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Why Venezuela Has Not Been Defeated

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Written by James Petras; Originally appeared at The Unz Review


Over the past half decade, a small army of US analysts, politicians, academics and media pundits have been predicting the imminent fall, overthrow, defeat and replacement of the Venezuelan government. They have been wrong on all counts, in each and every attempt to foist a US client regime.

In fact, most of the US induced ‘regime changes’ has strengthened the support for the Chavez – Maduro government.

When the US promoted a military-business coup in 2002, a million poor people surrounded the presidential palace, allied with the military loyalists, defeated the coup. The US lost their assets among their business and military clients, strengthened President Chavez, and radicalized his social program. Likewise, in 2002-03 when state oil company executives launched a lock-out.They were defeated, and hundreds of hardcore US supporters were fired and Washington lost a strategic ally.

A more recent example is the overbearing role of President Trump’s bellicose proclamation that the US is prepared to invade Venezuela. His threat aroused massive popular resistance in defense of national independence ,even among discontented sectors of the population.

Venezuela is in the vortex of a global struggle which pits the imperial aspirations of Washington against an embattled Venezuela intent on defending its own, and like countries, in support of national and social justice.

We will proceed by discussing the multi-sided means and methods adopted by Washington to overthrow Venezuela’s government and replace it by a client regime.

We will then analyze and describe the reasons why Washington has failed, focusing on the positive strengths of the Venezuelan government.

We will conclude by discussing the lessons and weaknesses of the Venezuelan experience for other aspiring nationalist, popular and socialist governments.

US Opposition: What Venezuela Faces

The US assault on Venezuela’s state and society includes:

  1. A military coup in 2002
  2. A lockout by the executives of the Venezuelan oil company
  3. The exercise of global US power – organized political pressure via clients and allies in Europe, South and North America
  4. Escalating economic sanctions between 2013 – 2019
  5. Street violence between 2013 – 2019
  6. Sabotage of the entire electrical system between 2017 -2019
  7. Hoarding of goods via corporations and distributors from 2014 – 2019
  8. Subversion of military and civilian institutions 2002 – 2019
  9. Regional alliances to expel Venezuelan membership from regional organizations
  10. Economic sanctions accompanied by the seizure of over $10 billion dollars of assets
  11. Sanctions on the banking system

The US direct intervention includes the selection and appointment of opposition leaders and ‘dummy’ representatives overseas.

In brief the US has engaged in a sustained, two decades struggle designed to bring down the Venezuelan government. It combines economic, military, social and media warfare. The US strategy has reduced living standards, undermined economic activity, increased poverty, forced immigration and increaser criminality. Despite the exercise of US global power, it has failed to dislodge the government and impose a client regime.

Why Venezuela has Succeeded?

Despite the two decades of pressure by the world’s biggest imperial power ,which bears responsibility for the world’s highest rate of inflation, and despite the illegal seizure of billions of dollars of Venezuelan assets, the people remain loyal , in defense of their government. The reasons are clear and forthright.

The Venezuelan majority has a history of poverty, marginalization and repression, including the bloody massacre of thousands of protestors in 1989. Millions lived in shanty towns, excluded from higher education and health facilities. The US provided arms and advisers to buttress the politicians who now form the greater part of the US opposition to President Maduro. The US- oligarch alliance extracted billions of dollars from contracts from the oil industry.

Remembrance of this reactionary legacy is one powerful reason why the vast majority of Venezuelans oppose US intervention in support of the puppet opposition.

The second reason for the defeat of the US is the long-term large-scale military support of the Chavez-Maduro governments. Former President Chavez instilled a powerful sense of nationalist loyalty among the military which resists and opposes US efforts to subvert the soldiers.

The popular roots of Presidents Chavez and Maduro resonates with the masses who hate the opposition elites which despise the so-called ‘deplorables’. Chavez and Maduro installed dignity and respect among the poor.

