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Venezuela: The US vs national and international resistance

Wednesday 6 February 2019, by siawi3

Source: https://popularresistance.org/venezuela-us-pursuing-humanitarian-aid-path-to-war/

Venezuela: US Pursuing Humanitarian Aid Path To War

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers,
Popular Resistance

February 5, 2019

Above: A protest outside the United States Consulate in Sydney on January 23 2019 to demand no US intervention in Venezuela. Photo: Peter Boyle

The United States has been working with oligarchs in Venezuela to remove President Maduro since he came to office in 2013 after the death of Hugo Chavez and was re-elected that year. After he won re-election to another six-year term in 2018, the regime change planners sought new strategies to remove Maduro, including an assassination attempt last August. The coup campaign escalated recently with the self-appointment of president Juan Guaido, who President Trump and US allies have recognized. Now, the ongoing coup attempt is escalating through a strategy of humanitarian intervention.

Trump has been talking openly about war to take control of Venezuela’s vast oil reserves since mid-2017. Pentagon and former administration officials, who have since been removed from office, opposed the action. Now, Trump is surrounded by neocons who share his goal of removing Maduro and taking control of the country’s natural resources. War is an option being openly considered.

The US has no excuse to legally attack Venezuela. As Defense One reports, “International law forbids ‘the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.’” There are two exceptions mentioned in the UN Charter: self-defense and authorization by the U.N. Security Council, neither of which have been met in Venezuela. Domestically, Trump would also need the US Congress to authorize an attack, which is unlikely with a Democratic-controlled House not because Democrats oppose war but because they oppose Trump.

The United States has also claimed a highly questionable right to use force for “humanitarian intervention.” For example, the US and NATO 1999 intervention in Kosovo was a humanitarian intervention that became a war.

After a long-term economic war that has sought to starve Venezuela of resources and has cost the country billions of dollars annually, the United States is now claiming there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. It is moving to use this humanitarian crisis it helped to create as a path to war with Venezuela, with the help of US proxies, Colombia and Brazil. The tactic is to proclaim a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela requiring a humanitarian intervention and then to bring troops in to provide humanitarian aid as the BBC explains. Once the foot is in the door, it is simple to manufacture an excuse for conflict.

This weekend, the humanitarian intervention began to unfold when the coup president, Juan Guaido, announced the imminent distribution of humanitarian aid. Guaido announced the aid would be gathered at three points, and Venezuela’s army would be pressured to allow it into the country. The collection centers will be in Colombia, Brazil and on an island in the Caribbean. He announced aid will begin to be distributed in the coming days. He claimed the Venezuela military will have to make a decision whether or not to let this aid in to Venezuela. Guaido said he wants the people to play a supportive role by staying in the streets with demonstrations that will be announced soon.

Also over the weekend, National Security Adviser John Bolton said the US will send “critical supplies” requested by Guaido. Previously, Bolton has openly called for a military coup and sanctions to starve millions of Venezuelans into submission. On Twitter, USAID administrator Mark Green shared images of boxes embossed with the US flag en route to Venezuela.

Elliot Abrams, who has a long history of war crimes and was convicted in the Iran-Contra scandal, said the US government is considering opening a “humanitarian corridor” and has maintained contacts with Brazil and Colombia on the issue. He acknowledged that Maduro’s “cooperation” would be necessary to transport the aid to the country. El Pais reported, “The opening of this supply channel could require the participation of troops, whether Americans or from another country in the region, something that Chavism interprets as a clear threat.”

Vice President Mike Pence spoke this week about the deployment of humanitarian assistance with Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó’s ambassador to the United States, as well as Julio Borges, appointed as representative to the Lima Group. Borges will ask the Lima Group, which meets in Canada this week, for the “urgent” opening of a humanitarian corridor. Canada has played a junior role in the ongoing coup. Trudeau, who also levied economic sanctions against Venezuela, promised $53 million in humanitarian aid. Media critical of the coup have been denied access to these meetings

The United States launched this major operation in coordination with the right-wing governments of Colombia and Brazil, the most belligerent anti-Maduro allies of Guaido. The US National Security Council confirmed on Saturday that the deployment of aid has already begun. The initial aid will contain medicines, surgical supplies, and nutritional supplements. It was scheduled to come from USAID to Bogota on Monday and then be moved for storage in a collection center in the border city of Cúcuta, the main entrance route for Venezuelans migrating to Colombia. Cúcuta has a high presence of Colombian paramilitaries and smuggling mafias and is where those who attempted to assassinate Nicolas Maduro last year were trained.

One of the goals of the humanitarian aid is to divide the Venezuela military which has refused to recognize Guaido. They seek to deepen the pressure on the military in order to break the solidarity of the Maduro government. TIME Magazine reports, “The aid has become something of a litmus test for the military’s backing of Maduro.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), said on Twitter that, “Military & police leaders in #Venezuela must now decide to either help food & medicine reach people, or help #Maduro instead.”

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who has not recognized Guaido, said the United Nations “will not be part of” distributing the aid, as it wants to maintain “credibility” in order to help “find a political solution to the crisis.”

El Pais reports that “Diplomats from several Latin American countries and from the more moderate sectors of the opposition fear that this will serve as a pretext to drag the conflict into the military.” President Maduro has repeatedly rejected the entry of humanitarian aid because he knew it would provide justification for foreign intervention. He knows the US seeks Venezuela’s oil and other resources,“gold, gas, iron, diamonds, other material riches.”

Maduro called on the international community to stop the US threats of war against Venezuela. He said a war would be a blood bath, a David and Goliath struggle that would “leave Trump bloodstained.” Maduro said the Venezuelan people were prepared to defend their “sacred“ land from a US military invasion, but emphasized that he “prayed to God” such a conflict will never occur. Trump’s “military aggression” must be rejected so that “peace prevails.”

Read more:
Venezuela: What Activists Need To Know About The US-Led Coup
US-Led Coup In Venezuela: The Plot Thickens

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Source: https://popularresistance.org/u-s-southern-command-in-colombia-along-the-border-venezuela-military-moves-u-s-pulls-out-of-inf-treaty-russia-threatens-u-s-china-calls-for-calm/

U.S. Southern Command In Colombia Along The Border, Venezuela Military Moves, U.S. Pulls Out Of INF Treaty; Russia Threatens U.S; China Calls For Calm.

By Aaron Kesel,
Activistpost.com

February 5, 2019

Above Photo: From Activistpost.com

See several videos here

According to a State Department source, corroborated by a video news report, U.S. troops are already along Colombia’s border. This comes as Venezuela has reportedly moved military armaments and ammunition to Colombia’s border as well. Meanwhile, Russia has threatened the U.S. amid announcing its withdrawal from the Cold War Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, following suit by suspending the agreement.

Although it’s not 5,000 troops along the border; a source said the U.S. was propagandizing 5,000 troops on John Bolton’s notepad to hide a larger troop count of 30,000+ proposed to Colombia.

This writer’s source stated that recently a former Pentagon official stressed the fact that if the U.S. was to get militarily involved it would need way more than 5,000 troops. The former official was reported by The Times. “A military operation in Venezuela requires the presence of between 25,000 and 30,000 American soldiers, especially since the success of this operation depends largely on the loyalty of the Venezuelan military forces to Nicolas Maduro,” the official told The Times.

A news report by Vesti, a Russian news outlet, corroborates my own source who stated U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) is already down on the ground in Colombia. For those that don’t know, SOUTHCOM’s Area of Responsibility encompasses 31 countries and 16 dependencies and areas of special sovereignty, which includes Colombia, according to its website. The U.S. already has nine military bases in Colombia, so to say that it wants to send only 5,000 troops to Colombia is a ludicrous claim! There are already troops there!

These are additional troops that Bolton and the Pentagon want to send to Colombia. Then there are 76 total bases in Latin America, as of 2018, according to this writer’s knowledge. On that regard, the maximum number of military personnel and contractors allowed in the country at a time by U.S. law is 1,400, as The Guardian reported when a Colombian constitutional court ruled U.S. access to more bases in the country was illegal because it wasn’t approved by legislators at the time in 2010.

