Why is a Greens senator promoting right-wing violence in Venezuela?

Peter Whish-Wilson (standing) in Parliament next to other Greens senators.

Jim McIlroy & Federico Fuentes

Green Left Weekly – In a speech to parliament on June 21, Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson attacked the Venezuelan government and President Nicolas Maduro, while praising right-wing opposition protests in the country.

It is not clear whether Whish-Wilson’s position reflects the official policy of the Australian Greens or is merely a personal view. In either case, the Greens should reject this position that promotes violence and confrontation, rather than dialogue and respect for Venezuela’s democracy and sovereignty.

To understand the current turmoil in Venezuela, Whish-Wilson and the Greens would do well to look at statements made by former Greens leader Bob Brown.

Brown visited Venezuela in 2008 in an attempt to aid efforts undertaken by the Venezuelan government to secure the release of Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, taken hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

In a statement to the Senate on May 14 that year, Brown said: “Venezuela is oil rich, with a highly educated elite and a strengthening democracy. Its President, Hugo Chavez, was one of few world leaders with the gumption to publicly contest the mistakes and exported violence” of then US president George W Bush.

“Due to the Chavez government’s popular — and that is what all the opinion polls show — concentration on helping the millions of poor people on the land and in Caracas’s huge barrios, or slums, the small but highly educated richer class are emigrating.”

While Venezuela faces important challenges, it is clear that Venezuela’s government, first under Chavez and now Nicolas Maduro, continues to focus on helping the poor and has in many ways worked towards implementing policies in line with the Greens’ “Four Pillars”: ecological sustainability, grassroots democracy, social justice and peace and non-violence.

These policies include, among many others:

* a program that has seen Venezuela’s deforestation rate reduced by almost 60% and that this year alone is set to plant 1.6 million plants and trees;

* the promotion of community councils and communes as a way of directly involving citizens in decision making over how resources are spent in their communities;

* a dramatic expansion of the education and healthcare system — which is now free — and a massive housing program that has handed over 1.5 million homes to the poor, to ensure everyone has access to these basic rights; and

* strong opposition to wars abroad and support for neighbouring Colombia’s peace negotiations.

Because of this, the Venezuelan government has faced a sustained campaign of opposition from the richer class — the traditional base of support for the right-wing opposition — including coup attempts, economic sabotage, bosses’ lockouts and violent protests, such as the ones we see today.

It is from this class, which Brown identified back in 2008 as the main source of emigration, that much of the Venezuelan community in Australia is drawn.

But the government also continues to maintain support among the country’s poorer classes, even if their voices are generally silenced by the media, with recent pro-government protests drawing hundreds of thousands of people.

All of this is ignored by Whish-Wilson, who said: “The situation in Venezuela right now is a disaster … some of this situation stems from a sudden drop in the oil price, but much of the trauma appears to come from an increasingly anti-democratic and corrupted government under President Nicolas Maduro”.

Whish-Wilson provides no evidence for his claims of a “corrupted government”, nor does he explain why much of the fault of the current situation lies with Maduro. He ignores strong evidence of a sustained economic campaign being waged by Venezuela’s richer class to create chaos and destabilise the government.

Instead, he accuses the government of seeking to “cling onto power” by any means, including the use of “excessive force against protesters and political opponents — my understanding is that in 80 days of protest over 75 people have now been killed”.

Whish-Wilson goes on: “Despite losing a parliamentary election and despite attempts by the opposition to initiate recall of the president … the president has used what is in effect his own supreme court to overrule these democratic actions.”

Not only are these claims false, they deliberately conceal the violent and anti-democratic nature of the right-wing opposition.

As of June 19, 84 deaths had occurred as a result of the recent wave of political violence. Yet of all these deaths, less that 20% (14 deaths) have been directly attributed to security forces or government supporters. In response almost 30 officers have been detained or have warrants out for their arrest — a stark contrast to Australia, where almost no police officer has been charged for the hundreds of deaths in custody that hagve occurred.

In contrast, 22 deaths have occurred as a result of the actions of right-wing opponents. This includes the targeted assassination — and in some cases mob lynching – of government supporters and deaths resulting from traffic accidents caused by road blockades set up by protesters.

The large bulk of deaths are still under investigation, but victims include security forces, protesters and government supporters.

Clearly, there is violence on both sides. So why does Whish-Wilson only condemn the government?

Moreover, Whish-Wilson seems to lack a basic understanding of Venezuela’s democratic system.

