Venezuela's Bolivarian government defends against rightist violence

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government is facing its biggest challenge since his electoral victory on April 14, 2013 - still unrecognized by the U.S. government. Nationwide street protests coinciding with Venezuela's "Youth Day" turned violent on February 10. Disruptions continued and two days later in Caracas swarms of masked demonstrators taunted police, ringed public buildings, destroyed official vehicles, and set fires. Gunfire left three people dead and over 70 wounded. Dozens were imprisoned.

Serious confrontations erupted in Tachira and Merida states, well known for harboring anti-government paramilitaries from nearby Colombia. Official spokespersons characterized the killings of two victims in Caracas with single shots from one gun as assassinations and, as such, provocations.

Disturbances emerging immediately after Maduro's slim election victory caused 11 deaths. Uprisings then and now, observers say, followed a single script, that of casting Venezuela's Bolivarian government as precarious, now because charismatic leader Hugo Chavez, who preceded Maduro, is gone. Power brokers within Venezuela's still thriving capitalist sector aim at destabilization. The current turmoil has parallels with the failed, U.S. supported, anti-Chavez coup in 2002.

Washington officials, mindful of Monroe Doctrine traditions of dominating a continent, have little enthusiasm for the Bolivarian Revolution Maduro now heads. It is anti-imperialist, socialist, and -- for the region -- integrationist. And Venezuela has oil.

With student protesters and others in the streets, millions of U.S. dollars delivered over the past decade to groups aligned with Venezuela's traditional centers of power and influence seem to be bearing fruit. The National Education for Democracy and the U.S. Agency for International Development served as conduits for funding, much of it directed at organizing students in private universities

Intermittently during the Chavez era and since, those students figured prominently in protests against inflation and shortages. Their demonstrations are big news for 85 percent of national media that is privately owned. Reports have surfaced that behind the scenes importers manipulate currencies and distributors hoard commodities.

Venezuela's Unified Socialist Party, led by Maduro, made big gains in municipal elections on December 8, 2013. Opposition strategists took the message that elections aren't helpful in their project of ousting the Bolivarians. Consequently, protesters' rhetoric within weeks turned to "regime change." Then violent confrontations materialized, spreading widely during the week of February 10. Whether thugs involved are students or infiltrators is unclear, but some admitted to payoffs.

The wealthy Henrique Capriles, the right-wing presidential candidate in elections won by Maduro, condemned the violence. One effect of his dividing opposition ranks was to spotlight veteran hardliners in charge of the current protests, two in particular.

National Assembly deputy Maria Corina Machado, born into wealth, urged protesters to remain in the streets, blaming the government for the killings. She faced allegations of involvement last year in another destabilizing plot. Machado once visited the office of President George W. Bush in connection with her leadership of the U.S. funded Sumate group, notable for propelling the anti-Chavez referendum of 2004. She became a "Yale World Fellow," according to Yale, partly because "Sumate's network of volunteers grew to include more than 30,000 members from all over Venezuela." Machado sent two sons to Yale, alma mater of both Bush presidents. In 2002 she signed a document expressing support for the coup government briefly in power then.

Leopoldo López, another elite, heads the rightist Popular Will Party. Facing an arrest warrant as intellectual author of the February 12 disturbances, López tried unsuccessfully to exit Venezuela. He graduated from Kenyon College in Ohio, a nursery for future CIA operatives, says Canadian-Cuban political writer Jean-Guy Allard. He attended Harvard's Kennedy School. Working for the International Republican Institute in 2002 he led the coup plotters' march on the presidential residence.

But now is not 2002: dissident military and police are not involved, security forces control the streets, and by the week's end anti-government protests were losing steam. Government supporters marched by the thousands in Caracas on February 15.

The night before, President Maduro presented a multi-faceted program outlining plans for "a secure country;" demobilization of armed gangs; a "Movement for Peace and Living Together" in each state; nationwide sport, cultural, and musical tours; a "new communications (meaning TV) culture;" "maximum social discipline" in prisons; and action against "drug traffickers and paramilitaries entering the country."

While the United Nations, Organization of American States, and European Union denounced violence and called for dialogue, the U.S. State Department condemned "weakening of democratic institutions in Venezuela." U.S. Senator Marco Rubio accused the Maduro government of creating "an unprecedented wave of repression." Secretary of State Kerry on February 15 threatened "serious negative consequences" should Venezuela's government succeed in arresting Lopez.

