Venezuela's Chavistas register highest vote since 2012 in Constituent Assembly election

The National Constituent Assembly elected in Venezuela yesterday with the sole support of the Chavistas registered more than 8 million votes, or 41.53% of the electorate.

This was substantially more than the 7 million votes for Nicolás Maduro in the 2013 presidential elections and much more than the 5.5 million votes for the Chavista coalition in the 2015 legislative elections, when the opposition won 7.7 million votes largely thanks to the abstention of some two million former Chavista supporters. The country’s opposition parties, currently in control of the National Assembly, boycotted the election.

Among the 545 constituentes elected were First Lady Cilia Flores, the first Vice-President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) Diosdado Cabello, and the former foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez. The results were announced by the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE) Tibisay Lucena around midnight last night. So many Venezuelans lined up to vote that the electoral process was extended to 10:30 p.m.

The newly elected Constituent Assembly is made up of 364 members elected by territorial constituency -- one per municipality, two per state capital and seven per Capital District (Caracas) -- and 181 according to social or class sector (24 students, 8 peasants and fishers, 5 business people, 5 disabled, 28 pensioners, 24 communal council representatives, 79 workers and 8 indigenous (the latter to be elected this Tuesday in assemblies to be held in three states).

The National Constituent Assembly (ANC) will begin sitting 72 hours after the official declaration of those elected. Maduro has indicated that it will be tasked with reforms of the economic and justice systems, reaffirmation of the pluricultural character of the country, the “preservation of life on the planet, “and the constitutional recognition of the all the government social and cultural missions and the Communal Power. In popular assemblies held throughout the country during the three months prior to yesterday’s vote some 22 sectors and social movements (communes, workers, cultural and environmental collectives, etc.) debated and adopted proposals for action by the ANC.

Maduro, in his victory speech last night, said the ANC will, among other tasks, take action against the "parasitical bourgeoisie," largely held responsible for the country's current economic crisis. (La Razo, Crore del Orinoco.)

For more on the election and the immediate tasks facing the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, see

George Ciccariello-Maher, Which Way Out of the Venezuelan Crisis?
Joe Emersberger, Trump Is Not the Venezuelan Supreme Court
Boaventura de Sousa Santos, In Defence of Venezuela

http://tinyurl.com/y8ycykz3

Venezuela is not alone: To U.S. and Canada - Hands off!

Former Ambassador Julio Escalona said that some of the diplomatic tactics currently being used against Venezuela mirror those used against Libya. He said that U.S. aggression against the South American country is precluded by worldwide support for the Bolivarian Revolution.

Venezuela Opposition Attacks Nursery at VTV, Forcing Evacuation


During an interview with VTV, Escalona said that Venezuela holds important positions in international organizations and enjoys warm relations with most countries, debunking claims that it is a rogue nation.

“It is false that Venezuela is isolated,” Escalona said. “It was impossible to defeat Venezuela in the Organization of American States (OAS) because Venezuela chairs the Non-Aligned Movement.”

Escalona also raised Venezuela’s work alongside for important U.N. institutions, such as the Human Rights Council, the Security Council and the Decolonization Commision. He added that some of the diplomatic tactics currently being used against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro mirror those used against murdered Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“They are applying here, in some sense, the Libyan model. They succeeded in having the Arab League condemn Libya, they managed to isolate it diplomatically. Once isolated, it took to the Security Council and condemned Libya. That is what they wanted in Venezuela,” Escalona said.

“They wanted the OAS to condemn Venezuela to then apply everything that has the imperial plan and that is why they invented the plebiscite, the so-called popular consultation.”

Escalona, however, reaffirmed that the United States has not been able to attack Venezuela in the same way because it is not isolated internationally.

Russia, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ecuador, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and several other countries have commissioned support for Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution against U.S. aggression. They have also condemned U.S.-backed right-wing protests in Venezuela, which have since claimed at least 95 lives.

