Operation Tradewinds: Collective Militarized White Supremacy and Black Neocolonialism in the Caribbean
The People of the Caribbean and Latin America Must Say No to U.S. militarism and Subversion.
Except for the hum of US helicopters flying overhead, there was a deafening silence throughout the Caribbean region, during the recent Operation Tradewinds, Progressive and Pan-African forces did not utter a word, as soldiers from Guyana, Brazil, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago participated in this region-wide military exercise with army personnel from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and the Netherlands.
We were told that Operation Tradewinds was “a US Southern Command sponsored combined joint exercise conducted with partner nations to enhance the collective ability of defense forces and constabularies to counter transnational criminal organizations, conduct humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief operations.”
The catch-phrases “transnational criminal organizations,” “humanitarian assistance” and even “disaster relief operations” are worn-out euphemisms for the neo-colonial presence of the US Empire and its European allies in Guyana and throughout the region. Military exercises and CIA manuals are a vital part of the game plan to ensure the continued strength and influence of the hegemon.
Their lackeys in the region follow suit, utilizing tactics of disinformation. Often, when people from poor and marginalized communities in the Caribbean and the Americas resist neo-colonialism and its persistent, debilitating poverty and oppression, they are labelled “criminals,” and legitimate grassroots movements are described as “criminal gangs.” This then acts as an excuse for State repression, extra-judicial killings, imprisonments and political assassination. In Colombia and Brazil, activists, and in particular, African and Indigenous activists, are targeted for elimination. According to Africa Globe, an African-Brazilian is killed by the police every 23 minutes. Operation Tradewinds was a tacit reminder that if things get out of hand in the “colonies,” the Empire is there to back up their local “governors,” who pose as presidents and prime ministers.
The poverty and suffering throughout the region is largely due to the persistent imperialist plunder and exploitation of our abundant natural and human resources, as well as the imposition of political and economic systems that maintain dependency and dysfunction, while widening the gap between rich and poor. Countries in the region that have dared to break these chains, such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia, suffer the Empire’s full wrath. Speaking for Guyana in 2021, the most apt description would be a neo-plantation, where the colonial structures, institutions and systems remain firmly in place, and where the president, prime minister and other government officials are no more than governors, viceroys and overseers for the Empire, as in colonial times. That is why Caribbean liberation theologian, Kortright Davis, could have proclaimed, “emancipation still coming.”
Geopolitical and historical fatalism
It’s hard to fathom the seeming acceptance, across the political spectrum, of this provocative military exercise, coordinated by the world’s major imperialist powers. The very same powers that worked together as a well-oiled machine in the destruction of the Libyan Revolution. Provocative, because the exercise was so obviously staged in an attempt to intimidate Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and any other nation in the Caribbean or the Americas that dares to dream of sovereignty and the right to self-determination.
To remain silent, is to acquiesce. A dangerous acceptance of the absurd notion of historical and geo-political fatalism is in the air. The acronym TINA (There Is No Alternative) was concocted so it could be transplanted into our thinking and sure enough it is manifesting itself. Even amongst Pan-Africanists across the region I am sensing a kind of “this is the reality we have to deal with.” Really? With this self- defeating approach, they are actually legitimizing and “Pan-Africanizing” neo-colonialism and in so doing, forfeiting our inalienable right to authentic independence and self-determination.
Joe Biden has now tightened the noose around Cuba’s neck. It’s no surprise that the planned distribution of Cuba’s vaccines, Soberana, Abdala and Mambisa, to the Caribbean, Central and South America and Africa, sent the Empire’s machinery into overdrive, accelerating its attempts to create chaos in Cuba. As far as the imperialists were concerned, this phenomenal achievement by a small, truly sovereign and socialist nation had to be disrupted and discredited.
US imperialists, be they Democrats or Republicans, displaying the fact that their wickedness knows no bounds, have actually hindered Cuba’s access to syringes and other supplies to assist in the manufacture and distribution of life-saving vaccines in the middle of a global pandemic. Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, rightfully described this as an “act of genocide” and said that “like the virus, the blockade asphyxiates and kills.”
Worldwide, youth are rejecting capitalism
If anything has laid bare capitalism’s contradictions, it is COVID-19. Capitalism’s failure is on show as never before. Youth around the world are rising up in large numbers with the word “socialism” on their lips. And most worrying to the ruling classes and the imperialists, is that the youth movements in their own countries are among the largest. According to recent polls, a majority of youth in the US are rejecting capitalism. More than half of those polled view socialism positively. These young people in advanced capitalist countries such as the US, the UK and France are struggling to make ends meet. Unemployment figures are soaring, social and economic inequality is growing at an unprecedented rate, and even those who have employment are forced to have a side hustle or two. The inarguable connection between racism and capitalism is highlighted everywhere they turn. In the early 60s, when Malcolm X said, “you can’t have capitalism without racism” he had to argue that point in order illustrate it, in 2021, the nexus between capitalism and racism has surely become self-evident.
Increasingly, youth in the West are no longer blaming themselves for their situation, as neo-liberals and conservatives have encouraged them to do, but are instead turning their disdain towards the economic and political system which they see as being rigged against them. They are laying bare the injustice perpetrated by the ideology of White supremacy, which allows Africans in the US to be shot in their homes, neighbourhoods, malls, playgrounds and streets by agencies of the State. Chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “No pride in genocide”, Black and White youth in the citadels of capitalism are tearing down, burning and smashing symbols, icons and images of this system.
The blatant way in which Bernie Sanders was sidelined and rigged out of the US presidential race, despite overwhelming support, contributed to the huge wave of disillusionment. It was a bitter pill for the thousands of young people who were actively involved in his campaign. After witnessing this electoral charade, the numbers of disenchanted youth soared, causing many to turn their back on any remnant of belief they still had in the US political system and bogus liberal democracy. In increasing numbers, US citizens are simply no longer able to close their eyes to the fact that the US is a plutocracy, not a democracy.
When detractors claim that socialism does not work, I ask them for just one example of a place anywhere on earth where neo-liberal capitalism is working. I’m still waiting for a case in point! In fact, if socialism is such a failure, why do the imperial powers spend millions trying to derail it – surely it should fail of its own accord?
Truth be told, it is White supremacy that came into the world as capitalism that is failing, and it is the US Empire and its European allies that are in crisis—directionless and floundering. Despite their bravado and victorious rhetoric, the question is not if this Empire will fall, but rather when? Forced to withdraw their troops from both Afghanistan and Iraq, having failed to achieve their objectives, they are mired in humiliation and defeat. Old Joe is a fool, as are Boris and Macron. Of course, no Empire goes down without a fight. As the Empire falls into the hell of its own making, for the vast majority, life on this earth will get even harsher than it already is. In its dying throes, we can expect the Empire to become even more vicious. All progressive and revolutionary oriented governments and movements understand that the Empire’s fight back will intensify in this historical period.
The Empire fights back to no avail
It is in this context that the Empire’s most recent assault on Cuba took place. As the crisis of capitalism intensifies, the imperial powers are more determined than ever that no alternatives to neo-liberal capitalism can be left standing.
Imperialism’s policy has always been to nip socialist and revolutionary oriented governments in the bud, by ensuring that they are never given a breathing space. However, despite economic sanctions, covert and overt acts of sabotage, campaigns of disinformation, funding and support of insignificant counter-revolutionary entities and fake NGOs to the tune of millions of US dollars, CIA orchestrated coups, political assassinations and contra-wars, it has not been easy, to say the least, to nip the revolutions of the Caribbean and the Americas in the bud.
Although concerted efforts have been made and millions of US dollars spent, Biden will be the 12th US president who has tried to bring Cuba to its knees. After the waging of a brutal and unrelenting CIA sponsored contra-war against the Sandinista government for more than a decade, today support for President Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua is stronger than ever. In Venezuela, under enormous pressure, as the Empire continues to unleash the full extent of its destabilization arsenal on this nation-state, the Bolivarian revolution has survived, In Bolivia, following the US-backed electoral/constitutional coup that forced President Evo Morales from office, the Movement Towards Socialism party that he led, is back in power. In Haiti, Colombia, Brazil, Peru and across the region, the resistance continues.
‘Look for me in the whirlwind…’
What the imperialists fail to understand is that the Caribbean and the Americas have an extraordinary legacy of resistance that has unleashed an historical revolutionary continuum that they can never defeat. Revolutionary leader, Maurice Bishop asked, “When will imperialism learn?” He went on to explain that, “they can kill our bodies but they can never kill the spirit of a people fighting for their liberation…”
In 1987, addressing revolutionaries from the Caribbean and the Americas gathered at the World Mathaba in Libya, Muammar Qaddafi alluded to this impressive and defiant legacy, stating, “I have the feeling that the new world will begin in your region. It is there that the new outlines that will shape the world – outlines that correspond to our aspirations – shall be etched out.”
