Venezuela under fire

President Nicolás Maduro addressing the brutal economic war and media campaigns against Venezuela.

(Feb. 5) – The Bolivarian government of Venezuela is currently under continual fire from the international and domestic right wing. These forces – divided but backed by the U.S. – are attempting to destabilize and overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution with plans ranging from the prolongation of a brutal economic war to smear campaigns against its leaders, through the worldwide media dissemination of misinformation. What’s happening in Venezuela is longstanding, as since 1999, when the late historic leader of the Revolution, Hugo Chávez, arrived at Miraflores Palace, right-wing forces have not ceased in their attacks on the socialist political project that prioritizes improved quality of life for the poorest citizens, to the detriment of the privileged local bourgeoisie, which has resulted in the increasing political polarization of the country in which a revolutionary majority has prevailed. However, although attacked by the domestic media, supported by foreign organizations with large circulations, such as the right-wing newspaper ABC of Spain, the government of President Nicolás Maduro, who replaced Chávez in 2013 by popular vote, is making extraordinary efforts to resist counter-revolutionary attacks.

Chavista forces are mobilized and have not allowed the pro-U.S. opposition to take over the streets.

Presenting his annual speech to citizens at the National Assembly on January 21, Maduro noted that this customary speech had been preceded by an enemy campaign of psychological warfare, which sought to create a state of street violence – like that of 2014 which left 43 dead – due to shortages of staples caused by a combination of hoarding by large importers and increased purchases due to the holiday season, resulting in queues of hundreds of people. Once again, the opposition call for a national strike on January 12 failed, and faced with the economic programs already put in place by the government to normalize the situation, they moved on to other phases of their current strategy of destabilization.

The President stated, “The Venezuelan right concluded that, given the difficult situation created by the economic war and falling oil prices, the government would have no choice but to proceed with a large currency devaluation, accompanied by a set of neoliberal measures which would adversely impact the living conditions of the people, and create favourable conditions for their return to power and the reverse of the revolutionary process,” which has not happened. The drop in oil prices to control the international market – designed by Washington to impact nations like Russia and Venezuela, – clashed with government plans for the creation of projects to increase productive capacity without oil dependence, operations to control hoarding, and the immediate sale of goods at fair prices.

In this context, the renowned Venezuelan journalist, Eleazar Díaz Rangel, director of the newspaper Últimas Noticias, warned in his column that, “the maneuvers employed by Washington to overthrow Chilean President Salvador Allende, in the 70s,” are being used against the country, stating that in messages of the time exchanged between Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Richard Helms, the latter noted, “A suddenly disastrous economic situation would be the most logical pretext for a military move.”

In the midst of the revolutionary counteroffensive, the right sought to put together a media spectacle by inviting to Venezuela three former Latin American presidents, renowned for the neoliberal governments that ruined their nations – Andrés Pastrana of Colombia, Felipe Calderón of Mexico and Sebastián Piñera of Chile – with the intention of visiting, without government authorization, the imprisoned counterrevolutionary leader, Leopoldo López. López – one of the leaders behind the so-called guarimbas (violent street barricades) of last year – whose trial has been delayed for a year because he refuses to appear before the judge, while relatives of the victims demand justice. A competent court ruled that López was subject to a default judgement, and, beginning this month, actions have accelerated to continue his prosecution. These former presidents, a sorry memory for their people, thanks to their neoliberal and repressive policies, traveled to Caracas to participate in a forum called Neoliberalism and Human Rights last January 26, under the auspices of the discredited opposition coalition, Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), led by the former deputy, Maria Corina Machado, Antonio Ledezma (metropolitan mayor of Caracas) and the governor of Miranda State, Henrique Capriles.

The visit by these right-wing politicians, which like other plans ended in failure, caused another element of the strategy against the Revolution to be put into motion: with a global media campaign accusing, without evidence, Venezuelan officials such as the leader of Parliament, Diosdado Cabello, of having links with international drug trafficking. Speaking to TeleSUR, the Governor of Barinas State, Adán Chávez Frías, announced that the national government will take legal action against several international media outlets that, he said, have sustained a campaign of slander and libel in order to bring down the Bolivarian Revolution. Chávez stated that the Venezuelan authorities “categorically reject these malicious actions” and called for “compelling evidence” regarding the information published by ABC, which accuses Cabello of being “the leader of the Cartel de los Soles,” (Cartel of the Suns drug trafficking group) a claim immediately denied by the accused and other Bolivarian leaders.

The ABC report based itself on the supposed testimony of Leamsy Salazar, a former bodyguard of the late President Chávez and now a U.S. resident, who in response has maintained silence. The Governor of Barinas rejected the accusations as “lies” and challenged the media outlets echoing the ABC newspaper’s claims to present evidence against Cabello and other relatives of the deceased president relating to drug trafficking.

Venezuelan Defense Minister, Vladimir Padrino, has also been attacked by opposition groups seeking to discredit the military and its leadership. Padrino recently denounced a smear campaign against the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), in which they were held responsible for alleged human rights violations, and noted that, “as a cornerstone of the Republic, the military corps is respectful of human rights and is aware of its historic role,” in accordance with the regulations published in the Official Gazette.

Despite the counterrevolutionary plans, which certainly will not cease, for 2015 the Bolivarian Revolution proposes ambitious new goals, despite the unfavorable international economic outlook, without negatively impacting – as Maduro announced – major plans for social inclusion embodied in the “Plan de la Patria” (Homeland Plan) left as part of the legacy of President Chávez.

Source: Granma, Havana 2015.02.25.Albameeting-poster

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