Venezuela: Revolution and Counter-revolution

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro addresses supporters. - AFP
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro addresses supporters. - AFP

Venezuela is in the news again. International news agencies who control the content, form and volume of news transmissions have been orchestrating a continuous flood of stories about anti-government protests and violent reactions to them by government supporters. Much of these stories or almost hundred percent of them are far from accurate or objective. There is a conspiracy of silence about terrorist actions by the far right activists and often perpetrators of such actions are portrayed as heroes.

This is nothing new as the business elites as well as other well-to-do sections of the Venezuelan society are continually engaged in a struggle to reverse the gains of the masses following the peaceful and constitutional revolution headed by president Huge Chavez. One could recall the failed coup d’état of April 11, 2002 in which President Chavez was arrested, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court was dissolved by Pedro Carmona, President of the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fedácamares) who was installed as the interim President.

It was evident that the United States supported the coup as it immediately recognized the new Government. It later became evident that leaders of the coup had continuous links with President George Bush who met them even few days prior to the coup.

What is unfolding today in Venezuela is almost a repetition of the same drama. The United States is funding the Opposition and is involved openly in subversive activities in Venezuela. Once again it is the Conservatives, private media and the well-to-do that are leading the street protests.

There have been many acts of terrorism and vandalism by the protestors and they have not been reported in the international media, including in Sri Lanka. From April 4th this year up to now, over 40 persons have been killed during the protests. Except in two or so incidents in which the deaths were attributed to shooting by state armed forces or police the rest were perpetrated by anti-government rioters or they have not been identified yet. Armed Forces personnel were provocatively shot at by protestors in several incidents.

The worst act of terrorism was a night attack on a public Maternity Hospital which led to the evacuation of over 50 babies and mothers, despite eye witness reports confirming it. Ironically, not a word about the incident was carried in the international media.

The Organisation of American States has been conducting a hostile policy towards Venezuela at the instigation of the United States. Its Secretary General Luis Almegro has been openly interfering and threatening to expel Venezuela from the OAS. However, an attempt to do so with the help of rightwing governments in the region failed. Now Venezuela has withdrawn from it, denying the Opposition a chance to claim a victory if the OAS expelled the country from membership. However, it would take two years for the withdrawal process to be complete.

Washington has been calling for a “regional response” to the Venezuelan crisis and is also manipulating the election process in Venezuela. On the other hand, President Maduro has been calling for a solution to the crisis through dialogue. The Right Wing Opposition Coalition MUD, led by former Presidential candidate and Governor of Miranda Henrique Capriles has rejected dialogue and called for the overthrow of the government.

His Holiness Pope Francis playing a mediation role has also called for a dialogue. He is supported by Martin Torrijos, Leonel Fernandez and Jose Luis Rodriguez former Presidents of Panama, Dominican Republic and Spain respectively. Governments of Argentine, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rico, Peru Paraguay and Uruguay are also involved in mediation attempts.

On May Day President Maduro announced that he would call a Constituent Assembly comprising 500 members, half of whom will be elected by direct secret vote in Parliament and the other half would constitute selected representatives of special groups (not political parties) such as the disabled, students, and farmer organisations etc. in accordance with Article 347 of the Venezuelan Constitution.

The Opposition is divided on this issue with far right radicals opposing the move as a coup and the moderates supporting it as a way out of the crisis.

It is clear the crisis is a reflection of the aggravation of the contradiction in Venezuelan society exacerbated by economic difficulties following the drop in oil prices and aided by far from prudent management of the economy by the Government and deliberate sabotage actions of the Opposition.

An important element of this aggravation is the external pressure exerted by the United States and imperialist powers, who believe that destabilization and overthrow of the Venezuelan government would have a domino effect in Latin America which would also end the revolutionary government in Cuba.

Israel downgrades Arab citizens

New legislation before Israeli Parliament seeks to downgrade its Arab citizens to second or third grade, as it empowers the Jewish citizens with special privileges. The bill passed its preliminary reading with 48 MPs voting for and 41 against. It says that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people and downgrades the status of the Arab language from being an official language (alongside Hebrew) to that of being a language with special status. There are 20 percent Arabs in Israel. They total to 1.5 million.

This would not only undermine the principle of equality of citizens that is acclaimed the world over but also lower their already inferior socio-economic status and widen the gulf between the Arab and Jewish populations.

Unless this attempt is thwarted by international pressure the passage of this law through Parliament would create a dangerous precedent that fascist or chauvinist or ultra-nationalist forces could emulate. Likewise it could escalate social and political confrontation in countries with substantial emigrant populations at a time when emigration is increasing on a world scale due to globalization. 

 


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