Venezuela Regional Elections: Another Victory for participatory democracy

By Les Blough

16 October 2017 - Venezuela gave yet another lesson on participatory democracy to the world and demonstrated their resilience and the courage to stand up.

Chavismo won another historic victory today in spite of the brutal U.S. war on the economy, the Washington-backed violence geared to the comprehensive and exhaustive media assault over the last few years, all aimed at overthrowing the government of President Nicolas Maduro. It hasn't worked - not with these people.

Maduro's Socialist Party Wins Venezuela's Regional Polls

After all that the Venezuelan people have suffered, deprived of food and other essential products, violent attacks on their schools, hospitals and medical clinics, destruction of other public buildings, sabotage of their electrical grid, regular violent attacks by Colombian paramilitaries, having their elected leaders maligned, lied about and demonized, seeing their government resources diverted from production, services and development to defense, living with distress and fear in their daily lives and seeing their friends and love ones maimed and die simply because of their political views - despite all the suffering they have endured they supported their elected government today and sent the U.S.-backed right wing packing.

Venezuelans are among the most politically educated and geopolitically aware people in the world and they know from whence their suffering comes and that it's not by the hands of the leaders they've elected.

Malcolm X once stated, "No man gives up power willingly. It must be taken from him." Well Malcolm, your words are almost universally true but not so in the Bolivarian Revolution. With the new Constituent Assembly that over 8 million Venezuelans voted for in July, President Maduro brilliantly handed down to the people true "power from below" and today they rewarded him and his administration with this nationwide victory.

When Barbara Walters interviewed our late President Chavez in New York a few years ago, she asked him, "Why do the people love you so?" Chávez answered, "It's really simple, it's because I love them. Love is reciprocal."

We saw that reciprocity today between the people and President Maduro who received his training and mission from "El Comandante."

But Venezuela not only rewarded their government of choice today. They also gave yet another lesson on participatory democracy to the world and demonstrated their resilience and the courage to stand up: to the Lords of War, the hostile U.S. Congress, the Pentagon and CIA, the U.S. Southern command, U.S. installed enemies in neighboring Colombia hosting 7 U.S. military bases and 13 other Latin American countries.

For years on end the Venezuelan people and their leadership continue to stand up to the capitalist matrix including Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, the 3 Rating Agencies which arbitrarily downgrade Venezuela's credit rating in the face of its solvency, the Central Banks across the United States and Europe, the European Union, NATO, Big Pharma, International Airlines and exporters in lockstep with U.S. foreign policy, layers of U.S. sanctions, OPEC traitors like Saudi Arabia and of course the masters of organized deceit, the Corporate disinformation and entertainment industry, not to mention their having to tolerate the tirades and threats from Washington's idiot president, Donald Trump.

Vive Chávez! Vive Maduro! Vive Venezuela!
Les Blough, is Axis of Logic's Editor in Venezuela

Solidarity groups in Canada are calling on their government to rescind the sanctions

“Venezuela is no enemy of Canada,” solidarity activist Maria Victor told teleSUR.

Solidarity groups in Canada are calling on their government to rescind the sanctions against 40 Venezuelan officials that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his administration imposed last week.

Venezuela Rejects Imposition of Sanctions by Canada

The Canadian, Latin American & Caribbean Policy Centre (CAL&C), along with a number of other groups, issued a statement this week condemning the move.
“It’s very lamentable because (Trudeau) is following the lead of Trump,” Maria Victor, the chair of CAL&C, told teleSUR.

“Venezuela is no enemy of Canada,” she added. “On the contrary, it sells the oil Atlantic Canada needs.”

The groups have called on Trudeau to respect Venezuela's sovereignty, recognize its democratic electoral process and human rights record.

“Respect the human rights record of Venezuela whose constitution enshrines women’s, Indigenous, minorities and environmental rights and which the United Nations Human Rights Council has lauded for having accomplished 70 percent of the recommendations it proposed and which has signed 24 further voluntary human rights initiatives,” reads the statement.

