Photo: A Venezuelan supporter of President Nicolas Maduro gold a sign that reads: “Going forward with Maduro.” ~TeleSUR Gallery, January 2019
by Alison Bodine, Fire This Time, January, 2019
A summary of the words most commonly appearing in mainstream news headlines about Venezuela in 2018 would include “humanitarian crisis,” “chaos,” “dictatorship,” and “failed state,” among other alarming buzzwords.
Far reflecting the reality facing Venezuela today, these headlines are parroted from the words spoken by the likes of U.S. President Trump, or Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada or people from the government of Britain and the European Union. These are all countries that are working to overthrow the Venezuelan government and reverse the gains made by the mass majority of people in Venezuela over the past 20 years of the Bolivarian revolutionary process.
The Fear-Mongering of the U.S. Government Towards Venezuela
The U.S. government and their allies have spent the last year shouting threats against the independent and sovereign government of Venezuela and imposing brutal sanctions. Out of the other side of their mouth, they sing sweet tunes of sympathy for a so-called “humanitarian disaster” to justify their intervention. Meanwhile, they have been escalating their lies and manipulations about Venezuela in statements, press releases, international conferences, mainstream media and any other corner where somebody is willing to listen to them.
The campaign to overthrow the democratically elected government of Venezuela has also given the opportunity for the infamous war-hawk John Bolton, who has joined the U.S. Trump administration as National Security Advisor, to beat the drums for U.S. intervention in Venezuela. On November 1, Bolton spoke in Miami, Florida, and gave a new name to the U.S. government’s targets in Latin America, stating,
“The Troika of Tyranny in this Hemisphere—Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua—has finally met its match.” And continuing, “This Troika of Tyranny, this triangle of terror stretching from Havana to Caracas to Managua, is the cause of immense human suffering, the impetus of enormous regional instability, and the genesis of a sordid cradle of communism in the Western Hemisphere.”
Why the Lies About Venezuela?
Fear-mongering and threats like these coming from the mouths of officials in the United States must be taken seriously by poor, working and oppressed people around the world. Not only have they already fueled the U.S. governments sanctions and intervention against Venezuela, but it must also be considered that wars and occupations by U.S. government and their allies are responsible for the deaths of millions of people around the world, and the complete destruction of entire countries, even over only the last 20 years.
However, it must be asked – why is it that the U.S. government and their allies must go so far to demonize the government of Venezuela and – why are they so forceful in this campaign? Why must they use lies and manipulations?
Would it not be simpler if they could tell the truth about Venezuela? If they could substantiate their claims? For example, if they could explain the record of former Venezuelan Vice-President, now Minister of Industries and National Production, Tareck El Aissami rather than accusing him of being an “international drug kingpin”?
These exaggerations are so extreme because the U.S. government and imperialism are covering up the truth about Venezuela. The truth about the reality of Venezuela today does not suit the interests of imperialism which are to promote international intervention in Venezuela, and the overthrow of the independent government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Silence About Sanctions
This includes an especially brutal truth – that the people of Venezuela are suffering under U.S., Canada, and EU sanctions. This simple fact is almost always absent in any news about Venezuela – from the CBC in Canada to CNN in the United States. These supposed “objective” media institutions write thousands of words about the economic crisis and lack of food and medicines in Venezuela, and they do not mention the word sanctions once. How can one discuss economic hardships and even “crisis” in a country and not mention the impact of sanctions?
In one rare example, the Washington Post published an article that does mention the word “sanctions.”
“But most sanctions — imposed by the United States, Canada and the European Union — are limited to cancelling visas and freezing assets of key officials implicated in abuses and corruption. They have no impact on the Venezuelan economy.”
No impact? This article was written on November 26, 2018. At that point, the Trump administration alone had enacted four rounds of sanctions against Venezuela. These sanctions have blocked the government of Venezuela from receiving $1 billion of profits from Citgo, a petroleum company that operates in the U.S., but is a majority owned by the government of Venezuela (Venezuela Analysis). They have prevented Venezuela from completing financial transactions necessary to continue their standard imports, including food, medications and basic goods. And these are only a few of the impacts.