Further, a little bit of digging and you will find there was an alert last year in February, where the former head of Southern Command, Kurt Tidd, met behind closed doors with Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas and other senior officials. In this meeting, the Colombian president emphasized the importance for the region of what was worded as “restoring the democratic channel in Venezuela.”

Elreporterosf, writes:

A prominent place appears to be assigned to two fast-acting US military bases installed in the communities of Vichada and Leticia, in the Colombian department of Amazonas, bordering Venezuela in the southwest of the country, according to reports.

These bases, which are added to those already existing, represent an important step in the military occupation of Colombia, considered by the late US Senator Paul Coverdell as a necessary preliminary action to invade Venezuela.

Also, the 2009 military agreement between Washington and Bogota allows Americans greater access to military bases, including Palanquero, considered strategic because of its position in the Americas.

In the siege of Venezuela, the US assault troops stationed in the ‘control and monitoring’ bases of Reina Sofía, in Aruba, and Hato Rey, in Curaçao, and the operations center would have a seat in the base of Palmerola, in Honduras, the largest foreign installation of that nature in Latin American territory.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that in September the Trump administration held secret meetings with rebellious military officers from Venezuela to discuss their plans to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, according to American officials and a former Venezuelan military commander. Although, The NY Times states in its report that American officials eventually decided not to help the plotters, the plot itself and intention is even documented in MSM. The Trump administration certainly isn’t trying to hide its effort being put forth to invade Venezuela be it covertly or overtly. As this article will document they are just continuing operations from past administrations.

It’s the same story over and over again from Panama in 1903 to Iran, 1953; Guatemala, 1954, to Congo, 1961; Vietnam, 1963, to Chile, 1973, to Iraq 2003, and so on. Just different players and a different game board (country); the end goal is always regime change and overthrowing the leadership of a country (the U.S. doesn’t have control over) by whatever means, even if illegal. Although typically what you will find throughout history the U.S. starts by placing sanctions to weaken the economy, then complain about the people living in poverty under the leader of another country.

We can even trace efforts for U.S. regime change in Venezuela back to 2010, due to leaked WikiLeaks Stratfor emails discussing such actions through using the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a CIA front company. H/T Gray Zone Project.

“Success is by no means guaranteed, and student movements are only at the beginning of what could be a years-long effort to trigger a revolution in Venezuela, but the trainers themselves are the people who cut their teeth on the ‘Butcher of the Balkans.’ They’ve got mad skills. When you see students at five Venezuelan universities hold simultaneous demonstrations, you will know that the training is over and the real work has begun,” Stratfor wrote.

At a meeting on January 28th on the new U.S. sanctions against Venezuela that target the state-owned company PDVSA, Bolton was captured by the mainstream press holding a yellow notepad indicating the potential to send “5,000 soldiers into Colombia.” This writer’s source claims that this is utter “bullshit propaganda” since the U.S. already has troops stationed on the ground in Colombia in its nine military bases, including the Southern Command, and the effort to start ramping up the invasion of Venezuela started last year.

The source further states that the “U.S. government’s military plans will potentially go into effect sometime within the next 6 months while the shorter time frame is more likely,” as South Command’s new lead Vice Adm. Craig Faller just met in Venezuela with little media attention besides the Russian video report above. Many may deem this as propaganda by the Russian government; however, the source states the meeting did indeed take place, even if the Russian outlet stretched the facts about Southern Command by not telling viewers they have been in Colombia stationed, the bigger story is the meeting with Faller. (This writer dug deep and could not find any press or press releases stating the meeting even took place.) This means that the meeting in part was meant to be kept secret from the public, which is always a sign that something nefarious is in the works.

However, what this writer did find was an article suggesting Venezuela had moved its own military to its border, an interesting coincidence of geopolitical moves taking place to say the least. This also backs a meeting by Faller and Troops, Colombian and U.S. protecting the Colombian border. “Residents of Eastern Venezuela have posted footage of heavy artillery systems, main battle tanks and military equipment moving towards the Colombian border,” Defence Blog writes.

U.S. President Donald Trump has stated that “all options are on the table,” which means military invasion is a possibility. The source states that this decision is already well decided by top brass they are determined for regime change “war”; and to reiterate, military movements could start as soon as within the next 6 months. Of note, a press release by the White House last year in November deemed Venezuela one of Washington’s top regime change targets, branding the country the leader of a “troika of tyranny.”

The Gray Zone Project, further reports:

According to the Venezuelan government, the U.S. was also involved in a plot, code-named Operation Constitution, to capture Maduro at the Miraflores presidential palace; and another, called Operation Armageddon, to assassinate him at a military parade in July 2017. Just over a year later, exiled opposition leaders tried and failed to kill Maduro with drone bombs during a military parade in Caracas.

The official narrative is that the U.S. wants to help Colombia deal with a surge of Venezuelan immigrants against the country. However, the true motive of the U.S. is known because John Neo-con Bolton blabbed his big mouth by stating the U.S. wanted Venezuelan oil.

“It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela,” Bolton told Fox News in an interview this week.

“The reason is seizing the oil of Venezuela, because we have the largest oil reserves, we confirm that we have the largest reserves of gold in the world, we have the world’s fourth-largest gas (reserves), have large reserves of coltan , diamonds, aluminum, iron, we have drinking water reserves throughout the national territory, we have energy and natural resources,” said Venezuelan president Maduro.

The U.S. has also issued sanctions against Venezuelan gold, which the White House has warned “don’t trade in Venezuelan gold, amid claims Russian plane took 20 TONS from country’s central bank back to Moscow,” Dailymail reported.

Despite this, Bolton has stated, “intervention in Venezuela is not imminent” even while seemingly threatening to send the current Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, to the U.S. military prison at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba if he does not soon step aside.

The “Silent Coup” Of Juan Guaidó PLAN B

Next let’s talk about the implanted candidate the U.S. is supporting in what’s being deemed as a “silent coup.” As the Gray Zone Project notes, “Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization.”

Some highlights about Guaidó include that he graduated from Andrés Bello Catholic University of Caracas. He then moved to Washington, DC to enroll in the Governance and Political Management Program at George Washington University, under the mentor-ship of Venezuelan economist Luis Enrique Berrizbeitia, a former executive director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Gray Zone Project reported. Further, Guaidó has in the past been a proponent helping lead anti-government rallies in Venezuela and lead a political party called “Popular Will.”

This Political Party, according to the Gray Zone Project, was connected to Stratfor and CANVAS as “key advisors of Guaidó and his anti-government cadre.” The publication goes on to state Guiado and several other student activists allegedly attended a secret five-day training at a hotel dubbed “Fiesta Mexicana” hotel in Mexico, where they planned to overthrow then President Hugo Chavez by generating street violence according to emails obtained by Venezuelan security services, presented by former Justice Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres.

It’s worth noting that the Trump administration’s support for Guaidó was preconceived and tightly coordinated, according to The Wall Street Journal. Yes, the mainstream press actually reported the truth that the night before Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president of Venezuela, the opposition leader received a phone call from Vice President Mike Pence. Further, all the lawmakers from the Florida base of the right-wing Cuban exile lobby met in December — Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart — with Trump and Pence. Trump then agreed that if Guaidó declared himself President he would back him. For more in-depth information on Guaidó, I highly recommend the long-read article on the Gray Zone Project titled: “The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader.”

U.S. And Russia Pull Out Of INF Treaty A Month After Russia Bombers Flew Over Venezuela

Meanwhile, in other news, the U.S. has stated it will be pulling out of the INF Treaty with Russia. This comes a month after Russia ran a drill flying two of its nuclear-capable strategic Tu-160 bombers over the Caribbean Sea and Venezuela during a 10-hour training mission, presumably in response to U.S. threats to withdraw from the treaty with Russia, WSBTV reported. The U.S. claims the 9M729 cruise missile breaches the INF treaty, Activist Post reported.

