Thousands of Venezuelans March Against Imperialism, OAS Interference

Marchers did not mince words in response to OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro. “Almagro, put that letter up your ass”

Young people seemed to dominate the numbers at an anti-imperialist march, early on Tuesday in Caracas, Venezuela. This, as thousands pounded the streets, expressing a sense of fatigue at constant right-wing attacks on the country’s sovereignty.

The march was a direct counter for opposition marches, as Venezuela’s MUD coalition rallied its supporters in a bid to further solicit the application of the Organization of American States’ (OAS) so called ‘Democratic Charter,’ which could see the country suspended from the regional bloc.

From a podium just outside the opposition-led National Assembly building, PSUV Vice President, Diosdado Cabello, gave a powerful speech that garnered huge rounds of applause heard for blocks around. The top socialist leader slammed moves by opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly to remove of Supreme Court judges.

This comes after the court’s decision, last week, to assume temporary authority to approve mixed enterprises – a function that court acknowledged as territory for the National assembly, which the court says is currently in contempt for allowing unauthorized people to serve as lawmakers. The court, one day later, rescinded the decision due to criticisms from both opposition and government ranks.

“We are here, fighting like every one else,” said Mayin Sequera, a member of the youth group, Juventud Rebelde(Youth Rebellion). “We are fighting to uphold the Bolivarian Revolution. We are here to tell the world that we are an independent people. We are a democracy, and we have autonomy over our own affairs.”

On Monday, the OAS held a controversial, extraordinary meeting where a partial group of member states adopted a resolution which listed three points of action against Venezuela following the Supreme Court decision and subsequent reversal. The resolution said the events “constitute an alteration of the constitutional order of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” and threatened “further diplomatic initiatives to foster the restoration of the democratic institutional system.”

At the OAS’ Monday meeting for the resolution, Venezuela’s representative and various other countries stormed out of a session of the 35-nation bloc, calling it an institutional “coup d’etat” after Bolivia was summarily removed as council president so the states who proposed the motion could continue with the meeting.

Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, reacted to the meeting, saying that the OAS “has surpassed itself in its aggression against Venezuela”, and that it “is truly a court of inquisition with all the abuses and vulgarities.”

The move by the OAS is unlikely to help resolve the country’s problems, nor the tensions between the main political factions.

For many Venezuelans, especially those in the streets, the response is resounding: “Leave Venezuela in peace!”

From TeleSUR

Venezuela and Bolivia Condemn “Coup” at OAS

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro and Argentine representative Juan Jose Acuri convince Honduran ambassador Leonidas Rosa Bautista to act as “interim president”.

By Lucas Koerner

Caracas, April 3, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela and Bolivia condemned Monday what they termed a “coup” in the Organization of American States (OAS) after an extraordinary session concerning Venezuela was held without the presence of the president and vice-president pro tempore in violation of internal protocols.

On Friday, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro called a “special meeting” scheduled for Monday to discuss a since-reversed Venezuelan Supreme Court ruling that would have empowered the judiciary to assume parliamentary functions in light of the opposition-controlled National Assembly’s contempt of the constitution.

The meeting was, however, suspended Monday morning by Bolivia, which assumed the OAS Permanent Council’s rotating presidency Saturday, on the grounds that the Bolivian delegation “was not consulted and did not receive any information” regarding the session it was meant to facilitate.

In an official statement, Bolivia’s Foreign Ministry indicated that the session would be rescheduled “once the necessary coordination had been carried out in the framework of the OAS Charter and organizational norms”.

Despite the cancelation, at around 3pm in the afternoon a group of 20 countries decided to hold the meeting regardless, designating Honduras as “interim president” in the absence of the president, Bolivia, and the vice-president, Haiti.

The move was sanctioned by OAS legal advisor Jean Michel Arrighi, who argued that in the absence of Bolivia the presidency could be exercised by the longest serving representative in the body, whom he claimed was Honduran delegate Leonidas Rosa Bautista.

However, screenshots of the OAS’ official delegate page uploaded by Venezuela’s OAS mission revealed that in fact Bolivia’s representative, Diego Pary Rodriguez, is the longest serving ambassador to the OAS.

Rodriguez, for his part, slammed the motion to go ahead with the session presided by Honduras as an “illegal” usurpation of its powers in violation of the organization’s internal statutes.

“Today what is happening is an institutional coup and a disregard for international norms,” he affirmed.

Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Venezuela all called points of order during the intervention of Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra in an attempt to abort the meeting. The representatives form Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador subsequently walked out of the session in protest.

Notwithstanding the objections, Honduras proceeded to open debate over a text presented by Peru that declared an “altercation of the constitutional order” in Venezuela and resolved to “urge action by the Venezuelan government to safeguard the separation and independence of powers”.

After nearly 24 minutes of debate, Venezuela’s delegate, Samuel Moncada, also walked out of the session, condemning the violation of the OAS Charter’s “principle of non-intervention” as well as the body’s internal rules.

In particular, the Venezuelan ambassador denounced Malcorra’s remarks during the session, after she called for neighboring countries to exercise “tutelage” over Venezuela to “ensure compliance with the electoral timetable”.

Quoting Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, he declared, “he who wants to be an eagle can fly, he who wants to be a worm can crawl, but don’t cry when you’re stepped on”.

