Deconstructing Elliott Abrams on Venezuela

On June 26, the Trump administration’s so-called “Special Representative for Venezuela,” Elliott Abrams gave a five-minute update to reporters about the development of the coup attempt against the government of Nicolas Maduro, followed by a brief Q&A session. The event, held at the US State Department in Washington, was textbook Abrams: full of lies, loaded language, double standards and breathtaking hypocrisy. Below, I deconstruct each of his points by providing rebuttals, context and regional comparison.

Visit from Michelle Bachelet

The first thing that Abrams mentioned was the visit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. From his remarks, one would think that the visit was entirely focused on condemning what Abrams repeatedly referred to as the Maduro “regime” – a classic of Washington’s Goebbelian dictionary used to delegitimize unfriendly governments. “We hope that her report, which is due out July 5th, will reveal the brutal truths that victims of the regime suffer every day,” he said. By using this kind of language, Abrams is sending a number of implicit messages to his audience. First is that the Maduro government is an authoritarian egregious human rights violator while so-called ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido and his hardline opposition faction are whiter than white and, indeed, the sole hope of saving the country from this tyranny. The reality, however, is that Bachelet was there to hear allegations of human rights abuses from both pro- and anti-government actors, including the numerous credible reports of opposition violence such as setting perceived government supporters on fire.

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