8 February 2019 — Counter Currents
- 10 million-signature petition: “Hands off Venezuela”
- Bolivia, Mexico, Caricom reject EU-sponsored resolution on Venezuela
- UN warns against politicizing humanitarian aid and using it as “a pawn”
- Peru President rejects military intervention in Venezuela
- 500 luminaries for peace
- Labour Party in UK rejects EU’s recognition of Guaido
- Venezuela reveals evidence of plotters behind US-backed coup attempt
- Venezuela seizes US weapons destined for coup plotters
People are strengthening resistance to imperialist intervention in Venezuela while imperialists’ design is being exposed.
Tension has increased with the arrival of imperialist “aid requested” by Guaido. US has called on Venezuelan military leaders to back the “aid” plan.
Venezuelan authorities have warned that the attempt with the so-called aid represented a provocation, pointing out that the amount of aid being sent pales in comparison to the Venezuelan assets and accounts frozen outside the country. “Humanitarian aid should never be used as a political pawn,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday.
The following update is based on media reports:
Large numbers of Venezuelan citizens are signing a petition against imperialist intervention. Anti-imperialist activists are gathering signatures for a campaign to show “support for peace”.
Maduro announced Tuesday that 10 million signatures would be collected.
In Caracas, people lined up to sign the petition, which was greeted by a large-scale rally amid anti-U.S. slogan Yankees Go Home.
In order to sign, citizens are required to show valid identification.
UN warns against politicizing humanitarian aid
The UN has warned against using aid as a pawn in Venezuela after the U.S. sent food and medicine to the country’s border.
U.S. officials claimed trucks carrying aid had arrived in Colombia for delivery to Venezuela at the request of Guaido, the self-declared “interim president” after an attempted coup on January 23. On Sunday, Guaido illegally called a multinational coalition to send humanitarian aid through third parties in Brazil, Colombia, and the Caribbean.
However, in a statement, the Colombian branch of The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement denounced the international coalition as counterintuitive.
“Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives,” U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York. “When we see the present stand-off it becomes even more clear that serious political negotiations between the parties are necessary to find a solution […],” he said.
“What is important is that humanitarian aid be depoliticized and that the needs of the people should lead in terms of when and how humanitarian aid is used,” Dujarric said.
There have been whispers in Washington that the Trump administration is “seriously considering” a military intervention in Venezuela if Maduro does not step down or be ousted internally. The U.S. and right wing governments in the region have been calling on the Venezuelan military to oust Maduro.
However, the military has stayed at Maduro’s side throughout the last few weeks, in full support of his legitimate claim to the presidency and rejected such interventionist demands and a breach of the Venezuelan sovereignty.
Bolivia, Mexico, Caricom decline to endorse EU-sponsored resolution on Venezuela
As European and Latin American leaders met on Thursday to seek a peaceful and political solution to Venezuela’s situation, the final declaration of the International Contact Group (ICG) was not eventually adopted by all the countries attending the international conference, with Bolivia, Mexico and the Community of the Caribbeans (Caricom) declining to sign the EU-backed agreement calling for elections in Venezuela “as soon as possible”.
According to the Uruguayan Foreign Minister, Rodolfo Nin Novoa, Bolivia, Mexico and the member states of the Community of the Caricom, have not signed the text, which suggested new elections, the coordination of a humanitarian and a technical mission on Venezuelan territory.
During the meeting, the EU-backed ICG on Venezuela called for a more hands-off approach than that advocated by the U.S. and some of their Latin American conservative allies.
The conference was convened by the governments of Mexico and Uruguay, which decided to adopt a neutral and non-interventionist.
The objectives of the final declaration of Thursday’s ICG were different from the Montevideo Mechanism proposed by the foreign ministers of Uruguay and Mexico a day earlier in which four phases were established to achieve dialogue in Venezuela between the parties involved.
The phases are:
1: An immediate dialogue and the generation of necessary conditions to achieve contact between the parties involved in the conflict.
2: Negotiation, presentation of the results of the dialogue and a space for the positions that allow for finding points in common between the parties.
3: Commitment and subscription of the agreements.
4: Implementation and realization of the agreements with the support of international accompaniment.
