The slogan “No Volveran” (they shall not return) has never been more urgent

Make no mistake: There is a media blockade against Venezuela

By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas

April 23rd 2017 - Venezuela is in flames. Or at least parts of it is.

Since April 4th, opposition militants have been carrying out targeted acts of violence, vandalism and arson, as well as deliberately clashing with security forces in an attempt to plunge the country into total chaos and forcefully remove the elected socialist government. It is the continuation of an 18 year effort to topple the Bolivarian revolution by any means necessary — although you may have seen it miraculously recast in the mainstream media as “promoting a return to democracy” in the country.

A catalogue of the violence over the last 18 days is shocking – schools have been ransacked, a Supreme Court building has been torched, an air force base attacked, while public transport, health and veterinary facilities have been destroyed. At least 23 people have been left dead, with many more injured. In one of the most shocking cases of right-wing violence, at around 10pm on April 20th, women, children and over 50 newborn babies had to be evacuated by the government from a public maternity hospital which came under attack from opposition gangs.

International media uncritically parrots the Venezuelan right-wing opposition

Anywhere else in the western world, this would have given way to horrified international and national calls for an end to the violence, and for the swift prosecution of those responsible – making it all the more scandalous that these incidents have at best been ignored, and at worst totally misrepresented by the international press. Instead, those tasked with providing the public with unbiased reporting on international affairs have opted to uncritically parrot the Venezuelan opposition’s claims that the elected government is violently repressing peaceful protests, and holding it responsible for all deaths in connection with the demonstrations so far.

Let's set the record straight

This narrative cannot be described as even a remotely accurate interpretation of the facts, and so it is important to set the record straight.

To date, three people (two protesters and one bystander) have been killed by state security personnel, who were promptly arrested and in two cases indicted.

A further five people have been directly killed by opposition protesters, while one person has died as an indirect result of the opposition roadblocks in Caracas (Ricarda Gonzalez, 89, who suffered from a CVA and was prevented from getting to a hospital).

Five people have been shot in separate incidents near protests but under unclear circumstances. One of these victims was shot by an alleged opposition supporter from a high rise building, although the perpetrator’s political affiliation is yet to be confirmed.

Nine protesters appear to have died as a result of their own actions (at least nine were electrocuted in the recent looting of a bakery).

The Bolivarian government is not responsible for the majority of deaths

A cursory look at the reality reveals that the government is clearly not responsible for the majority of these deaths. However, to paraphrase a remark recently made by Venezuelan author Jose Roberto Duque, the “truth has suddenly become useless”.

The media has failed to go into too much detail surrounding the exact circumstances of these deaths; precisely because the truth presents a serious obstacle to their narrative that all these people were killed during pro-democracy peaceful protests at the repressive hands of the authoritarian regime. This narrative isn’t just overly simplistic; it distorts the reality on the ground and misinforms international audiences.
Take this deliberately misleading paragraph from an article written by Nicholas Casey, the New York Time’s latest propaganda writer for the opposition.

“Protesters demanding elections and a return to democratic rule jammed the streets of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities on Wednesday. National Guard troops and government-aligned militias beat crowds back with tear gas, rubber bullets and other weapons, and at least three people were killed, according to human rights groups and news reports.”

Casey opted to omit the fact that none of those three deaths has so far been attributed to security forces, and one of the victims was an army sergeant killed by protesters themselves. Moreover, those on the receiving end of the “tear gas and rubber bullets” are not quite the “peaceful protesters” he so disingenuously implies. Anyone in the east of the city on April 19th, when both opposition and pro-government forces marched, could see how opposition supporters gathered in total freedom in Plaza Francia in Altamira, even buying anti-government t-shirts, caps, and purchasing ice-creams, and were able to march along the main highway linking the east of the city to the west.

Police “repression” has occurred in two specific scenarios

Firstly, when opposition gangs have set-up burning barricades and carried out violent acts of vandalism on the streets, including the targeting of public institutions – actions deliberately aimed at provoking photo-op worthy clashes with security forces. In the second instance, it has occurred when opposition marchers have attempted to cross a police line blocking them from getting to the working class municipality of El Libertador in the west of the city – where government support is traditionally concentrated. Again, this action is a deliberate attempt to provoke clashes with security forces and their supporters by the opposition, who are well aware that they have not been granted permission to march into El Libertador since a short-lived opposition-led coup in 2002, triggered by an anti-government march diverted towards Miraflores Presidential Palace in the west that left 19 dead by opposition sniper-fire.

