In March last year, Trinidad and Tobago’s (T&T’s) relation with Venezuela shot into the spotlight. It was sparked by a secretive and suspicious meeting by Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. Another controversy was sparked by the fuel shipment from T&T’s Paria Fuel Trading Company to Aruba, which was then surprisingly sent to Venezuela.
In Guyana, Venezuela is claiming the Essequibo region and most of the country’s maritime space. This dispute was taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2018, with Venezuela arguing that that the ICJ does not have jurisdiction to rule on the matter.
And where does neighbouring Suriname stand in these disputes? Remember that the former Bouterse government had close ties with Venezuela. What will be the new Santokhi government’s approach in this changing geopolitical landscape?
The following are HIGHLIGHTS of a ZOOM public meeting held recently (24/01/2021) on the topic “Trinidad’s Guyana’s and Suriname’s current relations with Venezuela.” The Pan- Caribbean meeting was chaired by Sharlene Maharaj and moderated by Bindu Deokinath Maharaj, both women of Trinidad.
The Speakers were SENATOR ANIL ROBERTS from Trinidad, a former Minister of Sport and Youth affairs, now opposition senator; PROFESSOR DANIEL GIBRAN from Guyana, Professor Emeritus of International Security Studies at Tennessee State University in the USA; and ANGELIQUE ALI HUSSAIN DEL CASTILLO from Suriname, a former Ambassador to Indonesia and Chair of the Democratic Alternative91 (DA’91) party.
SENATOR ROBERTS from Trinidad said: “Trinidad and Tobago has become an ‘enabler’ to the illegitimate Venezuelan government because of the actions of the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) government and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s relationship and fraternization with President Nicholas Maduro. The T&T government was caught allowing Delcy Rodriguez – the vice president of Venezuela – to enter the country under the pandemic-lockdown. Her immigration papers were signed by the Minister of National Security, Stuart Young.
Meanwhile, thousands of Trinidadian citizens were locked out of their homeland, suffering, starving and sleeping in subways with no access to food, clothes and medication. They were kept out by a regime similar to that of Maduro’s. Rowley and Young have been following Maduro’s policies and turning T&T into an undemocratic State.”
DR GIBRAN from Guyana said:
“The current and continuing impasse between Guyana and Venezuela over ownership of a sizeable piece of disputed real estate is traceable to two strategic blunders: one by the British Government in 1966, and the other by Forbes Burnham also in 1966. Both blunders were incubated within the larger geopolitical and geostrategic context of the Cold War. And both were avoidable.
Today, Guyana is facing an existential territorial threat that is at the heart of its existence, a threat that will not simply disappear into thin air by the waving of a magic wand. In short, Guyana’s security, the security of the State in the context of its physical space, is threatened by an unstable, belligerent neighbor that claims two-thirds of its territory. This sharp and heavy sword of Damocles continues to hang over Guyana.
Venezuela’s claim to the Zona de Reclamation is not simply Maduro’s claim and boisterous fulminations. It resides in the soul of every Venezuelan citizen. It is a national feeling; unlike anything we have seen demonstrated in Guyana.
Two strategic blunders – both committed in the same year – have burdened Guyana and stymied its path to economic development. The Ali-Jagdeo Government is well-placed to strengthen its relationship with the United States. In doing so, it would also allow the US to unhook itself from a Venezuela that it once strongly supported, especially during the Cold War.
Today, Washington DC is eager, ready and willing to support and defend Guyana. And the current governments on both sides of the Atlantic are ready to do business.”
ALI HUSSAIN-DEL CASTILLO from Suriname said: “In October 2020 when there was an almost universal call for free and fair elections, the Santokhi coalition party, in its political campaign, had promised that its position towards Venezuela would be drastically changed.
DA’91 – the political party that I chair – has over the years made many calls to the government and parliament of Suriname, as well as to the representatives of Venezuela in Suriname, to condemn and leave the path of destruction and the violation of human rights.
It fell on deaf ears. In recent developments regarding the border issue between Venezuela and Guyana, Suriname supported Guyana. However, the questions are: Does Suriname support Guyana’s claim on its land or does Suriname support Guyana’s position that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has jurisdiction on the issue?
This is especially important since Suriname still has an important border issue to settle with Guyana. The expectation of President Santokhi that standing with Guyana will not have any consequences on its relationship with Venezuela, remains to be seen.”
It was confirmed by Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados that groups representing President Nicolás Maduro and seld declared President Juan Guaidó have been meeting in Barbados to find a resolution to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. The Norway government is reported to be mediating the discussions between the two parties.
Barbados has enjoyed friendly relations with Venezuela that reached a peak in the 70s and 80s under late President Carlos Andrés Pérez. The blogmaster sincerely wishes for a positive outcome to the meeting. The hopes and fears of millions of Venezuelans rest on the outcome.
The decision to host the meeting in Barbados must be viewed as positive if only for the international attention the tiny island will receive. Lord knows all earned media is needed at this time.
An observation one can legitimately make is that since Mia Mottley assumed the job as Prime Minster, she wasted no time breathing life into Brand Barbados on the regional and internation fronts. Barbados’ reputation had taken a heavy hit under former Prime Minster Freundel Stuart whose introverted nature saw him preferring to read a book with a glass of wine on his patio after 5PM until bedtime. His Foreign Minister was a hard worker with a heart in the right place but lacked the gravitas to elevate Barbados on the outside. Her many sojourns overseas reflect she tried her hardest.
There was a period back in the day when Barrow, Burnham, Adams, Manley, Williams and a few others were on a first name basis with leaders from England, Canada, Singapore and others- these relationships were formed at university and made governing tiny islands tolerable. Fast forward to today, those relationships no longer exist. Some may point to Mottley’s play book as the alternative to ferment relationships to leverage for the benefit of Barbados and the region.
We have to end this blog on a tangential note by asking Prime Minister Mottley to address the outstanding issue of the ongoing negotiations with the external creditors led by White Oaks. We are aware that although the external debt is not large compared to the domestic debt the aggressive 3 year recovery plan will be compromised if it becomes protracted.
For decades we in the Caribbean, misguidedly so, have been living under a false presumption that our here and dear homeland was ‘a zone of peace’. We well remember those homilies as oft repeated by generations of the political elites, as if mantra, but not at all well-based in truism. These thinly-veiled falsities have been laid bare by the existential realities of our time. Enter, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela!
As Wilpert has argued, the Pink-Tide governments currently facing serial reversals in the wider region always had Venezuela as their epicenter. Thus, the internal logic employed by Washington was not to be limited to the rollbacks in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Guatemala for Venezuela was always the main target. Of course, Cuba and Nicaragua remain firmly within the bullseye of empire as well. Mexico under its new left-leaning president will soon, more openly, also attract empire’s ire. Under this global financial hegemony no deviations to the established orthodoxy shall be permitted, they posture.
Imperialism has gone through at least three (3) distinct phases. Classical imperialism meant you outright stole other peoples’ things at the point of a sword. Colonial imperialism has meant that one was committed to bearing the costs of administrative control, or management on the ground directing the theft of resources, thereby reducing the net margin of surpluses extracted. The colonial extraction of surpluses by financial imperialism is the purest and most efficient formation thus removing up to 95% of surplus production from the ‘host’ directly to the German bankers or ‘parasites’, as in the recent case of Greece.
In the case of the militarized financial colonialism, which seeks to re-impose itself on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the adversary is seeking to create conditions on the ground aimed at the renewal of historical patterns of extraction by pressuring the country with a contrived humanitarian crisis. By paying off its national debt and kicking out the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Hugo Chavez denied the money-changers the rentier economy most efficient in extracting surpluses. This is a long-planned artificial crisis to which they are presenting the faux but ready-made solution, of course!
The United States has, for many years now, deployed dollar supremacy to create artificial scarcities in Venezuela, primarily through financial manipulation and employing other petroleum producers to sink the price of crude. Such a scenario unduly pressurizes the population; suggest that the military should be disloyal and commit treason; aims to set up a rival government in Venezuela; is portentous for a civil war; locates the Caribbean well within a final war scenarios. But America should try to avoid a hot war for it has lost every conflict, except Grenada, in more than one hundred (100) years. However, civil confusion, fictitious claims to governmental authority and disaster capitalism are also in America’s immediate interests, like in Syria and contrary to popular claims. Claims just as propagandistic as those about ‘zones of peace’ anywhere.
