With protests spreading across the Middle East, the USA are witnessing the dawn of their own movement with protests, opposing regressive cut backs to trade union and workers’ rights alongside repressive budget cuts, taking place specifically within Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, Republican Scott Walker (with Tea-Party links) wants to cut bargaining rights whilst doubling health care costs to cut the deficit as the economic situation has resulted in constitutional problems for States unable to balance their budget. Even Obama has opposed the proposed changes as ‘an assault on unions’; despite valid criticisms of Obama, I couldn’t picture Cameron saying the same (especially given plans to undermine union rights through undemocratic thresholds).
The protests should be placed within a wider context:
No region of the country was more comprehensively recast by the 2010 elections than the seven states of the upper Midwest that arc from Minnesota to Ohio. Where before Democrats had held the upper hand, Republicans now have a virtual stranglehold on politics, controlling both houses of the legislature and the governors’ chairs in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin…In all, Republicans now hold five of seven governorships in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Last year, they held two.
Ohio is next, likely to vote within weeks on an equally dramatic limit on public employee rights. Arizona, Florida,Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New Mexico are among the two dozen other states considering narrower but substantial changes in how government treats its workforce.
Whilst unrest spreads, USA are set to spend money on funding the opposition within Venezuela for the 2012 elections. Chavez has turned his back on institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, what he rightly sees as neoliberal and colonial, representative of the oppression Venezuelan people have felt through the years such as the 70-80s boom and bus and consequential ‘bail out’ from the IMF (in 1988) that paralysed the economy and resulted in wide scale protests. For instance, the Caracazo resulted in the death of hundreds of protesters.
It’s not the first time the USA have attempted to interfere with the internal decisions of Venezuela; consider claims of US involvement in the coup attempt against Chavez and assassination plots alongside their 2004 Trafficking report increasing Venezuela’s tier ratings (implicating USA sanctions) around the time of Chavez’s referendum. The opposition have historical ties with the US. Ironically, the US buys around half of Venezuela’s oil, fuelling the very regime they attempt to undermine. It’s a pointless circle of neoliberal relations, with a political economy based on transactions such as oil and arms deals.
Consider the utilisation of weapons from both the UK and USA in the Middle East, it is not good enough to argue they are given within certain guidelines. As made clear in Yes Minister, you never know where the weapons will end up nor can you be entirely sure they wont be abused by the state; especially as amongst the Middle East are some of the most repressive governments in the world. There are serious questions regarding democracy within Venezuela, but this should not result in ignorance to the improvements and democratic fairer tendencies Chavez has introduced.
This is just another classic case of liberal interventionism gone wrong, with the US’s justification for breaking Venezuelan law (as a recent law stopped other countries funding parties/organisations/campaigns within Venezuela) weak and ignorant to the repressive facets of the opposition.:
“These funds will help strengthen and support a Venezuelan civil society that will protect democratic space and seek to serve the interests and needs of the Venezuelan people. Funding will enhance citizens’ access to objective information, facilitate peaceful debate on key issues, provide support to democratic institutions and processes, promote citizen participation and encourage democratic leadership”
Why should Venezuela take lessons from the USA on democracy, especially given USA’s participation in many destructive previous Venezuelan regimes? USA preach against interference but practice the opposite. If Republicans want to talk about a waste of money, maybe they should look at the real pitfalls of USA’s hypocritical approach to democracy. But don’t expect anything, considering Republicans such as Connie Mack are asking for Venezuela to be put on the “state sponsors of terrorism” list. How, very ironic.