Unlike Australia, Venezuela has a presidential, not a parliamentary, system of government. The president is elected by the people — unlike prime ministers in Australia, who rely on backroom party deals to keep their position — and can only be removed by the vote of the people.

There is no provision in the constitution for the National Assembly to remove the president, something the opposition-controlled parliament attempted to do in January this year. This move was rebuked by the Supreme Court.

Rather than distance himself from undemocratic attempts to use a vote in parliament to overturn the vote of the people, Whish-Wilson attacks the Supreme Court for upholding the constitution.

He also incorrectly attacks the Supreme Court for the opposition’s failed attempt to convoke a recall referendum against Maduro. It is worth noting that while this legal right exists in “anti-democratic” Venezuela, it is denied to citizens in Australia.

It was the National Electoral Court that suspended the recall process, based on decisions made by regional electoral courts that found strong evidence of irregularities in the signature collection process.

Whish-Wilson not only makes a mistake akin to confusing the Australian Electoral Commission with the Federal Court, he provides no evidence to contradict the findings of fraud.

Far from clinging onto power, Maduro has announced elections on July 30 for a Constituent Assembly — which until recently was a demand of the opposition — for regional governors in December, and for president next year. Within a year, the opposition could control the presidency, state governments across the country and remake Venezuela’s constitution to its own liking.

Instead, the opposition has rejected these elections and stated it will do whatever it takes to remove Maduro.

Whish-Wilson not only presents an inaccurate picture of the political struggle underway in Venezuela; he clearly takes the side of the right-wing opposition while ignoring their violent and anti-democratic actions.

Rather than taking the side of the undemocratic opposition, Whish-Wilson and the Greens should be encouraging the Australian government to condemn violence on either side and support efforts that seek to promote dialogue in Venezuela while respecting its sovereignty.

[Jim McIlroy and Federico Fuentes are national co-coordinators of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network.]

Paramilitarism, terror and an all-out struggle for power. Welcome to Socopo, Venezuela

Since opposition protests began in Venezuela in early April, much of the media coverage has focused on clashes in Caracas. However, the opposition’s campaign to bring down the government of Nicolas Maduro has not been limited to the country’s capital.

Marco Teruggi reports on a recent visit to the small, but strategic town of Socopo, in the largely rural state Barinas, which has been the site of a campaign of terror and an all-out struggle for power.

It was original published at 15 y Ultimo and has been translated by Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes.

Continue reading here

45 Venezuelan Preschoolers Evacuated After Opposition Attack

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the building

Opposition leaders have encouraged “resistence” that has resulted in some 80 deaths and over 1000 injured.

At least 900 workers and 45 children were evacuated after opposition protesters attacked the Ministry of Housing in the upper-class district of Chacao, in the state of Miranda, housing minister Manuel Quevedo said Monday on Twitter.

In a phone interview with state channel VTV, the state official blamed Chacao’s Mayor Ramon Muchacho for “providing protection to the terrorist groups that carried out the attack.”

He also criticized the “inaction” of Venezuela’s Attorney General’s office in “15 attacks against the housing social program,” accusing the country’s top lawyer of backing right-wing supporters by affording them “impunity.”

Last Thursday, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz filed an appeal to the Supreme Court after it upheld a decision to maintain the National Constituent Assembly called by President Nicolas Maduro to rewrite the Constitution.

Ortega called on the judges to halt the National Constituent Assembly, deepening tensions between her office and the Maduro government.

However, on Monday, the controversial official requested the removal of 13 magistrates and 20 substitutes from the Supreme Court, claiming that the judges represented “an obstacle to peace in the country,” because the “conditions of their appointment lacked legitimacy.”

Members of Maduro’s PSUV party have accused Ortega of acting with bias, while opposition figures have recently been lauding the actions of the attorney general.

From TeleSUR English

Venezuelan grassroots socialist on the challenges facing the Bolivarian process

Stalin Perez Borges.

An important debate has opened up among the left, both within Venezuela and internationally, as a result of the recent turmoil in the country.

In an attempt to bring the views of grassroots Venezuelan militants to an English-speaking audience, Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes interviewed Stalin Perez Borges.

A life-long union and socialist activist, Perez Borges is today a member of the United League of Chavista Socialists (LUCHAS), a radical current within the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

LUCHAS was formed by a group of former leaders and activists of Marea Socialista (Socialist Tide), including many of its trade union militants. The decision to form LUCHAS came after Marea Socialista resolved to leave the PSUV and began taking an increasingly hostile approach to the Bolivarian process.