El Salvador similarly protested the “abnormal manner” in which Honduras assumed the presidency, urging dialogue as the only solution to the current standoff in Venezuela, a call that was seconded by the Dominican Republic.

Despite the dissentions, the Mexican delegation motioned for the resolution “to be adopted without proceeding to a vote”, a proposal that was also backed by Chile.

Canada’s ambassador, for her part, proposed for the vote to be postponed until Wednesday in order to have more member-states present at the session.

Ultimately, the resolution was not subject to an official vote, being instead approved by consensus with the support of just 15 of 35 member-states: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, United States, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Barbados, Guatemala, Panama, and Uruguay.

Meanwhile, Belize, Bahamas, El Salvador, and Dominican Republic refused to support the document.

The resolution was roundly condemned as a “coup d’état” by Caracas and La Paz.

Speaking on national television Monday evening, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called the move “a coup against the sister peoples of Bolivia and Haiti”.

“It’s shameful what they are doing, I think the OAS has gone on to become an anti-Venezuela, anti-Bolivarian inquisition court,” he asserted.

Bolivian President Evo Morales likewise took to Twitter Monday to blast the abrogation of his country’s right to exercise the OAS pro tempore presidency.

“Once again the OAS has become the Ministry of Colonies. An institutional coup has occurred to prevent Bolivia from exercising the presidency,” he said

The OAS Permanent Council is set meet again on Wednesday for an ordinary session, though it remains unclear if Venezuela will be on the agenda.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court Annuls Controversial Decisions on Legislature


By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas

Caracas, April 1st 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) has partially annulled two controversial rulings released this past Wednesday, including one that granted the judiciary temporary powers to assume the role of the legislature and another calling into question lawmakers’ parliamentary immunity.

The measure was taken following an urgent meeting of the National Security Council, convened this past Friday night by President Nicolas Maduro.

According to changes made to both decisions on the Supreme Court’s website, the judiciary announced that the article referring to parliamentary immunity in ruling number 157 had been “struck down”.

It also clarified that “in relation to point 4.4 of the ruling [no. 156], with respect to the Constitutional Tribunal guaranteeing that parliamentary responsibilities will be exercised directly by this body or by another at its disposition in defense of the rule of law; said content is struck down”.

On Friday night, Venezuela’s National Security Council met to resolve the institutional crisis that emerged this past Friday between the country’s legislature, judiciary and the attorney general, Luisa Ortega, who represents an integral part of the citizen branch of government.

The controversy is rooted in the approval of two rulings released by the TSJ this past Wednesday in relation to the status of the National Assembly, which the judiciary currently declares to be in contempt of court. The legislative body has refused to remove three legislators currently under investigation for electoral fraud according to TSJ stipulations, and in violation of a Supreme Court order.

Wednesday’s TSJ decisions granted temporary rights to the judiciary to assume the role of the National Assembly until the situation is resolved, as well as indicated that National Assembly legislators were not eligible for parliamentary immunity in view of the violation.

The rulings sparked heated debate over their legality under the Constitution. While Attorney General Ortega described the move as a “rupture of the Constitutional order”, the rulings were defended as legal by former Public Prosecutors and the Venezuelan Ombudsman.

Six decisions were put forward by the National Security Council in the early hours of Saturday morning in a bid to end the impasse.

Although the Council’s resolutions ratify the Supreme Court as “the competent body for the control of Constitutionality in relation to any National Public Power which collides with the Magna Carta, as well as for the resolution of conflicts between powers”, the body nonetheless exhorted the TSJ to review the two controversial rulings in the interests of “institutional stability and the balance of powers”.

It also called on the opposition, grouped under the coalition the Roundtable of Democratic Unity, to agree to participate in national dialogue with the government facilitated by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Vatican “without delay”.

In addition, the Council expressed its “categorical rejection of any intervention” against the country’s independence, territorial integrity and self-determination.

“The matters of Venezuelans must be resolved exclusively by us,” it stated.

According to statements made by President Maduro, council members “conversed with Attorney General Luisa Ortega” while President of the Supreme Court Maikel Moreno, President of the court’s Constitutional Tribunal Juan José Mendoza, Vice-President Tareck El Aissami, Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, Comptroller General of the Republic Manuel Galindo, Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, and Planning Minister Ricardo Menendez, all participated in the meeting.

The de-facto President of the National Assembly, Julio Borges, was also invited but did not attend, said Maduro.

The opposition leader later confirmed that he had refused to participate in the meeting in protest at the country’s “constitutional rupture”.

“We are not going to attend any meeting… We cannot, in any way, accept invitations in which those who made a coup d’etat attempt to repair a crisis which they created,” he said.

The politician also indicated that the opposition would not participate in dialogue with the government, nor take part in efforts to address the country’s current institutional crisis unless its demands for immediate elections are met.

“The only thing that we expect in Venezuela is that actions are taken so that we can have elections in Venezuela, liberty for our political prisoners, respect for institutions, especially the National Assembly, the opening of a humanitarian channel, so that the country can expect medicines and food, so that Venezuela can choose, not just a change in government, but also a different system of liberty, progress, union and democracy,’ said Borges in a Periscope transmission on Twitter.

National dialogue between the government and the opposition was suspended late last year, after opposition delegates called time on the talks when the government refused to meet its demands for immediate national elections and the release of approximately 100 “political prisoners”.

Regional elections due to be held last year were postponed until 2017 by the National Electoral Council, although dates for the elections have still not been set by the electoral body. National elections are not due until 2018.

