America’s latest attempt at king-making

On the 23rd of Jan 19 the US, primarily, along with a few other nations, attempted a coup in Venezuela. It played out as an opposition leader, one Juan Guaidó, swore himself in as president of Venezuela. The only problem with that is that he is not the elected leader of Venezuela. That title falls to Nicolas Maduro, who was reelected by a wide margin on 20 May 18, in what the Western media outlets slammed as a sham election. The further problem with that is the opposition parties refused to take part in the election, and in fact were directed not to, with the result that voter turnout was low. The opposition parties are also badly divided. So now Venezuelans face the prospect of a drawn-out internal battle, mission creep and a long siege for control of their nation, intensified external pressure to overthrow Maduro and increased sanctions so long as Maduro hangs on to power.

So, we will look at the astrology of Venezuela, which in fact shows its troubled past. And we will also look at where this might be headed. But first we need to shed ourselves of misconceptions of what is actually going on there, and that entails a bit of history, to follow. We’ll start with what this latest misadventure is not, and then have a quick look at the chart of Venezuela. The current troubles in Venezuela are not:

  • A struggle against socialism/communism
  • A humanitarian crisis brought on by the Maduro government (although they have helped a lot)
  • Due to the fact that Maduro is a dictator (Is he really?)
  • Due to Cuban or Russian intervention (relations with Cuba have deteriorated under Maduro), at least not in the way it might be portrayed.

Venezuela’s troubles began long before the current crisis. It has been a nation beset by instability and coups since its founding on 5 Jul 1811 at ca. 3:00 pm local time. The chart is below (bigger).

The main events in the nation’s governmental history since independence are as follows:

18 Oct 1945 (democratic coup, directions)

24 Nov 1948 (military coup followed by dictatorship, directions)

23 Jan 1958 (dictatorship overthrown, democracy restored, directions)

4 May 1962 attempt

2 Jun 1962 attempt

4 Feb & 27 Nov 1992 attempt

2 Feb 1999 (Chavez elected, directions)

11 Apr 2002 (temporary coup, directions)

14 Apr 2013 (Maduro, directions)

We cannot go into all the charts here, but the directions are included for your perusal. As to the chart itself, to look at the leadership of any nation we have to look at the 10th house, its ruler and the aspects to that ruler, along with any planets placed in that house. In Venezuela’s case the Midheaven (MC) is Leo with the Sun as its ruler, indicating a proud and independent leadership. The Sun is in Cancer in the 8th house and is largely well-aspected, receiving trines and sextiles. It was also in a full moon period, with the Moon waxing toward the full moon, which took place the day after independence was declared. In fact, the Sun forms a point in a grand trine with Uranus and Pluto, a very stubborn and revolutionary combination. Aquarius and Uranus, already indicating more progressive and at times revolutionary opposition parties, also lends itself to coups, as we see with the preceding list. But the ruler of the IC, Uranus, is trine the Sun, the ruler of the tenth, indicating that some very significant progress can be made for the nation when the opposition and the government are on the same page. A problem comes in with subterfuge, indicated by Pluto in the 4th house. This is accentuated by Mars just behind the ascendant in the 12th house, marking militant secret enemies of the state and military takeovers.

Mars is the co-ruler of the 1st house, along with Pluto. Mars in turn rules the 6th house, which is the Venezuelan military and police forces as well as public services. So, we see there is a potential for military takeovers and that the sitting government must be on good terms with the military if it is to have any chance of staying in power. At the present moment the military has pledged its support to Maduro.

If we dig deeper, looking at the midpoints, the most prominent one involves the grand trine, with the positive side of that being progressive or fanatical reforms without regard to self (the socialist government and nationalization of resources), but on the negative indicating sudden turns in circumstances and possible imprisonment. The Sun itself forms a midpoint with the Asc/MC, showing comrades in arms and efforts done together. With these points in consideration, do we see a coup? The short answer is no.

