US General Hypes China as Threat in Latin America / By W.T. Whitney Jr.

The U.S. government has long intervened in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Now the U.S. military is paying attention to China’s economic activities there. 

General Laura Richardson on March 8 reported to the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on actions and needs of the Southern Command, which she heads. She has charge of all U.S. military operations in the region. 

Citing the 2022 National Security Strategy, Richardson declared that “no region impacts the United States more directly than the Western Hemisphere …. [There] autocrats are working overtime to undermine democracy.” And security there “is critical to homeland defense.”

Richardson stated that “the PRC (People’s Republic of China) has both the capability and intent to eschew international norms, advance its brand of authoritarianism, and amass power and influence at the expense of the existing and emerging democracies in our hemisphere.” The Southern Command’s “main priority … is to expose and mitigate PRC malign activity.”

She sees a “myriad of ways in which the PRC is spreading its malign influence, wielding its economic might, and conducting gray zone activities to expand its military and political access and influence.” A “grey zone,” according to the NATO-friendly Atlantic Council, is a “set of activities … [like] nefarious economic activities, influence operations, … cyberattacks, mercenary operations, assassinations, and disinformation campaigns.”

Richardson highlighted China’s trade with LAC that is heading toward “$700 billion [annually] by 2035.” The United States, in her view, will be facing intense competition and presently “its comparative trade advantage is eroding.”

She added that, “The PRC’s efforts to extract South America’s natural resources to support its own population … are conducted at the expense of our partner nations and their citizens.” And opportunities for “quality private sector investment” are disappearing.

Competition extends to space: “11 PRC-linked space facilities across five countries in this region [enable] space tracking and surveillance capabilities.” Richardson complained of “24 countries [that] have existing Chinese telecommunication infrastructure (3G/4G), increasing their potential to transition to Chinese 5G.” 

She expressed concern both about surveillance networks supplied by China that represent a “potential counterintelligence threat” and about Latin Americans going to China “to receive training on cybersecurity and military doctrine.” Richardson denounced China’s role in facilitating environmental crimes and pointed to “potential dual use for malign commercial and military activities.”

“Relationships absolutely matter,” she insisted, “and our partner democracies are desperate for assistance from the United States.” Plus, “if we’re not there in time, they … take what’s available, creating opportunities for the PRC.”

Moving beyond China, Richardson indicated that “many partner nations …  see TCOs (transnational criminal organizations) as their primary security challenge.” That’s because drug-cartel violence leads to deaths and poverty and “illicit funds exacerbate regionalcorruption, insecurity, and instability.”

Her report avoids mention of particular countries other than offering brief references to Haiti, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. She criticized Russia for “military engagements with Venezuela and Nicaragua” and for spreading “false narratives.” Richardson praised Colombia for providing military training in other countries. 

The Southern Command gains “exponential return” on supplying various countries with U.S. weapons and supplies. It conducts joint military exercises, and “provides professional military education to personnel from 28 countries.”

Richardson reported at length on processes she sees as fostering useful relationships between her command and the various governments and military services. The tone of urgency characterizing her discussion on China was entirely lacking. 

Economic intervention

General Richardson’s view that China has greatly expanded its economic involvement with the LAC nations is on target.

Since 2005, China’s state-owned banks have arranged for 117 loans in the region worth, in all, more than $140 billion. They averaged over $10 billion annually. Since 2020, China has made fewer loans.

Chinese trade with Latin America grew from $12 billion in 2000 to $448 billion in 2021. China’s imports of “ores (42%), soybeans (16%), mineral fuels and oils (10%), meat (6%), and copper (5%)” totaled $221 billion in 2021. The value of exported manufactured goods that year was $227 billion. By 2022, China had become the biggest trading partner in four Latin American countries and the second-largest in many others.  

China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) has long represented China’s strongest economic tie to the region. FDI signifies funding of projects abroad directed at long-term impact. China’s FDI from 2005 to mid-2022 was $143 billion. Energy projects and “metals/mining” accounted for 59% and 24% of the total, respectively. Of that total, Brazil and Peru received 45% and 17%, respectively. 

The FDI flow since 2016 has averaged $4.5 billion annually; worldwide, China’s FDI has contracted.