It is hard to see how the police would not respond to these violent actions in a similar way, or even more violently, in the rest of the world. I can only imagine what would happen if armed and violent protesters consistently tried to march on the White House in Washington, or on No. 10 Downing Street in London. What if they assaulted police lines outside the White House, or attacked hospitals and looted businesses in London? Not only would they not be granted permission to continue, but protesters would most likely be shot, or end up in jail under anti-terrorism legislation for a very long time. But in Venezuela, the opposition can rely on its carte blanche from the mainstream press as its get out of jail card.

Attempts at a coup are repeat of 2002 against Chavez

Needless to say, details of the undemocratic actions of opposition leaders and their supporters – ranging from these latest attacks to support for a violent coup in 2002 – are glaringly absent from virtually all news reports. This is despite the fact that the opposition’s current protest leaders – Julio Borges, Henrique Capriles Radonski, Henry Ramos Allup and Leopoldo Lopez – were active players in the 2002 coup.
The above article by Casey is a patent attempt to mislead the public over the dynamic on the ground in Venezuela. But unfortunately this is not just a case of one isolated news agency. The UK’s Guardian, for instance, provided its readers with an image gallery of the opposition’s April 19th march and “ensuing violence”, but failed to acknowledge that a pro-government march of similar size, if not greater, was also held the same day. They simply erased the actions of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. Whichever news agency you check, be it the BBC, the Washington Post, CNN, or any other corporate outlet, you will find the same, uniform consensus in their Venezuela coverage. There are no words to describe this state of affairs other than a total media blockade.

2014 attempted coup to force exit of President Maduro

The last time the country witnessed unrest on this scale was in 2014, when opposition militants again unsuccessfully tried to force the “exit” of President Nicolas Maduro using similar tactics, leading to the deaths of 43 people. The majority of those victims were innocent passersby caught in the violence or state security personnel, who were given the somewhat impossible task (just like today) of somehow refraining from responding with violence to people who are deliberately trying to provoke, maim and kill them.

While protests in 2014 were a response to violent unrest headed by the country’s right-wing student movement, this year’s commenced at the beginning of April after the Supreme Court issued a ruling granting the court temporary powers to assume the legislative functions of the National Assembly. It came in response to the Venezuelan parliament having been declared “in contempt of court” for more than six months, after the opposition refused to remove three of its lawmakers under investigation for electoral fraud in violation of a Supreme Court order. This is much like the current legal case hanging over the thirty Conservative MPs in the UK. The only difference in Venezuela is that the legislators were suspended from being sworn into parliament pending the results of the investigations. The opposition immediately hit out at the ruling, declaring it an attempted “coup” by the government that had come out of nowhere. The media swallowed this version of events hook, line and sinker. Although the ruling was overturned almost straightaway, the opposition took to the streets denouncing a “rupture of the constitutional order”.

This soon morphed into a hodgepodge of ultimatums which have dominated the opposition’s agenda since it won control of the country’s National Assembly (one of the five branches of the Venezuelan government) in December 2015, promising to have deposed the national government “within six months” – something beyond the power of Venezuela’s legislative branch. These demands include the release of what they call “political prisoners”, the opening-up of a “humanitarian channel” for receiving international aid and, most importantly, immediate regional and general elections. The street protests were an unmissable opportunity for the opposition, which was suffering from steadily decreasing popularity following an entire year of having squandered its legislative majority in parliament.

