Raul: We must call upon all the peoples and governments of Our America to mobilize and be alert in defense of Venezuela

Source:  Granma

The United States must understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba, or intimidate Venezuela. Our unity is indestructible. (Applause)

Raúl Castro Ruz | internet@granma.cu

March 18, 2015

(Speech by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the 9th Extraordinary ALBA-TCP Summit, convened in solidarity with the sister nation of Venezuela, held in Caracas, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, March 17, 2015

Council of State transcript)


Raul at ALBA Summit

Photo: Estudio Revolución

Esteemed Heads of State and Government of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America;
Esteemed Heads of delegations and guests;
Compañeras and compañeros:

ALBA brings us together today to reaffirm our firmest support for the Bolivarian people and government in the face of the latest interventionist measures and threats from the U.S. government against Venezuela.

The facts demonstrate that history cannot be ignored. The relations between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean have been marked by the “Monroe Doctrine” and the objective of exercising domination and hegemony over our nations.

Bolivar:  The United States seems destined to plague America with misery in the name of liberty

Bolívar had anticipated that the United States, “seems destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of Liberty” and Martí fell in combat before concluding the letter in which he explained the “duty of preventing the United States from spreading throughout the Antilles as Cuba gains its independence, and from overpowering with that additional strength our lands of America.”

Later came the military interventions, the coup d’états, the manoeuvres to overthrow nationalist or progressive governments, the backing of bloody military dictatorships, the undercover operations, the support for terrorism and subversion, as well as the appropriation and plundering of our resources to perpetuate dependence and underdevelopment.

The audacity to carry out a socialist revolution just 90 miles from the US

The triumphant audacity to carry out a socialist revolution just 90 miles from the United States, has meant immense sacrifices, suffering, loss of life and material deprivation for the Cuban people, subject to, since that very revolutionary triumph, 56 years ago, every kind of hostility, including the support and organization of armed bands in the mountains from the end of that same year of 1959 – that is, since the very year of the triumph of the Revolution – the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961 and the formalization of the blockade in 1962, all with the stated intention of defeating the Revolution and changing the political, economic and social order we freely chose and subsequently confirmed in a constitutional referendum.

The result has been a resounding failure, the harming of our people and the complete isolation of the United States in its intentions, as recently recognized by President Barack Obama on announcing a new policy and resolving to open another chapter. However, his government spokespeople insist on clarifying that the objectives persist and only the methods change.

The triumph of the Bolivarian Revolution was an extraordinary milestone

The triumph of the Bolivarian Revolution was an extraordinary milestone in the history of Venezuela and the whole region, which had begun to awaken from the long neoliberal slumber. An era of change commenced in the continent and other nations decided to embark on the path towards full independence and integration and again take up the flags of our national heroes.

ALBA UNASUR, CELAC were born, which united, in their diversity, previous groupings and initiatives of genuine Latin Americanist and Caribbean calling, founded on principles of solidarity, cooperation, social justice and defense of sovereignty.

PetroCaribe was an extraordinary, generous and humanistic contribution of President Hugo Chávez Frías

PetroCaribe was an extraordinary, generous and humanistic contribution of President Hugo Chávez Frías. Now they want to destroy PetroCaribe to threaten its member states, submit them to the oil multinationals and separate them from Venezuela. They do not realize that our peoples have decided, irrevocably, to continue our unstoppable advance and fight for a multipolar and just world, where those who were historically excluded have a voice, hope and dignity.

U.S. imperialism has attempted, without success, practically all possible formulas to destabilize and subvert the Bolivarian Chavista revolution, to recuperate its control of the largest oil reserves on the planet, and deliver a blow to the integrationist, emancipation process underway in Our America.

US able to sacrifice peace and the direction of hemispheric and regional relations for reasons of domination and domestic politics

The arbitrary, aggressive, unjustified executive order issued by the President of the United States regarding the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s government, describing it as a threat to its national security, shows that the United States is able to sacrifice the peace and the direction of hemispheric and regional relations, for reasons of domination and domestic politics.

The idea is untenable that a country like Venezuela – which has shown so much solidarity, never invaded or harmed any other, and contributes in a significant and altruistic manner to the energy security and economic stability of a considerable number of nations of the continent – could represent a threat to the security of the greatest super-power in history.

We support the honorable, valiant, constructive position taken by President Nicolás Maduro

We support the honorable, valiant, constructive position taken by President Nicolás Maduro, (applause) who, despite the seriousness of this threat, has extended his hand to the President of the United States, to initiate a dialogue based on international law and mutual respect, which could lead to the unconditional revocation of President Obama’s executive order and the normalization of relations. (Applause) ALBA and CELAC should join in this proposal.

Today Venezuela is not alone, nor is our region the one it was 20 years ago. We will not tolerate the violation of sovereignty or allow peace in the region to be broken with impunity.

As we have reiterated, threats to the peace and stability of Venezuela represent threats to regional stability and peace, as well.

Peace on our feet, not on our knees, peace with dignity and development

The peace which Venezuela today demands and which we all need, a “peace with justice, with equality, the peace on our feet, not on our knees, is peace with dignity and development,” as Maduro said, is the peace to which we committed ourselves in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, adopted by the II CELAC Summit in Havana.

Our country’s position under these circumstances remains unchanged. I reiterate the firm solidarity of the Cuban Revolution with the Bolivarian Revolution, with constitutional President Nicolás Maduro and with the civic-military union which he heads. (Applause) I reiterate our absolute loyalty to the memory of Comandante Hugo Chávez Frías, the Cuban Revolution’s best friend. (Applause)

As has been stated, we reaffirm once again, “The Cuban collaborators present in the sister country, will continue to fulfill their duties under any circumstances whatsoever, to the benefit of the fraternal, noble, generous people of Venezuela.”

The United States must understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba, or intimidate Venezuela. Our unity is indestructible. (Applause)

Nor will we concede one iota in the defense of sovereignty and independence, or tolerate any type of interference or conditions on our internal affairs.

Nor will we cease to defend just causes in Our America and the world, nor will we ever abandon our brothers in the struggle. We have come to close ranks with Venezuela and ALBA, and reaffirm that principles are not negotiable. (Applause)

We will attend the 7th Summit of the Americas

To defend these convictions, we will attend the 7th Summit of the Americas. We will present our positions, with firmness, clarity and respect. We will reject with determination any attempt to isolate or threaten Venezuela, and demand a definitive end to the blockade of Cuba.

Cuban civil society will be the voice of those without a voice, and we will expose the mercenaries who will appear there as Cuba’s civil society

We must call upon all peoples and governments of Our America to mobilize and remain alert in the defense of Venezuela. Solidarity is the foundation of unity and regional integration.

Thank you very much. (Applause)

Source:  We must call upon all the peoples and governments of Our America to mobilize and be alert in defense of Venezuela Granma

Maduro’s Letter to the People of the United States: Venezuela is not a threat

Source: TeleSUR

March 17 2015

Letter to the People of the United States: Venezuela is not a threat

An open letter from Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, and the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the people of the U.S., published in the New York Times.

maduro writes letter to us citizensWe are the people of Simon Bolívar, our people believe in peace and respect for all nations.

Freedom and Independence

More than two centuries ago, our fathers founded a Republic on the basis that all persons are free and equal under the law.

Our nation made the greatest sacrifices to guarantee South American people their right to choose their rulers and to enforce their own laws today. The historical legacy of our father, Simón Bolívar, is always remembered. Bolívar was a man who gave his life so we would inherit a nation of justice and equality.

We believe in Peace, National Sovereignty and International Law 

We are a peaceful people. In two centuries of independence, we have never attacked another nation. Our people live in a region of peace, free of weapons of mass destruction, and in freedom to practice all religions. We uphold respect for international law and the sovereignty of all people of the world.

We are an Open Society

We are a working people, we care for our families, and we have freedom of religion. Immigrants from around the world, live among us, whose diversity is respected. We have freedom of press and we are enthusiastic users of social media.

We are friends of the American people:

The histories of our people have been connected since the beginning of our struggles for freedom. Francisco de Miranda, a Venezuelan hero, fought with the American people during their independence fight. We share the idea that freedom and independence are fundamental elements for the development of our nations.

The relations between our peoples have always been peaceful and respectful. Historically, we have shared business relations in strategic areas. Venezuela has always been a responsible and trustful energy provider for the American people. Since 2005, Venezuela has provided “heating oil” through subsidies for low-income communities in the United States, thanks to our company CITGO. This contribution has helped tens of thousands of American citizens survive in harsh conditions, giving them relief, and necessary support in times of need, evidencing how solidarity can create powerful alliances across borders.

Incredibly, the U.S government has declared our country a threat to its national security and foreign policy

In a disproportionate action, the government of Obama has issued a “National Emergency” declaring Venezuela as a threat to its national security (Executive Order, 03-09-2015). This unilateral and aggressive measure taken by the United States Government against our country is not only unfounded and in violation of basic principles of sovereignty and self-determination under international law, but also has been unanimously rejected by all 33 nations of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the twelve member states of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).  In a statement made on March 14, 2015, UNASUR reiterated its firm rejection of these coercive measures that do not contribute to the peace, stability and democracy in our region and called on President Obama to revoke his Executive Order against Venezuela.

We reject unilateralism and interventionism

President Obama, without any authority to interfere in our internal affairs, unilaterally issued a set of sanctions against Venezuelan officials with potentially far-reaching implications, interfering in our constitutional order and our justice system.

We advocate for a multipolar world

We believe that our world must be based on the rules of international law, without interference in the internal affairs of other countries. We are convinced that the relationship of respect between all the nations is the only path for strengthening peace and coexistence, as well as for ensuring a more just world.

We honor our freedoms and uphold our rights 

Never before in the history of our nations, has a president of the United States attempted to govern Venezuelans by decree. It is a tyrannical and imperial order and it pushes us back into the darkest days of the relationship between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the name of our long-term friendship we alert our American brothers and sisters, lovers of justice and freedom, of the illegal aggression committed by your government on your behalf. We will not allow our friendship with the people of the United States to be affected by this senseless and groundless decision by President Obama.

We demand:

1- The U.S. Government immediately cease hostile actions against Venezuelan people and democracy.

2- President Obama abolish the Executive Order that declares Venezuela a threat to U.S. national security, as has been requested by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

3.The U.S. Government retract its libelous and defamatory statements and actions against the honorable Venezuelan officials who have just obeyed our laws and our constitution.

Our sovereignty is sacred 

The principles of the founding fathers of the United States of America are followed today with the same dignity by the people of Simón Bolívar. In the name of our mutual love for national independence we want the government of President Obama to think about and rectify this dangerous precedent.

We are convinced that the defense of our freedom is a right we shall never give up because the future of the humanity lies also in our country. As Simón Bolívar said: “The freedom of the New World is the hope of the universe”. 

“Venezuela is not a threat, but a hope”

“Independence or nothing”

Simón Bolívar

Source: Venezuela’s Maduro writes letter to US citizens TeleSUR

Chavez’s Legacy Around the World

chavez 23

Hugo Chavez led a process within Venezuela that saved the country from neoliberal failure, but the impact of his reforms was felt internationally. Hugo Chavez was at the heart of processes that forged new unity in South America, which began to overturn decades of U.S. domination in the region. Globally he became an international beacon for social justice, peace and a multipolar world seeking to counterbalance U.S global domination. Below we review important of Chavez’s legacy in Latin America and beyond.

A NEW LATIN AMERICA

Defeating free trade in America

One of Chavez’s most important regional achievements was defeating the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA); a continental agreement that would have created a free-trade zone between the United States and Latin America.

hugo chavez kirchner lulaFrom the moment he was elected, President Chavez began forging good relations with all the countries of Latin America in the same vein as independence leader Simon Bolivar’s dream of regional unity. In this spirit, Chavez found reliable friends and allies in Brazilian President Lula da Silva and Argentine President Nestor Kirchner. In 2005, the Common Southern Market (Mercosur) bloc of nations was set to vote whether or not it would join the U.S.-led FTAA.

The FTAA was opposed by hundreds of regional social movements and organizations, which led campaigns against the treaty warning that it would destroy small farmers, local industry and further lower environmental and labor standards. Due to the alliance forged by Chavez, Kirchner and Lula, on November 5, 2005, Mercosur rejected the FTAA, burying the project.

Building regional unity

After rejecting the FTAA, Chavez worked together with Latin America’s leaders to create new regional bodies, free of U.S. interference, to overcome centuries of foreign exploitation and build new agreements and solutions in the face of common issues.

President Chavez played a key role in building new regional institutions such as the ALBA group of nations, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), which today are widely regarded as milestones in regional integration.

021211 Cumbre Celac 007 Extending regional solidarity: Restoring the sight of millions

mission miracle Chavez sought to build regional unity in order to better the lives of the country’s people. Perhaps the clearest example was Mission Miracle; a joint Venezuelan-Cuban program aimed at restoring the sight of poor people with treatable eye conditions throughout Latin America.

Within its 10 years of existence, Mission Miracle has already treated 6 million Latin Americans, curing them of visual diseases such as cataracts; an unaffordable operation for many low-income people.

GLOBAL SOLIDARITY

Reaching out to U.S. citizens

citgo station 1In 2005 President Chavez launched a program to provide subsidized oil to the United States for heating as show of solidarity with the people affected by the damage by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Through the CITGO Petroleum Corporation – a subsidiary of Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA – hundreds of thousands of low-income homes in the U.S. have received access to cheap oil for heating, and low-income families can access up to 100 free gallons of oil if they are struggling to pay for their home heating. The program continues and has helped up to 1.8 million people since 2005. CITGO has also been providing free energy-saving lightbulbs to the poorest families in the U.S. since 2009 in an effort to reduce electricity spending.

Promoting global justice: The Salvador Allende Medical School

With the help of Cuba, and in an effort to improve health worldwide, the Venezuelan government opened the Salvador Allende Latin American School of Medicine in Caracas. Through different cooperation agreements, over 500 students from more than 15 African countries were granted scholarships to study in there. In total, 1600 students from 42 different countries around the world are currently studying medicine in the school.

In 2014, following the Israeli war on Gaza, the school granted scholarships to over 100 Palestinian students. That was the latest example of solidarity with the people of the Middle East, and follows strong statements and actions by Hugo Chavez in defense of the Palestinian people and against war the 2006 war on Lebanon.

palestinian students study free unvenezuelaBuilding a multipolar world

Chavez was a fierce advocate for a more just world, and he sought to transform the way in which countries related to each other. By promoting respectful and cooperative relationships with all nations, Chavez made Venezuela stand out in the international arena. With the United States conspiring against his government, Chavez soon understood the world should not be ruled by one superpower, but through a balance in which different powerful nations play their part and cooperate with others: A multipolar world.

Inspired by this guiding idea, Chavez built strategic alliances with Russia and China, and struggled to promote the ideal. “We will continue … promoting our international project of a multipolar world, where equality among states will prevail,” he said in 2006.

chavez y xiVenezuela has strengthened its relationship with China and Russia signing tens of joint projects with them. Venezuela also supports those countries as part of the BRICS bloc and their determination to create a development bank.

Venezuela and a united Africa

In line with his support for the BRICS group was Chavez’s advancement of South-South solidarity worldwide. To do this, the Venezuelan president established greater bonds with the African Union in an effort to bring Latin America and Africa closer together. By the year 2011, various African countries had signed over 200 agreements with Venezuela, ranging from cooperation in energy and finance to sharing technical and social knowledge. Venezuela became the only country in the world to have diplomatic relations with every African nation.

2nd asa summit 2009 venezuela 1

Opening of the 2nd Africa – South America Summit (ASA),
Venezuela, 26-27 September 2009. Picture: Unati Ngamntwini

In 2014, the Venezuelan government, together with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, launched a joint program to help African countries cultivate rice crops, as rice represents over a third of sub-Saharan Africa’s food consumption. The US$62 million program will provide training and input to thousands of African farmers, and it is based on Venezuela’s successful efforts to eradicate hunger.

latam integration

bolivar and chavez

Source: Chavez’s Legacy Around the World  TeleSUR

Why Does Latin America Reject US Belligerence toward Venezuela?

