Sanctions “designed to throttle the economy and force Mr Maduro from power” (Stott, FT)) have been imposed on Venezuela by the US and several allies have been pressed to observe them, with varying responses.
Britain has supported this action, damaging many sectors of the Venezuelan economy. Due to sanctions on the import of spare parts, oil production, the mainstay of its economy, has crashed to levels not seen since the 1940s.
Venezuela’s central bank now seeks access to $1bn of Venezuelan gold ‘safely’ deposited with the Bank of England.
In May, Reuters reported that Venezuela reached an agreement with the U.N. Development Programme to sell part of the gold and lodge it with UNDP which would buy healthcare, food and medicine to combat the coronavirus in Venezuela.
Despite this, Michael Stott reported yesterday that the Britain’s ‘independent judiciary’ has refused the Venezuelan government access to its gold.
Though ‘recognised’ by many US allies, Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó (right) and his party have lost much of the earlier public support gained by stirring rhetoric at countrywide rallies and a June FT article noted that its reputation had been “stained by financial scandals and a failed armed incursion from Colombia”.
Reuters reported in June that the court had been asked by the Bank of England to determine who the British government recognises as Venezuela’s president
In the High Court, Judge Nigel Teare stated that it was indeed the British government’s prerogative to decide who was Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.
He ruled that opposition leader Juan Guaidó had been “unequivocally” recognised as Venezuela’s president by the UK even though Britain has continued to maintain full diplomatic relations with Mr Maduro’s government after recognising Guaidó
Stott points to the fact that the Maduro-appointed envoy, Rocío Maneiro, serves as the Venezuelan ambassador to London as proof of the UK’s recognition of the Maduro government. The UK also maintains an ambassador and full embassy presence in Caracas.
The Venezuelan central bank’s legal team argued that this proved the UK had in reality continued to recognise the Maduro government and therefore Mr Guaidó had no legal backing for his claim to be president.
Sarosh Zaiwalla (left), senior partner at Zaiwalla & Co, representing Venezuela’s central bank, said it was very rare “for an English commercial court to be told that it can only decide a question in the way that the government says it must”.
The Banco Central de Venezuela will be seeking leave of the court to appeal this judgment, which entirely ignores the reality of the situation on the ground; as Zaiwalla points out: Mr Maduro’s government is “in complete control of Venezuela and its administrative institutions and only it can ensure the distribution of the humanitarian relief and medical supplies needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic”.
Richard House draws attention to the global campaign, World Protest Day, #No More Trump, launched on August 10th by President Nicolas Maduro.
It appeals to the peoples of the world to stand with the people of Venezuela against the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of Caracas held signs that read, ‘No Mas Trump’ to protest against the U.S. president and his administration which has prevented the Venezuelan government from accessing billions of its own dollars and blocked food and medicine from entering the country.
Demonstrators in Australia, U.S., France, Aruba, South Korea, Haiti, Turkey Italy, Germany, Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Mozambique, among other nations, took part in World Protest Day
Under the hashtags, #NoMoreTrump, #NoMasTrump and #HandsOffVenezuela in support of Venezuela and the Maduro administration, they also demanded the halting of the U.S. administration’s efforts to try and install the self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido.
Their petition will be circulated globally until the end of August, and then presented to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, in early September. It begins with the words: We, the undersigned, the peoples of the world… It is expected that millions will sign the petition at this link in Venezuela and across the globe, before August 31, 2019.
The Caracas rally was denied Thatcher’s oxygen of publicity: Hong Kong protests dominated the press and pages of Donald Trump’s tweets pervaded the twittersphere
On August 10th, President Maduro told the thousands of Venezuelans gathered at the rally in Caracas “Today, we Venezuelans have dignity and are spiritually united.” Gerald A. Perreira, an executive member of the Caribbean Chapter of the Network for the Defense of Humanity and the Caribbean Pan-African Network (CPAN) comments:” Revolutions cannot be limited to the material/ economic plane. In fact, if a revolution is to be successful, the spiritual and cultural dimensions must be central. Hugo Chavez constantly invoked liberation theology in his speeches, and was clear that his inspiration to liberate his nation came from his religious convictions”.