Right-wing opposition ravages country to crush democratic process

Evidently, long term strategy is not the opposition’s strong point. History testifies to the fact that they tend to go for maximum amount of damage in the minimum amount of time, no matter the cost. This brings us to why this kind of violence, which has been employed several times throughout the last 18 years by Venezuela’s well-seasoned opposition, is once again happening at this moment. If the government is so unpopular, as the opposition claims it is, why not just wait for the presidential elections in 2018 for their time to shine?
At this point it should be clear that the opposition’s only goal, far from promoting a “return” to democracy, is to step right over it. They want to remove the elected government more than a year ahead of scheduled elections. But they don’t want to stop there. As one opposition marcher told me on Wednesday: “Get your stuff together Maduro, because you’re going to jail”. The opposition’s goal is the total annihilation of Chavismo.
Whatever the government’s many errors and faults over the past four years under the leadership of Nicolas Maduro, progressives across the globe have an obligation to defend it against the opposition's onslaught and the international media's blockade. The alternative is the same savage neoliberalism - currently being mercilessly unleashed by Brazil’s unelected government - which previously squeezed blood from the entire continent throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

The slogan “No Volveran” (they shall not return) has never been more urgent.
Printed in Venezuelanalysis.com

Right-wing opposition has no vision beyond violence

Ninety percent of Venezuelans reject violent protests, according to Venezuelan polling firm Hinterlaces

Mainstream media outlets covering ongoing political unrest in Venezuela portray right-wing opposition protesters as peace-loving progressives who want to democratize their country.

74 Percent of Venezuelans Don’t Trust the Opposition: Survey

Turning a blind eye to their ongoing violence, these outlets paint a rose-colored picture of what Venezuela would look like if the opposition took power.

But for Oscar Schemel, president of independent Venezuelan polling firm Hinterlaces, the right-wing opposition has no vision beyond violence.

“Standing before a country that demands answers and solutions, the opposition isn’t presenting any proposal other than ‘get rid of (President Nicolas) Maduro now,’” Schemel wrote in a recent editorial. “It’s the same thing they tried with Chavez, and it didn’t work at all.”

Earlier this month, Hinterlaces conducted polls across Venezuela, asking residents about their thoughts on the Bolivarian Revolution, the opposition and rising tensions between both parties. Here’s what they found:

- 6 percent approve international intervention to remove Maduro from power.
- 87 percent disapprove of any international military intervention in Venezuela.
- 90 percent reject violent right-wing protests.
- 83 percent are in favor of dialogue.
- 67 percent think the priority of this dialogue should be to resolve the country’s economic problems.

Hinterlaces’ findings echo polls conducted by Venezuelan polling organization Meganalisis, which released a study last month revealing that 74.3 percent of Venezuelans don’t trust the country’s right-wing opposition.
“From the National Assembly a series of expectations were created that unfortunately were not fulfilled,” Venezuelan political scientist Jose Vicente Carrasquero said about Meganalisis’ survey, El Nuevo Heraldo reports.

Carrasquero referenced the promises made by the opposition-controlled National Assembly to reverse socialist legislation.

What Everybody Needs to Know About Venezuela Protest

Since winning a majority in the National Assembly during Venezuela’s 2015 parliamentary elections, right-wing opposition lawmakers have been scrambling to preserve legitimacy.

Not only is there ideological infighting between the right-wing opposition known as MUD’s centrist Popular Will and right-wing Justice First parties, but the opposition lawmakers have also been accused of filibustering and blocking progressive legislation proposed by the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

For these reasons, Schemel believes the opposition would have tremendous challenges governing Venezuela if they were to take power.

“For the national and international ultra-right, they aren’t proposing coexistence or alternation (of political power), let alone consensus,” Schemel also wrote in his editorial.

“On the contrary, they (the right-wing opposition) are engaged in a strategy of creating chaos and neurosis across Venezuelan society, to destroy Chavismo, reconfigure the national-popular culture and impose despair (on the people).”

http://bit.ly/2oDqbjN

Venezuela wins a battle against the Organization of American States (OAS)

Statement from the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity


March 27 and 28 2017 will be days remembered in history because of the battle waged by Bolivarian Venezuela at the Organization of American States (OAS) in defense of their dignity and sovereignty.

Since its establishment the nefarious Organization of American States (OAS) has conspired against the independence of the people of Latin America. Through its legacy of interventions and coups and because of its silence and shady complicity, the OAS is also responsible for the crimes, disappearances and torture of more than 250,000 Latin Americans.

