Interviews with Pacha Catalina Guzman from the Bolivar & Zamora Revolutionary Current

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During her visit in Australia, Pacha Catalina Guzman, from the Bolivar & Zamora Revolutionary Current (CRBZ) and the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ) spoke on a number of radio stations. Click below to listen to some of the interviews

SBS radio (spanish)

4ZZZ (english/spanish)

Perth Indymedia (english/spanish)

3CR – Accent of Women (english/spanish)

3CR – Mujeres Latinamericanas (spanish)

3CR – Latin American Update (english/spanish)

3ZZZ (spanish) go to minute 49:00

UN expert: Venezuela must take the US to the International Court of Justice

Alfred De Zayas, UN independent expert for the promotion of an international democratic and equitable order (Archive)

Alfred de Zayas, a UN Independent Expert for the promotion of an international democratic and equitable order, told Venezuela’s newspaper Últimas Noticias that “it is time” for Venezuela to ask the International Criminal Court “for an investigation into the crimes against humanity committed by the United States for imposing sanctions against it.”

Why do you consider sanctions as crimes against humanity?

In 2000, the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights published a study that described sanctions as a serious violation of international law and human rights. In 2015, the Human Rights Council in Geneva created the role of the Special Rapporteur on Unilateral Coercive Measures. In his reports Idriss Jazairy, the Rapporteur, has demonstrated the adverse impacts of sanctions and has negotiated with governments so that sanctions are eliminated, as they are contrary to the spirit and letter of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The General Assembly of the United Nations has condemned the sanctions against Cuba and the “blockade” with 25 resolutions that, unfortunately, the US has ignored.

In my opinion, as a professor of International Law and former Secretary of the Human Rights Committee, sanctions that cause the death of children due to malnutrition, lack of drinking water, or that cause deaths due to lack of insulin, medicines against cancer and malaria, or due to lack of medical equipment and technical material, constitute a crime against humanity, especially because they are intentional, sadistic, their objective being to create suffering.

The sanctions against Venezuela have exacerbated the economic crisis caused by the collapse of oil prices, leading to a serious scarcity of medicines and food, other shortages, distribution delays, etc. As a consequence Venezuelan children have died, as have adults and elderly people. Keeping in mind that sanctions are not accidental but planned and deliberate, this amounts to criminal liability, and the situation must be brought to the attention of the General Assembly with a view to adopting resolutions that clearly declare the sanctions illegal and criminal.

What could be done?

It is time to ask the Prosecutor of the International Court of Justice to open an investigation into the US’s crimes against humanity for imposing sanctions against the Venezuelan people, since the direct consequences of the sanctions are shortages of food and medicine and the death of innocent people through malnutrition or lack of medicines.

We need to determine the number of people who die, for example, from lack for insulin or antimalarial and anticancer drugs, etc. Article 7 of the Rome Statute defines what crimes against humanity are, and I am convinced that the kind of sanctions that are being applied against Cuba and Venezuela constitute crimes against humanity. This could also be verified by the International Court of Justice acting in an advisory role.

You mentioned that the UN should help. In what way could it do it?

Secretary General Antonio Guterres should offer his good offices to mediate between opposition and government and reopen the Dominican Republic negotiations. He should also send observers to the elections.

Do you plan to visit the country?

Not for the moment, but my colleague Idriss Jazairy, the Rapporteur on Unilateral Coercive Measures, has requested an invitation to visit Venezuela. The government has given him a go ahead on the visit, which will take place this year.

Translation by Cira Pascual Marquina for Venezuelanalysis.com.

Rodriguez: ‘Media War Being Waged Against Venezuela’

Jorge Rodríguez le responde a VP: Váyanse a la calle que en la calle los esperamos

The media tour was announced after the United States scheduled a series of military exercises off the Venezuelan coast.

TeleSUR – Jorge Rodriguez, Venezuela’s Communications Minister, says international news outlets are playing a significant role in the “media and psychological war against Venezuela.” Speaking in an interview with the BBC, Britain’s public service broadcaster, Rodriguez said that there is a significant amount of misrepresentation taking place in the media about the current socio-economic situation in the country.

“There is a newspaper in Spain that publishes a (negative) story about Venezuela every 36 hours, almost one a day. I ask myself: ‘Is it that other countries do not have problems? Is it that Spain considers it more important to deal with the affairs of Venezuela than with the issues of Spain?” Rodriguez said while pointing out that Spanish media outlets published almost 4,000 negative stories about Venezuela in 2017.