The USA has set up financial companies in Colombia to invite holders of US dollars to remove them from the country (Venezuela), mainly the wealthy Venezuelans left behind. They have set up financial services companies in Miami whose sole role are to act to drive down the parity for the bolivar, creating inflation of more than a million percent in a year. Then they blame Chavez and Maduro for ‘mismanagement’ and they own the media to often repeat their memes, lies. They have insisted, for years, that Venezuela was not to borrow in US dollars from anywhere. They have demanded that American companies operating in Venezuela were to repatriate their reserves of US dollars. And more!
More recently we have seen the weaponization of international finance taken to a new and worrying level. It’s worrying for Russia, China, Turkey and others. The United States has contravened the well-established understanding of international law what sovereign statism means when removing the legal protections the government of Venezuela has had viz a viz its US dollar reserve holdings in American banks and its holdings of bullion in London institutions. We are witnessing a global colonial conspiracy with obvious extraterritorial implications. It is or should be intolerable to all world nations. The grapes of globalization, you say!
What connects the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the dirty looks of American empire is the three (3) letter word which has been, since its discovery, been the bane of all countries of the South. What’s worse, is that imperial (American) control of oil, we say control not necessarily ownership, not that Trump and those currently in the White House care much about the differentiation any more, for they are gangsters. But crude oil is the single strategic mineral, which has, since 1971, could have acted to impose a perceived value on a fiat American ‘currency’ through ‘forced-demand’ market conditions as imposed by empire. Without which, the paper-tiger of an American empire falls, tomorrow morning!
These are the orders of magnitude the present illegal and aggressive ‘humanitarian’ war against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela represents for the Caribbean, the wider region and the very existence of live on our Mother, Earth. These scenarios make nonsense of quaint notions about ‘zones of peace’ anywhere. For Russia, China, Iran and others will not be forever dominated by American fiat currency control mechanisms, for resistance must come, sooner or later. And if Venezuela is to be the battle ground no pretenses about the Caribbean as a ‘zone of peace’ can contain these configurations of forces.
We are endeavouring to ignore the bellicose mouthings of Trump and company. Beyond that, all the other international indicators suggest the end of imperium. All the forces within the United States of America, itself, also point to an unescapable collapse, and very soon too. War with Venezuela, as urged by the Deep State or permanent American government and particularly the bankers running the Federal Reserve, remains the last flicker of hope for maintaining or extending American global hegemony. For they have failed to control Russian oil, Iranian crude, Central Asian resources, so Venezuela seems a necessary but insufficient target. They should expect millions of freedom fighters from Venezuela and elsewhere to deliver a righteous resistance, in several neighbouring countries as well. Venezuela represent another miscalculation for the internal and external constellations are working against the continuation of American hegemony and are well-disposed to denying empire any lifeline.
The very existence of America has always been about global hegemony. We simply have to look to see where its nearly 1000 military bases are located. We’ll discover that they are primarily situated near oil fields, to protect oil shipping lanes and other strategic minerals. The oil majors have always acted as instruments for imperial power starting with Iran (1953) as British Petroleum, as successor, acted with the CIA and British Intelligence (MI6) to remove Mohammad Mosadegh, a duly elected leader, who nationalized Iranian oil. By these, the oil majors, on whose behalf the United States military has always been praetorian guard. Of course, they enlist their partners in crime to assist in the policing of the world’s resources. France’s hegemonic relationships with its former colonies still represent the most perverse contradiction from the country which continues to claim to have given us ‘liberty’.
Why the increased recklessness at this time? Well, major countries are coming to realize that the fiat dollar has been used to threaten them, wage wars against them, impose sanctions against them, subjected them to intractable poverty, been extractive of real wealth owned by them, subjected them to more and more irrational American demands, the rising list of demands never seems ends. Strengths also present weaknesses and the growing weakness of empire also presents the Achilles Heel as a point of attack. So we have a number of countries establishing systems which seek to bypass the US dollar as global reserve currency and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIF) system used for its transfer.
Venezuela, just last years and in its own defense, decided to price its oil in the yuan, or petro-yuan, the currency of China. This military response by Trump and his gang in the White House is not dissimilar to what happened to Maumar Khadafy when he decided to sell Iraqi oil solely in the gold dinar. Meaning, buyers had to hold gold to buy Libyan crude oil. No such competition is ever to be given to the Devil’s dollar. The same fate met Saddam Hussien of Iraq, who deciding to price Iraqi crude similarly. They are many other countries facing this colonial reprisal. We will do well to remember that our region has never been a stranger to American backed wars, subversions and intrigues.
Contrary to the predictions of Trump we expect the American empire to collapse long before his wish for ‘socialism’, as an organizing principle, to have a chance in the heart of imperium. The truth is that America has many aspects of what he calls, derisively, as ‘socialism’. Indeed, Trump himself is a product of statist or corporate socialism through the privatization of surpluses and the socialization of debt, his many unpaid debt from several bankruptcies.
As we approach the weekend we now see the British billionaire, Richard Branson, bringing a threatening humanitarian live aide type concerts to Venezuela’s borders. This is the threatening behavior of the humanitarian war hawks and Venezuela should have a prepared counter-measure for any kinds of forces threatening it. Branson, an acolyte of Obama must also be an agent for empire. Venezuela, a country is not starving as they would wish us to believe. Why can’t this man Branson, who got his billions through the thief of public assets, not encourage the aggressive countries for which he acts as agent, to deliver the resources of the Bolivarian Republic, instead?
Everything here proves that it was a ‘mistake’ for Hugo Chavez to expect to launch a real structural revolution to liberate the masses of the Venezuelan peoples while at the same time leaving the capitalist structures in place. These capitalists have always been the agent of slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism and now financial imperialism. They are the ones who, like the Americans, always believed that all the resources of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela were theirs and theirs alone, even as they served their White masters from abroad.
Any sensible resolution to the ongoing crisis in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ought, arguably, to go beyond the current simplistic sloganeering of being for “Team Maduro” (Russia, China, Cuba) or for “Team Guaidò” (US, UK and others), depending on the nation’s political interest.
The current situation there is also far more complex than one to which our neutral foreign policy shibboleth of being “friends of all and satellites of none” might apply so as to offer a helpful suggestion, and Barbados patently does not possess the necessary geopolitical clout to be a major player in any final solution. Indeed, it may be reasonably regarded as an issue that we might prudently steer clear of, had it not been for the relative proximity of Venezuela to the Caribbean basin and the high probability of regional contagion from any civil war there.
We might consider aligning ourselves with our CARICOM neighbours, but, even in that body, there exists the identical divisions that exist internationally, each member state’s position being voiced in accordance with its own perceived national interests. As a collective, the region appears to have agreed on a rational call for further dialogue and diplomacy in the matter, although it might be legitimately queried whether the time for this has not already passed. Yet the alternative is too awful to contemplate. Clearly, the immediate outcome will be either a continuation of the existing Maduro regime or a change to an unelected Guaidò-led government.
The paramount consideration in this matter ought to be the best interests of the ordinary Venezuelan people, even if, from a purely legalistic point of view, the rule of law would consider the current Guaidò claim to the presidency nugatory. In this scenario, the issue should ideally be resolved by democratic arbitrament, but Sr. Maduro has already resisted this course. But therein lies the real complexity. How does one replace or install a governing administration outside of the constitutionally stipulated mode of doing so, except by changing the grundnorm, (the supra-constitutional order) which gives that administration its legitimacy? Revolution, (not necessarily violent), an outcome that no one wants, but one that now appears inevitable, usually effects that change.
It might be a commentary, sad or otherwise, on the current state of local social existence when the return of a wallet containing a sum of money found by some schoolchildren goes viral on local social media. Of course, it was a commendable gesture, but I am assuming that it is not widely known that the alternative might have involved each of them in a possible criminal charge of theft by finding, so that their good deed was not only morally right but also the legally correct thing to do.