The Venezuelans government defeated the US-backed coups and lockouts, these victories encouraged the belief that the popular government could resist and defeat the US-oligarch opposition. Victories strengthened confidence in the will of the people.

Under Chavez over two million modern houses were built for the shanty town dwellers; over two dozen universities and educational centers were built for the poor, all free of charge . Public hospitals and clinics were built in poor neighborhoods as well as public supermarkets which supplied low-cost food and other necessities which sustain living standards despite subsequent shortages.

Chavez led the formation of the Socialist Party which mobilized and gave voice to the mass of the poor and facilitated representation. Local collectives organized to confront corruption, bureaucracy and criminality. Together with popular militias, the community councils ensured security against CIA fomented terror and destruction.

Land reform and the nationalization of some mines and factories secured peasant and workers support – even if they were divided by sectarian leaders.


The cumulative socio-economic benefits consolidate support for the Venezuelan leadership despite the hardships the US induces in recent times. The mass of the people have gained a new life and have a lot to lose if the US- oligarchy return to power. A successful US coup will likely massacre tens of thousands of popular supporters of the government. The bourgeoisie will take its revenge for those many who have ruled and benefited at the expense of the rich.

There are important lessons to be learned from the long-term large-scale successful resistance of the Venezuelan government’s experience but also its limitations.

Venezuela , early on, secured the loyalty of the army. That’s why the Chavista government has endured over 30 years while the Chilean governments of Salvador Allende was overthrown in three years.

The Venezuelan government retained mass electoral support because of the deep socio-economic changes that entrenched mass support in contrast to the center-left regimes in Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador which won three elections but were defeated by their right-wing opponents, including electoral partners, with a downturn in the economy, and the flight of middle-class voters and parties.

Venezuelas linkages with allies in Russia, China and Cuba provided ‘life jackets’ of economic and military support in the face of US interventions, something the center-left governments failed to pursue.

Venezuela built regional alliances with nearly half of South America, weakening US attempts to form a regional or US invasion force.

Despite their strategic successes the Venezuelan government has committed several costly mistakes which increased vulnerability.

  1. Failure to diversify their exports, markets and banking system. The US sanctions exploited these weaknesses.
  2. Failure to carry out monetary reforms to reverse or contain hyperinflation.
  3. Failure to maintain the hydro-electoral system and secure it from sabotage.
  4. Failure to invest in and recruit new technical professional to upgrade the operation of the financial system and prosecute financial corruption in the banking system. Venezuela worked with high officials who engaged in financial and real estate transactions of a dubious nature.
  5. The failure to recruit and train working class and professional political cadres capable of oversight over management.

Venezuela has taken steps to rectify these errors but the question is whether they have time and place to realize radical reforms?

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Miroslav Beran

Venezuela executed Marxist type dictation to companies which prices of their products they must keep.

This Marxist technique is capable destroy whatever economy. Free education and healthcare is nice, nevertheless Marxist type directorate over prices of common products is fatal.

Concrete Mike

Regardless its up to venezuela and its people to decide!

So say what you want, we have no business telling these people who should rule them.

Got it?

Kalle Sändare

Well if the ordinary venezuelans had their say they would throw the current regime out most likely. They have been a disaster and everybody knows it but they have the guns see.
And China has their back..


‘…if the ordinary venezuelans (sic) had their say they would throw the current regime out most likely.’

Have you visited Venezuela recently, and likewise have you canvased the political position of the majority of the ‘ordinary’ Venezuelan population across all of the seven provinces? Because that’s a whole lotta speculative conclusions going on right there there, Kalle from distant Swedistan.

Kalle Sändare

I know people there yes, it´s a hellhole, people are fleeing lately in the millions. To Mexico, Brazil and Colombia. Destablizing those countries. Many are starving because the communists have wrecked the economy.

Bet you did´nt hear that in the news huh..


The news talks this stuff up constantly, but never gives a whole lot of basis. I hear lots about “millions” of refugees, but never anything much about any specific refugees–no caravans of Venezuelans about to hit the US border, no clashes in Rio between police and hundreds of thousands of homeless Venezuelans. The economy does suck and I’m sure a lot of people are having trouble making ends meet and some are leaving, but there’s a lot of propaganda exaggeration going around.