Chinese banks and corporations have invested heavily in lithium production in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, which, together, account for 56% of the world’s lithium deposits. China is the largest investor in Peru’s mining sector, controlling seven large mines and owning two of Peru’s biggest copper mines. Brazil is the world’s largest recipient of Chinese investments.  

China’s government has linked FDI to its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that began in 2013. As of May 2022, 21 Latin American and Caribbean countries were cooperating with the BRI and 11 of them had formally joined.

On the ground

U.S. military intervention in LAC is far from new. Analyst Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein complements Richardson’s report with a three-part survey, accessible herehere, and here, of recent U.S. military activities in the region.

He indicates the United States now has “12 military bases in Panamá, 12 in Puerto Rico, 9 in Colombia, 8 in Perú, 3 in Honduras, 2 in Paraguay, as well as similar installations in Aruba, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cuba (Guantánamo), and in other countries.”

Rodríguez maintains that, “levels of aggressive interference by Washington in the region have increased dramatically” and that U.S. embassies there are supplied with more military, Cuba, Nicaragua, and CIA personnel than ever before.

Rodríguez notes features of the LAC region that attract U.S. attention, among them: closeness to strategically-important Antarctica; reserves of fresh water and biodiversity in Amazonian regions; the Guarani Aquifer near the triple frontier of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, the largest in the world; and huge reserves of valuable natural resources.

Among ongoing or recent U.S. military interventions are these:

·        The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is implementing a “master plan” for navigability of the Paraguay River and Plata River Basin. The nearby Triple Frontier area supposedly harbors international terrorism and drug-trafficking.

·        The U.S. military facility in Neuquén, Argentina is turning from its alleged humanitarian mission to activities in line with local preparations for oil extraction.            

·        U.S. officials on October 13, 2022 announced that 95 military vehicles were being donated to Guatemala for drug-war activities.   

·        In Brazil in September 2022, General Richardson indicated that U.S. forces would join Brazilian counterparts to fight fires in the Amazon..

·        The Southern Command’s fostering of good relations with Peru’s military has borne fruit. Under consideration in Peru’s Congress is a proposal to authorize the entry of foreign military forces. To what nation would they belong? Hint: former CIA operative and U.S. Ambassador Lisa Kenna met with Peru’s Defense Minister the day before President Pedro Castillo was removed in a parliamentary coup on December 7, 2022.

·        In March 2023, two U.S. congresspersons proposed that U.S. troops enter Mexico to carry out drug-war operations.

·        Presently the United States is making great efforts to establish a naval base on Gorgona island off Colombia’s Pacific coast. It would be the ninth U.S. base in Colombia, a NATO “global partner.”

·        In Colombia, U.S. troops acting on behalf of NATO, are active in that country’s Amazon region supposedly to protect the environment and combat drug-trafficking.

·        The U.S. National Defense Authorization Act of December 2022 awarded the Southern Command $858 million for military operations in Ecuador.

·        In a second visit, the US Coast Guard Cutter Stone was plying Uruguayan waters in February ostensibly to train with local counterparts for search and rescue operations. The ship was also monitoring the nearby Chinese fishing fleet.

Rodríguez does not comment on U.S. interventions in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. That’s because they’ve persisted for “more than 60, 40, and 20 years, respectively” and each requires a “special report.”

John Quincy Adams returns

Proclaiming the Monroe Doctrine 200 years ago, Secretary of State Adams informed European powers that the United States regarded “any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.”

General Richardson would apply the warning of that era to the PRC. Yet signs of hegemonic aspirations from that quarter are absent.

Commenting recently, Argentinian economist and academician Claudio Katz notes that, “China concentrates its forces in the economic arena while avoiding confrontations at the political or military level … Investments are not accompanied by troops and bases, useful for guaranteeing return on investments.”

Besides, China “does business with all governments, without regard to their internal politics.” That tendency, Katz writes, stems from the PRC having “arisen from a socialist experience, having hybrid characteristics, and not completing a passage to capitalism.” He maintains that China, with its economic involvement, contributes nothing to advancing socialism in the region.   

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.