On the day of the self-pronouncement by Guaidó (chart) there were transits by Saturn and Neptune to the Venezuelan Uranus, activating opposition forces, but there was nothing to the Sun or MC, and more importantly, no directions to Uranus, by Uranus or to the Sun or MC. The attempted coup was a non-event. More to the point, there was a direction of Venus to the Sun and Ascendant, and one that is passing from the MC, which was exact when Maduro was reelected. The upshot of this is that Maduro has and has had support. And if we look into the future, there is nothing of any great significance coming until 2021, when a turning point is marked by a direction of Ceres to the Sun. There are no directed midpoints that would indicate an immediate overthrow of the government. What we see instead are attempts at foreign influence (directed Moon to Venus, the Moon ruling the 9th house) and attacks on Venezuela’s banking and financial sectors, indicated by a direction of Mars to Jupiter, the latter ruling the 2nd house.

Before we get to the current events and what they might mean, there is one more factor to examine which relates directly to Venezuela’s current problems. When we look at the Neptune midpoints some very interesting dynamics emerge and they tell quite a lot about Venezuela. Neptune represents oil among many things and it is oil that is at the root of Venezuela’s problems, both from internal mismanagement and external pressures. Oil is at the same time the great strength and the Achilles heel of Venezuela. It has the largest reserves of oil in the world. It is what once made Venezuela one of the richest nations in South America. But Neptune also is at the heart of an insidious network of midpoints in Venezuela’s independence chart.

To start, referring to the displayed chart, the Jupiter/Ascendant MP represents wishful thinking, hopes pinned on certain outcomes and speculation, which is exactly what Chavez did with the nation’s oil. All plans for the future were pinned on it and when the oil prices crashed, so did the plans of Chavez, as well as those of the nation. There is still hope, but it will take time and proper management. The Mercury/Mars MP speaks of fantastic plans, hopeless plans and broken promises (as in defaulting on debts). The Saturn/Asc MP points to suffering through others, a depressing environment and separations. The Node/MC MP is even more disappointing news, with the addition of experiencing deceitfulness at the hands of others and separations thereby, and a lack of adaptability in relationships. And finally, the coup de grâce, the Mars/Saturn MP (the “death axis”), indicating poor decision-making, insufficient power to tackle resistance, undermining of the vitality through Neptunian influences (oil, for instance, along with nefarious influences) and mysterious death (Chavez, for instance). Of course, these points have to be taken in the context of the entire chart, which overall is strong and transformative. But finally, Neptune is square Ceres (home, hearth and bread) in the independence chart, showing the tensions and challenges that oil represents for the nation. So now we can move on to the actual events.

To start, we won’t go over the self-pronouncement by Guaidó, except to mention a few items. He has already been fully covered by other sources. He is a product of the ‘Chicago Boys’ school, which proposes economic ‘shock therapy’ as we saw in Chile, but before the coup began he was relatively unknown in Venezuela. The party he belongs to is widely hated in Venezuela and he was not even elected to head Venezuela’s National Assembly. But in December last year he sneaked across the border and made a trip to the US, Columbia and Brazil where he was feted and junketed to coordinate plans for mass protests at the inauguration of Maduro (on the 23rd). The night before he declared himself president, he received phone calls from Mike Pence and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland to offer their support, and the rest has been plastered across the news since. Trump immediately endorsed him, as did the Canadian Government (Trudeau’s father would not be happy), most nations within the Lima Group and with some European nations calling for ‘free and fair elections’ within eight days. Guaidó, being relatively unknown, is being used as a tool for regime change, and as such he is expendable to the US.

The current coup attempt began, suspiciously or not, after two Russian nuclear-capable “Blackjack” bombers set down in Venezuela at the request of the Maduro government, as a show of solidarity and force. But that event is really the icing on the cake and precipitating event. The reasons for the coup attempt go back much further than that. Russia has been forging military cooperation with Venezuela since 2005, under Chavez. The Western press painted the Blackjacks as a ‘provocation’ and as ‘inappropriate’, given the current state of affairs in Venezuela. But Russia has been making economic inroads into that nation for years, along with China, and this has been ongoing since the Bolivarian Revolution. To date its investments are on the order of 17 billion dollars, while those of China are around 80 billion.