The opposition argued that national elections should be brought forward due to the country’s economic crisis.

Yesterday, several opposition legislators also submitted an official lawsuit to the Public Prosecution against the seven judges sitting on the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Tribunal.

The Supreme Court is expected to release an alternative ruling shortly in relation to its deadlock with the National Assembly. Its website was unavailable this Saturday morning.

Venezuela fake news debunked: Assembly not annulled, no coup

The Supreme Court ruled that the National Assembly was in contempt of the constitution in January 2016.

As the usual suspects attack the Bolivarian government in Venezuela for a ruling today by the Supreme Court of Justice, claiming that there has been a “coup” and that the country has fallen into a dictatorship, the Venezuelan government has denounced this attempt at destabilizing the government.

Following an appeal filed by the Venezuelan Corporation of Petroleum to Article 33 of the Organic Law of Hydrocarbons on the creation of joint ventures, the court ruled that since the National Assembly continues to be in contempt of the constitution, the top court will “ensure the rule of law” and will exercise parliamentary powers where necessary.

“As long as the disrespect and invalidity of the proceedings of the National Assembly persists, this Constitutional Chamber will ensure that the parliamentary powers are exercised directly by this Chamber or by the body it has in place to ensure the rule of law,” said the ruling.

The U.S. issued a condemnation saying that the “Venezuelan Supreme Court’s March 29 decision … usurp(ed) the power of the democratically-elected National Assembly.” Opposition leader Julio Borges, who was ‘elected’ president of the parliament by his fellow opposition legislators in spite of the ruling, described this as a “coup” and called for the court to be disavowed.

OAS Secretary General and opposition ally Luis Almagro called the ruling a “self-coup,” while Peru withdrew its ambassador to the country. On Twitter, the phrase “coup d’etat” was trending although on the streets of Venezuela everything was calm, with no interruption in governance.

While the reactions have been plentiful, the ruling from the top court was not actually anything new, nor does it actually imply a dissolution of the country’s national assembly and its powers.

Here is what is really going on.

National Assembly has been in contempt of the Constitution since 2016

On Jan. 5, 2016, the Supreme Court declared the National Assembly in contempt of the constitution for swearing in three opposition lawmakers whose elections were temporarily suspended for voting irregularities in the state of Amazonas. Given that it has been operating with non-verified people acting as legislators, the court has said all of the assembly’s actions are illegal.

Amazonas candidates tried to buy votes

There are recordings in which the then secretary of the government of Amazonas, Victoria Franchi offered sums of money to groups of people to vote for the opposition candidates. Therefore, the court suspended the election results from the state. However, the National Assembly flaunted this ruling and swore them in as deputies.

National Assembly could restore its status easily, but has refused

According to constitutional lawyer Enrique Tineo Suquet, the National Assembly could easily resolve its legal status by requesting the body’s elected president call for a session to remove the three lawmakers and hold new elections for the positions. Tineo Suquet said that despite this, the assembly has decided to remain in contempt.

It’s all in the Constitution: National Assembly not annulled

Article 336.9 of the country’s constitution gives powers to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court to resolve any situation that may arise among the state powers. According to Venezuela’s Constitution, the functions of the constitutional branch of the Supreme Court include acting “to resolve constitutional controversies arising between any of the organs of Public Power.”

Reposted from TeleSUR

OAS Fails to Reach Consensus on Venezuela Suspension in Latest Extraordinary Session

OAS extraordinary session concludes without a formal vote regarding Venezuela’s suspension.

By Jeanette Charles

Los Angeles, March 28th 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Organization of American States (OAS) extraordinary session came to a close late Tuesday afternoon after hours of debate as member states failed to reach a consensus over Venezuela’s suspension.

Despite OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro’s insistent attempts to push for Venezuela’s expulsion, member-states expressed mixed opinions regarding the application of the regional body’s Democratic Charter against the South American country, and the session ended without a vote.

Tuesday’s meeting commenced with Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada calling for clarification regarding the validity of the extraordinary session, which Venezuela previously argued represented a violation of the organization’s non-interventionist founding principles.

Bolivia and Nicaragua echoed Venezuela’s condemnation, also requesting to suspend the meeting citing similar concerns over the precedent such a discussion would set for the regional body. Nonetheless, the OAS permanent council approved the discussion, with 20 out of the organization’s 35 member-states voting in favor.

Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, United States, and Paraguay actively expressed their support to slap Venezuela with the Democratic Charter throughout the session.

Alternating between English and Spanish, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Michael Fitzpatrick advocated for “swift actions”.

“We need to act with urgency and clarity of purpose for indeed, as the saying goes, the whole world is watching,” he said.

“This is an important for the day for the OAS, which is fulfilling its responsibility to safeguard democracy,” he continued.

The US delegate also urged “the Venezuelan government to comply with its constitution and constitutional functions, hold elections as soon as possible and release all political prisoners, including Leopoldo López.”

However, several nations came to Venezuela’s defense expressing solidarity, and emphasizing the need to push forward with dialogue between the government and the opposition in the South American nation. Notably, Caribbean nations such as Dominica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Barbados all challenged the call for Venezuela’s suspension.

“Dominica stands in solidarity with the Bolivarian government and people of Venezuela. The resolution needs to be through a dialogue between all parties that respects the sovereignty of Venezuela,” expressed the Caribbean nation’s permanent representative Dennis Moses.