Commune or nothing! Venezuela’s transition to socialism / by

Originally published in on November 9, 2022

Amidst Washington’s economic siege, Venezuela’s communes have continued advancing to offer long-standing solutions to the economic crisis in order to build a socialist future where life trumps capital. Communes are, by definition, deeply anti-imperialist and anticapitalist.

Currently, Venezuela has dozens of communes, between rural and urban, some new and others with a baggage of revolutionary struggle. They are made up of people that occupy a shared territory and have historical, cultural, social, ethnic, and economic ties that bind them together. Some rural communes were set up after campesino families took back lands that had historically belonged to them but were seized by landowners for private profit.

Today, communes are a wonderful demonstration of socialism as a viable way to practice substantial democracy and build sovereign production while taking care of the planet.

In his last political address, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez stated that communes were the cornerstone of the Bolivarian Revolution, with the power to truly emancipate the people. He urged cadres and organizations to prioritize the communes with his battle cry: “Commune or Nothing!”

| The Bolivarian Process | MR Online' political horizon got clearer with time, as Chávez set his sights on the construction of socialism and with communes being the "unit cells." Find out more in our latest infographic. (Venezuelanalysis)

The Bolivarian Process’ political horizon got clearer with time, as Chávez set his sights on the construction of socialism and with communes being the “unit cells.” Find out more in our latest infographic. (Venezuelanalysis)

Colombian Intelligence Operations, with US Backing, Are Bad for Peace / by W. T. Whitney Jr.

A Venezuelan couple use the Francisco De Paula Santander Bridge to cross between Urena, Venezuela, and Cucuta, Colombia, Aug. 6, 2022. | Matias Delacroix / AP

Colombia’s new president Gustavo Petro wants peace. Colombia’s military, the largest in Latin America, except for that of Brazil, stands in the way. It benefits from U.S. largesse while attending to U.S. needs. Its intelligence branch, discussed here, is not about peace and reconciliation.

The U.S. government, militarily involved in Colombia for decades is likewise an obstacle to peace. As explained recently by analyst Hernando Calvo Ospina, military cooperation has been central to the U.S.-Colombian alliance. He details how since World War II the United States has partnered with Colombia in dominating the entire region to maintain access to strategic resources, exclude Communism, and suppress left-wing movements. Calvo Ospina mentions Colombian-U.S. drug-war operations and the two countries’ addiction to military and ruling-class power. This is the setting for the intelligence operations described below.

Colombian intelligence operations serve U.S. imperialist objectives as they target Cuba and Venezuela. Colombian governing authorities appear to have forgotten the legacy of independence hero Simón Bolívar who, up against Spanish rule and U.S. pretentions, fought for Latin American unity. In 1829 he remarked that, “The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.” He was denouncing unencumbered U.S. license to control Spanish America, as proclaimed in the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 and still in force. 

Trump-era national security advisor John Bolton recently boasted he had planned coups to unseat the Maduro government in Venezuela. Current White House advisor on Western Hemisphere affairs Juan González took a different tack while speaking in Colombia in August: “40 years ago the United States would have done everything possible to avoid the election of Gustavo Petro and, once elected would have done everything possible to sabotage his policies.”  Now, says González, the United States wants to collaborate and “navigate that change.” 

Meanwhile, Petro wants young people to choose social service and not do military service. His government will be negotiating peace with National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas. He rejects the U.S.-promoted drug war and has re-established diplomatic relations with Venezuela, the object of U.S. hybrid war. On August 12, Petro named new military chiefs and replaced 40 generals and admirals because of corruption and human rights violations.

This report turns to Colombian military intelligence. The Revista Raya website, directed by Edinson Bolaños, recently published three articles on Colombian intelligence operations that began in 2016 and continued for almost six years. (See the end note for possible translations in English of “raya.”)

Face-off against Cuba

The first article, titled “International Espionage: Operation Cuba,” appeared on the website on August 19.  One learns that, “Revista Raya had access to thousands of classified Colombian military intelligence documents where evidence appears of spying on Cuban diplomats and officials, left-leaning [Colombian] political leaders, journalists, and social leaders.” The folders contained “profiles of targeted personnel, photographs, videos of subjects being followed, maps, sketches and drawings.”

