From Caracas Urgent –Promote this information.

August 5, 2017
We are currently in Caracas Venezuela, despite all the threats, and attacks of the empire and his poor puppet-Donald Trump. Life does not stop, yesterday in the popular area of San Agustin there was a celebration of several hours until dawn. People were celebrating La Constituyente Ya, People were dancing and singing la Constituyente YA. Here I’m posting three interviews I am also posting a series of photos on the installation of the constituent assembly a huge popular party.
The videos are by me and Rosana Silva
Pictures by Rosana Silva
Please use the photos and videos
In Solidarity from Caracas-Venezuela

After Venezuela’s Election, U.S. And Allies Turn Up Heat – A Coup Could Be Ahead

What The Media Isn’t Telling You About The Jailing Of Opposition Leaders In Venezuela

Sat 7/22: Urgent Action agst NY Times Collab. w/US govt attacks on Venezuela

July 18, 2017

JOIN US ON SATURDAY, JULY 22 TO PROTEST THE NEW YORK TIMES AS A COLLABORATOR WITH THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT! 
WHEN:   SAT., JULY 22ND, 3:30 TO 6:00 PM
  
WHERE:  GATHER AT TIMES SQUARE – Broadway & W. 44th St., Manhattan FROM THERE, MARCH TO THE NY Times Building 620 8th Ave btw. W. 40th St. & W. 41st St.
 
Two days ago Venezuela received three threats in this order.
“ The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” 
-Malcolm X
 
The New York Times has been A MAJOR force FOR REGIME CHANGE IN VENEZUELA.  THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA IN THE U.S. HAS FREQUENTLY collaborated with THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S domination plans in Latin America and around the planet. 

The mainstream media in the US was able to justify, through a lie perpetrated again and again, an invasion of Iraq,  with consequences that led to the death of a million people, the destruction of a country’s effective infrastructure, and the displacement of millions of people.  
  
The wars which the United States has WAGED with unconditional support from the mainstream media have generated innumerable humanitarian crises on the planet. 
CURRENTLY, The United States seeks to interfere in the ORGANIZATION OF A CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY IN VENEZUELA SCHEDULED BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR JULY 30TH.  THIS CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY REPRESENTS AN ADVANCE FOR DEMOCRACY AND POPULAR POWER IN VENEZUELA! 

Stop the economic warfare! 

Stop right wing terrorism! 

Stop the undeclared economic blockade to Venezuela! 

Respect to Venezuela’s sovereignty! 

YES TO DEMOCRACY!  NO TO INTERVENTION! 

IN DEFENSE OF THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY!  La Constituyente VA! 


This action will counter the accelerating conservative and liberal propaganda campaign in the United States against Nicolas Maduro’s government. Washington’s and corporate media’s campaign accompanies deepening ongoing violent actions and destabilization campaigns against the Venezuelan economy and finances aimed at overturning the Bolivarian government. This has included not only violence and assassinations inside Venezuela directed against “Chavista” civilians, as well as soldiers and police, but also violent assaults and attacks inside the United States against Venezuelan diplomats, representatives, and civilians by opponents of the Maduro government who are living and operating in the United States. 


Come and demonstrate your solidarity with the people of Venezuela who are under constant attack by terrorist groups financed by the US. 


The mainstream media have never denounced: 
  • The killing of more than 300 peasants  
  • The April 11, 2002 coup against President Chavez
  • The paramilitary presence in the violent protests against the government
  • The millions of dollars donated from the State Department to the Venezuelan opposition
  • The lynching and terrorist attacks of the Venezuelan opposition “PEACEFUL PROTESTERS” financed by US government agencies.
Article that we recommend about the current situation in Venezuela:
 
 
 
 
More Information: cbalbertolovera@gmail.com
 
Sponsors/Endorsers: 
Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle NYC; International Action Center; Answer Coalition; International Concerned Family and Friends
 of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ); United National Anti-war Coalition; Workers World Party; Cuba Solidarity; International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity; FMLN NY, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, Bayan

WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING IN VENEZUELA-TIPS

June 11, 2017

WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING IN VENEZUELA

Since early April this year, Venezuelans have been suffering the consequences of violent street protests, resulting in more than 60 deaths, hundreds more injured and millions of dollars in value in the destruction of public and private property. We are deeply sorry for the death of so many people, both civilians and law enforcement agents. Media reporting on this situation, however, has been strongly biased, with news outlets falsely depicting Venezuela as a country in state of economic collapse and at war, where peaceful protesters are violently repressed by a dictatorial government. Here are the facts:

  1. PROTESTS ARE NOT PEACEFUL:

Protesters marching against the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro are very often far from peaceful and come equipped with home-made weapons, Molotov cocktails, bazookas, ammunitions, explosives, stones as well as firearms, which they use against the forces of law and order. Opposition demonstrators have set government buildings on fire, vandalized and destroyed public and private property, looted and burned hundreds of small shops and have even perpetrated attacks against two maternity hospitals which they tried to set on fire. In the case of the Hugo Chavez Maternity Hospital, the three-hour attack by opposition armed thugs gravely endangered the lives of 54 babies, mothers in labour, nurses, doctors and patients all of who had to be evacuated. A few weeks ago some of the most violent opposition demonstrators started to throw human and animal excrements at the forces of law and order. There is no need to mention the danger of all kinds of diseases erupting in a tropical climate with streets full of excrements and in a delicate health situation due to the increased appearance of the Zika virus. Only a few weeks ago Venezuelan opposition supporters attacked Venezuela’s Diplomatic Mission in Spain, asking publicly on social media for Venezuelan ambassadors to end up like the former Russian Ambassador in Turkey, Andrei Karlov, who was assassinated in Ankara last year. In fact, also a few weeks ago, our Consulate in the Caribbean island of Bonaire was attacked by sympathizers of the Venezuelan opposition who unlawfully entered the premises of the diplomatic mission and vandalized equipment and materials, in clear violation of international law. Unfortunately, similar incidents have also taken place in many other Venezuelan diplomatic missions worldwide. Worse still, opposition armed thugs have thus far set two people on fire, one of whom, Orlando Figuera (22) was brutally beaten, doused with gasoline and then set on fire, he suffered 80% burning of his body and died on June 5. Disgracefully there has been scant reporting in the mainstream media (MSM) on the hundreds of instances of highly visible opposition horrific violence and wanton destruction despite the fact that world media outlets have hundreds of correspondents and journalistic teams based in Venezuela itself. And most MSM reporting on violence is falsely attributed to government repression. It is difficult not to draw the conclusion that MSM avoids telling the truth about opposition violence and destruction because it contradicts their false narrative that the protests are about ‘beleaguered democrats’ fighting against an increasingly ‘authoritarian government.

  1. NO POLITICAL PRISONERS:

In Venezuela people have been arrested because they have committed criminal acts, causing violence in the streets leading to the death of dozens of people and putting many lives at risk, not because of their political position. This is the case in most countries. In the United States, the U.S. Code (Title 18 Crimes and Criminal Procedure) punishes any person participating in any action construed as rioting carries the penalty of 5 years in prison (Ch. 102), and any action construed as sedition to bring about “regime change”, that is advocating overthrow of the government (Ch.115) carries the penalty of 20 years in prison. If to these crimes we add the list of offences committed by the opposition armed thugs since the current wave of violence began in April 2017 and about which there is irrefutable evidence, period in which they committed crimes such as arson (Ch.5), assault Ch.7), civil disorder (Ch.12), importation, manufacture, distribution and storage of explosive material (Ch.40), illegal importation, distribution and use of firearms (Ch.44), terrorism defined as violent acts intended to intimidate or coerce the civilian population (Ch.113B), carry penalties from 5 to 20 years in prison. Since the armed thugs deployed by the opposition have perpetrated all the crimes listed above, had they carried them out in U.S. territory and had they been applied US legislation (Chapters in brackets) they would be facing prison sentences ranging from 5 years to several decades in prison.[1]

The US Code (Title 18 Crimes and Criminal Procedure) specifies with total clarity what rioting is:

“…a public disturbance involving (1) an act or acts of violence by one or more persons part of an assemblage of three or more persons, which act or acts shall constitute a clear and present danger of, or shall result in, damage or injury to the property of any other person or to the person of any other individual or (2) a threat or threats of the commission of an act or acts of violence by one or more persons part of an assemblage of three or more persons having, individually or collectively, the ability of immediate execution of such threat or threats, where the performance of the threatened act or acts of violence would constitute a clear and present danger of, or would result in, damage or injury to the property of any other person or to the person of any other individual.