Long live the Bolivarian revolution!

http://www.thedawn-news.org/2017/07/23/venezuela-heart-of-our-america-the-constituent-assembly-is-beating/

What Is at Stake Is the Fate of Venezuela's Revolutionary Democratic Experiment

Venezuela: ‘Our revolutionary democratic experience is at stake'

Interview of Iturriza by: Federico Fuentes
Published 3 July 2017

Revolutionary activist and sociologist Reinaldo Iturriza has spent many years working with popular movements in Venezuela and writing on the rise of Chavismo as a political movement of the poor. He also served as Minister for the Communes and Social Movements, and then Minister for Culture in President Nicolas Maduro’s cabinet between 2013 and 2016.

Over 30 Indigenous Delegates Nominated to Venezuela Constituent Assembly So Far

Together with activists from a range of grassroots revolutionary organisations and social movements, he is standing as a candidate for the Popular Constituent Platform in the July 30 elections for a Constituent Assembly that will seek to find a political way out of the current turmoil gripping Venezuela through the drafting of a new constitution.

Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes interviewed Iturriza to gets his views on the current challenges facing Chavismo and the proposed Constituent Assembly.

Federico Fuentes: How would you characterise the current political and economic situation in Venezuela?

Reinaldo Iturriza: The political and economic situation in Venezuela today is the most difficult one we have faced since 1999, the year in which Hugo Chavez assumed the presidency. This situation is occurring within a global economic context, which of course partially explains what is happening: the drop in the prices of raw materials, and in Venezuela’ case the fall in oil prices.

But there are many other important factors, because what is at stake is not simply control over Venezuela’s natural resources, but the meaning, the reach, the influence even of Venezuela’s revolutionary democratic experiment.

What is at stake is Chavismo’s political capital, and that explains why, together with the brutal attacks on the economy and the new wave of street violence that began on April 1, we have seen attacks on the republic being made in the name of Chavez, such as Attorney General [Luisa Ortega] has done, as well as some ex-ministers, almost all of whom are conspiring with the right to overthrow the constitutional president, Nicolas Maduro.

This anti-Chavismo has not been able to, and will not be able to convert itself into a viable political reference point for the majority of the population. Its class origins and the content of its governing program, which is neoliberal and radically anti-people, impede this. That is why its efforts have been centred on demobilising the people, demobilising and demoralising.

The boycott against the national economy, which economist Pasqualina Curcio has explained very well in her book The Invisible Hand of the Market, seeks to not only create discontent, but to demoralise what is a very politicized populace.

Anti-Chavista violence, that contrary to what the immense majority of the media say has left a trail of deaths in which a majority of the victims have been people who were not participating in any protest, has been aimed against public infrastructure in general: schools, hospitals, popular markets, food shortage deposits, electricity infrastructure, public transport, government institutions, etc.

It has also expressed itself in the form of hate crimes (lynchings in public places of people “suspected” of being Chavista) and attacks on military bases. This has produced an important degradation of public life.

Lastly, the discourse according to which Nicolas Maduro has “betrayed the legacy of Chavez” clearly seeks to sow confusion, disorientation or at the very minimum doubt in the minds of the people. The most rancid sector of the anti-Chavista political class has even gone as far as to express its “concern” for the legacy of Chavez. The objective is to defeat Chavismo by attacking its material, spiritual and symbolic bases.

Federico Fuentes: What has been the response of grassroots Chavismo and the people in general to this situation?

Reinaldo Iturriza: The issue that has had the most lasting effects, and is without a doubt the principal concern of the majority of the population, is the whole range of brutal aggressions that have been carried out against the economy, the induced shortages and inflation as a consequence of the manipulation of the illegal exchange rate that has occurred.

The political correlative of these aggressions has been a popular retreat from public spaces, from spaces for participation. In general, Chavismo continues to be the principal political force in the country. The principal political minority, to be more precise.

