Direct from Bolivia: Popular Resistance Mounts Against the Coup

Interview with a Political Activist in El Alto

[Note: The following interview with a Bolivian activist in El Alto, whose name is being withheld for obvious security reasons, was conducted by The Organizer editorial board member Alan Benjamin on Sunday, November 17. The interview is reprinted from the November-December 2019 issue of The Organizer.]

Question: What is the situation in Bolivia in the aftermath of the coup? How is the resistance to the coup being organized?

Answer: After the conspiracy of the police, the military, and the right-wing leaders that led to the November 10 resignation of Evo Morales and placed the coup-plotters in the governmental palace, their first measure was to burn the Whipala, the flag that represents the Quechua-Aymara peoples and that is recognized as one of the nation’s two flags in the 2009 Political Constitution of the State.

The burning of the Whipala means the return to the heinous racism and discrimination by the traditional right wing. This action by the coup government, together with the self-proclamation by supposed “president” Jeanine Añez, has triggered the mobilization of scores of popular sectors, neighborhood councils, and youth from the city of El Alto, the main bastion of the struggles of October 2003 and 2005 that succeeded in ousting then-president Gustavo Sanchez de Lozada, known as the “Gringo Goni.” Workers and youth at that time had mobilized against Goni’s Hydrocarbons Law with protests that were met with large-scale repression, resulting in 60 deaths.

Abolivia1

Since Monday, November 11, massive marches of people have descended every day from the city of El Alto to the seat of government in La Paz. Hundreds of police, military and armored cars have sealed off the Plaza Murillo (where the government palace is located), repressing the population with tear gas and arresting people who were not even participating in the mobilizations. People have been apprehended just for carrying a Whipala.

Likewise, the peasants and neighbors of the poorest areas around the southern zone of La Paz have been repressed savagely. Two people have been killed, as the local authorities have had to acknowledge.

Relatives of the killed activists have reported in the social media how the military are breaking into people’s homes and beating the activists and their families indiscriminately.

The media are silent, but the social networks are flooded with videos and images that show the savagery that has been unleashed against the population.

abolivia2

The most recent repression occurred on Friday, November 15, when peasants from the Cochabamba region were heading towards the center of that city in a peaceful march, but were intercepted at the Huayllani Bridge, in the Sacaba region, by the military and police forces, which fired lethal weapons at the unarmed population.

The result of this police-military operation was nine deaths and hundreds of wounded and arrested. The media have sought to present this as an “armed confrontation” between the military and the demonstrators — but the fact is that not a single police officer, not a single soldier, was killed.

The media have ignored the statement by Cochabamba public defender Nelson Cox, who declared: “Visiting the hospitals, we have not found a single wounded policeman or soldier. There can be no talk of confrontation when what occurred was an action by the military and police that harmed the lives of the civilians who were mobilizing peacefully.” (statement posted on the website of  Chasqui Clandestina)

On the following day, Saturday, November 16, a widely attended Cabildo [a town-hall meeting, or popular assembly – Tr. note] took place in the city of El Alto. Neighbors, workers, and young people gathered behind the Whipala with a black emblem attached to it, to signify the people’s outrage over the repression by the military and police forces which, so far, has taken the lives of 23 people, with hundreds of people seriously wounded and/or arrested.

All 14 districts that make up the city of El Alto were represented at the Cabildo. Peasant representatives from the 20 provinces of the department of La Paz were also present, as were rural teacher delegations from Alto Beni (which is the eastern sector of Bolivia), among other sectors.

The leaders of the Federation of Neighborhood Councils (FEJUVE) of El Alto were disavowed on the grounds that they are corrupt and do not represent the interests of the people of El Alto. As a consequence a new leadership of the FEJUVE has been formed.

Among its main decisions, the Cabildo called for the resignation of self-proclaimed president Jeanine Añez and the immediate release of all detainees nationwide. It also declared an indefinite strike with the blockade of 1,000 street corners.

As the workers and people were gathered in the Cabildo in El Alto, the so-called president issued Supreme Decree 4078, which authorizes the armed forces and police to “restore internal order” without having to be held accountable for their criminal actions. This is nothing but a license to kill.

As we speak [Sunday, November 17] popular sectors, carrying out the decisions of the Cabildo, are currently taking up their positions at the designated blockade points. We don’t yet have information about what is happening with the blockades. We are certainly not going to get reports from the national media, which has been assigned the task of turning a blind eye to the savage repression and making the anger of the population at the measures of the so-called president Jeanine Añez invisible.

Bolivia Evo and Mineworker Leader

Evo and leader of the National Mine Workers Federation (FSTMB)

Question: What has been the policy of the Bolivian Workers Central — the historic COB confederation — in relation to the recent coup, and, more recently, to the resistance? Have there been discussions within the COB and/or its affiliates regarding the November 10 COB statement, which we in the United States found shocking, calling for Evo’s resignation “for the sake of the health of the nation”?

Answer: On November 10, as you point out, the main leader of the COB, Juan Carlos Guarachi, called for the resignation of Evo Morales in the name of “preserving the peace in the country.” A similar statement was issued by Orlando Gutierrez, leader of the National Mineworkers Federation (FSTMB), the backbone of the COB. This marked a right-wing break by the COB and its main affiliate with the government of Evo Morales.

