Being Educated is the Only Way to be Free


International Book Fair in Venezuela

by Alicia Jrapko
November 23, 2018

From November 8 to 18, 2018, Venezuela was the vibrant scene of the Fourteenth International Book Fair (FILVEN) that took place in the historic center of the city of Caracas. Bolívar Square, one of the most important and recognized public spaces in Venezuela, was decorated with shelves and displays of books from all over the world. The featured country this year was Turkey. Special tribute was also paid to the Venezuelan poet Ana Enriqueta Terán, as well as to the newspaper Correo del Orinoco which was founded by Simón Bolívar in 1818.

During the fair there were 111 exhibitions with more than 565 activities including book presentations, awards and tributes, a children’s pavilion, forums, conversations and meetings, workshops, poetry recitals and artistic performances.

I had the honor of being invited to participate in FILVEN along with a group of writers, authors, editors and representatives of social movements.

I am not oblivious to what is happening in Venezuela, I read daily what the alternative and corporate media publish. And I communicate with friends who live there through social networks. Having stayed in the country for only four days, I don’t pretend in any way to be an expert on the situation in Venezuela. But I do feel the need to write some personal observations and share what I could see in that short time.

The corporate media brazenly lies about Venezuela. If you let yourself be carried away by what you read or hear in the corporate media you would think that people are starving, that the country is empty because so many people have left, and that violence is prevalent. That’s not what I saw. Let me begin by saying that Venezuela is an extremely hospitable country, and Venezuelans are a cheerful people who enjoy themselves in spite of the difficulties.

On Thursday, November 8, during the inauguration of the Book Fair, President Nicolás Maduro welcomed all ambassadors present and the national and international guests by saying, “this has been 14 continuous years of promoting publishing, the debate of ideas, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, cultural dialogue, free knowledge and free access to information and culture.” For his part, Venezuelan Minister of Culture, Ernesto Villegas, explained that the fair included an exhibition on the waves of migrants that Venezuela has received throughout its history. “Today, when a wave of induced xenophobia seeks to turn Venezuela into a bad word, we are here to vindicate the hospitable nature of Bolivar’s homeland and our indestructible brotherhood with all the peoples of the world.”

I would be lying if I said that I saw a single person sleeping in the streets of Caracas like what I see every single day a few blocks from where I live in the city of Oakland, California. Here there are thousands living under the bridges of the great highways in the richest country in the world. On the contrary, on my way from the Maiquetía Simón Bolívar International Airport to the city I was able to see with my own eyes the big housing projects which are part of the Misión Vivienda. Called repressive by the US media, Venezuela began to emphasize housing of the people with the Hugo Chávez government and continues to do so under President Maduro, with another two million housing units created for low-income people. Venezuela gets the label “repressive” because it is guilty of being a good example.

In addition to speaking in two workshops I participated in several book presentations, all very well attended, where most of the attendees were Venezuelans, who asked questions and expressed their opinions, proud that their country gave them that freedom. I have no doubt that FILVEN is an important people’s event organized by and for the Venezuelan people.

During the weekend the fair was busier with families and especially many children. On Sunday afternoon I witnessed a public cultural event full of people in the Plaza Bolívar that also touched my heart. It was an event to commemorate the life of Alí Primera, who would have been 77 years old this year. Primera was a musician, singer, composer, poet and political activist. He was and continues to be “The Singer of the Venezuelan People.” His nephew Alí Alejandro Primera, current president of the National Music Center (part of the Ministry of Culture) was in charge of the tribute, and there were also Sol Musset, singer and wife and mother of four of his children, and the renowned singer-songwriter Lilia Vera.

In the early 1980s, Alí Primera’s songs caused a sensation among those of us who admired the Nueva Canción movement. In particular I remember Techos de Cartón: “how sadly the children live in the cardboard houses … Children, color of my land, with the same scars, millionaires of worms…”

Many years have passed since Alí Primera’s departure in 1985, but Alí’s songs continue to reflect the uncertain future in which we live, with the advent of new right-wing governments on the continent.

Being part of that cultural event fills me with joy and emotion, especially seeing so many people enjoying themselves, and singing in chorus the songs of this humble man who left his voice and the heartfelt lyrics of his songs to his people.

What was clear to me is that the FILVEN represents the will of a government under attack that despite the adverse conditions is able to organize a book fair, with few resources, so that the entire population could benefit by being able to access all this culture.

Venezuela is the victim of an all-out blockade that began with an executive order from Obama when he declared Venezuela a threat to U.S. national security. The order continues under Trump but he has taken it further by implementing a blockade that affects the daily lives of all Venezuelans. In addition to the blockade, Venezuela is a victim of terrorist acts such as the one that occurred on November 4, when three members of Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Guard died after a confrontation with Colombian paramilitary groups in the border state of Amazonas.