Restrictions on financial transactions mean they cannot pay for things that they have bought, parts for oil refineries, medicines. Also, the signal that the U.S. government sends out to multinational corporations – the implication is to get out of Venezuela, or we will not do business with you.
On November 27, 2018, the Washington Post published a letter to the editor by Lissett Hernandez the Charge d’Affairs of the Venezuelan Embassy in the U.S. (in response to the Washington Post article referenced above). As she explains,
“The sanctions have caused billions of dollars in damage to our oil industry, frozen hundreds of millions more in banks overseas, and delayed or prevented the importation of billions of dollars’ worth of food and medicine, among other costs. For example, our assets frozen in Euroclear Bank have depreciated by $264 million. With that $264 million, our public health service could have guaranteed vaccinations for the entire country for three years.”
And yet the government of the U.S. and their allies are claiming to care about the people of Venezuela?
The counter-revolutionary Venezuelan opposition funded by the U.S. government leads in this economic war. They are attempting day and night to strangle the economy of Venezuela. Under sanctions, and before sanctions were imposed, this so-called opposition has been determined to make the struggling economy worse.
These counter-revolutionaries have attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro through an economic war of hoarding, price gouging and other sabotage. Venezuela’s capitalist class continues to control the production and distribution of food and basic goods in Venezuela, and therefore have control of availability.
The Miami Herald has also reported that
“Venezuelan opposition leaders are asking the Bank of England to keep 14 tons of Venezuelan bullion safely locked up in Britain rather than return it to the administration of President Nicolás Maduro because he’s likely to steal or squander it amid the country’s economic collapse.”
In the cold, calculating minds of the opposition, they have no problem with the people of Venezuela struggling from the lack of food and medicines.
Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolutionary Government Fights Back
Through the Bolivarian revolutionary process, the people of Venezuela have been working to take their country into their own hands and kick the U.S. government and their allies out of Venezuela. Within Venezuela, this has meant electing a revolutionary government that has put the needs of poor, working and oppressed people in Venezuela before the interests of profits for multi-national corporations and Venezuela’s capitalist class.
Outside of Venezuela, this has meant the development of organizations such as the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples (ALBA). ALBA was founded 14 years ago by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuban President Fidel Castro to provide a counter-balance to the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) imposed by the United States. Today countries throughout Latin America have found new trade relationships based on solidarity and in-kind trade that have threatened the U.S. influence and control.
The government of Venezuela is also signing new trade deals with countries outside of Latin America, such as Russia, China and Iran, who can work around the U.S. government sanctions. Venezuela has signed 28 agreements with China alone, in sectors of oil production, technology, food and medicine.
What is the Alternative?
As reported by the Guardian newspaper “Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the so-called northern triangle – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – over the past five years. More than 161,000 people from these three countries applied for asylum to the US between 2011-2016. At least 714,000 more are internally displaced.” The recent migrant caravan, which has been met by brutality by the U.S. government is the most recent example of the devastation wrecked on these countries by foreign debt and imperialist intervention.
Without the Bolivarian revolutionary government, this too would be a reality for the people of Venezuela.
Together, the U.S., Canada and E.U. governments, and their allies in Venezuela’s counter-revolutionary opposition have completely disrupted the political, economic and social order in Venezuela through their vicious threats, sanctions and intervention, but they have not stopped the Bolivarian revolutionary process.
However, this is a critical time for Venezuela, as Samuel Moncada, Venezuela’s representative to the UN in September, Venezuela is in
“most dangerous phase of the aggression. We are talking about how the migration and socio-economic issues have been manipulated to turn them into a matter of regional peace and security.”
Venezuela Is Not Alone, We Are All Venezuelan