In the aftermath of the resignation of Morales and in response to the ongoing popular mobilizations, the COB issued a resolution dated November 12 stating that the powers-that-be had 48 hours to come up with a “constitutional solution,” otherwise they would declare an indefinite general strike.

But what kind of “constitutional solution” can be reached when you have a self-appointed president, supported by the armed forces, who has trampled upon the Constitution? She cannot even muster a sufficient quorum in the Congress to have herself declared a rightful president. The COB has remained silent until now, even though the 48-hour deadline has come and gone.

Having said that, there is growing dissension in the union ranks.

Prior to the coup, mineworkers in the State sector — in Huanuni, Vinto, Coro Coro, and Colquir — denounced the fact that behind the “Citizen Mobilizations” lurked the old right-wing parties.

Recently, on November 12, the most combative union of the FSTMB — the mine workers’ union in Huanuni — adopted a resolution denouncing all those who have lent a hand to the right wing, highlighting the leader of Santa Cruz Civic Committee billionaire Luis Fernando Camacho as a racist. The resolution affirms that, “the struggle has begun” and that “a state of emergency has been declared in Huanuni” — but to date the union has not called for mobilization.

Question: Any further comments?

Answer: At this moment, the main demand of the mobilized sectors of the population — a demand with which I concur fully — is the resignation of Jeanine Añez, who symbolizes the return of the gorilla and racist right wing. If the COB and FSTMB were to join the mobilizations, this would mark a real show of strength by the workers’ and people’s organizations against the perpetrators of the coup.

Original attribution: https://socialistorganizer.org/2019/11/18/direct-from-bolivia-popular-resistance-mounts-against-the-coup/

STOP USA’s Global Gangster Terrorism

For decades the U.S. government and its European allies have been illegally using unilateral economic sanctions (“Unilateral Coercive Measures”) as a weapon of war and mass destruction to topple governments that do not submit to the U.S. and European states’ domination of their country. The main objective of these unilateral sanctions is to destroy those small countries’ economies and bring their people to their knees through mass starvation so they will be left with no choice but to revolt against their own government.

This criminal, anti-human policy of targeting defenseless populations, which is in clear violation of United Nations Charter and international law, has now become the new weapon of choice for these powerful states since they are faced with strong opposition from the majority their own population to the endless wars of occupation that they are already involved in. Through these illegal sanctions, these powerful states hope they can achieve their imperialistic goal of “regime change” and domination in a silent, calculated manner without arousing the wrath of their own and international public opinion.

According to some UN reports, there are currently over 33 countries (15 percent of all countries of the world) and dozens of non-state entities that are targeted by these illegal sanctions. Among them are Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe, Belarus, and many others, whose population are suffering from hunger, lack of medicine, homelessness and disruption of their educational system and other vital social services. Prior to the invasion of Iraq in 1991, fifteen years of U.S. economic sanctions led to the death of half a million Iraqi children. In Venezuela today, over 40,000 people have died as a result of illegal sanctions and the number is rising daily.

In response to these blatant criminal acts, which are nothing but crime against humanity, the Group of 77 countries + China is submitting a resolution to the General Assembly of the United Nations, which, among other measures:

1. Urges the international community to adopt urgent and effective measures to eliminate the use of unilateral economic, financial or trade measures that are not authorized by relevant organs of the United Nations, that are inconsistent with the principles of international law or the Charter of the United Nations …;

2. Calls upon the international community to condemn and reject the imposition of the use of such measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries …;

To read the full text of the draft resolution click here

This proposed resolution is currently being discussed at the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly and the Second Committee will be taking the final vote on it on November 14. We consider it our paramount responsibility to mobilize massive support for the passage of this resolution by the UN General Assembly. To this end, we have drafted a public letter of support for the resolution to be signed by a massive number of organizations and individuals in the U.S. and around the world to be delivered to the voting session of the UN Second Committee on November 14. We urge all defenders of peace and justice to sign this letter. We need to collect a large number of signatures in a short period to time. We request that you act urgently.

* To add the name of your organization, please CLICK HERE.

* To add your name as an individual, please CLICK HERE.

READ THE LETTER:

To the Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee)
of the United Nations General Assembly

Dear Committee Members,

We, civil society organizations and advocates for peace and justice, write to express our support for the resolution introduced by the Group of 77 + China [Agenda Item 17 (a)] that:

1. Urges the international community to adopt urgent and effective measures to eliminate the use of unilateral economic, financial or trade measures that are not authorized by relevant organs of the United Nations, that are inconsistent with the principles of international law or the Charter of the United Nations …;

2. Calls upon the international community to condemn and reject the imposition of the use of such measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries …; (to read the full text of the draft resolution click here)

We recognize that unilateral coercive measures are being used to wage economic war and as tools for regime change efforts by the United States and its junior partners in violation of the United Nations Charter. These measures have devastating impacts on the countries that are targeted.

For example, Cuba, a country that has been under an economic blockade for over 60 years, reported this year that the blockade has cost their economy close to $1 trillion since its inception when devaluation of the US dollar compared to gold prices is taken into account. Recent reports find unilateral coercive measures have contributed to 4,000 deaths in North Korea over the past year and over 40,000 deaths in Venezuela in 2017 and 2018.