Humanitarian crisis? What could be more humanitarian than the organization of a Book Fair for the enjoyment of a nation? One of Cuban hero José Martí’s most remembered and repeated phrase is precisely, “To be educated is the only way to be free.”

There are governments who lack the will to educate their people and seem to do everything to do just the opposite, content to have a population lacking in critical thinking. Perhaps that is why there is not a Department of Culture in the United States.

If there is one thing I brought back with me besides the hugs, the warmth and hospitality of the Venezuelan people is that VENEZUELA WANTS TO LIVE IN PEACE.

Alicia Jrapko is a co-editor of Resumen Latinoamericano, US bureau, a co-chair of the National Network on Cuba and the US coordinator of the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity.

Article printed from www.counterpunch.org: https://www.counterpunch.org
URL to article: https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/23/international-book-fair-in-venezuela-being-educated-is-the-only-way-to-be-free/

Pres. Nicolas Maduro speaks at the United Nationa

Transcript of Pres. Nicolas Maduro's speech, courtesy of the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry

Ambassadors, heads of delegations of the countries members of the United Nations Organization, President-elect of the General Assembly, Mrs. Maria Fernanda Espinoza, may I extend to you the congratulations on behalf of the delegation of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela – our government – on assuming the presidency of the 73rd session of the General Assembly as the first Latin-American woman to be president of a General Assembly session. In this occasion, we have been invited to work and address an important and vital issue, entitled as follows: “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies”. So we are here to make the United Nations relevant for all people.

This is precisely a noble purpose up to what the United Nations system has to build in light of the 21st century: a century of great opportunities and certainly a century that will make the difference regarding the human liberation processes – political liberation, peoples’ liberation – that, sooner or later, will impact significantly on the future of the United Nations Organization.

The current United Nations Organization was born at the end of Second World War (1945). During the 20th century, its configuration expressed the conflicts and forms of actions by the bipolar world of the postwar years and, after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 90s, we moved to a unipolar world.

The correlation of forces in the world, regarding the world system, has always influenced the United Nations Organization, directly. However, in order to be relevant – according to the purpose of this 73rd General Assembly – this organization has to express the wishes, the way of being, the culture, the political thinking, the strength and the hopes of the majorities in the world.

That is why Venezuela is here today; to say its truth; I bring the truth of a combative, heroic and revolutionary world; I bring the voice of a homeland that, throughout history, has refused to surrender to injustice, to the empires of the past – slaver and colonialist – and the empires of today – equally slaver and neocolonialist. I bring the voice of a heroic people that arose from the heroic resistance of the aborigines, from the indigenous peoples that for centuries resisted the domination by colonial empires. I bring the voice of the people having the honor of being the great Liberator Simon Bolivar’s home, the most important leader of a generation of liberators of the Americas, who accomplished, 200 years ago, the heroic feat of founding a continent, a region, a dream: The independent republics of this world region.

Venezuela is a historic people which is both a home and a school of republican values; a home and a school of rebelliousness; a home and a school of dignity and values such as equality; such is our obstinate homeland that for centuries has searched its Independence and sovereignty.

I speak on their behalf before this scenario which has witnessed the most evil and embarrassing attacks in the last years; for our country is a harassed and attacked country. Yesterday, in this same place, the President of the United States of North America once again attacked the noble people of Venezuela and supported, as he said, the doctrine founded by the empire of the United States 200 years ago, which determined their interventionist role, their intended role of judge, party and police of the world: the Monroe Doctrine. Yes, the president of the most powerful imperial nation, the United States of North America, was in this same place, supporting James Monroe’s doctrine, who, at that time, said “America for Americans”, meaning that the rest of America had to belong to them as the backyard for the interests of Washington elite groups that already conducted the configuration of that nation as a former colony of the British empire.

He supported the Monroe Doctrine. And you may be wondering about the reason for such fierce attack by the American power, expressed at all levels by President Donald Trump. It is a historic conflict as we have said to the world many times, as our people well knows. It is the conflict between the interventionist imperial, neocolonialist Monroe Doctrine against the historic, Independence, republican, Simon Bolivar’s doctrine, of rebelliousness, dignity, justice, liberty and equality. It is an old conflict; an old contradiction due to an imperial doctrine aimed at dominating our region. During the 19th century, it was aimed at dominating our region only; however, in the 20th century, it was intended to dominate the world and in the 21st century it tries to continue governing, conducting, blackmailing and arranging the world as if it were their property. In our region, it is a 200-year contradiction between the republican libertarian flags which, in the 19th century – the time of Simon Bolivar and the liberators – advocated for a world of equilibrium and respect and the pro imperialist and interventionist flags that promoted the domination of the region by an elite group that already had the control of the power in Washington.

