By Alison Bodine
Almost two decades ago, the people of Venezuela chose to change their history and build a country along a different path then that dictated by the U.S. government. They elected President Hugo Chávez and began the Bolivarian revolution, a powerful process of social and political transformation that continues to make great gains in the lives of poor and oppressed people in Venezuela.
This self-determination and sovereignty that the people of Venezuela, today led by President Nicolás Maduro and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), have fought for has come under constant assault from forces both inside and outside of Venezuela. They have faced relentless violence, economic war and destabilization attempts by Venezuela’s counter-revolutionary capitalist class, as well as threats, sanctions and other forms covert and overt intervention by the United States and their allies.
Intensifying Campaign Against Venezuela
In the last week of March, 2017, the sovereignty and self-determination of Venezuela came under a renewed assault. The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), a U.S. puppet named Luis Almagro, launched new campaign to attempt to demonize and isolate the government of Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution.
This campaign began when 14 members of the OAS signed a letter threatening to suspend Venezuela’s membership based on inflated and unproven allegations that Venezuela is in violation of the “Democratic Charter” of the OAS. These 14 countries included right-wing governments in Latin America as well as the United States and Canada, a minority of the 34 member-states of the OAS.
Then, on March 28, 2017 the OAS met in Washington, DC, and took their threats against Venezuela’s sovereignty one step farther. At the meeting, the regional organizations Secretary General Almagro, had one vicious intention – to put the internal politics of member-state Venezuela on the agenda.
According to reports from participating countries, the meeting was fraught with organizational irregularities. Not the least being that Article 18 of that forbids intervention by member-states “directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State.” In the end, there was no vote on whether or not to “open a formal debate on whether Venezuela is democratic enough to remain a full member of the Inter-American System,” which was the question that the right-wing was trying to put on the agenda. Instead, Almagro and his right-wing allies are now relying on a letter signed by 20 of the 34 member-states, to show that they do, indeed, have the mandate to open such a debate. So, if there in fact was no intention of actually coming to some sort of regional agreement about Venezuela, what was the entire spectacle about?
The March 28 meeting was part of an intentional and vicious campaign to demonize and provoke the government of Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution, and to polarize and divide the OAS.
Although this was not the subject of the meeting, the United States, Canada and rightwing governments in Latin America all took the opportunity to publically support the idea that Venezuela should be suspended from the OAS.
In attendance from the United States was Michael Fitzpatrick, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere who stated, “We need to act with urgency and clarity of purpose for indeed, as the saying goes, the whole world is watching,” and “This is an important day for the OAS, which is fulfilling its responsibility to safeguard democracy.” He also called on the Venezuelan government to “comply with its constitution and constitutional functions, hold elections as soon as possible and release all political prisoners, including Leopoldo López.”
These are dangerous words, especially when spoken by a diplomat from the United States, a country that has labeled Venezuela as an “extraordinary threat to U.S. national security,” imposed damaging sanctions and continues to give political and financial support to Venezuela’s violent opposition.
What is the Role of the Organization of American States (OAS)?
According to their website, the Organization of American States (OAS) is a regional body established in 1948 as an organization with the mandate to create in the Americas “an order of peace and justice, to promote their solidarity, to strengthen their collaboration, and to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their independence.”
None of those noble and righteous words are what was on the table at the March 28 meeting of the OAS. In fact, Luis Almagro was lobbying for just the opposite – international intervention in Venezuela in violation of their sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.
Ever since becoming Secretary General of the OAS in May of 2015, Luis Almagro has displayed his bias and opportunism against Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution. All the evidence required to prove his allegiance can be seen with a quick scroll through his social media Twitter account. Especially in the last two weeks, a vast majority of his posts on Twitter (known as tweets) are about Venezuela, and they are often photos of his meetings with U.S. diplomats and members of Congress, or with the leaders of Venezuela’s opposition. Overall, as reported by the Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Delcy Rodríguez, 21% of all of his tweets since becoming Secretary General of the OAS have been leveled against the government of Nicolás Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution.
Luis Almagro has also met with Venezuela’s opposition at least 26 times in the last barely two years. Needless to say, this extreme bias is in violation of his mandate as the Secretary General of the OAS.