The US has imposed unilateral coercive measures against Iran since the revolution in 1979, and now adds secondary measures against states that do business with Iran. Zimbabwe has been targeted by unilateral coercive measures since 2002. In both these countries, and all countries targeted by unilateral coercive measures, the results are hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicines.

Economic warfare by the United States and its allies is increasing in both intensity and the number of countries that are impacted. This economic war harms those who are most vulnerable and who bear no responsibility for relations between countries.

We urge the United Nations General Assembly to support the proposed resolution cited above and to take all steps within its authority to end the use of unilateral coercive measures by any state, or a group of allied states, against another.

* To add the name of your organization, please CLICK HERE.

* To add your name as an individual, please CLICK HERE.

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Our mailing address is:
info@notrumpmilitaryparade.us.

 

The Green Party denounces business deals and trade policies through which multinational corporations profit from the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest.

WFP aid suspension sends Hodeidah’s displaced back home

Although battles are still raging in Hodeidah, people displaced from the port city have already begun returning to their homes from Sanaa, as they struggle to feed their families in the Yemeni capital.

Since pro-Yemeni government forces began their assault on the highly strategic Red Sea city a year ago, the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) in Sanaa has played the leading role in providing Hodeidah’s displaced with monthly food packages.

However, the WFP suspended aid distribution in Sanaa last month after disputes with the Houthis over the agency’s biometric system introduced to prevent the rebel movement from diverting aid.

The decision affects 850,000 people in the capital Sanaa, including Hodeidah displaced.

Staring at the prospect of starvation in the capital, some Yemenis have returned to their war-torn homes where they are more likely to secure their monthly rations.

Mohammed al-Boraie, 43, fled his house in Hodeidah’s al-Rabasah neighbourhood in June 2018 after hearing there were organisations in Sanaa that could help the displaced there. He left everything behind, prioritising the safety of his seven family members.

“A friend rented a house for me in Sanaa and that was the first step towards stability,” Boraie told Middle East Eye.

WFP aid suspension

sends Hodeidah’s

displaced back home

With starvation threats looming, Yemenis are trickling back from Sanaa to find a battle-ravaged city

By MEE correspondent

 in  Hodeidah, Yemen

Published date: 1 July 2019 13:45 UTC

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/idps-return-their-houses-amid-battles-hodeidah

“Then the sheikh of the neighbourhood registered my name as a beneficiary for WFP aid and I have been receiving food aid from the WFP since August 2018.”

Boraie used to work as a bus driver, but when he arrived in Sanaa he could not find any work and his family struggled with basic services and proper healthcare.

“During the last year, we were depending on WFP food aid and the food was enough for the whole month,” he said.

“If not for the WFP aid, my children would starve to death.”

Returning home

Boraie never thought that the WFP would stop providing his family with the much-needed food – and was shocked when they did.

“When the sheikh told me that the WFP would not provide us with food, I changed all our plans as we cannot stay in Sanaa without it,” he said.

“We knew from the sheikh that the WFP would continue to distribute food aid in Hodeidah and they only suspended it in Sanaa, so there was no choice but to return to our house in Hodeidah.”

Boraie borrowed money for transportation from a friend and took his family back to Hodeidah on 23 June.

When he arrived, he found the city in a better state than it had been last year – regular life has returned to some extent, despite ongoing battles in the outskirts.

In fact, Boraie said, anxiety he faced about the fighting last year has been replaced by fears his family will die of starvation instead.

There are 3.3 million people internally displaced in Yemen, while the humanitarian crisis there remains the worst in the world.

Nearly four years of conflict and severe economic decline have driven the country to the brink of famine and exacerbated needs in all sectors, according to the UN.

An estimated 80 percent of the population – 24 million people – require some form of humanitarian or protection assistance. Some 14.3 million of those are in acute need.

Meanwhile, the number of people in acute need has grown 27 percent over the past year. Two-thirds of all provinces in the country are in a pre-famine state.

A reviving city

Last year the streets of Hodeidah were almost emptied of people, and many shops and companies were shuttered as residents fled the fighting.

Hodeidah’s port is the conduit through which the majority of Yemen’s imports arrive to the country, and fighting there threatened to significantly worsen the humanitarian situation and catapult millions in famine.

UN-led efforts have helped alleviate the fighting, and in turn residents have gradually been trickling back to the city.

Around Hodeidah the sounds of clashes can be heard, and occasional shelling hits residential areas. Yet Yemenis are managing to regain a sense of normalcy all the same.

“Residents of Hodeidah do not care about the battles as they believe clashes aren’t going to stop any time soon. Besides, they are working hard to find food,” said Mubarak al-Otomi, a 35-year-old resident of the city.

“I was displaced but I returned to Hodeidah after suffering in Sanaa because of a lack of basic services and food.”

If the displaced had proper services in displacement, they would not return to the city amid fighting

– Mubarak al-Otomi, Hodeidah resident

Otomi said opportunities for employment in Hodeidah were much greater than before, and relief organisations were doing their best to help people.

“I believe that life in our home is better than displacement – no one thinks about fleeing the city again even if battles arrive at our houses,” he added.