And now the OAS allows Luis Almagro, a mediocre agent of Washington, to function as its Secretary. The same individual who stood by rightist Marco Rubio this week as he threatened to remove U.S. assistance to the Dominican Republic, Haiti and El Salvador if they did not vote for the suspension of Venezuela from the OAS. What does it say about this organization that allows someone to hold the position of "Secretary" who is lacking in morals, ethics and respect for the sovereign will of a people and stoops so low as to label their democratically elected leader, President Nicolas Maduro, a "dictator"?

For the last two years the OAS has conspired to expedite an intervention into this member state in open violation of its own founding statutes - all against a country that has had the audacity of wanting to build its own destiny in peace.

But they could not deal with the strength of Venezuela. Neither the conspiracies, nor the pressures, nor their spurious meetings and right-wing regional and international forums could they make this happen. Even as the rivers of ink flowed in the media with such urgency trying to make the world believe, and seek its endorsement, that there should be an end to the government of Maduro. This push is not just about undoing the work and legacy of the beloved Commander Hugo Chavez but is to fulfill its main goal of breaking up the unity of Community Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and expedite the imperial intervention into the region.

History will not forget the words of Venezuela's brave Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez (whose socialist father was assassinated by the police in 1976). Rodriguez at the OAS headquarters in Washington DC articulated the unconditional defense of the sovereignty of her homeland by denouncing the crimes being carried out by the OAS and also disclosed the subservient role of OAS chief Luis Almagro as he sat nearby. The honesty and frankness of her speech was given on behalf of all the people of Latin America and contained all the truth, reason and justice for which so many have given their lives.

Unfortunately the governments who respond to this type of pressure fill their mouths with talk about human rights but at the same time blatantly violate them daily in their own countries. Shame on them, they will not only be forgotten but are also taking the risk of being swept away sooner rather than later by their own people.

But this time every reactionary maneuver failed against truth and dignity and no vote was taken and the application of the Democratic Charter could not be invoked on behalf of the imperial roadmap. This has been a defeat for imperialism with the side effect of discrediting the OAS and its sniveling servile agent, Luis Almagro.

What carried the day was the dignity of the small countries of the Caribbean, painfully poor as Haiti is it took a stand, and the Dominican Republic who remembers the OAS support for the 1965 invasion of their country stood strong as well. The FMLN led El Salvador also supported Venezuela along with Dominica and others.

Today for a moment we should celebrate this triumph of dignity and human decency.

While Washington and its lackeys of the OAS plan new tricks, we should always remember the words of Che Guevara when he said: "You can't trust imperialism, not even a little bit."

Compañeros we cannot lower our guard. Let's use all avenues at our disposal to denounce the interference of the regional right, imperialism, and its servants like Luis Almagro and Marco Rubio. We must denounce them constantly. #AlmagroAgenteImperial

@Almagro_OEA2015

Let's continue generating written materials, op-eds, and systematic work on social networks. We must defend and support the mobilizations in the streets of the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela, we must defend the Cuban Revolution and all of the achievements of the people of Latin America.

Venezuela is not alone! Venezuela has to be respected!

International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity, March 29, 2017

Working to Reverse Damage Done by Capitalist Patriarchy

by Maria Eugenia Acero and Rachel Boothroyd-Rojas

On International Working Women’s Day, Venezuelanalysis had the opportunity to put three questions to Maria Eugenia Acero Colomines, National Coordinator for Culture and Gender at the Venezuelan Ministry for Women and Gender Equality.

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In celebration of the historic date, the symbolic remains of three Afro-Venezuelan and indigenous women: Apacuana, Matea Bolivar and Hipolita Bolivar, were inducted into the National Pantheon of Heroes in Caracas. As an indigenous leader of the Quiriquire, Jefa Apacuana led a rebellion against Spanish occupying forces in the mid 1500s, while La Negra Hipolita, otherwise known as Hipolita Bolivar, and La Negra Matea or Matea Bolivar were born into slavery and assigned to care for legendary Venezuelan independence hero Simon Bolivar as his wet nurse and nanny, respectively.

The move brings the total number of women included in the Pantheon to nine, a figure which has tripled since the Bolivarian Revolution came to power in 1999.

Why are you marching today?