Russia’s investment in Venezuela revolves largely around the oil and gold industries there. In turn, Russia has shipped wheat to that nation in exchange. The Chinese investments have focused largely on infrastructure, electronics and railways, also with some investment in its oil industry. In turn Venezuela has shipped raw materials to China, such as iron ore and oil. With such large investments by two of the main competitors to the US, it is not difficult to see why Washington has stepped up the heat on the Maduro government. Venezuela has been gradually drifting away from Western nations as trading partners and has instead been seeking greater integration into the multipolar model being formed by Russian and China. Thus, military tensions set aside, just the trade agreements alone between Venezuela, China and Russia are causing increasing concern in the West.

But where the real problem comes in, and why Washington is seeking to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolutionary state is that Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. And it is situated at the soft underbelly of the US. The combination of oil and the Russian military presence there is just too much for Washington to bear, apparently. Added to that, Venezuela ships crude oil to US refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, some of which are owned by Venezuela. Citgo is majority owned by Venezuela and has been since 1986. There had been talk of giving Citgo to the Russian company Rosneft in payment for Russian loans and as a further poke in the eye to Washington, a 49.9% stake was signed over to Russia at the end of last year. Those refineries are naturally geared toward the type of oil that Venezuela produces. If that oil supply were to be interrupted, it would cause fuel prices in the US to spike. The fact that there has been an attempt at the transfer of Citgo to the Russians (Rosneft) has sent the Trump administration into overdrive regarding Venezuela. But it gets even messier, though at the same time more revealing.

The attempted coup has also brought out the other players from behind the curtains – Canada, Britain, Spain, France, Belgium and Germany. We can perhaps understand the European powers giving their support, but we might well ask – why has Canada fallen into line here? Apparently the Canadian company Crystallex is poised to seize Citgo from Venezuela due to a US court ruling in October last year in payment for defaulted payments by the government of Venezuela, to the tune of $11 billion. Citgo is currently under US sanctions which prevent it from repatriating around $1 billion/year in funds. Venezuela is appealing the ruling. ConocoPhillips is another one that is actually seizing assets from Venezuela, having taken assets in May from the Isla refinery in Curacao to the tune of $2 billion for repayment of debts. This caused havoc on PDVSA’s export chain, further draining Venezuela of income. Following on this, a suit has been filed in a US federal court in Delaware (why not an international court?) against PDVSA and Rosneft “for the “fraudulent receipt” of Venezuela’s U.S. refiner Citgo” in a deal that had been struck between PDVSA and Rosneft in 2016. So, since Trump’s election there has been quite a bit of legal wrangling between Venezuela and North American corporate interests.

Citgo is seen as a strategic asset by the US, and the thought of Russians having ownership of an American oil company is another reason we see so much anti-Russian sentiment in the US. But there is still yet another wrinkle in this story of PDVSA and North American Companies. Even though PDVSA has struck deals with the companies  for repayment of debts it is difficult for the transfers to go through due to the US sanctions, which would take place in dollars. So, this is a case of default by design. Washington has engineered the present crisis in Venezuela though its sanctions regime, taking advantage of Maduro’s mismanagement and using it as cover. Venezuela can neither receive funds in US dollars, nor make payments to the companies to whom it owes money for the same reason.