“If the displaced had proper services in displacement, they would not return to the city amid fighting.”

Fighting usually intensifies at night, and for a long time people rarely ventured out after dark.

As things have improved, however, men, women and children are increasingly seen out in the evenings, and have adapted to the ferocious sounds of war in the distance.

Dependency

Abdulkhaleq al-Sawa, 53, is from Hodeidah but now living in Sanaa.

He told MEE that many displaced people like him haven’t returned home yet, but the suspension meant they could soon head back to Hodeidah

“No one can deny the role of the WFP in helping displaced people in Sanaa and I am one of them – I became dependent on organisations,” Sawa said.

Sawa has been living in his brother’s house in Sanaa since July 2018 but he believes it’s time to go home and resume his regular life.

“In Hodeidah I can find work again as an accountant with a local corporation, as I used to do before the war,” he said.

He added that his return to Hodeidah had been delayed due to the sweltering temperatures in the city. Without electricity to return to, cooling his Hodeidah home would be impossible, so it’s better to wait a couple of months until the climate chills somewhat.

“The battles are not a threat as we have already adapted to them, but it is difficult for children to enjoy their lives in the hot weather,” he said.

Back in Hodeidah, Boraie said he had been pleased to find his hometown so full of people when he returned.

“War changed our life for the worse,” he said. “I hope warring parties stop this war, so we can resume our work and children can resume their studies in a safe environment.”

GPAX Committee Statement On the Imprisonment of Julian Assange

The United States Government is engaged in a campaign of personal destruction directed at Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange. Under the cover of questionable legal arguments, The US has carried out a relentless, multifaceted, punitive program aimed at making an example of an Internet publisher who has challenged the power of the US national security establishment. Through the actions of the US government, Assange has been stripped of his political asylum, imprisoned by the UK, and is awaiting extradition to the US to face espionage charges with a penalty of life imprisonment. He is being held in Belmarsh prison, a high-security facility, officially for the minor crime of a bail violation but for the ultimate purpose of rendition to the US. Assange was recently moved to the hospital wing at Belmarsh, and reports indicate he is in poor health.

 

A large segment of the public has been turned against Assange by a smear campaign conducted through mass media outlets with friendly ties to the national security agencies. The UN has issued a report in which Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture said that Assange has been exposed to psychological torture. According the UN report, “In the course of the past nine years, Mr. Assange has been exposed to persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy, and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation, to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination.”

 

Assange has been called a rapist, a narcissist, and a spy with “blood on his hands.” The bloodiest hands in American media belong to those who participated in selling the American instigated wars that have ripped apart Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Journalists who eagerly repeated the lies that led to the Iraq war now attack Assange’s consistently truthful reporting of America’s misdeeds. American intelligence officials, who have publicly lied to Congress without consequences, are leading the attack on Assange, a man who, until his isolation and imprisonment, had been reliably reporting inconvenient truths about America’s secret activities. US politicians refuse to hold the CIA and other secret agencies accountable for past and present misdeeds. Senator Schumer of New York openly warned his congressional colleagues against opposing the national security agencies: “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” How far are we from the model of the old USSR in which everyone feared the secret police?

 

In addition to seeking to punish Assange with life in prison, the US government intends to use his prosecution under the Espionage Act as a weapon against the free press. Because conventional news organizations regularly publish secret information that has been leaked by informants and whistleblowers, the same arguments used to prosecute Assange can be used to convict journalists for the New York Times or the Washington Post. If Assange is convicted under this law, reporting on anything the US government classifies as secret will come to a halt. Powerful intelligence agencies like the CIA, not content with intimidating their timid political watchdogs, are seeking to eliminate the oversight of a free press.

 

The assault on Julian Assange is nothing less than an attack on the truth and a threat to global security. A world in which the US government secretly pursues hostile actions, unchecked by any independent oversight, is a danger to all mankind. Julian Assange has served the interests of the people of the world by truthfully revealing activities that undermine peace and security. The Peace Action Committee of the Green Party of the United States calls upon the US Justice Department to drop all charges against Julian Assange, and we call upon the UK government to release Assange from prison.

May 13, 2019 This memo is being sent to the US and Venezuela as well as members of our Collective and allies.

May 13, 2019

URGENT CALL TO THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT IN THE HEAD OF PRESIDENT IVAN DUQUE MÁRQUEZ

“SOS! SOS! SOS! SOS! OUR INDIGENOUS FAMILIES ARE BEING EXTERMINATED! MASSACRED RIGHT NOW! THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT HAS SENT IN THE ARMY AND IS MURDERING THE MINGA COMMUNITY! SOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GOD HELP US!!!! ASKING FOR PRAYERS!!! CONSCIOUSNESS!!!! PLEASE HUMANITY WAKE UP!!!!”

Urián Sarmiento

April 3 at 5:25 PM

Urgent Mayday

Concentration of the minga for the defense of life, territory, democracy, justice and peace, of the finca Emmanuel in morales cauca is attacked with firearms indiscriminately by troops of the national army

Santiago de Cali, April 03, 2019

We make an URGENT CALL TO THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT IN THE HEAD OF PRESIDENT IVAN DUQUE MÁRQUEZ, and to national and international agencies that defend human rights in order to Sue in first instance the protection of the life and integrity of indigenous, peasant and sectors communities People who participate in minga for the defense of life, territory, democracy, justice and peace.