It is an old conflict we know very well. Today, Venezuela is a victim of a permanent aggression in the economic, political, diplomatic and media fields by those who govern the United States of North America and support the Monroe Doctrine to justify the ideological, political and diplomatic aggression against our beloved homeland.

Our reason for being here is the reason. Why is Venezuela being politically, economically and diplomatically attacked? First of all, Venezuela has built an autonomous project of democratic revolution, social vindication, and construction of a self and new model of society, which is based on the historical roots of our nation, on the identity of our country and on the own culture of our Latin-American region.

For 20 years, they have been intended to stop the course of our history, the development of a revolutionary project that arose from the own struggle root of our people and region. Secondly – and perhaps more understandable- for global geopolitical reasons, Venezuela is the nation with the largest oil reserve of the world, internationally certified. Venezuela as founder of OPEC, Venezuela a country with 100 years of oil production, discovered and certified internationally the largest oil richness of the world; Venezuela has also significant natural and mining richness. Today, according to international standards, our country is certifying the potentially biggest gold reserve of the world.

The world must know that currently, apart from being the biggest international oil reserve, Venezuela is certifying, under international standards, the biggest gold reserve of the world and the fourth gas reserve of the world as well. The significant natural resources, important geopolitical, geo-economic and geo-strategic position have lead the oligarchies of the continent and those who dominate from Washington, to consider dominating and controlling the political power in Venezuela. In the present, Venezuela is victim of a permanent aggression.

In the economic sphere, during the last two years, Venezuela has been subjected to a set of illegal unilateral measures of economic persecution and blockade; we have been restrained from using the international currency, –the dollar- via positions of use of dominion by the authorities of the US Department of Treasury. Currently, Venezuela cannot negotiate any international transaction in dollars. Did the world know that Venezuela is persecuted from an economic, commercial and monetary point of view? Today, Venezuela is target of a set of illegal and unilateral mechanisms of economic sanctions.

Yesterday, the President of the United States announced, precisely on this same platform, new and alleged economic and financial sanctions against our country in the sanctuary of the law and international legality. Did the United Nations System know that the unilateral sanctions, using the dominion, the status of the currency and the financial persecution are considered illegal from the standpoint of international law? Venezuela is subjected to a permanent media aggression as well; attempts to forge a file have been made to justify an international intervention. We know that it is an intended international intervention, a military intervention to control our country. At global level, a file has been forged through the media against our country to pretend a humanitarian crisis that uses the United Nations concepts to justify a coalition of countries led by the Government of the United States, and their satellite governments in Latin America, to get its hands on our country. A migration crisis, that goes without saying, has been forged by several means, aimed at diverting the attention from the real migration crises in the world that show the disadvantages of the southern countries. The migratory crisis in Central America, Mexico, and Latin America arising due to the announcement of a retaining wall against our peoples, a dividing wall against them. Nobody wants to talk about this situation. A double-standard treatment has been intended over the real status of the Caribbean and Latin American migrants who have been persecuted along the border with Mexico; they have been separated from their families, their kids have been kidnapped; and no response is given about this issue or about the serious migration crisis caused by the destruction in Libya by NATO and the war against Syria, resulting in the migration of thousands of African and Middle-East brothers. It is an issue that is intentionally masked.

A global media campaign about an alleged migratory crisis in Venezuela has been deployed to justify a humanitarian intervention, as announced for years. It is a plan similar to the weapon-of mass-destruction plan used in Iraq; it is the same plan that justified the intervention in other countries, this time under a form of a great brutal psychological warfare campaign. Today, Venezuela is also the victim of a diplomatic nature aggression. Yesterday – dear brothers and sisters of the governments of the world – we witnessed direct threats to cut aid, to withdraw aid or blockade aid from the international support and aid systems for the governments and peoples of the world on the need of it by the President of the United States.

We have listened to the statements issued by several governments demanding better mechanisms to access financing, to access development to which our peoples are entitled to. Yesterday, the President of the United States, in this very platform, threatened the governments of the world to submit to its designs, to its orders and to cooperate with its policies in the United Nations system, or he would act accordingly. Venezuela has been attacked with a fierce diplomatic offensive at all of the United Nations system bodies, supported by satellite kneeled governments blackening the honor of the peoples that they are called to represent.

Venezuela has been subjected to permanent political aggression. On September 8th, the New York Times published an article evidencing the participation of officials of the White House and the government of the United States, in meetings to bring about a military coup and cause a change of government, a change of regime in Venezuela. The investigation published by the New York Times – replicated by the Times magazine, the Washington Post and the world press – simply confirmed the conspiracy, the permanent aggression by factors of the government of the United States against a constitutional and strengthened democracy; a democracy supported by the people, such as the Venezuelan democracy. We had already denounced in due course, the attempts of violence against the Constitution, the attempts of disturbances and military coups against the constitutional and revolutionary government over which I preside in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, by popular will and popular vote.

After announcing and publishing the failed attempts of disturbances and military violence – the New York Times published details on how US officials in Colombia, supported by the Colombian government and Colombian institutions, met and offered their encouragement and support for this attempted change of regime. Should the United Nations system, Should the union – I am addressing my Latin American and Caribbean brothers – Should Latin America and the Caribbean accept these methods that so hurt our region in the entire 20th century? How many military interventions? How many coup d’états? How many dictatorships were imposed during the long and dark 20th century in Latin America and the Caribbean, and who did it favor? Did it favor the Peoples? What interests did they represent? The interests of the transnational companies, the unpopular interests; long dictatorships, like Augusto Pinochet’s in Chile, were faced by our peoples due to the stubbornness of the American elites and the Monroe Doctrine to deny the right earned by ourselves to govern our countries the way we need, and build specific economic, political and cultural systems of the region.

That is why I come here, to bring the truth of a fighting people; Venezuela has been targeted by a seemingly never-ending political and media campaign. That is why we bring our homeland’s truth to this honorable UN General Assembly; after the failure published and announced by the New York Times of these illegal, unconstitutional and criminal attempts of regime change, after the democratic presidential election, last May 20th, when I, Nicolas Maduro Moros, obtained 68% of the popular votes through free elections – the 24th election in 19 years, of which 22 have been won by the revolutionary forces of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, at different levels of approval, against the opposition forces of our country; after the failure of the attempted military coups, candidacies and electoral tactics supported by Washington, with the huge electoral victory attained by the People, last August 4th, I was a victim of a terrorist attack with drones that tried to kill me in a military event on one of the main avenues in Caracas. If it had been executed as planned, it would have been a massacre, an assassination of the institutional, political and military high command of our nation, Venezuela.

On August 4th, the perpetrators, the terrorists, those who attacked me with drones – this is the first attack with drones known in the world history of terrorist violence – were captured by the security bodies and State police agencies. The 28 perpetrators were captured thanks to different investigation procedures. They are convicted and sentenced. As I informed to different governments of the world, all the investigations about that terrorist attack indicate that it was prepared, financed and planned in the territory of United States of America. I have informed to the Government of United States – by diplomatic means – the name, the responsibility and the evidences of the intellectual perpetrators, financers and planners of this serious terrorist attack. According to investigations, this attempt and the actual perpetrators – as they have admitted – were trained and prepared for months in Colombian territory under the protection and support of Colombian authorities; and according to the latest investigations and captures – as unveiled to the media – the perpetrators mentioned some of the diplomatic members of the Government of Chile, Colombia and Mexico who would help them to escape after the terrorist attack.

I would like to ask the United Nations system to appoint a special delegate of the Secretariat of the United Nations to conduct an independent investigation internationally about the implications and responsibilities of this terrorist attack perpetrated in our country. Venezuela is opened; the doors of our country and our judicial system are opened in order to determine the direct responsibilities of this aggression, the most serious in the political history of our country for its implications. They tried to provoke a chaos in our homeland, they tried to rip the State’s head off to justify a domestic struggle, a domestic violence and justify the activation of mechanisms beyond the United Nations multilateral system, of a military intervention as occurred in other countries in the past.

Officially, Venezuela proposes -Ambassador, Minister for Foreign Relations – to conduct an independent international investigation to determine the truth about these events. I have expressed to the Government of United States – who has denied its participation in the preparation and execution of these attempts -, that it will be great if they heed my call to include high-level FBI professionals and scientists in this investigation to clarify and help the Venezuelan justice to find the truth.

When I arrived in New York this the afternoon, I heard that some journalists had asked President Donald Trump if he was willing to meet with Maduro (that’s how people call me) with Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela. Apparently, President Donald Trump in one of his today’s interventions said that if it helps Venezuela, he was willing to do so. Well, I ratify on this platform, that despite the great historical differences, ideological and social differences – since I am a worker, a bus driver, a man of the people, I am not a rich man, I am not a millionaire – despite all the differences deemed as enormous, the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro Moros, is willing to shake hands with the U.S President. I am willing to sit and talk about the bilateral differences and the matters of our region.

I believe so. Venezuela is a friendly country. Venezuelans do not hate the United States; on the contrary, we appreciate the United States, their culture, their arts, their society. We differ from the imperial concepts that took over the political power in Washington since the foundation of that nation.

In 1826, our Liberator Simon Bolivar said prophetically: “The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague America with hunger and misery in the name of liberty”.