Source:  TeleSUR
February 20 2015

by: Joe Emersberger

Even the OAS, until quite recently a reliable U.S. lap dog, rejected Washington’s sanctions against Venezuela. 

celac heads in costa ricaLatin American governments have been very united in rejecting the USA’s efforts to have the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela overthrown – and they’ve also rejected the U.S. government’s take on the human rights situation there. When a verifiable diplomatic record opposes U.S. policy, the corporate media (following the lead of US officials) will sometimes quote anonymous foreign “diplomats” who allegedly support the USA. But the more common tactic is to ignore the diplomatic record entirely. It’s a good way to avoid an awkward question. Why is the region so united against the USA?

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) rejected the U.S. sanctions on Venezuela. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) also rejected them.

unasur y celac 1Even the OAS, until quite recently a reliable U.S. lapdog, passed a resolution of “solidarity” with Venezuela during last year’s violent anti-government protests.

There are three interrelated reasons for Latin America’s unity against the U.S. campaign to oust Venezuela’s government.

1) U.S. government claims about the human rights situation in Venezuela are false.

Venezuela has a much higher tolerance for protest and the expression of dissent than the USA.

Code Pink activists were recently ejected from a congressional hearing for staging a symbolic “arrest” of Henry Kissinger whom they called a war criminal. Kissinger (who really should have been imprisoned for mass murder decades ago) simply chuckled, but John McCain erupted at the spectacle: “Get out of here, you low-life scum” he barked. During the 2008 presidential debates, Obama and McCain each said they had Kissinger on their side and bickered over who could really claim him as an ally.

kissinger war criminal It was a sickening illustration of how remarkably constrained public debate is the USA, and explains why Code Pink feels justified in using mildly disruptive but completely non-violent tactics.

What if …

But imagine if Code Pink leaders wrote op-eds every few weeks for leading U.S. newspapers, made regular appearances on its largest TV networks where they spoke at length and were treated respectfully, and had leaders who were governors, legislators, and mayors. Under those hypothetical conditions, anger at them for interrupting hearings (though not as much anger as McCain’s) would be understandable.

Now imagine if Code Pink’s tactics also included major vandalism, killing police officers and setting death traps for motorists. One can only wince contemplating the extreme violence the USA’s political class would endorse against what it would unanimously call “low-life scum”, especially if black men were involved. The hypothetical I’ve outlined still leaves one thing out that applies to the leaders of last year’s violent protests in Venezuela. Imagine if Code Pink leaders had participated in the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

The international press tries its best to depict the Venezuelan opposition, including its most violent elements, as if it were Venezuela’s equivalent to Code Pink. That follows the lead of the U.S. government where the only debate is over how much support to give the “inspiring” protesters. Propaganda is a powerful thing, but the truth does matter.

2) The US government has lost economic (and with it political) clout in the region.

From 1980-2001 the IMF was the key enforcer of economic policies known as neoliberalism, or sometimes the “Washington consensus”. The IMF was a source of loans but, more importantly, a gatekeeper to other sources. Real per capita GDP in Latin America and the Caribbean grew by a pitiful 7% in that period compared to over 80% in the preceding twenty years.

hugo chavez y cristina fernandezArgentina’s debt default of December 2001 was a major turning point. Assisted with loans from Venezuela’s Chavez government, Argentina boldly defied the “Washington Consensus” and quickly recovered. Defiance spread through the region with the election of numerous left of center governments and drastically shrinking IMF influence. The result was vastly improved economic growth in the region. By 2013, real per capita GDP in Latin America and the Caribbean was already about 50% higher than it was in 2001. Twelve years of widespread rebellion against Washington’s economic dogmas produced about seven times more economic growth than did over twenty years of obedience.