Perez Borges is also on the consultative council of the Bolivarian Socialist Central of Workers (CSBT), Venezuela’s largest trade union confederation.

Read interview here

Venezuela: ‘Radical shift in policies required to save revolution’

A pro-revolution march in Caracas on May 1.

Jorge Martin, secretary of Hands Off Venezuela, an international organisation that campaigns in solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and in opposition to imperialist intervention, recently visited Venezuela in the midst of the current upheaval rocking the nation.

Following his visit, Martin was interviewed by Ricardo Vaz for the Investig’action website. Below is a heavily abridged version of the interview published in Green Left Weekly.

***

You were in Venezuela in recent weeks. How does the reality that you witnessed contrast with one being presented by the western media?

There are a number of different points.

The first one is that the media is presenting this idea that in Venezuela we have groups of peaceful opposition demonstrators fighting for democracy and government repression that has killed over 50 people [the figure is now over 70]. This is all wrong.

There are big opposition demonstrations, they have been going on now for [over] two months and have attracted quite a lot of people.

But in most cases they have also degenerated into violent clashes in which opposition demonstrators, or groups in the vanguard of the opposition demonstrations, have used firearms, home-made explosives, weapons, rocket launchers and all sorts of stuff not only against the police, but also against educational institutions, state buildings, government housing projects, public transportation. They have even set up burning barricades outside maternity hospitals.

On top of this there has been gunfire coming from opposition rioters against civilians and against chavistas in general.

So it is hardly a picture of peaceful pro-democracy protesters…

Yes, it is not correct to say that these are peaceful opposition demonstrators, it is not correct to say that what they want is democracy or that what they want is elections.

In fact, their own leaders have admitted that what they want is “regime change”. For example, Maria Corina Machado wrote an article in El Comercio, in Peru, where she said “the first step is the overthrow of the government. Then we can talk about having elections in a different institutional context”.

Another thing I will say is that these protests are not taking place across the whole of the territory, not even the whole of the capital city. They are very concentrated in a number of states and municipalities, most of them ruled by opposition governors or mayors, particularly in Tachira, Merida, Barinas, Carabobo, Lara, and also in eastern Caracas.

So if you are in Caracas, you can go about your daily life without ever encountering an opposition demonstration or violence, which is concentrated in Altamira, in Chacao, to the east of the city, where the middle and upper class areas are.

This means the protests have not spread beyond the opposition’s bastions of influence?

This is something very telling you see in Caracas, namely that the opposition has not achieved one of its main aims, which was to bring the people from the barrios, the working class and poor areas in the hills around Caracas, into the protests. And this undercuts the idea that these protests are motivated by hunger and scarcity.

There are problems of scarcity of basic products, people’s diets have suffered in recent years, but the people that are most affected by this are the ones that remain firmly on the side of the Bolivarian Revolution.

The people in the middle and upper middle class areas, which are not so affected by these economic hardships, are the main subjects of these anti-government demonstrations.

And the last thing that contrasts with the picture that the media is giving is that there have been large pro-Bolivarian, chavista demonstrations.

On April 19 there was a very big one, on May Day there was a huge one that I was able to attend.

These major demonstrations have been supplemented by almost daily, smaller demonstrations of women, peasants, youth, etc, in defence of the Bolivarian Revolution and against this right-wing attempt to overthrow it.

And this is never shown by the mass media, not even referred to. So they are giving, as usual, an extremely one-sided picture of what is happening in Venezuela.

You mentioned that the opposition protests have not managed to spread to the barrios and in two months they have hardly made any progress. What do you think their strategy is at this point?

It is a bit difficult to say, because there are many different factors involved. But I would say that we have reached a point already where the opposition supporters are getting tired and frustrated by the lack of progress.

Above all, they have not achieved any substantial support for their protests in the working class and poor areas, but so far they have also not managed to break the state.

There has been no movement inside the army, even though the opposition leaders constantly appeal to the army to come out and overthrow the government.

Other than some statements by the State Prosecutor, that the opposition are trying to claim is on their side, there have not been any major breaches in terms of the state institutions. They have not pushed the government out, or into making substantial concessions that they could present as a victory.

So they are basically trapped, they are in a cul-de-sac, and what I see now is a section of the opposition demonstrators, and some of the leaders, going for a radicalisation of the protests, in terms of becoming more violent, using terrorist methods.

But I also think that if they do not manage to step up the mobilisation or achieve any of their aims, this will also push a section of them towards the negotiating table with the government. And this will create a big split within the opposition.

