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The Opposition in Venezuela: Terrorists or “Rebels”?

Photo by Diariocritico de Venezuela | CC BY 2.0

On October 22, 2014, a 32 year old Canadian man entered the Canadian Houses of Parliament armed with a rifle. Minutes before he had killed in cold blood Corporal Nathan Cirillo who was carrying out a ceremonial guard outside at the Canadian National War Memorial nearby.  This armed intruder entered the Parliament building where Prime Minister Harper, his Cabinet, opposition party leaders and other Members were present. The Sergeant–at- Arms, Kevin Vickers, heroically shot the intruder, who was then shot again by soldiers. All in all they shot him 31 times, dying on the spot. This frightful and unheard of attack on Parliament Hill was classified as terrorism under the Canadian Criminal Code.

Parliament gave Vickers a standing ovation and a medal for his heroism. Canada was showered with congratulations from other countries for having overcome this act of terrorism. Although there was discussion about whether or not the shooter was acting as a terrorist or was just mentally ill, there was not one voice of dissent from organizations, political parties or citizens about those 31 shots, even though Canada has no death sentence.  Nobody talked about abuse of the shooter’s human rights, nobody mentioned a massacre, nobody called the shooter a “rebel” although he apparently opposed Steven Harper’s Middle East policies.

Imagine if a former Canadian pilot gathering around himself a motley group, had stolen an Armed Forces helicopter, violently raided an army base to get hold of guns and explosives. Then, thus armed, from the air, dropped grenades at the Ministry of Justice where there was an event for dozens of journalists celebrating Journalism Day. Then, imagine if they flew over the Supreme Court of Canada and dropped grenades at the building where all the judges were present, and where there was nursery day care full of little children. Imagine that this terrorist then made extensive use of media and social media to brag about his attacks and these rants were extensively publicized. Imagine that the authorities managed to surround them outside the capital. And, following a negotiation, the shooter declared they were ready to give themselves up. When the senior detective comes forward to receive his rendition, he is gunned down in cold blood and another detective also killed. In the gunfight that ensued, the pilot and several of his men end up dead.

Do you think that if these events actually happened in Canada that there would be one single person who would laud these criminals as heroes, as freedom fighters, as rebels against an unfair government? Do you think there would be anyone in Canada who would accuse the authorities, let alone the Prime Minster himself, of abusing human rights, of assassination, of massacre?

Yet these very events DID happen exactly like that in Venezuela in June 2017, and the international press painted that ex-pilot as a brave “rebel” not a criminal terrorist. (For example, see NYT.)

The media gleefully published his disparate rants against the legitimate and democratic government of Venezuela.  It seems that Venezuela is not to be allowed even to defend itself from terrorists. It is clear that to the USA, Canada and their allies, Venezuelan judges are fair game and can have grenades lobbed at them, that journalists and even children’s daycares can be placed in peril, and policemen can be gunned down in cold blood, all of it justified if done by a “rebel” that wants regime change in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan opposition insists in painting that ex-pilot as some sort of hero or freedom fighter. The media they control does not mention the plans these criminals had to assassinate President Maduro, to bomb the Cuban embassy and to bomb the statue of Maria Lionza. This is a statue of a sort of goddess of the jungle that is venerated by some Venezuelan ethnic and popular groups; it is a large statue located in the middle of the most important highway in Caracas whose destruction would cause a great deal of damage.  It is usually surrounded by flower offerings and is indeed the symbol of the indigenous population and of the diversity of popular religious practices. Its destruction would give a powerful symbolic message: those who should govern are the elite and not the  “ignorant populace rabble”.

This very wealthy elitist, racist, opposition lobbied not only the USA and Canada but also EU, asking – and obtaining- sanctions on the country, sanctions that prevent Venezuela from buying, selling or getting loans.

These arrogant foreign countries believe that they can dictate to Latin America. They accuse Venezuela of not keeping the rule of law and violating human rights, and demand elections – as if they were not already planned. However, they TOTALLY ignore that the sanctions they are imposing are a violation of the fundamental principals of the Charter of Rights of the United Nations. These sanctions are a vulgar interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation.