On Monday last week, four pupils from the Reynold Weekes Primary School found a wallet containing a substantial sum of money and agreed among themselves to give it to the snack vendor in order for her to contact the owner. Not that they did not explore other options –“We had a plan to just leave it…” “We were saying that the money would have benefited us for a long time but then we realized it was wrong to take it…”
At the same time, the honesty of these children should be a teaching moment for many of us, including those public officials for whom the state is currently seeking to establish elaborate and expensive legislative machinery to prevent and control corruption in public life.
It was the youngsters’ conscience and not their knowledge and fear of the criminal law that ultimately dictated their plan of action. Would that our public officials were similarly minded when confronted with the possibility of benefit from corruptly using their office through illegally conferring a benefit on another for reward.
The difference may lie in true education. Here, I am drawn to the words of the school’s principal as reported in another section of the press. He stated, “Education is not only about academia, but it is also about building character…”
Perhaps we should engage in the re-education, as defined by the Principal, of our public officers rather than enacting complex legislation to guide them as to the right thing to do.
The children’s response in this scenario demonstrates clearly that corruption may be grounded in an admixture of selfishness, greed and a lack of concern for the plight of others. In his book, “Born a Crime”, Trevor Noah, the host of the popular “Today Show”, distinguishes between the circumstance where the criminal is aware of the identity of his or her victim and that where he or she is not. In the latter case, there is usually little or none of the remorse or sympathy that might be felt in the former situation. An act of corruption in public life is of the latter ilk; the victim is some remote, unidentifiable entity. Remorse? What remorse?
Someone or other must have compiled, by now, a volume recounting legal actions brought in the weirdest circumstances. Such as that of the burglar who sued a homeowner for the personal injury he sustained when he fell through the skylight of a home in the course of an attempted burglary. Or the one brought by Mr Vezmar of Austin, Texas who filed action against his date for the cost of the movie ticket after she spent a substantial period of the evening on her phone. According to Vezmar, “… she used her phone at least 10-20 times in 15 minutes to text and [to]check her messages.”
Not all weird lawsuits originate in the US, however. During last week, we learnt of an Indian man, Raphael Samuel, who is suing his parents for giving birth to him without his consent and thereby causing him a life of suffering.
I am at a loss as to how this suit should be classified. I am fully aware of actions for wrongful birth, as for example where the parents of an unwanted child sue for the economic loss resulting to them from the birth of the child. There is also the action for wrongful life, brought by the child alone or with the parents on the ground that the child should not have been born. These actions are ordinarily brought against medical authorities that may have been negligent in performing a sterilization operation or in advising as to the success of one.
The suit here though seems to be one for wrongful conception, in that the man is suing both his parents and is complaining that he was created without his consent. In my opinion, this action is doomed to failure. For one, his claim of no consent to his own conception is plainly far-fetched. According to his mother, a lawyer – “… if Raphael could come up with a rational explanation as to how we could have sought his consent to be born, I will accept my fault..”
For another, the law sets its face, rightly or wrongly, against regarding the birth of a healthy child as an actionable wrong. So that for all of Mr Samuel’s notion that “the world would be a much better place without human beings in it”, based on his belief in anti-natalism – a philosophy that argues that life is so full of misery that people should stop procreating immediately, it is doubtful that he will find a fellow believer in a temporal court that itself thrives on human existence.
It took a Don-Don to trump all other minor Dons, a Rubio that is little Marco, a Bolton who was always a Johnny and a real criminal called Elliott to engineer what could be the inflection point or (A)bram/s to launch the Caribbean into the geo-political stratosphere as elements of the racist power structure in Washington side with their kindred spirits in Caracas.
What we are witnessing is a real global criminal conspiracy, in broad daylight, to steal the largest oil resources in the world, by far – 300 billion barrels. It happens to be under the feet of the peoples of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Therein lies the most bothersome question for imperialism, for capitalism. The question for the Americans has always been – how do we get ‘our’ oil from under other peoples’ feet?
Those on BU who would want to contend that the USA has become a leading exporter of crude in recent years consistently miss the point. The point is strategic not tactical. It is about control of the tap and denial of access to others. The point was always about connecting real resources to paper currency. These are how the peoples of the world are really robbed! These are the critical questions. Not the puerile BS constantly propagated on the networks. Even the Johnny, that is Bolton, is making crystal clear for the idiots. This is to be a war of conquest. The Conquistadores are still in place, both in Caracas and Washington.
Maybe the point that the Chinese have recently invested 50 billion dollars in a joint venture with the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its President Nicolas Maduro represented, to the Americans, ‘a clear and present national security threat’ pushing the Americans to up the ante – illegal sanctions as war by other means. Economic warfare, if you will.
That reading of events is one which is quite common for Uncle Sam and his progenitors. In these circumstances, the threat of war had to take centre-stage because all other attempts to remove the legitimate government of Venezuela, over 20 years, including assassinations, had limited affect. Notwithstanding, the great Hugo Chavez had contended that he was given a ‘cancer serum’ and so were several other leftist-leaning leaders of Central and South American countries over recent years, he continued. But who amongst us will see the Americans as the murderers that they have always been!
In addition, the ‘Yankees’ are fearful that a growing and wider alliance between non-dollar trading countries, spawning the rise of the potentially-deadly ‘petro-yuan’, as the currency of choice, will hasten the end of American imperium. And they are quite right! Of course, Venezuela, and the wider Caribbean, has had a long and sordid history of American interventionism, the doctrine of former president Monroe still rules these lands.
This is the classical story of how militarism is deployed in the service of corporations, oil companies and big money-men like Donald John Trump. Trump, who has no qualms about ‘taking other people oil’ at the point of a gun, in true American presidential gangster-style, especially if that gun could be cloaked in all manner of pseudo-legalisms, as have been long practiced by every American president and administration, including bulling-Obama. This is a merely game for this overgrown child (Trump). A game, he will most certainly lose, if he has the guts to try, for Pachamama has ordained it!
So we are made to endure the illegal meetings at the United Nations. Other illegal meetings were held of the Organization of American States (OAS) as part of this criminal conspiracy. All aimed at giving a patina of legitimacy to an illegal destabilization and possible invasion of a sovereign state and rendering a death blow to the Geneva Conventions. An invasion not unlike what was conducted in Syria, in Libya, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Panama, to name a few.
Of course, the ‘Don of all Dons’ is seeking a large payday on demitting office. We would estimate Trump could expect north of 15 billion dollars personally, after leaving office, impeachment or not, should this master caper, be successful.
Anglo-Caribbeans should note that neither Canada nor Britain has shown any hesitation in inviting war to our sacred region. Theresa May, ‘the hunchback of London’ and her foreign secretary, as a matter of course, dutifully and as pre-planned, gave the Americans the public nod to embark on this racist, Christian, crusade in our region. Theresa May’s husband is a notorious arms dealer, selling weapons to kill children in Yemen. Why not the Caribbean? Is he being promised piece of the war materiel action?
You would have thought that we had good relationships with Canada. Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, as the boy scared of the big bad wolf south of him, could not be the son of a man who four (4) former Caribbean prime ministers were once committed to, as he sought to shift the hemispheric, geo-political, equation, fundamentally. This determination should make us re-consider things that too many of us take for granted. We still have titularly Black people talking shiiite about their Scottish blood, etc. We have to stop expecting that the ‘mother country’ or historical trading partners are to be bound to understandings that some special dispensations are to be given us.
At the OAS meeting it was inspiring to see that some small Caribbean states had the gumption to vote against the imperialists, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonzales, is especially worthy of note. There was a similar number also abstaining, leading to the massive defeat of the America construction of an artificial ‘casus belli’, not dissimilar to the lies around the Invasion of Iraq (2003).
You could rely on the mendicancy of the Mottley regime in Barbados to abstain. But even that could get them in trouble with Trump. A no-vote would have been a monumental surprise. Notwithstanding, it would be too much to expect the likes of David Comissiong, ‘the moral compass for decency’ as venerated in Bridgetown, by some, to be resigning anytime soon. This path to war by Trump should cause Comissiong to rethink his empty rhetoric about regional unity etc. For it has always been highly misconceived!