Agents posing as journalists or photographers mapped routes to facilities used by diplomats. They photographed the interiors of the Cuban embassy, consulates, and diplomats’ quarters, and also diplomats’ automobiles and license plates. They monitored diplomats’ encounters with Colombian activists and politicians. Operatives gained access to phones, computers and on-line communications.

They were able to alter the text of the Cubans’ email communications. Colombian intelligence operatives communicated their findings with U.S. counterparts. U.S. documents with responses and commentary show up in the files.

Operatives attended solidarity gatherings in Colombia and farther afield – at a Sao Paolo Forum of leftist political parties, for example. At these venues, they identified attendees, monitored conversations, gained access to email communications, and informed intelligence agencies in home countries of their citizens’ participation in leftist or pro-Cuba activities. They spied on solidarity gatherings at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp near Havana.

People attending various events had their phone calls intercepted, among them: Cuban ambassador José Luis Ponce and Vice Consul Kendry Sosa, leftist senators Iván Cepeda and Gloria Flórez; Communist Party leaders Jaime Caycedo and Carlos Lozano Guillén; and FARC lawyer Diego Martínez. Among attendees monitored at the Sao Paolo Forum in 2019 were Communist Party member Gloria Inés Ramírez, now President Petro’s labor minister, and leftist senator Piedad Córdoba.

One purpose for the phone monitoring, according to Revista Raya, was to unearth or install material suggesting that Cuban operatives were promoting the protest demonstrations that rocked Colombia in 2019 and later, and contributed to the election of President Petro. The intelligence units also sought to connect Cuba’s government with leftist insurgents in Colombia, particularly the National Liberation Army (ELN).

According to documents in the report, agents “sewed” information in the computers of ELN guerrilla leaders suggesting the “complicity of Cuba’s government with the ELN in manufacturing the violence associated with the social protests.”  Nothing appeared in the files indicating that Cuba’s government actually did promote anti-government activities, according to Revista Raya.

Agents planted “evidence” of alleged terrorism undertaken by ELN guerrilla leader Andrés Vanegas Londoño, alias “Uriel,” and sent it to Colombian prosecutors and to Interpol. They communicated his location in Choco department. Uriel died in a bombardment of his camp 20 days later, on October 25, 1920.

Targeting Venezuela

Encouraged by its U.S. partner, Colombia’s government has long taken steps to destabilize Venezuelan society and government operations, and more so recently. Secret operations have taken place in Venezuela’s border region with Colombia. Colombian narco-traffickers are active there, and also Colombian paramilitaries. A small U.S.-Colombian force, Operation Gideon, carried out a maritime invasion of Venezuela in 2020.

Colombian military intelligence engaged with agencies and personnel of Venezuela’s government. On August 24, Revista Raya published “International Espionage: Objective Venezuela. The survey covers destabilization plans and monitoring of Colombian and Venezuelan politicians and Venezuelan diplomats.

Colombia’s intelligence service secreted 28 spies within various branches of Venezuela’s military. As part of so-called “Operation Vengeance,” operatives “tried to encourage the Venezuelan Army to carry out military operations against the ELN,” whose detachments were active in Venezuelan territory. They created hostile pamphlets and audio recordings and attributed them to the ELN.The spies “totally infiltrated” the communications of a Venezuelan press attaché in Bogota and monitored his contacts with prominent Colombian politicians of the left. Colombian officials later expelled him. 

Citing “another hundred documents,” Revista Raya shows that, during the presidency of President Iván Duque (2018 -2022), Colombian spies entered, photographed, and took material from the Venezuela’s consulate in Cartagena. The Colombian intelligence operatives attended primarily to consul Ayskel Torres.  

Under “Operation Sunset,” they “monitored her contacts with leftist social leaders in the region and her “sentimental relationship” with the “military attaché of a Caribbean country.” They were blackmailed and the latter provided a list of “cooperating” contacts.

Spying ceased after February 23, 2019, when The Maduro government broke relations with Colombia. The spies had monitored Venezuelan diplomats’ communications about the safety of money and sensitive documents lodged in an Embassy strong box. After the Venezuelans had departed, spies entered the building, took photographs, opened the strong box and stole documents and money. 