Sanctions are a form of the old medieval siege, meant to starve a country to the point where either the rulers give up or the populace revolts. They were used to great effect recently in Iraq, Libya, Syria, North Korea and now Venezuela. They work outside the framework of international law. In fact, they have been described as war crimes, especially in the case of Venezuela, and an act of war against the nations upon whom they are imposed. A few nations have resisted – Iran, Russia and Syria being good examples. A few of those few nations, such as Russia, have diversified their economies as a result of sanctions out of necessity and to varying degrees of success. Venezuela is not in that camp. It had pinned all of its hopes on its oil exports, not having much else of value to export. But with sanctions and recent crashes in oil prices, the effect has been devastating. The US has unilaterally imposed sanctions on Venezuela since the end of 2014, in effect, since Maduro came to power after the death of Chavez. Why? The reason given was to protect human rights in Venezuela. The truth is somewhat different. Obama declared it himself when he stated that Venezuela was a threat to US security interests. Trump has gone a step further and threatened military intervention.

Sanctions typically affect the poor more than the elites, against whom they are frequently levied, because the elites typically have the wherewithal to get around them. The main effort along that line  is regime change. Those sanctions have caused dire shortages in food and medical supplies. They typically cause a surge in black markets in the target nations and multiply criminal behavior, and then the resulting social decline is pinned by the sanctioning nation on the leadership of the sanctioned. Maduro has been painted as a dictator as a result. But to be clear, the present woes of Venezuela are not wholly due to sanctions, as we saw with the astrology. They are also the result of poor policy by the Chavez and Maduro governments, overdependence on oil, and corruption. The US, EU and Canadian sanctions are essentially a form of economic warfare. If Venezuela were to be left to its own devices Maduro would likely fall on his own and Venezuela could probably sort itself out.

But what does all this really mean, when we get to the bottom of the geopolitics, and where is the true motivation behind it? The matter has been quite succinctly stated thus:

“…the truth of the matter is that control over Venezuela’s oil is indeed one of the motivations behind this conflict, though not in the way that it’s being portrayed. Alongside ensuring full geopolitical control over the Caribbean Basin and ideologically confronting socialism, the US wants to obtain predominant influence over Venezuela in order to incorporate it into a parallel OPEC-like structure for challenging the joint Russian-Saudi OPEC+ arrangement per the author’s late-2016 prediction about the formation of a “North American-South American Petroleum Exporting Countries” (NASAPEC) cartel. This entity would function as “Fortress America’s” energy component and have the potential to exert powerful long-term pressure on the international oil market at Russia and Saudi Arabia’s expense. When coupled with the US and Qatar’s joint LNG investment plans, it’s clear to see that the US is making a global power play for control over the world’s energy industry, which could very adversely affect Russia.”

In backing this sad attempt at a coup, Trump has betrayed his hand and shown the basis of his foreign policy with this latest stunt. That is what has eventuated – a stunt – because as a coup it looks as though it has already failed. But in so doing, it has Trump painted into a corner. This cannot be walked back. If he fails to deliver he will have to answer to the corporate interests who want this to happen. If he succeeds he will alienate a large part of his voter base, if he has not already. Since the current round has failed to the greatest extent, Washington will now have to double down. The indication of that is Trump having appointed a convicted criminal, Elliot Abrams (re: Iran-Contra), as the special envoy to Venezuela. The intent is clear enough. Since we are now onto ‘Plan B’ we will probably see attempts at armed insurgency over time. But it will probably take a long time. There are no ready-made jihadists in neighboring countries, nor trained military defectors in Venezuela, only a few military ex-pats who have pledged their support from afar. We may be looking at Iran-Contra v. 2.0 or Bay of Pigs v. 2.0. Abrams has been the architect of many color revolutions and coups across the world and is a super hawk. He is certainly one to watch in terms of Venezuela now, more so than Bolton.

Trump’s foreign policy team is now no longer based in generals but instead on neocons. Between bombastic Bolton, pompous Pompeo and anarchist Abrams it is not difficult to see where Trump’s foreign policy will now go. It goes completely against his campaign promises on non-interventionism. But MAGA now seems to have as one of its central themes, unspoken of course, of control of the world’s energy reserves, as referenced in the preceding quote. We need only look at where he has focused – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Qatar – to see the undercurrents. The other points of focus are around big power economic competition – the EU and China – the two biggest competitors in trade for the US. And this current effort in Venezuela is also an effort to squeeze China and Russia out of the region. But there is also the threat of the loss of dollar dominance as the world’s reserve currency that is at stake here.