We doubt it! You see, American policymakers are so drunken by imperial hubris, so intoxicated by a faux exceptionalism, that is seems impossible for any significant faction of elite forces to prevent another Iraq, another Afghanistan, any imperial excesses at all. Not at a time when everybody in America wants to get fabulously rich, and real quick. But maybe, the fate of the USA has been written in the stars. How could it be otherwise possible to elect a modern-day Nero, a modern-day Caligula, advance a neo-Nazi global state where wealth is highly consolidated and not expect the dominance of the madness as foretold, being a lived reality!
Those here on BU, misguided and supportive of the musings of the ‘humanitarian’ interventionists in Washington should remember Libya or Puerto Rico after two hurricanes, one after the other. Is this the same Trump presenting that he now cares about Venezuelans? Should there not be a wall to prevent these kinds of people from ‘shithole’ countries coming to America? Or maybe, the honorary Whites of Venezuela and those living in Miami, prepared, as they are, to sell out their country to neo-Nazis are truly exceptional idiots.
Yesterday Colombia was saying that its territory will not be used in any aggression against the Bolivarian Republic. Today, the Americans are announcing that their troops are deployed in Colombia. But Russia has a battalion (up to 800) stationed in Venezuela and they come with the whole arsenal of the defenses of the Russian Federation. And Venezuela has other friends in the world. These include the peoples of Cuba and those of Haiti. Internally, many supporters of the revolution are willing to die for this just cause. They also have contacts with several popular forces which have resoundingly defeated the Yankees, many times over. Did a president of the United States not ordered the leader of Syria to leave office in a manner not dissimilar to the present idiot? And is Assad not still in office, and dominantly so? So too will be Maduro many moons after Trump resides in the dustbin of history! We remain less certain about the American neo-Nazi state.
Donald John Trump is a coward! His band of armchair generals has but a solitary military success in over a hundred years – poor Grenada. They have been beaten or failed to meet their targets in every military adventure. These include WW1, WW2, Vietnam, Korea and all others. Recently the Iranians, the Syrians, the Russians, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban have either defeated America and/or its proxies, in hot and/or cold confrontations, sometimes more than once, within a short period of time. The truth is that nobody is afraid of America. In military matters when once a belligerent has lost the spectre of invincibility, it can never be regained. The Zionist state is a perfect example. Such is the American imperium as it seeks its long-awaited death in the swaps of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Long live the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as inspired by Hugo Chavez Frias, long live!
Several countries including the USA and and Canada have recently supported the claim of Juan Guaido as the president of Venezuela. We already know who Russia backs, do we have another Syria in the making only this time within the Caribbean region?
CARACAS, Venezuela — A group of soldiers turned against the government and declared allegiance to the opposition. Foreign officials say the government could soon run out of money to meet bare-bones needs. And countries across the region have called the president an illegitimate dictator.
Conditions in Venezuela have deteriorated to a point where the opposition — gutted by the jailing and exiling of many of its leaders and discredited after several failed efforts to oust President Nicolás Maduro — is seeing an opportunity. Leading them is a virtually unheard-of 35-year-old, Juan Guaidó.
His debut as opposition leader and head of the National Assembly this month has captured the attention of those within the country and outside of it — mainly for his striking claim that Mr. Maduro is not a legitimate ruler and his willingness to take charge of a transitional government.
“The relationship between Venezuela and its state today is one of terror,” Mr. Guaidó said in an interview. “When this happens, the voices and hopes of the world, their messages, are the encouragement for the daily struggle to resist — to dream of democracy, and for a better country.”
In 1992 some Caribbean states in declaring the Caribbean area a zone of peace, objected to the passage through the Caribbean of ships carrying nuclear waste material. The heads of Government issued a statement vowing “to take all necessary steps to protect their people and the fragile ecology of the Caribbean Sea from this highly dangerous threat.
Now Russia plans to bring nuclear weapons to the Caribbean and we are silent.
The pristine reputation of the Caribbean took a hit when it was established that Trinidad and Tobago had the highest rate of ISIS recruits in the Western hemisphere per population size. The zone of peace the region has enjoyed is now under threat with the announcement that the Russians are coming.
Further, with Russia and Venezuela in bed the long running dispute between Venezuela and Guyana is brought into sharp focus. Does it matter if Ambassador of Caricom David Comissiong or Caricom respond given our lack of military and economic standing in the world?
Geopolitical analysts are of the view Putin is seizing the moment with the changing of the guard in the USA. It has not have gone unnoticed by the blogmaster Russia launched the Avangard missile yesterday which is reported to be a challenge to US detection systems.
Submitted by EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, CLEMENT PAYNE MOVEMENT (BARBADOS)
Under the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS), when the General Secretary of the OAS speaks he speaks for and on behalf of the Organization and its Member States, including the Caribbean nations of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Haiti, Grenada, Belize, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia.
And last Friday (the 13th of September 2018) — at a Press Conference held in Cucuta, Colombia — OAS General Secretary Luis Almagro spoke as follows :-
“With respect to a MILITARY INTERVENTION to OVERTHROW Nicolas Maduro’s regime, I don’t think any option should be ruled out ……….. Diplomatic action should be the first priority but we shouldn’t rule out any action.”
Thus, speaking for ALL 34 Member States of the OAS, Luis Almagro has declared that the constitutionally legitimate, democratically elected Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (a Member State of the OAS) is to be OVERTHROWN either by “diplomatic action” or by “military intervention”.
Needless-to-say, Almagro’s enunciation constitutes a gross VIOLATION of virtually all of the fundamental principles contained in the Charter of the OAS, namely — Chapter 1 (Nature and Purposes), Chapter 2 (Principles), Chapter 4 (Fundamental Rights and Duties of States), Chapter 5 (Pacific Settlement of Disputes), and Chapter 7 (Integral Development) — all of which commit the OAS and its Member States to the principles of respect for the territorial integrity of states, respect for national sovereignty, peaceful settlement of disputes, respect for the right of states to self-determination, and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states.
It has now therefore become absolutely clear that Luis Almagro CANNOT be permitted to continue to hold the post of representative and spokesman of the OAS!
Indeed, every single self-respecting Member State of the OAS is now under a duty to denounce and repudiate the unlawful and offensive statement that the General Secretary of the OAS made in their names, and to go on to take action to REMOVE Luis Almagro from the post of General Secretary of the OAS !
Article 116 of the OAS Charter establishes that the General Assembly of the OAS may — by a two thirds vote of the Member States — remove the General Secretary “whenever the proper functioning of the Organization so demands”.
The duty of every single OAS Member State to take action in respect of this matter is therefore absolutely clear, and those of us who still believe that we are citizens of sovereign, principled, serious, and self respecting nations will be watching very closely to see how our Caribbean governments respond.
Submitted by the Officers and Members, CARIBBEAN PEACE MOVEMENT
MANY OF US BARBADIANS see the images presented to us by Western corporate media houses of Venezuelan refugees streaming across the country’s borders in a flight from economic hardships, and we are only too willing to conclude that the blame for this tragic state of affairs must lie with the socialist Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
But it would do us well to engage in a little hypothetical exercise – a little exercise in “supposing”.