The last section of this three-part Revista Raya series is titled “International Espionage: Massive Profiling.” Documents were cited that contained “telephone numbers, homes addresses, political preferences, work places, email addresses, nationalities, and date of identification” for 450 persons. The article presents political profiles of eight individuals as examples of other profiles that were created. Dozens of images appear.

The targeted individuals included “political, social, and union leaders and also diplomats and officials of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments.” Intelligence agents descended on them when they attended “commemorations and political events relating to socialist countries,” or “peaceful mobilizations and … political events in Colombia.”

This last article in the series identifies the chief of Navy Intelligence as the individual primarily responsible for the illegal spying.

Rear Admiral Norman Iván Cabrera Martínez heads that agency now. He served as naval attaché at the Colombian Embassy in Washington and the U.S government awarded him a Meritorious Service Medal. Cabrera Martínez assumed his post on August 27, 2022. 

Colombian Communist Party secretary general Jaime Caycedo, the object of spying, commented to Revista Raya: “We … think this is a violation flagrant of our rights and constitutional liberties …[We] attach great importance to the journalistic work you are doing. You showed how we fell into their hands. You explained how public resources and public entities were used to maltreat citizens with this illegal profiling and to spy on diplomats of friendly countries with diplomatic relations.”

Note: The meaning in English of “raya,” as used in the website’s name, is mysterious here. We opt for “line-by-line review.” “Raya” may signify victim or despised person in that a “tienda de raya” in Mexico was a store operated by a company or hacienda relying on a laborer’s written line for a signature. A possibility from Colombia is “detective.”  Another commentator suggests “memorable happenings.”

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.

The People’s Summit for Democracy offers a progressive vision to counter US dominance in the region / by Sheila Xiao, Manolo De Los Santos

Coalition organizations from the People’s Summit for Democracy marched on May Day in Los Angeles, California.

Parallel to the exclusionary Summit of the Americas organized by the Biden Administration, people’s movements and organizations have organized the People’s Summit for Democracy to uplift diverse voices from across the region and engage in necessary dialogue

In a recent interview, Brian Nichols, the US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, was asked the question that is on everyone’s mind ahead of the June 2022 Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California: Will three particular countries in Latin America (Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua) be invited? Nichols responded with neither hesitation nor equivocation that the answer was no. Speaking on behalf of President Joe Biden, he further added that countries whose “actions do not respect democracy”—as the US government views these three countries and others like them—“will not receive invitations.” Nichols’ seemingly offhand comment, said with the usual arrogance of US officials and calling the three countries “regime[s that] do not respect [democracy],” sent a shockwave through the region that the US was likely not expecting.

Throughout Latin America, the reaction was immediate. Leaders such as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Bolivian President Luis Arce, and Honduran President Xiomara Castro, as well as several heads of state from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) including Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne and Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley, all expressed that they would not participate in the summit if the exclusions of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua were maintained. CARICOM has called for a summit that ensures “the participation of all countries of the hemisphere.”

Biden’s insistence on continuing the US policy of exclusion and aggression against Latin America has made his summit a failure before it has even begun. Mired in controversy and criticism, the Biden administration has not been able to build consensus around any common agenda because of the double standards it creates.

While the US may have already moved on, the memories of recent coups and interventionist plots by the US government in the region are still fresh. The US and the Organization of American States (OAS) both helped engineer a coup in Bolivia in 2019 that overthrew a democratically elected government.

There is no Americas without Cuba

The summit since its inception has been met with skepticism by progressives across Latin America due to the outsized or, more accurately, domineering role played by the US and the OAS with regard to invitations, agenda, and vision. However, this year the US seems to have underestimated the important political shifts in the region and their impact on the political legitimacy of the US

The US does not seem to have anticipated any challenges to its leadership of the summit, but the pushback against US hegemony comes as no surprise to most Latin Americans and those around the world who have been following the region’s politics of late. Since the last summit in 2018, the political map has undergone radical transformations. Not only are progressive governments outnumbering reactionary ones across the region, but many of them emerged precisely out of a deep rejection of US-backed governments and policies, and the conditions that they create for the people.

Across the region, countries whose public sectors were undermined for decades by US- and IMF-imposed neoliberal policies saw their societies and economies devastated during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the extreme poverty rate in the region rose from 13.1 percent in 2020 to 13.8 percent in 2021, representing a setback of 27 years. At more than 2.7 million deaths from COVID-19, the Americas represent 43.6 percent of global COVID-19 deaths despite constituting only 12 percent of the world population.