Venezuela is an OPEC member. And there is a rotating leadership year-by-year. It just so happens that Venezuela is heading OPEC this year, and one of Venezuela’s emphases has been on trading oil in other currencies than the dollar. And its leadership role started on 9 January this year. Venezuela has been pricing its oil in yuan since 2017. So, far from this being an impulsive action, this attempted coup has been brewing for some time, and precipitated by very recent events, recapping:

  • Russia’s acceptance of Venezuela’s signing over of a large part of Citgo
  • Russia’s increasing military support of Maduro
  • China’s inroads into Venezuela
  • Venezuela’s heading of the OPEC leadership
  • Venezuela beginning to move away from the dollar
  • The failure of the coalition of the willing in the Syrian war
  • The rapidly developing rapprochement and partnerships between Iran, Russia, Turkey, China and other Asian nations, as well as Russian and Chinese inroads into Saudi Arabia, Africa and South America

Washington is progressively losing its grip on the Middle East. Turkey is also added into the mix here, as it has been involved in Venezuela’s gold, refining for them and sending it on as payment. Turkey is also investing in Venezuela. Then there is Russia and Venezuelan gold. There are rumors that a Russian flight just took off from Venezuela with 20 tons of their gold, supposedly for safe keeping or for payment of debts. There may be a propaganda alert there. There are also rumors that Russian security contractors are now on the ground protecting Maduro. The present corporate media coverage is essentially trying to say the following:

“The Maduro government is about to fall and is already moving the country’s gold reserves somewhere via Russian planes. At the same time, Vladimir Putin sent his mercenaries to rescue Maduro and to keep the corrupt regime in power in order to secure Russia’s economic and political interests. This, as well as the oppressive nature of the regime, are the only reason why the forces of good have not yet achieved victory.”

We will hear all sorts of propaganda, and it will become more heated. That represents a concerted attempt at manufacturing consent for a ‘humanitarian intervention’, with stories like Venezuelans are eating their pets or abandoning them, are eating zoo animals, its women turning to prostitution, the ‘rabbit plan’, cannibalism, and so on. We will hear all sorts of horror stories. But so far, the streets of Venezuela are quiet. There may be grains of truth in some of the preceding claims, but the articles are a blatant effort to pull at people’s emotions on the whole rather than being good journalism. These types of stories sound too much like the Iraqis throwing babies from incubators, a story that was later roundly debunked. But it helped get us into the 1st Gulf War.

And then we hear about a ‘troika of tyranny’ (Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua) from John Bolton, which sounds suspiciously familiar to “W” Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ speech prior to the 2nd Gulf War, stating on another occasion that, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” The latter was echoed by Pompeo at the UN when he stated, regarding Venezuela and Guaidó, that nations had to pick a side. Really? At that same quickly called meeting of the UNSC, Russia called out the American stance and antics, and this was echoed by many nations. Apparently, most of the world at present thinks that Venezuelans should sort out their own problems without outside interference. Venezuelans themselves are firmly against any sort of foreign intervention.

There is little doubt, though, that Venezuela needs serious internal reforms. Maduro either needs to undertake a serious rethink of his own policies, or the Venezuelans can opt to oust him, on their own. As to the oil, Venezuela could look to the Norway model, for instance, and undertake some sound advice from a nation more socialist than Venezuela, and/or more successful partners. On the whole, though, we are all in this for the long haul now. Washington is not going to let go of this. There is too much at stake. Maduro for his part feels the same. The poor in Venezuela are still backing the Bolivarian Revolution, remembering what it did for them in the past, hoping for a return. With Russia and China now with a firm foothold, the battle for influence is only going to get hotter. That it will be a long-term fight is confirmed in Venezuela’s astrology. And as for the propaganda, see it for what it is. But by all means, hold the Venezuelan people in the light for their greatest good fortune, whatever road that takes.

Featured pic from Capital News

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