Let us – for example – “SUPPOSE” that our own nation of BARBADOS was:-
made the subject of a Law that was enacted by the UNITED STATES Congress on 18th December 2014 entitled the “Barbados Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act”, that set out a framework for the application of sanctions by the powerful US Government against Barbados – sanctions pertaining to the freezing of Barbadian assets in the US and to the prohibition of the import of Barbadian goods into the US;
subjected – on 24th August 2017 – to a Decree or Executive Order of the President of the United States of America prohibiting financial transactions or other forms of business between US citizens / corporations and either the Government of Barbados or any of Barbados’ statutory corporations;
subjected yet again – on 19th March 2018 – to a second President Trump Executive Order imposing new sanctions prohibiting US citizens / corporations trading in or in any way permitting usage of the Barbados dollar;
targeted – on 18th May 2018 – with a third President Trump Executive Order imposing even more sanctions prohibiting any transactions connected with loan financing to the Barbados Government or to any entity in which the Government of Barbados has a shareholding of 50 per cent or more;
faced with – in September 2017 – the Government of CANADA enacting a “Regulation on Economic Matters” that froze the assets of specified Barbadian citizens and businesses in Canada, and prohibited any Canadian (resident anywhere in the world) from engaging in economic transactions or providing financial services to said Barbadian citizens and businesses;
made the subject of three different sets of sanctions by the powerful EUROPEAN UNION (EU) – on 13th November 2017 and 22nd January 2018 — that impose sanctions on a host of Barbadian governmental officials and institutions;
targeted by the government of the UNITED KINGDOM via the adoption by the UK government , on 15th November 2017 and on 22nd January 2018, of a number of the European Union’s sanctions against Barbados;
and “SUPPOSE” that the combined effect of all of these sanctions was to :–
decimate Barbados’ trade with the countries that it most depends on for importation of consumer items – the USA, Canada, the European Union, and the UK;
severely restrict Barbados’ access to such goods as medicines, medical instruments, corn, wheat, soybean flour, other food items, refined oil products, chemical products, and the list goes on;
make it extremely difficult for “third countries” to continue to trade with Barbados;
decimate the value of the Barbados dollar;
make it near impossible for Barbados to utilize the international banking and financial system;
deprive Barbados of access to international credit and loans;
cause the bank accounts of the Central Bank of Barbados and of Barbados’ most important state enterprises to be shut down in the USA;
make it extremely difficult for Barbados to access and pay for imports;
and the never-ending list of negative effects goes on!
“SUPPOSE” any of this had happened to Barbados over the past four years – what would the effect have been on the Barbadian economy and on the living conditions of the Barbadian people? And would we now be witnessing Barbadian refugees fleeing Barbados for greener pastures?
Of course, we are just “supposing” where Barbados is concerned, but the “REALITY” is that these particular unilateral sanctions or coercive measures HAVE BEEN imposed by the United States of America, Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom against the Government and people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela between the 18th of December 2014 and the present day !
And, of course, when such unilateral sanctions are imposed by a State or a group of States in order to coerce another State and to provoke or bring about a change of government or some other change in its political affairs, this constitutes a breach of International Law and is therefore
(Please see the Resolutions of the United Nations Human Rights Council; the many UN General Assembly resolutions against the unilateral sanctions imposed by the USA on Cuba; and the numerous reports of the UN’s Independent Rapporteur on Unilateral Sanctions).
Why then, is no Western corporate media house referring to any of these sanctions when they telecast their news stories about suffering refugees fleeing from Venezuela ?
And why aren’t all those governments and institutions that claim to be committed to International legality and morality making even a token protest against such flagrant breaches of International Law and of the fundamental human rights of the people of Venezuela?
Oh, where is our morality? Where is our sense of justice? Where is our belief in fairness and truth? What has become of our sacred duty to speak truth to power, and to come to the aid of a victim of bullying and injustice?
Submitted by David Comissiong, President of the Clement Payne Movement
From the left – Kaymar Jordan, Barbados Today, Anthony Bryan, Barbados Advocate, Anthony Shaw, Nation Publishing and David Ellis, Starcom Network
I have just returned to Barbados from a four day visit of Venezuela. My elder daughter — noted Barbadian dancer and choreographer Aisha Comissiong — accompanied me and we stayed at the Melia hotel in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela.
This last trip to Venezuela was my fourth visit over the past 13 months. And even though our stay was relatively short, we were still able to get a general picture of the political and social condition of the country and to make a comparison with the image of Venezuela that the powerful Western news media is so determinedly and comprehensively foisting upon the people of the world.
It is against this background that I would like to publicly deprecate the fact that — unlike me — no Barbadian media house has found it possible to have any of their journalists make even one single fact-finding visit to Venezuela over the past four (4) years!
Venezuela — it should be noted — is a mere one hour’s airplane flight from Barbados if one is taking the shortest direct route. And if one is taking the Caribbean Airlines flight to Caracas via Trinidad and Tobago one is talking about a mere two and a half hour flight time.
Why then won’t such Barbadian media houses as the Nation Publishing Co., Starcom Network, the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, and Barbados Today simply send a journalist and a camera-person to Venezuela to see and assess the political and social conditions for themselves, rather than supinely relying on biased Western news agencies for their warped, propagandistic reporting on Venezuela?
Way back in the month of April 2014 I issued a public challenge to Ms Vivien Ann Gittens, the then Chief Executive Officer of the Nation Newspaper to send a journalistic team to Venezuela, and she refused to take up my challenge.
Subsequent to that, I spoke to the Nation’s current Managing Editor, Mr Eric Smith, and renewed my request for a Nation journalist and camera-person to go to Venezuela. Needless-to-say, he also rejected the request.
I made these requests extremely secure in the knowledge that any team of Barbadian journalists who go to Venezuela would come back with a story that is fundamentally at odds with the propagandistic reporting of CNN,Fox News, BBC, MSNBC, Reuters, Associated Press and all the other Western media conglomerates that have been enlisted in a campaign of “Psychological Warfare” against the Socialist Government of President Nicolas Maduro and his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
And although I am not a journalist, please permit me to say for the record that I did not witness any violence on the streets of Caracas, nor did I observe any starving people eating out of garbage cans or surviving by hunting cats and dogs! So much for the ridiculous, sensationalist Western media reporting on Venezuela!
In fact, the situation that we experienced at the street level in Caracas was one of unremarkable normalcy.
Actually, the biggest controversial “talking-point” was related to the Venezuelan currency — the “bolivar” — which has been under attack by the formidable financial power of the US Government and financial establishment, leading to it sinking to a ludicrous exchange ratio with the US dollar.
This has led the Maduro government to respond by creating Venezuela’s own version of the “bitcoin” — a new so-called “crypto currency” known as the “Petro“. Hopefully, this innovation will bring some greater stability to the financial and currency situation in the country.
Of course, the currency situation, along with the trade and other sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the USA and other Western nations, and the machinations of the local Venezuelan commercial bourgeoisie, have combined to produce shortages of some consumer items within Venezuela.
And this, in turn, has led to some of the Venezuelan people — one third of whom were actually born in neighbouring Colombia or have direct family ties in Colombia — to travel back and forth across Venezuela’s border with Colombia to either shop in Colombia or to work for temporary periods (thereby earning currency with higher purchasing power) before returning to their permanent homes in Venezuela. This migrant phenomenon has been propagandistically portrayed as a “refugee crisis” by the Western media.
Aside from that ferment on the border with Colombia, Venezuela is quite normal and peaceful at the moment. After several months of Opposition orchestrated street-level violence last year — including the actual dousing with gasoline and setting fire to 29 human beings –President Maduro was able to bring peace to the country by invoking powers contained in the national Constitution to hold elections for and to establish a 545 member people-based “National Constituent Assembly”.
The elitist and fascist Opposition forces played their proverbial “last card” when they engaged in large scale orchestrated violence and intimidation to thwart the National Constituent Assembly elections, but came up against the might of over 8 Million Venezuelan citizens who were determined to cast their votes and thereby send a message that they had had enough of mindless, destructive, Opposition orchestrated violence, and wanted peace instead.
Unfortunately, none of this would be known to the vast majority of the Barbadian people, since all they would have heard from the biased news reports carried by our Barbadian media houses is that President Maduro is a violent dictator and that the Opposition forces in Venezuela engage in peaceful civilian demonstrations.
Actually, the very opposite is the case, but the Barbadian people will never get to know this reality unless their journalists actually go to Venezuela and see for themselves!
In just over two months time — on the 20th of May to be precise — the Venezuelan people will be going to the polls in a Presidential election that will pit President Maduro against former state governor Henry Falcon of the Progressive Advance Party, Reinaldo Quijada of the Unidad Politica Popular (UPP), and three independent candidates — Javier Bertucci, Francisco Visconti Osorio, and Luis Alejandro Ratti.