Although, the U.S. previously announced it would give Russia 60 days, claiming that Russia has developed the new cruise missile in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty that banned land-based nuclear missiles in Europe during the Cold War. So, pulling out of the treaty is a two-pronged move: one that sends a message to Venezuela, and equally sends a message to Russia. Both are working together openly in combination with the socialist nation of Venezuela, which also has sanctions against it by the U.S. government.

Russia plans to build a base and a military presence presumably in response to the U.S. suggesting it will pull out of the INF treaty, in La Orchila, Venezuela according to TASS.

According to military envoys, Russian authorities have made a decision (and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro did not object) to deploy strategic aircraft to one of Venezuela’s islands in the Caribbean Sea, which has a naval base and a military airfield. Ten years ago, Russian experts and Armed Forces commanders had already visited the island of La Orchila, located 200 kilometers northeast of Caracas. Venezuelan laws prohibit the setup of military bases in the country, but a temporary deployment of warplanes is possible.

“It is the right idea to include Venezuela in long-range aviation missions,” military expert Colonel Shamil Gareyev told the newspaper, adding that it was also economically reasonable. “Our strategic bombers will not only not have to return to Russia every time, but also won’t perform aerial refueling while on a patrol mission in the Americas. Our Tu-160 aircraft arrive to their base in Venezuela, conduct flights, execute their missions and are then replaced on a rotating basis. This is how it should be done,” he said.

Colonel Eduard Rodyukov, a Corresponding Member of the Academy of Military Sciences, in turn, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that “the arrival of Russia’s Tu-160 strategic bombers to Central America is kind of a signal to Trump to make him realize that abandoning nuclear disarmament treaties will have a boomerang effect.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded by stating in an angry rant that the drills were a waste of public funds. “Russia’s government has sent bombers halfway around the world to Venezuela,” Pompeo said on Twitter. “The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer.”

In response to the U.S. pulling out of the INF treaty, Russia followed suit one day later in what many are deeming a race to acquire new weapons, or Cold War 2.0.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin issued a televised statement threatening the U.S. by stating that “Russia would build weapons previously banned under the treaty and would no longer initiate talks with the United States on any matters related to nuclear arms control.” However, the country stated they would not deploy those weapons unless America did first.

“I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we must not and will not let ourselves be drawn into an expensive arms race,” Putin told Russian ministers. “Money to build the new missiles,” he added, “will come from the existing defense budget.”

“Our response will be symmetrical. Our American partners announced that they are suspending their participation in the I.N.F. Treaty, and we are suspending it too. They said that they are engaged in research, development and design work, and we will do the same,” Putin said.

It’s also further worth noting that Putin recently stated that the threat of nuclear war should not be underestimated as tensions have risen between NATO countries and Russia within the past few months. Putin added that U.S. withdrawal from the treaty could spur “global catastrophe” and that he hopes “common sense will prevail.” (This was before the U.S. pulled out of the INF treaty.)

Russia appears to be making preparations for potential war. In April earlier this year, a Russian state-owned television station warned that some Americans are preparing for a coming war with Moscow, explaining to the country’s residents how to stock their bunkers with water and basic necessities in case a war breaks out.

This is visibly seen by Russia suggesting that it will build bases in the Caribbean and build up its existing Arctic strongholds.

“We’ll finish building infrastructure in 2019 to accommodate air defense radar units and aviation guidance points on the Sredny and Wrangel Islands, and on Cape Schmidt” in the Russian Arctic, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said according to France 24.

In October, President Trump cited China’s potential expansion as a reason the United States should consider quitting the INF treaty.

“If Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it, and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable,” Trump said after a rally in Nevada.

Meanwhile, China has called for a calm between Russia and the U.S. taking a role of easing relations urging the two nations for constructive dialogue.

“This treaty plays a significant role in easing major-country relations, promoting international and regional peace, and safeguarding global strategic balance and stability,” Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement on the ministry’s website. “China is opposed to the U.S. withdrawal and urges the U.S. and Russia to properly resolve differences through constructive dialogue.”

“China opposes the multilateralization of this treaty. What is imperative at the moment is to uphold and implement the existing treaty instead of creating a new one.”

Those war drums keep beating louder and louder with no signs of slowing down that growing rhythm, which if we aren’t careful could lead to a “global catastrophe.” As for Venezuela, it’s up to the will of the people; hate or love Maduro it’s not my fight or yours, it’s theirs. But one thing is for sure: a person who proclaims himself to be president without a single vote from the people and has an extensive history of involvement with regime change trainers shouldn’t be president — that’s certainly not a healthy part of democracy.

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Source: http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article47655

Venezuela: International Declaration – For a democratic solution, from and for the Venezuelan people

All the versions of this article: [English] [français] ici/here

Monday 28 January 2019,

by Collective

INTERNATIONAL DECLARATION

Stop the escalation of the political conflict in Venezuela
Against imperial intervention
For a democratic solution, from and for the Venezuelan people

Venezuela is experiencing an unprecedented crisis, which has been gradually worsening in recent years, to the point of dramatically affecting all aspects of the life of a nation. The collapse of public services, the collapse of the oil industry and the extraordinary fall of GDP, hyperinflation, the vertiginous increase of poverty, the migration of millions of people define this crisis, among other factors. Political unrest has escalated to very dangerous levels, undermining the constitutional state, the framework of social coexistence and the health of institutions. The country’s population is in a state of absolute vulnerability.

The Government of Nicolás Maduro has advanced towards authoritarianism, suppressing de facto numerous forms of popular participation that had been established since the beginning of the Bolivarian process. Repression has increased in the face of numerous protests and demonstrations of social discontent; the government has hijacked the electoral route as a collective decision-making mechanism and has proved intransigent in the goal of holding on to power at any cost; Maduro has ruled outside the Constitution, applying a permanent state of exception. Meanwhile, extractivism is deepening and economic adjustment policies which favor transnational corporations are implemented, with a negative impact on society and nature.

In parallel, the extremist sectors of the opposition bloc that managed to lead different mobilizations, have prompted several calls for a forced and radical ousting of the Maduro government (in 2014 and 2017), which generated very serious violent confrontations and attacks on infrastructure. This has further contributed to the strangulation of the everyday lives of millions of people, and had a severe impact on the framework of peaceful coexistence.

Additionally, in the context of the growth and alignment of the political right in Latin America, foreign intervention has intensified. In the first place, the Government of the United States has assumed a much more aggressive position toward Venezuela since 2015, through Executive Orders, threatening statements, creation of regional and international lobbies against the Maduro Government and economic sanctions which have impacted the national economy. Other international actors such as China and Russia also have significantly influenced the course of events according to their own expansionist interest, and their economic and energy appetites, configuring an extremely tense geopolitical situation.

On January 23rd, 2019, the self-proclamation of the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as ’interim president’ of Venezuela in order to head a transitional government, has unleashed a new escalation of the crisis. This attempt to create a parallel State in the country found a quick recognition by the government of the United States, as well as other allied countries such as Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, among others.

The creation of a parallel State centered on the National Assembly and the Supreme Court of Justice in exile, supported by the US and the so-called Lima Group, opens the stage for the deepening of the crisis and the unleashing of an internal armed conflict, a civil war with international participation. A devastating scenario for the population and for the Venezuelan Republic, which could be dismembered and be preyed upon by different international interests, as has happened in other world regions as a result of recent imperialist interventions.

The aggressive pressure of the Government of the United States, as well as the diplomatic confrontations between the latter and the Venezuelan Government, create very dangerous constellations.

The current situation no longer represents only a threat to the possibility of democracy, but to the very lives of millions of Venezuelans and to stability in the region. In an armed confrontation, the people are the first affected, and even more in today’s Venezuela, where the population already lives a huge precariousness and violence in the context of territorial disputes.