The Dominican Republic’s official delegation referenced the country’s own complicated history with the OAS stating, “What guarantee do we have that if we impose external solutions on Venezuela that we will not have to apologize again in the future?”

Last year, Dominican President Danilo Medina called on the OAS to “pay off its historical debt” for its support of Washington’s 1965 invasion of his nation.

Venezuela’s Moncada also called attention to the hypocrisy of specific OAS member states by citing the inconsistency of political postures and ongoing conflicts in other member states.

As Moncada continued to expose OAS members states’ contradictions, Mexico’s permanent representative to the OAS, Luis Alfonso de Alba Góngora, threatened to abandon the session unless OAS Permanent Council Chair Patrick Andrews of Belize request Moncada “correct” his tone.

While none of the pro-suspension coalition walked out before the meeting was called to order, tensions escalated throughout the remainder of the session.

“What happened yesterday with Marco Rubio threatening member states if they did not agree to suspend Venezuela is serious,” stated Moncada, referring to the Florida Republican senator’s threats to cut aid to Haiti, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic if they did not vote in favor of the Democratic Charter.

The Venezuelan diplomat also took the opportunity to repudiate a recent US-led statement by 14 countries in the hemisphere demanding snap elections in the South American country.

 “We sincerely believe that Venezuela needs a group [from the OAS mediating elections in our country] as much as Mexico needs that wall,” he said, referencing President Donald Trump’s plans to expand and heighten militarization along the Mexico-U.S. border.

Additionally, Moncada stressed the alleged US role in orchestrating the consistent right-wing attacks against Venezuela.

“This [campaign against Venezuela] is all tied to the US and the State Department. We ask that if the US wants to help they should revoke Obama’s decree and deport all of the criminals here in this country [the United States] that work against our people. That would be a first goodwill step. We reject forcibly what has happened here today and we will fight any attempt to intervene in the affairs of Venezuela,” stated the diplomat.

Moncada closed his speech to a roomful of applause despite being interrupted by Canada’s permanent representative to the OAS, Jennifer May Loten, who denounced allegations that the US rallied support against Venezuela.

In recent weeks, Almagro has repeatedly called to suspend Venezuela from the regional body, blaming the Bolivarian government for frozen talks with the opposition.

However, international mediators have continued to express their support and hope for dialogue among all Venezuelan parties.

Venezuela Demands OAS Suspend ‘Interventionist’ Meeting

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez slammed the OAS and what she calls an attempt to topple the government of Nicolas Maduro
The South American nation has slammed the OAS for what it calls illegal actions and attempts to destabilize Venezuela’s socialist government.

The Venezuelan government urged the Organization of American States Monday to suspend a meeting scheduled for Tuesday to debate the economic and political situation in Venezuela, arguing that it violates the organization’s norms since it was planned without the consent of the South American country.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said that at the request of Luis Almagro, head of the OAS, the meeting intends to validate an intervention in the country’s internal political affairs and attack the government of President Nicolas Maduro through the application of the organization’s “Democratic Charter” against Venezuela.

The organization hasn’t confirmed if it would vote on Almagro’s demand.

Rodriguez argues that Almagro, with the support of the United States, “has formed a minority faction and has fostered a damaging international environment over the course of democratic life in Venezuela, seeking to undermine its sovereignty and independence.”

During a meeting at the OAS headquarters in Washington Monday, the Venezuelan foreign minister accused Almagro of acting to advance two objectives: destroying the country’s Bolivarian Revolution that has been praised for social advances and substituting the government of Nicolas Maduro.

“Almagro is a liar, dishonest, evildoer and mercenary,” said Rodriguez, adding that, “Almagro is not acting alone, he is a conduit for the orders that are dictated to him by Washington.”

She accused the OAS of serving U.S. interests since its beginning, pointing out how the organization kept quite in the face of almost 50 coups across Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The OAS never condemned the coup attempt against Chavez,” said Rodriguez. “The OAS supported the invasion to Guatemala and the failed invasion to Cuba.”

Almagro’s call for a meeting on Venezuela was supported by 18 countries: Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia and Uruguay.

“Destabilizing Venezuela will have effects beyond our borders,” Rodriguez said.

If a third of the 34 members countries that are part of the OAS vote to apply the “Democratic Charter,” it would suspend Venezuela and authorize an international intervention.

“If this illegal, unilateral, deviant and biased action continues in favor of violent extremists in Venezuela, we will proceed with severity and firmness through diplomatic means, the instruments of international law and in accordance with the Venezuelan constitutional order,” said Rodriguez.

The foreign minister attended a meeting at the OAS in 2016 after members of the Venezuelan opposition asked the organization to apply the charter against their own country.

Supporters of President Nicolas Maduro are set to hit the streets on Tuesday in “anti-imperialist” marches against OAS and foreign intervention in the South American country.

Meanwhile, mediators in Venezuela’s dialogue process between the government and opposition — former presidents of Spain, the Dominican Republic and Panama Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Leonel Fernandez and Martin Torrijos — also issued a statement Monday reiterating their support for the negotiations aimed at smoothing flared political tensions between Maduro’s administration and its opponents.

The letter noted that since the OAS has mentioned the dialogue in its recent statements on the situation in the country, the former presidents facilitating the UNASUR-sponsored process felt obliged to comment on the talks and their potential.

“We think that dialogue is possible and more necessary than ever in Venezuela,” they wrote. “A dialogue based on the values of democracy, human rights and peace and managed with the only tools at our disposal: words, good faith and diplomacy.”

From TeleSUR

ABC’s Foreign Correspondent wrong on Venezuela

To get the lowdown on Venezuelan politics, Foreign Correspondent’s Eric Campbell (right) interviewed a drug gang.

Jim McIlroy

Foreign Correspondent’s “Venezuela: A nation on the brink”, screened on the ABC on March 21 was a straight out piece of US State Department propaganda.

It was also more evidence of the ABC’s rightward trajectory under ex-Murdoch executive and CEO Michelle Guthrie.

“Venezuela is a disaster,” reporter Eric Campbell and producer Matt Davis begin. “It has the biggest oil reserves on the planet. But instead of living like Middle Eastern sheiks, many Venezuelans are on the brink of famine.

“The economy is in ruins, the currency is all but worthless, shops are empty and people queue for subsidised food rations to survive.

“A charismatic former army colonel named Hugo Chavez launched a socialist revolution after he was elected in 1998. But, under his successor, Nicolas Maduro, the oil-rich country has become a failing state.”

The Foreign Correspondent team allege they had to go “undercover” as tourists “to evade the government’s restrictions on foreign journalists”. They claim “a week in the capital Caracas revealed a city on the edge of destruction”.

They observed food queues, visited a barrio, consorted with a drug gang and talked to a couple of anti-government figures. That was it. There was no attempt to balance the ledger in any way, although, when pressed, one interviewee said Venezuela had progressed under Chavez.

Foreign Correspondent constructed its argument around interviews with two anti-government figures: sociologist Margarita Lopez Maya, who supported Chavez up to 2009 but has since turned against the Bolivarian Revolution; and Maria Corina Machado, who regularly meets with US government agents and right-wing leaders. Machado was involved in the 2002 coup attempt against Chavez and has been linked to recent coup plots against Maduro.

No attempt was made to investigate the underlying causes of the serious problems Venezuela faces as a result of the oil crash and capital hoarding. There was no attempt to note the Bolivarian Revolution’s social gains over the past decade and a half.

These include the construction of 1.5 million homes for the poor over the past several years, the continued growth of the social “missions” which provide free health care and education up to tertiary level as well as subsidised food. The creation of communal councils and communes, run by the Venezuelans, also continues.

Ordinary Venezuelans are facing dire economic problems, but the ABC “journalists” fail to attempt to analyse where they have come from, preferring instead to blame the socialist government of Chavez and Maduro.

The catastrophic fall in the world price of oil has undermined state revenues that the Venezuelan government has relied on to support its social programs, including free health care, education for all and free housing for the poor. The economic hoarding and boycotts, imposed by private businesses in Venezuela, has made life very difficult for many.

The government has made serious errors in its economic policy, but there is a class war going on, waged by a small, but still strong, reactionary oligarchy that is backed by the US. They want a return to the “good old days” of rule by the super-rich, which the Foreign Correspondent team seem to also condone.

Maduro may be unpopular at present, but the right-wing opposition who control the National Assembly are even more unpopular, recent polls conclude. The opposition is widely seen as having no viable alternative program except to return to rule by the oligarchs. Revealing, was the tiny opposition rally, although Campbell and Davis had no real explanation beyond government threats.

Balanced investigative journalists would have sought answers to the real problems facing Venezuelans.

Campbell has form. He visited Venezuela in 2009, producing a Foreign Correspondent piece titled, “Venezuela: total control”, in which he claimed that Chavez was becoming increasingly dictatorial — against any skerrick of evidence.

Campbell’s feint to “balance” was to leave in some comments from his interviewees about the reforms made under Chavez. You can imagine there were a lot more for these couple of lines to remain in the final program.

Contrary to Campbell’s assertion that the Venezuelan media is primarily state-owned and controlled, the private media corporations are still strong and they run a permanent anti-government campaign.

But the Venezuelan people are heroic and resilient. They have withstood the capitalist media and other attacks on their Bolivarian Revolution since 1999.

Campbell’s piece, which revolves around his subjectivity, is an example of the new genre of documentary called “alternative facts”.

Republished from Green Left Weekly

 

‘Venezuela Undercover’. What the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent left behind

Campbell and Davis render chavismo banal, reducing it to the recklessness of Chavez’s charisma and people’s adoration of a now dead leader. 

By Carlos Morreo

Foreign Correspondent disappoints with ‘Venezuela Undercover’. A good-looking but trivial piece of ‘investigative journalism’. The 30-minute documentary by reporter Eric Campbell and producer Mike Davis, begins by asserting that Venezuela is, today, a ‘disaster’. Though very little in the documentary is offered that might allow the viewer to understand why ‘Venezuela is a disaster’. The imagery of Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, looks colourful and striking on screen, but the material accompanies a formulaic narration. Caracas is either manic and dangerous or a stagnant and politically depressed city. The assumption that Campbell or Davis are capable of reporting on Venezuela is naïve. That they should report on Venezuela is arrogant. Beyond Campbell’s statements on ‘populism’, ‘socialism’ and ‘oil wealth’, very little is said beyond a reference to the collapse in oil prices in recent years and the government having nationalised private companies.