My plea to the Media Houses of Barbados is to go — go to Venezuela, go and observe the lead-up to the Elections and the Elections themselves — and report back to the Barbadian people what you see and experience yourself.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a member state of our Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and a sister nation of our Caribbean Civilization. Why then should we be depending on North American and European media corporations to tell us about our own brothers and sisters? No ! Go and see the truth for yourself !
WE DENOUNCE LUIS ALMAGRO’S LATEST UNLAWFUL INTERVENTION IN THE AFFAIRS OF VENEZUELA
Friends of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela denounce the actions of the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro, who, today — the 13th of October 2017 – in Washington DC in the United States of America (USA), purported to swear in the members of a so-called “parallel” Venezuelan Supreme Court, in gross violation of the principles of international law and sovereignty.
Almagro’s actions are nothing less than a gross and offensive attempt to frustrate the Venezuelan people’s peaceful and democratic process !
On the 30th of July 2017 we were all inspired by the Venezuelan people’s courage, when over 8 million people participated in the elections for a National Constituent Assembly, and thereby halted the campaign of orchestrated violence that sectors of the political Opposition forces in Venezuela had inflicted on the nation.
The peace-loving peoples of the world looked on at this spectacle, inspired by the Venezuelan people’s assertion that the only path forward is a democratic and constitutional one.
Today’s unlawful events in Washington, on the other hand, are an ugly and repugnant repudiation of the Venezuelan people’s openly expressed desire for peace and constitutionality, and reflect illicit interference by external forces in the sovereign processes of Venezuela.
While this takes place in Washington D.C., in Venezuela itself, members of the Government, the Opposition and other relevant entities campaign for gubernatorial elections that will take place this Sunday the 15th of October. Furthermore, after many efforts by the Government to establish dialogue, the Venezuelan political opposition has finally agreed to begin talks in a peaceful and lawful manner. In light of this background, one is forced to ask why– at this time of all times– is Almagro carrying out an activity that can only be described as an illegal and destructive intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela?
How can a multilateral organization like the OAS justify swearing in an illegitimate Supreme Court in the territory of a foreign country? This is a travesty beyond all comprehension, and the member states of the OAS would be well advised to take immediate steps to dismiss the organization’s unprincipled and errant Secretary General.
Today’s actions at the OAS disrupt Latin America and the Caribbean’s shared commitment to self-determination and to the sovereign equality of all states, and must be condemned by all right thinking and peace-loving people.
We encourage all Venezuelans to go out and vote in numbers in the gubernatorial elections scheduled for Sunday the 15th of October!
Indeed, we say to the Venezuelan people:- The world celebrates your determination to defend a democratic model that is participatory and protagonist. And we stand with you in safeguarding our region as a Zone for Peace, in keeping with the “Havana Declaration” approved by the Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
Long live the Bolivarian Republic and the Bolivarian Revolution!
By the Friends of Venezuela:
David Comissiong. Caribbean Chapter, International Network In Defense of Humanity
Cikiah Thomas. Global Afrikan Congress
Christophe Simpson. Left Alliance for National Democracy and Socialism
Bobby Clarke. Clement Payne Movement of Barbados
Trevor Brown. Jamaican Cuban Friendship Association
Pablo Works. Jamaican Peace Council-JPC
Hope Mc Nish.Jamaican Peace Council
David Denny. Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration
Trevor Prescod. Israel Lovell Foundation of Barbados
Gerald Perreira. Organization for the Victory of the People (Guyana)
Khafra Kambon. Caribbean Pan-African Network
David Abdulah. Movement for Social Justice (Trinidad & Tobago)
Adisa “Aja” Andwele. Cultural artiste of Barbados
Ayo Moore. Caribbean Chapter, Network In Defense of Humanity
Thelma Gill-Barnett. Clement Payne Movement of Barbados
BU asked by multiple sources to circulate the following:
Please circulate this as widely as possible. The Empire’s WEAPONS OF MASS DECEPTION are spewing out fake news and false narratives 24/7. This constant misinformation campaign is one of the most potent weapons in their arsenal when it comes to destabilizing and overthrowing progressive and revolutionary regimes. Let us resist this with all of our collective might in the case of Venezuela.
In unity and struggle,
What’s REALLY happening in #Venezuela – from someone who knows
Mike Prysner and Abby Martin recovering from tear gas in Venezuela
Mike Prysner is a former US Army soldier turned documentary-maker, who produces and co-writes The Empire Files for Latin American broadcaster teleSUR English with Abby Martin. He was, until recently, in Venezuela covering the troubles there.
Mike generously gave the SKWAWKBOX his time for a lengthy interview from Los Angeles on the real situation in Venezuela from his first-hand experience. What he related is eye-opening.
And it’s very different from the line we’re being fed by the UK’s press, broadcasters, pundits and right-wing MPs – and it’s startling from the outset.
You’ve heard about attempts by the UK Establishment to weaponise Venezuela against Jeremy Corbyn?
When I heard that Jeremy Corbyn had condemned violence on both sides in Venezuela, I was angry at first – because 80% or more of the violence is being committed by anti-government protesters. Their violence has far surpassed anything committed against them – and what has been done to them has been deliberately provoked.
But then I began to recognise the skill in his statement – forcing everyone to confront the reality of what’s happening on the ground there. The reality bears little resemblance to what’s being presented to people.
You recently returned to the US from Venezuela. What were you doing down there?
I was there with a team from teleSUR, meeting government leaders, people on street, chavistas [supporters of the socialist government, after late President Hugo Chavez] and in opposition areas, seeing what’s it like in different areas.
And it’s not like we’re being told here in the UK?
The BBC is responsible for some of the most disingenuous portrayals. They’re showing violent protesters as if they’re some kind of defenders of peaceful protesters against a repressive police force, but in reality peaceful protests have been untouched by police.
What happens is that the guarimbas [violent, armed opposition groups] follow the peaceful protests and when they come near police, they insert themselves in between the two. They then push and push and push until there’s a reaction – and they have cameras and journalists on hand to record the reaction, so it looks like the police are being aggressive.
We were once filming a protest and a group of guarimbas challenged us. If we’d said we were with teleSur, at the very least they’d have beaten us and taken our equipment. But we told them we were American freelance journalists – they need Americans to film them and publicise them, so we were accepted.
But they said to us, “Don’t film what we do – just what they do to us.”
The battles with police are actually quite small, but they’re planned, co-ordinated to disrupt different area each day to maximise their impact – but in most places life is pretty normal. It’s all about the portrayal. The US media mobilise everything for guarimbas – there will be maybe 150 people but it’s made to look bigger and tactics are 100% violent – trying to provoke a response.
And the level of police restraint is remarkable – the government knows the world is watching. One evening protesters were burning buildings for around two hours, with no intervention by the police. They only react when the protesters start throwing petrol bombs at the police or military, or their bases – but as soon as they do react, the guarimbas film as if they’re victims of an unprovoked attack.
Guarimbas throwing petrol bombs – ‘Molotov cocktails’
The Supreme Court was set on fire, lots of government buildings have been destroyed – all by the supposed ‘victims’.
The targets of protesters have been the government’s low-cost city buses, beating the bus drivers; they’ve attacked food stockpiles – which is odd when they claim to be protesting about food shortages. One government food stockpile of 50 tonnes was burned. They even attacked a maternity unit, forcing the women to flee.
We saw people on the highway pulled out of vehicles and the vehicles taken to build barricades – even then the police response was extremely restrained, even minimal. I’ve seen protests far more harshly policed in the US.
Telesur English has been keeping a running tally of deaths. So far there have been well over a hundred – and 80% or more have been from opposition violence – a female national guard officer shot in the throat by snipers, people set on fire[warning: graphic video] for supporting the President, a lot shooting at the police and military, along with random shootings of civilians. There have been at least two roadside bombstargeting police convoys.
Graphic by teleSUR
Some protesters have real guns but there are home-made guns and rocket-launchers as well. Some protester deaths have been caused by their own home-made weapons blowing up on them. Lots of people have been killed at the burning traffic barricades.
There have been well over a dozen chavistas who were followed away from peaceful pro-government rallies and killed on their way home or in restaurants by guarimbas.
But the external perception is being controlled. Lopez and the others have their own media apparatus, coordinating the perception-management. There’s a wealth of evidence that lot of protesters are getting paid, people arrested and then trying to get out of charges by confessing to being paid to cause trouble.