You have to remember that the leaders of the opposition are already very discredited among their own ranks because of their actions in October/November last year, when they basically called for big demonstrations, promising that the government was going to be overthrown, and then immediately switched towards the negotiating table, at which they did not achieve anything.

How do you see the situation developing in the coming months?

It is difficult to say. I would say the main problem in Venezuela, which is at the root of everything, is the fact the Bolivarian Revolution has lost a lot of support, and we need to identify why this has happened.

This was revealed in the National Assembly elections in December 2015. This was the first time, other than the constitutional referendum of 2007, that the Bolivarian Revolution lost an election contest.

The reason for this is not so much a shift of people from supporting chavismo to supporting the opposition, but a lot of people abstaining. The Bolivarians lost about a million votes between the presidential and the National Assembly elections, while the opposition’s increase was much smaller.

On the one hand this is explained by the economic crisis. But not just the economic crisis in itself, also the government’s handling of the economic crisis. Many people cannot see whether the government has got a strategy or not.

One day they are railing against the economic war carried out by private businesses, the next day they are calling on private businesses to collaborate, giving them money, making concessions, subsidies and so on.

There is also the impact of corruption, bureaucracy and reformism within the apparatus at the top of the Bolivarian Revolution which has created scepticism, pessimism and even cynicism among layers of people who previously supported the Revolution wholeheartedly. And this is the main problem.

Most people know that they are going through a difficult situation, and they are quite prepared to accept that, so long as they do not see chavista leaders and officials living in luxury. This goes against the grain of the Bolivarian Revolution.

The situation can only be turned around by measures that really with deal with the economic problems of the country. And this means a radical shift in the government’s policies on this question, as well as a change in the way that politics is conducted.

Right now there is a very bureaucratic, top-down way of doing everything. Even though there are big mobilisations, the people are not participating directly in their organisation, or in discussing the strategy of the movement. They are just allowed to respond, or not, to calls made from the top.

So I think that, unless and until these fundamental questions are solved, the perspective is one where this government will fall: either overthrown by direct force by the opposition or defeated in the elections.

Maduro has said that, rain or shine, presidential elections will take place next year. But they will take place in very bad conditions and it is very likely, all things standing as they are now, that chavismo will be defeated.

What would be the consequences of the opposition taking power?

That is something that really worries me, because the ascension of the opposition to power would be an unmitigated disaster.

They would solve the economic crisis, but they would make the workers pay for it. They would massively cut public spending, destroy all the social missions, privatise social housing, apply the IMF recipes, etc.

They would bring products back to the shelves, but at prices that no one would be able to afford.

It would bring a massive backlash similar to what we have already seen to take place in Argentina and Brazil. But on a higher scale, because the depth and reach of the Bolivarian Revolution is nothing comparable to what happened in the past in Argentina or Brazil with the previous governments.

Moreover, this will be accompanied with a lynch-mob against anyone who looks like or is suspected of being chavista, a massive purge of the state apparatus and institutions, persecution and suppression of democratic rights of the chavista working class and poor majority. This is quite clear.

And it is from this point of view that I am making the criticism of the government policies, because I think the policies of the government are not conducive to defending the Bolivarian Revolution but leading directly to disaster.

Venezuela: Solidarity needed to defeat counter-revolution

The Socialist Alliance released the following statement on June 3.

***

In the face of ongoing attempts to violently depose the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro, the Socialist Alliance reaffirms its support and solidarity with the Venezuelan people, their government and the Bolivarian revolution.

Contrary to claims by the corporate media and right-wing governments in the region, Venezuela is not witnessing a peaceful protest movement for democracy but rather its opposite: a counter-revolutionary wave of violence that seeks to provoke greater bloodshed, and potentially, an international intervention.

The recent wave of violent protests that began in early April is just the latest in a long string of attempts by Venezuela’s right-wing opposition to roll back the gains of the pro-poor Bolivarian revolution.

The revolution has its origins in the popular anti-neoliberal revolts of the ’80s and ’90s and that began to dislodge the corrupt, right-wing political class from power with the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998.

Since then, opposition destabilisation attempts include:

  • A combined bosses lock-out that attempted to shut down the economy in December 2001;
  • A military coup in April 2002;
  • A two-month shutdown of Venezuela’s oil industry between December 2002 and January 2003;
  • Weeks of violent street protests – known as guarimbas – in February-March 2004 that left nine dead;
  • Violent guarimbas following Maduro’s victory in the 2013 presidential elections that left seven dead; and
  • Several weeks of violent guarimbas that left over 40 dead in February-March 2014.

Each of these attempts have been spearheaded by the same political and economic elites that have seen their class interests and power affected by the actions of the Chavez and Maduro governments and that today are calling for Maduro’s ouster.

Under the guise of fighting for “democracy” and against “authoritarianism”, this minority has sought to use violence and undemocratic measures to nullify the consistent majority votes that the Bolivarian forces have achieved in all but two of the numerous elections that have taken place in Venezuela since 1998.

This time around, the right-wing opposition hopes to use two important factors to tilt the situation in their favour.

The first is the shift in the regional balance of forces that has occurred following the right’s return to power in countries such as Argentina and Brazil (where a constitutional coup removed an elected president). Along with this, we have seen the increasingly hostile attitude taken by Organisation of American States (OAS) secretary general Luis Almagro, who has attempted to lead a regional campaign against Venezuela. The opposition expects to use this international pressure to isolate Venezuela, and if necessary provoke a foreign intervention in the country.

The second is the effects of the ongoing economic war against the government that, together with the impact of the drop in oil prices and certain errors in government economic policy, is the main reason for the shortages in basic goods and spiralling inflation. The opposition hopes that this situation may help them win support among the poor majority that make up the revolution’s base and ultimately turn them against the government.

In all this, the corporate media has played a critical role internationally in the campaign against Venezuela and its revolution. Despite clear evidence that the majority of deaths in recent weeks have occurred as a result of opposition violence, and that the majority of victims have been government supporters or innocent bystanders, the media continuously refers to all deaths as “victims of regime repression”.

They purposely exaggerate the scale of the economic problems, while ignoring both the causes of these problems and the important social gains made by Venezuela in terms of poverty reduction and increased food consumption; gains that even the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Food and Agriculture Organisation have acknowledged.

All of this means that Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution today finds itself facing a critical challenge: defeat the latest counter-revolutionary campaign or witness the ushering in of a period of brutal reaction.

We only have to look at recent history to know what a coup against the Maduro government would mean for Venezuela. The last time the right-wing was in government and faced a similar economic crisis, it enacted policies that saw social spending and real wages plummet while poverty soared. When the poor revolted, as they did in the Caracazo uprising of February 1989, hundreds of people were massacred by security forces.

More recently, when the right was briefly in power following the April 2002 military coup, a witchhunt of government officials and revolutionaries was carried out, while dozens of civilians were killed.

A powerful and brutal symbol of what the right-wing would do in power was offered when opposition leaders refused to condemn the recent lynching and setting alight of a government supporter during an opposition march.

For these reasons, the Socialist Alliance makes clear its opposition to the counter-revolutionary campaign to overthrow the Maduro government.

The Socialist Alliance rejects any foreign intervention in Venezuela and calls on the OAS to immediately halt its meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs, which only seeks to aggravate the situation.

While progressive and anti-imperialist forces might hold differing opinions in regards to the Maduro government and the Bolivarian revolution, it should be clear which side we are on in this struggle.

For our part, the Socialist Alliance has viewed the Bolivarian revolution not only as a profound anti-capitalist struggle, but as a spearhead in the regional and global fight for a better world. Its defeat would set back the peoples’ struggle not only in Venezuela but more broadly.

Now is the time to demonstrate our solidarity with Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution and defend the Maduro government against right-wing counter-revolution.

Police massacre at protest camp leaves 10 dead, media ignores it because it happened in Brazil not Venezuela

Family members and friends cry during a funeral on May 26. for one of the 10 victims killed in the police massacre.

By Federico Fuentes, Green Left Weekly

As security forces repressed anti-government protests in the capital, a military police operation to break up a protest camp left 10 civilians dead, with witnesses claiming they were killed execution-style.

None of this made it into the international media however, because it happened in Brazil, not Venezuela.

While the corporate media has given ample coverage to the violent right-wing protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, falsely blaming the government for most of the deaths that have occurred in recent weeks, almost no media outlet covered the massacre at a landless peasants’ camp in the Brazilian state of Para on May 24.

The deaths occurred the same day that right-wing President Michel Temer – who took power via a constitutional coup – called on the military to repress a march of 150,000 protesters in the capital, Brasilia, the latest in a growing wave of protests calling for immediate general elections.

Nine men and one woman died as a result of the joint local and military police operation that sought to dislodge a small community of landless peasants that was occupying unused land belonging to a local large landowner.