In this sense, we who sign,

• Reject the authoritarianism of the Maduro Government, as well as the government’s repression in the face of growing protests throughout the country, for food, transportation, health, political participation, public services, living wages, among others. The Venezuelan people, who suffer the enormous precariousness and the current repression, have the right to protest without being criminalized for it.

• We reject the self-proclamation of Juan Guaidó and the creation of a parallel State in the country, which will only lead to greater conflict and does not solve the main problems the country is facing.

• We repudiate any anti-democratic political shortcut that does not pay tribute to a peaceful solution decided by the people.

• We reject US interventionism, as well as any other form of foreign interference. Venezuela must not become an international battlefield. It is the Venezuelan people who must decide their destiny. We invite the peoples of the world to support and accompany them in this sense.

• We urgently call for the convergence of political actors and social organizations to join forces in order to stop the escalation of the political conflict in Venezuela.

• We urge to promote dialogue scenarios and seek solutions in which the Venezuelan people can decide, democratically and from below, their next destination; to reconnect with the processes of democratization that the Bolivarian revolution had built in its beginnings.

• We ask that the solution be based on the principles of the Constitution of the Republic. It is essential to reconstruct the social, political and institutional frameworks of understanding.

• We support the proposals, made from Venezuela, of negotiated outputs either through the mediation offered by the governments of Uruguay and Mexico, and/or by holding a binding consultative referendum so that the Venezuelan population will decide on the call to general elections. The fact that the Organization of American States (OAS) did not obtain the votes necessary to support the proclamation of Guaidó, gives indications that there is still room for an international dialogue.

• We invite national political actors to promote channels for an exit from the economic crisis that is suffocating the Venezuelan people. These channels should help to alleviate the basic needs of the population and boost the resurgence of an economy that enables the development of life and social welfare.

The way out of the deep crisis that the Venezuelan society is undergoing must be peaceful, constitutional and restore its sovereignty to the Venezuelan people.

Send your endorsement signatures with name, institution/organization, and country to: declarvenezuela gmail.com

First endorsements

1. Edgardo Lander, Universidad Central de Venezuela (Venezuela)
2. Emiliano Terán Mantovani, Observatorio de Ecología Política (Venezuela)
3. Miriam Lang, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar (Ecuador/Alemania)
4. Alberto Acosta (Ecuador)
5. Tatiana Roa Avendaño, Censat Agua Viva (Colombia) - Cedla UvA (Amsterdam)
6. Maristella Svampa, Universidad Nacional de La Plata (Argentina)
7. Arturo Escobar, University of North Carolina (Colombia)
8. Rita Laura Segato, Profesora emérita, Universidad de Brasilia (Brasil)
9. Vladimir Aguilar Castro, Universidad de Los Andes (Venezuela)
10. Joan Martínez Alier, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (España)
11. Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar, Posgrado en Sociología ICSYH-BUAP (Mexico)
12. Carlos Walter Porto-Gonçalves, Universidade Federal Fluminense (Brasil)
13. Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh (India).
14. Oly Millán Campos, economista (Venezuela)
15. Enrique Leff, Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (México)
16. Mina Lorena Navarro, profesora-investigadora BUAP (México)
17. Klaus Meschkat, Leibniz Universität Hannover (Alemania)
18. Catalina Toro Pérez. Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Colombia)
19. Marco Arana Zegarra, Congresista de la República, Frente Amplio (Perú)
20. Massimo Modonesi, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (México)
21. Eduardo Gudynas, CLAES (Uruguay)
22. Leonardo Bracamonte. Universidad Central de Venezuela (Venezuela)
23. Pablo Stefanoni, periodista (Argentina)
24. Felipe Milanez, Universidade Federal da Bahia – UFBA (Brasil)
25. Andrea Pacheco, Directora del Centro de Estudios de la Realidad Latinoamericana (Venezuela)
26. Vilma Rocío Almendra Quiguanás, Indígena Nasa-Misak, Pueblos en Camino (Colombia)
27. Emmanuel Rozental-Klinger, Pueblos en Camino (Colombia)
28. Ailynn Torres Santana, investigadora feminista (Cuba)
29. Mario Alejandro Pérez Rincón, Universidad del Valle (Colombia)
30. Patricia Chávez León - Territorio Feminista/ Docente e Investigadora UPEA (Bolivia)
31. Marxa Chávez León - Territorio Feminista (Bolivia)
32. Dunia Mokrani Chávez - Territorio Feminista (Bolivia)
33. Luis Tapia Mealla – Docente e investigador CIDES – UMSA (Bolivia)
34. Gabriela Merlinsky, CONICET (Argentina)
35. John Cajas-Guijarro, Universidad Central del Ecuador, FLACSO (Ecuador)
36. Domingo Hernandez Ixcoy, Maya K’iche (Guatemala)
37. Pabel Camilo López, CIDES-UMSA (Bolivia)
38. Grettel Navas, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (Costa Rica)
39. Nadia Urbinati, Columbia University (Italia)
40. Alejandro Bruzual, Presidente de la Sociedad Venezolana de Musicología (Venezuela)
41. Nina Pacari, ex Canciller del Ecuador (Ecuador)
42. Pierre Beaudet, Plataforme Altermondialista, Montréal, (Canadá)
43. Ana Patricia Noguera, Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Colombia)
44. Pablo Quintero, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Brasil)
45. Ronald Cameron, Plateforme altermondialiste, Québec (Canadá)
46. Aideé Tassinari Azcuaga, Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México (UACM), México
47. José María Tortosa, Universidad de Alicante (España)
48. Enrique Viale, asociación de Abogados Ambientalistas de Argentina (Argentina)
49. Carlos Eduardo Morreo, Australian National University & Institute of Postcolonial Studies (Australia)
50. Franck Gaudichaud, Universidad Grenoble-Alpes (Francia)
51. David Barkin, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana- Unidad Xochimilco (México)
52. Carlos Forment, New School for Social Research (USA)
53. Gustavo A. García López, Escuela Graduada de Planificación / Universidad de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico)
54. John Foran, University of California (USA)
55. Gabriela Massuh, escritora (Argentina)
56. Dayaleth Alfonzo, investigadora agroécologa (Venezuela/Francia)
57. Horacio Tarcus, CeDInCI (Argentina)
58. Facundo Martín, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo/CONICET (Argentina)
59. Jeffery R. Webber, Goldsmiths, University of London (Inglaterra)
60. Maxime Combes, economista (Francia)
61. Julio César Guanche, investigador (Cuba)
62. Nicholas Hildyard, The Corner House (Reino Unido)
63. Sarah Sexton, The Corner House (Reino Unido)
64. Larry Lohmann, The Corner House (Reino Unido)
65. Hiram Hernández Castro, académico (Cuba)
66. Patricia Pintos, docente e investigadora IdIHCS/UNLP (Argentina)
67. Thomas Posado, Universidad Paris-8 (Francia)
68. Andrés Kogan Valderrama, Observatorio Plurinacional de Aguas (Chile)
69. Ovidiu Tichindeleanu, IDEA / ABC Society (Romania)
70. Dianne Rocheleau, Clark University (USA)
71. María Paula Granda, The New School for Social Research (Ecuador)
72. Fabián Espinosa, SIT Ecuador / Desarrollo, Política y Lenguas (Ecuador)
73. Javier Reyes, Centro de Estudios Sociales y Ecológicos A. C. Michoacán (México)
74. Henry Veltmeyer, Universidad de Saint Mary´s (Canadá) y Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas (México)
75. Gonzalo Díaz Letelier, Universidad de Santiago de Chile (Chile)
76. Arturo D. Villanueva Imaña, Sociólogo (Bolivia)
77. Mercedes Centena, Socióloga (Argentina)
78. Norberto Manzanos, CONICET (Argentina)
79. Pablo Alabarces, Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina)
80. Hélène Roux, Universidad Paris 1 (Francia)
81. Markus S. Schulz, Centro Max Weber de estudios avanzados cultural y social (Alemania)
82. Valentina Estrada Guevara, consultora social (México)
83. Federico P. Koelle D., (Ecuador)
84. Janet Conway, Brock University (Canadá)
85. Börries Nehe, Goethe Universität Frankfurt (Alemania)
86. Nicolas Kosoy, McGill University (Canadá)
87. Udeepta Chakravarty, New School for Social Research (USA)
88. Adrián Beling, FLACSO Argentina / Universidad Humboldt de Berlin
89. Federico Lorenz, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
90. Instituto de Estudios Ecologistas del Tercer Mundo, Ecuador
91. Cecilia Chérrez, Ecuador
92. Pablo Almeida, La Casa Tomada (Ecuador)
93. Alejandra Almeida
94. Roberto Espinoza, Red Descolonialidad y Autogobierno (Perú)
95. Cornelis J. van Stralen, UFMG - Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brasil)
96. Octavio Zaya, Atlántica Journal, Canary Islands (España)
97. Ravi Kumar, South Asian University (India)
98. Vinod Koshti, IPTA, New Delhi (India)
99. Silvia Bagni, Universidad de Bolonia (Italia)
100. Anna Harris, Psychotherapist (Reino Unido)
101. Anwesha Sengupta, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata (India)
102. Ruchi Chaturvedi, University of Cape Town (Sudáfrica)
103. Federico Demaria, Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, Catalunya (Italia)
104. Christian Kerschner, University Vienna (Austria)
105. Lucile DAUMAS, jubilada, (Francia)
106. Otávio Velho, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brasil)
107. Geneviéve Azam, Economista, Attac France (Francia)
108. Diego Andreucci, Universidad Pompeu Fabra de Barcelona y Colectivo Entitle-Red Europea de Ecología Política (Italia)
109. Didier Prost, arquitecto urbanista (Francia)
110. Cândido Grzybowski, Presidente do Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas (IBASE) (Brasil)
111. Jorge Rojas Hernández, Universidad de Concepción (Chile)
112. Boris Marañón Pimentel, UNAM (México)
113. Boris Alexander Caballero Escorcia, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (México)
114. K. Sudhir, Peoples Architecture Commonweal (INDIA)
115. César Augusto Baldi, professor universitario (Brasil)
116. Hermann Herf, Welthaus Bielefeld (Alemania)
117. Matthieu Le Quang, Universidad Paris 7 (Francia)
118. Alberto Chirif, Antropólogo (Perú)
119. Carolina Viola Reyes, Uninomada Sur (Ecuador)
120. Virginia Vargas Valente, Articulacion Feminista Marcosur (Perú)