As used in this chapter, the term “to incite a riot”, or “to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot”, includes, but is not limited to, urging or instigating other persons to riot, but shall not be deemed to mean the mere oral or written (1) advocacy of ideas or (2) expression of belief, not involving advocacy of any act or acts of violence or assertion of the rightness of, or the right to commit, any such act or acts.”

 

Of the over 60 persons who have lost their lives so far, only seven deaths have been attributed to government authorities, and those responsible have been charged and currently face prosecution. The full list of fatal victims of the wave of violence is as follows:

 

14 during lootings eight of whom died electrocuted when they intended to loot a bakery in El Valle; one died during another looting when the owner shot him dead; and the owner of a small restaurant was killed by the looters;
9 in street barricades most of whom died when trying to cross them leading to their vehicles overturning and/or were confronted by violent armed demonstrators who were guarding the barricades;
7 by law and order officers the culprits have been identified, all have been arrested and all face prosecution; 29 is the total number of officers arrested for these deaths;
3 shot by firearms arms fired by criminal gangs
2 by lynching a retired lieutenant of the Bolivarian national Guard and a young man who was participating in opposition demonstrations was set on fire alive and died due to 80% of body burning
1 health condition a person could not get to an emergency health centre due to the street blockade installed by armed opposition gangs
1 in a fight among members of a gang in a barricade;
17 passers by who had no connection whatsoever with either opposition protests or government demonstrations – one of them, Almelina Carrillo, was killed by being hit in the head by a bottle containing frozen water thrown from a building by opposition lawyer Hugo Trejo;
3 members of the law & order forces one of them was shot dead by a sniper, the other two were brutally killed by opposition protesters
24 persons have died in unclear circumstances and are still under investigation – six of these have died by being hit with ball bearings fired from “metras’, home made guns, used by opposition protesters; two of them would be passers by; two more would have died by the action of the forces of law and order.[2]

 

The Venezuelan authorities are doing everything in their power to investigate those deaths and charge the perpetrators, regardless of their political allegiance.

In this context it is important to point out one more time that Leopoldo Lopez is not a political prisoner. He was indicted and has been charged for publicly instigating violence, asking protestors to use non-peaceful means in order to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro, and about which there is irrefutable public evidence. And Henrique Capriles, was charged and banned from public office because of illicit administrative practices during his tenure as a governor of the Miranda state, not because of his role as an opposition leader.

  1. FOOD SHORTAGES

Food shortages in Venezuela are not due to the fact that Venezuela has run out of financial means. Just about a month ago Venezuela repaid US$2.7 billion on its debt. Food and medical shortages are created artificially by the blocking of opposition-controlled production and distribution channels. Evidence for Economic Warfare has been collected by numerous academics. Their research is available at http://www.15yultimo.com/.[3] The economic war that was unleashed against Venezuela in around 2012 has the following components:

  • Hoarding of basic foodstuffs and items of basic necessities including medicines
  • Gigantic operations of contraband of foodstuffs, items of basic necessities and gasoline to Colombia to take advantage of the massive exchange rate differential thus selling them at several times their Venezuelan, heavily-subsidised, prices
  • Currency speculation taking advantage of the Bolivar’s low exchange rate which occurs on a large scale principally in the municipality of Cucuta, across the border in Colombia
  • Catastrophic fall of the oil price brought about deliberately as a geopolitical weapon aimed at crushing the economies or Russia, Iran and Venezuela (in 2008 the world price of oil was US$148 the barrel, by 2016 had fallen below US$28 the barrel, in consequence the Venezuelan government lost about 85% of its revenues in hard currency)
  • International financial blockade of Venezuela thus seeking to make it impossible for our nation to obtain credits in the international financial market.

All of these aspects of the economic war against Venezuela take place in a highly unfavourable world context for commodity-producing nations because they were all hit very hard by the world “credit crunch” which has also affected the advanced economies most of whom went into acute crises. In short, most of the economic difficulties Venezuela faces are either domestically induced or externally generated.

On top of this, last month Julio Borges, head of the Venezuelan parliament, sent more than a dozen letters to major banks asking them not to carry out transactions with the Venezuelan government. The financial blockade is a central component on the ongoing economic war against our country. The strategy to artificially create a situation where basic foodstuffs and medicines are in short supply is not new. The same happened to Chile in the early seventies, where economic warfare was one of the many dirty methods used to oust the democratically elected government of the socialist President Salvador Allende. In spite of the intensity of the ongoing economic warfare against Venezuela, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has declared Venezuela a country where the percentage of undernourished persons, relative to the whole population, was less than 5 % during the years 2014-2016 (the same percentage as in Western Europe), that is, though there problems, there is no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

  1. POSTPONEMENT OF REGIONAL ELECTIONS:

Postponement of the regional elections has been falsely portrayed as a government “strategy” to suppress elections altogether. In reality, the main reason for the postponement was to give smaller parties the chance to comply with all legal requirements necessary (first and foremost the 0,5 % signature threshold) in order to participate in elections, as indicated in the “Law on Political Parties, Public Assemblies and Demonstrations” (Title I, Chapter III, Article 26). Nonetheless, on 23 May, the National Electoral Council (CNE) set 10 December 2017 as the date for regional elections in Venezuela. Yet, despite the fact the Venezuela’s right wing opposition has unleashed the current wave of violence on the false argument that elections have been totally suppressed in Venezuela, instead of welcoming the CNE announcement of regional elections in Dec 2017 as a victory, they have instead rejected it and have strongly hinted that they would boycott these elections (something they also did to their detriment in 2005). In other words, we confront an opposition that does not believe in democracy.

It is important to stress here that the 19 elections held throughout the last 17 years, have all been declared as completely transparent, free and fair by the Carter Centre, the Organization of American States, European Union observers and other international election observers.

  1. WHY HAS THERE NOT BEEN A RECALL REFERENDUM?

The answer is simple: according to the Venezuelan Constitution, a recall referendum needs to be carried out before half-term of the leader who may be recalled from office (Arts 72 and 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution). Opposition parties had not presented the signatures necessary for the referendum before half-term (July 2016). Carrying out a recall referendum after that deadline would be unconstitutional, just like calling general elections outside the period established in our Constitution would be unlawful. Venezuela is the only country in the world that can recall elected representatives at every level.

  1. SEPARATION OF POWERS DOES EXIST IN VENEZUELA

Separation of powers in Venezuela exists within the framework of the principles stipulated in the 1999 Constitution, as it is the case in most countries. The best example of this has been the recent debate about the Supreme Court (TSJ) on the National Assembly, after stating that Parliament remained in contempt of Supreme Court previous rulings. The opposition-led National Assembly repeatedly refused to process ordinary, uncontroversial but above all constitutional initiatives from the government, such as investment decisions, financing of infrastructure projects, and so forth. The Supreme Court made a ruling to itself approve such Executive initiatives from there on. Venezuela’s Attorney General disagreed on the grounds that it might contravene some principles of the Constitution. Faced with a divergence that emerged among two key state bodies – normal in any nation, which conclusively confirms the independence of all state bodies – the matter was resolved through a discussion in the appropriate body, the Defence Council of the State.

  1. VENEZUELA LEAVING THE OAS

The General Secretary of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, has violated the fundamental principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of its member states, acting against a number of articles of the OAS Charter. Almagro’s almost daily statements against he government of Venezuela have no precedent even in the murky story of the OAS. Every single such statement by Almagro on Venezuela breaks not only the sacred principle of non interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign nation but they also scandalously contravenes the OAS own Charter which in its Article 1, stipulates that The Organization of American States has no powers other than those expressly conferred upon it by this Charter, none of whose provisions authorizes it to intervene in matters that are within the internal jurisdiction of the Member States.” Despite repeated attempts by the OAS Secretary General to apply the Democratic Charter against Venezuela and suspend it from the OAS, this has failed. It is important to stress here that the OAS has never taken the decision to apply the Democratic Charter to Venezuela as Almagro and many media keep falsely asserting. Furthermore, none of Luis Almagro’s pronouncements against the government of Venezuela have ever got the endorsement of the OAS, of any of its bodies or the OAS Permanent Council (though there are some governments in the region that do share Almagro’s views on Venezuela, notably Brazil’s Temer golpista government). Nevertheless, working hand in hand with the Venezuelan opposition and the US government, Secretary Almagro has abused his role in order to help create an impression of Venezuela as a failed state and put pressure on other countries to do so as well, with the explicit intention to bring about external intervention. Such development has no precedent in the history of OAS. His actions have prompted calls for resignation by Chilean legislators, the Bolivian Foreign Ministry and progressive social movements in the region, such as the Salvadorian Network in Solidarity with Venezuela.

