Back in the early 1970s, in a note to the CIA advising them how to undermine the democratically elected Chilean government of Salvador Allende, Henry Kissinger wrote succinctly: “Make the economy scream.”
High US representatives are openly admitting that today the same strategy is applied in Venezuela: former US Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger said on Fox News that Chavez’s appeal to the Venezuelan people “only works so long as the population of Venezuela sees some ability for a better standard of living. If at some point the economy really gets bad, Chavez’s popularity within the country will certainly decrease and it’s the one weapon we have against him to begin with and which we should be using, namely the economic tools of trying to make the economy even worse so that his appeal in the country and the region goes down … Anything we can do to make their economy more difficult for them at this moment is a good thing, but let’s do it in ways that do not get us into direct conflict with Venezuela if we can get away with it.”
The least one can say is that such statements give credibility to the idea that the economic difficulties faced by the Chavez government (major product and electricity shortages nationwide, for example) are not only the result of the ineptness of its own economic politics. Here we come to the key political point, difficult to swallow for some liberals: we are clearly not dealing here with blind market processes and reactions (say, shop owners trying to make more profit by keeping some products off the shelves), but with a fully planned strategy.
[Extract. Appeared in the Independent on August 9th 2017.]