What the documentary does do very well is fulfil the tropes of how one should report on a ‘socialist state’. We are either told or made to think that foreign journalists are banned, that the Venezuelan government doesn’t want what is happening in the country to be known, and that little news gets out. Venezuela as some kind of tropical and disorderly North Korea. Campbell’s closing lines speaks of ‘leaving behind’ 32 million Venezuelans. Presumably, all people he would save if he could. But the fact is that journalism on Venezuela abounds, and all manner of writings, footage and reports on the country can be found.

There is barely any examination of how today’s Venezuela has come about. Campbell and David interview sociologist Margarita López Maya, though the grabs are underwhelming. I wish Campbell and David would contextualise a little. Lopez Maya, a well-regarded Venezuelan academic, accompanied chavismo up until 2009 or thereabouts. Many others have supported chavismo throughout its various phases. The ‘Bolivarian revolution’, Hugo Chavez in the presidency, related social movements and chavismo itself, have all had various chapters since 1998. Margarita Lopez Maya, but also Edgardo Lander, to mention another well-known Venezuelan sociologist, have both analysed, questioned or supported chavismo in its different periods. Today, both have distanced themselves from Maduro’s government, but others remain. Nevertheless, Campbell and Eric’s postcard from Venezuela chooses to present a rather trite analysis from López Maya in which she warns Australian viewers of Trump’s populism, ‘because Chavez in 1998 is like Trump today’.

Several opposition politicians are referred to on screen and María Corina Machado is given some weight. For a presidential candidate who ran against Chavez in 2012 by promoting ‘popular capitalism’, it might be surprising to hear her speak of ‘solidarity’. Though here coupled with talk of ‘innovation, prosperity and freedom’. This was the only occasion in which talk of solidarity was presented throughout the documentary. Once, and by a pro-market politician. That this was so, should have led Campbell and Davis to seek other voices and to ask better questions.

Still, what is truly striking is that there are no government voices. The assumption here is that given the undercover nature of the filming, no government representatives could be approached. Are we supposed to absolve Australian journalists when overseas in ‘troubled spots’ from the basics of journalism? The documentary could have presented any number of voices from supporters or leftist analysts speaking about Venezuela’s current situation. The well-known and very vocal members of Marea Socialista, a faction recently expelled from the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), come to mind.

Despite the lack of analysis chavismo is, nevertheless, brought into the documentary in a significant way. As a series of threats experienced by Campbell and Eric themselves,if the government finds out…if we are kidnapped by this gang… and by Venezuelans who are ‘watched over’ by Chavez’s ghost. Chavismo is also emptied of any reason in the documentary through its discursive absence. At some moment, we are told that Hugo Chavez, four years after his death, still counts with a strong following, and that the government itself has loyal supporters. And yet no socialists, no Venezuelan left, no articulate analysts detailing the difficulties of the Venezuelan ‘petro-state’ or governing from the left in Latin America are brought into the frame. In its place, we see Campbell visiting malandros in a Caracas slum (no need for the Trump coinage ‘bad hombres’).Chavismo is a threat, a ghostly presence or simply nonsensical.

The documentary trivialises what has been a significant experience in Venezuela, for its people, and the left. There are no interviews with members of the government-backed ‘community councils’, the vast popular and community run media or from the numerous social movements. These organisations and forms of political engagement, reinvigorated by chavismo since the early 2000s, and often engaged in complex negotiations with state power, are simply erased from Venezuelan reality.

I, for one, would have been interested in seeing an ABC-funded piece of journalism following the various state-backed food distribution networks, at the heart of the current food shortages while also a measure to address the crisis. But Campbell and Davis render chavismo banal, reducing it to the recklessness of Chavez’s charisma and people’s adoration of a now dead leader.

* ‘Venezuela Undercover‘ can be seen through here.

Carlos Eduardo Morreo is a Venezuelan citizen and Australian permanent resident, and a researcher at the ANU’s School of Politics and International Relations in Canberra. Between 2008 and 2009 he worked in the Venezuelan government’s Ministry of Popular Power for the Environment. @carlosmorreo

The visible hand of the market. Economic war in Venezuela

Pasqualina Curcio

The purpose of editing the book The visible hand of the market. Economic war in Venezuela in digital format and in the English language, is to contribute to showing, outside our borders, the aggression the Venezuelan people are being subjected to by Imperial power.

This book identifies and details the mechanisms by which big capital, in complicity with local opposition factors, have sought to affect social stability and generate discontent among the population, thereby influencing the political preferences of the Venezuelans.

These are mechanisms based on the alteration and manipulation of markets to deprive Venezuelans of essential goods, while affecting their purchasing power. They are unconventional weapons of war that transcend our borders in space and time. They are not novel, they have been applied at other times, in this respect we must remember Chile between 1970-1973, Nicaragua in the late 1990s, Zimbabwe in 2008, even the USSR in the 1980s. Mechanisms that are concealed and that big capital activates whenever they feel threatened by the consolidation of socialism as an alternative model.

These practices have historically been accompanied by a discourse that seeks to convince that situations such as the shortage of essential goods, inflation, and in general the economic situation, are consequences of the failure of the socialist models, when in reality they have been the result of practices of sabotage of the economy, in all those countries whose people have decided to move towards a model of social justice and equality.

Download the book here

Permanent Council of the Organization of American States: We reject Luis Almagro’s call to invoke the Democratic Charter against Venezuela!

