Maduro: ‘Venezuela Will be Strengthened by May 20 Elections’

  • "Yankee imperialism is obsessed with the Bolivarian Revolution," President Nicolas Maduro said, condemning foreign interference.

     

    “Yankee imperialism is obsessed with the Bolivarian Revolution,” President Nicolas Maduro said, condemning foreign interference. | Photo: Twitter Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Defensa

(TeleSUR) “Yankee imperialism is obsessed with the Bolivarian Revolution,” President Nicolas Maduro said, condemning foreign interference.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says Venezuela will “emerge triumphant” from the May 20 presidential elections, which will serve to strengthen the country.

“Rain or shine, we’ll have elections on May 20,” Maduro told a press conference on Friday. “We do not care about what foreign countries say.

“No matter what the governments of Santos and Macri tell us, the Venezuelan people will emerge triumphant from this electoral process.

“In Venezuela, rain, thunder or lightning on May 20, there will be elections and the Venezuelan people are going to vote.”

Maduro emphasized that Venezuela was fully complying with all laws and norms to provide proper electoral guarantees for the elections.

Yankee imperialism is obsessed with the Bolivarian Revolution,” the president said, condemning foreign interference.

“The only thing we ask from the world is respect, that no country tries to get involved in our internal affairs… we are totally willing to re-establish relations with all nations so long as they respect us.”

Addressing Panama, which recently cut diplomatic ties with Venezuela, Maduro said that he is “completely willing” to re-establish relations as soon as Panama is ready.

Operations to counter the economic war affecting Venezuela’s national currency value and product availability have so far been successful, Maduro said.

He noted that “‘Operation Paper Hands’ has been a total success,” and that officials “have arrested more than 125 people and we are looking for 75 more involved in the business of affecting the price of the national currency and economy.”

The president also congratulated Bolivian President Evo Morales for his assumption of the pro tempore presidency of regional integration bloc the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), and said that “Latin American revolutionaries will defend Unasur.”

Venezuela: Maduro Sides with Campesinos against Big Landowners

From Miraflores, the president distributed 44 thousand hectares of land to farmers and pledged to halt evictions. 

President Nicolas Maduro gives a collective land title to campesino leader Yendi Eraso Gonzalez
President Nicolas Maduro gives a collective land title to Yendi Eraso Gonzalez, campesino leader from Merida state. (Prensa Presidencial)
By Cira Pascual Marquina

Caracas, April 10, 2018 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gave out collective land titles to campesinos Monday, while calling for justice in recent cases involving homesteader communities who have been forced off the land.

Speaking at a ceremony in honor of assassinated Colombian progressive leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan at Miraflores Palace, Maduro pledged to give over 44 thousand hectares to homesteaders by April 18. He also ratified his support for campesino communities in their recent struggles with landholders and state security forces, who have been cracking down on land occupations.

“I have asked the National Constituent Assembly to open an investigation and report within 15 days about these illegal and repressive evictions of campesinos,” the president said, adding, “I completely prohibit the eviction of campesino communities.”

Present at the event was Yendi Eraso Gonzalez, one of the victims of a recent eviction in Merida State that landed 32 campesinos and one baby in El Vigia jail for ten days. On receiving the collective land title from Maduro, Gonzalez, a member of the United Broad Campesino Front of Merida State, spoke out in gratitude but also called for further justice.

“We ask, Mr. President, that you carry out the relevant investigations and that these cases [of campesino evictions] don’t go on occurring,” she declared.

The campesino leader went on to denounce how community homesteaders, protected by the 2001 Land Law authorizing occupations of unused land, “are being called land invaders and terrorists, and we only want to produce and get this country on its feet.”

Much of Venezuela’s fertile land is unused and concentrated in large estates, while ninety percent of the population lives in cities and depends on food imports. Revolutionary campesino groups have for years fought to democratize ownership through land occupations.

Gonzalez also had hard words for Agropatria. She claimed that the institution, which is Venezuela’s state seed and agrochemical supplier, is denying key farm supplies to homesteaders on grounds that they do not hold proper land titles.

Following her declarations, Maduro made clear that he does not want any large landholders or their accomplices to hold positions in Venezuela’s Bolivarian government.

“If someone has a pact with landholders and uses public forces to evict people as happened in El Vigia… I’ll throw the book at them and kick them out of the revolution,” he warned.

Maduro advised that the campesino movement needs to “pass from a resistance mentality to the mentality of producing, taking the offensive and power.” He said that campesinos should not let themselves be taken prisoners, adding that it was “a word to the wise.”