Grassroots Chavismo, the most militant sector, has been particularly hit hard materially, it is sitting back, waiting, and much like the majority of the population shares a generalised rejection towards the political class, but continues to support Maduro.

Federico Fuentes: The government has proposed elections for a Constituent Assembly. As a candidate in these elections, how do you view the proposal and what fundamental task must the Constituent Assembly confront?

Reinaldo Iturriza: I agree with the political arguments that President Maduro has made in explaining his call for a Constituent Assembly. He is attempting to find a political way out of a conflict that everyday seems to be heading in the direction of a resolution by force.

The express, public objective of the anti-Chavista political class is to generate a situation of ungovernability. The president is trying to create some minimal conditions in which it can govern in peace. He is not interested in perpetuating himself in power, as the right-wing propaganda campaign claims.

Federico Fuentes: What can you tell us about the Popular Constituent Platform?

Reinaldo Iturriza: The platform is a space in which some of the movements and organisations that in 2011 participated in Chavez’s initiative to create a Great Patriotic Pole have come together. These include the Urban Poor Movements (Movimientos de Pobladores), the Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current (CRBZ, Corriente Revolucionaria Bolívar y Zamora), the National Network of Commune Activists (Red Nacional de Comuneros), and comrades from feminist, sex-gender diversity, and student movements, among others.

Only Venezuela's Electoral Body Can Organize Elections: Maduro

Beyond the immediate issue of the elections, we believe it is strategically important to combine efforts in the construction of reference points for popular unity. This phenomenon of a retreat from politics that I referred to before is in part caused by a severe crisis of political mediation.

The most advanced initiatives in popular organisation, of popular self-government, are not necessary the result of the work of the party. In fact, in many places, the party bureaucracy puts obstacles in the way of these initiatives.

So we have these dispersed experiences throughout the country, but lack the necessary connections between them. And achieving basic levels of connections and unity is vital for guaranteeing the continuity of the revolutionary process.

This article originally appeared in Green Left Weekly.

Venezuela asserts that Black Lives matter

by Andrew King

Since 1999, the Bolivarian Revolution has empowered poor people of African descent

The Venezuelan opposition has enjoyed the unconditional support of the U.S. government and mass media -- conservative and liberal pundits alike -- who simultaneously demonize and undermine the nation's democratically elected government as a brutal dictatorship while portraying the U.S.-funded and often violent opposition as peaceful, pro-democracy, anti-government protesters.
It is true that the current economic situation in Venezuela is quite dire; the nation is currently experiencing a triple digit inflation rate, and Venezuelans often face long lines to purchase basic commodities. While these challenges are due to a complex array of factors, including an economic war waged against the country along with the plummeting price of oil, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and Fox News alike use an endless barrage of crisis imagery to turn public opinion against Venezuela's government in order to destabilize and ultimately overthrow the socialist administration.

While the mainstream media tend to seek out stories that demonize Maduro's government and glorify the anti-government demonstrators, they do not show the true character of Venezuela's opposition movement nor shed light as to why they oppose the government. Indeed, many dozens of people, including government workers, have been killed in recent years due to the actions of violent right-wing protesters. Powerful media outlets conveniently gloss over what should be headline stories, such as that of Afro-Venezuelan Orlando Figuera. On May 20, the 21-year-old was walking through the government opposition stronghold of Chacao in Caracas when a group of masked anti-government "protesters" accused Figuera of being a government supporter. The mob proceeded to surround Figuera, stab him six times, douse him in gasoline and set him on fire.

The young man died later at the hospital. President Nicolas Maduro called this the symbol of hate crimes in Venezuela, noting the racist character of this lynching of a Black Venezuelan. He is the ninth person to be killed at opposition barricades since the violent protests erupted in early April. The same powerful media outlets that routinely decry human rights abuses by Venezuela's government remain largely silent about such racist acts of terrorism by the right-wing opposition.
It is important to note that while the vitriolic right-wing government opposition is concentrated among the white and economically elite elements of the population, the barrios, shanty towns and rural areas that are home to the poor, Indigenous communities and the Afro-Venezuelans have not erupted into protest for the most part because they support the government. In order to understand the roots of the elite opposition's hate and racism toward Black and Indigenous government supporters, one has to understand the history of the presidency that preceded Maduro's -- that of Hugo Chavez.

Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution
Decades of failed neoliberal policies and government repression set the stage for Chavez's democratic election in 1998. After taking office, the Chavez government launched a vigorous campaign to combat poverty and social exclusion by redistributing the nation's vast oil wealth to the poor, Indigenous and Afro-Venezuelan sectors of the population. Chavez called this movement against U.S. neoliberal hegemony the "Bolivarian revolution," inspired by the 19th-century South American independence hero Simón Bolívar. According to Chavez, the ultimate goal of this revolution was to build a 21st-century socialism from below that would be led by the poor, women, Indigenous people and Afro-Venezuelans.

One of the central goals of Venezuela's revolutionary project has been to combat the historical legacy of racism against Indigenous and Afro-Venezuelans. The new constitution created under Chavez advanced the social, cultural and economic rights of Indigenous peoples, Afro-Venezuelans and women, including the recognition of intercultural education. Chavez was the first president in the Americas to openly acknowledge and embrace his Indigenous and African heritage. The privately owned Venezuelan media often referred to him with racist slurs. In 2005, Chávez declared that, "hate against me has a lot to do with racism. Because of my big mouth and curly hair. And I'm so proud to have this mouth and this hair, because it is African." That same year, Chávez created the Presidential Commission for the Prevention and Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination in the Venezuelan Educational System.

Caribbean People do not Need Instruction from US on Venezuela Crisis
The Chavez government used the country's oil wealth to increase social spending and developed revolutionary programs known as "social missions," which have resulted in tremendous social gains for the country's poor and socially excluded sectors, many of which are of African or Indigenous descent. By 2010, government programs had cut poverty in half and extreme poverty was reduced by two-thirds. In 2005, the UN declared the country illiteracy free, after 1.5 million Venezuelans were taught to read and write.

Thousands of Cuban doctors and health professionals were brought in to the country's poor and rural communities, providing millions of citizens with unprecedented access to free health care. Through this program, more than 6,000 community health clinics have been built and millions of free consultations conducted. Other achievements include a massive public housing program that has built over a million housing units since its inception; the redistribution of thousands of communal land titles to Indigenous communities; and a democratization of the media through an explosion of community radio and television stations.

The South American nation strengthened its commitment to Black lives in 2011 when it passed a historic law banning racial discrimination, which according to the Correo del Orinoco International newspaper, "will establish mechanisms to prevent, respond to, punish and eradicate racial discrimination by any person, group of persons, public authorities, private institutions, and civil, economic, political, cultural, and social organizations." The government also created a new census question that allowed citizens to classify themselves as Afro-Venezuelan.

Solidarity With African Americans
In 2015, President Maduro came to Harlem to speak on a panel with Black leaders, including Opal Tometi, cofounder of Black Lives Matter. This move was reminiscent of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro's 1964 visit to Harlem to meet with Malcolm X. Several months later, the Black Lives Matter network and other Black North American groups put out a statement denouncing U.S. intervention in Venezuela and expressing their solidarity with Afro-Venezuelans and Indigenous Venezuelans in the wake of the 2014 right-wing national assembly election victories, which threaten to roll back the social gains of the revolution.

In the letter, the U.S. activists thank Venezuela for its ongoing support of the African American community in the United States, dating back to Chavez's offer to send large amounts of aid, including doctors and disaster specialists, to post-Katrina New Orleans. George W. Bush, who largely left the city's Black residents there to drown, turned down the offer. Over the last 12 years, Citgo -- the Venezuelan-owned subsidiary company -- has provided low-cost heating oil assistance to hundreds of thousands of poor families in 23 states, which have benefited Black residents in the Bronx, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia, along with other cities. A number of African American leaders, activists and artists such as Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte and Jesse Jackson Jr. have traveled to Venezuela, building strong ties of solidarity with Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution, and acknowledging its connection to the Black liberation movement in the United States.