Perreira recalls that on August 5, Trump had expanded the sanctions against Venezuela, signing an executive order to freeze all Venezuelan State assets in the US. Economists Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs, in a report issued by the Washington-based Centre for Economic & Political Research published earlier this year, found that as a result of the US embargo, Venezuelans were deprived of “lifesaving medicines, medical equipment, food and other essential imports”. They estimated that the sanctions against Venezuela caused at least 40,000 deaths between 2017 and 2018, and can be considered as assault on the civilian population, contravening the Geneva and Hague international conventions, of which the US is a signatory. He points out that:
“Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua constitute an “axis of hope, dignity and defiance”
- Unlike the US, none of these countries have ever invaded another country, or supported any form of terrorism.
- All three have been leaders for human advancement, dignity and progress in the region and worldwide, sharing human, cultural, scientific, and any other resource that could propel the rest of us forward.
- Cuba has been in the vanguard, making extraordinary contributions in the fields of healthcare and medical research.
- Despite the US’s criminal 60 year old blockade, which has been rightly described as “the longest lasting genocidal attack in history”, Cuba has developed vaccines and drugs that have saved countless lives.
The 120 member non-aligned movement (NAM) has discussed measures to counter the impact of US global sanctions, with 21 countries now included on Washington’s sanctions list. A gathering of NAM countries met in Caracas last month, together with seven observer countries, ten multilateral international organisations including the United Nations (UN) and fourteen specially invited nations. Speaking at the opening ceremony, President Nicolas Maduro (above) stressed that ending US global hegemony is a realistic goal, issuing a statement that affirmed that only Venezuela can decide its fate. It warned that US sanctions were in breach of the United Nations charter.
Perreira comments that progressive forces which stand outside the materialist tradition must take the upper hand and reclaim the revolutionary messages of the Bible and the Qur’an from ‘usurpers and hijackers’. He emphasizes that the peoples of the Global South have the natural resources and power to humble the Empire: “It is a well substantiated fact that if Europe and the US were denied access to its resources for two weeks, their economies would grind to a halt” and quotes the words of Arundhati Roy:
Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them…
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
The right-wing press, neoliberal politicians and corporates in Britain such as Foreign Minister Sir Alan Duncan, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, Tory MP Mark Pritchard and Labour MP Frank Field, are firmly attached to the US-led global order which attempts to impose its will by propaganda and force – generally in oil rich countries like Venezuela. As MP Chris Williamson pointed out in his recent Newsnight interview, the US has a track record of interference at all levels, including military overthrow of inconvenient governments, in Latin America.
They have led repeated attacks on an absent Jeremy Corbyn for failing to cheer the US-led destabilisation of Venezuela. Labour List, which is clearly backing the Blairite wing, referred to ‘Nicolas Maduro’s violent suppression after a dirty election’. The Sun’s dig:
On his return, Mr Corbyn said: “I’m very sad at the lives that have been lost in Venezuela. The people who have died, either those on the streets or security forces that have been attacked by people on the street — all of those lives are terrible for the loss of them.” Repeatedly pressed to condemn Mr Maduro’s actions, he said: “What I condemn is the violence that’s been done by any side, by all sides, in all this. Violence is not going to solve the issue”, adding:
“We also have to recognise that there have been effective and serious attempts at reducing poverty in Venezuela, improving literacy and improving the lives of many of the poorest people.”
Using record-high oil revenues of the 2000s, the government nationalized key industries, created participatory democratic Communal Councils, and implemented social programs to expand access to food, housing, healthcare, and education. Venezuela used its oil revenue to make improvements in poverty, literacy, income equality, and quality of life.
James Tweedie effectively put the record straight in an interview on Radio 4’s Today Programme on 7th August, with the usually combative presenter failing to challenge even one of the facts he presented. In that and a recent article he made many points. Some of these follow:
- The opposition is led by representatives of wealthy families that have never been reconciled to losing power to a government committed to raising the majority from abject poverty.
- Tactics include factory-owners stopping production of products to create shortages in the shops. Food distribution giant Polar is accused by Mr Maduro’s government of orchestrating the food shortages that led to the current crisis, by hoarding stocks in its warehouses. Actions include blocking main roads, shutting down public transport networks and forcing shops to stay closed — exacerbating the shortages of food, medicines and other goods the opposition blame on the government. On Thursday night rioters burned some 40 tons of food out of 100 at a government distribution centre in eastern Anzoategui state destined for distribution to hungry families.