The fact is, Maduro was just re-elected in elections which international observers all agreed were free, fair and transparent. Now, major (US-bossed) parts of the opposition, on US instructions, boycotted those elections–but if they thought they coulda won, they wouldn’t have. Henri Falcon, unlike Guaido’s party, wasn’t seen as a US stooge, and unlike Guaido himself was a well known, fairly popular politician and he still lost by a strong margin. So maybe Maduro and the PSUV are not all that popular, but just as in many other countries, nobody else is that popular either. In the US, Congress’ approval rating is in the single digits, but nobody seems to think it’s worth sanctioning them or staging a coup for that.
And Chavismo as an ideology is still quite popular. People wish Maduro would do a better job of it, they don’t condemn the Chavista project in itself (except the well heeled who always hated it).

Kalle Sändare

Guaido could´nt have won. They have the same problem with the media that we do but probably worse. I dont know too much about the man, it´s not a perfect situation. Are the current regime able to fix the problems? I seriously doubt it. Hell no, they´re a bunch of commies with China backing them. China is helping them develop their “social credit score “for crying out loud.. Naa..that government is bad news.

The “caravans” towards Mexico are mainly from Honduras/Guatemala but more and more from Venezuela. Most flee go to Brazil/Colombia.
This will end up a war, and it will be Brazil Colombia and the US on one side and the communist Venezuela government/China on the other.

Russia will stand down.


What “problem with the media” would that be then? Because I certainly see a problem with the Venezuelan media which is much like ours–it’s owned by a small group of ultra-rich right wingers. But since they’re on the opposition’s side, I’m thinking you may be imagining some other problem with the media.
Yeah, the Venezuelan government are a “bunch of commies”. The thing is, so are a big chunk of the Venezuelan population. But while some of the problems in Venezuela are caused by government mistakes, none of the problems are actually caused by their more “commie” policies. Well, at least, not directly–certainly the US and certain import companies wouldn’t be trying to crash the country if it weren’t for those “commie” policies, but that’s not an outcome of the policy itself. The redistributions, the building of masses of housing, the education, the health care, the new railways, the land reform, the communal councils . . . all that stuff was good for the economy. Some of the most functional stuff in Venezuela today is some of the communes and such which had pushed the furthest towards grassroots local control and production.

The main mistakes were coddling some political enemies instead of nationalizing their companies when they started undermining the economy, and mishandling the currency. There’s no real doubt about that. More controversially, I’d argue that their biggest mistakes involved failing to push harder on the commie stuff–failing to keep pushing land reform, failing to jail landlords who had peasant activists assassinated, letting moves to worker control falter, letting government departments get in the way of the communal councils and communes. This weakened their political allies, weakened Bolivarian economic capacity, and gave the opposition breathing room to start attacking.

Jens Holm

You dont know that at all. You dont get the bad thing. The socalled socialist came to power, because the ones before them ba d bad governess.

And You dont get at all, that Guido represent something better. Thats why Maduro is still in the seat.

Maduros are the ordinary people in that country and they are in power of the military forces.

You have no patent in being ordinary in the good way.

Kalle Sändare

You´re not making much sense mate. I have a hard time understanding what you are saying sorry.


The ordinary Venezuelans DO have their say. They have these things called “elections”. More often and with a better process than we do. Plus there are provisions for recall elections, and for citizen-led legislation by referendum including citizen-led changes to the Constitution. And that’s not even getting into the communal councils and communes where grass-roots people get to decide stuff about how their areas will be run. Venezuelans have significantly more say than people in most modern “democracies”.

Promitheas Apollonious

not as fatal, as single cells you seem to represent, base on your comments.


BF get some education and come back. You compare apple with oranges.


