The Chavistas Who Toppled Columbus: Venezuela’s Fight Against Colonialism

Source:  TeleSUR
October 11 2017

the chavistas who toppled columbusVenezuelan demonstrators use ropes to take down a Christopher Columbus
statue in Caracas, Venezuela, October 12, 2004. | Photo: Reuters

Long before the statues were taken down in the U.S., social movements in Venezuela removed all monuments from Caracas.

Five centuries ago, Christopher Columbus embarked on his third voyage of conquest, planting the flag of Spain in the Paria Peninsula — now present-day Venezuela — on August 1, 1498

After 506 years, on October 12, 2004 — the Day of Indigenous Resistance, previously marked in Columbus’ honor — the Italian colonizer was “brought to trial” in the streets of the country where he first landed.

RELATED: Anti-Columbus Protests Sweep the Americas
On that day, a 9-meter high statue of Columbus, in downtown Caracas, was toppled from where it had stood for decades.

 

Mock trial of Columbus

Several social movements held a mock trial and “prosecuted” Columbus, declared him “guilty”, demolished his stone incarnate, bathed it in red paint and dragged it to the nearby Teresa Carreno Theater, where it was hung.

Long before activists would take to doing the same to Columbus statues in the United States, their counterparts in Caracas had set the stage: by 2009, every monument dedicated to the conqueror in the Venezuelan capital had been removed.

It was in 2004 that the late socialist President and leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez, changed October 12 from the day that celebrated Columbus and the history of colonialism, to the Day of Indigenous Resistance.

It was in reaction to this move that social movements in the city took to topple the statue.

“There was a very strong revolutionary spirit in Venezuela at that time,” Katrina Kozarek, a reporter at Venezuela Analysis, who along with Cooperativa Calle Y Media created a documentary about the event, told teleSUR.

“People wanted concrete action, not just symbolic,” she added.

Cooperativa Calle Y Media’s film, titled, “Down With Colonialism: Pachamama Libre”

Still, the action held tremendous significance for many.

“It was an act of symbolic justice,”  Angel Montiel, a member of the Organization of Indigenous Youth of Venezuela said at the time. “It represented invasion and genocide in our land.”

Soon after the statue’s destruction, hundreds of Indigenous people and their allies took to the streets to sing and dance to commemorate the act of resistance, chanting “Justice for the people, justice for the people!”

Protesters had drawn parallels between Columbus and then-U.S. president George W. Bush, calling on both to “get out” of Venezuela.

On that day, Indigenous groups also presented a formal request to the city’s mayor to have the decimated statue replaced with that of the Indigenous chief Guaicaipuro — who five centuries ago had led the resistance against Spanish colonialism — a promise that was fulfilled in 2015 under President Nicolas Maduro.

nicolas maduro 2017.jpg

Police, however, who at that time were “very much a reactionary force, still in the hands of the opposition”, explained Kozarek, responded by spraying tear gas at the crowd. Five people were also arrested for taking part.

In response to the arrests, a statement released by the 90 people who claimed responsibility for the act, declared, “We respond by saying that accusations of vandalism, wherever they come from, we reject them absolutely.”

chavistas topple columbus' statue.jpgProtesters prepare to topple the statue.
| Photo: courtesy of Katrina Kozarek

“We are absolutely proud of what we have done, since it is finally destroyed … one of the strongest symbols of what has been the genocidal, exploitative, dehumanizing, deconstructive and truly vandalic exercise of all the imperialisms that have plagued this planet of misery,” it continued. “And in particular the processes of conquest and extermination of more than 70 million human beings … and the death of more than 30 million original inhabitants of Africa, brought as slaves, from the day that this Spanish ‘national hero’ put his boots on these lands.”

Chavez’s response

Still, it was also Chavez who initially rejected the act as one of “anarchy”.

The Venezuelan leader’s main concern at the time, however, explained Kozarek, was “reaction from the opposition”, who supported keeping statues of Columbus.

“The country was just coming out of the coup d’etat,” she explained, adding that the Bolivarian government had viewed the toppling as a surprising, risky act given the response it could have incited from the opposition, following their attempts to oust the government in 2002.

Later, Chavez would come out to approve the action, praising it and calling Columbus “genocidal.”

hugo chavez 1.jpgThe leader of the country’s Bolivarian revolution had always repudiated Columbus, having also called the figure “genocidal” in the past.