Eager to highlight his government’s commitment to democratizing land access, Maduro said that the land should belong to those work it, pointing out that, with the 44 thousand hectares to be distributed in April, the total amount of land handed out during the revolution would surpass 6 million hectares.

Looking to the future, Maduro called for an April 25 meeting of the Campesino High Command to foster agricultural development and asked campesino organizations to clarify their proposals for how to productively use the 6 million hectares allocated by the state. He said the government will then respond with funding both in Bolivares as well as in Venezuela’s new crypto-currency, the Petro.

US Advising Latin American Allies on Drafting Sanctions Laws Against Venezuela

  • The White House, National Security Council, State Department and Treasury Department are also working on options to "help drive Maduro from office," the report noted.

TeleSUR English, April 9 – In yet another attempt at undermining Venezuela’s democracy, U.S. President Donald Trump is prepping a team of lawyers and policy experts to help right-wing Latin American governments write new laws to impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials and industries, as part of Washington’s economic and political war against the leftist government aiming to oust President Nicolas Maduro, a U.S. source familiar with the policies told Mcclatchy News’ Washington Bureau.

The source revealed the White House has been mounting pressure on its Latin American and Caribbean allies to build a strong mechanism which can be used against Venezuela, a country already embroiled in economic troubles due to U.S. and European sanctions.

“They don’t have the authority,” a senior administration official told McClatchy. “So what we really have to do is help these countries write laws that give them jurisdiction to carry out these kind of sanctions if they choose to.”

According to the report, while U.S. officials publicly urge the Latin American governments to support U.S. efforts, U.S. diplomats have been actively making concerted efforts to either bring together ambassadors of those governments in Washington or dispatch diplomats across the region, “to encourage allies to reform their laws aimed at ousting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.”

“They’re urging Latin American leaders to join the United States, Canada and European allies who have worked together to starve the oil-dependent Caracas government of desperately needed cash,” Mc Clatchy noted.

The senior official did not reveal the names of the countries the U.S. is pressing but the official reaffirmed “the effort is modeled on past work by previous administrations to help allies draft laws” in countries like Syria and Iraq.

Similar to when “in 2014, former Obama Administration Attorney General Eric Holder dispatched lawyers to North Africa and the Middle East” to help  them with possible “terrorist attacks.”

The report further stated the United States also aided Central American governments “write asset forfeiture laws to allow the governments to seize the property of the accused even before they’re convicted of a crime.”

The U.S. Treasury Department plays a major role in helping finance these activities in the form of its Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes which “works with partner countries on a number of issues, including sanctions implementation,” the McClatchy report noted.

“Treasury also engages, when requested by foreign partners, to counter an array of threats to global security and the international financial system, including from Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, narcotics trafficking, and transnational organized crime,” a Treasury official said, according to McClatchy.

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on the Latin American country in an attempt to further paralyze its economy. As part of the US-imposed sanction, over 20 current and former Venezuelan government officials have been sanctioned, including the South American country’s president.

The White House has barred U.S. banks from loaning Venezuela any money, also sanctioning the recently launched ‘Petro,’ Venezuela’s national cryptocurrency based on natural resources.

“Countries in the Americas have a responsibility to work together to address the humanitarian crisis that’s been created by the Maduro regime in Venezuela,” another senior administration official said.

The White House, National Security Council, State Department and Treasury Department are also working on options to “help drive Maduro from office, including prohibiting any Venezuelan oil being sold in the United States,” the report claimed.

In March, Panama’s Economic and Finance Ministry issued a warning to the country’s banks, stating Maduro along with over 50 Venezuelan nationals are considered “high risk” for laundering money and financing terrorism, claims that have no evidence and are flatly denied by the Venezuelan socialist government.

Peru’s so-called Lima Group, which includes other right-wing governments of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, has publicly demanded that Maduro allow free elections and release “political prisoners”. The Venezuelan government had started dialogue and peace talks with the opposition in the Dominican Republic late last year, which ended in January with opposition parties falling short of signing the final agreement under pressure from Washington.

One of the opposition demands had been calling for early presidential elections, which the government announced in February for May 20. However, the main opposition coalition MUD has refused to participate.

Trump is expected to attend the Summit of Americas in Peru next week, from which Venezuela’s Maduro has been banned. However, Maduro has vowed to attend the Summit of the Americas despite Peru’s ban, a move supported by multiple countries in the region.

