition to what the Venezuelan public has voted for and the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice has affirmed.

The blatant efforts aim not only influence the elections in Venezuela, but discredit them and economically strangle the socialist government. The campaign to do so has not been hidden or concealed. US and UK leaders are very open about their goal of bringing down the United Socialist Party (PSUV) and Maduro. They follow the pattern of western interventions and destabilization, such as when Nixon declared it as time to “make the economy scream” in order to set the stage for the military overthrow of Salvador Allende in 1973.

In hopes of further strangling Venezuela’s economy, the United States has extradited diplomat Alex Saab from Cape Verde. Describing the case, Business Weekly declared “For the U.S., Saab is the key that unlocks the Venezuelan monetary mystery—that is, how a country facing sanctions from the U.S., the U.K. and the European Union—is still able to export things like gold and oil.”

The hope is to intimidate anyone who would dare trade with Venezuela, using the threat of abduction and torture. The intended result is making it even more difficult for Venezuela to import needed goods, intensify the humanitarian crisis in the country, and continue to exacerbate internal difficulties in the hopes of toppling the government. The alleged boosting of internet memes by supposed Russian operatives pales in compares to this massive “Foreign Meddling” from the United States. The sanctions on Venezuela, which Saab is accused of trying to maneuver around, have cost tens of thousands of lives.

Saab’s arrest violates diplomatic norms and the conditions of his detention in Cape Verde prior to extradition amounted to torture. Many international voices, including UN bodies, have spoken up for Alex Saab, demanding his immediate release.

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