Also bringing kids out to protest – cynical to bring kids out and put them on front line to get photos and blame govt.
So it’s safe to say that the opposition protesters are not fighting for democracy?
Democracy is absolutely not their aim. This is a small group of people led by the owners of large monopoly corporations. The opposition can’t win at the ballot box – they’ve tried but can’t reverse the left-wing gains and a huge majority of the people are behind the government. So they’re trying to bypass democracy, that’s why violence is the tactic.
The political motives are clear – they don’t like the government giving benefits to poor people and they want the huge corporate monopolies back. One man interviewed said he was protesting because he wants to be entrepreneur and make money, not have the government giving money to the poor.
There are no anti-government protests in poor areas, only in the well off areas, protesters are wearing expensive jewellery – the rich areas are also where most of the deaths have occurred.
There’s also economic violence. The opposition leaders are owners of large corporations and they are trying to tank the economy. If Maduro lines up international finance, they have intervened to prevent the loans going through.
The one loan that did go through recently – Wells Fargo, I think it was – became the subject of big PR campaign against it – the opposition is trying to make things worse for people.
They’re even creating shortages – of the nine commodities in shortest supply in Venezuela, a single company owned by an opposition leader is responsible for seven of them – and there are stockpiles, but they’re kept out of circulation to create shortages. And of course, where the government has warehoused supplies ready for distribution, those have been attacked – like those 50 tonnes of food that was burned.
Diapers and toilet paper are shown as in short supply – they are in the stores, but it’s easy to get both on the black market. There’s no shortage, it’s just being channelled elsewhere – again, by those opposition-controlled corporations.
The violence is to create the perception of a failed state to set the scene for outside powers to make ‘humanitarian’ interventions. They’re claiming a Maduro ‘dictatorship’ – but these are same people who overthrew the government in 2002, installed a dictatorship, cancelled the legal system and immediately set about reversing social gains.
The only way they can rule in Venezuela is a fascist-style dictatorship maintained by huge force and that’s what they’re aiming to create.
The two opposition leaders that were arrested at home the other day were involved in an attempted coup that resulted in 30-40 deaths in 2013/14 – and end up on house arrest, which shows the lie of the repressive regime. They’re still actively working to overthrow the government – they were on the phone day before they were re-arrested, planning to overthrow the government.
There’s a lot of evidence of foreign assistance, too. The US, of course, but also Colombia and other right-wing South American regimes. Police have found stockpiles of gas-masks, explosives, weapons. Chavez’s success inspired left-wing governments in Brazil and other countries and the right-wing governments are determined to roll back those gains. Weapons and supplies have been seized coming over the border from Colombia, they’re a key player.
The US government has given around $30 million since 2009 but funds are also channelled via NGOs.
So if the opposition protester numbers are small, what are the rest of the people doing?
The vast majority of people are solidly behind the government. For every big opposition demo there’s at least one huge pro-government, peaceful chavista demo.
The ordinary people are extremely active in combating the economic war – volunteers from poor areas producing/distributing goods that are in shortage. The people are extremely politically aware and educated and they’re absolutely committed to overcoming this attack on their society.
One side is fighting with democracy while the other side is fighting with lynchings and violence – but it’s not what is being shown outside.
People are also organising huge mass meetings about the new constituent assembly to educate, explain what it is, how it works, how to run for it – there’s a lot of effort to build democratic engagement.
The US/European media has portrayed the Constituent Assembly as an anti-democratic measure – you’re saying it’s not?
On the contrary, it’s an attempt to entrench the democratisation of Venezuela by creating a body that can amend the Constitution. The government is trying to make it harder for the right wing to roll back the democratic revolution, the concept of local communes, LGBT rights etc.
It’s exactly the democratic process that’s called for in the constitution – the big lie is saying the government has banned the opposition from taking part. On the contrary, the government has made huge efforts to get the opposition to participate but they decided to boycott it because it doesn’t suit their aims.
Maduro has even been delaying the vote to give the opposition more time to engage but they’re not interested.
All the Constituent Assembly is is just real, radical, grassroots democracy. The western media are saying Maduro will ban other parties but it’s completely untrue. They’re portraying a repressive, violent regime – but dozens of national guard and police have arrested and charged for excessive violence, even though they faced extreme provocation. This is not what it’s being made to appear.
Mike, you’ve been incredibly generous with your time. How would you like to round off your comments?
The perception outside Venezuela is completely at odds with the reality on the ground. The whole ‘failed state’ thing – it’s just issues in economy being blown up. Unemployment in Venezuela is only 6.6%, foreign debt payments are being made on time. GDP is rising.
Venezuela is not in an economic crisis, it’s in an economic war.
Of course there are problems from the fall in oil prices, but all the things being portrayed big in the media are created by the opposition – the violence, the shortages. There’s an attempt to create an opportunity for the western, mainstream media to say ‘this country is screwed’ so it can be ‘rescued’.
But it’s not the government screwing up the economy – that’s being done by big corporate monopolies. It’s not the government instigating the violence – that’s originating with the protesters, who are backed and even paid by corporations and even outside governments. And it’s all for the purpose of overthrowing democracy, not saving it.
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Submitted by David Comissiong, Citizen of Barbados
Orlando Figuera is set on fire by a group of opposition protesters in Altamira on May 20. (AFP)
Afro-Venezuelan– ORLANDO FIGUERA — burned alive
Try as I may, I cannot get out of my mind and psyche the image of 21 year old Afro-Venezuelan Orlando Figuera being burnt to death in the streets of Caracas, Venezuela. This is surely one of the worst cases of a modern day lynching of a black man!
Orlando Figuera happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. On the afternoon of Saturday the 20th of May 2017 he was innocently walking along the public streets of the district of Chacao in Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, when he stumbled upon one of the several violent street protests that are currently being staged by the Opposition political forces of Venezuela.
The crowd of white Opposition protestors looked at this black young man and decided that he had to be a supporter of the socialist Government of the late Hugo Chavez and of the current President Nicolas Maduro.
Who knows? Maybe the mere fact that Orlando Figuera was visibly a member of an ethnic minority community that had historically been discriminated against by the white social elite that comprise the leadership of the political Opposition– an ethnic community that only began to share in the benefits of the oil wealth of Venezuela after Hugo Chavez and his United Socialist Party came to power– might have been enough to mark young Orlando off as a Chavista.
Or maybe, as some have claimed, the young black man proudly identified himself as a Chavista.
Whatever the case may be, the fact is that as soon as Orlando Figuera was identified as a Chavista– and a BLACK Chavista at that– the white racist mob immediately set upon him; beat him brutally; stabbed him six times; doused him with gasoline; and set him on FIRE !!!
The ghastly scene was photographed and has been captured for all eternity.
Orlando Figuera was so severely burnt that he suffered some two weeks of excruciating pain before finally succumbing to his fatal injuries.
The question that all of us must now grapple with and try to answer is as follows:- What does the death of Orlando Figuera mean?
In the days following this lynching by fire, Orlando’s mother–Ms. Ines Esparragoza– tried to process what had happened to her son, and plaintively asked :- “Why does Julio Borges (the Opposition president of Venezuela’s National Assembly) allow this? Why does Henrique Capriles (the big-shot Opposition presidential candidate) allow it? Who do I blame? The Opposition, because they are the ones who doused him in gasoline like an animal.”
For us–the black people of the Caribbean–we should be asking why, after more than five hundred years of European settlement in this hemisphere, black people are still being lynched by whites. And also, why was the gruesome death of young black Orlando Figuera so overlooked and disregarded by our News Media, our political leaders, our religious leaders, and indeed by the masses of ordinary men and women ? Why indeed, is the death of a black man so meaningless to our Civilization– even a death by lynching?
Who will demand justice for Orlando Figuera and his family? Who will lift up his name and ensure that he is not marginalized, trivialized and forgotten ?
And finally, what does the lynching of Orlando Figuera say about the social and political confrontation that is currently taking place in Venezuela ? What does it say about the type of society, the type of future that we must be prepared to fight for?