The outliers in this general trend of economic crisis and humanitarian emergency were Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, which suffered some of the lowest rates of deaths from COVID-19 in the region and the world due to their comprehensive strategies of, above all else, putting the health and well-being of their citizens before profits.

This policy extended beyond their national borders. From as early as March 2020, Cuba was already sending medical brigades to countries across the region and the world to support their responses to COVID-19. With Cuba’s development of five vaccines against COVID-19, the country has worked closely with other global south countries to distribute vaccine science and technology to promote localized production and distribution; meanwhile, US pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies like Pfizer and Moderna were turning record profits. At the height of the pandemic in Brazil, Venezuela sent oxygen to the city of Manaus, which had run out of the vital supply despite pleading for federal aid from the Brazilian government under President Jair Bolsonaro.

It has become glaringly clear that countries in the region have everything to gain from maintaining cooperation and partnerships with the countries the US declares to be its enemies.

Democracy for whom?

The US excuses its aggressive policy against Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua by citing these countries’ alleged human rights violations and the so-called threats that these countries pose to democracy.

However, many have started to question what kind of democracy exists in a country where 1 million people have died from COVID-19, 2.2 million people are in prison (accounting for more than 20 percent of the world prison population), where police kill an average of three people a day (with Black people being 2.9 times more likely to be killed by police than white people), and where $801 billion is spent on the military (the US makes up 38 percent of global military spending).

The majority of people in the Americas have rejected this hypocritical moral high ground and the premise that the US has the right to decide who participates in what forum and with whom. This is why a coalition of more than 100 organizations from across the region have come together to organize the People’s Summit for Democracy to counter the improperly named “Summit of the Americas.”

The People’s Summit carries forward the legacy of movements against neoliberal capitalism and US imperialism that have organized counter-summits every time the US organizes its Summit of the Americas. The People’s Summit will be held in Los Angeles, California, on June 8-10, and seeks to bring together the voices of people whom the US would prefer to silence and exclude. Immigrant organizers in Los Angeles will take the stage with landless rural workers from Brazil to discuss their visions of democracy for all. Feminist organizers from Argentina to New York will share strategies of how to fight for abortion access and counter the reactionary right-wing attacks on women and LGBTQ people.

These unprecedented times call for more cooperation and less exclusion. While unfortunately the US government also denied the visas of a 23-person delegation of Cuban civil society to the People’s Summit, the bonds between the Cuban people and the people of the Americas are unbreakable, and despite their best efforts, the US cannot silence the aspirations of the people.

For the Americas, which are on the cusp of transformative times, the age of the Monroe Doctrine is over.

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

Sheila Xiao is a researcher and community organizer. She is chair of the Los Angeles chapter of the ANSWER Coalition and the co-founder of the peace organization Pivot to Peace. She is a co-coordinator of the People’s Summit for Democracy.

Manolo De Los Santos is the co-executive director of the People’s Forum and is a researcher at Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He co-edited, most recently, Viviremos: Venezuela vs. Hybrid War (LeftWord Books/1804 Books, 2020) and Comrade of the Revolution: Selected Speeches of Fidel Castro (LeftWord Books/1804 Books, 2021). He is a co-coordinator of the People’s Summit for Democracy.

People’s Dispatch, May 26, 2022,

For Cuba and Venezuela, US Silence May Not Be Golden – W.T. Whitney – May 16th, 2020

The U. S. President and his Secretary of State frequently expound about the supposed failings of enemies abroad. Recently they’ve blasted China’s response to the pandemic, Venezuela’s dictatorship, Cuba’s “slave doctors” overseas, and even Iranian border guards beating up on Afghan migrants. But they’ve been mostly silent about two recent disruptions of the imperialist status quo.

Firing his AK-47 automatic rifle, an apparently mentally-ill Cuban émigré on April 30 caused serious damage to the Embassy building and the bronze stature of Cuban national hero Jose Marti. The only peep of official reaction came from the U.S. Embassy in Havana.  Charge daffaires Mara Tekach stated that, “the U.S. Embassy condemns the shooting” and “the United States takes its Vienna Convention responsibilities very seriously.”  

