Venezuela declared a zone of peace

Source:  Granma
September 25 2017

by Redacción Digital | internet@granma.cu

venezuela declared a zone of peace.jpgPhoto: AVN

On September 22, Venezuelan’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC) unanimously approved a decree proclaiming the South American country as a zone of peace, where human rights are promoted and protected.

delcy rodriguez 8.jpgBefore all 545 members and in honor of International Day of Peace, ANC President Delcy Rodríguez, reaffirmed peace as the only possible road for Venezuela.

The country’s former Foreign Minister noted that the ANC emerged in an intense period of violence promoted by far-right groups in the country, seeking to take power by disrupting the peace and stability of the Bolivarian Republic.

Given such a situation, Rodríguez noted:

“We’ve come here to make peace, to defend peace and to consolidate peace, which is why we must pay tribute today,” because the Venezuelan flag “is an eternal flag of peace,”

she stated

The proclamation, read by ANC Vice President, Elvis Amoroso, declares Venezuela to be a “territory of peace where life, freedom, justice, and equality are promoted, respected, and protected; and human rights, ethics, and political diversity prevail.”

Dialogue

The ANC also called on all Venezuelans to support dialogue as a tool toward peacefully resolving disputes, and condemned violence in all its forms, as well as threats and unilateral sanctions against countries around the world.

“We are currently fighting for freedom and are doing so peacefully,” stated second ANC Vice President, Isaías Rodríguez, in reference to recent measures taken by the U.S. against Venezuela.  (teleSUR)

US Sanctions Venezuelan Constituent Assembly Members

 

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The closing rally in the Constituent Assembly campaign in Caracas on July 27. Photo: TeleSUR.

9 August 2017
Source:  TeleSUR

The United States continues reprisals against Venezuela for holding elections for the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) on July 30 and swearing in constituent assembly members five days later. 

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has authorized new sanctions on six members of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly for being “involved in organizing or otherwise supporting the creation” of the ANC. Another two Venezuelan officials were also sanctioned.

RELATEDVenezuela’s Constituent Assembly to Debate Economic Measures

After United States’ sanctions on President Nicolas Maduro July 31, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin warned, “Anyone who participates in this illegitimate ANC could be exposed to future U.S. sanctions for their role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in Venezuela.

Elections held

The country held elections for the ANC on July 30 and swore in constituent assembly members five days later, but OFAC states, “Today’s designations consist of seven current and former officials of the Venezuelan Government and one individual who has participated in actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Venezuela.”

Over eight million people voted in Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly election — a turnout of over 41 percent, according to electoral authorities — to choose from 6,120 candidates for the 545-member ANC in a vote that has been described as transparent, with international electoral experts and observers calling for respect for the results.

According to OFAC, six of the individuals belong to the Presidential Commission for the ANC or the Constituent Command 200 Zamora.

They are: Francisco Jose Ameliach Orta; Erika del Valle Farias Pena; Carmen Teresa Melendez Rivas; Ramon Dario Vivas Velasco; Hermann Eduardo Escarra Malave and Adan Coromoto Chavez Frias, brother of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Tania D’Amelio Cardiet, an official of the National Electoral Council and Bladimir Humberto Lugo Armas, Commander of the Special Unit to the Federal Legislative Palace of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Guard were also listed. OFAC accused Armas of violence against opposition-led National Assembly members.

Munchin added, “President Maduro swore in this illegitimate Constituent Assembly to further entrench his dictatorship, and continues to tighten his grip on the country.”

As with other sanctions imposed against 13 high-level government officials and Maduro, the individual’s assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction are now frozen and people from the U.S. are prohibited from dealing with them.

Related:  Election meddling:US sanctions 13 Venezuela officials, warns against electing Constituent Assembly

Venezuela Rejects Violence and Wins

August 9 2017
Source:  Counterpunch

By Manuel E. Yepe

Washington to impose sanctions on Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, according to a statement from the US Treasury Department.

For US imperialism and the continental right, July 30th in Venezuela should be a conclusive political lesson. It should also be a lesson for the organizers of the media campaigns against popular processes. Their reliability has been demonstrated by the mass exercise of their rights by a mature and determined population who rejects them.

The election on that day of the members of the Constituent National Assembly (ANC), according to the Constitution and the laws of the country, involved an enthusiastic participation of more than 8,090,230 Venezuelans –41.53% of the electoral roll– who said yes to Constituent Assembly and the Bolivarian revolution.