Solidarity With Haiti, the Caribbean and Africa
Nowhere perhaps is the Venezuelan government's commitment to solidarity with Black people more evident than in the generous aid and support it gave to the people of Haiti in the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake, which included thousands of tons of food, medicines, the setting up of relief camps, mobile hospitals and medical personnel and relief workers. In addition, Chavez forgave Haiti's $395 million debt, proclaiming that, "Haiti has no debt with Venezuela -- on the contrary, it is Venezuela that has a historic debt with Haiti," due to the fact that it was the newly self-freed Black republic that had given Simón Bolívar arms, ammunition and ships to fight the Spanish in Venezuela, with the promise in return that he would end slavery in his homeland.

Venezuela has also forged new ties with African nations by opening 18 new embassies and establishing cooperative health and education agreements.

It is precisely because of the Venezuelan government's audacity to stand up against racist U.S. imperialism -- and to unapologetically assert that Black lives matter by empowering poor people of African descent -- that it is under constant assault from the white U.S. ruling class and the international corporate media. Thus, it is quite easy to see why, to quote the slain Black radical Prime Minister of Grenada, Maurice Bishop, "Goliath has turned his full attention to David."
Source: Truthout

Script For Plans To Destroy Bolivarian Revolution Was Written In Washington


The U.S. doctrine of non-conventional war is based on manipulating citizens to encourage confrontations with authorities, to achieve the strategic objectives of a foreign power without having troops on the ground


BREAKING the law, creating a parallel government, organizing alternative economic institutions, harassing public officials, destroying property, hoarding of goods, marching, obstructing social events, boycotting elections, disrupting schools, using false identities, seeking arrests, launching hunger strikes, and overwhelming the state administrative systems – are only a few of the 198 methods to overthrow governments proposed by CIA coup expert Gene Sharp, more than 40 years ago.

Finding just one of these techniques that has not been used against Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution is difficult.

These last several years, President Nicolás Maduro’s administration has faced particularly intense attacks and the implementation of so-called Non-Conventional War, based on psychological manipulation, social protest, coups, and irregular armed struggle.

Unlike traditional conflicts, non-conventional wars are based on promoting confrontations between authorities and the population, to undermine the government’s ability to function, leading to its demise without the use of a foreign military intervention.

Perhaps the clearest example of this kind of warfare is the operation carried out by U.S. and Western powers against the government of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Bands of opponents, armed and advised from abroad, carried out the dirty work on the ground, while NATO provided air support, and the transnational corporate media manipulated the facts presented to the public.

VENEZUELA, A CASE STUDY


As soon as the possibility of an independent leader like Hugo Chávez winning the Presidency came onto the horizon – in the country with the world’s greatest proven oil reserves – a strategy to overthrow him was activated.

Given the fact that the corrupt 4th Republic was entirely discredited, the first steps were taken to organize a new opposition and recruit younger leaders. It was the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that channeled funds to create political parties and train many of the leaders of the current Democratic Unity Coalition (MUD).

The same day that three million people marched in Caracas to show support for Nicolás Maduro, much less attended opposition protests dominated headlines.

The same day that three million people marched in Caracas to show support for Nicolás Maduro, much less attended opposition protests dominated headlines.

U.S. Special Forces manuals, like Training Circular 18-01, define seven different stages of non-conventional war. The first few are devoted to “psychological preparation,” to unify the population in opposition to the government, and “initial contact” by special services agents on the ground. Subsequent stages include the extension of anti-government actions, moving toward a “transition,” during which the national government’s control of the country is challenged.

Despite the defeat of the 2002 coup attempt – by a massive mobilization of the Venezuelan people – the idea of taking the streets was never abandoned. Chávez was confronted by protests and sabotage, of different proportions, until his very last days.