  1. US ILLEGAL FINANCING OF VENEZUELA’S OPPOSITION: ‘REGIME CHANGE’

As part of her research, Eva Golinger, an American solicitor, has revealed that between 2002 and at least 2014, the US Government has channelled around 120 million US dollars to finance Venezuelan opposition parties and organizations[4]. This flow of money represents a violation of the Political Sovereignty and National Self-Determination Act of 2010 that bans foreign funding of political groups in the country. The US Government has sent this funding to Venezuelan opposition groups mainly through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and USAID, all of which have worked closely with the CIA to bring about “regime change” in Venezuela. The spirit of this huge influx of resources was confirmed by President Obama’s Executive Order of 9 March 2015, and renewed a year later, which falsely declares Venezuela to be “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. If you bring this funding to the US scale it would amount to a hostile foreign power channelling the equivalent of US$6.4 billion to bring about regime change.

  1. FIGHT AGAINST ILLICIT DRUGS:

Venezuela is not a drug-producing country, but it unfortunately sits between the world’s largest cocaine producer, Colombia, and the world’s largest cocaine consumer, the United States. This  is why it always had and still has to fight illicit trafficking as well as  international narco-mafias within its borders. Venezuela has developed a comprehensive strategy to fight illicit drugs through international cooperation, the implementation of measures to reduce domestic consumption, the interception of illegal drug shipments, the destruction of clandestine airstrips, border monitoring measures and the detention and extradition of drug traffickers. Between 2008 and 2012 alone, 102 drug lords were captured and arrested. Twenty-one of them were promptly deported to the US and 36 to Colombia, at the requests made by the authorities of these countries and in compliance with international agreements on the fight against organized crime. The firm determination to combat international drug trafficking mafias led President Nicolas Maduro to enact a law in 2012 enabling the interdiction of any drug-trafficking aircraft violating Venezuelan airspace. Thanks to this legal instrument, Venezuela has destroyed, disabled or brought down over 100 aircraft belonging to the drug transporting structure of Colombia and other countries illegally flying over our territory. In fact, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDC) recognises these efforts in their World Drug Report of 2015 stating that

In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, cocaine seizures decreased to 20.5 tons in 2013 (from 27.6 tons in 2012). According to authorities in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the country remains a transit point for cocaine, particularly cocaine trafficked by air in private aircraft, but newly introduced legislative changes related to air traffic control have decreased the entry and exit of uncontrolled aircraft, which has led to a decrease in drug trafficking by air (54).

  1. WHY SO MANY FAKE NEWS ABOUT VENEZUELA?

Ever since President Chavez passed away in 2013 and, even more openly, since the opposition won a parliamentary majority in 2015, Venezuela’s opposition has tried to oust the democratically elected government of Venezuela, explicitly stating that their aim as to “get rid” of President Maduro within six months, no matter how. As it was clear by the end of 2016 they had failed to do so whether by legal or violent means, so they have adopted an international strategy. Their plan is to create the impression that chaos reigns in the country so as to justify and bring about external intervention. With the overwhelming majority of the media in opposition hands, and with the enthusiastic support of the world corporate media, a campaign of intoxicating proportions has been waged daily against the Venezuelan government. This strategy has already been tried in the past, with the help of the US government, as evidenced in declassified papers.

In spite of all these years of economic warfare, financial blockades, media and psychological warfare against the government of Nicolas Maduro, we have managed to build 1.7 million heavily subsidised houses in the last three years. More than 1 million people have been lifted from illiteracy and the number of people receiving pensions and students has increased fourfold.

So as to respond to the food shortages resulting from the ongoing “economic war” waged against our government, in March 2016, the Local Committees for Supply and Production (CLAPs) were established. CLAPs distribute food packs filled with the most important Venezuelan staples such as pasta, rice, flour, edible oil, coffee, butter, canned food or salt at a fair price. According to the research institute Hinterlaces, 60 % of all Venezuelans believe that CLAP is the right way to deal with the economic crisis in Venezuela. So far, the 30.000 CLAPs in Venezuela are distributing food packs to about 6 million households. Even the opposition admits that the CLAPs are working effectively and that they have helped ease social tensions. According to Datanalisis, 50 % of Venezuela’s population receives products through the CLAPs. In addition, in 2016 the government created three new ministries commissioned to address the current food shortages in Venezuela: The Ministry for Agricultural Production and Lands, the Ministry of Fishing and Aquaculture as well as the Ministry for Urban Agriculture. The latter in particular is expected by 2020 to satisfy the needs of more than 3 million people through urban gardens, urban parcels, productive courtyards, organoponics vegetable gardens and urban greenhouses.

  1. US FOREING POLICY TOWARDS VENEZUELA

It is well known that practically since 1999, US foreign policy towards the Bolivarian government of Venezuela has been informed by (a) an intense hostility originating and (b) its very existence is as an “anomaly” to be reversed as soon as possible. Thus, the US since 1999 has been centrally involved in every single seditious effort to overthrow the democratically elected and legitimate government of Venezuela, notably in the April 2002 short-lived coup d’état. That is, for 18 years US foreign policy has sought to eradicate lock, stock and barrel, what it considers the anomaly of the Bolivarian government and its policies.

This US framework did not change one iota even when there was a wave of progressive governments that came to office in Latin America shifting the whole region sharply to the left thus historically producing the biggest gains in social progress, expansion of democracy and strengthening of national sovereignty, with millions being taken out of poverty and many more millions being economically, politically, socially and culturally included in their nations. In other words, the Bolivarian “anomaly” spread like wildfire throughout the continent. US foreign policy makers instead of reshaping policy to take stock of the new context seeking to minimise ruptures by adopting a constructive attitude to the emerging geopolitical reality, the change towards Cuba notwithstanding, it launched itself into a vigorous policy of destabilization and “regime change” on a continental scale which targeted Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, but the emphasis was Venezuela where the destabilization intensity was and continues to be the highest.

Following years of open hostility especially during G.W. Bush’s presidencies, it reached its zenith when president Obama issued the infamous Executive Order declaring Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” in 2015 which he renewed in 2016, and that under president Trump has taken the form of sanctions against Venezuela officials accused of drug trafficking without bothering to produce any evidence whatsoever. Worse, the US SOUTHCOM has made very threatening statements talking about a “compelling” need to intervene in Venezuela.

President Trump and the US extreme right have massively intensified their aggression against the Venezuelan government, but despite that President Maduro insists on seeking dialogue and good, normal relations with the US. Likewise, President insists on seeking a dialogue with Venezuela’s right wing opposition. In other words, Venezuela wants nothing more than

 

  1. Demand full respect for international law and unconditional support for our right to self-determination and sovereignty
  2. The rejection of any form of interference in our internal matters, especially from the US, international law ought to be respected
  3. The condemnation of any form of violence and of any illegal, violent and unconstitutional means to topple the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro.
  4. And together with UNASUR, the Vatican, the three former presidents and the various countries that have formally joined the process, support dialogue and peace
  5. Any existing difference or disagreement that may exist between Venezuela and the US to be addressed and ideally resolve through constructive engagement and diplomacy
  6. HOW BIG IS THE WAVE OF VIOLENCE?

Opposition protests are taking place in less than 1% of the Venezuelan territory. The majority of the Venezuelan people wants to live in peace and has grown tired of the ongoing protests, which make their life even more difficult. Polls persistently show that well over 80% reject the right wing opposition’s wanton violence. The Venezuelan government has insisted all along on dialogue and has reached out to include Pope Francis as well as the former Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in the discussions. Recently, President Maduro, invoking Arts 347, 348 and 349 of the Constitution, has announced a Constituent Assembly to modify the 1999 Constitution so as to unlock the current political impasse and bring about peace. Although fully in line with our laws, this act has falsely been called a “coup d’état” by opposition leaders, who since 2013 have continually campaigned for a Constituent Assembly even collecting signatures for it. It is puzzling they quietly dropped the proposal when Art 348 states that it can also be called by “15% of the voters registered with the Civil and Electoral Registry”, something they could easily achieve. The Venezuelan government will continue to act fully line with the Venezuelan Constitution of 1999 and asks you to respect and support its efforts for peace and dialogue. Furthermore, Venezuela’s right wing opposition’s alleged central reason for the current wave of violence was the “cancellation” of the regional elections. The National Electoral Council has just announced they will be held on 10th December 2017 but, true to their undemocratic and seditious nature, all opposition leaders have rejected and have said publicly they oppose these elections in the same way they now violently oppose the Constituent Assembly which they once strongly campaigned for.