Being 12:30 p.m. on April 03, 2019, the indigenous and peasants who were concentrated in the Emmanuel Estate of the town of morales – cauca, were violently attacked with firearms by troops of the National Army, Finding yourself trapped in the territory because of the shots. The public force came to the place, burning the tents and belongings of the community, also entered the neighboring houses of the point of concentration to attack the inhabitants, in the midst of the facts, is seriously injured the governor of the indigenous cabildo of cerro Scissors Rubén Cuetia and some minors, at the moment there is no additional information of the number of injuries and the state of health of them.

We make a call to dd defenders. HH. National and international, the high commissioner for DD. HH. From the un, to the inter-American commission of DD. HH., to the un verification mission, to the mission of supporting the peace process in Colombia of the oas, to the National Commission of DD. HH. From The Senate of the Republic, to the office of the ombudsman and to the attorney general of the nation, so that, within the framework of its functions and competences, accompany the communities and families affected by this fact.

#MINGASOCIALSUROCCIDENTE2019

Eyewitness Venezuela: National Speaking Tour with Gloria La Riva

Answer Coalition

On the heels of a month-long trip through Venezuela in the midst of growing U.S. aggression, anti-war activist Gloria La Riva will speak in numerous cities on the current situation in Venezuela, with a progressive perspective on the crucial issues facing the Venezuelan people: the U.S. economic sanctions, the U.S. media blockade, and the people’s organizing efforts to overcome the aggression. La Riva will show exclusive first-hand video footage from her trip and answer the questions:

  • What is the Bolivarian revolution all about?
  • Is Venezuela suffering an economic collapse?
  • What is the role of the U.S., is the danger of U.S. war near?
  • How can people in the United States get involved?

If you are interested in hosting La Riva in your city, contact us at: (661)487-1060

Tour cities

  • Thursday, March 21 – New Haven, Connecticut
    Eyewitness: Venezuela with Gloria La Riva
    First and Summerfield United Methodist Church
    6:30 pm EST
  • Friday, March 22 – Boston, Massachusetts
    Women Fight Back: Report Back from Venezuela + Housing in Boston
    The City School
    7pm EST
  • Saturday, March 23 – New York City, New York
    Women and Socialism Conference: Feminism for the 99%
    The People’s Forum
    11am EST
  • Tuesday, March 26 – Seaside, California
    Hands Off Venezuela: Breaking the U.S. Media Blockade
    Sponsored by the Monterey Peace and Justice Center
    6pm to 8pm PST
  • Saturday, March 30 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Liberation Forum: No Coup in Venezuela, Free Puerto Rico!
    Philadelphia Liberation Center
    3pm EST
    RSVP here
  • Monday, April 1 – Bowling Green, OH 
    Grounds For Thought Coffee
    174 S Main St, Bowling Green, OH 43402
    6:30pm EST
  • Tuesday, April 2 – Antioch College
    Coretta Scott King Center
    One Morgan Pl, Yellow Springs, OH 45387
    6:30pm EST
    RSVP here
  • Wednesday, April 3 – Depauw University
    Watson Forum
    609 S Locust St, Greencastle IN 46135
    5:00pm EST
    RSVP here
  • Thursday, April 4 – University of Illinois
    Gregory Hall – Room #213
    Wright Street Urbana, IL 61801
    7:00 pm CST
    RSVP here
  • Friday, April 5 – St. Louis, Missouri
    St. Louis Association of Community Organizations

    5888 Plymouth Ave, St. Louis 63112
    7:00pm CST
    RSVP here
  • Saturday, April 6 – Chicago, Illinois
    Centro Autónomo
    3460 W. Lawrence, Chicago, Illinois 60625
    6:00 pm CST
    RSVP here
  • Sunday, April 7 – Ann Arbor, Michigan
    University of Michigan, Kalamazoo Room
    911 N University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
    Contact: 248-804-9474
    2:00pm EST
    RSVP here
  • Monday, April 8 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Peace Action Bldg., 1001 E. Keefe St.
    Contact: 608-206-1756
    7:00pm CST
    RSVP here
  • Tuesday, April 9 – Madison, Wisconsin

    First Unitarian Society – Landmark Auditorium
    900 University Bay Dr.
    Contact: 312-753-8415
    7:00pm CST
    RSVP here
  • Wednesday, April 10 – Minneapolis, Minnesota
    4200 Cedar Ave. S.
    Contact: 651-357-0613
    7:00pm CST
    RSVP here
  • Wednesday, April 17 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
    (details to be announced)
  • Thursday, April 18 – Denver, Colorado
    (details to be announced)
  • Tuesday, April 23 – Arcata CA
    Humboldt State University
    11:00 am PST
  • Wednesday, April 24 – Sacramento CA
    Sol Collective, 2574-21st St., 95818
    6:00pm PST
  • Saturday, April 27, Pittsburgh PA

    (details to be announced)

  • Sunday, April 28, Cleveland OH 
    Site TBD
    2:00pm
  • Seattle, Washington
    (date and location to be announced soon)

If you have questions or are interested in hosting a speaking event with Gloria La Riva in your city please contact (661)487-1060

VENEZUELA: WHAT ACTIVISTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE US-LED COUP

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

| , NEWSLETTER

Above photo: John Zangas, DC Media Group.

