U.N. confirms Venezuela as leader in the Americas

Taking a Leadership Role: Venezuela on U.N. Security Council while Washington Suffers Setback in Prestige

By Larry Birns, Frederick B. Mills, and Ronn Pineo
October 21st 2014

With 181 out of 193 of the United Nations representatives voting yes on Thursday, October 16, the Venezuelan government has gained not only a seat on the U.N. Security Council, but an affirmation of a leadership role in the Americas. As a result, there are now two strong features of Venezuelan foreign policy that will likely have an intensified impact on the Council: Caracas’ ongoing commitment to construct a multi-polar world, and its anticipated presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement starting next year.

Although there have been some moments of dismay over the last fifteen years with Venezuela’s evolving foreign policy, overall the nation has advanced to a position where it draws considerable respect among other Latin American nations.

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR
Acclaim for Venezuela’s international position already has stemmed from its strong support for efforts aimed at regional integration and the establishment of the region as a “zone of peace,” as well as for its long-time championing of the inclusion of Cuba at the Summit of the Americas. These positions have matured and have now attracted near universal support in recent years by a series of new Latin American regional bodies that have been formed, most notably CELAC (The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños) and UNASUR (The Union of South American Nations or Unión de Naciones Suramericanas).

Latin American nations came together to form these new bodies with the purpose of shaping a common hemispheric vision without interference from the United States. Indeed, the U.S. and Canada are not even members of either CELAC or UNASUR, and may not choose to join. Meanwhile, Venezuela has been a key player and gained appreciation for its participation in the peace negotiations between the FARC guerrillas (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) and the government of Colombia.

Banco del Sur and trade relations
Continuing the legacy of former president Hugo Chávez, Venezuela is a leading proponent of complementarity in trade relations between regional nations. This philosophy involves finding innovative ways of exchanging goods between Latin American nations based on responding to the most urgent and rational public needs of each country. A growing diversification of trade relationships has resulted, with numerous deals also being struck between Latin American nations and China, Russia, and the European Union, trade arrangements that completely bypass the State Department. Venezuela has also played a key role in the creation of new Latin American financial institutions, such as the Banco del Sur(Bank of the South), as alternatives to the orthodoxies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The Obama administration refrained from open opposition to a Venezuelan seat on the Council until the vote had been taken and Washington had been humbled by the outcome. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and other hard-line US legislators, as well as the Washington Post and the New York Times, publicly showed their irrelevance by urging the administration to thwart a Venezuelan diplomatic victory. Los-Lehtinen, a Miami ultra-conservative, argued that the administration of President Nicolas Maduro is bent on “undermining peace and security in the region.”

The truth is that unlike the U.S., Venezuela has not backed golpista [leaders of coups] regimes in the region and is not involved in a serious conflict anywhere. Rather than being so strained Caracas is serving as an effective mediator in peace negotiations to help bring to an end the longest running war in the hemisphere, and does not have a military base in any other Latin American nation. On the other hand, the anti-Chavista lobby in Washington, and its friends on the editorial boards of the Washington Post and New York Times, seem content to uncritically repeat the claims of the Venezuelan opposition.

Venezuela continues to face economic challenges
No doubt the Bolivarian revolution faces serious and urgent economic challenges, persistent high crime, rogue elements within some of its police units, and still battles corruption within the state bureaucracy. Still, these challenges should be set into the political context of a determined and violent ultra-right opposition, which is set on achieving extra-constitutional regime change. And there have been important gains under Chávez and now Maduro. Over the past fifteen years, the revolution has succeeded in lifting several million Venezuelans out of poverty, increased national control over the country’s natural resources, and supported the further development of organized expressions of popular power.

Venezuela - a sorely needed rational voice
Progressive forces, including COHA (Council on Hemispheric Affairs), may not greet with satisfaction every Venezuelan domestic and foreign policy position, and will probably continue to take issue on a selective basis with various political and economic developments. Nevertheless, a non-permanent Venezuelan seat on the United Nations Security Council is likely to provide a sorely needed rational voice for multi-polarity and an opportunity to broaden the debate over how to resolve international conflicts while promoting world peace and allowing for the respect of authentic national interest.

Institutional affiliation is for identification purposes only and all opinions expressed are the author’s own. Larry Birns is COHA Director. Frederick B. Mills and Ronn Pineo are COHA Senior Research Fellows.