 

We are happy to provide more evidence for every single point mentioned above. Please do not hesitate to contact us at cbalbertolovera@gmail.com

[1] All the information comes from the U.S. Code – Unannotated Title 18. Crimes and Criminal Procedure – See more at: http://codes.findlaw.com/us/title-18-crimes-and-criminal-procedure/#!tid=NE93D63E2CF2444E4AF661A26F1A907B8  (visited 8th June 2017)

[2] All the information about the list of fatal victims comes from “Lista de fallecidos por las protestas violentas de la oposición venezolana, abril a junio de 2017” Albaciudad 96.3FM, http://albaciudad.org/2017/06/lista-fallecidos-protestas-venezuela-abril-2017/ (visited 8th June 2017)

[3]For a discussion in English, consult Dr. Curcio’s latest book “The visible hand of the market. Economic Warfare in Venezuela”, to be downloaded at: http://www.15yultimo.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/THE-VISIBLE-HAND-OF-THE-MARKET.-ECONOMIC-WARFARE-IN-VENEZUELA.-PASQUALINA-CURCIO-C.pdf

[4] http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/25/the-dirty-hand-of-the-national-endowment-for-democracy-in-venezuela/

Right-Wing Terrorism in Venezuela

June 11, 2017

COHA.org

By Frederick B. Mills, Guest Scholar at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, and William Camacaro, Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

One May 20th, the 21 year old vendor from the shanty town of Petare,  Orlando José Figueras, was beaten, stabbed, doused with gasoline and set on fire by opposition militants in the middle class neighborhood of Altamira during an anti-government demonstration reportedly because they took him for a Chavista or a thief. This atrocity has sent tremors throughout the popular barrios and raised the profile of terrorism from the right in Venezuela. The horrific scene was captured on video and by professional photographer, Marco Bello, and described in testimonies of the victim and his parents. Other demonstrators at the scene reportedly urged the attackers not to kill Figueras as he pleaded for his life.  What happened to Figueras, who has lived to tell his story, is impossible to ignore, and it casts light on the hatred and savagery of some radical and extremist supporters of the opposition in Venezuela.

This hostility did not emerge overnight. An intensifying rhetoric aimed at vilifying and stigmatizing  all Chavistas, often mixed with racism and bigotry, has motivated a growing number of hate crimes and assaults as well as the destruction of symbols of Chavismo. This destruction is manifest in recent vandalizing of government buildings; the Hospital Materno Infantil Hugo Chávez (Hugo Chavez Maternity Hospital); a fleet of buses, and the humble house of a Chavista artisan in the state of Merida. There have even been a number of cases recently where Chavistas, their family members, and perceived sympathizers have been harassed by opposition supporters in the U.S., Italy, Spain, and Australia.

Since some of the anti-government violence and road blocks occur in opposition governed municipalities, in too many cases with impunity, eight mayors have been served notice by Venezuela’s Supreme Court to restore order in accord with their legal obligations. There is also growing pressure on a reluctant Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Díaz, whose allegiance to the government appears to be wavering, to vigorously investigate, and where appropriate prosecute, all of these crimes.

Despite the political polarization that has gripped Venezuela, hatred and violence does not garner broad support in this Bolivarian Republic. According to an April 2017 Hinterlaces poll, 80% of Venezuelans are “in disagreement” with the violent demonstrations and guarimbas [street disturbances] as instruments of protest. Most Venezuelans want peace and support talks between the opposition and the government.

Generalizing about either the opposition or Chavismo will inevitably distort the complex political landscape in Venezuela. The opposition to the Maduro administration includes a diversity of political orientations, from extreme right to social democrat and many of the opposition parties come under the umbrella of the United Democratic Roundtable (MUD). There are also a number of dissident groups on the left, including ones that consider themselves Chavista, but unlike the MUD, none of those groups are appealing for U.S. intervention to advance their agendas.

Most anti-government demonstrators are expressing their dissent peacefully and have legitimate concerns and demands. Many in the opposition argue that the government is undemocratic and corrupt, and that the security forces repress lawful protest. The Maduro administration argues that it is fighting corruption; that there is a U.S. backed coup underway in Venezuela; and that security forces are dealing not only with lawful demonstrations, but also with various levels of anti-government violence, including hate crimes, sabotage, barricades, destruction of property, sniper fire, and armed attacks on police and Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), some of which have been lethal. In the midst of these challenges, Chavistas are still able to mobilize sizable peaceful demonstrations, such as the ones on Venezuelan Independence Day (April 19), and on May 1, to defend national sovereignty and the Bolivarian project.

Some of those in the front lines of anti-government street disturbances are minors, equipped with expensive gas masks and helmets, shields, and at times, Molotov cocktails and homemade weapons. In some middle class municipalities governed by MUD politicians, there is growing impatience among residents for having to suffer the indignity of being ruled by masked children and youth, while oftentimes police look the other way. In such communities these one time “heroes of the resistance” have worn out their welcome. The government has described  these children as victims and delivered a report to UNICEF on May 25th documenting violations of the laws that protect children from exploitation.

Government officials in Venezuela reported the arrests of six paramilitaries from Colombia in the state of Tachira last week, who are allegedly contracted by radical right-wing opponents of the government. These claims deserve some serious investigation by an independent body rather than being derisively dismissed as unworthy of consideration. This is critically important because these ultra right-wing elements arguably aim at terrorizing the general population, exacerbating the economic crisis, and ultimately creating sufficient chaos in Venezuela so as to legitimate a so called “humanitarian” intervention by the United States. If this is the case, the Venezuelan people ought to be commended, even at this late date, for not releasing the dogs of war on a large scale. Venezuelans want peace.

Venezuela Analysis (VA) keeps track, on a daily basis, of the causes of recent deaths in Venezuela.  In a recent summary, VA reports:

“The latest killing brings the death toll in seven weeks of anti-government protests to at least 55, including eight confirmed deaths at the hands of authorities and eighteen people killed by opposition violence. The Public Prosecution has confirmed that at least 972 people have been injured in the unrest to date.

The protests have likewise seen widespread attacks on public and private property, including 115 businesses looted nationwide, reports Últimas Noticias.

In the latest incident of public property destruction, Bolivar state Governor Francisco Rangel Gomez has confirmed that 54 public-operated TransBolivar buses were set on fire early Monday morning, leaving 51 of the units totally destroyed.” (Lucas Koerner, May 22, 2017; see update)

All such violence and killings, incontestably,  ought to draw indignation. A number of police and GNBpersonnel have been arrested and charged with crimes by Venezuelan authorities for violations of human rights, including homicide. These abuses are widely reported as should all violations of human rights, including those caused by opposition political violence.

With regard to the MUD’s bid to enter popular barrios to recruit for their cause, The MUD is not likely to get significant traction.  Despite the severe economic crisis, which has been exacerbated by an economic war reminiscent of the tactics used to bring down Salvador Allende, Chavistas and most social movements have not jumped on the MUD train and have defended their neighborhoods from the entrance of opposition militants. The image of Figueras on fire; the assassination of the young Chavista legislator Robert Serra and his wife (October 2014); and the historic memory of the Caracazo (February 1989) are all vivid reminders of the fate that could await Chavistas under a MUD “transition”.

Hate crimes, and the terrorist violence of paramilitaries and the ultra right, as well as the presence of so many children in the ranks of opposition militants at the barricades, is not just a problem for Venezuelans; it could soon pose a political problem for Washington and its allies in the OAS, which justify their blatantinterventionism in the name of human rights and democratic values. As Patricio Zamorano points out, Secretary Luis Almagro’s extreme partisanship on behalf of the Venezuelan opposition has not only (deliberately or not)  given the green light to hard liners within the opposition camp;  it has also undermined talks being promoted by Pope Francis. Almagro now has the infamous distinction in the region of severely damaging the institutional legitimacy of the OAS in order to do Washington’s bidding.