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US intimidation backfired

The President of the United States threatened the Venezuelans with an increase in economic sanctions. The election would certainly take place, no doubt assuming that the people, intimidated, would repudiate the democratic act and refrain from participating in it.

But, on the contrary, Trump’s threats and terrorist actions against the voters stimulated their attendance because patriotic motivation was added.

The Bolivarian government called on democratic and peace-loving people to be alert to this new interventionist escalation of US imperialism. They called for a categorical rejection of the violent, fascist, racist and criminal actions of the Venezuelan opposition who are so afraid of this democratic, legal, sovereign, peaceful and civilized act .

US freezes all assets of President Maduro

For his part, the angry American president, who has been forced to move all his chips at the same time to coincide with other serious clashes unleashed separately against Russia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This has led Washington to impose sanctions on Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, according to a statement from the US Treasury Department.

The statement specifies that all assets of President Maduro which are or may be under US jurisdiction will be frozen. In addition, US citizens will be prohibited from any agreement with Maduro. He, in turn, has reiterated that, as President of Venezuela, he does not have to answer to anyone but Venezuela’s women and men.

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In response to the freezing of his assets by the US,  Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro has noted that he does not have to answer to anyone but Venezuela’s women and men.

The Venezuelan president has described the day [of the election] as the “biggest” of the Bolivarian Revolution and has based its success on the option that made the peace proposal his banner of struggle in such complex circumstances.

Doors kept open for the opposition

Maduro stressed that, until the last moment, he kept the doors open for the Venezuelan opposition, which did not cease to call for violence and destabilizing actions on election day. He revealed that a delegation of his government had been meeting for several weeks with opposition leaders. Among these he mentioned the President of the Parliament, Julio Borges, to try to add them to the constituent assembly initiative. “Two weeks ago I proposed to the opposition that they register for the Constituent Assembly. But they did not accept,” said the leader.

“In the last six weeks, there have been direct talks between the delegations of the Democratic Unity Roundtable and a delegation presided over by Jorge Rodríguez, Delcy Rodríguez and Elías Jaua,” head of state Nicolas Maduro announced Saturday.

To reach an agreement to publish a statement approved by all parties of the MUD,” said the First Minister. He added that the leadership of the right “wanted to be registered before the National Electoral Council (CNE) for the elections of governors and governors. I called on them to get into the Constituent Assembly and they were afraid.” The meetings held were kept hidden at the request of the opposition sector.

A call for peace and tranquility

President Maduro spoke at Bolívar Plaza in the city of Caracas, after the National Electoral Council (CNE) issued the first bulletin with results. The Venezuelan president stated that the Constituent National Assembly had been born amid great popular legitimacy. “Not only does the Constituente have power, but it has the strength of legitimacy, the moral force of a people who heroically, warlike, came out to vote, to say: we want peace and tranquility,” said Maduro.

“The newly-elected Constituent Assembly had the support of a people who were not intimidated by the destabilizing climate that the Venezuelan opposition intended to create. It is the largest vote that the Revolution has had in all electoral history. The one who has eyes that sees and the one who has ears that hear,” said the president.

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More articles by:MANUEL E. YEPE

Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana.

 

US Trade Unionist Unmask Mass Media Lies on Venezuela Assembly

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Trade union leaders Judy Gonzalez, Estela Vazquez and John Patafio. | Photo: Still from Interview; Youtube; Rosana Silva

6 August 2017
Source:  TeleSUR

“We visited several polling places and that was when we were just so moved by what was going on,” said the president of the New York State Nurses Association.

Three representatives from trade unions in New York were among the many international observers to attend the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly vote July 30 to monitor the election proceedings.

RELATED: Venezuela to Install Truth, Justice and Reparations Commission

Estela Vazquez the executive vice president of the 1199 SEIU Health Care Workers Union East, the country’s largest health care union; John Patafiothe vice president of the Transport Workers Union, and Judy Gonzalez a registered nurse and president of the New York State Nurses Association were interviewed by Rosana Silva on their experiences before and after their visit to Venezuela and their thoughts on the ANC.

The three had been invited by the Venezuelan Transport Workers Union to witness the voting process and most importantly to talk to Venezuelans and just “see what’s going on.”