“They taught us to admire Christopher Columbus,” Chavez later said in a 2007 televised address. “In Europe, they still speak of the ‘discovery’ of America and want us to celebrate the day.”

That year, the Venezuelan leader revised the nation’s education curriculum to emphasize that the Spanish conquest of the country was destructive, rather than heroic.

Indigenous rights and the Constituent Assembly

The Bolivarian Constitution of 1999 recognized, for the first time ever in the country’s history, the Indigenous population’s right to exist, its languages, cultures, and territories.

With Venezuela’s current National Constituent Assembly, ANC, process underway — which Maduro called to bring the country towards dialogue, in the face of U.S.-backed violence and threats of foreign intervention — Indigenous people are again putting their demands forward.

RELATED:  Social Media Blasts Racist ‘Columbus Day’ in Favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

In July of this year, 1250 different community assemblies elected eight Indigenous representatives to the Assembly, who were tasked with gathering input from their communities in the redrafting of the Constitution.

The main objectives for the Indigenous candidates will be to create an Indigenous Electoral Registration Law and improve access to education. They will also be tasked with preserving and disseminating their respective languages, histories and cultural heritage.

“The spirit of what happened (to the Columbus statue) and the spirit of what is happening now with the Constituent Assembly is similar,” said Kozarek.

“Popular movements emphasize that the revolution cannot be just rhetoric,” she added. “People have placed faith in the Constituent Assembly process, (optimistic) that this will not happen.”

Antigua and Barbuda Inaugurates Oil Yard With Venezuela Help

Source:  TeleSUR
September 1 2017

antigua improves energy infrastructure.jpgAn oil tank is seen at PDVSA’s Jose Antonio Anzoategui industrial complex in
the state of Anzoategui. | Photo: Reuters

The oil tank yard was constructed with help from Venezuela’s state-owned PDVSA and a Chinese company.

The West Indies Oil Company Limited, WIOC, has inaugurated a new oil tank yard in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda, improving the country’s energy infrastructure.

RELATED: ‘Libya and Iraq Are Lessons’: Antigua & Barbuda Warn Against Threats to Venezuela

Roughly 51 percent of the project is owned by the government of Antigua and Barbuda, while 25 percent is owned by Venezuela’s state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela, PDVSA, and another 24 percent is owned by a Chinese company.

Gaston Browne Antigua 2c.jpgThe yard, which features three new tanks, was inaugurated in the presence of Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne and Petrocaribe President Raul la Causi. Petrocaribe, launched in 2005 with help from former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, promotes oil-centered economic cooperation between the South American country and Caribbean nations.

The three tanks will produce an increase of 400,000 barrels in the country’s fuel storage power. Overall, they are expected to increase the supply of fuels for the Caribbean region as a whole while reducing costs.

Browne thanked Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for cooperation and solidarity with the Caribbean, especially with his country.

He also said that he advocates that countries should respect the principle of self-determination and sovereignty, referring to the sanctions imposed by the United States on Venezuela last month.

Nicolás Maduro pays respects to Jose Marti and Fidel Castro

Source:  Granma

August 16 2017

by: Yaima Puig Meneses y Yudy Castro Morales | internet@granma.cu

The Venezuelan President was accompanied by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Combatant Cilia Flores, and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez  Parilla

raul y nicolas aug 2017 1.jpgPhoto: Estudio Revolución

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Moros visited the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, yesterday August 15, accompanied by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, to pay his respects to Cuba’s national hero José Martí and Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, on the 91st anniversary of his birth.

The two leaders, along with First Combatant Cilia Flores, and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, observed the changing of the guard ceremony at the graves where the remains of Martí and Fidel rest.

The first tribute was to the Teacher, in his mausoleum, where they deposited white roses alongside the single starred flag.

Before the granite boulder that holds Fidel’s ashes, they placed flowers, since the Venezuelan President could not miss a visit on the 91st birthday of the Comandante en Jefe who always championed the Bolivarian Revolution.

The group also paid tribute to July 26 Movement martyrs and those who gave their lives as internationalists after the triumph of the Revolution in January of 1959.

raul y nicolas aug 2017 2.jpgPhoto: Estudio Revolución

In a brief tour of Santa Ifigenia, Raúl spoke with Maduro about Cuba’s history, explaining why Carlos Manuel de Céspedes is considered the country’s founding father; recalling Mariana Grajales and María Cabrales, mother and widow of General Antonio Maceo, respectively; and informing the visiting President about several officers in the War of Independence who are buried in the historic cemetery.