The hands of the U.S. intervention are also all over this latest escalation against Venezuela. Prior to the March 28 meeting of the OAS, member-states reported that members of US Congress had written to them about the upcoming meeting. El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Haiti also reported that U.S. Senator and former republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio had attempted to bully them into taking a stand in the OAS against Venezuela’s sovereignty by saying directly, “We have a very difficult situation in Washington, where massive cuts in foreign aid are under consideration and it will be very difficult for us to justify assistance to those countries if they, at the end of the day, are countries that do not cooperate in the defense of democracy in the region.” Here we have Marco Rubio interfering in the internal decision making of member-states of the OAS!
Provocation for Foreign Intervention in Venezuela
The struggle within the OAS continues, but what is more significant than the meeting that took place between those four walls in Washington, DC on March 28 is what that meeting embodied – the latest attempt by the U.S. government and the capitalist class in Venezuela to provoke international intervention in Venezuela leading to the overthrow of President Nicolas Maduro. Taking a closer look at the opportunistic words of Almargo definitely sheds some light on his true intentions, but first, let us examine the word of his bosses.
People such as former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who in 2014 stated that “the Organization of American States (OAS), allies and neighbours should demand accountability of Venezuela over the protests,” as reported by the BBC. The “protests” that John Kerry is referring to here are actually violent street riots organized by counter-revolutionaries in Venezuela.
In March, Almagro released a 74 page report on Venezuela, wrought with lies and distortions that could have come directly from the mouths of these U.S. government officials. As Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez described, the report is meant to “interfere with Venezuela, not only to remove president Maduro, but also to develop a complex scheme. This new agenda differs from the old one in the sense that it opens the intervention strategy in order to impose a model similar to the neoliberal governments that today strike the region.”
Democracy in Venezuela
Among the key points of his report, Almagro states that Venezuela must return to a “functioning democracy.” However, the last 19 years of the Bolivarian Revolution have actually shown that Venezuela’s democratic system is very much alive. Venezuela is one of only a few countries in the world whose Constitution has given its people the right to recall any elected official who has served out greater than 50% of their term, including the President.
Starting in April of 2016, after much infighting, the counter-revolutionary opposition in Venezuela began their attempt to carry out a recall-referendum against President Nicolas Maduro. However, eventually they were not able to even begin the official referendum, as they failed to collect the 2 million preliminary signatures needed as laid out in the Venezuelan Constitution. When Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) attempted to verify the signatures, 30.9% of them were found to be invalid, including more than 10,900 that came from deceased people.
Furthermore, if there is anything undemocratic about Venezuela, it is not the government of Venezuela and President Nicolas Maduro, as Almagro states, who are responsible for retuning Venezuela to a “functioning democracy.” It is instead the majority right-wing National Assembly. This is because the National Assembly has been operating in contempt of court for over a year, after swearing in three parliamentarians whose elections were annulled due to cases of voter fraud.
Strangely enough, Almargo’s report suggests that Venezuela could “restore democracy” by holding general elections immediately. However, as per Venezuela’s Constitution, the next Presidential election is not due to take place until 2018. Holding elections earlier would actually be in violation of Venezuela’s Constitution.
Almagro and the OAS do not care about democracy in Venezuela, what they want is international intervention in Venezuela.
“Political Prisoners” in Venezuela
Almagro’s report also calls on the immediate release of so-called political prisoners in Venezuela. This is another statement that just as easily could have come from the mouth of US President Trump himself. In fact, it already did, when Trump tweeted for the release of Venezuelan prisoner Leopaldo Lopez on February 15.
Leopaldo is just one of the prisoners in Venezuela that have been labeled by counter-revolutionary forces and mainstream media as “political prisoners.” This includes prisoners that have been charged and convicted of crimes such as arson and treason, primarily for their involvement and leadership in violent street riots in 2014 that killed 43 people in Venezuela known as the “Guarimbas.”
“Humanitarian Assistance” for Venezuela
As a final demand, Almagro’s report on Venezuela also calls for “The immediate establishment of a channel to provide humanitarian assistance (with emphasis on food and medical assistance) to the people of Venezuela.”
Once again, Almagro’s demands are misdirected. Especially since the December, 2015 parliamentary elections, Venezuela’s capitalist class has intensified its economic war. This has included massive hoarding and under-production of foods and everyday necessities, creating empty shelves and long-lines at stores for many people in Venezuela. It is not a “humanitarian corridor” that is needed, but an end to this crisis manufactured by those in Venezuela who wish to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro and reverse the gains of the Bolivarian revolution.
Mainstream Media Lies and Manipulations
The mainstream media was right there waiting for their time to shine in this latest demonization campaign against Venezuela. They will take any opportunity they can get to once again claim that Venezuela is on the “road to dictatorship.” As part of Almagro’s escalating witch-hunt against President Nicolas Maduro and the government of Venezuela, Western media gave him ample space in which to explain his views and analysis. This included the usual suspects such as the New York Times and Washington Post, but also National Public Radio and the Globe and Mail here in Canada.
One of their main attacks was an opinion piece written by Luis Almagro himself. His piece is full of the rhetoric against the government of Venezuela, none of it based on facts. It ends with a direct appeal “That is why I have proposed – in a short period of time, within one month, a truly democratic path with clear signals in that direction, including the release of prisoners, a timetable for elections, the opening of a humanitarian channel – the suspension of Venezuela from the OAS, provided for in Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Because there is no other way. The 33 countries of the region must show unity and take a stand in defence of the democracy under attack.”
Try looking for anything about the government of Venezuela’s response to the allegations of Almargo in Western mainstream media and you will come up empty-handed. Time and time again they have proven themselves to be a mouthpiece of U.S. government policy and these latest attacks on Venezuela are no exception.
Sovereignty and Self-determination
“Venezuela has the necessary laws to resolve its internal situations, with mechanisms consistent with the full exercise of its sovereignty… Each country must resolve its affairs with constitutional mechanisms” – Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, April 1, 2017
That is it, pure and simple. Venezuela has the right to self-determination and sovereignty, no matter what form of government the people of Venezuela have chosen.
These latest attacks by Luis Almagro, the U.S. government and their allies in the OAS are a clear and dangerous violation of these principles.
However, it is also important to note that these attacks in the OAS are also desperate measures, by a weakened and fractured counter-revolution in Venezuela. Ever since the election of a majority right-wing National Assembly in December of 2015, cracks in the opposition coalition have actually grown deeper. Their efforts to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro have so far failed, leaving them wounded and crying for help from the international community.
That is why our actions in defense of Venezuela, the government of Nicolás Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution are so necessary. Peace and justice-loving people around the world must be on-guard for Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution now more than ever. The attacks by Luis Almagro and the OAS are far from over. With the U.S. government taking the lead there can be no doubt that their attempts to isolate Venezuela, and to quarantine the effect that the Bolivarian Revolution has had on the people’s of Latin America will continue to intensify.
LUIS ALMAGRO MUST GO!
U.S. & CANADA RESPECT THE SOVEREIGNITY & SELF-DETERMINATION OF THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE!
LONG LIVE THE VENEZUELAN BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION!
Short History of OAS/U.S. Intervention in Latin America
The OAS has long-been recognized a tool for U.S. intervention in Latin America. This became especially clear when Cuba, a country that had finally won their sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence, was banned from the OAS following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.
There is a reason that the OAS has been so discredited throughout Latin America. They have served the interests of the United States government faithfully over for more than 60 years, and through more than 50 coup d’états in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In fact, there are times when the OAS actually supported a U.S. military invasion. The first of which was the U.S.-backed invasion of Cuba by counter-revolutionary mercenaries in 1960. This attack, known at the Bay of Pigs, was a failed attempt by the United States to defeat the recently triumphant Cuban Revolution.
Then, in 1965 the United States launched a military invasion of the Dominican Republic. This invasion was not only supported by the OAS, the puppet organization also sent a pan-Latin American invasion force to assist the United States in preventing the victory of a leftist leaning government on the island.
For more than the next 25 years, the OAS was silent as hundreds of thousands of people in Latin America were murdered and disappeared by brutal U.S.-backed dictatorships and U.S.-funded and supported right-wing counter-revolutionaries and paramilitary death-squads. Since then the OAS has continued to show is alliance with the United States. It never recognized the coup d’état against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002. In the case of the coup d’état against Jean Bertrand Aristide in Haiti in 2004, and against President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras in 2009, the OAS did take initial steps towards recognition of the coup d’état’s, but they were quickly sidelined by the influence of the United States and their allies in the regional organization.
Follow Alison on Twitter:@Alisoncolette