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Extraordinary Threat: The U.S. Empire, the Media, and Twenty Years of Coup Attempts in Venezuela


In March 2015, President Obama initiated sanctions against Venezuela, declaring a “national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.” Each year, the U.S. administration has repeated this claim. But, as Joe Emersberger and Justin Podur ague in their timely book, Extraordinary Threat, the opposite is true: It is the U.S. policy of regime change in Venezuela that constitutes an “extraordinary threat” to Venezuelans. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans continue to die because of these ever-tightening U.S. sanctions, denying people daily food, medicine, and fuel. On top of this, Venezuela has, since 2002, been subjected to repeated coup attempts by U.S.-backed forces. In Extraordinary Threat, Emersberger and Podur tell the story of six coup attempts against Venezuela.

This book deflates the myths propagated about the Venezuelan government’s purported lack of electoral legitimacy, scant human rights, and disastrous economic development record. Contrary to accounts lobbed by the corporate media, the real target of sustained U.S. assault on Venezuela is not the country’s claimed authoritarianism nor its supposed corruption. It is Chavismo, the prospect that twenty-first century socialism could be brought about through electoral and constitutional means. This is what the U.S. empire must not allow to succeed.


We are swimming in an ocean of lies. This book corrects the record. It deserves a wide readership.

Professor Alfred de Zayas, UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order (2012-18) and first UN Rapporteur to visit Venezuela in 21 years.


I have long admired Joe Emersberger’s forensic analysis of media propaganda that sustains the US campaign to crush democracy in Latin America. This outstanding book written with the distinguished journalist Justin Podur breaks the silence of ‘mainstream’ journalism’s willful distortion of Venezuela’s struggle to survive and be free.

John Pilger, Australian journalist and filmmaker


Much of the conventional thinking around Venezuela relies on uncritical adoption of the mainstream opposition’s view. As Emersberger and Podur convincingly show, important elements of that view are systematically distorted and often demonstrably wrong. This book is a valuable antidote to mainstream groupthink that will lead you to question much of what you thought you knew about Venezuela during the Chávez and Maduro years.

Francisco Rodríguez, Hewlett Fellow for Public Policy, Kellogg School for International Studies of the University of Notre Dame


From media-styled to overt mercenary incursions and everything in between, Emersberger and Podur deconstruct the history of US interventionism against Chavismo.

Teri Mattson, CODEPINK Latin American Campaign Coordinator


Extraordinary Threat is a clinical deconstruction of the US propaganda war against Venezuela that is unparalleled in its attention to detail and local context. Emersberger and Podur’s meticulous case study has implications far beyond Venezuela, following the path first charted by Parenti, Chomsky and Herman in clarifying the strategic role of corporate-owned mass media in imperialist hybrid warfare the world over.

Lucas Koernerr, contributing editor at


Extraordinary Threat demonstrates that the case against foreign intervention in Venezuela goes far beyond the argument that international sanctions are illegal by international law. Authors Joe Emersberger and Justin Podur target “liberal” (read centrist) media outlets and NGOs as well as politicians – from CNN, the New York Times and the Guardian to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to Bernie Sanders. The book, with abundant detail on every page, will be an invaluable tool for solidarity groups.

Steve Ellner, Associate Managing Editor of “Latin American Perspectives,” retired professor at Venezuela’s Universidad de Oriente, and the author of over a dozen books on Latin American politics and history


A detailed run-through of recent Venezuelan history and a thorough debunking of its terrible media coverage: Extraordinary Threat is an extraordinary book.

Alan MacLeod, author of Bad News from Venezuela: Twenty years of fake news and misreporting


Seldom has a book expressed so clearly the outrages that the USA has visited upon the Venezuelan people as this work by Joe Emersberger and Justin Podur. What has happened to Venezuela is evidence of the erosion of democratic principles, the prospects of peace, and the preponderance of military chicanery that can affect any nation that the USA wishes to control and oppress.

Maria Páez Victor, Venezuelan-Canadian Ph.D. in Sociology


A highly readable and extremely well-documented history of the six attempts to overthrow the government in Venezuela over the past two decades. It is an essential corrective to the highly misleading accounts of the mainstream media, the US government, and from human rights NGOs, which regularly demonize the Maduro government while falsely presenting the opposition as noble freedom fighters.

Greg Wilpert, cofounder of and author of Changing Venezuela by Taking Power


By the beginning of the 21st century, oil-rich Venezuela had enraged Washington by breaking free of U.S. domination and emerging as a promising force for progressive change in Latin America. Joe Emersberger and Justin Podur tell the story of how Washington – aided by powerful media interests – responded with a relentless and brutal campaign to destroy Venezuela’s model of independence and bring the country back under U.S. control. It’s a sad and infuriating tale.

Linda McQuaig, author of The Sport & Prey of Capitalists


Beyond their detailed analysis of six coup attempts since 2002 …reveals the deceptions beneath the concept of democracy for industrialized capitalist societies.

Jesús Rodríguez-Espinoza, editor, “Orinoco Tribune”


Demonstrates that Obama’s 2015 declaration that Venezuela poses an ‘extraordinary threat’ to the national security of the US was precisely an inversion of reality. This compelling account illuminates the hope that Venezuela holds for the peoples of the world–and the lethal costs of resisting the US empire.

Roger Harris, Task Force on the Americas


Extraordinary Threat shows that without a doubt it is not Venezuela that represents a “national security threat” to the United States, as former US President Obama would have you believe. Rather, it is the United States and its allies that represent an existential threat to Venezuela, as they deploy the weapons of “liberal (capitalist) democracy” against millions among their own citizens who find it increasingly hard to receive basic healthcare, put food on the table, or even secure a roof over their heads. A must read for anyone who cares about democracy, human rights, and just plain human decency.

Claudia Chaufan, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Health Policy, York University, Canada


If the Biden administration is serious about ending the Venezuela policy that senator Chris Murphy rightfully dubbed an “unmitigated disaster”, it should look no further than Emersberger and Pudor’s fact-packed, well organized and updated guide to 20 years of US coup attempts in oil rich Venezuela.

Eirik Vold, author of Hugo Chavez: the Bolivarian Revolution Up Close


This is a carefully documented book. It challenges mainstream media journalists and political analysts, among others, to read it with an open mind.

Nino Pagliccia, editor of “Cuba Solidarity”

Justin Podur is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University. He is the author of Haiti’s New Dictatorship, Siegebreakers, and America’s Wars on Democracy in Rwanda and the DR Congo. Joe Emersberger is an engineer, writer, and activist based in Canada. His writing, focused on the Western media’s coverage of the Americas, can be found on,,, Telesur English, and

For excerpts and a discussion of the book, head here.

Format Clear

Publication Date: June 2021

Number of Pages: 328

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-58367-916-6

Cloth ISBN: 978-1-58367-917-3

eBook ISBN: 978-1-58367-918-0