U.S. Imperialism Essay
You are learning about U.S. imperialism in the 20th century in the book Overthrow by Stephen Kinzer.
Informal empire is different from territorial empire like the Roman or British empires in which one country directly ruled over other parts of the world. Informal imperialism involves the exercise of U.S. economic and military power to shape the internal affairs of other countries to benefit U.S. interests. The U.S. has mostly exercised such imperial power in the less-developed countries of Latin America & the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. U.S. interventions in these countries include: political and economic means to destabilize foreign governments; supporting armed rebels and overthrows of governments; and full-scale military invasions. But the U.S. has also supported friendly governments (sometimes called client-states) with economic and military aid, including many undemocratic, repressive dictatorships.
America has had a history of interfering with the affairs of other countries by determining their political direction and economic development (Cooke, 2017). Developing countries, especially in Africa, the Caribbean, and South America, have fell victim to American modern era imperialism. Venezuela is one of the countries experiencing massive meddling from the U.S. America influences its internal affairs since the 19th century and has continued to do the same to date. The intervention of the U.S. in Venezuela has been witnessed in various instances, such as sponsoring dictatorship regimes during Venezuela crisis of 1908, and the Bolivarian backlash.
The U.S. sponsored dictators, who ruled with iron fist torturing people and killing those who opposed them. American interest in Venezuela oil made them accept an illegitimate regime, a government that did not uphold human rights and democracy (Cooke, 2017). From 1948 to 1958, the U.S. supported Marcos Perez Jimenez as the president of Venezuela. The regime subjected political prisoners to torture and oppression. The U.S. considered the dictator a very close ally and went ahead to award him the American Legion of Merit. After Venezuela achieved its democracy and independence in 1958, it enjoyed peace, but the United States did not stop interfering in the affairs of the country (Sheppard, 2019). For instance, it played a significant role during the Bolivarian revolution, after the democratic election of Hugo Chavez in 1998.
The Dutch-Venezuela crisis of 1908 saw a military intervention of America to help the then vice president Vicente Gomez to capture power through a coup (Dawson & Schueller, 2020). Gomez had an influence in ruling the country directly and through puppet presidents until he died in 1935. Gomez operated one of the most brutal governments. For instance, political prisoners were cuffed in grillos and many of them became permanently disabled. Many others were hinged to death. Gomez was very corrupt, and it is believed that he was worth $3.6 billion in today’s currency (Gill, 2019). He was very cooperative to the U.S. and gave them access to oil. Primarily, foreign companies were controlling the economy of Venezuela, especially in the United States.
The Bolivarian revolution was important in ensuring economic and political developments that improved the lives of people in Venezuela. Chaves had nationalized major components of economy as part of his agenda to improve the economic performance of the country (Antonopoulos & Cottle, 2018). Chaves failed to ally to the United States and their presence in the country was threatened. As such, the U.S. organized failed military coup in 2002. However, their attempt to dethrone Chaves failed. The Barrack Obama administration continued to paint Chaves government in negative light. In fact, Obama declared that Venezuela was posing an extra ordinary threat to national security (Antonopoulos & Cottle, 2018). This assertion was absurd since the country has not been involved in war with any other country in history.
United States of America continues to advance imperialism in developing countries, especially those with resources such as oil. They work with the regime in government or sponsor opposition to overthrow sitting governments when they fail to cooperate with them (Antonopoulos & Cottle, 2018). In the process, they influence the political and economic development of the countries. Venezuela is one country that has experienced U.S. influence in history. The U.S. government has worked with dictator presidents ignoring corruption and violation of human rights perpetrated by the dictators. The U.S. took part in attempted coup against Chavez as well as during the Venezuela crisis of 1908.
Antonopoulos, P., & Cottle, D. (2018). Venezuela’s 2017 Crisis: A Failed Bolivarian Experiment or a Legitimate Claim of U.S. Imperialism?. Critique, 46(1), 49-64.
Cooke, S. (2017). The lion and the injured zebra: Getting Venezuela right. Guardian (Sydney), (1789), 6-7.
Dawson, A., & Schueller, M. J. (Eds.). (2020). Exceptional State: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the New Imperialism. Duke University Press.
Gill, T. M. (2020). Two Decades of Imperial Failure: Theorizing U.S. Regime Change Efforts in Venezuela from Bush II to Trump. Class, Race and Corporate Power, 8(2), 1.
Gill, T. M. (2019). Shifting imperial strategies in contemporary Latin America: The U.S. empire and Venezuela under Hugo Chávez. Journal of Historical Sociology, 32(3), 294-310.
Sheppard, B. (2019). ‘Grand alliance’threatens Venezuela. Green Left Weekly, (1212), 13.