‘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.


The undersigned’s

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

The Venezuela ‘Opposition’ We Never Hear About

By Arnold August

At 35 years of age, he is tall and slim, and his imposing stature moves about in a subtle swagger that exudes confidence tempered with a humility that does not succumb to his good looks and natural charisma. As a deputy, he is the leader of a block of 55 deputies in the Venezuelan National Assembly. From all appearances, his personality and the important position he holds should attract the sensation-seeking U.S. corporate media that hangs on to every word and is so eager to capture images of the deputies and their supporters to make a “story.”

There is, however, a problem for them and for Washington. Héctor Rodríguez is the leader of this minority block of 55 Chavista-led deputies, Bloque de la Patria, which is an outcome of the Dec. 5, 2015 legislative election that saw the ruling socialist party, the PSUV, lose its majority in the National Assembly.

Rodríguez opposes the majority in what has become a bourgeois national assembly, to paraphrase the words that Nicolás Maduro used in a talk in Caracas to national and international guests on March 7, 2017.

In the U.S. Congress, depending on its composition, the minority Democrats or Republicans oppose the majority. However, this “opposition” is always within the framework of the capitalist status quo, preserving the racist state as a vestige of slavery, negating the genocide of the Indigenous peoples (which is still under way in different forms) and sacrificing the working people on the altar of capitalist globalization, which itself is a key component of a foreign policy based on imperialist aggression and wars.

In parliamentary systems, such as in Canada and Britain, the establishment consensus adds a shameful British slant to the “opposition” charade, which would be a comedy if it were not so tragic. In these other countries in the North, the “loyal opposition” (as they are actually formally recognized) can feel free to oppose as long as they are loyal to the head of state, which in both Canada and Britain is the Queen of England.

However, Rodríguez’s loyalty lies with the Bolivarian Revolution and nothing else. On March 6, in Caracas, he participated in a more intimate meeting with delegates of the international Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity. It took place in a small hall in the Foreign Affairs building. During the course of this encounter, an exchange between the participants and the deputy naturally evolved. It was so engrossing that the banal act of taking notes would have failed to do justice to the content or the style in the best Chavista tradition exhibited by Rodríguez, which is also increasingly being demonstrated by President Nicolás Maduro and other leaders.

The discussion covered many themes. One, for example, was an incredibly lucid explanation of the view that the Bolivarian Revolution, which the block of deputies are part of, is based in words and deeds on opposition to U.S. imperialism and capitalism. While the Revolution is flexible in terms of tactics, for example, in negotiating with the majority pro-capitalist, pro-U.S. force in the National Assembly in order to strive for a peaceful solution to the crisis, when it comes to the question of principles and objectives, there is no compromise possible.

No wonder that those in the North, who rely on the corporate media, never hear about this “opposition” as personified in Rodríguez. This censorship takes place even though the establishment media must be in dire straits in the hunt for a new face to replace the bland dinosaur-type politicians in the National Assembly. Washington and its media would rather sink into the swamp of Venezuelan political oblivion, even though they should pay formal attention to the “opposition” as they do so faithfully not only in other countries but also, of course, in the U.S. Congress. If they ever decide to focus on Venezuela’s opposition to the National Assembly majority, Rodríguez and other such deputies would no doubt steal the show.

Another distinguishing feature of the Bolivarian Revolution opposition is that its rejection of the status quo is defined more by what it is in favor of than what it is against. The goals of the Bolivarian Revolution comprise social and economic equality, housing, food, health, education, culture, sports and a participatory and protagonist democracy, the very essence of which is blocked by imperialism and the neoliberal status quo.

Those of us who came of political age in the 1960s felt right at home as the deputy zeroed in on the imperialists, gringos and Yankees while making crystal clear what we already know. The conflict is not with the people of the U.S., who were duly represented in red those days in Caracas, but rather with the ruling circles who, as Martí and Bolívar said in their own respective ways, are destined to plague the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean with hardship and misery.

