The American people can stop a war on Venezuela, that country's foreign minister told Democracy Now! on Monday.
"I believe that the American people and the American institutions can stop this from happening, this insane proposal of invading Venezuela," Jorge Arreaza told Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales during an interview. "And this is the right time to do it."
Americans should look carefully at what their country is doing, Arreaza said, especially around shipments of so-called "humanitarian aid." Joining other foreign policy experts, journalist and media critic Adam Johnson called the aid "bogus" in a column last week:
The current "something" in Venezuela we’re all compelled to "do" is ensure the arrival of a humanitarian aid convoy. The fact that the bulk of the international aid community has either distanced itself from this PR stunt or outright opposes it has been widely ignored by the mainstream media.
Nevertheless, the U.S. has been trying to force convoys ostensibly containing aid into Venezuela from the Colombian border for over a week, leading to clashes over the weekend.
"What we saw last Saturday in the border, in both borders, with Colombia and Brazil, this was a spectacle," said Arreaza. "It was a show."
If it's a show, it's working. U.S. politicians are almost uniform in their support of the aid convoy and their denunciations of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who is facing a soft coup from U.S. backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Even Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the de facto left wing standard bearer in the Democratic Party, has come out in support of the aid convoy — though he's been somewhat critical of regime change in Venezuela in principle.
The people of Venezuela are enduring a serious humanitarian crisis. The Maduro government must put the needs of its people first, allow humanitarian aid into the country, and refrain from violence against protesters.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 23, 2019
As a number of progressives quickly pointed out, trusting humanitarian aid from the U.S. is a risky proposition at best for Latin American countries; all the more so when it comes from the Trump administration's Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams, former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs during the Reagan administration who used humanitarian aid to smuggle arms to the Contras in Nicaragua.
Elliott Abrams, the guy in charge of aid shipments to Venezuela has, in the past, used them to smuggle arms to contras. Why would anyone trust that LITERALLY THE SAME PERSON wouldn't do the same thing again? https://t.co/ZQWqI1QZ9e pic.twitter.com/2DUwHzZQkT
— SUPERBLOOD MOONWOLF (@delmoi) February 23, 2019
Abrams is part of an unofficial triumvirate in charge of Venezuelan policy for the administration, alongside Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor John Bolton. Arreaza had harsh words for the latter, calling Pence "the real boss of the Group of the Lima, the Lima Group," a coalition of American states brought together to end the Venezuelan crisis that's been described as "advocating for regime change" by critics. Bolton, Arreaza said, is "like a gangster," though the minister wryly expressed some appreciation for Bolton’s honesty. "He has said something that is truth: All of this is about oil."
Any U.S. intervention will only lead to pain for the Venezuelan people, said Arreaza, and that’s what Americans should focus on.
"Bombs will not differentiate who is Chavista and who is not Chavista," warned Arrazea.
Watch the full interview: