For those who have been following Venezuela closely in recent years there is a distinct sense of déjà vu regarding US foreign policy towards that South American nation. This is because Washington’s strategy of regime change in Venezuela is almost identical to the approach it has taken in Latin America on numerous occasions since World War Two. This strategy involves applying economic sanctions, extensive support for the opposition, and destabilization measures that create a sufficient degree of human suffering and chaos to justify a military coup or direct US military intervention. Because this strategy has worked so well for the United States for more than half a century, our elected leaders see no reason not to use it regarding Venezuela. In other words, from Washington’s perspective, its regime change policies towards Venezuela constitute business as usual in Latin America.
Despite US rhetoric, this regime change strategy does not take into account whether or not a government is democratically elected or the human rights consequences of such interventions. In fact, virtually all of the Latin American governments that the United States has successfully overthrown over the past 65 years were democratically elected. Among the democratically-elected leaders that have been ousted were Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala (1954), Salvador Allende in Chile (1973), Jean Bertrand Aristide in Haiti (2004) and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (2009). Washington targeted all these leaders with economic sanctions and destabilization campaigns that created the economic chaos and humanitarian crises required to justify a military solution.