3) Most governments understand how easily they could be singled out for a similar U.S.-led vilification campaign based on distortions and lies.

manuel zelayaThe U.S. government backed the 2002 coup in Venezuela and directly perpetrated the 2004 coup in Haiti. The 2009 coup in Honduras ousted another democratically elected president, Manual Zelaya (photo left). Obama initially declared Zelaya’s ouster a “coup” that was “illegal”, but Obama’s government soon made it obvious to the region’s governments that it was glad the coup happened and helped it succeed. The corporate media in Canada and the USA routinely spread the lie that Zelaya had attempted to illegally extend his term in office. Lanny Davis, a paid lobbyist for Honduran businessmen who backed the coup, and a very close associate of the Clintons, played a key role in spreading that lie. Hillary Clinton was Obama’s Secretary of State at the time.

Zelaya’s government was far from radical. The message was sent loud and clear to the region’s governments that if any were overthrown by the far right the USA and Canada would help the people who overthrew them.

It is a great thing that U.S. clout in the region has declined. Nevertheless, the USA remains so much wealthier than Latin America that it would be foolish to dismiss the threat the USA still poses to democracy in the region. That threat would disappear if U.S. and Canadian citizens were much more widely informed about it. As always, spreading awareness is an uphill battle against a corporate media whose function is to impose ignorance.

Source:  Why Does Latin America Reject US Belligerence toward Venezuela?  TeleSUR

CELAC and CEPAL to Collaborate on Poverty Reduction

Cepal logoThe U.N. body made clear it is ready to provide assistance to the regional organization, currently under the leadership of Ecuador.

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño hosted the executive secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) Thursday, where the two discussed a mutual interest in cooperating in order to improve the lives of Latin Americans.

Ecuador is the current president pro-tempore of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and has set out an ambitious agenda, including efforts to tackle poverty and inequality in the region, addressing climate change, and securing funding for social development.

CEPAL VE UN 2014 "MEJOR" PARA AMÉRICA LATINA, PERO PIDE APUNTALAR LA EXPORTACIÓN“All of the means of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean are at the disposal of the president pro-tempore of CELAC,” stated CEPAL Executive Secretary Alicia Barcena (photo left).

Patiño added that CEPAL’s expertise with respect to social indicators in the region would be of “great benefit” to the work that Ecuador hopes to embark on through CELAC.

CEPAL was established in 1948 with the aim of promoting economic and social development, the organization also produces statistical reports about countries in the region.

“We are totally committed to accompanying this process, the role of CEPAL is one of accompaniment and offering our technical abilities for the great regional project that is CELAC,” said Barcena.

Patiño said a formal proposal regarding the cooperation between CELAC and CEPAL would be taken to a meeting of CELAC for approval.

Source:  CELAC and CEPAL to Collaborate on Poverty Reduction  TeleSUR

What is Behind the Coup Attempt in Venezuela?

By: Eva Golinger in an interview with Michael Albert.

eva  golinger 5Just like in the U.S., it’s illegal for organizations engaged in political activities to receive funding from foreign governments, yet the U.S. continues to violate this law in Venezuela, as do the entities receiving the funding.

How do you understand the motives of the Venezuelan opposition, and of their support from the US?

The Venezuelan opposition is led by an elite, super-rich class that ruled the country for decades, and accumulated much of their wealth through corrupt business practices and siphoning oil industry profits, leaving a majority of the country in poverty and the country’s infrastructure in tatters.

hugo chavez 35When Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998, a four-decade rule of the elite, represented by two main political parties, was ruptured. Had Chavez bowed to powerful U.S. interests and the country’s business elite, the opposition would be very different today, but he didn’t. Chavez led a profound transformation of Venezuela’s core establishment, restructuring the oil industry, which had been nationalized in 1976 but was functioning like a private corporation, making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Development for the majority

He redistributed the wealth, created widespread, effective social programs and advanced the economy and investment in infrastructure and domestic production. His policies reduced poverty by over fifty percent, rebuilt much of the interior of the country, placed Venezuela on the map internationally, diversifying Venezuela’s foreign trade partners, and he created a new, flourishing middle class. But all this was done by shutting out much of the traditional ruling class that had governed in line with U.S. interests.

CELAC 11Chavez also took nationalizations further, in order to guarantee essential strategic and natural resources were in the hands of the state and not those who could abuse them or use them as a threat. He forged relations with governments adversarial to the U.S. and he inspired the continent-wide shift to the left, and led the formation of regional entities, like ALBA, UNASUR and CELAC, that exclude the United States.