Foreign Minister Elías Jaua told reporters on February 17 that his government "confronts a fascist attack at the hands of groups trained specifically to cause violence"

Venezuela expelled three U.S. Embassy officials on February 16th for reaching out to the university students.

Photo: Caracas desborda alegría por la paz y contra el fascismo [Caracas overflows with joy for peace and against fascism ]. Granma.


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    53 Caritas Drive, Allentown, Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa.
    Tel: +232-76-944353; +232-88-423818
    Public Statement 20th February, 2014.

    The Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity (HCIF-PFS) vehemently condemns the latest US attempted coup to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro’s legitimacy and democratic will, and aspirations of the people of Venezuela.
    We, in the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity refuse the use of mercenaries, domestic treachery, hate-filled speeches and incitement of heinous attacks and sham protests designed and clinically executed to destroy the Government of President Nicolas Maduro.
    The ruthless violence that was employed by criminal gangs and domestic traitors in the guise of democratic opposition, to destabilize Venezuela is typical traditional strategy used by the US-funded NGOs, to destabilize other countries, say for instance Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, the Ukraine, Bolivia and many more. Only recently the US Assistant Secretary of State, Madame Nuland boasted that her country has invested billions of dollars to effect regime change in foreign countries, against the democratic will of the people.
    In Venezuela, during the last fourteen (14) years, the US has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to destabilize the Latin American nation, which resulted also into the painful assassination of Commandant Hugo Chavez (Peace Be Upon Him), on 5th March, 2013. What happened in Venezuela recently is unquestionably a coup attempt, by the US funded opposition political gangsterism and heinous attacks that illicit criminal act. We regret the loss of life and destruction of public property in the recent US funded right-wing opposition terrorist attacks in Caracas and other towns in Venezuela, and call for total respect for the democratic will of the Venezuelan people, who elected President Nicolas Maduro to lead them.
    The legitimate and democratically-elected of President Nicolas Maduro is right and morally justified by responding justly against US unjust attacks, and by defending the Venezuelan people and democracy against the mercenaries, domestic traitors and criminal gangs in the coup plot.
    By this statement, we fully and unconditionally support the national sovereign independence of Venezuela, as well as the democratic will and aspirations of the Venezuelan people who have risen up to defend their elected leader and Government. We demand that the US and its domestic collaborators stop their sabotage agenda tailored to cause shortages, inflation and heinous crimes in Venezuela.

    We call on all Chavistas, Chavismos and allies in all countries to stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuela, Latin America, and the whole world; to defend the legitimate leadership of President Nicolas Maduro; and to oppose US subversive plots and assassination of elected leaders in Latin America, Africa and elsewhere.

    Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh
    Consular-General and International Executive Director

    Posted by Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh, 02/21/2014 11:08am (2 years ago)

  • "He graduated from Kenyon College in Ohio, a nursery for future CIA operatives, says Canadian-Cuban political writer Jean-Guy Allard."

    I went to Kenyon in the 80s (Lopez graduated early 90s?) and unless "CIA" is codespeak for "beer" Allard is an idiot. Do some fact checking next time.

    Posted by Dave, 02/19/2014 3:14pm (2 years ago)

  • Rubio and Kerry echo same old imperial script: "Democracy is threatened," implying there will be "serious consequences" for going after Lopez and that there's a "wave of repression."

    Same old shit against yet another country breaking away from U.S. imperialism.

    Posted by , 02/19/2014 1:37pm (2 years ago)

  • venceremos con amor, siempre....the socialist party of maduro will have victory with peace, always

    Posted by , 02/18/2014 10:16pm (2 years ago)

  • This is an important story. The effort to overthrow the elected government follows a script similar to that used by the CIA in Chile in 1973. Real economic problems that are faced by any developing country are aggravated by deliberate economic sabotage by US and Venezuelan capitalists. The wealthy, along with the professional and managerial classes, who make up the majority of university students, are alienated by shortages, inflation and loss of privilege, and manipulated into providing the mass base for violent demonstrations.

    How hypocritical for the US state dept to condemn Venezuela for defending itself from increasingly violent demonstrations. IT is only a few years since peaceful Occupy protesters were evicted and often arrested in cities across the US. A woman in NY is facing a 7-year sentence for being a spectator at an Occupy demonstration.

    No country -- the US, Ukraine, or Venezuela -- will indefinitely allow anti-government "protestors" to occupy public spaces and disrupt public life -- especially when, in the case of Venezuela, there aim is the overthrow of a government that won an election that was considerably freer and more fair than those in the US.

    Posted by Art Perlo, 02/18/2014 4:07pm (2 years ago)

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