Two things stand out about the US coup in Venezuela. First, it is unusually open. Typically, the US tries to hide its coups. Second, the coup is built on a series of obvious falsehoods, yet the bi-partisans in Washington, with a few exceptions, keep repeating them.

First, we will correct the falsehoods so readers are all working from the same facts. Second, we will describe how this coup is being defeated. It will be another major embarrassment for the Trump administration and US foreign policy.

It is important to understand Venezuela has become a geopolitical conflict as Russia and China are closely allied with Venezuela. China and Russia coming into the backyard of the United States challenges the antiquated Monroe Doctrine.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and the second largest gold reserves, as well as diamonds and other minerals such as coltan (needed for electronic devices). And, Venezuela is taking over as president of OPEC and will be in a position to push for oil payments in non-dollar currencies or in cryptocurrencies, a major threat to the US dollar.

A protest outside the United States Consulate in Sydney on January 23 to demand no US intervention in Venezuela. Photo: Peter Boyle

Correcting the Record

There are a series of false statements repeated by DC officials and corporate media to justify the coup that are so obvious, it is hard to believe they are not intentional. In his two-paragraph comment on the coup, even Senator Bernie Sanders repeated them.

1. Truth: President Nicolás Maduro is the legitimate president.

President Maduro was re-elected on May 20, 2018, in response to the opposition demanding an early election. The legitimacy of the election of Maduro is so evident that it must be assumed those who say he is illegitimate are either intentionally false or ignorant. The election was scheduled consistent with the Venezuelan Constitution and in consultation with opposition parties. When it became evident that the opposition could not win the election, they decided, under pressure from the United States, to boycott the election in order to undermine its legitimacy. The facts are 9,389,056 people voted, 46% of eligible voters. Sixteen parties participated in the election with six candidates competing for the presidency.

The electoral process was observed by more than 150 election observers. This included 14 electoral commissions from eight countries among them the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America; two technical electoral missions; and 18 journalists from different parts of the world, among others. According to the international observers, “the elections were very transparent and complied with international parameters and national legislation.”

Venezuela has one of the best electoral systems in the world. Voter fraud is not possible as identification and fingerprints are required for each voter. Voting machines are audited before and immediately after the election. Venezuela does something no other country in the world does — a public, citizen’s audit of a random sample of 53% of voting machines that is televised. All 18 parties signed the audits.

Maduro won by a wide margin, obtaining 6,248,864 votes, 67.84%; followed by Henri Falcón with 1,927,958, 20.93%; Javier Bertucci with 1,015,895, 10.82%; and Reinaldo Quijada, who obtained 36,246 votes, 0.39% of the total.

This same voting system has been used in elections that Maduro’s party has lost in governor’s and legislative elections. Venezuela is a real democracy with transparent elections. The United States could learn a good deal about real democracy from Venezuela.

2. Truth: The economic crisis is caused by outside intervention, internal sabotage and the decline in oil prices.

There is no doubt the economic situation in Venezuela is dire. The cause is the economic war conducted by the United States, the major decline in oil prices and economic sabotage by the opposition. In essence, the United States and opposition created problems in the Venezuelan economy and now say Maduro must be replaced because of problems they created.

Oil was discovered in Venezuela in the early part of the 20th Century and has dominated the economy since then. The Dutch Disease, the negative impact of an economy based on one natural resource, causes a sharp inflow of foreign currency, which raises the value of the country’s currency, making the country’s other products less price competitive. It is cheaper to import products rather than create them. This makes it more difficult for segments of the economy like agriculture and manufacturing to develop.

Chavez/Maduro sought to diversify the economy. They put in place thousands of communes and hundreds of thousands of people working in cooperatives to build agriculture and manufacturing. When the global price of oil was cut by more than half, it collapsed Venezuela’s public finances undermining these efforts. The economic war by the US made it difficult for Venezuela to borrow and trade with some countries.

Economic sanctions against Venezuela began under President Obama, and the Trump administration escalated them with financial sanctions. United States sanctions cost Venezuela some $6 billion since August, according to an October analysis. Measures against the nation’s oil industry have prohibited the Venezuelan majority-owned company, CITGO, from sending profits back to Venezuela, a $1 billion loss to the government yearly. Now, the Bank of England is refusing to return $1.2 billion in gold reserves after US officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, lobbied them to cut Venezuela off from its overseas assets.

The US economic war and sabotage of the economy by business interests has been exposed as part of the effort to remove Maduro by creating social unrest and lack of confidence in the government.  This has included hoarding of goods, storing essentials in warehouses and selling Venezuelan goods in Colombia.

In September 2018, Venezuela pointed to a false media campaign exaggerating migration from Venezuela. They highlighted statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to affirm that Venezuela has the fewest volunteer migrants in the continent. They pointed out 5.6 million Colombians have fled violence in their country and live in Venezuela. Venezuela has programs that have helped thousands of Venezuelans return home.

