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Jeremy Corbyn’s balanced view confronts half-truths peddled about the Venezuelan crisis

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 toNicolas 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.

 

 

 

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Britain’s special friend, the United States government – a really bad influence

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.

The substance

william brownfield us diplomatIn 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!