Following the meetings on Thursday, two initiatives have been established, one that is the Mechanism of Montevideo which is endorsed and supported by Bolivia, Uruguay, Caricom and Mexico, and another that is EU-led, aka the ICG which is supported by Ecuador, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and several European countries including Italy
The representatives of Mexico and Bolivia stressed that the declaration of the IGC poses interference points in the internal affairs of Venezuela since it intends to impose actions that are not within its competence.
Bolivian Foreign Minister Diego Pary asserted that his government did not endorse the declaration because “we cannot accompany a text that refers to the conduct of elections […] this is an internal issue of Venezuela and they are the ones they must define their difficulties and in what way they will solve them.”
He also urged countries that have carried out illegal sanctions against Venezuela, including the EU itself, to lift them, since he considers that “the blockade against Venezuela is what is affecting the economy” of the nation.
For his part, President of Venezuela Maduro spoke in favor of the Montevideo Mechanism, which was agreed at the meeting on February 6 between 14 CARICOM countries, Mexico, Bolivia and Uruguay.
The United States and its right-wing allies in Latin America have come out in support of a right-wing coup attempt against the Venezuelan government of socialist President Maduro.
In return, Maduro has repeatedly called for the restoration of talks between his government and the opposition in order to maintain peace and avoid a U.S.-backed coup, or even military intervention by the United States in favor of removing him and placing an unelected right-wing government.
Peru President rejects military intervention in Venezuela
Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra told the press that his government is against any military intervention in Venezuela since it’s up to its citizens to resolve the political situation in Venezuela.
He stressed: “We believe that Venezuela’s problems must be solved by Venezuelans themselves. […] We are against any military intervention inside Venezuela.”
Peru is a founding member of the Lima Group bloc meant to pressure Maduro out of office.
500 public figures for peace
Some 500 luminaries from 27 Latin American and European countries are signatories to a letter of support for the initiative to promote a negotiated solution and dialogue for peace in Venezuela.
The document will be sent to Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO).
The letter was also signed by Dilma Rousseff, former president of Brazil; Estela de Carlotto, president of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo; Angela Maria Robledo, former candidate for the vice presidency of Colombia; Leonardo Boff, theologian from Brazil; Dimitrios Papadimoulis, vice president of the European parliament; Adriana Salvatierra, president of the Chamber of the Senate of Bolivia; Joao Pedro Stedile, leader of Brazil’s Landless Movement; Gleisi Hoffmann, president of the Brazilian Workers’ Party; Arantxa Izurdiaga Osinaga, member of the parliament of Navarre; Bill Bowring, president of the European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights; Daniel Caggiani, president of the Mercosur parliament; and parliamentarians Camila Vallejo from Chile and Irene Montero of Spain.
The letter said: “while some actors are betting on the war and intervention, other governments are pushing with much effort the call for dialogue and negotiation as legitimate ways of international law to solve conflicts.”
“From our spaces and roles we accompany and adhere to the initiatives of dialogue and political negotiations aimed at peace in the region and the world […]” the letter concludes.
Labour Party rejects EU’s recognition of Guaido
Britain’s opposition Labour Party’s foreign affairs policy chief Emily Thornberry said Wednesday, that her party is against the move by EU states to recognize Guaido as the “interim president” of Venezuela saying that diplomacy and dialogue should be the way forward instead of taking sides.
“You begin the dialogue and that offer has been made internally and externally,” the shadow foreign minister said.
Thornberry said if in power, the party would pursue diplomacy that put values above commercial gain.
She went on to say that she would support the idea of new elections to end the standoff between the Venezuelan government and the right-wing opposition.
Maduro has repeatedly called for the restoration of talks between his government and the opposition in order to maintain peace and avoid a U.S.-backed coup, or even military intervention by the U.S.
The UN has also stressed its recognition for the government of Nicolas Maduro and refused to recognize Guaido’s actions.
Evidence of plotters behind US-backed coup attempt
Venezuelan Minister of Communications Jorge Rodriguez offered a press conference Thursday in which he showed evidence of the coup attempt by the right-wing opposition against the constitutional President Maduro, with the participation of the U.S. and other governments
The official revealed that thanks to a Venezuelan intelligence operation, retired Colonel Palomo was arrested after he wanted to enter the country to organize a military coup.