The State Department views Venezuela as an obstacle to the rehabilitation of United States hegemony in the region and it sees the OAS as an instrument for imposing its agenda. There is no mystery over this. In an unusual display of candor,  the State Department, in its Congressional Budget Justification for FY 2018, states:

“The Organization of American States (OAS) promotes U.S. political and economic interests in the Western Hemisphere by countering the influence of anti-U.S. countries such as Venezuela and by promoting free and fair elections and building international support for the peace accord in Colombia and rebuilding efforts in Haiti.“ (p. 180)

The OAS ought to take issue with such a statement and insist that the organization should be promoting the “political and economic interests” of all the member states in the spirit of new regional organizations that have worked overtime to buttress the region against an excess of U.S. manipulation.

Such manipulation and meddling is obvious in the case of Venezuela. Obama’s executive order declaring Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”; targeted sanctions against the government; funding for opposition organizations; as well as recent meetings between opposition leaders and U.S. officials; have provided the opposition with the confidence to stay the course for nothing less than regime change without delay.  Ironically, the MUD rejects the regional elections scheduled for December 10, 2017 for which it previously had been clamoring; repudiates the constituent assembly process; demands the release of “political prisoners”; and refuses talks with the Maduro administration mediated by Pope Francis and supported by the UN, CARICOM and other regional partners, as well as the majority of Venezuelans.

It is urgently important to condemn not only abuses by security forces, but also the selective assassinations and hate crimes against Chavistas.  The MUD leadership’s failure so far to denounce all terrorist violence and to completely repudiate the use of children at the barricades, as well as the continued reluctance of some opposition mayors to act to restore public order in their municipalities, is not consistent with a principled stand on human rights.  Although so far anti-government violence is limited to a few parts of the country, attempts at plunging this South American nation into chaos in order to justify foreign intervention ought to set off alarm bells for all progressive forces.

By Frederick B. Mills, Guest Scholar at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, and William Camacaro, Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Featured Image: Fifty-four public buses were torched in Ciudad Guyana on May 22. Taken from: @TransBolivar

Venezuelan Revolutionaries Demand ‘Truly Communal State’

May 13, 2017

 

Puebla, Mexico, May 13, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas this week to rally in support of the country’s commune movement.

Socialist revolutionaries from across the country joined the march, calling on the government of President Nicolas Maduro to endorse a proposal to provide constitutional recognition of communes. Currently, the commune movement has broad legal recognition, but isn’t included in the country’s constitution. However, commune supporters are optimistic that could soon change, with Maduro recently calling for constitutional reform.

“The commune is the essence of the people,” said Frank Corrales from the Guerrero JiraJara Socialist Commune.

Speaking to Venezuelanalysis during a rally on Tuesday, Corrales said, “We know what we really need [and] … it is in us to truly prepare, from the grassroots, the transformation of this state into a truly communal state.”

“We have to keep transforming the state, into a socialist state, where the largest possible amount of happiness is brought to all of the people. The commune or nothing!” he said.

Venezuela currently has around 1500 communes and 45,000 communal councils nationwide, with members numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Supporters say these communes are organised through direct democracy, with the backing of the Maduro administration.

To find out more, check out the video below.

DEFEAT THE COUP AGAINST THE BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC

May 13, 2017

An open letter to the people, from the Communist Party of Venezuela

To our compatriot Nicolas Maduro, President of the Republic; to the working class and working people of the city and countryside; to the patriotic officers, classes, and soldiers of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces; to the national leadership and militancy of the political parties and popular organisations of the Great Patriotic Pole, including the United Socialist Party.

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela finds itself threatened yet again by acts of political violence from sectors of the extreme right as part of the execution of a destabilising plan elaborated by North American imperialism.

This plan has as its objective the imposition through force and blackmail of a government which would work to maintain US hegemony throughout the continent, taking apart the processes of national liberation which begun across Latin America at the start of this century, and turning back progressive advances which have allowed the working class and the people in general to establish rights and social advances which were historically denied them by governments which responded absolutely to the interests of the bourgeoisie, which in itself acted as a subordinate to North American imperialism.

On this occasion the aggressive escalation against our people by those actors of the oligarchy and extreme right is much greater.

Apart from the anti-popular violent acts resulting in the creation of shortages and the high cost of living, terrorist acts have been seen in various cities across the country in recent weeks.

These acts have been accompanied by a national and international propaganda war which looks to sew confusion and instigate confrontation between nations, creating a state of chaos and violence which only favours a bloody resolution of the political crisis, be it through a coup or a direct intervention by North American imperialism and the international institutions at its beck and call.

The Venezuelan extreme right, following instructions from US imperialism and with its direct financing, does not control itself in its crimes of violence and provocation.

With such objectives in mind, the pro-US right are pressuring military officers with diverse forces of blackmail and manipulation.

We call on the patriotic soldiers and officers to not cede to these unpatriotic terrorists and to take up the cause of the defence of our national sovereignty and our independence and the security of our people without hesitation and with complete commitment.

For us, the Venezuelan communists, it is clear that what is happening is the sharpening of the class struggle in its political form — the heightening of the struggle for power. The forces which represent the interests of European and North American great monopoly capital are attempting to take over control of Venezuela and all Latin America by defeating and vanquishing the social and political sectors which offer resistance to such objectives.

In light of the dangerous terrorist escalation, which is putting our national sovereignty, independence, and the gains of the working people at risk, we call for a unified, forceful, and coherent response. It is necessary to mobilise without delay the widest possible anti-imperialist alliance to defeat the anti-democratic terrorist plans.

We urgently need the central government, the parties of the Great Patriotic Pole, the forces of the popular and working-class movement, and the patriotic command of the armed forces to work together.

It is necessary to develop a popular and patriotic plan to defeat the pro-imperialist and terrorist extreme right. To not do so would be to act with irresponsibility and, in reality, to hand oneself over without a fight.

The true revolutionaries do not hand ourselves over, we fight united until we succeed.

The Venezuelan working class needs that the sectors of the petit-bourgeoisie which currently hold hegemonic power in the national executive, the other powers of state and parties of government, immediately abandon all sectarian and selfish conduct which has only weakened the Bolivarian process and effectively works in favour of the enemies’ plans.

The Communist Party of Venezuela has insisted for many years for the need for a collective and unified national leadership of this Bolivarian process of changes, but the petit-bourgeoisie groupings which have exercised hegemonic control over the government have not paid attention to these calls and proposals.

Hence, in the current context we insist on unity of action of all the political and social forces willing to defend the nation against the imperialist enemy and their puppets.

However also, in the context of a wavering and inconsequent petit-bourgeoisie in power, we call upon the most conscientious and combative sectors of the popular and workers’ movements, the peasantry, the middle strata, the revolutionary intellectuals and the patriotic officers to forge a block of forces which will lead the wide patriotic and anti-imperialist alliance so as to halt the seditious plans of the pro-US right and also so as to displace the reformist-appeasement sectors which, from positions of government, tend to favour the sectors of the big bourgeoisie and form pacts with social democratic elements of the right wing.

Only an ample, popular unity, led by the organised and conscientious working class can guarantee the defence of the Bolivarian nation and the deepening of the revolutionary changes towards the real construction of socialism on scientific and committed foundations.

Peace is won by defeating fascism.

Protest Against the State Department’s Hitman: The General Secretary of the OAS, Luis Almagro.

May 11, 2017

Please join us to protest Luis Almagro who has become a serious problem for peace in the region. Luis Almagro is an agent of the State Department, who works for the armaments industry complex of this nation and whose goal is to subject the peoples of the Americas to the boots of the Pentagon.

When:

Wednesday May 17 @ 11:30 AM to 3:00PM

Where:

Americas Society Council of the Americas 680 (bet. 68th & 69th St.)Park Avenue New York, NY

Why

 Secretary General of the OAS Luis Almagro is a Threat to Peace in Venezuela

Despite the massive abuse of human rights in Honduras, Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico the Secretary General appears to be singularly focused on bringing about regime change in Venezuela. Moreover, Almagro now appears willing to facilitate a slide towards civil war and imperial intervention in Venezuela even though U.S. military intervention would be catastrophic and deal a serious blow to regional independence.

The situation is volatile. Colombian paramilitaries have been infiltrating the country and there has already been a deadly confrontation with Bolivarian security forces. At the same time, the ultra right inside Venezuela is engaging in mounting selective assassinations and acts of terrorism and sabotage. The right wing coalition of political parties (MUD) now refuses all dialog and is set on the path of confrontation. The large majority of Venezuelans, however, want peace.