Victor said former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, did not cave in to U.S. pressure to break ties with Cuba and China — even at the height of the Cold War.
“I am appalled younger Trudeau isn’t following his lead,” she said.

The groups also urge the Canadian government to “recognize publicly that it was the Venezuelan extreme right with international support that perpetrated terrorist hate crimes, killing 121 citizens, including burning alive poor and colored people because they resembled government supporters.”

Canada’s sanctions include freezing the assets of the 40 officials, including President Nicolas Maduro, as well as banning Canadians from having any dealings with the officials.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry responded to the measures in a statement shortly after, saying that the hostile action against Maduro's government broke international law.

"These are sanctions aimed at undermining efforts to establish dialogue between the government and the Venezuelan opposition, with the support of members of the international community,” the Ministry said.

CAL&C is not alone in its support for the Venezuelan government.

At the 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, 57 other countries signed an expression of support for the sovereignty and independence of Venezuela.

Canada Leads Attacks on Venezuela to Push ‘Political Agenda’

As such, the groups in Canada have called on Trudeau to “rescind the illegal sanctions … which are against International Law, the United Nations Charter and the Charter of the Organization of American States.”

“The sanctions are self-serving,” pressed Victor. “I speculate they are in order to get on Trump’s good side because (Canada) wants Trump to stay in NAFTA.”

The other groups urging support for Venezuela’s sovereignty and its peace process include the Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network, Casa Salvador Allende, Bolivarian Circle Louis Riel, Venezuelan Solidarity Coalition, Rights Action, among other organizations representing Canadians, Latin-Americans and Caribbean communities in Canada.

The groups are planning continued action in the next few weeks.

Undermining Venezuela’s socialist government nothing new for Canada

Below is a revealing article by Montreal-based, Canadian foreign affairs critic Yves Engler. It follows the announcement by Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, that Ottawa has imposed sanctions against key figures in the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Read and reflect. Consider what our next political action should be in defense of Venezuela's right to sovereignty and self-determination.

by Yves Engler

SEPTEMBER 23, 2017

Alongside Washington and Venezuela’s elite, the Trudeau government is seeking to oust President Nicolás Maduro. While Ottawa’s campaign has recently grown, official Canada has long opposed the pro-poor, pro-working class Bolivarian Revolution, which has won 19 of 21 elections since 1998.

Following a similar move by the Trump Administration, Global Affairs Canada sanctioned 40 Venezuelans on Friday. In a move that probably violates the United Nations charter, the elected president, vice president and 38 other officials had their assets in Canada frozen and Canadians are barred from having financial relations with these individuals.

In recent months foreign minister Chrystia Freeland has repeatedly criticized Maduro’s government. She accused Caracas of “dictatorial intentions”, imprisoning political opponents and “robbing the Venezuelan people of their fundamental democratic rights”. Since taking office the Liberals have supported efforts to condemn the Maduro government at the Organization of American States (OAS) and promoted an international mediation designed to weaken Venezuela’s leftist government (all the while staying mum about Brazil’s imposed president who has a 5% approval rating and far worse human rights violations in Mexico).

Beyond these public interventions designed to stoke internal unrest, Ottawa has directly aided an often-unsavoury Venezuelan opposition. A specialist in social media and political transition, outgoing Canadian ambassador Ben Rowswell told the Ottawa Citizen in August: “We established quite a significant internet presence inside Venezuela, so that we could then engage tens of thousands of Venezuelan citizens in a conversation on human rights. We became one of the most vocal embassies in speaking out on human rights issues and encouraging Venezuelans to speak out.” (Can you imagine the hue and cry if a Russian ambassador said something similar about Canada?) Rowswell added that Canada would continue to support the domestic opposition after his departure from Caracas since “Freeland has Venezuela way at the top of her priority list.”