°°°

Source: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/01/24/open-letter-united-states-stop-interfering-venezuelas-internal-politics

An Open Letter to the United States: Stop Interfering in Venezuela’s Internal Politics

Thursday 24 January 2019,

by Collective

If the Trump administration and its allies continue to pursue their reckless course in Venezuela, the most likely result will be bloodshed, chaos, and instability. By over 70 scholars and experts, including Noam Chomsky, Laura Carlsen, Miguel Tinker Salas, Greg Grandin.

The following open letter—signed by 70 scholars on Latin America, political science, and history as well as filmmakers, civil society leaders, and other experts—was issued on Thursday, January 24, 2019 in opposition to ongoing intervention by the United States in Venezuela.

The United States government must cease interfering in Venezuela’s internal politics, especially for the purpose of overthrowing the country’s government. Actions by the Trump administration and its allies in the hemisphere are almost certain to make the situation in Venezuela worse, leading to unnecessary human suffering, violence, and instability.

Venezuela’s political polarization is not new; the country has long been divided along racial and socioeconomic lines. But the polarization has deepened in recent years. This is partly due to US support for an opposition strategy aimed at removing the government of Nicolás Maduro through extra-electoral means. While the opposition has been divided on this strategy, US support has backed hardline opposition sectors in their goal of ousting the Maduro government through often violent protests, a military coup d’etat, or other avenues that sidestep the ballot box.

“Actions by the Trump administration and its allies in the hemisphere are almost certain to make the situation in Venezuela worse, leading to unnecessary human suffering, violence, and instability.”

Under the Trump administration, aggressive rhetoric against the Venezuelan government has ratcheted up to a more extreme and threatening level, with Trump administration officials talking of “military action” and condemning Venezuela, along with Cuba and Nicaragua, as part of a “troika of tyranny.” Problems resulting from Venezuelan government policy have been worsened by US economic sanctions, illegal under the Organization of American States and the United Nations ― as well as US law and other international treaties and conventions. These sanctions have cut off the means by which the Venezuelan government could escape from its economic recession, while causing a dramatic falloff in oil production and worsening the economic crisis, and causing many people to die because they can’t get access to life-saving medicines. Meanwhile, the US and other governments continue to blame the Venezuelan government ― solely ― for the economic damage, even that caused by the US sanctions.

Now the US and its allies, including OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro and Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, have pushed Venezuela to the precipice. By recognizing National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the new president of Venezuela ― something illegal under the OAS Charter ― the Trump administration has sharply accelerated Venezuela’s political crisis in the hopes of dividing the Venezuelan military and further polarizing the populace, forcing them to choose sides. The obvious, and sometimes stated goal, is to force Maduro out via a coup d’etat.

The reality is that despite hyperinflation, shortages, and a deep depression, Venezuela remains a politically polarized country. The US and its allies must cease encouraging violence by pushing for violent, extralegal regime change. If the Trump administration and its allies continue to pursue their reckless course in Venezuela, the most likely result will be bloodshed, chaos, and instability. The US should have learned something from its regime change ventures in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and its long, violent history of sponsoring regime change in Latin America.

“The US should have learned something from its regime change ventures in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and its long, violent history of sponsoring regime change in Latin America.”

Neither side in Venezuela can simply vanquish the other. The military, for example, has at least 235,000 frontline members, and there are at least 1.6 million in militias. Many of these people will fight, not only on the basis of a belief in national sovereignty that is widely held in Latin America ― in the face of what increasingly appears to be a US-led intervention ― but also to protect themselves from likely repression if the opposition topples the government by force.

In such situations, the only solution is a negotiated settlement, as has happened in the past in Latin American countries when politically polarized societies were unable to resolve their differences through elections. There have been efforts, such as those led by the Vatican in the fall of 2016, that had potential, but they received no support from Washington and its allies who favored regime change. This strategy must change if there is to be any viable solution to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.

For the sake of the Venezuelan people, the region, and for the principle of national sovereignty, these international actors should instead support negotiations between the Venezuelan government and its opponents that will allow the country to finally emerge from its political and economic crisis.

Signed:

Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus, MIT and Laureate Professor, University of Arizona

Laura Carlsen, Director, Americas Program, Center for International Policy

Greg Grandin, Professor of History, New York University

Miguel Tinker Salas, Professor of Latin American History and Chicano/a Latino/a Studies at Pomona College

Sujatha Fernandes, Professor of Political Economy and Sociology, University of Sydney

Steve Ellner, Associate Managing Editor of Latin American Perspectives

Alfred de Zayas, former UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order and only UN rapporteur to have visited Venezuela in 21 years

Boots Riley, Writer/Director of Sorry to Bother You, Musician

John Pilger, Journalist & Film-Maker

Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Jared Abbott, PhD Candidate, Department of Government, Harvard University

Dr. Tim Anderson, Director, Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies

Elisabeth Armstrong, Professor of the Study of Women and Gender, Smith College

Alexander Aviña, PhD, Associate Professor of History, Arizona State University

Marc Becker, Professor of History, Truman State University

Medea Benjamin, Cofounder, CODEPINK

Phyllis Bennis, Program Director, New Internationalism, Institute for Policy Studies

Dr. Robert E. Birt, Professor of Philosophy, Bowie State University

Aviva Chomsky, Professor of History, Salem State University

James Cohen, University of Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle

Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, Associate Professor, George Mason University

Benjamin Dangl, PhD, Editor of Toward Freedom

Dr. Francisco Dominguez, Faculty of Professional and Social Sciences, Middlesex University, UK

Alex Dupuy, John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology Emeritus, Wesleyan University

Jodie Evans, Cofounder, CODEPINK

Vanessa Freije, Assistant Professor of International Studies, University of Washington

Gavin Fridell, Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor in International Development Studies, St. Mary’s University

Evelyn Gonzalez, Counselor, Montgomery College

Jeffrey L. Gould, Rudy Professor of History, Indiana University

Bret Gustafson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis

Peter Hallward, Professor of Philosophy, Kingston University

John L. Hammond, Professor of Sociology, CUNY

Mark Healey, Associate Professor of History, University of Connecticut

Gabriel Hetland, Assistant Professor of Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latino Studies, University of Albany

Forrest Hylton, Associate Professor of History, Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Medellín

Daniel James, Bernardo Mendel Chair of Latin American History

Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinator, Alliance for Global Justice

Daniel Kovalik, Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh

Winnie Lem, Professor, International Development Studies, Trent University

Dr. Gilberto López y Rivas, Professor-Researcher, National University of Anthropology and History, Morelos, Mexico

Mary Ann Mahony, Professor of History, Central Connecticut State University

Jorge Mancini, Vice President, Foundation for Latin American Integration (FILA)

Luís Martin-Cabrera, Associate Professor of Literature and Latin American Studies, University of California San Diego

Teresa A. Meade, Florence B. Sherwood Professor of History and Culture, Union College

Frederick Mills, Professor of Philosophy, Bowie State University

Stephen Morris, Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Middle Tennessee State University

Liisa L. North, Professor Emeritus, York University

Paul Ortiz, Associate Professor of History, University of Florida

Christian Parenti, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, John Jay College CUNY

Nicole Phillips, Law Professor at the Université de la Foundation Dr. Aristide Faculté des Sciences Juridiques et Politiques and Adjunct Law Professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law

Beatrice Pita, Lecturer, Department of Literature, University of California San Diego

Margaret Power, Professor of History, Illinois Institute of Technology

Vijay Prashad, Editor, The TriContinental

Eleanora Quijada Cervoni FHEA, Staff Education Facilitator & EFS Mentor, Centre for Higher Education, Learning & Teaching at The Australian National University

Walter Riley, Attorney and Activist

William I. Robinson, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara

Mary Roldan, Dorothy Epstein Professor of Latin American History, Hunter College/ CUNY Graduate Center

Karin Rosemblatt, Professor of History, University of Maryland

Emir Sader, Professor of Sociology, University of the State of Rio de Janeiro

Rosaura Sanchez, Professor of Latin American Literature and Chicano Literature, University of California, San Diego

T.M. Scruggs Jr., Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa

Victor Silverman, Professor of History, Pomona College

Brad Simpson, Associate Professor of History, University of Connecticut

Jeb Sprague, Lecturer, University of Virginia

Kent Spriggs, International human rights lawyer

Christy Thornton, Assistant Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University

Sinclair S. Thomson, Associate Professor of History, New York University

Steven Topik, Professor of History, University of California, Irvine

Stephen Volk, Professor of History Emeritus, Oberlin College

Kirsten Weld, John. L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of History, Harvard University

Kevin Young, Assistant Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Patricio Zamorano, Academic of Latin American Studies; Executive Director, InfoAmericas

°°°

Source: https://grayzoneproject.com/2019/01/29/venezuelans-oppose-intervention-us-sanctions-poll/

86% of Venezuelans oppose military intervention, 81% against US sanctions

Tuesday 29 January 2019,

by Ben NORTON

The vast majority of Venezuelans oppose military intervention and US sanctions to try to remove President Nicolás Maduro from power, according to polling by the local firm Hinterlaces.

More than eight out of ten Venezuelans oppose international intervention, both military and non-military, in their country, as well as the crippling sanctions imposed by the United States to force leftist President Nicolás Maduro out of power.

According to a study conducted in early January 2019 by the local polling firm Hinterlaces, 86 percent of Venezuelans would disagree with international military intervention. And 81 percent oppose the US sanctions that have gravely hurt the South American nation’s economy.

This poll was conducted before the Donald Trump administration launched a political coup in Venezuela on January 23, attempting to replace its government with a right-wing opposition that has made it clear that it seeks to impose neoliberal capitalist economic policies.

Hinterlaces is led by the independent pollster Oscar Schemel, who has experience studying numerous elections in Venezuela and has a pro-business perspective. Most polling firms in the country, such as the competitor Datanálisis, tend to be pro-opposition. Hinterlaces is more neutral, and often leans toward the government, although Schemel has criticized some of Maduro’s economic policies.

English-language media outlets frequently ignore local polls done inside Venezuela, and if they do report on them, they tend to publish the results of polling firms run by pro-opposition figures.

The Grayzone has translated the findings of a Hinterlaces study conducted between January 7 and 20. The following data is based on direct interviews with 1,580 Venezuelans from all across the country, and was reported on the program José Vicente HOY on January 27.

Do you agree or disagree with the US economic and financial sanctions that are currently applied against Venezuela to remove President Maduro from power?

81% disagree

17% agree

2% not sure

Would you agree or disagree if there were international intervention in Venezuela to remove President Maduro from power?

78% disagree
20% agree
2% not sure

Would you agree or disagree if there were international military intervention in Venezuela to remove President Maduro from power?

86% disagree
12% agree
2% not sure

In general do you agree or disagree with a dialogue being held between the national government and the opposition to resolve the current economic problems in the country?

84% agree
15% disagree
1% not sure

°°°

Source: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/01/venezuela-crisis-maduro-guiado-united-states-intervention

The US should stay out of Venezuela

Tuesday 29 January 2019,

Guillaume LONG
interviewed by Ronan BURTENSHAW

Trump’s attempts to stoke regime change in Venezuela risk plunging the country into civil war. We should staunchly oppose US intervention.

On January 23 the long-running political crisis in Venezuela took on a new character when Juan Guaidó, who had recently been installed as president of the country’s opposition-led National Assembly, declared himself interim president of Venezuela, in an attempt to oust the incumbent, Nicolás Maduro.

On Twitter, Donald Trump announced that his administration would officially recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s president, and was soon followed by Canada. In recent days the leading states of the European Union released a common statement announcing that they too would recognize Guaidó if elections were not declared within eight days.

Guaidó’s move has been broadly condemned by the international left as an attempted coup, with members of parliament from the Labour left condemning the move as an attempt at “regime change” in a letter to the Guardian. This, however, has done little to impede the move against Maduro’s government by the West, with the latest escalation of sanctions resulting in the Bank of England refusing to allow the withdrawal of $1.2 billion worth of gold the Bolivarian Republic had stored in its vaults.

Amid these developments, Ronan Burtenshaw, editor of Tribune,sat downwith Guillaume Long, former foreign minister and United Nations representative of Ecuador, to discuss the broader context of Venezuela’s crisis, the Western response, the changing tides in Latin America, and whether the mediation proposed by the governments of Mexico and Uruguay stands a chance of succeeding.

RB: What is your reaction to what has happened in Venezuela in recent days?

GL: What we’ve been seeing is a speeding up of history, of a situation that has been developing for some time in Venezuela. There is a significant economic, social, political, and institutional crisis. A number of the country’s institutions are in conflict, and in fact do not recognize each other’s legitimacy. The executive branch does not recognize the legislative branch, and vice versa. This has been developing since the parliamentary elections in 2015, becoming steadily more polarized and radicalized in the process.
It reached a high point in recent days with Juan Guaidó of the legislative branch declaring himself interim president. So, we now have a situation whereby there is a president with control over most of the country’s institutions, Nicolás Maduro, and a rival, self-proclaimed president, Guaidó, who has the backing of a number of international actors and important sectors of civil society.