Pres. Maduro: A stable, prosperous and working Venezuela, guarantees a peaceful continent

Venezuela’s Pres. Maduro: Colombian Paramilitary Devised Serra Assassination, All Killers Identified

by Ewan Roberton

Mérida, 16th October 2014 – All eight men who participated in the murder of pro-government lawmaker Robert Serra have been identified, said Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro in a press conference last night.

“This assassination was being prepared for over three months. It was directed by a Colombian whose legal identity we have not yet revealed. A Colombian paramilitary meticulously directed the whole preparation process of the crime. He used a gang directed by another thuggish murderer, Padilla Leyva, alias “Colombia,” Maduro told local and international media.

Venezuelan president showed CCTV footage of how six men entered Robert Serra’s house on Wednesday 1 October, saying that in five to six minutes both Serra and his assistant Maria Herrera were stabbed to death. Two other men waited outside with getaway vehicles.

Serra's bodyguard: turncoat

According to Venezuelan authorities the “weak point” in Serra’s protection was his bodyguard Eduwin Camacho Torres, who had allegedly turned against Serra and was the person who let the other members of the gang into the young lawmaker’s Caracas home.

Two members of the group, including Torres, have been arrested and have confessed their role in the assassination, according to authorities. The names of the other alleged members of the gang were released last night, and officials pledge to find and arrest them.

The government will also request the assistance of Interpol in tracking down the suspects under the possibility that some may have fled the country.

“We request them; we’re going to look everywhere. We are also going to capture those who are intellectually responsible, whatever surname they have,” announced Maduro.

Destabilisation strategy

President Maduro tied Serra’s assassination to what he said was a planned destabilisation strategy against the Venezuelan state directed by far-right opposition figures in Venezuela, Colombia and the United States.

Maduro argued that a strategy of political terrorism began this year with a “violent onslaught” in February to May, when [right-wing] militant opposition street barricades shut down the normal functioning of several cities.

He also recalled the assassination of the pro-government head of a Caracas municipal council, Eliezer Otaiza, on 28 April, and the interception of paramilitaries from Colombia that same month that were allegedly travelling to the capital to assassinate top government politicians.

The arrest last month of two Venezuelan opposition activists, Lorent Gomez Saleh and Gabriel Valles, was also placed within this context. Videos were shown on Venezuelan state TV of the two discussing plans to attack the bridge linking Colombia and the Venezuelan state of Tachira. The two activists were expelled from Colombia for “national security reasons”.

Additional assassinations foiled

There exist accusations that Saleh and Valles have connections to former right-wing Colombian president Alvaro Uribe.

Pres. Nicolas Maduro also claimed there’s evidence that assassination plans against education minister Hector Rodriguez and National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello had been foiled earlier this month, shortly after Serra’s assassination.

The Venezuelan president argued that “some media and imperial elites” did not understand that the destabilisation of Venezuela would unsettle the wider region.

“Only a stable, prosperous and working Venezuela, solving its problems in peace and democracy is the guarantee of a peaceful continent,” he said.


Indigenous Resistance Day celebrated with collective land titles given to Indigenous Communities

Protection of native languages and elderly pensions for minimum wage earners

By Z.C. Dutka

Santa Elena de Uairen, October 15th, 2014 - In celebration of the nationally acclaimed Day of Indigenous Resistance, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro established a presidential council for indigenous peoples, handed over collective land titles to 14 original communities, lowered the threshold age for indigenous pensioners, and announced the creation of an institute to protect the country’s 44 native languages.

Housing pledged to poor

The South American leader also pledged 5000 new homes for indigenous communities for 2015 through the national housing mission Mision Vivienda, and announced the investment of 575 million bolivars (about $7 million) to address extreme poverty in 396 of those communities.

Aloha Nuñez, the Indigenous Peoples’ Minister, noted that the presidential council was formed as a result of elections held in 2,194 indigenous communities after the idea was discussed in 1,589 countrywide assemblies.

Delia Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the Wayúu community of Zulia state, said that the debates leading up to the creation of the council were conducted with respect, tolerance and spirituality, in the interest of enabling diverse indigenous peoples to make significant contributions to the transition towards socialism.