(1) The attached eye-opening video report of US journalist Abby Martin about the violence that is currently taking place in Venezuela and who is responsible for it. Ms Martin has just returned to the US from Venezuela where she went into the streets to view the violence first hand and to report on it;
(2) The attached Newspaper report about 21 year old ORLANDO FIGUERA, a BLACK Venezuelan who — on May 20– was accused of being a Government supporter by a group of “peaceful” Opposition “protesters”, and was brutally beaten, stabbed six times, doused with gasoline, and set on fire. He subsequently died on the 5th of June.
Please consider doing more in-depth reporting about what is actually going on in Venezuela, rather than merely accepting the view of main-stream Western news outlets that are being used in a campaign of Psychological Warfare against a Socialist Government that Washington is determined to get rid of.
Please also consider doing at least one major story on the tragic story of our BLACK BROTHER, Orlando Figuera, whose only “crime” was being BLACK, and being a member of an historically disadvantaged community that has only benefitted from Venezuela’s oil wealth since the Socialist party of Chavez and now Maduro came to power.
Surely, if Trayvon Martin merited our attention (and he most certainly did) young Orlando Figuera merits our attention as well. The racism in Venezuela– firmly entrenched in the elite white private sector establishment– merits our attention and condemnation.
Venezuelan Man Burned Alive Dies as Death Toll Tops 73
By Lucas Koerner
Caracas, June 5, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – A Venezuelan man burned alive by opposition protesters has died of his injuries as anti-government unrest claimed two more lives over the weekend.
Afro-Venezuelan Orlando Figuera died in the hospital on Saturday evening after suffering six knife wounds as well as first and second-degree burns on 54 percent of his body.
On May 20, the 21-year-old was passing through the opposition stronghold of Chacao when he was accused of being a government supporter by masked protesters, who brutally beat him before dousing him in gasoline and setting him on fire.
The death was made by public by the national ombudsman, Tarek William Saab, who called for the “maximum sentence against the lynchers”.
“Orlando Figuera, beaten, stabbed, and burned alive by “protesters”, is the symbol of hate crimes in Venezuela,” the top human rights official declared via Twitter.
Orlando Figuera is set on fire by a group of opposition protesters in Altamira on May 20. (AFP)
In an interview with state broadcaster VTV, Figuera’s mother, Ines Esparragoza blamed opposition leaders for the murder.
“Why does [National Assembly President] Julio Borges allow this? Why does [Miranda Governor] Henrique Capriles allow it? Who do I blame? The opposition, because they are the ones who doused my son in gasoline like an animal,” she stated.
Esparragoza has reported being fired from her job as a domestic worker in a private residence, which she has denounced as a reprisal over the VTV interview.
For its part, the Public Prosecutor’s office (MP) has indicated that investigations into the murder continue and that the alleged perpetrators have been identified.
In addition to Figuera, two more people have died of injures linked to violent protests that have rocked the country for the past two months.
On Friday, Luis Miguel Gutierrez Molina (20) died of a bullet wound he suffered during a protest on May 17 in Merida state. El Universal has reported that the incident took place during clashes between demonstrators and authorities.
The MP has dispatched a state prosecutor to investigate the homicide.
Meanwhile in Lara, another man died in the hospital on Saturday after being shot in the vicinity of a protest on April 11.
According to the preliminary MP report, Yoiner Peña (28) was shot in the back near a protest in Barquismeto by unknown assailants in a pickup truck who reportedly opened fire on those present.
However, the national ombudsman’s office has issued a conflicting account, suggesting that Peña was “mortally wounded in an [anti-government] barricade”.
According to Saab, Peña is the ninth person killed at opposition barricades since the violent protests began on April 4.
Seventy-three people have lost their lives as a result of the unrest, including at least 11 people killed by authorities and 21 deaths caused by demonstrators.
Opposition leaders have announced a fresh round of protests for this week, vowing to remain in the streets until the government meets their various demands, including holding presidential elections one year ahead of schedule.
DAVID COMISSIONG, COORDINATOR, INTERNATIONAL NETWORK IN DEFENSE OF HUMANITY (CARIBBEAN CHAPTER)
The resounding diplomatic and political victory that our Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nation states won against the powerful quintet of the United States of America (USA) , Canada, Mexico, Peru and Panama at the Organization of American States (OAS) meeting that was held in Washington D.C on Wednesday 31st May 2017 may be likened to the biblical triumph of the pure and principled David (the little shepherd boy) over Goliath, the mighty and power-drunk warrior!
The issue at stake was the fate of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and both the David-like CARICOM states and the Goliath-like “quintet” of large and powerful states came to the meeting armed with a draft resolution.
The CARICOM draft resolution was based on an understanding that at the heart of the conflict in Venezuela is a determined effort by an economic elite to wrest political power and control over massive petroleum resources from the hands of a socialist Government that – for the first time in Venezuela’s history – has been sharing these resources with millions of impoverished citizens.
Our CARICOM Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers are not naïve neophytes! And they are aware that the wealthy Opposition forces in Venezuela are pursuing a conscious policy of orchestrated violent street protests that are designed to produce personal injuries and loss of human life, that can in turn be magnified and used by the all-powerful Western media as a propaganda tool against the Government of Venezuela.
As a result, the CARICOM draft resolution radiated respect for the sovereignty of Venezuela and demanded an immediate cessation of violence, adherence to the rule of law and constitutional processes, absolute respect for human rights, and the implementation of a process of dialogue in the country.
This fair and principled draft Resolution effectively challenged the interventionist “might makes right” posture of the “Goliath quintet” and their draft Resolution, and led to a stalemate which was only broken when the CARICOM states proposed that the meeting be adjourned and that an effort be made to honestly discuss and negotiate a mutually acceptable draft Resolution.
The “Goliath quintet” – desperately seeking a way out of a humiliating diplomatic defeat by a group of micro states – accepted the CARICOM proposal!
This brilliant diplomatic triumph has showcased CARICOM at its very best – standing up for such critical international law principles as respect for national sovereignty and independence; courageously speaking truth to power; expressing solidarity with the universal struggle for social justice; and acting collectively and in unity.
And this is how it should be! This is how it always should be where the Caribbean people and their Governments are concerned.
Indeed, if there is one people on the face of this earth who possess both a right and a duty to stand up for the inter-linked principles of freedom, independence, social justice and human dignity it is us – the people of the Caribbean!
We, after all, are the descendants of a people who were subjected to the most horrendous forms of the denial of freedom, justice and human dignity.
Our history has therefore prepared us for and given us a great purpose and mission in this troubled world – and we must dutifully fulfill that purpose and mission.
We, who have never invaded any foreign country or ever committed any acts of assassination, genocide or other crimes against humanity, are uniquely qualified – morally and otherwise – to confront the big powers of this world and to speak up for principles that are critical to the survival of human civilization!
We must therefore humbly and modestly recognize and accept this as our duty– a duty that we perform in honour of our ancestors who suffered so much for the cause of freedom and human dignity. And we must therefore always be prepared to stand resolutely against all those who seek to deflect us from performing this sacred mission that our history has bequeathed to us.
It is against this background therefore that I now hereby call upon all Caribbean people to– with one voice— denounce the four former Central American Presidents who recently arrogantly and perversely publicly attacked our CARICOM Governments for the stance that they took at the May 31st OAS meeting.
The former Presidents in question – Felipe Calderon of Mexico, OscarArias of Costa Rica, Mireya Moscoso of Panama, and Alfredo Cristiani of El Salvador – are all multi-millionaire doctrinaire Capitalists who have been accused of or implicated in wrongs ranging from the massacre of students and intellectuals (Cristiani), extra-judicial killings in a so-called “drug war” (Calderon), corruption scandals (Moscoso), and constitutional abuses (Arias). Furthermore, three of them hail from nations with sordid records of genocide and crimes against humanity.
The “Open Letter” that they so arrogantly addressed to the political leaders of our CARICOM nations is a one-sided, extremist document that is riddled with half truths, distortions and outright lies. Every self-respecting citizen of the Caribbean should recognize it for what it is– an outrageous piece of right-wing propaganda, and reject it out of hand!