NOT MANY people know that Shakespeare wrote five major tragedies; and that they carried stern moral messages to the lieges and princes of his day. Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, Lear and Antony in Antony and Cleopatra. His message was, it is you! You, you, you! Don’t blame the fates, the Goddesses of Chaos, for your downfall. For the fates, the Goddesses of Chaos, are always there. Omnipresent, swirling round and round. Looking for an opening. Like viruses. And if you give them none, they can take none. It is you who give them this opening, by your frailties. Your tragic flaws. It is through you, your vice, your tragic wound that they enter, feast, carrying you away, your court, kingdom and all. Blood, a top-up of gall and ketchup at the end!
Not many know that in 1823 the US invoked the Monroe Doctrine and unilaterally established American sovereignty over the Western Hemisphere. Any meddling in the internal affairs of the Americas by Europe was regarded as hostile. Throughout the 19th century, it established corporate plantation control of the hemisphere. It established industrial, banking military, port, canal interests; by friendly handshakes, by dollar and gunboat diplomacy, by stoking rebellion, or by straightforward sabotage and assassination.
Not many people know that in 1903 the US stoked a rebellion in Panama, then a province of Colombia, because the Colombian government refused to give it carte blanche concessions in the Panama Canal. The new Republic of Panama gave the concessions to US interests.
Not many people know that between 1900 and World War II, the US invaded and occupied Central American and Caribbean countries, including Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic. That it virtually owned Cuba, its economy and government. That when the Cuban Revolution bucked the trend in 1958, the Kennedy brothers and the CIA backed an invasion, the Bay of Pigs, to regain Cuba. And having failed, they tried to assassinate Castro near a hundred times; established a draconian embargo; and backed serial infiltrations and terrorist attacks against Cuba, including the hijacking and air-demolition of Air Cubana 455 in 1976, in which 76 people died, including the entire Cuban fencing team. The CIA-backed Cuban terrorist exiles had boarded the plane in Trinidad.
Not many people know that the CIA exiled president Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954; ordered the killing of Che Guevara, caught alive in Bolivia in 1967; and backed an insurgency against president Salvador Allende of Chile in 1973, which led to his death. And that in the late 1970s and 1980s the US, mainly Ronald Reagan, clandestinely deployed the School of the Americas, paramilitary groups, puppet, proxy allies, military dictatorships, proceeds from arms sales to Iran, that killed over 250,000 citizens, soldiers, peasants in villages, towns and forests in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua. A Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos repeat.
And not many people know that since 1999, waves of nationalistic leaders have arisen in Latin America. Following on Chavez, Lula, Morales, Kirchner, Correa, Bachelet are Obrador, Boric, Petro, Boluarte, Xiomara Castro, rolling back the "bad hombres" from the North. US military bases in South America have all but disappeared. For two decades, the US has fomented rebellion against Venezuela, demonising it, freezing its assets, imposing sanctions, and attempting to install its proxy Juan Guaidó in Caracas.
Not many know that Venezuela’s middle classes, banks, shops are now stocked with cash and carry and open for thriving business. That from a horrible growth rate of -3.89 per cent in 2014 to -30 per cent in 2020, the rate has stabilised to four per cent in 2023, to a projected 4.5 per cent in 2024.
But, does President Irfaan Ali and his government know this? The mighty battles for independence by Simón Bolivar and the Latin American republics in the early 1800s, followed by their 200-year struggle against US imperialism? Surely, he knows that it was the CIA that snatched Guyana from Cheddi Jagan in 1964. And that, between the early 17th century and 1948, the British cynically divided and ruled "cool--’ India.
So, what gives the Guyanese President the right to be the hemisphere’s tragic flaw? The chink in the armour, to allow the "bad hombres" of the North to re-enter? To extinguish long-fought gains? To endanger the Bolivarian Republic? Everyone knows the US’s weakness for another man’s oil.
On November 15, Venezuela presented a clear picture of its security fears at the International Court of Justice. It told of pacts that the Guyanese government has made with US-backed anti-Venezuelan groups to destabilise Venezuela. Of US-Guyana war games. It asked for bilateral meetings, neighbour to neighbour. Instead of meeting, Ali has doubled down, invited more US troops to Guyana. Escalated. Rashly. Putting his innocent people at risk, becoming the wound, the weak link, the chink for the virus to fully re-enter, destabilise, divide and potentially rule Latin America again.
Bizarre sabre-rattling from both sides, loaded referendums and courts, are unhelpful. It impugns the dignity of both the Venezuelan and Guyanese peoples. The controversy is crying for connection. Ali’s rush to the Americans for help, to the CNN and BBC, the gospellers of Euro-American hegemony, while refusing to talk to Maduro, are three telltale signs of tragedy, curtsies to Chaos. Typically, in the tragic play there is a recognition scene, when the hero recognises his tragic flaw, soliloquises his predicament. Will the Guyanese leader recognise his Lear-like folly before Act V, Scene III?