This extreme polarization that we’re seeing in Venezuela is the product of a society that is deeply divided, with substantial parts of the population backing either side. This is particularly important to understand in the West, where the media has given the impression of an overwhelming consensus against Maduro in Venezuelan society. If we don’t understand that both sides have support, significant and costly mistakes will be made.

It is clear that there is now a sizable anti-Maduro camp in Venezuela, which is no longer limited to the country’s elite. Whereas for many years, particularly during Chávez’s presidency, the opposition was drawn almost entirely from the elites or the upper middle class, its base has now spread to more popular sectors of society. Similarly, there is a strong Chavistacamp, which in some cases is very loyal to Maduro, and in others is more critical of Maduro, but is still hostile to Guaidó and more generally to the Venezuelan opposition.

In the last elections, which have been hotly contested, a part of this base may not have voted, but this does not mean they have joined an anti-Maduro bloc. I think we should be careful not to systematically equate the high abstentionism of the last election with anti-Chavismo. Many Venezuelans are undoubtedly frustrated with the last few years of deepening crisis and with the Maduro government, but this does not necessarily mean they are prepared to support the opposition.

RB: In the wake of Guaidó’s announcement, the United States and Canada recognized his victory. The major European states have followed by saying they would recognize him if new elections were not called in eight days. How do you assess this response from the West?

GL: I think it is a serious mistake to further polarize the situation right now. To radicalize positions on either side of that political divide in Venezuela is to run the risk of increasing violence. There are already significant levels of political violence in the country — in 2017 a rogue pilot used a helicopter to attack the Supreme Court, last year there was a drone attack on a Maduro rally, security forces have cracked down on opposition demonstrations and killed people, there have been periodic outbreaks of guarimbas, theviolent roadblocks set up by certain sectors of the opposition, and we have the deaths of the last few days. This situation could fast descend into civil conflict or even civil war if tensions are further exacerbated.
In fact, in recent days former Spanish president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who has been involved in the negotiations between the two sides in recent years, warned of the possibility of a “civil conflict with dramatic consequences.” He spoke about the two blocs, and two categories of people — Chavistas and opposition — who were committed to their perspectives.

Amidst all this, the armed forces have remained loyal to Maduro. There have been some defections, but they have been marginal. By and large, the military remains on the side of Maduro’s government. So for the West to call for a coup or for an insurrection, which is sometimes what the rhetoric sounds like, is dangerous. At the moment they are encouraging regime change through non-pacted means. The message is that some force will be needed and justified to remove the government. If this happens, you’re going to get Chavistas responding forcefully in return. This lays the foundations of a civil conflict or civil war.

RB: Clearly, there have been significant changes in Latin American politics in recent years, with power flowing away from the string of left-wing governments elected since the turn of the century and towards an increasingly hardline right-wing movement. The most dramatic recent example of this was the election last year of right-wing demagogue Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil. What do you believe is the regional context of the latest Venezuelan crisis?

GL: It is important to remember that Chávez was an uncomfortable character for the Latin American right-wing and regional elites from the beginning. The coup against his government in 2002 wasn’t supported just by the United States and [then–Prime Minister José María] Aznar’s Spain, it also had the endorsement of a number of regional powers, most notably in Colombia. This was because of his radical agenda, not just for Venezuela but for the continent, which questioned the historic role of regional elites and called for redistribution of wealth and power.
During the period known in the West as the Pink Tide, a number of left-wing regional governments were elected which were more sympathetic or, at least, less hostile to Venezuela. However, since the rise of the Right in recent years, we have seen Venezuela placed at the center of the left-right divide in the continent. It has impacted the debate in every single Latin American country.

During the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in Mexico, every day there were stories about how he was going to turn the country into Venezuela. In the Brazilian election too, the debate over Venezuela played a major role. All of politics in Latin America, both within states and between states, has been contaminated by the Venezuelan crisis, which means its resolution is not only about Venezuela — it’s also about the region and its capacity to process crises in the twentieth century.

Crucial players in all of this are the Lima Group of key regional right-wing governments, which was convened in 2017 to respond to the Venezuelan crisis. They have been pushing an extremely hawkish line: non-recognition of legitimacy of Maduro, non-engagement with his camp, recognition of Guaidó, etc.

As for the European Union, and its constituent powers, it is showing signs of adopting the Trump and Lima Group line. I think it is important that the European Union does not follow this path. Initially, they seemed to show restraint, but recent statements about recognizing Guaidó subject to elections within eight days fall in line with this hawkish approach.

Unfortunately, underlying all of this is a return to a kind of Cold War politics in Latin America. Bolsonaro has been the best example of this, saying he would not permit “communism” on the continent and vowing to rout out “the reds.” He said this with reference not only to the Workers’ Party (PT) and other left-wing parties in his own country, but also to left-wing governments like Venezuela and Cuba. This dynamic has been deepened by the United States’ intervention under Donald Trump and John Bolton, who have recently reintroduced figures like Elliott Abrams, one of the most notorious figures of the 1980s Contra dirty wars in Latin America, to the region’s politics.

I think Europe should be adopting a more nuanced approach which would allow it to play a more productive role in Venezuela, and indeed in Latin America, including even mediation some time down the road.

RB: There is, of course, another regional context to all of this, and that is the offer by the governments of Mexico and Uruguay to play a mediating role in Venezuela and restart the talks which broke down around last year’s elections. What do you think is the viability of that proposal?

GL: We were just saying how Venezuela is divided between these two camps, but the world is also divided in many respects. Clearly in Latin America the right-wing camp is ascendant. But even then the Lima Group did not manage to pass its motion in the Organisation of American States (OAS) meeting, which sought formal recognition of Guaidó’s presidency. There weren’t enough votes for it even with the regional shift. Then you’ve got the geopolitical realities too, with Russia and China backing the Maduro government even if the West is backing Guaidó.
When are negotiations important? Exactly when you have these impasses, with a degree of balance of power which offers no way forward. The two sides are too entrenched in their positions, neither appear for the time being to be powerful enough to triumph over the other. These are the moments when you need negotiations.

In that context, the proposal by the Mexican and Uruguayan governments is welcome. Uruguay has not been pro-Maduro, it has been very critical in recent years. Mexico is a much more recent government. But, even though AMLO put an end to Mexico’s membership in the Lima Group and has refrained from attacking the Venezuelan government, he did not attend Maduro’s inauguration, nor did he send senior representatives. I think these two states are well-placed to mediate in the crisis.

There has been a long history of negotiations between the Venezuelan government and the opposition. Their failure to produce a settlement has been used by those who are pushing for escalation of tensions. But in fact, the negotiations have done some good, preventing further violence at key junctures. That in itself is an achievement. The first of these was the UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) mediation, which was headed by Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil in 2014–15.

Then the second was the so-called “former presidents” initiative. This included the former president of Spain, Zapatero; the former president of Panama, Martín Torrijos; the former president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández; and then later on the former president of Colombia, Ernesto Samper, who was secretary general of UNASUR [Union of South American Nations] at the time. For a while, both sides were sitting at the same table. Some of the immediate issues were resolved, even if the more long-term issues clearly weren’t.

The last round of talks that took place centered on last year’s election and involved former Spanish president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. I was not part of the talks, so I can only go by what Zapatero said. His statement made clear that there was an agreement, until the last day, for a process of what he called “normalized operation and development of democratic politics.” But the opposition then pulled out of this deal, a move which he criticized. This is an argument used now by the Maduro government, but which is totally absent from the narrative in the Western media.

So we have some evidence that dialogue can work. There has also been a big development in these terms in recent months. The Venezuelan opposition has been deeply divided ever since Chávez came to power and has never really found a figurehead. There have been key leaders, including Henrique Capriles, Leopoldo López, and others, but the opposition has largely been divided.