When Chavez’s policies on the international stage first affected oil prices, in 2001 when Venezuela assumed the presidency of OPEC, a coup d’état was planned against him, backed by Washington and executed by the former elite in the country. When that later failed and Chavez took his policies further towards socialism, the opposition radicalized and became entrenched in an unrealistic desire to take power back and destroy everything that had changed in the country since Chavez’ first election.

The Bolivarian revolution

The opposition, along with U.S. policymakers, consistently underestimated the importance of the social, political and economic changes that had taken place in the country through the Bolivarian Revolution. They always treated it as populism, and failed to understand the fundamental role millions of Venezuelans had played in the changes. This was their revolution, their homeland, built by them, and they were not going to let it be destroyed by the same groups that had marginalized and excluded them before.

venezuela-oil-mapIn essence, the motives of the opposition in Venezuela today, along with Washington, are the same. They still want to control Venezuela’s massive oil resources for their own gain, they still want to destroy the Bolivarian project and any sign of socialism and social justice, and they want to privatize as much industry and resource in the country as possible, for their own benefit. The leadership of the opposition in Venezuela views the government of Nicolas Maduro and that before him of Hugo Chavez, as illegitimate.

Refusal to accept the results of democratic elections

Despite democratic elections (some of the most transparent and fraud-proof in the world since 2004, when Venezuela implemented a new electoral system), and checks and balances, the opposition refuses to recognize the government’s authority. Their actions continue to exceed constitutional bounds, and they believe they are justified. To this opposition, and its Washington backers, anything they can do to get Maduro out of power and destroy the Bolivarian Revolution is on the table.  The end game and the big motive is oil and power. Control Venezuela, and they can control Latin America. As Henry Kissinger once said, if Washington can’t control Latin America, how can they control the world?

This is not the first coup attempt in Venezuela. What are the similarities and differences, particularly in methods from the past? What do you anticipate in the future?

USAID-NEDOne of the most consistent components of the ongoing destabilization in Venezuela has been, and continues to be, multi-million dollar funding of anti-government NGOs and political parties from U.S. agencies such as USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). During the April 2002 coup against Chavez, the NED played a key role in funding all of the “civil society” groups involved: the political parties, the NGOs, the corrupted workers federation, the chamber of commerce, and even private media outlets.

Illegal funding of organizations engaged in political activities

Subsequent to that coup’s failure, USAID came on the scene with an “Office for Transition Initiatives” (OTI) and channeled in over $50 million during the following years to help keep the opposition alive. USAID’s funding went to creating hundreds of small NGOs that feed the conflict in the country and served as facades to funnel dollars to anti-government initiatives. This funding has continued to date, despite its prohibition in Venezuela. Just like in the U.S., it’s illegal for organizations engaged in political activities to receive funding from foreign governments, yet the U.S. continues to violate this law in Venezuela, as do the entities receiving the funding. Just this year, President Obama authorized a special $5.5 million dollar fund to finance anti-government groups in Venezuela through the State Department. This is in addition to USAID, NED and other U.S. agency funding to those groups.

Severe media campaign to discredit the Venezuelan government internationally

Some of the other striking similarities between these coup attempts include the role of media to discredit the Venezuelan government internationally, therefore justifying any action against it. We have seen a coordinated campaign in major U.S. and international media calling for and discussing the Maduro government’s downfall, distorting the reality in the country and portraying Venezuela as a failed state. This type of severe media campaign goes well beyond normal, and legitimate, criticism. Sources cited on Venezuela are always opposition voices, presented as neutral and credible, while reports omit important facts that present the government in a favorable light.

Business owners and private enterprise in Venezuela are also once again pushing for a coup, as they did in 2002, and using their power to restrict public access to consumer goods, forcing shortages and price hikes, and overall panic amongst the population. The government is taking direct measures to resolve these problems and work with business interests, but this is a very effective strategy that hits where it hurts the most, the stomach.