I am here first of all because this is an historic act, that two Black enslaved women and an indigenous woman are receiving state recognition. Matea and Hipolita were slaves and Simon Bolivar liberated them, and despite that they were scorned until the end of their days. Hipolita Bolivar, who was practically Bolivar’s mother, was mocked until the end of her life, not just for being a woman and also Black, but because she was part of the Bolivar family. This was also the case for Matea. Apacuana was a shaman, a woman of medicine and knowledge, as well as a warrior. So that’s why I am here, because this is a symbolic tribute, because racism still exists and discrimination against women still exists and we continue to be undervalued. We are in a country where there is a Ministry for Women, that doesn’t exist in the rest of the world, and which is working to reverse all of the damage that the capitalist patriarchy has done to us, which treats us as if we were subhuman. So that is why I am here, and the significance of today.

What is the greatest challenge facing Venezuelan women at the present moment?

To value themselves. To value themselves above and beyond the stereotypes which the media impose on us. The beauty pageants, the soap operas, which attempt to trap women into an unreal aesthetic standard. The Bolivarian government has promoted laws which empower (women) which are delivering justice in cases of femicide and gender-based murders, something which does not exist in many other parts of the world. The challenge for women today is to be aware of these laws and rights and to educate and empower themselves, as well as to liberate themselves. To liberate themselves mentally from the mountain of chains that have entrapped us all, men as well as women. The other challenge for women is to educate men and to create new masculinities that do not repeat patterns of mistreatment, abuse and ridicule towards women. That is our challenge, for women as well as men, and also to recognize sexual diversity, to which we are giving increasing importance.

And this is the work that you are carrying out at the Ministry of Women and Gender Equality? Can you give me a specific example?

Yes, of course. I belong to the Vice-Ministry for the Protection of Women, and there we are promoting a care programme aimed at building co-responsibility so that men and the wider community also care for children, the elderly and people with disabilities, not just women. Historically and socially it is believed that women are the ones who must carry out this kind of work, but social groups as a whole, the state and men must also assume the responsibility.


There is also the program which I am promoting which is a culture and gender program aimed at universalizing values, you could say feminist values, but they are values based on equality and respect towards women. Because we are bombarded by messages in the media which reinforce disturbing gender roles and which lead to dysfunctional intimate and family relations. And so this programme is aimed at building a cultural counter-hegemony (to that) and to visibilise another type of values to those found in fairytales, about princes and princesses, which show that children can have a happy ending which is different, that children can progress and create another reality, create community and a homeland. This is what we are doing.

How the Bolivarian revolution is being defended by the working class

Interview with Carlos López, Secretary General of the Bolivarian Socialist Workers’ Federation of Venezuela

by María Torrellas

Carlos López, current Secretary General of the Bolivarian Socialist Workers’ Central of Venezuela, visited Argentina in the framework of a tour with other union and social movement leaders of the region. In the talk he gave in the Venezuelan Embassy, López explained the situation of his country and how the Bolivarian revolution is being defended by the working class.

How is the Venezuelan working class defending itself from all the right-wing attacks, both on the economical and ideological levels?

In Venezuela there’s an economic war being waged against the Bolivarian Revolution. It goes beyond what can be seen in the media, which are the queues to buy food. On one hand, the U.S. empire influenced a drop in the prices of oil worldwide, which was a severe blow to several world economies such as Russia, Iran and Venezuela. The drop in the price of oil created a very difficult situation for our country, because we strongly depend on oil trade. But Venezuela is a country with many resources and many capabilities, and this economic war has led us to strengthen the struggles of the working class.


Our working class has awakened in the last three and a half years since our Workers’ Federation was created. The union has taken a huge step to give priority to the political struggle and the struggle for productive economy. That is the basis for the stability of all the social benefits we have secured with the Bolivarian Revolution.

The great challenge before the working class is to take that productive leaps and guarantee that workers aren’t used by the counter-revolutionary opposition. Throughout the three years of Nicolás Maduro’s government, the working class has remained united and stood by the Bolivarian Revolution. We have followed the legacy of Commander Hugo Chavez, and shared his conviction that the revolution must continue to be socialist.

The Bolivarian Revolution granted rights to all workers through the Organic Law of Labour and Workers. This law protects workers in ways that are enviable by workers in many countries in the world. Workers in Venezuela enjoy full job stability, protection of the unions, protection to working mothers and fathers, and lactating women. These benefits are part of the Constitution and the Law. Our working class is aware of that, and that’s why they haven’t fallen into the traps nor the provocations of the right wing.