“I think there is a lot of misrepresentation; I believe there is a real operation of a media war, a psychological war, almost a lynching against Venezuela,” he added.

During the interview, Rodriguez also pointed out the contradictions in the international media’s coverage of Venezuela‘s upcoming elections and Colombia’s recent legislative elections and interparty primaries, which were marred by allegations of fraud and vote tampering.

“A few weeks ago there were elections in Colombia, and it can only be categorized as a catastrophe… People had to photocopy the ballots; there was vote buying. Like Saramago’s novel “Essay on Lucidity,” there were more blank votes than valid winning votes. I said: ‘Well, the scandal in the European media will be huge.’ It was not so. That is to say, the subject to attack is Venezuela, and we would like with all humility to address the media of the whole world to tell the truth or say in any case what is our truth,” he said.

Highlighting the level of freedom of expression in Venezuela, Rodriguez said there have been, “calls to murder the president, which one sees with frequency in Venezuelan and foreign media, and social media those would not be tolerated in countries like France and Spain.”

Rodriguez, who is on a European media tour designed to expose the current anti-Venezuela agenda, said he plans to visit media outlets and present an alternative view of the country. The tour was launched after the United States Southern Command, based in Florida, announced a series of military exercises off the Venezuelan coast, in Trinidad and Tobago, for April 16 – 26.

Changes in the Trump administration have also pushed Venezuelan authorities to address the biased perception of the country.

In recent weeks, U.S. President Donald Trump has announced the appointments of John Bolton, and Mike Pompeo as senior members of his administration.

Bolton, a former ambassador to the United Nations, has been described by several senior U.S officials as having “always emphasized how Cuba and Venezuela and Nicaragua have undermined U.S. interests throughout the region.”

“He’s a warmonger, and Latin Americans get nervous when American presidents tend to lean toward military versus diplomatic solutions,” a National Security Council official for former President Barack Obama told the Miami Herald. “It’s a militaristic style that won’t go down well in Latin America.”

Days before it was announced that Bolton would replace Herbert Raymond McMaster as Trump’s national security advisor, Pompeo was announced as the new U.S. Secretary of State.

The South American country has routinely accused Washington of planning to orchestrate a coup or invasion, and the appointment of Bolton and Pompeo given their past statements go a long way to supporting these claims.

‘Revolution will win’ – Venezuelan activist tours Australia

Jim McIlroy, Green Left Weekly

Pacha Guzman, a leading activist with Venezuela’s largest peasant-based organisation, the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ), told a public meeting in Sydney on March 21 that despite serious challenges, Venezuela’s pro-poor “Bolivarian Revolution will win”.

Guzman also reaffirmed the continued strength of the popular movement for socialism launched by former President Hugo Chavez and said she expects his successor, President Nicolas Maduro, to win the May 20 presidential elections.

Guzman is on a tour of Australia coordinated by the Latin American Solidarity Network (LASNET). She has been touring as a representative of the FNCEZ and the Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current (CRBZ), of which Guzman is a national spokesperson.

“The purpose of my visit here to Australia is to provide a vision from the viewpoint of Venezuela’s social movements on what is really happening in our country. We are hopeful that the Australian people will support us,” she said.

Guzman explained that the FNCEZ “was founded in 2002, as a social movement, not a political party; one that is profoundly Chavista, anti-imperialist and revolutionary”, adding that they have elected representatives at the national, state and local government level.

“Venezuela is currently facing an economic and political blockade, led by the US, which is causing severe hardship for our people. We are experiencing an internal crisis primarily resulting from the international blockade, in addition to the actions of the Venezuelan right-wing opposition.

“Venezuela is almost exclusively reliant on oil exports and dependent on other countries for imports of food and medicines. Only 2% of our people are currently engaged in agriculture.

“We now have a shortage of these products, to a great extent because of hoarding, the black market, and sabotage of our production.

“President Maduro and his government have called for an increase in food production in Venezuela, which we agree with. The key focus of our organisation is to help the country develop its agriculture to produce enough food for our survival, and to strengthen the communal structures in Venezuela.”

Guzman described in detail the communal system underlying Venezuela’s unique grassroots democracy. Having as its foundation local communal councils that bring together about 150 families, Venezuela’s communal structure of decision making operates from the bottom up.

“Decisions are made at the grassroots level, and rise up to the city level. Communal councils also have commissions to deal with issues such as healthcare, communications and gender equality,” she said.