The role of dissident military forces

Finally, the other major factor in this current coup attempt has been the role of dissident military forces that have betrayed their oath to defend the nation and have succumbed to foreign interests. The case of Capitan Leasmy Salazar, a former Chavez presidential guard and confidant who is now collaborating with U.S. intelligence agencies, is an example. In the recent coup attempt against President Maduro, at least 10 military officers from the Air Force were detained as they planned to execute their coup plot. Some evidence has surfaced indicating ties to U.S. officials and opposition figures.

How do you think the Venezuelans will react to try to ward off U.S. machinations, and those of domestic Venezuelan elites as well? Are there things you think they ought to do that at least so far they haven’t? Do you worry that a repressive turn might compromise or even wreck the Bolivarian project even as it wards off the opposition?

Venezuelans generally rely on public denunciations as the most effective way to impede these types of destabilization actions, but often that is not sufficient. It’s critical that those involved in serious attempts to violently overthrow a democratically elected government be held to justice. There are already clear signs that the Maduro government will ensure those responsible will have their day in court.

Beyond the involvement of Venezuelans, the role of U.S. agencies and interests, and other foreign actors, has been a constant in these anti-democratic actions. Venezuela has received the full support of all Latin American nations in the face of these recent threats, and all 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean have condemned and rejected the unilateral sanctions the Obama administration has imposed against the Venezuelan government. This type of solid, unwavering support from a unified Latin America is critical to show Washington that the region will no longer stand for its bully tactics.

correa-no-more-pinochets-in-latin-america-525x350I don’t foresee the Maduro government taking any kind of repressive action against anti-government groups that is outside the law. Before Chavez was elected, Venezuela experienced a brutally repressive period for decades. Constitutional rights were continuously suspended, national curfews were imposed, young men faced a forced military draft, and authorities used lethal force to repress demonstrations. That all disappeared under Chavez, who refused to use repression, even during the coup in 2002 and subsequent attempts to overthrow his government. The Maduro government continues these same policies. The only recent change was a Defense Ministry decree allowing for military forces to use lethal force in the face of violent uprisings. But this decree is very clear that no lethal force or even weapons can be used during peaceful demonstrations.

Ending the foreign funding of anti-government activities

The one area I believe the Venezuelan government has been too lenient is with respect to the foreign funding of anti-government activities. It’s illegal under the law in Venezuela, but rarely enforced. The state must take the necessary steps to end this type of harmful funding that is just feeding the conflict in Venezuela and keeping an otherwise defunct opposition alive. The funding also comes from U.S. taxpayer dollars, and it would be nice to keep that money in the U.S. and invest it in social programs, instead of trying to undermine legitimate democracies in oil-rich nations.

The interview was conducted by Michael Albert.

Source:  What is Behind the Coup Attempt in Venezuela?  TeleSUR

Latin American Parliament Denounces Coup Attempt in Venezuela

The President of the regional assembly called for a thorough investigation and criticized Washington’s hostile policy toward Venezuela

angel rodriguezThe Latin American Parliament issued a statement on Saturday rejecting the failed coup attempt against the Venezuelan government and also criticized the hostile policies of the United States directed toward the South American nation.

The condemnation was delivered on behalf of the institution by it’s President Angel Rodriguez who strongly criticized the assassination plot against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and U.S.-backed schemes to carry out bombing attacks on a variety of public institutions.

Rodriguez, told Cuban news agency Prensa Latina that he will request that the Venezuelan Attorney General’s office conduct a deep and thorough investigation into the planned terror attacks.

“They were unable to take power through democratic means because they didn’t obtain enough votes and President Barack Obama knows it,” he affirmed.

These violent actions seek to install of regime supportive of U.S. interests

At the same time, he said, “We can never count out the United States and extremists groups that try to mobilize military forces and paramilitary groups operating in foreign countries. They want to provoke violence and they are willing to promote presidential removals. They  tried it last January. Therefore I call on the people to stay alert.”

According to Rodriguez, these violent actions seek to overthrow the legitimate and democratically-elected Venezuelan government in order to install of regime supportive of U.S. interests.

See our special in-depth coverage: The War on Venezuela’s Democracy

Source:  Latin American Parliament Denounces Coup Attempt in Venezuela