Misinformation

Prior to arriving in the Bolivarian state, the three were warned by American Airline’s crew members of the “dangerous” situation they were walking in to.

“We had a sort of a culture shock on the airplane,” explained Gonzales who heads the NY union that includes 40,000 members across the state. “The staff on the airplane was basically hysterical. They told us that we absolutely shouldn’t go. We should get back on the plane; don’t get off the plane. That if we stepped off the plane we’d be robbed, we’d be kidnapped, we’d be raped, they’d steal our kidneys … we were absolutely putting ourselves in danger … they really did scare us.”

Vazquez, “But our experience has been different since we arrived Saturday, despite the propaganda of blood running in the streets, and fires and shootings all over the city of Caracas, that was not the case.”

“I’ve been here three days and I have to say, it’s propaganda. There’s a lot of propaganda and they’re taking some instances and they’re creating a very powerful message and it’s being repeated in very powerful media stations and good people are believing it,” agreed Patafio.

The union leaders traveled throughout Caracas unimpeded, visiting polling stations, hospitals, as well as working class sectors.

RELATED: 4 Venezuela Constituent Assembly Members You Need to Know About

Come and see for yourself

“I would say that (people) need to come and see for yourselves what is happening in Venezuela. You cannot rely on CNN or any other international communication or papers like the New York Times or the Washington Post, because they are only reflecting the story of the ruling classes, the oligarchy of this country, that want to preserve their interests,” Vazquez explained.

“They’re reflecting the voices of the 1 percent, while 99 percent of the Venezuelans support the process, support their government and they want peace and they want to continue the social gains they have made under the Bolivarian Revolution,” Vazquez concluded.

“The few areas where we saw violence, it seemed to be the more middle class areas, and the violence was centered in those areas for a few blocks … but it was only in those areas,” Patafio said, adding that any evidence of “violence was one way,” that the videos he saw showed opposition supporters instigating the acts, while the police was pinned with the violence.

RELATED:Venezuelan Armed Forces Repel Anti-Government Attack

The participation was impressive

“What we did see,” Vazquez countered, were thousands arriving to a makeshift polling station erected in the stadium in Caracas. “Thousands of people arriving there from communities in Miranda, because they could not vote in their own neighborhood because the so-called ‘opposition’ was practically holding people hostage and preventing them from voting and exercising their right to vote.”

“The participation was impressive. So I found it surprising when I saw headlines the next day talking of high absenteeism in Venezuela and that is not the truth,” Vazquez said.

“The way the voting went, was they divided everybody into sectors. They had workers sectors, they had Indigenous sectors, they had sectors based on your profession or job, they had sectors based on where you lived … They had hundreds and hundreds of slates, so clearly, there was a race going on,” said Gonzalez.

“We visited several polling places and that was when we were just so moved by what was going on. We were just overwhelmed by the number of young people and women who were basically running the vote,” she said adding that the transparency of the whole process was incredible.

“I’ve been through a lot of union elections, I know what to look for when there’s cheating, I didn’t see any cheating. I saw a very open process; I saw the people that were controlling it, were people from the community, earnest. So, I thought it was fine,” Patafio agreed.

“One thing that I did think was significant is that I didn’t see any international media. No reporters from the New York Times, no cameras from CNN, no cameras from Fox Television, or any other international media … covering the poor working class neighborhoods that are the backbone of this revolutionary process in this country,” the Health Care Workers Union vice president said.

RELATED:Venezuela Rejects Interference by Mercosur in Its Affairs

Peace and self-determination

All three of the representatives were amazed by the care the government had exerted, and attested that the presence and evidence of Chavismo still runs strong, with free or low-cost health care, housing, and transportation continuing to receive financial support from the administration.

“I think there is a crisis, right, an economic crisis and to some degree it needs a political solution and I think the Constituent Assembly is an attempt to find a political solution to a serious economic crisis,” Patafio stated.

“(Venezuelans) know what they want and they wanted to determine their own fate. And, for me, self-determination became very clear,” he said. “They wanted to make sure that people know that it’s peaceful, but they also wanted to make clear that we’re going to determine what’s going to take place in Venezuela. And they were really holding onto that and that’s what I saw at the polling stations.”

Congratulations to the Venezuelan people for their lesson in democracy – Cuba

Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly Explained

President Nicolas Maduro made his call for a new Assembly at the end of a trade union march on May Day.

