IT’S curious right now how so many people have suddenly become very partisan when it comes to the rival sides in Venezuela’s current political crisis.

Up until this moment many of those now most vocal haven’t given a toss for the plight of the country and its people, let alone its political direction of travel.

It’s not as if this Latin American giant’s woes are anything new. Ask Venezuelans themselves and they’ll only too quickly point out how long their hardship and suffering has been going on. For decades the country has suffered under the rule of the strongman or “Caudillismo”, the system of personalised power and governance that has typified Venezuelan politics.

Anybody would think that the hunger, shortages, oppression and desire for political change had only kicked in just before Juan Guaido stepped out of the political wilderness to challenge Nicolas Maduro’s presidency.

Equally puzzling is that – hey presto – politicians of every stripe also unequivocally appear to know who the good guys and bad guys in Venezuela are right now. Frankly, it’s worrying just how declarative some have been in this regard while considerable political murkiness lingers in terms of who is behind whom and for what reasons.

It would be nice to think, of course, that those within the international community lining up to support Maduro’s ouster have only the interests of the Venezuelan people at heart. While some undoubtedly do, others most certainly have more mercenary reasons for promoting and supporting the cause of his removal.

In that regard some things in this crisis are all too familiar. I’m talking, of course, about the US desire for regime change. No surprises there, really. For as long as most of us can remember, US and CIA meddling in Latin American affairs has been part of Washington’s geopolitical DNA.

Throw in Venezuela’s vast oil reserves and US president Donald Trump’s ongoing utter disdain for anyone or anything south of his unbuilt wall on the Mexican border, and it’s pretty obvious what lies behind Washington’s motives.

From Iraq to Haiti, I’ve seen more than enough regime changes or attempts at such in my time not to be cynical when calls over “concerns for democracy” and threats of big-stick military intervention ring out as they currently do over Venezuela.

My spider senses start tingling, too, when the Trump administration especially presents itself as an advocate for political good in Latin America.

I’m old enough, after all, to remember the CIA’s support for the “dirty war” in Argentina and its involvement with coup plotters to overthrow democracy in Chile.

Having spent the best part of four decades covering foreign affairs, I was there, too, when the US opposed the fledgling Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua by funding and backing the right-wing Contra rebels and saw for myself the grotesque impact of the CIA’s support for El Salvador’s paramilitary death squads.

The “whose side are you on” mantra currently reverberating over the crisis in Venezuela not only reminds me of those days but also today, just as back then, so it’s become an emotive issue far beyond the region.

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Here in Scotland we’ve also felt its resonance as evident in David Jamieson’s recent article in CommonSpace in which he takes to task what he sees as the SNP’s alignment with the global political mainstream in seeking change in Venezuela.

The National:

MP Stephen Gethins spoke about the Venezuelan crisis in the Commons

The SNP’s position, argues Jamieson, is de facto the same as the UK Government’s and in turn that of the Trump administration, whose position on regime change in Venezuela it supports by unequivocally falling in behind Guaido’s claim to the presidency.

In making his case, Jamieson flags up a recent statement made in the House of Commons by Stephen Gethins MP, SNP spokesperson for international affairs and Europe. While Gethins stopped short of recognising Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, admits Jamieson, he says the MP nevertheless “left the door open to that development”.

It’s a symptom Jamieson attests not only of the SNP’s shift to a “largely uncritical display of loyalty to the Western Axis”, but a willingness to play increasing overtures to the EU, which also recently adopted a resolution recognising Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.

Frankly, I think Jamieson is right to flag up his concerns.

As regular readers of this column will recognise, I’ve always felt that Scotland needs to think long and hard about its place in the world and its take on where it stands on pressing issues like Venezuela’s crisis.

Should Scotland be independent then one would like to think that its foreign policy would be underpinned with the sorts of ethical considerations that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and others insist would lie at its heart.

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In backing the ranks of the global political mainstream over Venezuela, some within the SNP might argue that it’s precisely because of such ethical concerns that they have done so.

I do get that. For there’s no doubt that Maduro’s regime does not serve the interests of democracy or the best interests of the Venezuelan people. It’s incumbent, too, that the international community must help facilitate some respite from their dire economic hardship and political uncertainty.

Which brings me back to the subject of good guys and bad guys and where I stand on the issue myself. Once again I agree with Jamieson in that we need to learn from interventionist lessons of the past. Not now or ever again should we stumble into scenarios of supporting policies that lead to further instability or even civil war in other countries, as happened in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

That Washington threatened military intervention in Venezuela is something we need to take notice of and never subscribe to the likes of supporting.

Here in Scotland we must make clear that even in signing up to the Western mainstream position of the need for change in Venezuela, there are some actions we will not automatically countenance.

If Scotland is serious about nurturing an ethical foreign policy approach it must make such things clear from the outset when asked for a response.

Yes, of course, realpolitik makes demands on any nation when it engages in a foreign policy stance. In the case of Venezuela, however, we must prioritise dialogue and the wellbeing and interests of the vast majority of its citizens.

Equally we be must be careful of the motives of others with whom we are rubbing shoulders in our global solidarity. Right now there is no clear distinction between good guys and bad guys among those engaging with Venezuela’s crisis. Any political stance Scotland chooses to adopt, crucially needs to recognise that and factor it into our response.