Your Excellency Ambassador PATRICK ANDREWS

Chairman of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States.-

We, the undersigned of this communication, all democrat citizens, lovers of peace, social activists and convinced human rights defenders, respectfully hereby address to the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States that you chair to alert its members about the vicious intention attempting to talk them over that in Venezuela there is a rupture of the constitutional order, a humanitarian crisis, or any extreme situation that could mislead them to improperly apply the Inter-American Democratic Charter and create conditions to propitiate an armed intervention by the United States, a country that for long has been applying unilateral coercive measures, prohibited under the international law and under the Charter of this Organization.

Most of the Member States of the Organization, represented at this Council, have diplomatic representations in Venezuela, and therefore, they are fully aware that the pretension to sanction our country has no grounds. No deception is possible.

The Venezuelan people decided 18 years ago to undertake its own path from the perspective of participatory democracy – what we call the Bolivarian Revolution. In Venezuela, fundamental freedoms are fully exercised. We have a Government that earmarks the public resources to invest in the people and even more -and that is the reason why we elected it- that has put the people, and not the God Market, at the center of its public policies, so that it may become the protagonist of the economy.

In Venezuela we have the same problems endured by the other countries represented at the Council. The difference is that we possess enormous natural resources and we also had President Hugo Chavez, who raised the banners of socialism, sovereignty, Latin American and Caribbean union, and who vigorously heightened and practiced international solidarity, thus accomplishing the libertarian dreams of Bolivar, the Liberator.

Paradoxically, those who, from Venezuela, have been supporting interventionist ambitions against our homeland are also those who carried out a bloody coup in April 2002. Ever since, they have not changed their intolerant behavior. Instead, they have kept waging a wild Economic War against the people in Venezuela with the aid of their economic and commercial agents. In doing so, they have even managed to make huge profits for themselves. They try to lead the people to a dire situation. They are seeking an internal confrontation. They have failed to succeed because we have President Nicolás Maduro heading the Government. He has been able to face the economic war despite the declining oil prices as he adopted specific measures to ensure the people with access to food and medicines. Further, all social programs encompassed by the Missions and Great Missions which constitute the heart of the Revolution keep on working and achieving their goals.

The enemies of our Bolivarian democracy are the enemies of the National Dialogue process in Venezuela because they need to keep tensions alive as pretext to assault the legitimate power.

They persist in their obsessive pretension in spite of the fact that their coup of April 11, 2002 was fairly defeated. Even though President Hugo Chavez pardoned them, they have failed to recognize and continuously violate the will of the Venezuelan people to keep on supporting more strongly than ever before the political project that privileges the participatory and protagonistic democracy, the leading groundwork of the democratic social rule of law and justice provided under the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Their attitude has remained unchanged as they act in a suicidal, intolerant violent manner and disrespectful of the Bolivarian Constitution. Even when they have achieved what for many years they had not, that is, the chance to act as a democratic option from the National Assembly, they have failed to act democratically. On the contrary, their rage mounted. They failed to understand the message sent by the people.

The fact of the matter is that when they certainly gained sufficient electoral support to direct the National Assembly, the very day of their taking office, January 5th, 2016, they surprisingly presented a plan to oust the Constitutional President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, disregarding the fact that our Constitution does not grant any power whatsoever to the Legislative Branch of Government to act in such a manner against the Head of State.

They attempted to create confrontations between the Branches of Government, but our Constitution was drafted in order to maintain the stability of the State. The behavior of the antidemocratic opposition in Parliament is so erratic and inconsistent that, on the one hand they illegally decree that the President of the Republic has abandoned his office, and on the other hand they demand the Head of State to appear before the National Assembly to present his Annual Address to the Nation where he would file the annual report and accounts. This proves that they are not trustworthy.

Regrettably, the National Assembly is still held in contempt as a result of the decision of its current authorities, who have been repeatedly invited to return to the path of the Constitution.

It likewise becomes necessary to address two situations that the opposition has been manipulating.

In 2016, given the significant internal differences between the political groups making up the opposition, they failed to reach an agreement to activate a recall referendum in the proper time and in a time that were politically useful for them, that is, in the midterm, as provided for in the Constitution. Besides acting out of the proper time, they produced a significant number of signatures that were fraudulent and illegal taken from people under legal age and deceased individuals, which invalidated the long referendum process. However, the fact of the matter is that because of such reason any referendum and the hypothetical victory of the opposition would not take place before 2017. Their hypothetical victory would have not resulted in their seizing the Executive Branch of Government because had the president been recalled in that year, it would have been the Executive Vice President who would have taken office as President for the rest of the term. Likewise important is the widely known fact that the complaints about fraud and constitutional violations resulting from the collection of signatures led many citizens to create Committees of Victims of Electoral Fraud, thereby activating the judicial mechanisms to uphold their rights.

With respect to the alleged suspension of elections for governors, legislatures, mayors and councilors by the National Electoral Council, the truth is that before any electoral process, the right-wing parties making up the MUD coalition, as well as left-wing parties belonging to the Gran Polo Patriótico coalition, must comply with a legal requirement according to the 1965 Law Governing Political Parties, Public Assemblies and Demonstrations.

In accordance with the aforementioned Law, the parties failing to reach 1% of the ballots during two national elections are bound to go through a process to renew their militants’ lists with at least 0.5% of the voters register in, at least, 12 states. This is the situation of parties participating in the Gran Polo Patriótico coalition.

