When general Marcos Pérez Jiménez fell in 1958, almost all Venezuelans were daringly innocent. Not so Rómulo Betancourt. In fact, as soon as he returned from exile that year, he enacted an agreement with Washington that’s easy to infer he had already reached, to judge from his subsequent behavior, meant to avoid another Imperial coup d’état like the one backed by the U.S. in 1948 against the government of his Social Democrat party Acción Democrática (AD).
Pérez Jiménez had disdained people. Instead, he sought mainly the support of the bourgeoisie and the military, who weren’t loyal to him when he was overthrown by a brave civil and military revolt.
While the crowds enthusiastically celebrated their victory in the streets, the Empire’s acolytes operated swiftly and surreptitiously. Neither AD’s constituency nor the Communist Party confronted the entanglements of Betancourt with the bourgeoisie and the Empire.
At the end of 1957, AD, the conservative Social Christian party Copei and the now extinct Unión Republicana Democrática signed the so-called Pact of New York, which was next year ratified in Venezuela as the Pact of Punto Fijo. Both agreements excluded the Communist Party from participation in office. Wasn’t it then a deal with Washington, where Betancourt lived till the end of his exile?
Betancourt won the polls in December 1958 and double-crossed us all: he sold the revolution that had cost a lot of blood, including that of militants of his party AD. This soon triggered a schism in that organization into two factions, one on the right and one on the left, which was afterwards called Leftist Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria). In January 1959 the Cuban Revolution triumphed. But it was too late for the Venezuelan revolutionaries. Betancourt had turned Venezuela into the chief Imperial satellite in the Continent. Something similar might happen now to the Arab countries whose people are heroically revolting against the Empire.
I have some concerns about some disturbing similarities with the present events in the Arab world. To the end of the ’50s there were in Latin America several military dictatorships, which had been imposed and supported by the Empire: Manuel Odría in Peru, Gustavo Rojas Pinilla in Colombia, Marcos Pérez Jiménez in Venezuela, Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, Rafael Trujillo in Dominican Republic, Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay, Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua. The last two fell or died later on, but the rest lost office immediately and in little time, like dominoes. There’s evidence of U.S. intervention in the fall of some of these dictatorships: they killed Trujillo when he refused to abandon office. They didn’t protect Pérez Jiménez. The support they gave Batista against Fidel’s guerrilla was not enough to thwart his fall. And Washington didn’t say a word about the rapid fall of the rest of those dictatorships. When Washington really supports a government it does everything to protect it: financing and training puppet groups of influence, instigating coups d’état, separatist initiatives and eventually direct invasions, to mention only a few items of its political panoply. Or they tolerate or promote an alternative government that’s acceptable for Washington, as it’s striving to do now in Egypt and did in Latin America in the late ’50s — with the exception of Cuba. It did nothing to prevent the fall of the late ’50s Latin American dictatorships that it had previously instigated and buttressed. Instead it promoted acceptable allied substitutions with a healthier political aura.
Is the same thing happening now in the Arab countries? Will they do to Mubarak what they did to Trujillo?
These days are decisive for the future of the world.