On January 28, a group of US Congressmen, led by former Green Beret and now Republican Party legislator, Michael Waltz, introduced into the Congress a new bill dedicated to smashing democracy in Venezuela, cumbersomely entitled the “Bipartisan Banning Operations and Leases with Illegitimate Authoritarian Regime (BOLIVAR) Act.” The creators of the law tendentiously established the contradictory acronym, “BOLIVAR Act,” cynically using the name of a freedom fighter for a bill dedicated to anything but freedom and democracy. The precedent for this undemocratic measure dates back to 2019, when GOP Sen. Rick Scott, obsessive opponent of the freely elected Venezuelan government since his years as governor of Florida, sponsored, together with Sen. Marco Rubio and Waltz himself, the Venezuelan Restriction on Contracting Act, which at that time did not even pass a committee vote to be taken up by the full Congress. Scott is one of the most active operators in the anti-Venezuelan lobby, a character who has led the charge in the US to intensify the unilateral coercive measures against Venezuela. He has been assisted by Rubio.
The focus of the new mutation of the title in the bill (“Contracting Restriction”) alludes to another operation of the well-known plan to make impossible the financial transactions of the Venezuelan state with any entity, subject, or company prominent in international trade. According to the document, the purpose is to prohibit the president of the US Government from granting contracts to persons who have any commercial operations with the “Maduro regime.” Most of the congressmen in the House of Representatives who are pushing the legislative proposal against Venezuela represent Florida districts where they hope to garner support from right-wing elements in the Venezuelan and Cuban communities. Further, Scott is implicated in the largest Medicare fraud in the United States when he was CEO of the health care company Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). That controversial matter gravitated to the FBI investigation, later made public in 1997, in which the company in question admitted to felony billing and fraudulent practices three years later. According to Sun Sentinel columnist Randy Schultz, Columbia/HCA gave kickbacks to doctors to refer patients to make them look sicker than they were, so Medicare would pay more.
The United States has a history of using “humanitarian aid” as a weapon of war against the Bolivarian Republic and unscrupulous financing of the Venezuelan opposition. The bill allows certain types of “aid” to Venezuela, as long as that “aid” serves to undercut the democratically elected government there. Under the guise of “humanitarian aid”, the US government through agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has channelled funding to the Venezuelan anti-Chávez leadership in order to stimulate the strategy of “regime change” in Venezuela. Trump’s far right government is gone and from January 29, the Democratic Biden presidency has taken over. But the old policy on Latin America is continuing and the right wingers have a field day in proposing measures against the duly elected governments. It is time the Biden administration gives a relook at its Latin American policy and restrains its Congressmen from following old pro-imperialist policies.