“The basic idea within Chavez’s communal project is to eventually replace the capitalist state structures with communal democracy. While there has been significant resistance from existing state bodies, we now have more communal organisations than ever before.”

Guzman said that in the face of a divided opposition, she was confident the majority of the people would support Maduro in the upcoming presidential elections. She also expressed confidence that there would be no military coup, as urged by the US, because of the changes inside the military initiated under Chavez. She warned that any attempt by the US to invade Venezuela would be disastrous for the US.

Guzman called for an end to the international media campaign of lies about Venezuela. “The only way to combat the right-wing media lies is for people like you to help get out the truth about our country to the world,” Guzman said.

Guzman also visited Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Canberra as part of her tour, which will finish with two public meetings in Melbourne on March 27 at Victoria Trades Hall (7pm, Spanish-speaking meeting) and March 29 (7pm, Edinburgh Gardens Community Hall, Fitzroy North).

During her tour she addressed numerous public forums, as well as meeting Greens parliamentarians, representatives of various First Nations communities and trade unions, including the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union WA Branch, the Queensland Council of Unions and the MUA Sydney branch.

Guzman was also interviewed on a number of community radio stations and by some local Spanish-language newspapers.

Among the groups that have supported Guzman’s tour are: the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, the Latin America Social Forum (Sydney), Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (Melbourne), Australians in Solidarity with Latin America (ASLA), Colombia Demands Justice Campaign, Chile Solidarity Campaign, Mujeres Latinoamericanas 3CR radio program, Australia Cuba Friendship Society (Melbourne), the Socialist Alliance, Communist Party of Australia, Maritime Union of Australia (Sydney Branch) and the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Popular Victory: Thirty-Two Land Occupiers Released from Jail

The campesinos of La Magdalena, Merida state, hours after being released from jail

By Cira Pascual Marquina

Caracas, March 28, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Thirty-two campesinos from Venezuela’s Merida state, arrested on March 16 and charged with illegally occupying land and contempt of court, were released Sunday. The sudden freeing of this group, which includes two women and their babies and a person with cancer, has been hailed as an important victory for the campesino movement in its attempt to occupy and produce on idle land in Venezuela.

Last year, the campesino group occupied and began to grow food crops on an estate called “La Magdalena,” which was formerly property of the Aranguren family. They did so based on a ruling by Venezuela’s National Land Institute (INTI) declaring the land to be idle and fit to be recovered.

Despite the INTI’s favorable ruling, the investigative police force, CICPC, and the National Guard, acting on behalf of the Aranguren family, arrested the campesinos, who spent more than a week in El Vigia jail in Merida. Their situation became a cause celebre because of the images of a mother and her nursing child in prison.

Campesinas of La Magdalena in El Vigía jail, Merida state, in early March
Campesinas of La Magdalena in El Vigía jail, Merida state, in early March.

Now set free and with the court’s decision in their favor, the victorious campesino group will return to producing on the occupied land and try to complete the process of legalization, explained local campesino leader Heber Castillo in an interview with Venezuelanalysis.

As is common in Latin America, Venezuela’s population is concentrated in big cities such as Caracas, Maracaibo and Valencia, leaving much of the land in the sparsely populated countryside concentrated in large underproductive estates called “latifundios.” Faced with this disparity and the need to build a more productive country, the late President Hugo Chavez attempted a bold land reform in 2001 and later encouraged the occupation of underused land.

Five years after Chavez’s death in 2013, the Magdalena’s occupiers may be suffering from the winds of shifting policy. According to analyst Marco Teruggi, land occupation has met with greater resistance since 2010. The emergence of a generous legal framework for seizing and distributing land that took shape in the early years of the Bolivarian process has given way to a period in which support for humble homesteaders may be waning, the analyst claims.

The Revolutionary Bolivar and Zamora Current (CRZB), a campesino organization, celebrated the release of the land occupiers on Monday, but their communique also makes reference to the vicissitudes of public policy. The text points to “elements in the leadership [of the Bolivarian process] that wish to restore the latifundio model of exploitation… a model that is contrary to the one promoted and developed by the Bolivarian Revolution under Commander Chavez’s leadership.”

Taking to Twitter Monday, Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab celebrated the release of the campesinos, in what was widely viewed as an encouragement to the popular movement. Saab said the campesinos’ arrest had been a “violation of what is established in the Republic’s laws, which hold the right to land to be a hallowed human right,” adding that the government was firmly committed “to confront landowners with the law.”