On May 6, the head of the National Assembly, Julio Borges, met in Washington with Trump’s National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster. On May 9, the opposition voice Lilian Tintori called for a military coup. On the same day Secretary Almagro, spoke, via video conference, to the Venezuelan National Assembly. He declared that “Venezuela is a dictatorship” and that Maduro’s call for a constituent assembly was “undemocratic” as if it were up to the Secretary General instead of Venezuelan citizens to decide such issues.

The US—Almagro campaign for regime change has further polarized the politics in Venezuela. Each call by Almagro over the past year to invoke the democratic charter against Venezuela or suspend this nation from the OAS has only emboldened the right wing opposition to take a hard line. It is no surprise then, that the opposition now refuses all dialog with the government, has called for early presidential elections, rejects the constituent assembly, and refuses to rein in the ultra right’s terrorism unleashed on the streets.  The US-Almagro strategy is to bring a “quick” solution to the conflict.  They know that the longer it takes to bring down the government, the more likely the popular sectors will buy into the constituent assembly process and join the resistance to a US backed right wing coup.

Almagro is now fully exposed as a hypocrite and lackey of US power. He cannot be a friend of peace while countenancing assassinations and the burning of public buildings. He cannot be an effective advocate of democracy by brandishing the threat of North American aggression as political leverage. He cannot consistently champion the Venezuelan constitution and call for early presidential elections. If he really wants to help Venezuela in this moment of crisis, Almagro should call on Washington to repeal Obama’s executive order declaring Venezuela an extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States and he should insist that the opposition join Vatican mediated talks.

To endorse this action: cbalbertolovera@gmail.com

Bolivarian Circle Alberto Lovera NY, International Action Center, Worker World Party, Cuba Solidarity New York, Alianza Pais, Libre Resistencia Hondureña, Pastor for Peace, International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, The Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee, International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity, Fuerza de la Revolución, December 12th Movement, SOUTH ASIAN FUND FOR EDUCATION,SCHOLARSHIP AND TRAINING (SAFEST).

Take Action Today to Support Venezuela’s Democracy

May 5, 2017

Democrat and Republican senators have introduced a bill to further disrupt Venezuela’s political system with the goal of imposing regime change. We support Pope Frances’ call for dialogue between “ the government and all the components of the Venezuelan society so that every further form of violence is avoided, human rights are respected and negotiated solutions are sought to the humanitarian, social, political and economic crises, which are exhausting the people.” Please write a letter to your two Senators telling them to keep their Hands off Venezuela!

You can automatically send a letter by clicking here.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced a destabilization bill in the Senate in the guise of a humanitarian response to the economic and political crisis Venezuela is confronting. The purpose of the bill is neither to help solve Venezuela’s economic crisis, nor to help bring violent elements in the opposition to the table to discuss peaceful solutions to Venezuela’s problems.

Its purpose is to further destabilize Venezuela’s economy and democracy in order to remove elected President Nicolas Maduro and to crush Hugo Chavez’ Bolivarian Movement which brought hope of a better life to millions around the world. If Senators were serious about responding to a humanitarian crisis they would concentrate their attention on Haiti which is still suffering neglect after the deadly earthquake of 2009. Or concentrate on Honduras which suffered a military coup in 2009 followed by a faux election in which the democratic opposition was not allowed to campaign under a State of Emergency. Honduras’ 2013 election was marred by widespread cheating and the victor of that “election” is this year running for reelection without even changing the constitutional ban on reelection.

Instead, Senators are focused on Venezuela where the government lost 80% of revenue in recent years due to low oil prices and where former US President Jimmy Carter himself said that Venezuela has the best electoral system of any country he has monitored.

We have to call our Senators on their gross hypocrisy. Regardless of whether we agree on all the steps the Venezuelan government has taken to confront the two crises, we can agree that the US government does not have the best interests of Venezuelans at heart. We can agree that no act of the US government to intervene in Venezuela’s internal affairs will improve the lives of Venezuelans. We defend the national sovereignty of all countries and oppose US intervention in the sovereign affairs of our neighboring countries and demand US Hands Off Venezuela!

Click here to send a letter to your Senators.

Background: What is in Senate bill S-1018?

Regime change in Venezuela has been official US government policy throughout the regimes of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump. The US has used its arsenal of regime change tools short of directly sending in military troops. The US has attempted to demonize first President Hugo Chavez and now his successor Nicolas Maduro. The US has implemented economic warfare to “make the economy scream” – as Henry Kissinger said when the US  worked toward regime change in Chile. The US has spent tens of millions of dollars to fund the Venezuelan opposition, including the factions of it that seek the violent overthrow of the democratically-elected government.

Some of the highlights of bill S-1018 are:

*The bill claims there are 108 political prisoners, naming a number of opposition leaders including some found responsible for deaths during the violent demonstrations following the 2015 presidential election won by President Maduro.
*While US-dominated financial institutions block international loans to Venezuela, the bill reverses the reality and “Calls on Venezuelan President Maduro to permit humanitarian assistance, immediately release all political prisoners, and seek assistance from international financial institutions.”
*The bill authorizes $10 million for the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide “humanitarian assistance” which is code for funding the opposition, including the violent opposition.
* It backs OAS General Secretary Almagro’s campaign to invoke the OAS Democratic Charter against Venezuela as a means to directly intervene to allegedly “restore democracy.” Almagro’s campaign has failed to pass the OAS General Assembly and has resulted in Venezuela’s announcement to withdraw its membership from the OAS.

 

* The bill “Authorizes $500,000 to support future OAS election observation missions and $9.5 million for democratic civil society organizations working to defend human rights.” In effect, this means funding opposition parties in an OAS-controlled future Venezuela national election when in fact Venezuela’s electoral process is more tamper-proof than that of the US, therefore needing no international monitoring.
* Calls for a report on the “involvement of Venezuelan government officials in corruption and the illicit drug trade,” and calls for US sanctions which could be used as a tool to exclude Chavista leaders from international meetings and from running in future elections.

 

Act now to send a message to your Senators to keep their Hands Off Venezuela!

Upside down

April 27, 2017
Pasqualina Curcio
 
25/04/2017

One hundred thirty years ago, after visiting wonderland, Alice went through a mirror to discover the world in reverse. If Alice were to be reborn in our days [and in Venezuela], she would not need to go through any mirrors; it would be enough to look out the window.
Eduardo Galeano

1. Venezuela is one of the few countries, if not the only, with a dictatorial regime whose dictator exercises tyranny after having abandoned office– and who, as a dictator, commits a self-coup. In January 2017, the National Assembly, with the vote of the opposition majority, decided that President Nicolás Maduro had left office. A month later, the same representatives incorporated it into their discourse that we were under a dictatorship headed by the President of the Republic (the same one who had left office a month before). And a month later, already being dictator, and according to the same representatives, this president launched a coup d’état.


2. Between 1958 and 1998, in 40 years, 24 electoral processes were carried out, an average of 1 election every 2 years. Since 1999, in 18 years, there have been 25 elections, including recall and constitutional referendums – on average, almost two elections a year. There have been 3 elections the last 4 years, since 2013. According to the opposition, since 1999, Venezuelans have been subjected to a dictatorial regime, increasingly tyrannical, especially after 2013.


3. Out of over 1,000 radio and television stations which the government has granted licenses to operate, 67% are private, 28% are in the hands of communities and 5% are state-owned. Out of the 108 newspapers, 97 are private and 11 public. 67% of the Venezuelan population has access to the internet. According to the opposition, there is no freedom of expression in Venezuela.


4. The President of the Republic, in the exercise of his functions, during the 6-year presidential term, in the face of acts of violence by local factors seeking economic, social and political destabilization, has called the opposition to a dialogue for peace. The opposition does not attend to the call; instead it promotes acts of violence in the streets. The president is a tyrant and a dictator; those who are pro-democracy are those of the opposition.

5. All political organizations (parties) are in a renewal process announced by one of the five public powers, the National Electoral Council. All of them have answered the call for renewal. Regional and municipal elections are around the corner. Meanwhile, leaders and followers of the opposition shout: We are in a dictatorship!

