Venezuela: Destabilization continues – violent looting leaves one dead

August 1 2015
by JSC

Governor of Bolivar state Francisco Rangel explained that the looting was politically motivated

Governor of Bolivar state Francisco Rangel explained that the looting was politically motivated

Efforts to undermine the government of the democratically elected president Nicolas Maduro continued in Venezuela on Friday (July 31) in Bolivar state with the looting of a supermarket warehouse and other shops in the south-eastern city of Ciudad Guayana.  A fruit and vegetable worker died near the violence as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest, local media reported.

For some time now Latin American leaders have expressed their concern over the clear destabilization activities in Venezuela which came to a head early last year when right-wing violence captured some sections of the country and their actions given sensational and misleading publicity in the mainstream US press.

Regional blocs like ALBA and CELAC have condemned the Chile-style onslaught on Venezuela (and now Ecuador) expressing the desire to maintain the Havana, CELAC declaration which stated: “We declare Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace based on respect for the principles and rules of International Law, including the international instruments to which Member States are a party to, the Principles and Purposes of the United Nations Charter”.

Raul:  Solidarity with President Maduro in the face of destabilization

On July 15,  in his address at the closure of the National Assembly of People’s Power Eighth Legislature’s Fifth Period of Ordinary Sessions, Cuban President Raul Castro stated “I must reiterate our solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and the government headed by President Nicolás Maduro, in the face of destabilization attempts and any act of external intervention. We were pleased to learn of the results of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s primary elections, while we are carefully following the dialogue underway between this country and the United States.”

Raul:  We notice an imperialistic and oligarchic offensive

“We denounce the destabilization campaigns against the government of President Rafael Correa and the Citizen’s Revolution in Ecuador, to which we confirm Cuba’s solidarity . . . We notice that an imperialist and oligarchic offensive has been put into practice against Latin American revolutionary and progressive processes, which will be decisively confronted by our peoples.”

The record of the Chavista government in its effort to rid the country of poverty, to significantly reduce inequality and generally to improve the quality of life of the poor is commendable.

Venezuela:  A remarkable reduction in poverty

According to Harvard Review of Latin America “Venezuela has seen a remarkable reduction in poverty since the first quarter of 2003. In the ensuing four years, from 2003 to 2007, the poverty rate was cut in half, from 54 percent of households to 27.5 percent. This is measured from the first half of 2003 to the first half of 2007. … Extreme poverty fell even more, by 70 percent—from 25.1 percent of households to 7.6 percent.

These poverty rates measure only cash income; … they do not include non-cash benefits to the poor such as access to health care or education.”

More recently, UN statistics showed that in 2012 Latin America led the world in poverty reduction and Venezuela led the region in this commendable achievement.  And in March 2015, Alicia Barcena, executive secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), praised Venezuela for its efforts to eradicate poverty in the country. “What you are doing here, the concept of going out into the (low-income) neighborhoods, to the places where there is the most poverty, it is an excellent proposal that should be examined by other countries,” said Barcena.

UN praises Venezuela’s accomplishments in gender equality

Venezuela’s accomplishments under the Chavistas are not limited to poverty reduction.  At the 59th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in Geneva, Switzerland, chairperson Nicole Ameline praised Venezuela’s efforts and success in increasing gender equality.

According to 2013 data, 48 percent of positions employed by the Venezuelan state are currently occupied by women. Comparatively, only 16 percent of public office positions in the United States are held by women.

In addition, 55 percent of grassroots government, such as communes and communal councils, is led by women.

Among the presidential councils, a unique representational mechanism, 486 women’s organizations actively participate nationwide.

Over 675,000 houses handed over to the poor in the last four years in Venezuela

In Venezuela education and health is free for all citizens and, up to February 2015, the Venezuelan government had built and handed out 675,991 homes in the last four years, in the Great Venezuelan Housing Mission.

This Mission (GMVV) began in 2010 under the leadership of former President Hugo Chavez to provide homes for families affected and displaced by landslides from heavy rains. Since its introduction, the program expanded to resolve Venezuela’s housing deficit.

Through the program, families are provided with the houses – equipped with all appliances and furniture – and the titles to the property, free of cost.

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela keeps winning at the polls

Despite all this; in fact, because of all this development for the poor, there are those who would like to reverse the process started by Hugo Chavez.  However, they have not been able to do so through the ballot as the ruling party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, has consistently won national elections since Chavez became President.  In addition, they cannot claim that elections were rigged as, according to past US president Carter: “As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world” said Carter.

Having failed consistently to remove the socialist government from office through elections, the local oligarchy, backed by imperialism, has resorted to destabilizing the country.  One form of destabilization which, among others, was successfully used in Chile and Jamaica was to hoard basic consumer items like cooking oil, bread and flour and to blame the government for the shortages, price increases and general dislocation which this created.

The looting is politically motivated

Hence, we should fully understand when Venezuela’s state governor Francisco Rangel, from the ruling Socialist Party, said the looting was politically motivated. Rangel explained that a “gang” of 40 people on motorbikes fired their guns in the area and incited people to rob the shops. “A group of armed motorcyclists arrived and said they were going to loot certain establishments,” he told Venezuelan television station Globovision.

“I’m sure it wasn’t spontaneous but rather planned with a political motive.”  The governor said more than two dozen people were arrested in connection with the looting and added that there was no excuse for the behaviour. “No one is starving,” he said.

Venezuela has been grappling with worsening shortages of basic goods like cooking oil and flour.

Maduro:  The violence was premeditated

President Nicolas Maduro also maintained that the violence was premeditated and blamed the US for being behind it.   Maduro said US General John Kelly, Marine Corps commander of the Southern Command, had predicted in February that there would be a “social implosion” in Venezuela in July.