It was a prophetic vision. It was hard to see at early times the future in the 20th century. Do we have differences President Donald Trump? Of course we do. But differences lead to dialogue. Those who are different are called to put their good will and words on the table. President Donald Trump said he is worried about Venezuela, that he wants to help Venezuela.

Well, I am willing to talk, with an open agenda about the topics that the United States Government wants to discuss, with humility, frankness and honesty. As president of the Non-Aligned Movement, Venezuela raises the flags of dialogue among civilizations. As president of the Non-Aligned Movement, Venezuela permanently promotes and practices the political and international dialogue, the solution of the international conflicts through the dialogue, the understanding and the pacific uses of politics and not by force.

Venezuela is significantly experienced in bodies such as OPEC, to manage situations of divergence and build consensus and agreements. Recently, in Algeria, we attended the meeting of the OPEC monitoring committee. It was an extraordinary meeting with the representatives of the monitoring committee, since we are part of it, and the representatives of 24 States with the greatest oil reserves and producers of the world. And despite the cultural, political, geostrategic and geopolitical differences, we reached an agreement, a single voice to continue stabilizing the oil market at fair, reasonable and stable prices.

We believe in the political dialogue as a way to find solutions and solve conflicts. They have tried to demonize the Bolivarian Revolution through an unprecedented brutal campaign. First, against Commander Hugo Chavez Frias, founder of our Revolution and eternal commander in the heart of Venezuelans, and then against this humble man who is standing here, bringing the voice of a people that supports its Revolution and democratically supports its actions.

Therefore, I reaffirm the desire for international and national political dialogue. I know that governments represented in this room are interested in reaching peace with sovereignty, independence and justice in Venezuela. I welcome all those from Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin America who wish to help respecting the country’s sovereignty, without interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs so that they can support us, join us in a process of sovereign dialogue for Venezuela’s peace, democracy, justice, future and prosperity; a noble nation which deserves peace, a future and the best.

We bring good news from a country that has not given up and shall not do so. Good news from a nation that is consolidating its democracy; good news from a country that is building its own social model, its own welfare state by means of new formulas to protect its elders, its pensioners, its children, its young people, its women, the neediest sectors, its working class. We also bring good news regarding the efforts for an economic recovery; in fact, I activated, in August, an Economic Recovery, Growth and Prosperity Program which is succeeding in placing the bases of a new economy, not dependent on oil revenues, a diversified economy, of sustainable growth and prosperity building, heading towards a new kind of social model.

We believe in a different world; our generation witnessed the so-called bipolar world, the so-called Cold War which some apparently want to bring back again through attacks against China, Russia and modest countries like Venezuela. However, provoking a fight against countries like Russia and China is a contradiction of what a humanitarian international policy should be, meaning one which recognizes the emergence of new poles of power and the need to build a multipolar world.

Venezuela is a country which advocates for and is committed to the construction of a pluripolar and multicentric world, where all the different regions (Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, and North America) can live together in balance and peace, respecting our cultures, religions, idiosyncrasies, identities and economic and political models. There is not a unique economic model; we must not allow the imposition of a single cultural model, a single political model; they intend to impose a single thought for humanity. I say no. We vindicate the cultural, religious and political diversity of humanity of this world. Therefore, in the Non-aligned Movement, we advocate for the emergence of such a world of justice.

We assume and declare our solidarity with the Arab people of Palestine; justice shall arrive to Palestine so that their historic territories, established in 1967 by this United Nations Organization, are respected.

We carry with us the flag of the Palestinian people. We support the UN call for an end to the infamous and criminal 50-year-blockade against the Cuban people. We have had enough of anachronistic methods that they intend to continue imposing against the Cuban people, and now against other peoples like Venezuela.

So we raise our two hands to vote on the United Nations Resolution, which in the next few days will be carried out to reject the blockade and economic-financial persecution against Cuba, and demand its immediate lifting, in a world to be built, in a world to be made.

200 years ago, our region was plagued by colonies, slavery and injustice. 100 years ago, as peoples, we struggled for freedom. Today, in the 21st century, the moment has come, the opportunity has come. Undoubtedly, in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, with Simon Bolivar’s revolutionary ideas, with the example and legacy of Commander Hugo Chavez – whose voice still resonates here in this room demanding justice and justice for the world, demanding the cessation of the imperial practices of threats, coercion and extortion against peoples – we can say that in 20 years of revolution, the last 3 have been the hardest years: years of harassment, aggressions and attacks.

Today, on September 26th, 2018, I can say that we have faced political, media, diplomatic, economic and financial persecutions, but I also can say that today Venezuela is stronger than ever. We have learnt how to resist and draw the strength from our historic roots to stand up, victorious and willing to continue advancing in the construction of our own social model, which it is the Socialist Revolution of the 21st century; we say it to the four winds, it is a new revolution, of independence, dignity and justice.

Today, we are stronger than ever. Yes, I was a witness, we were witnesses two days ago of the tribute to Nelson Mandela; speaking about Mandela is speaking about rebellion. Many people have tried to create a wrong picture of Mandela like a dump person, somebody who did not fight. Mandela is synonym of rebellion against injustice, bravery, courage and the challenge to the oppressors. We are followers of Nelson Mandela’s legacy and the great African leaders who have raised the struggle for equality, justice and against slavery, racism and colonialism in all its forms.

We saw the tribute to Nelson Mandela and we thought how much this world has changed. Just 30 years ago Mandela was considered a terrorist by the United States Congress and the North American governments. Just a few years ago Nelson Mandela was still on the list of sanctioned people. It may sound familiar to you: Nelson Mandela, the terrorist, the sanctioned, the persecuted, and the abandoned. The world has changed a lot since then. Currently, Nelson Mandela is a flag that we embrace with love, with conviction. He is a symbol of what it is possible to do if the rebellion, the struggle, and justice are able to conquer the noble hearts and minds of the peoples.

I trust in the future of humanity, in the destiny of my country, in the common future of this community represented here in the United Nations Organization, and I must say, after having resisted coup d’état attempts, terrorist attacks, that: I trust the human being, the future of humanity. Venezuela says to the United Nations: We trust in the noble ideals of the Venezuelan people that do not give up, and will not surrender. Thank you very much, dear compatriots of the world. Count on Venezuela for the great causes of the future of this organization, and the future of a multipolar world! Good evening to all of you, thank you.

Source: https://gadebate.un.org/en/73/venezuela-bolivarian-republic

US Disregard for International Law is a Menace to Latin America


by Nino Pagliccia

At the 25th U.N. session of October 1970, the General Assembly adopted a resolution titled 'Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.' Not too many people would know that, therefore I think it is important to remember what those principles are (emphasis added):

* The principle that states shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

* The principle that states shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered.

* The principle concerning the duty not to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any state, in accordance with the Charter.

* The duty of states to co-operate with one another in accordance with the Charter.

* The principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.

* The principle of sovereign equality of states.

* The principle that states shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the Charter.

The OAS Charter has similar principles

I have often criticized the U.N. for being ineffective and I still stand by that. I am going out on a limb by saying that the more 'principles' and 'resolutions' the U.N. issues, the more military interventions, invasions, terrorist actions, incitation to violence, wars, and of course punitive economic sanctions have occurred in the last 40 or more years.

However, I must clarify that a world organization like the U.N. is necessary, albeit one that should be radically modified to really live up to its promise stated in the principles listed above. At least one principle should be essential: the principle of sovereign equality of states.

But I don't think I am going out on a limb when I say that only one country, among the 193 U.N. member states, stands out as having committed consistently and relentlessly the large majority of international infractions: the United States.

Many of its infractions are clearly apparent. Many others occur behind the cover of 'diplomacy,' such as incitement to rebellion and coups, bribery and corruption. Often, the U.N. and other international bodies, including embassies, are the preferred venues for fomenting subversion. It is not unusual that this type of unlawful activity would also be 'delegated' to some so-called civil society organization or NGO.

Today we are seeing blatant examples of U.S. unlawful behavior to the point that it is a serious menace to Venezuela and the rest of Latin America.

Overcoming Sanctions

I have already referred to the U.S. sanctions and their connection to the U.S.-centered financial system in the context of the recent monetary conversion in Venezuela. But unilateral U.S. sanctions have become the economic version of an epidemic. Cuba, Russia, Iran, Syria, and North Korea are current targets.

It is to be noted that the United States and other countries have consistently issued sanctions against Venezuela every time the Maduro government has undertaken important policy measures, the last one being issued on May 21 a day after Nicolas Maduro was re-elected president.

What is striking this time is that after the major monetary revolution, initiated by the Maduro government on Aug. 21, not a single new sanction has been issued. Surprisingly, one can say that U.S. sanctions stand out for their absence. This can have two possible interpretations.

The immediate one is that the Venezuelan monetary conversion, pegging their currency to the largest Venezuelan oil resources through the cryptocurrency Petro, is successfully rendering sanctions avoidable to a certain extent, and therefore less effective economic weapons. The United States dollar may be losing its thunder as the world's reserve currency with the consequent weakening of the U.S. financial system that is at the core of economic sanctions.

