Venezuela and Hybrid Wars in Latin America

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Venezuela in the Centre of the Imperialist Offensive


On 29 April 2019, the attempted military uprising against the government of Nicolás Maduro failed. Two months beforehand, there was an attempt to breach Venezuela’s borders at the Colombian city of Cúcuta under the pretext of delivering humanitarian aid. US President Donald Trump attempted to intensify the economic, financial, and military blockade of both Venezuela and Cuba. The US and UK appropriated Venezuelan assets held outside the country, and Trump openly threatened military action against Venezuela. Meanwhile, the opposition – without popular support – urged protests inside the country and intervention from outside.


Venezuela and its Bolivarian Revolution have been the terrain of a major battle since 1998 – when Hugo Chávez won his first election. It intensified after the coup d’état in Honduras in 2009. Harsh US sanctions and threats of war transformed internal disputes in Venezuela into the centrepiece of a global geo-political confrontation. This US-driven policy threatens war and destruction in Latin America.


Open threats of war come alongside a repertoire of tactics used by the US government and its allies to undermine the Venezuelan government and the Bolivarian Revolution. These tactics include a long history of economic pressure that began with the failed coup attempt against the government of Hugo Chávez in 2002 (Stedile, 2019). This is known as a hybrid war – a combination of unconventional and conventional means using a range of state and non-state actors that runs across the spectrum of social and political life (Ceceña, 2012; Borón, 2012; Korybko, 2015).


Korbyko (2015) defines the term hybrid war as:


Externally provoked identity conflicts, which exploit historical, ethnic, religious, socio-economic, and geographic differences within geostrategic transit states through the phased transition from colour revolutions to unconventional wars in order to disrupt, control, or influence multipolar transnational connective infrastructure projects by means of regime tweaking, regime change, or regime reboot.


The methods of intervention are developed in what Korbyko refers to as Full Spectrum Dominance, meaning that they operate with full military and cultural power over various forms of social life, especially over the hearts and minds of the population (Ceceña, 2013; Boron, 2019).


Dossier no. 17 from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research reflects on the hybrid war unleashed against Venezuela. We document the repertoire of tactics, but also the motives behind them. We are interested not only in the recent attack on Venezuela, but in the similarities between this attack and others in Latin America over the past decades. This general onslaught in Latin America needs to be understood not in terms of the war against this country or that one, but in terms of the method of domination that shape the current neo-liberal and imperialist offensive in the region.


(The full publication is below.)

Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research


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