This seems to have changed, with very broad support for the Juan Guaidó position across the opposition. Whether that is because of him personally, or because of the mandate of the National Assembly, or the international factors that have arisen, is difficult to know. But now, for the first time, the Venezuelan opposition is showing signs that it may be able to be in a position to negotiate together. That is a positive development from the perspective of negotiations. In the past, large sections of the opposition denounced the talks as partial or insufficient. Now, they would find that more difficult.

RB: If negotiations aren’t forthcoming, what is the most likely outcome?

GL: It is hard to see how the Guaidó camp can succeed on its own, without the military and with society deeply divided. Even with the support of the Western powers. The escalation of sanctions is going to make the situation increasingly untenable. Economic sanctions always hurt the poorest in society and have been a substantial contributor to Venezuela’s economic crisis. They will also, in all likelihood, prevent the Maduro government from engineering the kinds of change that would increase its support base to pre-2015 levels.
The encouragement, particularly by the Trump administration, of further escalation in Venezuela is therefore extremely dangerous. It underestimates the resilience of the Chavista camp and rests on the idea of overwhelming popular support for the opposition. If Reagan-style policies from the 1980s are what the United States has in store for Venezuela, then it is very bad news for Venezuela and for Latin America as a whole.

Venezuela’s crisis has already produced a huge migratory crisis — and further escalation into violence would make this much worse. We have seen in Syria, Iraq, and Libya some of the potential outcomes in this regard. I don’t think even the continent’s right-wing governments have the stomach for that. This realization may eventually lead a growing number of Latin American states, including members of the Lima Group, to understand that the Venezuelan crisis should be resolved at the negotiating table.

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Source: https://popularresistance.org/twitter-erupts-after-2000-pro-venezuelan-accounts-are-deleted/

Twitter Erupts After 2,000 Pro-Venezuelan Accounts Are Deleted

By Staff, Telesurenglish.net

February 5, 2019

Above Photo:Twitter has been known to arbitrarily delete accounts before particularly those supporting movements in Iran, Russia, or Bangladesh. | Photo: Reuters

A total of 1,196 social media accounts based in Venezuela suspected of “influencing domestic audiences.”

Nearly 2,000 pro-Venezuelan Twitter accounts have been removed for “engaging in a state-backed influence campaign,” the social media company said in a blog post on Thursday.

A total of 1,196 social media accounts based in Venezuela suspected of attempting to “influence domestic audiences” were purged last week.

Another 764 accounts were deleted, although the San Francisco-based company told users, “We are unable to definitively tie the accounts located in Venezuela to information operations of a foreign government against another country.”

Allegations of censorship soon filled the site’s timeline.

Television host for the investigatory series, Empire Files, Abby Martin tweeted, “While pro-coup Venezuelans & right-wing exiles dominate the media sphere, tech companies are actively censoring pro-government accounts they say are working to “influence” people.”

Another journalist, Ben Norton, accused the company of catering to “U.S. government interests:” Twitter is now removing thousands of accounts supposedly linked to Venezuela’s sovereign government. This comes after Twitter suspended Venezuelan government accounts 1.5 years ago. Social media corporations act as an extension of US government interests.”

In another blog post, Twitter announced the release of five new datasets which were allegedly created in relation to suspected foreign interference efforts it had encountered.

Editor of the Greyzone Project, Max Blumenthal wrote, “Amazing how one dataset is Venezuela, just days after US set a coup into motion against its government. As usual, the caveat is buried: “We are unable to definitively tie the accounts located in Venezuela to information operations of a foreign government against another country.”

The decision coincides with harsher sanctions against Venezuela imposed by the United States after opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido lead a coup on Jan. 23, declaring himself the country’s “interim president,” an illegal and unconstitutional move.

Guaido, the United States and right-wing governments in the region have been calling on the Venezuelan military to oust Maduro. There have been whispers in Washington that the Donald Trump administration is “seriously considering” a military intervention in Venezuela if Maduro does not step down or be ousted internally.

RT Correspondent Dan Cohen, tweeted, “Since I began reporting on the coup attempt, I’ve been inundated with hate from accounts that appear to be exiled, right-wing Venezuelans. Like clockwork, Twitter shuts down accounts providing a counter-narrative to the propaganda onslaught.”

The social media company has been known to arbitrarily delete accounts before particularly those supporting movements in Iran, Russia, or Bangladesh, citing “malicious” activity, “inauthentic behavior” or contributing to national conflict.

Video Telesur here

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Source: https://popularresistance.org/the-demonstration-that-will-not-be-televised/

The Demonstration That Will Not Be Televised

By Roberto Malaver,
Conelmazodando.com.ve

February 5, 2019

Above Photo: From Resumen-english.org

Thousands of men and women defenders of the country gathered on Bolivar Avenue on Saturday, in Caracas, to give strong support to President Nicolás Maduro, and to tell the world, especially Donald Trump, that Venezuela has to be respected.

From early in the morning, Bolívar Avenue began to fill with people who arrived and greeted each other and embraced each other, with the Venezuelan flag in their hands. They waved it in the wind, cheerful and with the conviction to come out in the street to defend their homeland.

Meanwhile in Las Mercedes, in eastern Caracas, opposition people also gathered in Plaza Alfredo Sadel to support Trump. A U.S. flag was displayed on the stage as a demonstration of their love for that country. The notes of the U.S. anthem were also heard there. And a statue of Liberty with the colors of the national flag, yellow, blue, and red, and with the face of the self proclaimed Guaido, they walked down the street.

Two demonstrations. Two countries. Venezuela and the United States. However, in Avenida Bolívar, the faces of the great majority were of joy and happiness, while in Las Mercedes you could see rage and discontent, because in spite of the fact that eight days have passed since the self-sworn man they are supporting as president, they are frustrated because what they want to happen has not happened. It seems like the only thing that could make them happy is a military invasion by the United States whose interference began the very moment that President Chavez came to power in December 1998 without achieving their objective.

Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the swearing-in of Hugo Chávez as President of the Republic of Venezuela, and now, by decree of Chávez, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. And that date is not easily forgotten by the people, because from that moment on, with that phrase of the electoral campaign: “With Chavez the people rules,” the people began to feel that it was true, and became participants and protagonists of that democracy that is now defending from the coup of the imperial United States, now led by President Donald Trump with the self- sworn deputy Guaidó in tow.

When President Nicolás Maduro arrived on Avenida Bolívar, the shouting and enthusiasm caught on in each of the thousands of people attending the demonstration in support of his mandate. And once at the podium he assumed his legitimate position, and said that here on May 20 a legal election was held, where he was elected by a large majority. And that now he proposed to hold the elections to re-legitimize the legislative power. He also claimed that this year, he promised that Venezuela was going to recover economically, and was going to win. In addition, he asked the Constituent Assembly, its president Diosdado Cabello, to approve the Anti-Corruption Law next week.

In other words, in his speech he made it very clear that he has been working to achieve what has been proposed, to win this economic war, which everyone knows has been imposed by the U.S. government with its sanctions and its financial blockade to prevent the purchase of food and medicine. And in the end, along with the people crowding Bolívar Avenue, he took the oath to defend the homeland from anyone who tries to go against the law. He swore this by Bolívar, by Chávez, by Guaicaipuro, by Negro Primero.

While different social networks share photos of the gigantic demonstration of support to Maduro, with all certainty these images will be invisible for the big media that have been supporting the coup all along, of what the president called “the invisible to the media”. As Spanish journalist Pascual Serrano rightly pointed out, the media is once again supporting another coup in Venezuela, as they did on April 11, 2002, with another self- proclaimed pretender, that time it came from Pedro Carmona Estanga.

Before this gigantic demonstration that took place in Caracas, large demonstrations also occured in Monagas, in Lara, in Barinas, in Yaracuy, in Cojedes, in Miranda, in Carabobo, and in Apure. The world and its political leaders and their organizations have to assume a clearer position, because it is evident that in Venezuela the people want peace and justice, to continue sharing with the national majorities what Simón Bolívar called the greatest sum of happiness.