Moreover, the U.S. is doubling-down on its reprehensible destiny as the peoples in the South strive to finally break free from the shackles of the most forceful and aggressive military and economic power in the history of mankind (or surely since the fascism of WWII), represented by Republicans and Democrats. Thus, it was encouraging to hear President Maduro on that memorable evening in Caracas telling the truth: Venezuela has not been attacked by any U.S. president as much as during the eight years of Obama. Let that sink in.

In this context, the intransigent Bolivarian opposition to U.S. imperialism is no small matter. Venezuela, at the forefront of anti-U.S. imperialism today, is thus writing another chapter in modern world history, as the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro have done in safeguarding their sovereignty, dignity and the social system they have chosen.

For his part, Rodríguez walked the audience very carefully and deliberately, repeating as if to test our determination (and looking us in the eyes), that while the battle is at present still mainly in the realm of ideas, if necessary – if necessary – Venezuela will also fight militarily. There is no doubt that if forced to do so, the Bolivarian Revolution will resist in this way as well. This is why all of humanity must today more than ever stand with Venezuela

During the course of the exchange with Rodríguez, what stands out is his deep political conviction illuminated by clarity in theory. This is not merely manifested by ideas and words. When ideas and words combine with action, they become a material force in society. Material force means that the ideas become an organic part of society: the ideas in the minds of individuals such as Rodríguez and other leaders and activists at all levels are socialized and thus evolve into a common movement replete with diversity. Yes, diversity – but always and only within the wide framework of broad-based Chavismo.

Thus, the minority in the National Assembly — and perhaps still a minority of 40 percent, or even half of the population in the shifting sands, of Venezuelan society – represents the future of Venezuela and that whole region. A material force such as the Bolivarian Revolution cannot be snuffed out. Yes, it can suffer setbacks, but it cannot be eliminated.

Nevertheless, Chavismo is not an electoral movement but a revolution in the making and constantly redefining itself. It does so to the extent of fearlessly organizing revolutions within the revolution, striving to carry this out in conjunction with the people and activists at all levels. With this fresh approach so singularly characteristic of the Bolivarian Revolution, the irresistible material force of socialism to replace capitalism and foreign dependence increasingly takes root and grows in Venezuelan society and on its political scene.

Arnold August, a Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author of “Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections” and, more recently, “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion” which explores Cuba’s relationship with the U.S., Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. He is a collaborator of teleSUR English. Arnold can be followed on Twitter @Arnold_August and Facebook.

Venezuela Opposes OAS Secretary General Ultimatum: Elections or Suspension

Los Angeles, Wednesday March 15th 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Relations Delcy Rodríguez issued an official statement Tuesday rejecting the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro’s latest report calling for the suspension of the South American nation if general elections are not held “as quickly as possible”. The 75 page report, released this week, outlines the Bolivarian government’s alleged human rights abuses and violations of the OAS Democratic Charter.

“Almagro heads the hemisphere’s fascist right-wing group that harasses, assaults and viciously attacks Venezuela, without any scruples or ethics,” read the communique released on Rodríguez’s official social media page @DrodriguezVen.

Almagro insists that Venezuela hold general elections within 30 days and “retake an institutional route” or face suspension from the regional bloc, despite the fact that general elections are not due in Venezuela until 2018.

Elections “are the only real solution that exists,” Almagro attests.

“We cannot allow the premise of dialogue to continue to be used as a smokescreen to perpetuate and legitimize the authoritarian power of what has become a regime in Venezuela,” he stated in the updated report.

In response, the Venezuelan government denounced “before the whole world the aggressive intentions of this sad, evildoer against our unwavering decision to continue living in peace, with independence and sovereignty, as is the right of all peoples of the world”.

Last May, Almagro presented a similar report and invoked Article 20 of the OAS Democratic Charter. He threatened the South American nation with intervention, citing “an alteration of the constitutional order that seriously affects its democratic order.” Nonetheless, the move was rejected by the majority of member-states, who voted to back dialogue in Venezuela to resolve differences between the national government and political opposition.

Since May, the Bolivarian government has attempted to reconcile tensions with sectors of the opposition, whose efforts to realize a recall referendum to revoke the president last year were quashed. The National Electoral Council (CNE) suspended the process after thousands fraudulent signatures were registered in support of the recall by the opposition.