Other countries threatened by U.S. sanctions like Iran and Iraq are taking notice and are considering similar monetary policies dropping the dollar in their bilateral trade transactions. China and U.S.-sanctioned Russia are also increasing their financial interaction away from the dollar. The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was more adamant, declaring: "Now we have to gradually end the domination of the dollar once and for all by using national money among us."

Even some opposition economists foresee that a more independent Venezuelan economy will free itself of the crippling foreign-induced inflation. And this can only lead to a healthy recovery in terms of availability of essential products. The prospect of economic recovery is quite real, as suggested by the positive response of the Venezuelan private sector. But a more encouraging sign is the willingness of many Venezuelans, who had left, to return home and are now receiving logistical support from the Maduro government to come back. We are seeing a 'migration crisis' myth destroyed.

This scenario will not only be a bad example for other nations, but it will also destroy other myths to justify a regime change in Venezuela such as 'humanitarian crisis.' No such thing has any real foundation, as recently reported by the U.N. independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, to the 39th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Military Intervention and Proxy War

So, given that sanctions are being overcome and are not anymore, at least for now, the weapon of choice of the United States for regime change in Venezuela, we are left with a second possible scenario that the United States is preparing for another course of action: military intervention or, equivalently, a proxy war. This would be a tragic decision and should sound an alarm to all Venezuela observers and governments of the region. There has never been a U.S. military intervention that has brought any positive outcome to the population anywhere. All 'gains' are only assured for U.S. corporations.

The latest report that the United States is somehow involved in building a Venezuelan military rebellion comes from the New York Times: "The Trump administration held secret meetings with rebellious military officers from Venezuela over the last year to discuss their plans to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro."

How is the military intervention to take place and what would the reaction be?

If we are to learn from past U.S. interventions in other conflict zones, the United States may not put its own troops on the ground in Venezuela, at least initially, but more likely will provide full logistic, intelligence and weaponry support to 'rebels.' This requires a 'rebel force' that is so far non-existent, despite attempts to manufacture one that gives the impression of 'hundreds' of Venezuelan military 'disaffected' with the Maduro administration.

However, in this possible scenario, infiltration attacks, including sabotage, would come from Colombia and less likely, for now, from Brazil due to the upcoming elections in October. But in the likelihood that Jair Bolsonaro is the winning Brazilian candidate, Venezuela will face two right-wing governments in the two border countries. They would be fully-prompted by the United States to act and they would comply. The Venezuelan border states to watch are Tachira, Zulia and Bolivar.

Ahead of an overt military intervention or proxy war, we will see an increase in the infowar that is already being waged against Venezuela. The current infowar is the overstated 'exodus' of Venezuelans. One detailed study clearly shows that there is no 'migration crisis.'

Although no conclusion can be drawn at this point about a U.S. military intervention, the history of Latin America shows that it cannot be excluded. It is dependent on three main conditions: the creation of a U.S.-style 'plausible reason' to intervene (mostly done), a local real or made-up rebel group (still underway), and enough support from a majority of regional and international governments (not quite likely yet). The Venezuelan representative at the U.N., Samuel Moncada, tweeted a few days ago that the "United States is pushing Brazil, Chile, Peru and Colombia to war, demanding to make the tough decision to start the aggression."

This leads to the question of what the reaction in the Latin American and Caribbean region and beyond would be.

So far, the little over a dozen countries of the so-called Lima Group have hijacked the voice of the OAS, inciting regime change at all cost. But that is still a minority of the 35 OAS member states.

The Trump administration must weigh its decision very carefully. Tilting the balance towards a military intervention could create a serious backlash in the region, not only political, but also social, with prolonged conflicts.

Beyond the region, Washington must consider the possible reactions from Moscow and Beijing. Russia and China have developed close economic and business ties in Latin America and Venezuela in particular. China is now the fourth-largest destination for Venezuelan oil.

Realistically, the most important point for the United States to consider is the reaction of the Venezuelan people. The U.S. government is misinforming the international community about the lack of support for the Maduro government in Venezuela, however, it must have firsthand information about the following facts: 1) a large majority of the Venezuelan population is indeed a very cohesive democratic and constitutional society; 2) Venezuela has a loyal National Bolivarian Militia with about half a million personnel whose main function is to 'establish permanent links between the National Bolivarian Armed Forces and the Venezuelan people, in order to contribute to ensuring the overall defense of Venezuela.'

Concluding Thoughts

In a fair international community of nations truly based on U.N. principles for the sake of peace, the United States would abide by the first principle listed above: “that states shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State”. But the United States has not and will not. Its only principle seems to be that of exceptionalism. It is determined to suffer the isolation of a bully state.

Unfortunately, the United States' reckless actions have consequences not only for the 30 million people of Venezuela but also for the rest of the region.