6. “In Venezuela, all human rights are being violated, and the Inter-American Democratic Charter must be applied”, affirmed, Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, while he was in Washington, D.C. Simultaneously, in Geneva, the United Nations overwhelmingly approved the Universal Periodic Review submitted by Venezuela, an examination to monitor the human rights situation in each of the 193 member countries of the UN.


7. The extreme right, which opposes the government, finances and promotes acts of violence and terrorism. It blocks streets, avenues and main arterial roads; it attacks schools and health facilities. In a fascist, terrorist and insane act, they used mercenaries to siege and set fire to the “Hugo Chávez Frías Maternal and Infant Hospital” in El Valle, where 58 newborns and women who were about to give birth or had just done so were suffocated by the smoke. According to the opposition, this was the responsibility of the national government, for having controlled the situation, dispersed the mercenaries and evacuated the babies and women.

8. There is a shortage of certain foods, medicines and hygiene products. The companies in charge of their production, importation and distribution, the large transnational companies, have received, from the national government, foreign currencies at preferential rates. They have received raw materials at subsidized prices. They have increased the price of products by almost 4,000% in less than a year (2016). The Venezuelan people stand in long lines to acquire these products. Goods remain absent from the shelves. In Venezuela this situation is not because of the inefficiency of the private enterprises; it is a failure of the socialist model.

 

9. Although the price was increased by 3,700% (from 19.00 bolivars in March 2016 to 700.00 bolivars in December), a figure well above the annual inflation rate, hundreds of customers stand in long lines to acquire the pre-cooked corn flour for the “arepa” (the daily bread of Venezuelans). The owners of the companies, watching all their clients face long lines to acquire their products, responded by reducing the production of this flour by 80%.

10. It is heard in radio opinion programs, especially in those with an editorial line strongly against the government: “We are in the worst economic crisis; we require humanitarian aid; we are dying of hunger; there is no food; we demand that the government open the international humanitarian channel”. Then we hear from the same stations: “And now for a commercial break … We invite you to visit Restaurant ‘X’ where you can taste a variety of meat and fish and exquisite desserts, located in such and such street; bring the whole family this weekend…” “Dear friend, are you going on holiday this Easter? Don’t miss coming to Supermarket ‘Y’ where you will find everything you are looking for: variety and freshness at good prices to enjoy an excellent holiday and rest as you deserve.” End of commercials: “Now we return with our guest for today, an expert on the economy, and we continue talking about the urgent need to open the humanitarian channel for Venezuela due to the lack of food.”


11. During the last 4 years, farmers have fully supplied the fruits and vegetables consumed by the Venezuelan people. These are small-scale producers, without much financial capacity to withstand difficult economic and financial situations. The large national and transnational agribusiness companies, large monopolies and oligopolies with the capacity to cartelize, and undoubtedly with great financial muscle, have not supplied the people despite receiving subsidized raw materials and foreign currency at a preferential exchange rate.

12. Between 1980 and 1998, within the framework of the neoliberal capitalist system, poverty increased along with economic growth. In 1999, with the popular approval of a new Constitution, the economic along with economic growth. In 1999, with the popular approval of a new Constitution, the economic and social model changed to one based on social justice. Since that year, increases in production have meant decreases in poverty. For some Venezuelans, the socialist model, which was approved in 1999, failed.


13. The main Venezuelan state company, Petróleos de Venezuela, supplies 95% of the country’s foreign currency. Another 4% comes from other state enterprises. Private companies generate the remaining 1%. In Venezuela, private companies are “efficient and successful”; those of the state are “inefficient”.

14. In Venezuela, the value of the currency in the illegal market is the marker of domestic prices of the economy. When intentionally and disproportionately manipulated, those values in illegal markets induce inflation. The government, in the face of the induced inflation, in order to protect the purchasing power of the working class, decrees salary increases. The one responsible for inflation is the government for having increased wages and not the terrorists of the economy who have manipulated by 38.732% the illegal exchange rate from 2013 to date.

15. Domestic production per capita in Venezuela for the last 4 years is, on average, 9% higher than in the last 30 years. The unemployment rate is historically the lowest in 30 years, 6.6%. Venezuela is in the “worst” crisis and in economic “chaos”.

16. The main industries in the pharmaceutical sector, which import, produce and distribute more than 90% of medicines and medical surgical supplies in Venezuela, received from the government US $ 1,660 million to import at a preferential rate in 2008. In 2015 they received US $ 1,789  million (more than in 2008). In 2008 there was no shortage of medicines; there was one in 2015. It is the government who is responsible for the lack of medicines.

 

17. Venezuela paid more than 60 billion US dollars in foreign debt commitments during the last 4 years. It did so fully and punctually. Venezuela is rated as the country with the highest financial risk index in the world.

18. Citibank abruptly decided to close the national government’s bank accounts through which payments and transfers were made to comply with financial and commercial commitments abroad. The reason was that the Venezuelan state is very risky. Citibank did not close the accounts of private individuals. Perhaps the Venezuelan state is very risky because it has the main oil reserve in the world, the second largest reserve of gas, as well as some of the largest reserves of freshwater, coltan, diamonds, gold, and other resources. Such a condition must involve a lot of risk for Citibank.

19. In the Ayacucho Hall of the Miraflores Palace, seat of the Executive Power, on April 12, 2002, Pedro Carmona Estanga was proclaimed President of the Republic, after a coup against President Hugo Chavez. In this event of self-proclamation, the following decree was read: “All representatives of the National Assembly, the president , the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice, as well as the General Attorney, the General Comptroller, the National Ombudsman, and members of the National Electoral Council are suspended.” Those present at this act in which all public powers were dissolved by a decree that constituted the greatest offense to the National Constitution, shouted excitedly: “freedom and democracy!”

20. Those who shouted “freedom and democracy!” on April 12, 2002 in the Ayacucho Hall, today approved the supposed abandonment of office of the President. They are the ones who today shout “down with the dictator!” referring to the constitutionally elected president with the majority of the votes of the Venezuelan people. In the eyes of some, they are the democrats.


21. Some Venezuelans are heard, perhaps confused or misinformed, saying: “I hope the United States’ Southern Command has decided to invade us, thus ending this failed model, and the country would prosper.” Iraq, Libya and Syria, to mention some countries bombed and invaded by the United States, are at war, have not prospered, and are destroyed. Do you have an example of a country invaded by the United States that has prospered?

22. Venezuela is an extraordinary and unusual threat to the interests of the United States. That was decreed by Barack Obama, president of the greatest empire and world military power, responsible for invasions and wars.

Venezuelan patriots, people of peace, insist that it is the other way around.

Venezuelans Flood Caracas in Pro and Anti-Maduro Marches amid Deadly Opposition Violence

April 23, 2017

Caracas, April 19, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of the capital Wednesday in massive pro and anti-government rallies marking the country’s independence day.

Thousands of red-clad supporters of President Nicolas Maduro mobilized in four separate marches that culminated in a mass rally along Bolivar Avenue in downtown Caracas.

“I am here to support the Revolution… because I love my country, I’m a Chavista in the flesh and I support Chavez and Maduro, and I want that to be heard in the US, Europe and the rest of the world so they can’t say this is a show, that we don’t have numbers, that we’re paid to be here. No, this is real,” one marcher told Venezuelanalysis.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro addresses hundreds of thousands of supporters on Bolivar Avenue in the heart of Caracas. (AVN)

The pro-government demonstration comes on the heels of a series of statements released by the US State Department and 11 neighboring countries warning the Maduro administration to “ensure the right to peaceful protest”. Caracas has blasted the communiqués as “interventionist”, calling into question the moral and legal authority of Washington and its regional allies to intercede in internal Venezuelan affairs.

Many present at Wednesday’s march likewise expressed their categorical rejection of foreign interference.

“Here we are at the largest anti-imperialist march in Venezuelan history, the US empire has done much harm and we have right-wing opposition sectors that seek the ouster of the legitimately elected government, [but] here we are in the streets, ready to give everything including our lives to prevent US boots from touching our soil,” affirmed Jesus Pinto, national secretary general for the Tupamaros National Revolutionary Movement.

The strong anti-interventionist sentiment has been reflected in a recent poll by independent pollster Hinterlaces, which found that 76 percent of Venezuelans oppose international intervention to remove President Maduro.

Meanwhile, thousands of opposition protesters marched from the Plaza Francia in the wealthy eastern Caracas municipality of Chacao towards the National Ombudsman’s office downtown, despite lacking the necessary permit from El Libertador Mayor Jorge Rodriguez.