While not forthcoming with information about the groups they support in Venezuela, Ottawa has long funnelled money to the US-backed opposition. In 2010 the foremost researcher on U.S. funding to the opposition, Eva Golinger, claimed Canadian groups were playing a growing role in Venezuela and according to a 2010 report from Spanish NGO Fride, “Canada is the third most important provider of democracy assistance” to Venezuela after the US and Spain. In “The Revolution Will Not Be Destabilized: Ottawa’s democracy promoters target Venezuela” Anthony Fenton details Canadian funding to anti-government groups. Among other examples, he cites a $94,580 grant to opposition NGO Asociación Civil Consorcio Desarrollo y Justicia in 2007 and $22,000 to Súmate in 2005. Súmate leader Maria Corina Machado, who Foreign Affairs invited to Ottawa in January 2005, backed the “Carmona Decree” during the 2002 coup against President Hugo Chavez, which dissolved the National Assembly and Supreme Court and suspended the elected government, Attorney General, Comptroller General, governors as well as mayors elected during Chavez’s administration. (Machado remains a leading figure in the opposition.)

Most Latin American leaders condemned the short-lived coup against Chavez, but Canadian diplomats were silent. It was particularly hypocritical of Ottawa to accept Chavez’s ouster since a year earlier, during the Summit of the Americas in Québec City, Jean Chrétien’s Liberals made a big show of the OAS’ new “democracy clause” that was supposed to commit the hemisphere to electoral democracy.

For its part, the Harper government repeatedly criticized Chavez. In April 2009 Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded to a question regarding Venezuela by saying, “I don’t take any of these rogue states lightly”. After meeting only with opposition figures during a trip to Venezuela the next year Peter Kent, minister of state for the Americas, said: “Democratic space within Venezuela has been shrinking and in this election year, Canada is very concerned about the rights of all Venezuelans to participate in the democratic process.”

The Bolivarian Revolution has faced a decade and a half of Liberal and Conservative hostility. While the NDP has sometimes challenged the government’s Venezuelan policy, the party’s current foreign critic has echoed Washington’s position. On at least two occasions Hélène Laverdière has demanded Ottawa do more to undermine the Maduro government. In a June 2016 press release Laverdière bemoaned “the erosion of democracy” and the need for Ottawa to “defend democracy in Venezuela” while in August the former Foreign Affairs employee told CBC “we would like to see the (Canadian) government be more active in … calling for the release of political prisoners, the holding of elections and respecting the National Assembly.” Conversely, Laverdière staid mum when Donald Trump threatened to invade Venezuela last month and she has yet to criticize the recently announced Canadian sanctions.

New Democratic Party members should be appalled at their foreign critic’s position. For Canadians more generally it’s time to challenge our government’s bid to undermine what has been an essentially democratic effort to empower Venezuela’s poor and working class.

Venezuela Extends Bolivarian Solidarity to Caribbean Neighbors

Venezuela's commitment to assisting its smaller Caribbean neighbors

by Earl Bousquet

The Maduro administration equated it to the solidarity shared between South American Liberator Simon Bolivar and Caribbean revolutionaries.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela says it is pleased to have come to the help of it Caribbean neighbors hit by Hurricane Irma and again threatened by Jose, which is quickly following in Irma’s deadly path.

Spokespersons for the administration led by President Nicolas Maduro loudly lauded Caracas’ rapid response, equating it to the solidarity shared between Venezuelan and South American Liberator Simon Bolivar and Caribbean revolutionaries who assisted in Venezuela’s war of independence.

Venezuela’s National Constituents Assembly (NCA) President and former Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez underlined the importance of the assistance as more proof of her country’s commitment to assisting its smaller Caribbean neighbors.

Among the Caribbean figures being remembered in Caracas today as it helps the small twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda is Jean Baptiste Bideau, a Saint Lucia-born seaman and shipwright who built boats for Bolivar and the revolutionaries, saved Bolivar’s life once, became a captain of Bolivar’s flagship and was made Governor of Eastern Venezuela after victory.