- Opposition supporters building barricades, blocking streets and attacking police during the constituent assembly election are routinely described in our mainstream media as “peaceful protesters”, though, as Sky News footage revealed, masked men were dressed in helmets, carrying full body shields carrying firearms and a roadside bomb blasting police motorcyclists.
The use of fire is a prime opposition weapon
- The opposition tactics are to engage in violent protests that force responses by the government and make the Maduro government look like an authoritarian regime.
- Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are taking a simplistic view of the intensifying crisis in Venezuela, ignoring appalling acts of opposition violence such as those detailed in this site which brings Spanish-language news in English.
- The country overwhelmingly believes the opposition lacks a plan for dealing with high inflation and the lack of state revenue for social services. They also oppose the violent tactics of the opposition (see poll results).
- The opposition agreed to take part in Vatican-mediated negotiations with the government but walked away from talks, adopting a new strategy of violent street confrontations to destabilise society.
- After all the executives of Smartmatic, an electronic voting company, left the country its CEO claimed at a press conference that the 8.1 million turnout figure in Sunday’s National Constituent Assembly election had been “tampered with” and inflated by about a million votes. No such report had been made to the Venezuelan authorities. (Smartmatic is owned by former MP Baron Mark Malloch-Brown, who has close links to George Soros – a major funder of New York-based Human Rights Watch and longstanding critic of Venezuela’s socialist government).
True socialism has been advancing in Britain over the past two years with Labour’s gains in the June election on an anti-austerity manifesto and the increasing public respect for Corbyn as leader. We can see, on the horizon, rejection of the current form of Western intervention which has gained adherents for extremist groups, destabilising many of the world’s regions, followed by collaboration with others to undertake the monumental task of rebuilding and reconciliation.
Avoiding reference to undesirable cultural and economic influence, we focus on the skulduggery recorded in its own diplomatic records
Politically conservative Fox News recently touched on a few of the interventions the United States government has made over the last sixty years, in order to ‘maintain its vested interest’ in a number of countries throughout Latin America. It listed the installation of a military government in Guatemala in 1956, the 1973 military coup in Chile and the Iran Contra scandal in the 1980s, adding a reference to “a plot to destabilize the government of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez by picking up the trash” revealed in newly-released private diplomatic documents.
Other sources go much further, naming Wikileaks as their source, though its website’s home page does not present this news. As yet, scrolling down the websites of three mainstream newspapers does not reveal this news, though the Mail does – without recording any of its more serious allegations.
In a secret 2006 US cable published online by WikiLeaks, former ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield – now an Assistant Secretary of State – outlines a comprehensive plan to infiltrate and destabilize former President Hugo Chavez’ government with embassy objectives which included:
- penetrating Chavez’ political base,
- dividing Chavismo,
- protecting vital US business
- and isolating Chavez internationally.
The memo, which appears to be totally un-redacted, plainly states involvement in these core objectives by the US embassy, as well as the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), two agencies working abroad on behalf of the US. The People’s Record continues:
“According to Brownfield, who prepared the cable specifically for US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the majority of both USAID and OTI activities in Venezuela were concerned with assisting the embassy in accomplishing its core objectives of infiltrating and subduing Chavez’ political party . . .
“In total, USAID spent some one million dollars in organizing 3,000 forums that sought to essentially reconcile Chavez supporters and the political opposition, in the hopes of slowly weaning them away from the Bolivarian side”.
Subverting civil society
Brownfield recorded that an OTI civic education program, Democracy Among Us, was designed to work through NGOs in low income regions, and alleged that it had reached over 600,000 Venezuelans.
Between 2004 and 2006, USAID donated some 15 million dollars to over 300 organizations, and offered technical support via OTI in achieving US objectives which it categorized as seeking to reinforce democratic institutions.
Further interesting detail may be read by following the earlier link.
Following his re-election, President Chavez threatened to eject the US ambassador from Venezuela in 2007, amid accusations of interfering in internal state affairs.
Well justified it seems!