Tuesday, April 18, 2017


All the opposition marches in April called by Henrique Capriles and other Venezuelan leaders of the MUD have sought to reach downtown Caracas. The ostensible goal is to present a petition to the Defensoria del Pueblo. In a normal situation, such a mobilization would certainly be legitimate. But opposition leaders fully realize that the government will not allow for the protesters to march from the wealthy eastern part of Caracas to the downtown area. There are echoes of the April 11, 2002 march that led into the coup against President Chávez, when the opposition newspaper El Nacional published the large banner headline “The Final Battle in Miraflores,” encouraging people that day to march to the presidential palace.

Let us assume that the Maduro government, acting in good faith, were to allow the opposition protesters to march to the center of Caracas. Such a scenario would go something like this:

Scenario one: The Maduro government meets with opposition leaders and grants them permission to march to the center of Caracas. The opposition agrees to limit the march to 35,000 people and to end the protest in the late afternoon.

Scenario two: Peaceful march to the center of Caracas. Everything goes according to plan.

Scenario three: Opposition leaders such as Freddy Guervara (as he has said in the past) announces that the opposition will remain in the center of Caracas until their demands are met. The less extremist leaders such as Capriles now call on their followers to join the protest and people come in from the eastern part of Caracas, from the eastern part of Venezuela and from the west as far away as Táchira, Mérida and Maracaibo. There are now 750,000 protesters in the center of Caracas.

Scenario four: At nighttime, the guarimba brigades, which during the 2014 protests were responsible for widespread destruction and violence and have acted in a similar way in recent days, go on a rampage and clash with national guardsmen and police.

Scenario five: CNN and other international news outlets juxtapose the confrontation of the guarimba brigades with security forces, on the one hand, and the peaceful protesters, on the other, thus leaving the impression that the government is using random force against peaceful protesters.

Scenario six: At this point Maduro may see the handwriting on the wall in which case he resigns. If he doesn’t, we can all imagine scenarios seven, eight and nine.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


The positive response of Democratic Party centrists and the corporate media, in toto, to the attack on Syria’s Shayrat airbase sheds light on an important ideological divide in U.S. politics. Progressives, as opposed to centrists, condemned the attack in no uncertain terms. I do not belittle the importance of some of the reforms proposed by Democratic centrists (the Clintons, Obama, etc.) on the domestic front in the area of health, regulation of the private sector, etc, even while these measures do not represent real solutions to urgent problems (the centrists, for instance, do not support single-payer or complete elimination of fracking). But I have always felt that foreign policy is more important than domestic issues. Firstly, because military spending saps up at least fifty percent of the federal budget. And second, from a humanitarian viewpoint in that so many lives are at stake. As can be seen in the case of the conflict in Syria, there is much more of a consensus between Democratic and Republican Party leaderships on foreign issues than domestic ones.  

The Democratic centrists are now in a quandary. Up until now they have tried, and with considerable success, to retain the support of those who are infuriated with Trump’s positions and policies. This was especially important because the Resistance movement takes in a considerable number of rank-and-file Democrats, some of whom supported Hillary in the primaries.  

The attack on Shayrat may represent a milestone in U.S. politics. An independent progressive pole that attracts those who most staunchly reject Trumpism will be deprived of resources and other types of backing from the Democratic Party establishment and the mainstream media. But in the long run, it will be able to highlight foreign policy issues, specifically the issue of militarism and interventionism, which for so long was submerged or shunted aside. If this happens, U.S. politics will be reshaped in a fundamental way, and for the better.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Real News interview with me on Venezuelan Developments

Real News interviewed me yesterday on Venezuela’s Political Impasse