The government has consistently denied permission for opposition supporters to march to Caracas’ western municipality of El Libertador since a short-lived opposition-led coup in 2002, triggered by an anti-government march diverted towards Miraflores Presidential Palace that left 19 dead by opposition sniper-fire.

The march was called by the right-wing opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition, which has presented the government with a hodgepodge of demands, ranging from holding postponed regional elections and allowing humanitarian aid to removing Supreme Court justices and convening snap presidential elections one year ahead of schedule.

Clashes with authorities later ensued as demonstrators took over the Francisco Fajardo Highway in an effort to reach the more pro-government western section of the capital.

Opposition supporters march along the Francisco Fajardo Highway towards downtown Caracas. (Rachael Boothroyd-Rojas/Venezuelanalysis.com).

Some opposition supporters called on the international community to aid in securing a “change of government” in the South American country.

“What I want is for today’s march to be forceful so the international community sees that we have to get rid of these people [the Maduro administration] because these people are not going to go peacefully, let the international community force elections so there is a change of government for the wellbeing of the people,” lawyer Carlos Alberto Galeano told VA.

The maximalist demand of forcing early presidential elections has grown increasingly popular among sections of the opposition’s base.

Deadly violence

According to Venezuela’s Public Prosecution, 312 people were detained during the opposition protests, which once again saw masked demonstrators erect roadblocks, damage public institutions, and launch deadly attacks on state security personnel and bystanders.

National Ombudsman Tarek William Saab has confirmed that a National Guard sergeant, Neumar Jose Sanclemente (28), was shot and killed by a “sniper” Wednesdsay evening “in the middle of violent protests in Las Salias municipality” in Miranda state. Coronel Juan Carlos Arias was also wounded in the violent demonstrations that “took place since the early hours of the morning amid condemnation by local residents”.

The killing of Sergeant Sanclemente brings the total number of dead in the recent weeks’ anti-government protests to seven, including two demonstrators killed by police and two bystanders shot dead by armed protesters.

In another incident, Venezuelan news website La Iguana reports that a National Bolivarian Police officer who fell off his motorcycle was attacked by demonstrators who allegedly pulled out four of his teeth.

In downtown Caracas, Amelina Carrillo, 47, is in critical condition after being reportedly struck in the head by a frozen bottle of water thrown from a nearby apartment building in downtown Caracas. As revealed by video footage, the woman was on her way to work when she was struck by the blunt object presumably launched at the nearby pro-government march below.

Chavista spokespeople blame the opposition for the incident, pointing to a tweet by the right-wing El Nacional newspaper columnist and Central University of Venezuela professor, Tulio Hernandez, who encouraged his followers to “neutralize” government supporters, alluding to the use of blunt objects like “flower pots” as weapons.

Responding to the president’s ordered deployment of Bolivarian militia as part of nationwide civil-military drills to safeguard national security known as Plan Zamora, Hernandez wrote Tuesday evening, “If every Venezuelan democrat neutralizes a member of Plan Zamora, they are militarily defeated. Even flower plants count.”

The Venezuelan Public Prosecutor’s office has indicated that a total of 62 people were wounded across the country in the course of the day’s mobilizations.

Three more people were additionally killed in various incidents not related to the Wednesday’s protests.

Carlos José Moreno, 17, was shot in the head at approximately 11am in San Bernardino, one of Caracas’ most dangerous neighborhoods. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he later died during surgery.

Family members of the victim confirmed that Moreno was not a protester and the death was unrelated to the nearby demonstrations. Venezuela’s Public Prosecution has ordered Metropolitan Caracas District Attorney Farik Mora Salcedo to investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, in Tachira state, authorities are investigating the death of Paola Andreina Ramirez, 22, who died of a gunshot wound to the chest. According to National Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, the alleged culprit, Ivan Alexis Pernia, has been detained by authorities in San Cristobal and has confessed to the crime. The 31-year-old businessman had reportedly opened fire at motorcyclists from his apartment when he accidentally shot and killed Ramirez. Venezuela’s Public Prosecution has announced that man will soon be indicted by local prosecutors.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol declared that Pernia is an active member of Maria Corina Machado’s party Vente Venezuela, though the  ultra-right group has denied the allegation. Neighbors of the victim have told El Nacional that Ramirez was not participating in the local anti-government protests.

In Ciudad Guayana, capital of Bolivar state, Euribe Ventura, 25, was stabbed and killed in the course of an attempted car robbery. Despite statements by opposition spokespeople that Ventura was killed in a demonstration, the local Correo de Caroní newspaper has confirmed that the death was “unrelated to the protest in Guayana”.

Desecration of public institutions

The day’s mobilizations likewise saw widespread attacks on public institutions by opposition demonstrators.

At around 2:30 in the afternoon, the administrative headquarters of Venezuela’s consumer protection agency, the National Superintendence of Socioeconomic Rights (SUNDDE), in Chacao was besieged by 50 to 60 masked protesters hurling stones and other blunt objects, considerably damaging the “service to the citizen” section of the building. Security camera footage shows the demonstrators breaking into the building and stealing computers, keyboards, other office items.

The SUNDDE headquarters in Chaco was defaced and robbed. (Henry Tesara/AVN)

SUNDDE head William Contreras called the attack a “planned action” and accused Chacao opposition Mayor Ramon Muchacho of being responsible for the incident, noting that the Chacao police module is only “50 meters” from the building, yet the local force “simply did not respond to these groups’ actions”.

“I want to point out the Chacao mayor’s direct responsibility, since it’s his municipality where this destruction of public institutions is occurring,” he declared on state television.

Elsewhere in Chacao, masked protesters attempted to break into the General Francisco Miranda Airbase in La Carlota, destroying part of the installation’s fences.

Images circulating on social media of protests in San Antonio Wednesday evening.

In the far-west city of Maracaibo, a Ministry of Housing office was the object of robbery and property destruction by alleged protesters.

The incidents are the latest in a series of violent attacks on government institutions and public property in recent weeks, including the April 8 assault on a Supreme Court administrative office in Chacao, which was reportedly planned by leaders from the right-wing First Justice party.

Appeals to military

Wednesday’s demonstrations were preceded by opposition calls Tuesday for Venezuela’s Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) to “demonstrate that it stands on the side of the constitution and the people”.

“You should be part of the solution to the difficulties facing the country. Behind those shields are men who do not agree with is happening and want change,” declared National Assembly President Julio Borges, who insisted that the statement was not a call to rebellion.

Just a day before the demonstrations, a video of four soldiers publicly calling for a military rebellion against Maduro went viral on social media. The four army officials have since been detained and charged by military authorities.

Borges’ declaration was roundly condemned by President Maduro, who called on the National Assembly head to be prosecuted for inciting mutiny.

“When [Borges] calls openly for a coup, for a division in the Armed Forces… for not recognizing its commanders… and its commander-in-chief, this is a crime that is clearly categorized in the country’s penal codes… as a call for a coup d’etat,” the head of state affirmed.

In response to the opposition statement as well as a US State Department communique issued Tuesday, Maduro ordered the activation of “Plan Zamora”, which saw civil-military exercises across the country Wednesday to guard against the threat of a “coup”.

As part of the plan, 100,000 members of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Militia – a semi-professional force of reservists under the authority of the Defense Ministry – will assist in internal security efforts.

In commemoration of the seventh anniversary of the militia this past Monday, Maduro announced the body’s expansion to 500,000 personnel as well as the provision of “one rifle for each militia member”.

National Assembly defies Ombudsman

This latest round of the tense government-opposition standoff was triggered by a pair of March 29 Supreme Court (TSJ) decisions that temporarily authorized the judiciary to assume certain legislative responsibilities. The rulings were denounced as unconstitutional by the country’s Attorney General and promptly partially annulled on April 1.

Despite the reversal, the MUD has accused the government of committing a “coup d’état” and convened ongoing protests, demanding initially the dismissal of the justices and subsequently radicalizing its program to include “general elections”.

This past Tuesday, the opposition-held National Assembly approved a resolution to select new TSJ justices notwithstanding the fact that unseating of the sitting magistrates must be approved by National Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, who declared on April 6 that there was no grounds for the removal. Nonetheless, the parliament moved ahead with the measure regardless, accusing Saab of “complicity with the crimes of the [TSJ] justices”.

Opposition leaders have convened fresh anti-government demonstrations for April 20.


%d bloggers like this: