A book review of ‘The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela’

By Mike Kuhlenbeck
July 21, 2019

The latest book by human rights attorney Dan Kovalik, “The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela,” is a critical primer on the U.S. government’s efforts to sabotage the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the future of its people.

This is the fourth title in Kovalik’s “Plot” series, starting with “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia” (2017) followed by “The Plot to Attack Iran” and “The Plot to Control the World” (both 2018). This series exposes U.S. foreign policy and acts of “humanitarian intervention” perpetrated by the Star-Spangled Empire with impressive clarity.

The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela” features a foreword by filmmaker Oliver Stone, director of the documentary “South of the Border” (2009). As Stone writes, “With its one thousand or so bases around the globe, the U.S. is an empire dwarfing all others that preceded it by a huge magnitude, and yet, unlike all other empires, the U.S. will never consciously admit to its imperial status.”

Washington has overthrown legitimate governments through military invasion and more covert means, investing in the leadership of oligarchs and military tyrants. “The Plot to Control the World” presented “emblematic cases” of U.S. interference in Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, which “had catastrophic results for the people and their pursuit of democracy and freedom.”

As this review goes to press, the Trump administration is trying to bestow such a cruel fate upon Venezuela. “The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela” investigates the crimes, motives and historical context of the situation with intelligence and insight. In Kovalik’s words, “This ‘humanitarian intervention’ of the U.S. is nothing but an old-fashioned bank heist dressed up as something altruistic.”

Washington has imposed barbaric sanctions upon Venezuela with deadly results. These sanctions have killed thousands of people, weakened infrastructure, prevented medicines from reaching those whose lives depended on them, and ended purchasing food from abroad.

There are several motives for U.S. interference. The plundering of Venezuela’s natural resources, particularly oil, is at the top of the list.

Venezuela is home to the largest amount of proven oil reserves in the world (opec.org), giving the country “a considerable advantage over the North American rival in terms of capital requirements and extractions costs,” according to worldatlas.com. This motive is what inspired the book’s subtitle, “How the U.S. Is Orchestrating a Coup for Oil.”

Historical background

In 1998, Hugo Chávez was elected president of Venezuela. He ran on a platform to uplift oppressed and marginalized peoples, oppose the imperialist entities robbing the country of its wealth and build a movement against neoliberal policies.

When Chávez assumed office in 1999, the wheels of D.C. think tanks and the Pentagon were already in motion, devising ways to remove him.

The majority of U.S. media outlets often act as stenographers and mouthpieces for the State Department. For example, The New York Times referred to the April 12, 2002, U.S.-backed kidnapping and attempted overthrow of Chávez as a “resignation,” calling him a “would-be dictator,” and sided with businessman and would-be replacement Pedro Carmona Estanga.

When the 2002 coup attempt failed, the New York Times backpedaled with a follow-up editorial, which read in part, “Forcibly unseating a democratically elected leader, no matter how badly he has performed, is never something to cheer.” (April 6, 2002) And yet, the Times cheered, as did most U.S. corporate media, according to a report published by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting. (June 1, 2002)

Once again, these same media push for the most recent efforts to destabilize Venezuela. The current administration appointed neocon ideologue and Iran-Contra convict Elliot Abrams to lead these efforts, as he had in Guatemala and El Salvador decades earlier. While many journalists questioned Abrams’ appointment, few questioned his mission.

Despite the media’s repeated attacks on the presidency of Donald Trump, when the Trump administration sounded the shrieking trumpets of regime change in Venezuela, many in the press corps lined up to defend this potential call for war. Media coverage has even influenced some who oppose the administration.

Stone touches on the media’s impact, writing, “[I]f the U.S. is an Empire in this morality tale, then surely Venezuela and its people are the outgunned rebels. And yet, many Americans who should know better, including many liberals and self-proclaimed ‘leftists,’ find themselves rooting against them and for the Empire and its culture of death.”

Unlike many of those who repackage White House talking points as news, Kovalik has been to Venezuela. Last year, he witnessed the May 20 elections when Maduro won the presidency with 67 percent of the vote. The election results were ignored by the Trump administration, which last January recognized an unelected, dubious Juan Guaidó as interim president.

Why Venezuela matters

Besides presenting a wealth of information and sources, the book describes  the resilience of the Venezuelan people and their collective strength in the ongoing struggle against external and internal subversion aimed at their country.

Venezuela has suffered devastating power blackouts, oil tanks catching fire, assassination attempts on government leaders (most notably the attempt on Maduro via drone last Aug. 4) and other events that many believe the U.S. either organized or at least supported. The people of Venezuela have stood their ground in the face of such tribulations.

As Kovalik correctly emphasizes, “The battle for Venezuela has huge implications for all humanity. None of us can stay neutral on this issue. And given the nefarious designs of the U.S. upon Venezuela, the suffering the U.S. is already bringing to the Venezuelan people through its regime change operations and the threat of global conflagration, it is incumbent upon us to resist the latest intervention.”

“The Plot to Overthrow Venezuela is now available from Hot Books, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing.