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The Georgian Puppet Show
Posted: Monday, November 24, 2003

...What was expected to happen in Venezuela

by Ayanna Ayanna's Roots
November 24, 2003


The drama that looks like a heroic public outcry for justice, freedom, and the democratic way of life takes on a sinister aspect if one is clever enough to see the puppet strings. It gets downright macabre when we see just who is the master manipulator holding the strings. In the past 24 hours, the Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze resigned from office in what the media is calling a Velvet Revolution. "Massive" demonstrations by 15,000 Georgian citizens (out of a population of 5 million) led by the opposition, stormed the palace demanding the resignation of the president, who was unable to deliver on key reform directives and quell nationwide corruption.

Here is the scene: the President gracefully tenders his resignation. The U.S commends him for his gallantry and calls for a peaceful transition of power offering whatever assistance they can. Hmmm... Anyone seen this movie before? Sounds like a Venezuela re-run to me... One would half expect Shevardnadze to start speaking with a half-Spanish accent...

The real story behind the coup in the tiny, strategically located nation of Georgia in the former Soviet Union is clearly stamped with the trans-global imperialist politics of the United States. Georgia is located under the Caucasus Mountains linking Europe and Asia. It also happens to be the site of a massive US-funded oil pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey. Georgia is a nation riddled with ethnic conflicts, and a hot-bed of nationalist splinter groups in the northwest of the country. The U.S. has been sending military troops into the region since May 2002, ostensibly to help train Georgian troops fend off 'terrorist' links. Shevardnadze had been leaning more heavily on Russia's aid, the United States' competitor for control of the region. Were U.S. troops placed there as part of a grand design leading to the events of the past day? Does this sound familiar to anyone?

The apparently unrelated nations of Venezuela and Georgia have more in common than it might appear. Both are sites of intensive United States economic activity. Both have been led by Presidents with the potential to destabilize U.S. economic hegemony in their nations.Venezuelan leaders before Chavez had a history of corruption and 'toeing the line' set by the US, breaking regional oil treaties and agreements in favour of the U.S., and allowing them to set oil prices. President Hugo Chavez however, unlike U.S.-dominated puppets of the past, spoke out openly against the U.S. economic stranglehold and strong-arm tactics in the region. His open relations with Cuba and Russia and his Communist leanings neither endeared him to the U.S. nor to elite Venezuelan interest groups. Amidst trumped-up calls for a referendum to end his rule and media-hyped protests against his rule by what really amounted to a mere fraction of Venezuela's 24 million population, it was reported that Chavez had been ousted from power by 'thousands' of angry protesters. The mainstream media ran with the story, deliberately spreading a lie that backfired when the underground Internet media in Venezuela and other watchdog nations exposed the fraud that was the Venezuelan coup. The rest is independent media- power history.

Eduard Shevardnadze is a classic example of what happens to leaders of weaker nations who try to play by the rules of international imperialism. Sooner or later they fall out of favour with whoever is stronger at the moment, and find themselves unceremoniously ousted from the picture. Eduard Shevardnadze rose to power posing as a Marxist Leninist in the wake of the supposedly 'anti-communist' outgoing leader Zviad Gamsakhurdia. But instead of courting the poor and seeing to the needs of a country that was still the poorest of the post USSR states, he courted the favour of elitist groups in Georgia and initially began accepting friendship from the U.S. and abandoning his former ally Russia, contending that Russia exploited secessionist groups in Georgia to force it to retain its Russian ties. He furthermore supported a plan by the U.S. to build a pipeline to channel Caspian Sea oil to the Mediterranean, bypassing Russian territory. Clearly Shevardnadze felt that with his newfound ally he could counter the Russian threat and use U.S. resources to maintain his own power. So what went wrong? It appears that somewhere along the line Shevardnadze began to grow tired of his role as political puppet and began to cozy up to Moscow once again. Well as we say in Trinidad "All skin-teeth is not a smile" One can only wonder who formed the main support of the opposition group that forced Shevardnadze's resignation. With the U.S. facing a guerilla disaster in Iraq and her allies coming under increasing attack by groups worldwide, Georgia, on the Turkish border, becomes increasingly more valuable as a military asset as well as an economic one.

The ink on the resignation papers not yet dry, the U.S's Colin Powell and Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov rushed to press their respective cases to the outgoing President and the Opposition Leader cum President. I guess Georgia will be up for grabs once again in this 'Great and Secret Show' of international politrics.

One question remains... given all the parallels between Georgia and Venezuela, why did the U.S fail in Venezuela where it succeeded in Georgia? The most obvious answer is the power of the grassroots. Chavez made it his business to empower people who previously had had nothing to lose. He had in his corner not only the military but the mass of the poor who were willing to fight for a President to whom they were not blindly loyal, but from whom they saw tangible effort to improve their situation. This, coupled with the watchdogs of the underground Internet media who exposed the corporate media sham, led to the failure of the 'little coup that couldn't'.

Shevardnadze isolated and sold out the people who could have helped him the most - the people of Georgia. We can only wait and see how this one plays out. It is clearly business as usual in the world today where invisible hands control and manipulate our daily existences and leaders dance to the strings of the capitalist West. The show continues... keep looking for the feet poking out from behind the curtain.

Resources:

Country profile: Georgia From BBC

US, Russia pulling strings in Georgia From the Straits Times, November 24, 2003

Georgia and the "War on Terrorism" by Gary Leupp, May 29, 2002



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