The incident comes as Venezuela is facing shortages of key goods, with the government arguing that business sectors are causing most of the shortages in order to delegitimize the government and to make large profits.

Maduro said that he was sending the Liberation of the People Operative (OLP) to Bolivar state to catch those he blamed for the crime, which he described as “mercenary groups, paramilitaries, and infiltrators.”

Destabilization attempts

He said that during the violence a publicly owned Yutong bus was also attacked, and he called on Venezuelans to be alert to “violent groups who try to provoke chaos in the country.”

According to the local newspaper El Correo del Caroni, Gustavo Patinez was shot 60 meters from the main site of looting. Four shops were looted and wrecked, and a cereal transport truck was also attacked.

Over the last two years, sectors of the Venezuelan opposition have organized violent blockades, known as “guarimbas.” The blockades saw 43 people killed last year.  It also stopped food trucks from reaching populations and stopped people from getting to hospitals, schools, and work. Numerous public buses, bus stops, and food trucks have also been destroyed, usually by being set on fire.

Businesses also often force people to line up to buy basic foods, though organized communities have found that the lines are often unnecessary and add to a general feeling of insecurity, economic chaos, and distrust in the political stability of the country.


2 thoughts on “Venezuela: Destabilization continues – violent looting leaves one dead

  1. Isn’t it interesting that in Venezuela as in Ecuador where virtually all the social and economic indicators such as falling poverty rates, increasing school enrollment and graduation rates, increasing GDP growth rates, increasing access to doctors and health care among others, the local oligarchy and imperialism stridently create fear, chaos and destabilization?

    The simple answer is that the local oligarchies and their imperialist masters have the most to lose as the revolutions succeed in destroying the political, social and economic structures that perpetuate poverty, hunger, discrimination against women, blacks and indigenous communities in these countries and throughout Latin America. In other words, one of the main reasons that explains the creation of artificial shortages of basic foods by merchants in Ecuador and perhaps more so in Venezuela is that to the extent that these revolutions continue to solve the age old problems of hunger, poverty, unemployment, landlessness and more generally neocolonial underdevelopment, to that extent will the oligarchs and the imperialists attack them on all fronts to destroy these revolutions.

    Secondly, the growing success of these revolutions despite their own flaws and failings is exposing the glaring inability of capitalism and imperialism to resolve the cited age-old problems of poverty and underdevelopment faced by tens of millions of ordinary folks in Venezuela, Ecuador and other Latin American nations. One of the implications of the inability of capitalism to solve these problems is that the capitalist oligarchs and their imperialist backers will find it increasingly more difficult to fool ordinary folks with their propaganda against these revolutions and socialism.

    Thus, the local oligarchies and imperialists in Venezuela and Ecuador as well as elsewhere in the region where popular processes are unfolding such as in Bolivia are increasingly frustrated because despite their many acts of sabotage and violence to scare people and destabilize these revolutions, they have repeatedly fail to dislodge theses popular anti-imperialist governments from power through the ballot.

    Consequently, as the political elites and political parties that have traditionally represented the interests of their local oligarchies and imperialists run out of options to stall and eventually overthrow these governments, their capacity to mobilize popular support also wane. The latter is the primary dilemma for the oligarchies and imperialists in Ecuador and Venezuela which leads to their use of increasing violence and myriad sabotage including politically motivated theft of foods from working people in the state of Bolivar according to Governor Rangel. If the latter depraved behavior is not a clear symptom of political, ideological and economic bankruptcy on the part of the ruling oligarchies and their imperialist guardians then bankruptcy is meaningless. Clearly, the oligarchs and imperialists in these countries with popular anti-imperialist revolutions have never solved the multifaceted socio-economic and socio-political problems of these countries for one primary reason-they are the creators of the structures, laws and policies that perpetuate these problems.

    Furthermore, the oligarchies and imperialists benefit from the plight of the peoples in these countries because they make profits from the misery these popular revolutions are now trying to solve with admirable successes in cutting poverty rates, unemployment rates among others.

    As such, there are three (3) major challenges that will be critical for the very survival of the revolutions in Ecuador and Venezuela though they also apply to the other revolutionary processes in the region. These three challenges are as follows:

    First, these revolutions must unapologetically and unhesitantly intensify the destruction of the colonial and neocolonial structures that have dispossessed and marginalized the masses of the peoples in Venezuela, Ecuador and beyond. As these oppressive structures get flattened by revolutionary changes in these countries so too will poverty, hunger, illiteracy, access to health care, democracy, housing and other indices of progress be recorded. These revolutions will cease if and when the peoples progress cease in these countries and the old crooks will be back in charge.

    Secondly, the revolutions in Venezuela, Ecuador and beyond must also intensify its class based propaganda against the oligarchies and imperialists not only to increase the political consciousness of their peoples but also to market their impressive social, economic, military and political gains of their popular revolutions against their political foes.

    Finally, these revolutions particularly those in Ecuador and Venezuela that are under the direct assaults of the enemy must mobilize, organize and arm their peoples where feasible to defend the hard won gains that the power of the people in these countries have wrestled from the clutches of the oligarchies and imperialists.

    The role of revolutionary propaganda as opposed to cliches and slogans anchored on the actual experiences, history, struggles, gains and strategic goals cannot be overstated here as a mobilizing tool though it must always be emphasized.

    Any attempt to undermine or belittle the strategic role of revolutionary propaganda in fortifying revolutions requires only a cursory observation of the billions of dollars and other resources invested by the oligarchies and imperialists against the revolutions in Venezuela and Ecuador!

    Peace if you are willing to fight for it!

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