Subsequently, the Bolivarian government extended an invitation to dialogue with sectors of the opposition with support from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Vatican as international facilitators. However, the opposition has yet to resume the dialogue since late last year calling for the release of “political prisoners” and making other demands before committing to next steps.

Almagro’s report comes after he stated in February that the OAS would not apply the Democratic Charter in Venezuela’s case until the Bolivarian government, opposition and Vatican officially confirmed that dialogue efforts had ceased. A joint official statement between the two parties and the religious body has not been released.

Almagro’s threat of suspension for Venezuela is not new. The OAS suspended the revolutionary Cuban government and people from the regional body between 1962-2009.

Revolutionary Bolivar and Zamora Front: ‘Reviving Chavez’s politics is our greatest homage’

By Revolutionary Bolivar and Zamora Front

Four years have passed since that March 5th that changed the history of the country. Four years without the physical presence of Hugo Chávez, without his leadership at the helm of the historic project he had led and developed. From that day on, there was an epochal change: the coordinates – secure up until then – began to shift, the enemy sharpened its strategy of war, the revolutionary leadership lost its clarity, the millions, who on March 5 and during 10 consecutive days said farewell to Chávez, began losing their clear references and the certainties established over the course of 21 years.

The country is not the same one that Chávez left us. There are continuities, particularly in terms of social policies: housing, for example. 1.5 million homes have been built in six years [under the Great Venezuelan Housing Mission]. But there have also been ruptures, in particular, the way in which politics is done, the thinking regarding how the people should be protagonists, the mechanisms of revolutionary democracy and the ethics of the leadership of the process, as well as the direction of the way forward.

We say that it’s necessary to resuscitate the politics of Chávez – both in theory and practice, which are inseparable – in order to find in his vision the keys for advancing the project, which we must not forget, proposed a transition towards socialism. Today that course is not clear. We can ask ourselves, for example, if the communes are still part of the project. If they are not, then where are we headed?

There are several central points in Chávez’s thought: politics must be about revolutionary democracy. This does not mean passive attendance of grand ceremonies in which the same people are always speaking. It’s not applause for the cameras, but a way of participating that demands instruments, channels, and concrete organizational forms. Another key is to recover the politics of the everyday: it’s no secret that macro politics have become distant from the politics of the day to day, from the politics of the people. The official discourse does not register in the language of the commons.

To remember Chávez is then a necessary act of memory, but it’s also a responsibility and a dedication. What must be done for radical democracy to return, for power to be appropriated by the people, for the construction of a productive economy based on mixed forms of social property? If this is to become a reality then it will depend on the successful accumulation of popular forces, the organization that is being territorially developed among the young, women, the middle class, LGBTQ people, intellectuals, workers – in other words, that broad and heterogeneous universe called the people.

We must put into practice the politics of Chávez. This is our best homage.

Translated by Lucas Koerner for Venezuelanalysis.

Julian Assange on Chavez, Ecuador and WikiLeaks’ struggle for truth and justice

Letter sent by Julian Assange to the XV Encounter of the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defence of Humanity, held in Caracas, Venezuela over March 6-7, 2017. Translated by Federico Fuentes, Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network.


Dear friends in the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements for Humanity meeting in Caracas,

In the book of Proverbs, it says, “A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense.”

“Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables.” Yet there is more to it.

The next verse says, “The wise are mightier than the strong.” Knowledge is power.

I have the great honour of addressing you on the anniversary of the death of a man who fought long and hard against imperialism, neo-colonialism and other forms of oppression of the peoples, especially in Latin America.

[Former Venezuelan president Hugo] Chavez played the most important role on the global stage, with his tireless efforts to continue down the path of regional integration and cooperation and build a multi-polar world.

He denounced injustices as he saw them and in 2001 was the only leader to denounce the killings by the US of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, noting, “You cannot fight terrorism with terrorism”. A little over six months later, the US supported a coup against him that was defeated when hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets, many of them with the constitution in hand.

Like all of us, he was not free from sin, but his virtues shook the world.