When the Bolivarian leader died in March of 2013, and his successor Nicolás Maduro took the reins, the right wing and their foreign advisers activated the most aggressive tactics of their non-conventional war strategy, in hopes of dealing the revolution a final blow.

MORE THAN STREET BARRICADES

The mounting violence of protests taking place recently in Venezuela is reminiscent of the street barricades and fighting (guarimbas) which occurred in February of 2014, leaving 43 dead and more than 800 injured.

At that time, extremists, who emerged in protests allegedly composed of students, went so far as to string cables across streets to decapitate motor cycle riders, and caused millions of dollars in damage to public property, with the objective of sowing panic and paralyzing the country.

But this last wave of violence appears to be better organized and more extensive. Some of the scenes reported are totally senseless, defying all logic.

The attack by armed opposition gangs on the Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías Maternal-Infant Hospital, with 54 children inside, would qualify as a war crime before any international court.

It is not difficult to identify the organized groups in marches – holding shields, wearing gas masks, and waving blunt objects. If the protests are supposed to be peaceful, why do these youth come prepared for a fight?

A video recently released by Venezuelan authorities shows a dozen youth wearing hoods and making Molotov cocktails, during a march in the comfortable East Caracas neighborhood of Altamira.

After the arrest of Nixon Leal, a violent subject linked to several MUD leaders,

Vice President Tareck El Aissami presented evidence about how the armed bands are organized to carry out open confrontations with the government in Caracas and other important cities, clearly following the steps outlined in non-conventional war strategy.

Threats to authorities are not only physical, but are also meant to humiliate, as seen in the recent practice of using human excrement to fabricate homemade bombs called “Puputovs”.

THE SYMBOLIC WAR & FAKE NEWS

One aspect of non-conventional war, which is key to its success, is the symbolic dimension, especially in the construction of realities via the mass media, even more so in hyper-connected societies where many use social networks to find out what is happening just a few meters away from their own homes.

Sometimes with greater intensity than in the streets, Venezuelan cyberspace functions as a battle field, in which it is difficult to differentiate accurate information and what authorities have identified as fake news, or “false positives.”

Making its way across the planet this month was an image of two Venezuelan youth, naked and tied to a tree in the state of Táchira, showing signs of a physical attack. Several international media, including Latin American ones, reported the act as the responsibility of Chavista “bands.” It was in fact linked to common criminal activity and residents of the area had decided to serve justice themselves.

The selectivity of the international corporate press, in terms of choosing what to report, is also used as a weapon. The same day that three million people marched in Caracas to show support for Nicolás Maduro, what dominated headlines on mainstream websites and newspapers were the much less attended opposition protests.

Also among non-conventional war tactics, is the creation of symbols with which any group could identify. The image of a woman dressed in a Venezuelan flag, standing in front of a Bolivarian National Guard armored vehicle, was publicized relentlessly, and went on to become the demonstrators’ icon.

Likewise, the number of photographers surrounding a young violin player, during an opposition protest, makes it hard to believe that this was a spontaneous act, and not a carefully staged one.

THE SOLUTION

The Venezuelan right, traditionally divided given its personal rifts, with various individuals competing for power, is, on the contrary, united in following the non-conventional script written in Washington. Violence is the only common ground.

Repeated calls for street demonstrations, despite the fact that more than 40 lives have already been lost in this round of guarimbas, along with the opposition’s refusal to participate in the Constituent Assembly, make clear, once again, that the only solution the opposition offers is an end to the revolution, by any means and regardless of consequences.

The continuity of the social project begun by Hugo Chávez – which has forever changed the reality of this country to benefit the poor – is not all that is at stake.

The success of the opposition strategy would become a nefarious reference point for the use of non-conventional warfare, one that would be added to the list of coups, military interventions, and secret operations which bear the trademark signs of Washington at work in Latin America.
(venezuelanalysis.com)

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.