Socialism strengthens economies, as demonstrated in Portugal. Indeed, one criticism of Venezuela is that the Bolivarian Process is moving too slowly to put in place a socialist economy. There is a need for more sectors to be nationalized and put under democratic control of the people.

3. Truth: The opposition is violent, not the Maduro government.

Opposition protesters have been extremely violent. One tactic of the opposition was to be violent and then film the government’s response to make the government look violent. When Abby Martin was confronted by opposition protesters, they told her, “Do not film anything that we do. Just film what the government does to us.” She reported on the violence saying, “the vast majority has been caused by either indirect or direct violence by the opposition.”

Martin reports the opposition attacked hospitals, burned down the Housing Ministry, assassinated Chavistas and attacked citizen communes such as an art commune that gave free dance and music lessons to local children. Afro-Venezuelans were burned alive. Protesters pulled drivers out of buses and torched the buses. When photos and videos of opposition violence were put on social media, Martin and her colleague, Mike Prysner, became the target of a false media campaign on social media. The opposition did all they could to prevent them from reporting the truth using hundreds of death threats and threats they would be lynched.

In 2017, Venezuela Analysis reported that violent opposition protests included an attack on a maternity hospital endangering the lives of more than 50 newborn babies. Another report described the opposition using snipers to shoot government officials and civilians. Opposition newspapers urged that blunt objects be used to “neutralize” pro-government protesters, resulting in serious injuries and death.

Steve Ellner also reported that violence was coming from the opposition. He pointed to attacks at grocery stores, banks, buses, and government buildings.  Other commentators described specific incidents of violence by the opposition including killing people. Maduro ordered the arrest of a retired general who tweeted how to use wire to decapitate people on motorcycles, which happened, and how to attack armored vehicles with Molotov cocktails.

Documents show that violence was the opposition’s strategy. They sought to “Create situations of crisis in the streets that will facilitate US intervention, as well as NATO forces, with the support of the Colombian government. Whenever possible, the violence should result in deaths or injuries.”

The tales of government violence are rooted in lies. The government’s response was Maduro calling for a peace conference describing it as “a national peace conference with all the country’s political sectors … so we Venezuelans can try to neutralize violent groups.”

4. Truth: The National Assembly acted in violation of the law and is in contempt of court.

The National Assembly is not the only democratic body in Venezuela. Indeed, its actions since the opposition won a majority have violated the law and protected the violence of the opposition with an embarrassing amnesty bill.

On December 6, 2015, the opposition won a parliamentary majority in the Assembly. There were allegations of vote buying in Amazonas state that were investigated by the National Electoral Council, another branch of the government. The Supreme Court barred four legislators from Amazonas taking office, two from the opposition, one allied with the opposition and one from the ruling party. The National Assembly allowed three candidates to take office. The Assembly has been held in contempt of court since July 2016 and their decisions were nullified.

Before the court ruling, the Assembly passed an amazing amnesty law, which granted amnesty for crimes the opposition has committed since 1999 (Chavez’ election). The law is an admission of guilt and provides a well-organized catalog of crimes including felonies, crimes committed at public rallies, terrorist acts involving explosives and firearms and undermining the economy. They essentially admitted exactly what Chavez/Maduro have claimed — crimes to overthrow the government for 17 years. Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled the amnesty law was unconstitutional. Inaccurately, the Trump administration calls the Assembly Venezuela’s only remaining democratic institution.

This January, a subsidiary of the state oil company asked the Assembly to intervene claiming the president cannot make reforms to mixed public-private oil businesses without the prior approval of the National Assembly. On January 16, the court ruled that the Assembly was still in contempt of court and could not act. This is also when the Assembly elected Juan Guaidó as their president, who would later appoint himself President of Venezuela, as part of the US-led coup. Guaidó’s election to head the legislature was illegal and nullified by the court.

The Assembly still exists but remains in a state of contempt of the judiciary. It can rectify the situation by removing the lawmakers accused of electoral fraud. The Assembly refuses to do so because their goal is to remove Maduro from office and they need a super-majority to do so.

Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK disrupts Mike Pompeo at the OAS. Press TV.

A Timeline of the US Coup in Venezuela

In “Anti-Maduro Coalition Grew from Secret Talks,” the Associated Press explains the coup was “only possible because of strong support from the Trump administration, which led a chorus of mostly conservative Latin American governments that immediately recognized Guaidó.”

Since August 2017, Donald Trump has been saying that military interventionagainst Venezuela was a distinct possibility. AP describes this as a “watershed moment” in the coup planning. They report Trump pressuring aides and Latin American countries to invade Venezuela. In September, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration had been meeting with coup plotters since mid-2017.

The Wall Street Journal reports Trump has long viewed Venezuela as one of his top-three foreign policy priorities, with Iran and North Korea. Trump requested a briefing on Venezuela on his second day in office, talking of the immense potential of Venezuela to become a rich nation through its oil reserves. AP reports that Trump “personally sparked” this as he brought up regime change in Venezuela in every meeting with Latin American leaders.

After Maduro was re-elected, administration plans began taking shape, driven in part by key members in the National Security Council and anti-Maduro advocates in Congress like extreme interventionist Senator Marco Rubio.

On November 1, John Bolton zeroed in on Latin America, calling Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela a “troika of tyranny.” On January 2, Bolton met with his Brazilian and Colombian counterparts to collaborate to “return Venezuela to its democratic heritage.”