Venezuela Stands by Brazil’s Lula Following His Imprisonment

President Maduro and over fifty Venezuelan grassroots movements have voiced their solidarity with popular leftist former President Lula da Silva.

Ex-President Lula is carried by supporters before handing himself over to the police

Ex-President Lula is carried by supporters before handing himself over to the police. (Rodrigo Capote / Bloomberg)

Paul Dobson

Merida, April 9, 2018, (venezuelanalysis.com) – President Nicolas Maduro led a multitude of Venezuelan voices who spoke out this weekend in solidarity with the Brazilian people following the imprisonment of the presidential candidate Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva.

“What is going on in Brazil is a coup d’état,” Maduro declared during a ceremony broadcast on state television Saturday.

Widely viewed as a favorite to win Brazil’s October presidential elections, Lula turned himself in to police Saturday, accompanied by tens of thousands of supporters, following a two-day stand-off in the metal workers union headquarters in Sao Paolo, where the ex-president got his start as a grassroots union organizer.

“First [the Brazilian right-wing] ousted the constitutional President Dilma Rousseff with a parliamentary coup and now they want to imprison Lula da Silva because he is leading in the polls,” Maduro added, referring to the controversial impeachment proceeding that removed elected President Rousseff from office in 2016.

A warrant was issued for Lula’s arrest after Brazil’s Supreme Court issued a controversial ruling Thursday that the leftist presidential hopeful could be jailed despite constitutional guarantees stipulating that the accused have the right to exhaust their appeals in freedom. The ruling was preceded by a highly publicized warning against “impunity” by the Brazilian military, which was widely condemned as an attempt to influence the verdict.

Lula was sentenced to ten years last August for allegedly accepting a US$1 million renovation to a luxury beachfront apartment that he does own and never visited, a sentence which was upheld and extended to twelve years in January. There is no material evidence linking Lula to the apartment, and Lavo Jato chief prosecutor Sergio Mora has been accused of pursuing politically motivated anti-corruption investigations against leftist Brazilian leaders in coordination with the US Justice Department. Lula has proclaimed his innocence and is appealing the conviction.

The former president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010, Lula is a candidate for the center-left Workers Party (PT), which he helped found in the 1980s in opposition to the country’s military dictatorship. He is currently leading polls, but it is unclear how is imprisonment will affect his candidacy.

The current government of Michel Temer, which assumed control of the country following the 2016 ouster of Rousseff, is highly unpopular due to the imposition of a series of neoliberal economic measures, including a constitutional amendment freezing social spending for twenty years. Many of the cabinet are currently being investigated for corruption.

Following Lula’s surrender to police, ex-bus driver Maduro took to Twitter in defense of the Brazilian leftist leader.

“Lula is an honest man who comes from the factories… a democratic and moral leader who is committed to the people,” he declared.

The imprisonment of Lula is “a criminal persecution by the neo-fascist oligarch elite” and “an oppressive and dirty trick,” added Maduro. “This injustice hurts us in our soul.”

Nicolás Maduro@maduro_en

We are all Lula. They can’t deal with the hopes and convictions of the rebels. Nothing will stop the march for justice and dignity of Brazil. To speak the truth and the heart, we are invincible. We are with you.

But Maduro was just one voice of a growing chorus of Venezuelan popular movements expressing solidarity with Lula.

On Friday, more than fifty Venezuelan grassroots organizations signed a manifesto of support with Lula, the Brazilian people, and the country’s popular mass movements who back him.

The declaration calls for “support[ing] the resistance of the Brazilian workers and social movements” and condemns “the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie which has been installed in Brazil… which looks to extinguish the insurgent and unified national flame of the Brazilian people.”

It was signed following a demonstration in Caracas in front of the Brazilian embassy by a range of popular organisations, including community TV station ALBA TV, the Clara Zetkin women’s movement, the Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current, numerous trade unions, ecological collectives, student groups, and anti-imperialist organisations.

Venezuelan social movements marched through Caracas Friday in solidarity with Lula
Venezuelan social movements marched through Caracas Friday in solidarity with Lula. The banner reads, “Lula, friend, Venezuela is with you.” (La Iguana).

Venezuela’s United Socialist Party (PSUV) also released a communiquearticulating its “complete solidarity with our companion Lula,” as well as denouncing the unpopular economic measures of de facto President Michel Temer.

“Temer isn’t just deploying a neoliberal plan which is doing away with the social conquests achieved during the democratic governments of Lula and Dilma, but he is also part of a plan which looks to take Brazil back to the [dictatorial] times which seemed to be over,” it claimed.