Stopping alongside the tomb of Frank País García, they also left flowers, and Raúl recalled the valiant youth who was murdered, as was his brother Josue, by the Batista dictatorship.

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.

venezuelans vote 2017.jpg

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.

nicolas maduro 14.jpg

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.

Join the debate on Facebook

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.

 

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

Raúl bids farewell to President Maduro

Source:  Granma

December 16 2016

On the afternoon of December 15, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, bid farewell to Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, at Havana’s José Martí International Airport

by: Granma | internet@granma.cu

raul bids maduro farewell.jpg

Photo: Estudio Revolución

On the afternoon of December 15, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, bid farewell to Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, at Havana’s José Martí International Airport.

Also returning to Venezuela with Maduro were First Combatant Cilia Flores; Ricardo Menéndez, vice president of the Councils of Ministers for Planning and Knowledge, and Minister of Planning; Eríka Farías, vice president and minister for Social Participation; Admiral Carmen Meléndez, minister of Defense; Eulogio del Pino, minister for Oil; and Wilmar Castro Sotelo, minister of Agriculture, who also participated in the solidarity event supporting the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela held at the Havana International Convention Center, to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the creation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-People’s Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP) and 22 years since the first encounter between Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez.

Cuba and Venezuela Celebrate 12th Anniversary of ALBA Creation

Source:  TeleSUR
December 14 2016

“I see Fidel standing on the leg of the ladder, I was carrying a small suitcase, and I put it on the floor to give him a hug. ALBA began with that hug.”  Hugo Chavez

raul y maduro 3.jpg

Cuban President Raul Castro (L) and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (R) during an ALBA conference, March 17, 2015 in Caracas, Venezuela. | Photo: EFE

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Raul Castro celebrate the 12th anniversary of the formation of the historic regional alliance.

On Thursday the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Raul Castro will commemorate the 12th anniversary of the formation of the historic progressive continental alliance, ALBA, in Havana, Cuba.

OPINION:  ALBA’s Vitality Versus the Neoliberal Living Dead

Fidel y chavez sign alba agreement.jpg

Late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and then Cuban President, Fidel Castro sign the founding ALBA agreement in 2004 (AIN Cuba)

Originally launched by Cuba and Venezuela on Dec 14. 2004 as an anti-imperialist response to U.S. plans for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, ALBA, is a “political, economic, and social alliance in defense of independence, self-determination and the identity of peoples comprising it.”

Solidarity and cooperation

Based on the principles of solidarity and cooperation, and a key promoter of 21st Century Socialism, ALBA is now made up of 11 countries from South and Central America and the Caribbean including Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Grenada, Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda. Suriname and Haiti are both allied and have declared their intention to become full members.

For the past 12 years, the alliance has worked to strengthen Latin American political and economic unity, promote the political vision of the Bolivarian Revolution, respond to U.S. interventions in the region, combat poverty and illiteracy, and promote and protect the rights of Indigenous nations and people with disabilities.

PetroCaribe

ALBA has helped launch PetroCaribe, which guarantees subsidized oil to its Caribbean members, in particular, Cuba, who thanks to the U.S. embargo had faced severe oil and gas shortages; as well as PetroSur, an organization which attempts to use oil resources to fund social development projects throughout the region. In 2008 ALBA members created a regional virtual currency, the Sucre, which is used in trade between member countries.

Maduro’s visit to Cuba also coincides with the 22nd anniversary of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s first meeting with Fidel Castro which many see as the birth of both ALBA as well as Chavez’s movement for 21st Century Socialism. In writing about that first meeting many years later Chavez wrote, “I see Fidel standing on the leg of the ladder, I was carrying a small suitcase, and I put it on the floor to give him a hug. ALBA began with that hug.”

During the signing ceremony for the creation of ALBA in 2004, Fidel Castro spoke of Chavez saying, “You promised to return one day with purpose and dreams fulfilled. You have returned and become a giant, not only as leader of the victorious revolutionary process of your people, but also as a relevant international personality, loved, admired and respected by many millions of people in the world, and especially our people.”