Donald Trump – or US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his behalf – has appointed Elliott Abrams as envoy to Venezuela, in a clear signal of the reality of US intentions for the South American republic. The US, EU, Canada and other states recently recognised self-appointed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido and labelled last year’s presidential elections in the country rigged, in spite of abundant evidence to the contrary.
Abrams has a long history as an actor on behalf of right-wing governments. He pleaded guilty in 1991 to deliberately misleading Congress over the infamous ‘Iran-Contra’ scandal – but has also been involved in efforts to counteract attempts at peace, democracy and self-determination in El Salvador, Palestine, Panama and Iran.
As Eric Alterman wrote two years ago when Trump was – appallingly but unsurprisingly – considering Abrams for the position of Deputy Secretary of State:
As assistant secretary of state for human rights, Abrams sought to ensure that General Efraín Ríos Montt, Guatemala’s then-dictator, could carry out “acts of genocide”—those are the legally binding words of Guatemala’s United Nations–backed Commission for Historical Clarification—against the indigenous people in the Ixil region of the department of Quiché, without any pesky interference from human-rights organizations, much less the US government.Eric Alterman (emphases added)
As the mass killings were taking place, Abrams fought in Congress for military aid to Ríos Montt’s bloody regime. He credited the murderous dictator with having “brought considerable progress” on human-rights issues. Abrams even went so far as to insist that “the amount of killing of innocent civilians is being reduced step by step” before demanding that Congress provide the regime with advanced arms because its alleged “progress need[ed] to be rewarded and encouraged“.
Promoted to assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, Abrams repeatedly denounced the continued protests by organizations seeking to call attention to the mass murders of both Ríos Montt and the no less bloodthirsty President Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo, who came to power fewer than three years later. In one village during the latter’s reign, “the army herded the entire population into the courthouse, raped the women, beheaded the men, and took the children outside to smash them to death against rocks,” according to Inevitable Revolutions, Walter LaFeber’s classic history of the United States in Central America.
…When The New York Times published an op-ed challenging the official State Department count of the mass murders under way—by a woman who had witnessed a death-squad-style assassination in broad daylight in Guatemala City without ever seeing it mentioned in the press—Abrams lied outright in a letter to the editor, even citing an imaginary story in a nonexistent newspaper to insist that the man’s murder had, in fact, been reported.
As the SKWAWKBOX has showed, the ‘opposition’ in Venezuela has been responsible for horrendous acts of violence, including setting fire to supporters of the government and car-bomb attacks against police.
Attacks on the validity and fairness of the Venezuelan election have also been discredited by neutral election observers who attended it and testified to its technological and procedural robustness – and the result was initially accepted by even the right-wing opposition.
The appointment of Abrams, with his long history of fighting inconvenient democracy and enabling murder, makes a mockery of any claim that the intervention by the US and supported by a cast of nations including the UK, has anything to do with the good of Venezuelans or respect for democracy.
On the contrary, by recognising an unelected and little-supported right-wing elitist against a president still supported by a large majority of Venezuelans in spite of his imperfections, the US is acting as an enemy of democracy and self-determination. By sending a war criminal as its envoy, it is endorsing murder and signalling ruthless contempt for the people of Venezuela and their democracy.
The UK government and its media allies have no business enabling Trump.
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