Venezuela has initiated a process that promises to effectively reduce the impact of unilateral and punitive economic sanctions slapped on the country, and begin an economic recovery process. A possible sign that Venezuela's monetary reform may have outmaneuvered the United States is that there have been no new sanctions against Venezuela since May from the United States or other countries.

However, this is not a complete victory for Venezuela. A more serious threat may lie ahead. Based on a recent report by the New York Times, this danger has been brewing for some time, and judging by at least one analysis, it is fast approaching in the form of a possible military intervention whose final outcome is not clear yet.

There have been several threats from the Trump administration in the past so it is clear that today military action against Venezuela cannot be ruled out. Venezuela has always taken any threat to its national security seriously and has responded diplomatically and publicly with protests. It has just done so once again, with the stated intention of informing public opinion that the United States is breaking international law on top of U.N. and OAS principles.

A military intervention, direct or through proxies, will not be a guaranteed success for the United States. The claim in the New York Times that a "few hundred" Venezuelan troops may be disaffected is neither credible nor sufficient to confront a loyal population as the attempted coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002 proved. Further, it would trigger a chain reaction of events never seen before. In this emerging multipolar world, the involvement of Russia and China cannot be excluded; if not militarily, at least politically.

But this is a situation where Venezuela cannot wait or hope for any immediate help except from its own people, and it has to lean on the side of caution. The price of misjudging the danger may be too high.

There can be no doubt that the Bolivarian Armed Forces and the National Bolivarian Militia are on full alert and ready.


Nino Pagliccia is a Venezuelan-Canadian activist and writer based in Vancouver, Canada. He writes about international relations with a focus on the Americas and is editor of 'Cuba Solidarity in Canada – Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations.'

DANGER: President Trump still considering military option in Venezuela

Venezuela decries reported meetings between U.S. officials and coup plotters

Venezuela is responding angrily to a report in The New York Times that details alleged secret meetings between Trump administration officials and Venezuelan military officers seeking to oust the country's authoritarian leader Nicolas Maduro.

"We denounce before the international community the intervention plans and the support of military plots by the United States government," Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza said in a tweet.

The secret meetings, which NPR has not independently confirmed, were reported by Times journalists Ernesto Londoño and Nicholas Casey on Saturday based on interviews with 11 current and former U.S. officials and a former Venezuelan military commander.

Speaking to Weekend Edition Sunday, Londoño said the meetings started after President Trump made a remark last August that he was not ruling out the possibility of a military option against Maduro's government.

"Down in Caracas there were some senior members of the military who had soured on Nicolas Maduro and they perked up when they heard this. They wondered if the Trump administration might be willing to help them overthrow their commander in chief," Londoño said. "They reach out discreetly overseas, they approach a U.S. Embassy and they ask for a meeting."

Here's more from Londoño:

"At the White House, officials take a look at this and they weigh the pros and cons, and ultimately they decided they wanted to hear from these guys, they wanted to meet with them. So over the course of at least three secret meetings that happen abroad, an American diplomat established a back channel with these dissident officers.

"At one point, the Venezuelans ask if the United States would give them encrypted radios, they said they needed to have a means to communicate more securely. Washington takes this into account and ultimately decides not too. And as we understand it, there are in recent months a series of plans that are set in motion to detain Nicholas Maduro and oust his government, however, there are leaks and none of these plans succeed and now several of the plotters are behind bars."

Maduro routinely accuses the U.S. government of plotting against him, and this is likely to embolden those claims.
U.S. officials are not publicly confirming or denying the Times account.

"U.S. policy preference for a peaceful, orderly return to democracy in Venezuela remains unchanged," National Security Council spokesperson Garrett Marquis said in a statement. "A lasting solution to Venezuela's worsening crisis can only arise following restoration of governance by democratic practices, the rule of law, and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms."

Venezuela detains six people following attempt on Maduro's life

According to the Times, one of the Venezuelan officials who took part in the talks is on the U.S. government sanctions list.

"He and other members of the Venezuelan security apparatus have been accused by Washington of a wide range of serious crimes, including torturing critics, jailing hundreds of political prisoners, wounding thousands of civilians, trafficking drugs and collaborating with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States," the Times reported.

Last month, Maduro was giving a speech when a drone carrying explosives detonated near the podium. As NPR's Scott Neuman reported, he blamed opposition politicians for the apparent failed assassination attempt.

The country is sinking deeper into crisis. Hyperinflation is rocking the economy and there's a shortage of basic necessities. Tens of thousands of people are fleeing to neighboring countries in light of the increasing desperation.

The Times story will not be greeted warmly among other Latin American countries because of the long history of U.S. intervention in the area, reports NPR's Philip Reeves: "Most oppose Maduro, but recoil at any suggestion of a U.S.-backed coup or military options."