Ten years on from George W Bush's coup against Hugo Chavez, US attempts to break the progressive tide in Latin America continue apace.
The ousting of elected governments in Honduras and, earlier this year, in Paraguay underscores the constant need to defend the advance of the left in the region.
While US interventions to secure resources and markets in Latin America have been the norm since the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, these latest coups have a new aspect.
They have relied on apparent "constitutional crisis" to politically justify the ousting of elected governments by local right-wing oppositions, with the US playing a behind-the-scenes role.
Venezuela's presidential election this weekend could be the latest experiment in this strategy.
The polls show President Chavez is set to win convincingly. Of the 18 polls carried out in September, Chavez had an average lead of 12 per cent and was ahead in 14.
While that bodes well for those who wish to see the continuation of social progress in Venezuela, it also means that sections of Venezuela's right-wing opposition are more likely to abandon the democratic path.
US government agencies admit to pouring millions of dollars into the Venezuelan right.
Some of these movements are now openly planning to cheat the Venezuela people of their democratic will tomorrow by declaring any Chavez victory as fraudulent.
They hope this will see the results not being recognised internationally and that this is a stepping stone to ousting Chavez.
This would be totally consistent with how sections of the Venezuelan right have previously dismissed Venezuelans' democratic choice. The short-lived coup in 2002 was no one-off.
An illegal oil industry lock-out to oust the elected government followed in 2003.
The right then claimed fraud in a 2004 referendum won by Chavez by 59 per cent to 41 per cent despite strong verification from international observers.
A last-minute right-wing boycott of the 2005 parliamentary elections, where they faced imminent defeat, was condemned by the Organisation of American States.
Any orchestrated claim of fraud this weekend needs to be seen against this backdrop.
It will be politically motivated and not the result of any electoral abuses.
As former US president Jimmy Carter stated last month, "The election process in Venezuela is the best in the world" and Chavez has always won "fairly and squarely." Sunday will see Venezuela's 15th set of national elections since Chavez was first elected in 1999.
All have been declared free and fair by bodies such as the EU and the Organisation of American States.
Nevertheless, a campaign to claim that Chavez only won by cheating and through unfair elections is expected.
It could be the spark to provoke a "constitutional crisis" used to justify international action.
Worrying noises are already coming from the US.
Former US ambassador to Venezuela Patrick Duddy warned recently that in the event of "an outbreak of violence and/or interruption of democracy" the US should "communicate to the Venezuelan military leadership that they are obliged to uphold their constitution" and "organise a coalition of partners to limit an illegitimate Venezuelan administration's access to the international financial system."
He suggested the US could take "the issue of Venezuelan democracy to the UN security council" and "block access to Venezuelan government oil refining facilities in the US and consider prohibiting Venezuelan state oil sales."
A propaganda campaign to delegitimise any Chavez re-election is well under way.
The opposition has cherry-picked one poll putting it ahead in order to confuse international expectations.
This has been obligingly echoed in sections of the international media with, for example, Reuters claiming: "Venezuela's Capriles edges toward Chavez as vote nears," rather than stating clearly that Chavez is well ahead.
It has launched smears against Venezuela's independent National Electoral Commission (CNE), the body that will release the official results on Sunday.
This is despite the opposition earlier this year asking the CNE to oversee its own primaries and commending the role it played.
The right-wing opposition has also said it will release its own results on Sunday ahead of the official ones, for obvious reasons.
The recall referendum of 2004 offers further insight into how the opposition may hope to spark international non-recognition of Sunday's results.
Then, Chavez won massively. Yet hours before the official results came through the united right-wing coalition commissioned an exit poll from US firm Penn, Schoen & Berland which declared in a press release to the world's media: "Exit poll results show major defeat for Chavez."
This so-called poll used volunteers from Sumate, an anti-Chavez NGO close to George W Bush and which received funding from the US administration.
This fake exit poll was designed to discredit the subsequent official result.
Interestingly, the lead propagandist claiming fraud in 2004, Ricardo Haussmann, has been drafted in to advise the current presidential campaign of Henrique Capriles Radonski.
It is to be hoped opposition plans go no further than a propaganda war and don't repeat the violence of the 2002 coup, when civilians were shot dead by opposition snipers in an attempt to justify a military uprising.
However, Venezuela's permanent representative to the UN Jorge Valero warned earlier this week that "anti-democratic and coup-supporting sectors in alliance with powerful foreign interests will attempt to use violence as a way of not recognising the popular will."
The evidence suggests that Chavez will be re-elected president on October 7. If he does the left should celebrate that, in some parts of the world, the position of working people is advancing and giving hope, inspiration and leadership to progressives everywhere.
But our celebration will have to be matched by redoubled solidarity to help prevent any right-wing attempts to cheat the Venezuelan people of their democratic choice and desire to build 21st century socialism.
Lee Brown is a member of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign management committee.
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