On January 10, Maduro was sworn in for his second term, Pompeo spoke with opposition leader Guaidó, pledging support. Canada also played a key role, AP reports that Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to Guaidó the night before Maduro’s inauguration offering Canada’s support. This was 13 days before Guaidó announced he was president of Venezuela.

On January 12, the State Department backed Guaidó’s move to invoke his authority as president of the assembly, saying, “It is time to begin the orderly transition to a new government.” On January 15, the National Assembly declared Maduro as illegitimate. The Trump administration worked to get allies lined up to support Guaidó’. By January 18, the Venezuela Foreign Minister was describing a US coup in progress.

The night before Guaidó’s announcement on January 23, Vice President Mike Pence put out a video message encouraging Venezuelans to overthrow their government, saying, “We are with you. We stand with you, and we will stay with you.” Guaidó also received a phone call from Pence the night before he appointed himself president where he pledged that the U.S. would back Guaidó.

Guaidó declared that Maduro’s government was illegitimate and he was assuming the presidency. In a well-coordinated charade, almost instantly, Trump recognized Guaidó as the country’s rightful leader. To further demonstrate the preconceived, tightly coordinated and efficiently carried out the coup, US allies, among them Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Peru, quickly recognized the coup president.

The Trump administration is claiming Guaidó represents the lawful government and is entitled to all Venezuelan revenues. The State Department notified the Federal Reserve that Guaidó is the agent for access to Venezuelan assets in US banks.

Nearly as quickly, Maduro drew statements of support from Russia, China, Turkey, Mexico, Cuba, Bolivia, and others. The Venezuelan Supreme Court called for an investigation into the National Assembly and Guaidó, regarding the illegal usurpation of Executive power. The Venezuelan military announced it supported Maduro and Russia warned the US not to intervene militarily.

On January 25, the Organization of American States, which is traditionally a US tool, rejected a resolution to recognize Guaidó. Medea Benjamin of CODE PINK interrupted Pompeo at the OAS holding a sign that said: “a coup is not a democratic transition!” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza thanked Benjamin, saying, “With her protest, she revealed the macabre coup plan against Venezuela, we will always prevail, thank you!” Eighteen countries defeated the proposal.

At the UN Security Council meeting on January 26, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States of attempting “to engineer a coup d’etat.” He demanded to know whether the Trump administration “is ready to use military force” against Venezuela. European countries gave Venezuela eight days to hold an election, a suggestion Venezuela rejected. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Venezuela an “illegitimate mafia state.” He accused Russia and China of trying “to prop up Maduro.”

Both China and Russia have told the US not to intervene in Venezuela’s internal affairs. In December, Russia sent two nuclear-capable strategic Tu-160 bombers to Venezuela along with an An-124 heavy military transport plane and an II-62 long-haul plane. As of December, Russia has one brigade in Venezuela and was discussing sending a second military brigade to Venezuela even before the coup due to the continued threat of intervention from the United States.

China has lent over $50 billion to Venezuela through oil-for-loan agreements over the past decade and has become a partner in the Venezuelan oil industry. In December, seven months since signing a financial business venture with China, Venezuela’s oil production has doubled to 130,000 barrels per day. The take-over of Venezuela’s oil would also be an attack on China. China and Venezuela signed 28 bilateral strategic cooperation agreements on September 14 in the areas of oil, mining, security, technology, finance, and health.

Demonstrating the nature of the coup president, the first acts that Guaidó took were to seek a loan from the International Monetary Fund, which would put Venezuela in debt to western bankers and under their control, and to privatize the Venezuelan oil industry, which would rob Venezuela of the funds being used to lift up the poor and working class.

The appointment by Mike Pompeo of Elliott Abrams as the person in charge of overseeing operations “to restore democracy in Venezuela” is an ominous sign. It is scandalous and demonstrates the most extreme elements of the US establishment are leading the charge. Abrams was convicted during the Iran-Contra scandalsupported US-backed death squads in Guatemala and El Salvador in the 1980s, played a key role in the Reagan administration support for the murderous Contras in Nicaragua and was the person who gave approval for the US-backed coup in Venezuela in 2002.

Analyst Vijay Prashad writes the coup violated the charters of the United Nations and of the Organisation of American States and describes efforts to call on the military to rise up against the government have failed. The Trump administration is now threatening a total oil embargo on Venezuela and is leaving the “military option” open.

The concerted campaign by the US and Canada to install Juan Guaidó as the new ‘self-declared’ interim President of Venezuela has been met with initial failure. Unfortunately, the illegal and undemocratic attempts to destabilize the country and overthrow the democratically-elected President will continue with harmful consequences. The people of Venezuela are rising once again to defend their country against hostile foreign intervention. It is essential that we support them in this fight. Many groups are holding solidarity rallies and issuing statements of support. Find rallies and protests here and here.

While Sanders got all the facts wrong about Venezuela, he did reach the right conclusion: “The United States has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries. We must not go down that road again.” People in the United States have an important role to play in supporting Venezuela and defeating the coup.

Original article: https://popularresistance.org/venezuela-what-activists-need-to-know-about-the-us-led-coup/