An extraordinary visit to Venezuela was carried out by the UN recently. The first official UN rapporteur to visit the country since 1996, Professor Dr. Alfred M. de Zayas carried out an official mission in Venezuela from 26 November to 4 December 2017. The purpose of his visit was to explore how the Bolivarian Revolution had implemented human rights – especially in the economic, social and cultural domain.  His comments are worthy of note:

 … there is no “famine” in Venezuela, despite media reports and generalizations. There is, however, a shortage in several sectors, and some products are hard to get, but the population does not suffer from hunger as for example in many countries of Africa and Asia – or even in the favelas of São Paolo and other urban areas in Brazil and other Latin American countries. There are mainly problems in the timely distribution of imported products – but this is predominantly the responsibility of the private sector, which often enough deliberately boycotts the distribution, sometimes stocks products in large warehouses and then takes them to the black market instead of delivering them to supermarkets — just to make a higher profit…

(the opposition)  wish to cancel the Chávez and Maduro years and return to a purely capitalistic model. But there are at least 8 million Chávistas, and they will not disappear. These voters are convinced of the government’s program. These people will not allow the social achievements to be swept away. If the economy does not collapse as a result of sabotage, smuggling and sanctions, the government is likely to be reelected in 2018. The administration and the army are on the side of the government. Certainly, the plan in Washington is to launch a military attack on Venezuela by making use of disinformation about the allegedly miserable situation in the country with hunger, infant mortality and an economically desolate conditions, and then to chase the government out of office. We know this proceeding from other countries, so for example from September 1973 when the government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by a coup and Allende died.”

(See:  https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/13614)

The real issue is that the control over Venezuela’s immense oil reserve has become of major importance to Big Oil who has marshaled its great power to press for these sanctions. The campaign against Venezuela has nothing to do with “restoring” democracy, in fact that is the very last thing the USA, Canada or the EU want. They deliberately ignore the three 2017 elections for governors, municipal government and representatives to the National Constitutional Assembly that saw a significant win for the government. These elections were carried out in excellent order, as witnessed by a multitude of independent international observers. Despite the outrageous accusations of the USA and allies of dictatorship, there can be no clearer manifestation of democracy than these three electoral processes and no clearer sign of the support for President Maduro and his government than this.

The USA, the puppet director of the OAS (Almagro), Canada and the EU have  demanded that Venezuela  hold presidential elections. This has been stated as if there had not been already elections scheduled for December 2018 or as if the government was somehow refusing to hold them. In a master move, last week the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) decided to push forward presidential elections for April 2018. This would surely satisfy these international critics, no? No. Their outcry is now that these elections will be illegal and unfair because they were decreed by the NCA. The NCA is a legitimately elected body  (elected following strictly the indications of the Constitution) and is even recognized by major opposition parties. Who is it now that is not recognizing Venezuela’s rule of law?

The call for presidential elections has caught the acrimoniously divided opposition off guard, as their several disparate parties can only agree on one thing: get rid of Maduro. There is no way that the opposition can match the popularity of the government, a government that has not ceased to try to protect the poorest from the economic crisis. By normal political standards, any government that has been in power during a critical economic crisis – out side of actual war- most assuredly looses its popularity. Not so the Venezuelan government, in fact, it may have even increased its support despite the terrible economic situation.  How can the opposition have hoped to gain from the economic crisis when they have openly – shamelessly- lobbied for the boycott of Venezuela? They want foreign forces to give them the power they are unable to persuade the people to grant them through clean elections. And they are very willing to hand over all of the country’s petroleum to Big Oil so long as they are given political power.

The Venezuelan elites, having opposed even their great Liberator Simón Bolívar,  have learned nothing of honor during two centuries. In the most critical historical moments of the country, they have shown themselves on the side of the oppressors, of foreign powers. The Venezuelan people, who have an acute sense of history, are not likely to forget.

More articles by:

María Páez Victor, Ph.D. is a Venezuelan born sociologist living in Canada. 

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