There can be no doubt that the spirit of Tupac Amaru, Agüeybaná II, Hatuey, Cuauhtémoc, Cahuide, Guaicaipuro, Lautaro, Dessalines, L’Ouverture, Boukman, Bolivar, Marti, Sandino, Bussa, Kofi, Atta, Bogle, Nanny, Makandal, Garvey, Guevara, Castro, Allende, Bishop and so many others rage on. Marcus Garvey told us to look for him “in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you, for, with God’s grace, I shall come and bring with me countless millions of Black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for Liberty, Freedom and Life.” It brings to mind the ancient phrase: “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.”
The most recent attempt to destabilize Cuba simply illustrates just how exhausted the imperialist playbook is—floods of hashtags, bots, automated trolls, doctored photographs and videos, large cash payments to insignificant counter-revolutionary groups etc. The oppressed masses throughout the Caribbean and the Americas know exactly what is going on. In 2021, there is no nation on earth not facing huge challenges, let alone a nation that has withstood more than 60 years of harsh and comprehensive economic sanctions. Cuba’s survival under such harsh and intolerable conditions, is proof of the resolve and resilience of the Cuban people and the revolution they gave birth to. No matter how high the price they are forced to pay, they refuse to surrender their God-given right to true independence, dignity and self-determination. There can be no doubt that the Cubans have come too far to turn back, and will resolve their own issues and challenges on their own terms.
Declaration of war
On July 22nd, when Biden intensified the embargo by introducing new sanctions targeting individual Cuban officials and entities, he declared war. Sasha Tirador, a well-known Miami based counter-revolutionary, exclaimed, “This is huge!”
Another high profile and outspoken Miami based counter-revolutionary, Orlando Gutíerrez-Boronat and Miami mayor, Francis Suarez, called for US airstrikes on the island-nation.
Contributing to the war-room like discourse, in an interview with MSNBC, Marco Rubio commented that “at the end of the day, the key…is to go after the loyalty and the confidence of those in the security apparatus in Cuba.”
The Biden administration is doing everything it can to provide internet access to the Cuban people to “circumvents the regime’s censorship efforts.” This is rich, coming from a US administration that is tagging what it considers to be “inappropriate messages” on Facebook for referral to Facebook management. The US State has, in effect, become an extension of Facebook in its attempts to censor.
In a clear directive to US partners in the region, Biden, referring to Cuba, Venezuela and others, said that “advancing human dignity and freedom is a top priority” for his administration, and the US would work closely with its “partners throughout the region” to achieve these goals. And there they were, US military helicopters flying overhead in in Guyana, not far from the Venezuelan border, as part of Operation Tradewinds.
Never tiring of hypocrisy, Biden of course is speaking as president of a country with the largest incarcerated prison population on earth, including many political prisoners, where censorship and State-sponsored disinformation has become the order of the day, where the entire population, and in particular dissidents, are targeted for Orwellian type surveillance, and where demonstrations are put down with brutal militaristic force. Nowhere on earth is the “fascistization” of the State more evident than in the US of A.
We must intensify our fight back. Words, resolutions and statements of solidarity are important but not enough. Revolutionary and progressive forces across the Caribbean and the Americas must mobilize and organize a mass movement around just one single demand that we can all agree on: An immediate end to the United States illegal embargo on Cuba.
We must call on our progressive and revolutionary brothers and sisters worldwide to take up this campaign with such thunder that the Empire comes under pressure to relent. Only then can we demonstrate that there is indeed an alternative, and that we are determined to defend that alternative.
Revolutionary Pan-Africanist and socialist, Kwame Ture said, “When Africa called, Cuba answered.” He was of course not only referring to the medical brigades and other humanitarian assistance, but also to Cuba’s unprecedented military assistance in the fight against the South African Apartheid regime, and the decisive battle at Cuito Cuanavale. Now, when after six decades of illegal sanctions that have crippled Cuba economically, and are fomenting unrest among Cuba’s youth, as they were designed to do, Cuba is calling. Let us answer with a resounding and sustained campaign of resistance until the illegal embargo is lifted. In doing so, we will send a definitive message to the US rogue regime, that in the words of Grenadian freedom fighter, Maurice Bishop, “we are in nobody’s backyard.”
Gerald A. Perreira is leader of Organization for the Victory of the People based in Guyana. He is an executive member of the Caribbean Chapter of the Network for the Defense of Humanity and the Caribbean Pan-African Network (CPAN). He can be reached at [email protected].