He denounced that the U.S. and Colombian governments supported the coup attempts, once in May 2018 in the framework of the presidential elections; and another in January 2019, which have already been defeated.
Rodriguez reported that Palomo coordinated from Cucuta the regime change operation and had had numerous trips to Miami, despite an Interpol’s request for capture by the Venezuelan government.
After his capture, Palomo has given statements and in view of the seriousness of his confessions, the Venezuelan prosecutor approved showing part of his confessions to the public and the media.
Venezuela seizes US weapons destined for coup plotters
Venezuelan authorities seized a bunch of U.S-made weapons during an operation in the Aducarga storage yard at the Arturo Michelena International Airport, in the state of Valencia. The Deputy Minister of Prevention and Citizen Security of Venezuela, Endes Palencia wrote on Twitter that the arms came from Miami.
During the operation, members of Command of Area 41 of the Bolivarian National Guard and officials of the National Integrated Service of Customs and Tax Administration were present.
The Prosecutor’s Office ordered the investigation to find those responsible for financing groups that want to threaten the peace and order of the Bolivarian Republic.
“19 rifles, 118 rifle chargers, 4 rifle holders 3 gun sights, 90 radio antennas, 6 telephones were found in the storage yard of the Valencia airport which entered the country # 3Feb in the Air Bus N881YV from Miami, USA # 5Feb,” the deputy minister wrote.
The arms were allegedly linked to groups attempting a failed coup in Venezuela.
This operation came at a time when the U.S. President Trump expressed full support for the Venezuelan opposition among whom Guaido illegally declared himself an interim president of the country.
Venezuela to redirect US oil exports to Europe & Asia
Caracas will do everything possible to minimize effects of US sanctions against Venezuelan energy giant PDVSA on the global oil market, the technical adviser for the state-run firm, Ronny Romero, said.
“Yes, we are facing new illegal sanctions from the US. We were exporting about 500,000 bpd to the US. PDVSA will redirect exports to other customers in Europe and Asia,” he told Sputnik.
Romero, who is Venezuela’s National Representative to OPEC, explained that European and Asian customers should not be afraid to buy oil from the country because Washington’s sanctions apply only to US entities.
Anyway, Russia and China don’t care about US sanctions,” he said.
Protesters demand return of Venezuela’s gold
Protesters in London gathered outside of the Bank of England (BoE) to demand it give Venezuela back 31 tons of gold that belong to the Latin American country.
The crowd chanted “no blood for oil” and “BoE, you’ve been told, give Venezuela back its gold” as a masked figure of US President Trump danced around with blocks of “gold.”
It comes as the self-styled leader Guaido wrote to UK Prime Minister Theresa May requesting she send the gold, worth almost £1 billion, to him instead of the government of elected President Maduro.
Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC) vice-chairman Doug Nicholls said piracy seems to be “up and running” at the Bank.
“On the one hand British politicians cry crocodile tears over what they see as impoverishment and hunger in Venezuela, on the other they ignore even the UN’s recognition that much of this has been caused by US sanctions, and to rub salt into the wound they’re trying to steal Venezuela’s gold,” he said.
Labour MP Chris Williamson, who attended the demonstration, told that for the British government to be “falling in line behind” and “behaving like Trump’s poodle” is “completely unacceptable,” as is the bank’s seizure of assets belonging to a sovereign foreign nation.
Williamson said: “It is against all democratic norms. There can be no justification for the Bank’s action and I wonder whether they have been put under pressure by the British government to seize these assets in this way.”
“Therefore, we need to speak out as loudly as we can against the warmongers who are beating the drums of war very clearly”, he said.
Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone also attended the protest and said Britain should be supporting dialogue instead of “kowtowing” to the US.
As the protest was taking place, Labour’s shadow Foreign Office minister Liz McInnes urged ministers in Parliament to rule out the prospect of military intervention.
She asked if the issue had been discussed with the Trump administration and whether Britain had promised any support. Duncan indicated a potential for “further targeted sanctions.”
Protest in Montevideo in support of Maduro
Demonstrators rallied in support of the government of Venezuelan President Maduro in Montevideo on Thursday as European and Latin American leaders gathered in the Uruguayan capital to discuss a plan to solve the political situation in Venezuela.
The demonstrators carried signs and chanted slogans saying “Yankees get out,” referring to the U.S. Other signs and slogans voiced their support for Maduro’s government.
Demonstrations in Miami
Demonstrators also got together in Miami, Florida to show solidarity with the Venezuelan people, saying that they hope to support the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people, and to protest against U.S. interventions in Latin America generally.
New Yorkers rally against Trump’s Venezuela coup
Two actions were held in New York last weekend in opposition to Trump’s efforts to overthrow the democratically-elected government of President Maduro. Several groups came together Saturday, January 26 in Union Square and on 38th Street and Lexington, opposite the Cuban mission to the United Nations.
“My family is from Peru — Andean people, of Native and African descent, so, one of the first people that are always attacked by these right-wing governments in Latin America and in the United States,” Kayla Kireeva, an organizer of the event at Union Square, told WBAI Radio. Kireeva is a young worker with two jobs, and a student at LaGuardia Community College. “We are people that are living in the United States because of the results of U.S. intervention in…our home countries,” Kireeva said.
“They cannot stand that [the Bolivarian Revolution] gave the poor people visibility … decent homes, apartments, medicine, food” in Venezuela, another organizer, Sonya Fayallo, told WBAI. Fayallo grew up in Venezuela. “You can say right now that the country’s going hungry, but do not forget that the blockades and the sanctions [have been going on] for a long time.”
Fayallo did not just blame the U.S. for the problems in Venezuela; she also pointed the finger at the big capitalists in Venezuela. “There is food, but it’s expensive because the speculators have really done a good job in there, and of course it’s supported by the opposition. 80 percent of the industries are owned by the people that opposed Chávez, and now they oppose Maduro.”
Venezuela is still fighting to free itself from elite, mainly white, inheritors of the old plantation system that still control much of the country’s food system.
Ike Nahem of the New York-New Jersey Cuba Sí Coalition, led an action of 100 people on the Upper East Side, where a few blocks away, the Trump administration was trying to promote the coup in a special session of the United Nations Security Council. “They just appointed Elliot Abrams as their point person,” he said. “Some of you that are as old as me will remember fighting [to stop] the Contra War against Nicaragua.”
“I want to make a very important announcement,” a Veterans for Peace activist named Georgia called out. “I want you all to know that I have appointed myself the Mayor of New York, and furthermore, I already have been recognized by several of my neighbors.”
Pat Fry from Committees of Correspondence for Socialism and Democracy made a recommendation for practical action. “Call your member of Congress and urge them to sign on to the dear colleague letter that is being circulated in Congress by representative Ro Khanna. […] I’m calling my representative telling her she needs to sign on. No intervention in the affairs of another country!”
Other members of Congress who have opposed U.S. intervention in Venezuela include New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
“The imperialist system is a threat to all of the issues that we face,” Cameron Orr, a representative of the Communist Party USA stated. “We spend almost a trillion dollars every year on war, and they say they can’t fund healthcare. Many people in the U.S. are concerned about the environment,” he said, “but don’t know that the U.S. war machine is the number one consumer of fossil fuels in the world” and “the biggest polluter” because “our media is controlled by the corporations.”
Orr encouraged the attendees to be a part of “mass struggles for the [immediate] issues that people are facing in their lives” and “make the connections” between the struggles for social needs at home and the “fight against imperialism.”
Some speakers highlighted the new role Mexico is now playing in the region. “We all appreciate the fact that the new Mexican government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has stood up, almost alone in Latin America, to the Yankee aggression that’s being organized as we speak,” Nahem said.
Carol Widom, a founding organizer of the Committee in Solidarity with the Students and Teachers of Puerto Rico, made comparisons of U.S. policy in Venezuela, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. “Puerto Rico and Cuba, we are two wings of the same bird,” she said. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the Committee worked with the Teachers’ Federation of Puerto Rico to coordinate the collection of school supplies for Puerto Rican students. “The policies that are genocidal toward Cuba and Venezuela are the same that we are fighting against in Puerto Rico.”
Concluding the rally, Nahem also invited all the participants to a celebration in New York City at the People’s Forum to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolution.