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Plowshare Statement on Venezuela

DECLARATION: ON MEDDLING AND BULLYING VENEZUELA

Plowshare Peace and Justice Center, Virginia’s oldest peace and social justice organization, representing over 600 voters in the Roanoke and New River Valleys, issued the following statement to concerned fellow citizens regarding the political strife in Venezuela:

We oppose as inappropriate, disrespectful and illegal the effort of our government to force regime change on Venezuela. This latest United States intervention has been justified on the grounds that the 2018 election in Venezuela was not “free and fair,” but little evidence exists for that claim. How democratic or undemocratic the election was in Venezuela is irrelevant – after all, there were also undemocratic elements in the 2016 U.S. election. These claims about the election in no way justify intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela by the U.S. in any manner.

Historically, the record of the United States’ interventions in the internal concerns of other sovereign nations is well documented. Recall that our government played a key role in the overthrow of the democratically-elected governments in Iran, in Ukraine, and, in the Western hemisphere: Allende in Chile in 1973, Goulart in Brazil in 1964, and the Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954, Honduras in 2009, among dozens of others.

In 2018, Maduro was re-elected president of Venezuela. Some of those opposed to him boycotted the election but the boycott failed: 9,389,056 people voted; 16 parties participated with six candidates standing for the presidency. Maduro won 6,248,864 votes, or 68 per cent overwhelmingly voted for Maduro, a vote to continue the Bolivarian revolution. And no one, not one Venezuelan, voted for the self-appointed opposition president Juan Guaido. Over the past 20 years Venezuela’s elections have been monitored by international observers, who have consistently declared them free and fair. The Carter Center, the gold standard of election observers, has reported that Venezuela’s elections are among and freest, fairest and cleanest in the world.

U.S. bullying has also been justified on the grounds that the people in Venezuela are suffering. No doubt there is some scarcity, especially in the poorer neighborhoods in Venezuela. But in Caracas, life is proceeding almost normally. Our Western corporate media has bought the propaganda and exaggerated the situation (see https://fair.org/…/venezuela-baiting-how-media-keep-anti-i…/). Yes, the Venezuelan economy is crippled, and that is largely due to U.S. sanctions and sabotage, including sequestration of Venezuela’s own foreign bank balances and earnings from its Citgo oil sales. Our media seldom provides historical context when reporting on foreign policy issues and unfortunately this is the case now with Venezuela.

Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, for the very first time, empowered the masses of the Venezuelan people, especially those who lived in abject poverty when Venezuela was still a U.S. colony. Poverty did decline substantially during their governments, while literacy substantially increased.

The media ignores the real issue at stake here, the rule of law, both the rule of law inside Venezuela and the rule of law internationally. Juan Guaido did not have the right to declare himself President, President Trump had no right to recognize him as such, and the U.S. had no business threatening a military intervention or even a violation of the sovereign border of Venezuela under the pretext of bringing in humanitarian aid while, at the same time, keeping the country under draconian and illegal sanctions. The U.S. “humanitarian intervention” is actually illegal aggression. The Red Cross and the UN have refused to participate in the US scheme because of its overtly political nature. Under international law aggression and threats of aggression are war crimes. As to that humanitarian aid, China, Cuba, Russia, and other countries have actually provided more humanitarian aid–actual aid, and not aid that is used as cover, as a political prop, to Venezuela than the United States. Looking deeper, control of oil is key to current events in Venezuela. Greg Palast of the BBC has reported on how the Koch brothers have influenced President Trump to support their resource grab – and Juan Guaido has said he will let Exxon take control of the oil fields (See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeNCbXVHrR8).

Additionally, there is also the subtext of destroying any tendencies towards socialism across Latin America and elsewhere – as well as the need of Western capital to expand into or create new markets.

Another aspect of the struggle in Venezuela that both our politicians and media seem to be missing and have failed to acknowledge is about race and class. The roughly two-thirds of the population who are Chavistas are people of color (mestizo and black), while the third who are the opposition are chiefly white and from the middle or upper classes. They are the offspring of the oligarchy who ruled the country for 400 years and got rich on the country’s natural resources.

The Venezuelan people are under no illusion about what a Guaido regime would mean to them. While most of the supporters of Chavez and Maduro have little power or wealth, there are a lot of them, and they will likely fight to prevent a complete reversal of the many achievements of the Bolivarian revolution.

This American aggression has also created a great deal of internal political tensions in other Latin American countries whose public opinion remains strongly opposed to any form of US imperial control over Latin America. They recall that the same Elliott Abrams who’s now directing the U.S. intervention in Venezuela played a key role in U.S. interventions in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala in the 1980s. In Nicaragua he used ‘humanitarian aid’ as a cover for smuggling arms into the country. White House National Security Advisor John Bolton publicly threatened Nicaragua as being next in line for a U.S.-sponsored regime change. He even spoke of a “Troika of Tyranny” reminiscent of the famous “Axis of Evil,” that led to unconscionable death and destruction. In this regard, the situation with Brazil is particularly interesting. While Bosanaro’s government has backed the U.S, coup attempt, the Brazilian military is not comfortable with it and has even issued a statement indicating it would refuse to attack Venezuela. See Abby Martin’s interview with U.N. investigator Alfred de Zayas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=44&v=ii5MlQgGXyk

Considering the foregoing, Plowshare Peace Center stands in solidarity with the people of Venezuela in declaring that it is they who must determine the future of their country, not the United States of America. We declare to our government:

Stop bullying Venezuela. No war. Lift sanctions that freeze or steal Venezuelan assets.

Venezuela is not a threat to U.S. security. It’s not our business and we only make things worse where we intervene, as our ugly historical record unambiguously confirms.

Plowshare Peace and Justice Center, March 12, 2019

For information or to support our work: PO Box 4367, Roanoke, Virginia 24015, 540-597-8127, https://www.plowshareva.org, Facebook @Plowshare-Peace-Center