13313046, RE: Elliott Abrams|
Posted by bentagain, Mon Feb-11-19 07:28 PM
Although Venezuela is not technically at war, it is suffering from foreign currency strains triggered by aggressive attacks by a foreign power. US economic sanctions have been going on for years, causing at least $20 billion in losses to the country. About $7 billion of its assets are now being held hostage by the US, which has waged an undeclared war against Venezuela ever since George W. Bush’s failed military coup against President Hugo Chavez in 2002. Chavez boldly announced the “Bolivarian Revolution,” a series of economic and social reforms that dramatically reduced poverty and illiteracy and improved health and living conditions for millions of Venezuelans. The reforms, which included nationalizing key components of the nation’s economy, made Chavez a hero to millions of people and the enemy of Venezuela’s oligarchs.
Nicolas Maduro was elected president following Chavez’s death in 2013 and vowed to continue the Bolivarian Revolution. Like Saddam Hussein and Omar Qaddafi before him, he defiantly announced that Venezuela would not be trading oil in US dollars, following sanctions imposed by President Trump.
The notorious Elliott Abrams has now been appointed as special envoy to Venezuela. Considered a criminal by many for covering up massacres committed by US-backed death squads in Central America, Abrams was among the prominent neocons closely linked to Bush’s failed Venezuelan coup in 2002. National Security Advisor John Bolton is another key neocon architect advocating regime change in Venezuela. At a January 28 press conference, he held a yellow legal pad prominently displaying the words “5,000 troops to Colombia,” a country that shares a border with Venezuela. Apparently the neocon contingent feels they have unfinished business there.
Bolton does not even pretend that it’s all about restoring “democracy.” He said on Fox News, “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.” As President Nixon said of US tactics against Allende’s government in Chile, the point of sanctions and military threats is to squeeze the country economically.
Killing the Public Banking Revolution in Venezuela
It may be about more than oil, which recently hit record lows in the market. The US hardly needs to invade a country to replenish its supplies. As with Libya and Iraq, another motive may be to suppress the banking revolution initiated by Venezuela’s upstart leaders.
The banking crisis of 2009-10 exposed the corruption and systemic weakness of Venezuelan banks. Some banks were engaged in questionable business practices. Others were seriously undercapitalized. Others were apparently lending top executives large sums of money. At least one financier could not prove where he got the money to buy the banks he owned.
Rather than bailing out the culprits, as was done in the US, in 2009 the government nationalized seven Venezuelan banks, accounting for around 12% of the nation’s bank deposits. In 2010, more were taken over. The government arrested at least 16 bankers and issued more than 40 corruption-related arrest warrants for others who had fled the country. By the end of March 2011, only 37 banks were left, down from 59 at the end of November 2009. State-owned institutions took a larger role, holding 35% of assets as of March 2011, while foreign institutions held just 13.2% of assets.
Over the howls of the media, in 2010 Chavez took the bold step of passing legislation defining the banking industry as one of “public service.” The legislation specified that 5% of the banks’ net profits must go towards funding community council projects, designed and implemented by communities for the benefit of communities. The Venezuelan government directed the allocation of bank credit to preferred sectors of the economy, and it increasingly became involved in the operations of private financial institutions. By law, nearly half the lending portfolios of Venezuelan banks had to be directed to particular mandated sectors of the economy, including small business and agriculture.
In an April 2012 article called “Venezuela Increases Banks’ Obligatory Social Contributions, U.S. and Europe Do Not,” Rachael Boothroyd said that the Venezuelan government was requiring the banks to give back. Housing was declared a constitutional right, and Venezuelan banks were obliged to contribute 15% of their yearly earnings to securing it. The government’s Great Housing Mission aimed to build 2.7 million free houses for low-income families before 2019. The goal was to create a social banking system that contributed to the development of society rather than simply siphoning off its wealth. Boothroyd wrote:
. . . Venezuelans are in the fortunate position of having a national government which prioritizes their life quality, wellbeing and development over the health of bankers’ and lobbyists’ pay checks. If the 2009 financial crisis demonstrated anything, it was that capitalism is quite simply incapable of regulating itself, and that is precisely where progressive governments and progressive government legislation needs to step in.
That is also where the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is stepping in in the US – and why AOC’s proposals evoke howls in the media of the sort seen in Venezuela.
Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution gives Congress the power to create the nation’s money supply. Congress needs to exercise that power. Key to restoring our economic sovereignty is to reclaim the power to issue money from a commercial banking system that acknowledges no public responsibility beyond maximizing profits for its shareholders. Bank-created money is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, including federal deposit insurance, access to the Fed’s lending window, and government bailouts when things go wrong. If we the people are backing the currency, it should be issued by the people through their representative government.
ellen brownToday, however, our government does not adequately represent the people. We first need to take our government back, and that is what AOC and her congressional allies are attempting to do.
Web of Debt