Language institute dedicated to indigenous languages

Nuñez also explained how the language institute is the product of many years’ collective efforts. Of the 44 different original peoples that exist in Venezuela, Nuñez said, 34 speak their language and 10 have lost theirs through lack of use.

“We should immediately found and motivate a team systematically [that can] permanently, scientifically, register, rescue and revive all indigenous languages that exist in Venezuelan territory,” said Maduro from Miraflores presidential palace where Monday’s ceremony was held.

Amoar Myor Mission - pensions for retired indigenous minimum wage earners

Shortly after, the Venezuelan president announced the incorporation of all indigenous above the age of 50 into the Amor Mayor mission for special elderly pensions. Nationwide, the mission applies to women over 55 and men over 60 who live in family homes maintained by minimum wage workers.

Land titles that encompass six ethnic groups and 14 communities of Anzoategui state were presented to community representatives; 1,891 hectares to the Guatacarito people, 438 to the Cumanagoto, 983 to the Capachal, 3,294 to the Pedregal, 657 to the Guayabal and 1,119 hectares to the Kariñas of Mapiricurito.

From 2011 to 2013 the Committee for the Demarcation of Land and Habitat, of the indigenous ministry, has signed 40 property titles for collective lands, including over 1.8 million hectares of land.

In a similar ceremony in July, Nuñez declared, “Today, the Bolivarian government recognizes the lands that ancestrally belonged to us and have been our home for many years."


Terrorism and right-wing Assassins in Venezuela

Silence From the Media as the Paramilitaries Go Rogue

by María Páez Victor
October 8, 2014

Last Friday, the centre of Caracas was filled with thousands of mourning citizens as they accompanied two flag draped coffins loaded with flowers they had cast upon it in homage.

If a Member of Parliament representing the Venezuelan opposition had been brutally tortured and stabbed to death in his own home, the Western press – including Canada’s- would have splashed the news in headlines around the world. Yet this has just happened to a Member of Parliament from the governing party of Venezuela, but the international press is mostly silent. International politicians have not wrung their hands with indignation or regret, as they have about the lawful incarceration of opposition leader Leopoldo López who publicly and repeatedly incited mobs to violence and caused has at least 47 deaths.

On Wednesday, October 1, 2014, Robert Serra, 27 years old, a lawyer and legislator from the governing party PSUV, the youngest Member of Parliament of Venezuela, and his partner Maria Herrera, were assassinated in their own home in a central area of Caracas.

It was an outrageous and deliberate act of terror. Robert Serra and María Herrera were tortured, stabbed and then bled to death. He specialized in criminology, and was engaged in the task of helping to curb crime in the country. María Herrera assisted him in this vital work. Robert Serra came from a poor family; his mother worked as a street hawker to help him go to law school. He was famous for his insightful interventions in parliament and was much beloved, some referred to him as “ a future Chávez”.

Their deaths were carried out systematically. Ernesto Samper, ex-president of Colombia and current president of UNASUR, said: “This crime is evidence of the infiltration of Colombian paramilitary in Venezuela.”

Just a few weeks ago, President Santos of Colombia deported to Venezuela a young man, Lorent Saleh, who had been meeting with paramilitaries in Colombia to conspire against the Venezuelan government. He appears in a video with Alvaro Uribe, ex-president of Colombia, who owes his political career to his connections to Escobar, the head of Colombian narco-traffic, and is accused by the Colombian Senate of being behind the proliferation of the paramilitary there. Saleh stated he was buying arms of war and contracting snipers and explosive experts because “they” were going to carry out selective assassination of 20 leaders of the Venezuelan government in order to bring it down. Then he said who “they” were: leaders of Venezuela’s opposition parties.

In Parliament, days before his assassination, Robert Serra had denounced -in no uncertain terms- the terrorist plans of Alvaro Uribe and Lorent Saleh.

The Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro has been under relentless and continuous attack since it was elected. It has been submitted to economic sabotage with contraband and withholding of food and goods, a deliberate campaign of false rumors, and three months of street violence to create the appearance of chaos and lack of governability. These subversive actions were deftly overcome by a government that stuck to the letter of the law, refused to take the bait of meeting violence with violence, and its call for peace included setting up negotiations with the opposition facilitated by ministers of neighboring countries. The Venezuelan people overwhelmingly repudiated the violent opposition tactics, and gave Mr. Maduro’s popularity an even larger boost.