You must mean the same companies who are now also hoarding supplies? The same companies who tried to help the US economically subdue Venezuela? The same companies that change prices and supplies to attain whatever changes they desire, to the detriment of the people? It is strange that when another country ‘fails’ and the US is sanctioning them, it’s because that country was socialist or communist…it’s never because of the US and it’s allies doing everything they can to destroy anyone or anything that opposes their continued enrichment. If these governments are so bad, so weak, so self-serving…why are they a threat to the US? Yes, the argument goes like this: Cuba enslaves their people, they stifle their own economy, therefore they have few trading partners and poor economies…but sanctioning Cuba for 57 years has nothing to do with it. Socialism may not be the end-all that some would claim or desire, but capitalism engenders criminal activity and corruption even more so…after all, isn’t attaining money the driving force behind capitalism? One might ask the aim of being ‘rich’? Power. Control…the same as claimed against socialism…only more vicious.


Whatever the success or failure of Marxist rule: over 500 yrs of capitalism and market economy rule have not solved the problem of the just distribution of goods. Capitalism and market economy have failed at least as badly as Marxism!

Jens Holm

I partly agree. Some seemes to forget many actually lives in Hybrids as we do in Denmark.

Thats named social democratisme having capitalisme but taking care of the poor too. Taxes are rather heigh but by that give all equal rights for a good life.

That structure are in the top of the GDP making the cake bigger and also make all taste. It includes people and reduce most kinds of crimes and in that corruption as well.

Jens Holm

Your knowledge about other systems then Yours as well as Venezueala i close to 0. More like minus.

Marxisme is a result of very bad capitalisme, so You knowledge level should be raised in such starving enviroments.

And arbout prices: Well I see Capitalists often take, what they can plunder for. Therefore itmake sense, that people at least can get cheep food and medical care.

The same for schools. Schools are investments. Every time You raise the level, You dont have to pay tax for them as well as they help to pay for the ones, which cannot. That of course include pension.

And when You include people and dont do ad they did in fx Venezuala, they dont uprise. They have no reason.

If You are american, I am not impressed, You are not even able to elect a president after winner in votes. You even have to registrate as voters as if You didnt have that right already.

The american crises need reforms. You have the most stupid and complicated tax system invented by retarded in the most ineffective way. Your hspital and doctor system is same thing. You have one of the most expensive health systems but in quality its ranked very low and not for all.

Here You almost have worlds record in using selvmedications as You are doctors Yourself. But we only see You get plundered and addicts seemes to by that to be depended in drugs too instaed of being home, when You are ill.

Your pension system is stupid too and very strange to listen to You negosiate for dentalk vare for Your kids.

So go home and vlean Your own garden.


History has shown that socialism inevitably fails but people should be allowed to choose their own government it should not be imposed on them by outside forces. The US has made the situation in Venezuela much worse than it would have been by the sanctions, freezing assets, cutting it off from swift & the financial markets.Greece was in a similar situation but being an ally it was allowed billions in bailouts from the IMF & EU. Will life be better for the poor under a US client regime – I doubt it which is why Chavez came to power in the first place. It doesn’t appear that the people are going to revolt against Maduro anytime soon so its propaganda & economic warfare for now.


Your reference to Greece is irrelevant. Greece was a corrupted and bankrupt state within EU. Greece was financed to save German and France banks and found itself with an enormous debt.The followed center-left government betrayed its people and abolished its promises to changes in the economy. Submitted to the pressure and blackmail of EU and NATO and became their puppet.Is this you want to happen to Venezuela? Submission is not a solution, resistance is the solution and trust to the people.


The reference to Greece was relevant it showed how a failed economy was treated when it was an ally unlike Venezuela although the circumstances were different


Be sure that if Venezuela submits to the wishes of US it will be treated differently, but that doesn’t mean that people will have better live.


Ah, yes, how a failed economy was treated when it was an ally–that is, with policies that killed even more jobs, privatization of everything in sight, dumping pensions, lowering wages, killing health care, reducing revenue (from the rich) even though it was supposed to be a crisis of debt repayment, all this enforced by threats to completely crash the banking system if the Greek government didn’t obey.