Bideau died on April 7, 1817, in the battle at Barcelona where he died defending Venezuela’s independence at Casa Fuerte, an abandoned religious hermitage, where his bones remain 200 years later.

Venezuela earlier this week responded in quick and real time to a direct appeal from Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister for assistance in the wake of utter devastation on both islands by Hurricane Irma.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne made a direct telephone call to President Nicolas Maduro Wednesday, following the utter devastation of the tiny island of Barbuda by the most powerful hurricane on record this century to hit the Atlantic region.

By Thursday, a Venezuelan Air Force aircraft had been dispatched with rescue and assistance material and supplies for Antigua and Barbuda comprising 40 volunteers with medical and other emergency supplies.

The first aircraft landed at VC Bird International Airport on September 5 with 10 tons or relief materials along with 20 firefighters and 34 civil defense personnel. The supplies included mattresses, medicines, boots and water.

The gesture to Barbuda came just days after Venezuela also donated US$5 million to support Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas, as well as free fuel supplies to emergency vehicles, plus a pledge of over US$3 million to assist the Mayor of Houston’s relief program.
Responding to the call for assistance from a smaller neighbor, Venezuela also ensured implementation of continued assistance through a roster of rescue personnel to ensure ongoing support to Barbuda.

By Friday, another Venezuelan Air Force aircraft was in Saint Lucia collecting water supplies for Barbuda, sourced and loaded by the Venezuelan Embassy in Saint Lucia, with Ambassador Leiff Escalona on hand to ensure timely loading and departure of the airplane's peaceful humanitarian mission.

Prime Minister Browne, who had visited Barbuda during what he described as a most awful lifelong experience, was particularly thankful for Venezuela’s lightning-fast response to his direct appeal to the Venezuelan President.

Under pressure from an accumulated list of U.S.-imposed sanctions over several years, Venezuela is now faced with the real possibility of a U.S. military invasion, which President Donald trump refuses to pull off the table.

Economic conditions, aided and abetted by nefarious political means, have multiplied the hardships on the ordinary Venezuelan while the tiny minority of well-off citizens face no such daily life hardships.

But even in the worst of times, Caracas has remained committed to its Bolivarian pledge to always assist and offer solidarity to its Eastern Caribbean neighbors in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), from where Simon Bolivar got much support the struggles and battles for Venezuela’s independence.

President Hugo Chavez set out from 1998 to re-establish the sort of interminable bond between Venezuela and the Eastern Caribbean.
Chavez personally attended the funerals of Dominican Prime Ministers Roosevelt ‘Rosie’ Douglas and Pierre Charles.
Venezuela is also party to a bilateral agreement with Antigua that has seen the ALBA Bank support investments in tourism and petroleum on the twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda.

Under Chavez and Maduro, Caracas has strengthened its Bolivarian ties with the Eastern Caribbean through PetroCaribe and ALBA, two entities that have ensured the beneficiary nations – large and small – enjoy near-zero interest charges and seemingly endless years to repay related petroleum and other related loans.

The United States has fought hard – albeit unsuccessfully so far – to urge an influence Caribbean states to wean themselves off their reliance on dependable fuel supplies at low cost from Venezuela (urging them to either switch to ‘shale’ gas with all its ‘fracking’ risks) or to select Mexico as another supposedly more dependent supplier.

The Venezuela help to Barbuda (and Antigua) also comes at a time when several public, private and non-government efforts are under way to provide additional direct help to Barbuda.

A Lesson for the US: Cuba's Response to Hurricanes
Dr. Jacqueline Bird, a prominent Antiguan national with much exposure in Saint Lucia and the rest of the OECS, is working with others to access and provide any possible additional relief that citizens of the neighboring islands can and are willing to offer.

Other individuals and entities are also coming together to garner and deliver as much aid and assistance that can be provided by private and non-governmental sources.