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The Violent History of the Venezuelan Opposition

The West alleges that the Venezuelan opposition is peaceful and democratic; however, their extensive history of right-wing violence proves otherwise.

The Venezuelan opposition is led by a predominately white bourgeoisie, the US state department and its allies. The US state department has provided at least $49 million since 2009 in aid for Venezuelan right-wing opposition forces who have sparked violent protests and murders of innocent civilians with the hopes of removing the democratically elected President Maduro. The US government has also provided $4.26 million for Venezuela through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2015 in order to fund organizations that engage in anti-government work.

Contrary to Western narratives, these anti-government protestors have a history of escalating to extreme forms of violence, such as their burning of Venezuelan youth Orlando Jose Figuera, who was stabbed and set on fire on May 20th, 2018. This occurred in the Altamira neighborhood of Caracas, one of the wealthiest regions of the capital, after the anti-government protestors suspected he was a Chavista because he was Black. 80% of his body suffered burns and stab wounds as a result and he unfortunately died from this hate crime. This heinous act even drew the attention of Ernesto Vega, Venezuela’s Minister of Communication and Information, who issued a statement on his Twitter account following the death of Figuera, his statement is, as quoted: “Orlando Figuera, stabbed and burned alive by minds diseased by the hate in Altamira on May 20, just died of cardiopulmonary arrest,” he also elaborated that international mainstream media has failed to expose the opposition for how violent it truly is in its protests as opposed to “peaceful.”

Mainstream media has also failed to expose the reactionary nature of prominent Venezuelan bourgeois opposition leaders such as Leopoldo Lopez, who are romanticized as heroes fallen victim to a brutal regime when the reality is quite the contrary.

Leopoldo Lopez is a main figure of the Venezuelan opposition who was placed under house arrest after 3 years in prison due to health concerns.

He was imprisoned at first due to his planning and promotion of violent protests to topple the democratically elected Maduro government, these protests resulted in 43 casualties. Lopez is a wealthy white Venezuelan elite man who is directly descended from 19th century bourgeois liberator Simon Bolivar and Venezuela’s first president Cristobal Mendoza. He culminated his education in prestigious institutions in the US such as the Hun School of Princeton, which he attended alongside Saudi princes and the children of US Presidents and well known CEOS.

He was then admitted to Kenyon College followed by Harvard John F Kennedy School of Government. Some investigators speculate that he initiated a relationship with the CIA while at Kenyon. Lopez founded the group Primero Justicia while in school in 1992, which grew into a significant political party in right-wing Venezuelan politics.

Prior to becoming involved again in Venezuelan politics after his return to the country in 1996, he became an analyst at the quasi-privatized Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) where he worked until 1999 and while he worked there, he and his mother illegally sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Primero Justicia, which breaks Venezuela’s anti-corruption laws. This act was not revealed until 2007 when an investigation conducted demonstrated what Lopez had done and banned him from obtaining political office titles for years.

After culminating his job at PDVSA, he was elected mayor of the Chachao department of Caracas in 2000, which is one of the wealthiest provinces in Venezuela. In 2002, Lopez started to regularly visit the headquarters of International Republican Institute (IRI) in Washington DC and meet with officials from the Bush administration. The IRI makes up one third of the National Endowment for Democracy, which is a US government funded NGO that was chaired by John Mccain and that has played a role in numerous US-sanctioned regime changes.
Both the IRI and the National Democratic Institute have financed Lopez’s Primero Justicia party as well as his other party Voluntad Popular which he established in 2010.

During his term as mayor of Chachao, Lopez participated in the 2002 US coup attempt against democratically elected president Hugo Chavez. The key role Lopez played in this coup attempt was in the illegal sequestration of former Minister of the Interior and Justice Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, along with engaging in violent attacks aimed at the Cuban Embassy in Caracas, which him and other violent counterrevolutionaries cut off water and electricity to and smashed windows and vehicles.

In 2007, Chavez forgave Lopez for his participation in the coup and prohibited him from holding political office from 2008 to 2014. Lopez has then tried to disassociate himself from the 2002 coup attempt which was generally not well received by anyone including the Venezuelan opposition. In 2014 Lopez’s lawyers tried to deny his involvement in the coup, but this was not successful as there was video evidence of him kidnapping Chacin and that his father, Leopoldo Lopez Gil, was a business leader who suspended the Venezuelan constitution that was provided by the fickle coup government.

This legacy of right-wing violence has continued to this day. On March 10th, 2019, the New York Times reported that the USAID that the Venezuelan government, UN and Red Cross rejected that was believed to have been burned by the Maduro administration, was in fact burned by the right-wing guarimberos, who were recently caught on camera throwing a molotov cocktail at the USAID truck. Juan Guaido, the interim figure backed by the US, recorded himself in now deleted videos of himself participating in violent guarimba riots back in 2014.

As much as the west wants to paint Venezuelan opposition as peaceful heroes and Maduro as a villain that needs to be taken down, neither is the actual case and are indeed imperialist propaganda.

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