By James Winter
The Canadian and U.S. governments are now openly supporting the treasonous overthrow of the democratically-elected President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.
The U.S. is now openly holding direct communications with Venezuela’s military, urging them to abandon the president.
I’m not surprised by Donald Trump’s unprincipled arrogance and bullying, but I’m somewhat taken aback by Justin Trudeau, a “moral leader of the free world,” according to the New York Times.
How is it that we have few problems with the undemocratic regime of the Saudi Arabian monarchy, indeed we continue to supply weapons to the Saudis, while they bomb neighbouring Yemen, but Venezuela is problematical?
While the Saudis only occasionally ever hold even municipal elections, Maduro won a national presidential election in May, 2018, with 68 percent (6.2 million) of the votes cast. Henri Falcon came in second with 21 percent. The turnout was 46 percent, despite a boycott by some opposition members.
Although Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said recently that “the Maduro regime…seized power through fraudulent and anti-democratic elections,” and said he is “now fully entrenched as a dictatorship,” this is blatantly incorrect: a boldfaced lie.
International observers of the 2018 Venezuelan elections published four independent reports, all of which concluded that the election results represented the will of the voters and were “uncontestable.”
An international observer mission led by the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA), comprised of former top electoral officials from throughout the region, said the election was clean.
As reported in the Windsor Star edition of the National Post on February 5th, a Canadian delegation which observed the election touted Venezuela’s “strong and vibrant democracy.” Their report noted, “We witnessed a transparent, secure, democratic and orderly electoral and voting process.”
In September, 2012, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said,
“As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”
So, this is not about democracy.
Despite all of this, the media continue to refer to Maduro’s 2018 election as ‘widely viewed as fraudulent.’
Canada and the U.S. have now recognized Juan Guaido, President of the National Assembly, as Acting President of Venezuela.
Mr. Guaido is an appointed, unelected leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which has been largely powerless since Venezuela’s Supreme Court, which supports Maduro, tried to dissolve it in March, 2017.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Mr. Guaido did not reject the possibility of supporting U.S. military intervention in Venezuela. For his part, Donald Trump, who has offered support to Guaido, has threatened a “military option” for Venezuela.
So, why Venezuela? As former BBC journalist Greg Palast points out, the first thing to note is that after four centuries of white supremacy, Venezuela has now had two Black Indian, Mestizo men as presidents, Hugo Chavez and since 2013, Nicolas Maduro, whom the rich whites call “monkeys.” If you don’t think this is partly about racism, then read the history of Haiti.
Media and politicians say Venezuela has been ‘badly managed.’
I’m reminded of Fidel Castro’s quote:
“For forty years you try to strangle us. And then, you criticize us for the way we breathe.”
Chavez and Maduro both have promoted social programs which help the poor majority. When oil prices were high, under Chavez, this paid for poverty reduction, health care, education, etc. According to the CIA Factbook on Venezuela:
“Social investment in Venezuela during the Chavez administration reduced poverty from nearly 50% in 1999 to about 27% in 2011, increased school enrollment, substantially decreased infant and child mortality, and improved access to potable water and sanitation through social investment.”
The Venezuelan economy is based on oil. It has the largest oil reserves in the world, three times those of Saudi Arabia.
Shortly after Maduro took office in 2013, oil prices began their collapse, and he was forced to borrow money to support the vast social programs, which caused wild inflation. The white privileged class’s bank accounts have become nearly worthless.
In tangent with this, the U.S. began what the UN rapporteur for Venezuela called “medieval sieges.” Now, Trump has cut off Venezuela from oil sale proceeds in the U.S., its biggest customer, receiving 41 percent of its exports. Trump has seized Venezuelan-owned Citgo oil in the U.S. The British government has seized Venezuelan gold assets. Both are holding these assets until Mr. Guaido is President. THIS violates UN principles expressing a duty not to intervene in domestic matters, and to refrain from the threat or use of force against any state.
Recently, the U.S. declared transactions with Iran to be illegal. This led to the case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese national arrested by Canada.
Now Trump has cut off Venezuela from access to U.S. banks, which renders international transactions difficult, if not impossible. In August 2017, he restricted Maduro’s access to U.S. banks.
Trump also banned gold transactions with Venezuela.
Under U.S. pressure, The Bank of England is currently withholding $1.2 billion in gold from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
The ‘disrespectful’ Mestizos have dared to keep their oil revenues for the benefit of their own people. They must be punished.
Maduro certainly is managing badly, under this blockade.