The Communist Party of Venezuela also voiced its solidarity with the “Brazilian revolutionary movement” in light of the events in Sao Paolo.

In its weekly press conference, the party stressed that Lula’s imprisonment “should be a wakeup call for the revolutionary movement in our country of what may happen should the right win the upcoming elections.”

Trade unions in Venezuela, including the Bolivarian Centre of Workers (CBST) confederation, have also made their voices heard, stressing Lula’s origins as a metalworker’s union leader.

“We add our voice to the rest of the political organisations of the working class and popular movements of the continent in defence of sovereignty and self-determination and against exploitation and imperialism,” reads a press release from the Venezuelan government workers’ union SINTRASDE.

“We declare ourselves to be on combative and proletarian alert alongside the Workers Party of Brazil,” the union added.

Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry likewise issued a formal statement expressing the Maduro’s government’s “absolute solidarity” with Lula on Sunday.

Full text of the “Manifesto of Popular Movements against the Unjust Decision of the Brazilian Coup which Imprisoned Lula”

We, the below signed popular and social movements of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, express our deepest rejection of the ruthless attack against our comrade Lula Inacio da Silva by the extreme right of Brazil, who look to impede his imminent election as president and to extinguish the insurgent and unified national flame of the Brazilian people.

Likewise, we express our absolute and resolute solidarity with Lula and with the popular and social movements and organisations which continue to be on the streets in Brazil in defence of the sovereignty of the people. The events which they are living through in our South American sister republic is an example of the continued anti-democratic incursion into Brazil which looks to coerce the progress of the popular sectors, not just in Brazil, but in the whole continent.

We denounce the rupture of the democratic order in Brazil. The will of the people was pushed aside when [President] Dilma Rousseff was unconstitutionally removed [from office], and today justice and human rights suffer a mortal blow with the imprisonment of Lula, impeding that he be chosen the next president of the Federal Republic of Brazil.

Bearing all this in mind and considering the decision of the anti-democratic sectors of Brazil to imprison Lula, we call on all the Venezuelan social and popular movements to support the resistance of the Brazilian workers and social movements and to condemn the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie which has been installed in Brazil with the complicity of the Organisation of American States, which has made no declarations about this obvious rupture of the democratic order.

Today we have the duty to make ourselves heard in all possible areas, on the streets and on social media, we must cry out with dignity that the Venezuelan people join the Brazilian people in their fight against imperialism and for their sovereignty, as a people, and for the Great Nation of Bolivar, Chavez, and Fidel.

Edited and with additional reporting by Lucas Koerner from Caracas. 

Venezuela Inaugurates University in Honor of Martin Luther King

Venezuela

In honor of the slain leader, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro inaugurated the Martin Luther King University Complex in the state of Lara.

TeleSUR English, April 4 – Venezuela paid tribute Wednesday to Martin Luther King on the 50th anniversary of his assassination in which Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro inaugurated the Martin Luther King University Complex in Barquisimeto, the capital of Lara state.

The school is part of the government’s initiative to expand university education. More than 6,000 young people will pursue higher education at the complex. Maduro said the higher education institution “is named after this hero of the African-American peoples” and will serve to promote culture, health and education for residents of underserved communities in the region.

Maduro expressed the need to strengthen university programs focused on training professionals who will attend to priority areas needed by the country. “A university education has to be linked to the development of the country.”

He noted that universities need “to graduate more doctors, because we need doctors in all the communities of the extensive geography of Venezuela…We need to graduate agronomists, veterinarians…We need to graduate educators, civil engineers to build homes.”

The Martin Luther King University will also have laboratories dedicated to mining Venezuela’s new cryptocurrency, Petro.

Venezuela’s head of state also pointed out that 7.5 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product is invested in educational programs, unlike right-wing governments that preceded former President Hugo Chavez, which had invested a mere three percent in the sector.

He also highlighted that Venezuela has the second highest university enrollment in South America, given that 77 percent of its higher education institutions are public.

Martin Luther King Jr. Was assassinated on April 4, in 1968. In 1999, a civil trial in Memphis, Tennessee, which included testimony from 70 witnesses, reached a unanimous verdict that King’s assassination was the result of a conspiracy that included elements from the U.S. government.

Following the case his widow, Coretta Scott King, welcomed the verdict, saying, “There is abundant evidence of a major high level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband, Martin Luther King. And the civil court’s unanimous verdict has validated our belief.”

Venezuela Rejects Swiss Sanctions & Panama Accusations of Funding WMD and Terrorism

Maduro’s government has been the subject of escalating international sanctions by Washington’s allies

By Paul Dobson

Merida, April 3, 2018, (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan authorities hit back at their counterparts in Panama and Switzerland this week after they approved new measures targeting Caracas.

Panama’s Economic and Finance Ministry announced this past March 27 that a warning was being issued to the Central American country’s banks advising them to limit and “diligently” supervise financial transactions involving 55 top Venezuelan officials as well as 16 private businesses allegedly associated with the Maduro government.

The list includes President Nicolas Maduro, National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena and rectors Tania D’Amelio and Socorro Hernandez, National Constituent Assembly members Diosdado Cabello and Hermann Escarra, Education Minister Elias Jaua, and Culture Minister Ernesto Villegas.

In an official statement, Panamanian authorities categorized the individuals and businesses as being “high risk in the area of money laundering, financing terrorism, and financing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” No evidence was, however, presented to support the allegations.

Venezuela possesses no nuclear weapons and is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as various other treaties banning the acquisition and development of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Similarly, many of those accused by Panama of allegedly financing terrorism belong to institutions which were themselves the objects of violent opposition attacks during last year’s anti-government protests – including the Supreme Court, the National Electoral Council, and regional government offices – which the Maduro administration has repeatedly described as “terrorism”.

Speaking Monday, Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek William Saab, who is included on Panama’s list, fired back, describing the accusations as “fake news” and calling on them to provide evidence.

“Show the accounts, my accounts for example, show where my name, my photo appears,” Saab challenged.

Penitentiary Affairs Minister Iris Varela, who also appears on the list, similarly denied the accusations and called on the Central American authorities to publish a “complete list” of all Venezuelan citizens who own assets in the country, placing special emphasis on those mentioned in the Panama Papers.

“Why don’t they do it [publish the complete list],” she questioned. “Simply because they have assets and fortunes that belong to the [Venezuelan] opposition.”

The recent measures follow close on the heels of an announcement last month that Panama will not recognise the results of Venezuela’s upcoming presidential election, mirroring steps taken by the Trump administration and other regional conservative governments in rejecting the May 20 vote.

Meanwhile, Switzerland also moved to apply sanctions against seven high-ranking Venezuelan functionaries last Wednesday, freezing their alleged assets in Swiss banks and applying travel bans.

In response, the Venezuelan government delivered an official letter of protest to the Swiss charge d’affaires Monday, calling the sanctions a violation of the UN Charter’s ban on unilateral coercive measures and charging Switzerland with “subordination” to Washington and Brussels’ hardline Venezuela policy.

“This erratic action… on the part of a historically neutral country like the Swiss Confederation does not create conditions for dialogue and strengthens extremist positions that seek violent solutions,” reads the text of the letter.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court also issued a declaration Monday rejecting the moves as “illegal”. Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno was named in both Swiss and Panamanian measures.

The latest international actions targeting Venezuela have, however, won praise from members the country’s right-wing opposition, including Popular Will party Political Coordinator Carlos Vecchio, who applauded the Panama measures as “the right path at this stage”.

Vecchio is currently in Paris meeting with center-right French President Emmanuel Macron as part of a European tour aimed at drumming up support for more sanctions against Caracas.

During the meeting Tuesday, Vecchio, together with First Justice party leader Julio Borges and ex-Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma – who is currently fleeing the Venezuelan justice system – called on Macron’s government to apply “more sanctions” against Venezuela and to “halt Petro, gold, and capital legitimation operations,” referring to the South American country’s new crypto-currency. They also urged the French president and other European leaders “not to dialogue” with Caracas.

Opposition presidential frontrunner Henri Falcon, who defied the main opposition in launching his candidacy and has opposed economic sanctions in the past, has yet to issue a public statement with regard to the latest measures from Panama and Switzerland.

So far, only the US and the UK have approved economic sanctions against Caracas, while Canada and the European Union have rolled out sanctions against top Venezuelan officials

International sanctions against Venezuela have been denounced by the UN Human Rights Council as well as by UN Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas, who labeled the US-led measures “crimes against humanity” and called for the International Court of Justice to investigate.

According to Datanalisis, 55.6 percent of Venezuelans oppose economic sanctions against their country, while just 42 percent support individual sanctions targeting top officials.

Edited and with additional reporting by Lucas Koerner from Caracas.