As director of WikiLeaks, we have shed light on the secrets of the powerful, and have built a different and powerful library; a library that contains information regarding how our world and its institutions really function; a library that contains information that for centuries was solely in the hands of the elites and that now – not without facing risk and persecution – we have democratised and put at the disposition of the people, regardless of political orientation or creed.

It is for everyone, so that society as a whole opens their eyes and, with irrefutable information at hand, confront the powerful and come to their own conclusions, without the filter of the media, regarding political events and decisions that affect their lives.

The objective of WikiLeaks, of seeking truth in the name of humanity, is today more important than ever, an objective we continue to seek despite the high price we pay for it.

The cost, in my case, has been high. I have been legally persecuted and detained for almost seven years, without any charges having been laid against me. This persecution has been extended to my family, my children, to those I have not been able to see during this period of time.

The United Nations, as well as numerous human rights organisations and personalities at the global level, have called on Sweden and the United Kingdom to respect their international obligations, to respect and recognize the sovereignty of the state of Ecuador and to, therefore, recognise my asylum and stop blocking the exercise of this human right.

It is inconceivable that, in the 21st century, the imperialist attitudes of the United Kingdom and Sweden could lead them to ignore, with complete impunity, a sovereign act by an independent country, Ecuador.

I remind those present that Ecuador has paid and continues to pay a high price for granting me asylum to protect me from political persecution for having exposed the secrets of the empire. The British police have attacked its Embassy in London, which even today continues to be subjected to unprecedented levels of surveillance.

Denying safe passage so that I can go to Latin America is an act of pure imperialism by countries that occupy high posts in the United Nations and that, nevertheless, refuse to recognise and enable the exercise of a universal right. They do so with total impunity while mocking the sovereignty of a country of the South and the entire region of Latin America, which unanimously supports my asylum.

This constitutes a great insult to the dignity of our peoples and the very system of the United Nations. To have done this over many years demonstrates the deterioration and grave backwards steps that have occurred in terms of the international system of protection of human rights for all.

Not to speak of my country, Australia, another servant of imperialist interests, that in seven years has not once pleaded my case and, moreover, has sought to criminalise me to ensure I cannot return home.

Both Sweden and the United Kingdom have completely ignored a firm resolution from the highest authorities on the issue of arbitrary detention, who after closely analysing my case determined that my detention was arbitrary and illegal and that I should be immediately allowed to leave and be compensated.

But despite all this, the empire has not been able to silence me. I am free simply because I am free to express myself. And I have this freedom thanks to the courage of Ecuador and other states, among them Venezuela, that have united to support me.

My struggle could become a success story for freedom of expression and human rights. As such, granting safe passage would be an act of justice and dignity for the region.

We remain faithful to our promise to publish the truth without fear or negotiating under the table. We will continue to strive to fulfil our commitment to truth and social justice.

The liberation of the peoples depends on the liberation of the minds of the peoples. For this, we need peaceful revolutionary efforts, like those of WikiLeaks, to flourish around the world. That is why we need to halt the persecution of WikiLeaks and its people.

Let us do this together, today. Tomorrow may be too late.

Julian Assange

Venezuela’s Communal Movement


George Ciccariello-Maher, author of We Created Chavez, has come out with a short book on Venezuela, Building the Commune (Verso, 2016 Verso, 138 pp). Here the grassroots struggle  to build a new society, focusing on the cooperatives, the community councils, the communes, established to strengthen popular participatory democracy, is  keeping the Chavista revolution alive.

Venezuela’s Communal Movement

This communal movement began with the fight against neoliberalism’s anti-working class measures even before the Caracazo, the 1989 outburst against IMF imposed cuts resulting in the then government killing up to 2000 protesters. The later struggles against anti-neoliberal economics  in the 1990s eventually led to a series of anti-neoliberal governments taking power in South America,  where Chavez’ Venezuela led the way.

Continue reading “Venezuela’s Communal Movement”

Venezuela: The Suspension of the Recall Referendum, the Sharpening of Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries

This has essentially ruled out any possibility of a presidential recall referendum being run this year or next.

Venezuela’s Communes Form the Front Line of a Difficult Revolutionary Struggle

Nov 2nd 2016, by Tamara Pearson – Green Left Weekly