There have been attempts to recover factories so that workers can manage them, and there has even been talk about nationalizing companies that speculate with food supply. What’s the status of these initiatives?

There are companies under control of workers that are currently productive and prosperous. Some companies of the bourgeoisie left their factories as practically rubbish when they abandoned them. When workers seized control of them to keep their jobs, they had great difficulties in running them. The right-wing propaganda began immediately to say that factories run by the working class aren’t productive.

True, they aren’t productive yet — they abandoned them with old machinery, in a state of unproductivity, and nevertheless we have been rebuilding them and putting them in shape to produce. Now there’s a great opportunity to occupy, if necessary, private companies that lower or cease their production, or that lay off workers, or that hide their production. Expropriation is an extreme measure that will be applied only if needed. But it’s simply to occupy them to guarantee that they continue to be productive and that workers can keep their jobs and that goods reach the entire population.

Are you also working with the Communes?

Of course. In Venezuela there’s a new type of economy, which is still small but with a huge potential to break with productive monopolies — it’s the communal economy. We have a Commune Ministry and an Urban Agriculture Ministry, for family agriculture. So we have two ministries dedicated to small and middle-sized production and that’s a huge step because big transnational and national companies that monopolize food production are dropping their productiion and hiding the goods. So, the people will be in charge of producing and distributing what they need.

Do women in Venezuela earn as much as men?

Of course. There’s no discrimination, salary is the same for women and men, and working conditions are equal. We know that some private companies try to break the law, but the Ministry of Work is ruthless in guaranteeing women’s right to work. Besides, workers that are lactating have two hours to breastfeed at work or to go home earlier, and a 26-week maternity leave, to be granted before and after the birth.


What’s the working class willing to do in order to defend the revolutionary process?

The working class is being tested by this difficult time of economic war and shortages, but the response has been positive — it has strengthened the process of politicization. We have even said that, if what happened in Brazil with president Dilma Rousseff had happened in Venezuela, the entire country would be up in flames. We won’t allow an overthrowing of Nicolás Maduro.

Our main goal is to organize workers, and for that, union leaders have to be directing companies to guarantee that rights are fulfilled and each person must be familiar with all aspects of the functioning of factories so that they can’t be stopped by boycotts or attempts to destabilize them. If Nicolás Maduro were to be deposed, the working class will immediately declare an indefinite general strike throughout the entire country. We won’t wait a month or two. That very day, the entire economy would be stopped until the President returned.

Has the union grown? Because it wasn’t majoritary at first.

The Bolivarian Central is the largest union. It organizes over 60 percent of the unionized workers. It has the most important federations of the economy: oil, electricity, telecommunications, steel and aluminum, railways. In the public sector (higher education and health) we compete with an opposing federation. Thirty percent of workers in Venezuela are not members of any union. We must still reach out to them, but we’re in the majority. In an extreme situation, we’d be able to stop production.

Last Workers’ Day, Nicolás Maduro raised the wages once again. Tell us about the conquests that the working class has had in the Bolivarian Revolution. Despite the economic crisis, the wage increases have not ceased.

If I remember correctly, there has been a 25% increase in wages in these last 17 years of revolution. But we don’t have to be blinded by this, because there is much speculation and one of the ways to confront speculation and the drop in the real value of salary is the increase of minimum wages. What we need is to end speculation and inflation. This is the great challenge we are facing right now, and for that we need to increase productivity.



For every dollar that comes into the country thanks to our exports, there are four possible destinations: to keep jobs, to increase wages, to fund the Social Missions (housing, health, education, food, etc) and productive investments. We’re very interested in investing in other areas so as to avoid depending so much on oil.

What message would you give to the Argentine working class and social movements?

To the Latin American working class as a whole, I would say that the only way to confront and defeat the new neoliberal offensive of the right, which originates in the empire, is struggle, protest and taking to the streets. We believe that Brazil has to take to the streets to bring Dilma Rousseff back. We in Venezuela are out on the streets night and day since President Maduro began to be threatened by the national and international right.

We hope there’s a massive response in the continent to stop and defeat the onslaught of the right.