Really makes you wanna be an ally, doesn’t it?


The ‘billions’ wasted on Greece was for the Euro banks that helped do the IMF rip-off. Greece should have done what Iceland did and bite the bullet. Iceland seems to have survived the financial assassination attempt rather well, regardless all the threats of collapse. They even put a few bankers in jail. Greece is a classic case of IMF subversive attack. Had they stayed the course and not capitulated, would they be any worse off now? A return to capitalism would be a knell for the people.


Long Live Venezuela! Long Live Maduro! To Hell With U$ Imperialists!

Wolfgang Wolf

point 3 is bullshit analysis. the hydro-electric powerplants are the most modern on the american continent, all computerized. thats the main problem now. better have stayed on “analog” operations



Better still to decentralize the system. Hard to crash the whole thing if there is no “whole thing”. For that matter, going forward they can increasingly expect droughts to limit the effectiveness of hydro power, as has already happened to some extent. Ideally what they want is to supplement with a bunch of solar + battery, starting in remote areas where it’s a pain to maintain grids anyway and on rooftops in dense urban areas to soften the spikes in demand that can be hard on the system.

Rhodium 10

Venezuela is the homeland of Simon Bolivar who defeated Spanish Empire and with it the Independence of LatinAmerica!


I would be wary of such narrative. Bolivar — who was under Jeremy Bentham’s wing — merely liberated Latin America from the Spanish grip for the benefit of Britain.

Jens Holm

I agree. The libarations was from mainly spanish colonialisme. The feudals would not be taxed from Madrid and took the profit forthemselves.

Too much glittering about the happiness before they made Maduros possible. Maduros has stolen the production system. Even parts were bad, it did produce.

They should have made moderate changes a little by a little.


It didn’t produce, you know. Venezuela was since way back an import-oriented rentier economy dependent on oil. Although I agree they should have done more about it. That was an obvious Achilles’ heel.

Mind you, they did try somewhat, but their currency policy had the perverse effect of making imports cheap, the major import companies were run by their political enemies and they didn’t have the guts to grab them, and they would have been somewhat hamstrung by the effects of modern trade agreements and organizations they were members of, starting with the WTO. Building local production requires trade barriers. Imposing trade barriers is against the modern rules of the game and they get to hose you if you try.
So instead, they tried to promote local agriculture and industry, but the industry in particular couldn’t compete with cheap imports and it would have taken resolute action with potentially serious consequences to do anything about that. They did have some success growing local agriculture, but even there, more resolution in land reform would have been a good thing.

Jens Holm

Its a relative. The spanish feudalisme mainly was replaced by local ones. Being ineffective, corrupt and wellsupoirted by feudal drug trade made the upside down.

Too many in USA still act as the Mornroe Doctrine is on.


US must have pulled the plug on Venezuelan internet connection;site been unreachable for quite some time.



Probably being blocked. When I can’t access it, I go to canal666/disorder. I just checked and it’s last article is dated 4/18. It’s a good site to check recent articles with many contributors from various media. http://www.canal666.com/en/disorder/venezuela-analysis/#sub Hope this helps.


Many thanks zman, much appreciated.


You’re more than welcome. I imagine you-know-who has encouraged ISPs to make things as difficult as they can, while attempting to appear to be un-involved. When I go to AMN, I always get a page that is from 3/14/19. I have to click on ‘Syria’ to get the latest page. Tried everything, clear cache, etc… no avail. But I get there anyway…screw them. We’re not to know what’s going on, it scares them that we might not be ignorant of their tricks.


When the Thor browser can’t get the site then something mischievous is going on. Thanks again for the link and a Happy Easter to you.


Yeah, their web site was under a DDoS attack. Took them off-line for a couple days. I see now that they are using cloudflare anti-DDoS attack software now.


They’re back now and they say they got hit by a DDS attack. They seem to be using Cloudflare now.

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