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Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro greets supporters during a meeting in Caracas, Venezuela July 29, 2017 | Photo: Reuters

Eight other members are being chosen by Venezuela’s Indigenous peoples according to their own traditions. Here is how it came about and how it works:

Background

President Nicolas Maduro made his call for a new Constituent Assembly at the end of a trade union march on May Day, one month after the Venezuelan opposition began a series of protests which often turned violent and had already left dozens dead. He emphasized three aims:

  1. Overcoming the current conflict in Venezuela
  2. Restoring peace in the country
  3. Giving the people, especially working people, the chance to decide on Venezuela’s future

That same day, he published Decree 2830, which laid out several other aims:

  1. Restore cooperation between public powers
  2. Develop a post oil economy
  3. Give constitutional status to the social Missions
  4. Strengthen the justice system to tackle corruption, impunity, speculation, etc.
  5. Give constitutional status to the Communes etc, as new forms of democracy
  6. Defend Venezuelan sovereignty against foreign intervention
  7. Promote pluriculturalism over racial and social hatred
  8. Recognize youth rights
  9. Preserve biodiversity and promote ecological culture

The decree invoked Articles 347 and 348 of the current Bolivarian Constitution, which clearly give the president the power to call for a constituent assembly. The argument used by the opposition that he should have called a referendum first, as happened in 1999, is a political one. Maduro could have done that. But there is no requirement in the current Constitution for him to do so.

The nomination of candidates took place from May 30 to June 2.

Would-be candidates had to gather signatures from 3% of their electorate in support of their standing.

No serving member of the government or other public office holder can be a candidate.

55,314 names were put forward. 6,120 candidates met the conditions and were accepted by the National Electoral Council as candidates, 3,546 for the territorial vote and 2,574 for the sectoral vote.

The campaign for the election ran from July 9 to July 27. The vote is on Sunday July 30, from 6am to 6pm, although anyone lining up to vote at that time will be allowed to vote.

Breakdown

The 545 seats in the Constituent Assembly break down like this:

breakdown of national constituent assembly.png

Territorial Vote

364 members of the Constituent Assembly will be elected from geographical areas, with one seat for each municipality in Venezuela, and two extra for each municipality which is a state capital, in other words the larger cities. The central Caracas area, with by far the largest population, will elect 7 members.

The electoral system here is mixed: first-past-the-post for the first seat in each municipality, and proportional for the extra seats in the larger ones.

Sectoral Vote

This is the most novel aspect of this election, and the one that has caused most uproar among opponents. Apart from the eight Indigenous members, who will be chosen in the two days after the main election by a variety of assemblies in different Indigenous regions of Venezuela, 173 members will be elected from seven different sectors of society. The idea here is to give these different sectors a chance to elect members who who will speak directly to their specific interests. These seats are divided as follows:

8 for Campesinos and Fishers

5 for Business people

5 for the Disabled

24 for Students

28 for Pensioners

24 for Communal Councils

79 for Workers

The workers’ sector is itself sub-divided thus:

17 for public administration

14 for service sector

12 for social area

11 for commerce

11 for self-employed

6 for industry

4 for construction

2 for oil industry

2 for transport

This has been described as an attempt to deepen the kind of participatory democracy mentioned in the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution, but developed more explicitly after 2005 by the government of Hugo Chavez. However it is anathema to those who believe representative democracy – electing representatives every four or five years and leaving it to them – is the only acceptable form of democracy.

Next Steps

The new Constituent Assembly will be sworn in within 72 hours of the results being announced. It will at first work with the procedural rules used by the 1999 Constituent Assembly. One of its first tasks will be to draw up its own rules and procedures.

There is no fixed time limit for the assembly to finish its new draft constitution. This is likely to be a development of the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution rather than a wholly new document.

Once the draft is agreed, it will have to be put to a national referendum to see if the Venezuelan people as a whole accept it or reject it.

Depending on what the assembly proposes, and what the electorate approves, there may then be new presidential and parliamentary elections, possibly by the end of this year or next year.

This will be the 21st set of elections held in Venezuela in the last 18 years of the Bolivarian revolution. The voting system used will be a version of the electronic system used in most of these earlier elections, which the Carter Center once described as one of the most reliable and transparent in the world.