In an attempt to produce “regime change”, violence has been intensified now to include assassinations. This was agreed upon in a meeting at Guadarrama, Spain at the end of June hosted by the Spanish spy agency CNI and the FAES – a think tank of the party Partido Popular of ex-president of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar. The USA’s CIA carries out the financing and training of the CNI, as Edward Snowdon has revealed.[i]

Two Venezuelan opposition leaders, Julio Borges and Ramon Muchacho, who were also behind the street violence, were present, and a video message from Maria Corina Machado was viewed. She could not be present as she is being investigated for her part in the street violence, which she enthusiastically led. Machado, as a standing member of Venezuela’s parliament, ignominiously accepted simultaneously the position of ambassador of Panama in order to address the OAS in 2014. According to the Constitution, she in effect, forfeited her condition of parliamentarian by representing a foreign government – and one, which at that time - was against Venezuela.

Machado, along with Lopez, instigated the street violence that cost so many deaths and millions in damages. Yet, holding such disdain for the rule of law, she was invited to the Canadian Council for the Americas to speak at the prestigious Canadian law firm of Cassel Brock and Blackwell last May. This was a clear example either of Canadian willful ignorance or connivance.

The imperial forces believe Venezuela’s oil is just too rich a prize to leave in the hands of its people. The sterling leadership that the country has shown in promoting the integration of Latin America for the purposes of solving its common social problems and to protect its natural resources is just unacceptable to the greed of multinationals, the United States, and their subservient allies who seem to think the petroleum is theirs to take.

The assassinations of Robert Serra and María Herrera, of Eliézer Otáiz head of Caracas Municipality 5 months ago, the killings during the street riots of last March that were led by paramilitary (not students as the world press stated) and the bombing death of district attorney Danilo Anderson ten years ago, as well as the hundreds of rural leaders that have been assassinated by paramilitary mercenaries hired by the large landowners, have only fed the determination of the Venezuelan people. They know that their Bolivarian government, no matter how besieged and no matter how big the problems, is a government on their side, not on the side of the powerful elites and their foreign owners that have never in Venezuelan history sided with the poor or the nation’s best interest.

As the crowds wound their slow way towards the cemetery where Robert Serra and María Herrera were to be buried, the ubiquitous cry that was heard at every step was: “Justice! Justice! We want justice!” The Venezuelan authorities dare not ignore this clamor.

María Páez Victor, Ph.D. is a Venezuelan born sociologist living in Canada.

[i]Carlos Fazio, “Violencia y terrorismo son ejes de la nueva fase de desetabilizacion subversive”, Resumen Latinoamericano, 2 octubre 2014, http://www.resumenlatinoamericano.org/

Pres. Nicolás Maduro speaks at U.N. on climate change

Change the system to preserve life on the planet
President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro
23 September 2014

...Delegation, heads of delegations…
We are here today in New York five years after the largest meeting of world leaders at the UN to discuss the main threat to human survival in this century which is climate change. That meeting was in Copenhagen, Denmark, where 119 heads of state and government were present, and I remember it well because I attended as Minister of Foreign Affairs accompanying our eternal leader Hugo Chávez, who, along with other leaders of the continent among them President Evo Morales, expressed clear and forceful positions representing the voice of our peoples.

Today, climate change continues with more devastating consequences each day, threatening the global destruction of life on the planet and, unfortunately, we still do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. The environmental crisis that we suffer today is defined by an alarming reality, and meanwhile, the factors that coalesce towards the destruction of the planet advance with acceleration and still we continue without taking the necessary measures of environmental control.

Nature abused by rich capitalist nations
Nature has been giving us clear signals of this grave state of affairs, but the powerful of this world only continue to abuse it systematically. This environmental crisis, the result of human actions, is part above all of the crisis of a model of a capitalist civilization, based on norms of production and consumption that are unsustainable, that produce inequality, injustice, poverty and the destruction of the planet. Capitalism has ignored during decades Nature’s capacity to withstand and to renew, the laws of thermodynamics and entropy. Within the logic of capitalism, economic growth is incompatible with the survival of the planet. The logic of capital exploitation is simply unsustainable.

