Venezuela is threatening an imperialist war for oil – and the Left is silent

President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez with the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone inside City Hall pic Paul Grover
Soulmates: Then London Mayor Ken Livingstone invited Leftist dictator Hugo Chavez to City Hall. Now the Venezuelan's hand-picked successor is poised to seize Guyana's oil fields - PAUL GROVER

The world’s bout of the geo-political equivalent of chickenpox has spread to Latin America. ‘anti-Imperialists’

While Western peace movements have eyes only for Gaza, their former model socialist republic, Venezuela, is threatening to invade its smaller and less Left-wing neighbour, oil-rich ex-British Guyana.

Deafening silence is the peace movement’s response to the looming threat over oil swells. Time was it would have had Jeremy Corbyn and his acolytes marching down Whitehall chanting “No war for oil”.

But now as the Maduro regime in Venezuela has staged a referendum to legitimise its claims to the oil-rich region in neighbouring Guyana, warning lights of an impending conflict ought to be flashing among Britain’s peaceniks as much as in the Biden White House.

Even The Guardian has acknowledged that turnout in the referendum was “minimal”. The regime claimed ten million out of 22 million voted – but it seems to have multiplied by five the actual number of real voters by rating each answer to the five questions on the ballot paper as a separate voter.

In a country where queuing for hours for basic supplies is the norm, there was no sign of lines at the polling stations.

Maduro’s economic record makes Communist Cuba seem well run. His oil-rich regime has overseen Weimar-style hyper-inflation and currency collapse, so boosting the turnout by five times may seem a rather modest fraud. Seven million Venezuelans have fled abroad.

Don’t let evidence of popular disillusionment with Maduro’s regime lead us to think that he will be restrained by his people’s evident lack of enthusiasm for his nationalist agenda from using force.

Saddam wasn’t ever popular but that did not stop him grabbing Kuwait in 1990.

Just as Washington’s appeasement encouraged Iraq then, so the Biden Administration has been courting Maduro by suspending sanctions on his oil production despite his dictatorial policies. That was supposed to replace Iranian oil supplies with Venezuelan ones. but Maduro and the Ayatollahs see Biden as a sucker and proceed in harmony accordingly.

If our veteran Leftists have learned nothing from the failure of socialism to make life better for the poor in Venezuela, there is sadly an emerging Right-wing parochialism which sees the Caribbean as a far away region with only Leftist regimes of various kinds. Let them squabble, argue these conservative anti-strategists.

It is true that Guyana has sided with Argentina in the Falklands dispute but its foolish Third Worldism should not mean abandoning it as a sacrificial lamb. The destabilising impact of any Venezuelan aggression would roll well beyond Guyana. Further waves of migration northwards across Central America and the Caribbean to the USA would follow.

The very dispute in the US Senate pitting Republicans anxious to boost spending protecting their own border by stymieing Biden’s appeals for cash for both Israel and Ukraine could unleash what they fear. Feckless as Joe Biden’s administration is becoming, it would be mad for the Republicans to abandon the Monroe Doctrine to a dictator who evokes Simon Bolivar’s vision of a united region along the Caribbean from two hundred years ago to justify a plundering raid on his smaller neighbour.

Maduro’s regime survives at home on a mixture of looting resources and drug trafficking to fund its armed loyalists. Like Saddam a generation ago, Maduro now sees seizing oil wells next door as the solution to impending bankruptcy. Three decades ago, Gorbachev’s Kremlin condemned Iraq’s aggression. Today, Putin’s Russia sees more chaos as grist to its geopolitical ambitions.

American oil assets are at stake, but more importantly another pillar of global stability and respect for small nations is wobbling.

It says a lot about how distracted the Biden Administration is at present that it was Brazil’s Left-wing President Lula da Silva who mobilised his armed forces to try to deter Maduro from invading a neighbour while Washington stuck to words, not action.

The Left here turns a blind eye to the reality that it is Venezuela’s Left-wing neighbours who are acting to back up their warnings to Maduro to back off, not their Yankee bugbear.

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