Her reference was to the multi-lateral United Nations agreement of 1961 that converted national customs into international norms for conducting diplomatic relations. The requirement emerged for host governments to protect the envoys of enemy countries and to respect “the inviolability of mission premises.” 

Assailant Alexander Alazo told investigators that if Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas had appeared at the door, he would have killed him. There were no injuries.  Washington authorities detained the shooter and charged him with assault with intent to kill and possession of an unregistered firearm. The incident was characterized as a hate crime. That it was: generations of U.S. politicians and Cuban – American political leaders have been railing against Cuba.  

Ambassador Cabañas declared that, “Neither State Department officials nor the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has issued even one formal public condemnation of the attack.” Instead, “the Secretary inveighed against the Cuban medical brigades that today are offering assistance in dozens of countries in the world.” 

At a press conference May 13, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez blamed the U.S. government for “complicit silence” in regard to “a grave terrorist attack” and for using “hate speech” that is a “permanent instigation to violence.”  

Rodríguez mentioned the accused shooter’s attendance at the Doral Jesus Worship Center in Florida. Frank López, the pastor there, is friendly toward “Senator Mark Rubio … and other known extremist figures.” Plus, the “U.S. Vice President … recently visited that church,” and in 2019 gave a speech there “openly hostile to Cuba.”  

Clearly, the U. S. blind eye toward Cuban-American paramilitary conspiracies, the U.S. turn to germ warfare, and a U.S. economic blockade directed at causing human misery are all manifestations of hatred. That’s so also with the impunity awarded arch-conspirators like Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch.

Cuba’s representatives serving abroad are no strangers to hatred manifesting as terrorism. A recent historical survey provided by Cuba’s security services cites: “83 attacks against Cuban embassies throughout the world and 29 attacks against Cuban diplomats with eight deaths as the result of terrorism encouraged, financed, or allowed by Washington.” 

Another mission of hate and terror emerged on May 3-4; a small invasion force of mainly Venezuelan Army deserters attempted to invade Venezuela from the sea. As with the Embassy affair, U.S. leaders said very little.

Venezuela’s Army and civilian militia quickly finished off the expedition, which had departed from northeastern Colombia. One of their number, a former U.S. Special Forces soldier, told his captors that the purpose of the force had been to seize President Nicolas Maduro and take him to the United States. Florida-based company Silvercorps USA had charge of the operation. 

The company’s owner is U.S. Special Forces veteran Jordan Goudreau.

Goudreau had recruited former Green Berets to supervise the training of the dissident Venezuelan troops. Two of them are now prisoners in Venezuela.  

Venezuelan opposition figures had contracted with Goudreau and Silvercorps USA to carry out the invasion. A contract worth $212.9 million was signed in an expensive condo in Miami. Venezuelan oil resources stolen by the U.S. government served as guarantee for the transaction.  

U.S. leaders said little about the assault. Secretary of State Pompeo indicated that, if necessary, “We will use every tool that we have” to retrieve the two captured U.S. mercenaries. President Trump remarked only that he “wouldn’t send a small, little group. No, no, no. It would be called an army. It would be called an invasion.”  

Trump might have remained totally silent in view of his personal connection with Silvercorps USA.  President Maduro on May 4 declared that two of the Silvercorps invaders were “members of the security team of the president of the United States.” Goudreau reportedly “worked as security at Trump rallies” – one in Charlotte, NC , for example – and “Silvercorp USA also apparently provided security for a Trump rally in Houston.” 

According to the company’s website, “We provide governments and corporations with realistic and timely solutions to irregular problems.” Jordan Goudreau has “planned and led international security teams for the president of the United States as well as the secretary of defense.” 

A mix of nefarious connections, hatred, and terrorism contributed to these irregular attacks on Cuba and Venezuela. Such material does not lend itself to official pronouncements. That nothing is said about the incentive for the two actions also makes sense.

Cuba and Venezuela put people and people’s basic needs first. They exemplify an alternative to U.S. purposes. Those in charge in Washington, imperialists to the core, seek to preserve the profiteering, market-based political and economic system that holds most of the world in its grip. Employing terrorism and military aggression, they stop at nothing.