Today, 20% of the richest countries of capitalism consume 84% of the world’s energy, polluting the planet and destroying its equilibrium. These polluting world powers have in two centuries impacted life in the planet, it is these powerful countries the ones that now want to hoist the banners of environmentalism in order to make more money with pollution by putting a price on emissions and exchange in financial terms, the right to pollute this world. We watch with astonishment how those who are principally responsible for climate change and its terrible consequences, do not have the minimum political will to stop and reverse an evil of planetary dimensions generated by the large economic and financial global corporations.

Human species at risk
It is necessary that we cast our memory back. It is now 22 years since George Bush Sr., at the cusp of the imperial arrogance of the unipolar Word, in Rio de Janerio said, quote; “Our lifestyle is not negotiable.” This was in response to those who were demanding concrete actions against climate change that year of 1992. As well, exactly 22 years ago, on 12th of June 1992 also from Rio de Janeiro, the Cuban and Latin-American Commander Fidel Castro stated: ”An important biological species is at risk of disappearing due to the quick and progressive eradication of its natural life conditions – humans.

Now we have to take consciousness that this problem, 22 years afterwards, has aggravated. If yesterday it was late, soon it will be too late – even if some may be displeased to be reminded of the most conservative scientific predictions, it is still necessary to say it here clearly. We cannot continue under a model of development that abuses drastically the conditions of human life and places in dangers the existence of future generations.

David Orr, professor of Oberlin College University and adviser to President Barack Obama said at the beginning of this year the following:” - “Even much before the climate crisis became the biggest failure of the market that the world has ever seen, it was an enormous political and governmental failure.” He was referring to the idea that was imposed during the 1980s of last century whereby the responsibilities of the state should be reduced to next to nothing and the course for capital and markets should be amplified to infinity.

Scenario of apathy, impotence concern and indolence
In view of this dark scenario made up of apathy, impotence, concern and indolence, it is more timely than ever to remember our Indo-American wisdom from South America that warns: “Only when the last tree has died, and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will you come to understand that you cannot eat money.”

This is the view of the so called industrialized world that is now being proposed that countries of the South should transition into with the so called green economy. These proposal of the industrialized countries not only go against the right to development that our countries have but also they want to masquerade the same capitalist formulas using the flags of the environmental and ecological movements.

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela confirms its commitment to advance holistic planning that considers the three fundamental pillars of ecological sustainable development with a concept of a social ecological economy.

Venezuela - 70% hydroelectricity
Venezuela today obtains 70% of its energy from hydroelectricity and has 60% of its territory under some administrative protection. More tan 222 protected areas preserve 58 million hectares of forests, including national parks, biosphere reserves and fauna reserves. The conservation of Venezuelan forests represents emission savings of 12,221 million tons of CO2 and has diminished the loss of forests today by more tan 50%.

Mr. President, Venezuela had the pleasure to receive in our country the PreCop social delegations; more tan 300 delegates from 135 organizations and social movements from 71 countries who approved the Margarita Declaration.

Mr. President, it is impossible to dodge the imminent danger, and we say this from Venezuela, of a climatic collapse that is already afoot. One of the most evident signs is the terrible phenomenon of climate change, which the great German thinker, Walter Benjamin, predicted as he referred to the domination of capital in the third decade of the 20th century.

Change the system to preserve life on the planet
How long are they going to continue to propose to us capitalist solutions of the old destructive model as answers to the gravest problems that have been created in the last 100 years? Can anyone believe, to give an eloquent example, that the transnational corporations can be converted from one day to the next to the protagonists of the saviours of the planet? Are those who turn human life and nature into merchandize going to accept commitments to change their logic in order to save the planet?

From our America, Mr. President, we stand up in protest and in indignation before those models that now are trying to call themselves “green economy”.

Mr. President, we are children of the Pachamama, and from South America we say: Let us look with respectful voices, with respectful eyes, for the changes to a model that is urgently needed by all humanity. We salute the convocation of this meeting on climate change and we repeat, as our Commander Chavez said in Copenhagen, let us listen to the voice of the street, the shouts of the people in Copenhagen five years ago still echo when they said: “If we want to change the climate, let us change the system.” Let us listen to the voices of the people that marched last Sunday in New York who said: “Action now! No more words!”

We at the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela commit to continue to defend the right of the people to change the system so that we can preserve life on the planet. Thank you very much dear friends.
This speech was translated by Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle - Cblriel - @sympatico.ca