Ten keys to the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela

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Nicolás Maduro went for broke. “Come rain or shine, there will be a National Constituent Assembly,” the Venezuelan President stated. And so it was.

July 30, 2017, marked a historic date, not only for the Bolivarian Revolution, which came to power less than two decades ago, but for a nation that has been struggling for its independence and self-determination for over 200 years.

Several lessons

The vote that day offered us several lessons to understand the complex scenario facing the country, and the possible evolution of events:

More than eight million Venezuelans voted

1. Venezuela has a Constituent Assembly. Despite the boycott declared by the right wing and the international maneuvers against it, the support of more than eight million Venezuelans at the polls endows the constitutional mechanism activated by the Bolivarian government with legitimacy. The opposition’s bid was to prevent the Constituent Assembly by all means and it failed. They now run the risk of being left out of the Assembly that will shape the future of the country, although few doubt that some kind of dialogue is essential to resume the road to peace.

Calm elections

2. The elections were held amid relative calm. The number of people killed during the day varies according to the source.

Most speak of at least ten dead. However, after more than a hundred victims in the past few months, some of them burned alive by opposition extremists, the election day balance sheet was far from the “bloodbath” predicted by some international analysts.

The Armed Forces ensuring Venezuelans’ democratic exercise of the right to vote

3. The Armed Forces are committed to constitutional order. The plan to preserve the integrity of polling stations, for which more than 230,000 troops were deployed, as well as the extraordinary measures taken by authorities, were key to ensuring Venezuelans’ democratic exercise of the right to vote. In addition, this is a further sign that, unlike in the past, the current Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela are committed to constitutional order and are the main guarantors of the country’s stability.

The right has limited rallying power

4. The right has less strength than had appeared. The opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), the main instigator of the violence, promised to hold the “mother of all protests” to prevent the Constituent Assembly. Its limited rallying power in the days leading up to the elections, and the impotence of its leaders faced with the popular mobilization to vote, are proof that it overestimated its forces.

The silence of the mass media

5. The mass media were left without news. Venezuela was, until the vote, one of the topics receiving most coverage in the international media. Hundreds of journalists from the most important chains are present in the South American country. However, when the reality was different from the coverage they had prepared (a pitched battle and the beginning of civil war), they offered a revealing silence. Instead, they devoted themselves to reporting minor issues and so far practically no outlet has provided coverage of the massive turnout of eight million Venezuelans, who had to cross rivers or stay up through the night, in order to exercise their right at the polls.

The turnout exceeded expectations

6. The turnout exceeded expectations. Amid the polarization of the country and the instability provoked by the extreme right, the number of Venezuelans who went out to vote was not envisaged by the opposition or their international backers. Even the Bolivarian authorities recognized that the figure was a pleasant surprise. As a means of comparison, the more than eight million votes cast on July 30 exceeded the 7.7 million obtained by the MUD in the legislative elections that gave it control of the National Assembly in 2015.

A concerted strategy

7. There is a concerted strategy to disregard the democratic process in Venezuela. The United States, Spain, and several Latin American nations, including Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay, Guatemala, and Panama, did not even wait for the results of the elections before refusing to recognize them and the new Constituent Assembly.

US destabilization efforts

8. The United States is actively working to destabilize Venezuela. Before the elections, Washington sanctioned 13 Bolivarian officials with the aim of intimidating the government in the lead-up to the Constituent Assembly vote. After learning of the results, the U.S. government announced another series of measures including sanctions against President Nicolás Maduro. Some U.S. media have speculated regarding possible sanctions on the Venezuelan oil sector, which has been in the White House’s sights from the start.

Another vote of confidence for Chavismo

9. A significant number of citizens gave Chavismo another vote of confidence. In the midst of the economic war, the decline in international oil prices, and internal destabilization, the popular support received shows just how much the Venezuelan people appreciate the transformations initiated by Hugo Chávez. It is difficult to think of another government in Venezuelan history that would have resisted a similar onslaught.

A platform to call for dialogue

10. The Constituent Assembly alone can not solve underlying problems such as the economic crisis, inflation, shortages, and violence. However, the constitutional powers with which the Assembly is invested constitute a platform to call for dialogue between the different actors in the country’s political and social life, to ensure justice for the victims of the crimes committed by violent sectors, and to once again put the country on the path to progress and peace.