According to survivors, when security forces arrived at the farm, the occupiers attempted to run away, with a group seeking shelter from the rain under a tent. They were then surrounded and fired upon, with the dead bodies being moved from the site before proper forensics of the crime scene could be carried out.

Local police were heard laughing and cheering as the military police fired upon the peasants.

The deaths take the number of peasants killed so far this year by security forces or paramilitary groups in Brazil to 37.

Venezuela Declares Victory at OAS and UN

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez has welcomed the defeat of an OAS declaration against Venezuela.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

Puebla, Mexico, June 1, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Organisation of American States (OAS) failed to pass a proposed declaration condemning Venezuela Wednesday, while the European Union considered passing its own sanctions against the South American country.

Throughout more than five hours of OAS talks, the United States and Mexico led calls for a resolution demanding President Nicolas Maduro abandon a proposed constituent assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution. The initiative was put forward by Maduro on May 1 as a path towards dialogue and a way to reunite the politically divided country. Nonetheless, the opposition has dismissed the proposal as a ploy, with many of their spokespeople arguing that the time for dialogue with the government is over, referencing the failure of Vatican-mediated talks last year.

Justifying their calls for the abandonment of the constituent assembly, a US Department of State spokesperson argued “good-faith negotiations” are needed between the government and opposition.

“The main responsibility for showing good faith in any negotiations now is on President Maduro and the government of Venezuela. We seek the full diplomatic strength of our hemisphere to help make such negotiations possible,” one State Department official told the press on Tuesday.

Along with urging Maduro to ditch the constituent assembly, the OAS resolution also called for the release of what opposition leaders say are political prisoners, and an end to the violence in Venezuela which has so far claimed at least 68 lives since the beginning of April.

Venezuela didn’t attend the talks, and has vowed to leave the OAS, claiming that the organisation’s secretary general is leading an interventionist campaign against its government.

Along with the US and Mexico, the resolution was co-sponsored by Canada, Peru, and Panama. A second draft resolution was also supported by Antigua and Barbuda, though it was withdrawn during the meeting. Neither resolution managed to garner enough support to pass, with Venezuelan allies accusing the US and others of seeking regime change in Caracas.

“The OAS cannot continue to be used by a country for a political lynching against the government of Venezuela, it is regrettable that a group of sister countries has been biased in their appraisals and focus,” Nicaraguan Ambassador Luis Ezequiel Alvarado said.

The meeting was adjourned with no agreement being reached, and talks postponed for later this month. Venezuela has welcomed the outcome as a victory.

“The interventionist bloc in the OAS continues to be defeated by the honourable states of the region,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said shortly after talks concluded.

Venezuela also claimed a diplomatic victory at the United Nations, after it secured majority support to head the Special Political and Decolonization Committee overseeing missions covering peacemaking, human rights, and Palestinian refugees. Venezuela’s UN representative, Rafael Ramirez, said the outcome had been reached “despite US manoeuvring”.

Rodriguez took to Twitter to welcome the outcome.

“Venezuela defeats the US and its imperial obsession at the UN election, to chair the Peace, Decolonisation, and Palestine Missions Commission,” she wrote.

EU considers sanctions

Meanwhile, the European Parliament may consider imposing sanctions on Venezuela, according to its president, Antonio Tajani.

“We have to act now. That is why we also have to evaluate other concrete measures such as the possibility of taking sanctions against senior Venezuelan officials,” Tajani said.

The comment came after Tajani held talks with Venezuelan opposition leader and National Assembly head Julio Borges.

The EU already issued a statement in April condemning what it labeled “brutal repression” by Venezuelan state security forces against peaceful protesters, which faced immediate condemnation from Caracas.

“The position of the European Parliament is clearly interventionist,” Venezuela’s EU vice-minister, Yvan Gil, said earlier this week.

On Wednesday, Tajani doubled down, blaming the government for Venezuela’s current political crisis.

“Violence and repression are not the solution to the peaceful demonstrations that have lasted more than nine weeks in which around sixty people have already died,” he said.

Several Venezuelan officials are currently under sanctions by the US government due to unsubstantiated allegations such as drug trafficking and overlooking human rights abuses. The sanctioned officials include Vice-President Tareck El Aissami, Attorney General Luisa Ortega, as well as several Supreme Court judges.

Of the 68 people who have died in Venezuela’s current wave of unrest, around 20 may have been killed by protesters themselves, according to data compiled by venezuelanalysis.com. At least 10 are suspected to have been killed by the actions of state security forces, while many others took place under unclear circumstances.