Likewise, under the same Law, those parties that have not used their electoral cards, signs and symbols during two national elections shall be deemed ANNULLED. This is the status of right-wing parties making up the MUD coalition. They are eliminated under that law. However, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled that they also can implement a process to renew their militants’ lists to avoid such annulment.

Despite the media campaign aimed at the international community, the National Electoral Council cannot call the regional elections as scheduled until the legal status of the parties is clarified. Only the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, PSUV, and other three totally new political groups would be legally in conformity to participate in elections.

Unfortunately, the power-hungry bigoted opposition has not been able either to understand its role or take on its responsibilities as an important Branch of Government.

Mister Chairman,

Distinguished Permanent Representatives,

Dialogue has been and is the only option privileged in our homeland in times of democratic Revolution. Dialogue is endorsed by the majority of people in Venezuela, is promoted by Pope Francis, UNASUR and former Presidents Martin Torrijos from Panama, Leonel Fernandez from Dominican Republic, and Jose Luis Zapatero from Spain.

Our people defends its sovereignty. Venezuelans gave their life to build a common homeland and are determined to repeat such feat if necessary. Therefore, our people only conceives and accepts relations in the international community based on the strictest abidance by the principles of international law, among which, self-determination and sovereignty outstand.

The history of the peoples speaks for itself, and even though some try to distort, conceal and tarnish such history, it remains in the memory of generations and is unquestionably manifested in society.

In this connection, the Organization of American States has tangible evidence of our deep democratic commitment to peace and dialogue. Venezuela has demonstrated that it values peace profoundly, and has also made important efforts to preserve it in the entire region. The generous mark left by the support given to the dialogue and peace negotiations in Colombia by Commander Hugo Chavez and our current Constitutional President Nicolás Maduro Moros is present in a myriad of forms and in all circumstances.

Our people cannot but wish and guarantee the same for itself. It raises concern, then, the new phase of the interventionist plan devised by those who intend to twist the will of the Venezuelan people.

WE REJECT and condemn that Luis Almagro, an obsessive, servile and visceral pawn of Washington -the heart of the North American power- following its public and notorious instructions intends to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter against our nation.

Platitudinous as it may seem, we need to state this: Luis Almagro DOES NOT represent us. We do not recognize any power he claims to speak or act on behalf of the Venezuelan people. In fact, the behavior he has openly displayed allows us to infer that he does not even have any moral, emotional or intellectual conditions to represent himself. Surprisingly, the OAS spends financial resources it does not have to make someone who intends to surrogate the powers of the Member States themselves belligerent.

The peoples of the continent surprisingly and indignantly observe such obscenity. We likewise keep in mind that the OAS General Assembly in the Dominican Republic commanded this permanent body to resolve on Luis Almagro’s deplorable behavior and his disrespect for the OAS Charter, an instruction which remains a task pending.

We, the undersigned, do not hesitate to comply with our duties. It is our task to fervently defend our nation with the unbiased truth, our arguments, our testimony and with our deep democratic convictions. WE SHALL NOT passively accept the conspiracies and interventionist fabrications of someone who should have been out of office long ago, an office which he still indignantly holds as Secretary General.

Mr. Chairman,

Permanent Representatives,

We condemn, reject and object that the OAS goes backwards, as Almagro intends, to become once again the pawn it used to be in the recent past.

It is not a secret that the former U.S Administration, led by powerful lobbyists of transnational corporations, imposed a complex framework of destabilization against the Bolivarian political model with the issuance of Barack Obama’s Executive Order whereby, with no argument or proof whatsoever, our people was deemed “an unusual and extraordinary threat” to the U.S. security and foreign policy.

It was a conspiracy with a military angle as shown by General John Kelly on March 12, 2015, before the Senate Armed Services Committee of the United States Congress, and ratified by Admiral Kurt Tidd on February 16, 2016, through a presentation called Venezuela Freedom-2 Operation.

We also alert the delegations of the Member States that the new United States administration, faced with serious domestic obstacles, succumbed to such pressures and decided to ignore an electoral promise made to young U.S. citizens and to many veterans -whose number has grown in its long, illegal and illegitimate interventionist history, and who are physically, emotionally or intellectually disabled. Such promise was that this new administration would not try to impose its political model on other countries.

There is an upcoming intervention. That is why Luis Almagro, aware of its illegality and illegitimacy, has urged USAID and NED funded local NGOs to demand the expulsion of Venezuela from the OAS. Such organizations did not have the courage to repudiate the April 2002 coup and are yet to condemn any of the outrages of fascism. Obviously, it is a coarse game widely known in the Organization where everybody knows who is who. There are no surprises.

Mr. Chairman of the Permanent Council,

Distinguished Permanent Representatives.

Never before in the history of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, have the people been so determined to defend its rights. We exercise them fully. We have a say in public decisions, and in the same way, we have duties and responsibilities to discharge, among others, the defense of our sovereignty, and the freely-elected Constitutional President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros; our democracy, our political model which, by the way, is an imperative in the Charter of this organization.

We invite you to not let them mislead you. We invite you to continue supporting the National Dialogue because doing otherwise would not be forgiven by the brotherly peoples you represent in that honorable Permanent Council.

Sincerely,

The undersigned’s

[For list of signatories and to add your name/organization click here]