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Stop The US-Led Coup In Venezuela

Above Photo: On Monday there were protests and burning barricades against the government in a number of working-class areas in Caracas that are normally chavista strongholds. Image: anonymous

NOTE: Sign the petition HERE to tell your elected officials NO US-ENGINEERED COUP In Venezuela!

The United States claims it is going to bring democracy to Venezuela by replacing a legitimately-elected president with an unelected president.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó of the extreme right Popular Will Party declared himself the acting president and called for the military to rise up against Maduro. In an obviously coordinated action, minutes later, the White House announced its formal recognition of Guaidó as Venezuela’s head of state. Shortly after, Maduro severed ties with the U.S. and gave diplomatic staff 72 hours to leave the country.

This is part of a never-ending coup and economic war against Venezuela that began with the election of Hugo Chavez. Last September, it was confirmed that Trump administration officials met with renegade Venezuelan military officers planning a coup against the government. In August, an assassination attempt against Maduro, coordinated with US ally Colombia, was foiled. Before Maduro’s inauguration, there was a  multifaceted attack aimed at regime change by the US and its allies using sanctions, military threats, and a campaign of delegitimization. War preparations have been ongoing since before the last presidential elections. When asked about military action Wednesday, Trump said: “We are not considering anything, but all options are on the table.”

Telesur reported President Maduro gave a speech from the presidential palace in Caracas on Wednesday where he said, “They went too far. I have decided to break all diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist government of the United States. Out! They can all leave. They aim to rule Venezuela from Washington.” Maduro ordered a complete review of Venezuela’s relations with the United States.

In response to Maduro declaring all US diplomats persona non grata and demanding they leave Venezuela, Secretary of State Pompeo refused to remove US diplomats from the country. He claimed Maduro was not the legitimate president and threatened to “take appropriate action to hold accountable anyone who endangers the safety and security of our mission and its personnel.”

Venezuela’s military is standing with President Maduro. Venezuela’s military leader said the military will not accept “a president imposed in the shadow of obscure interests or self-proclaimed outside the law.” Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said the army will continue to defend the constitution and Venezuela’s national sovereignty.

On Thursday, the military high command of Venezuela ratified its support for President Nicolas Maduro. Padrino in a statement from the ministry and in the company of the military leadership said that the United States and other governments are executing a war against Venezuela. “I warn the people that there is a coup underway against our democracy and our president Nicolas Maduro.” Padrino described Guaidó’s claim to power as “laughable” and described him as a pawn of right-wing factions subservient to the United States. He said they would not recognize “a person” who declared himself president, saying,  “Those of us who lived through the coup of 2002 have it etched into our minds, we never thought we’d see that again, but we saw it yesterday.”

Also on Thursday, President Putin pledged his support for the elected government of Venezuela during a phone call with President Nicolas Maduro. Putin criticized the “destructive external meddling” to which the country has been exposed. Russia warned the United States against any military intervention in Venezuela. The Russian Foreign Ministry said, “We warn against such adventurism which is fraught with catastrophic consequences.” Dmitri S. Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, told reporters in Moscow. “We consider the attempt to usurp the top power in Venezuela as going against the foundations and principles of the international law.” He warned, “any external intervention is very dangerous.”

The Associated Press reported Bolivian President Evo Morales has expressed his “solidarity” with the Venezuelan people and condemned what he called an “imperialist attack.” Russia, Turkey and China all voiced support for Maduro. Russia spoke out against the US coup, calling it an attempted ‘color revolution.’ A spokesman for Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also said that Mexico would continue recognizing Maduro as Venezuela’s president.

US-allied governments Brazil, Colombia, and Paraguay all quickly expressed their support after Guaido as did Canada. EU leaders also endorsed the rebel government. This rapid support seemed to be organized by the United States before the coup actions on Wednesday.

People’s World reports the relatively unknown self-declared president, “Guaidó was a founder of the extreme right-wing Popular Will Party, along with Leopoldo López, known for his role in provoking deadly riots in 2014 that cost 43 people their lives. Guaidó is an engineer by trade and a graduate of both George Washington University in D.C. and the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración. The latter is Venezuela’s most elite business school; it played a key role in drafting the neoliberal economic policies of the governments that preceded the late President Hugo Chavez.”

In a Statement of the Campaign to End U.S. and Canada Sanctions Against Venezuela, they wrote: “Today the people of Venezuela mark the 61st anniversary of the defeat of dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez by a popular mass movement.  As Venezuelans march today honoring their sovereignty, liberty, and the Bolivarian revolutionary process, we stand with them and their democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro. We support the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people and resources and say ‘no’ to US interventionism in any form.”

The Statement concluded: “We encourage peace and justice-loving people across the U.S., Canada and around the world to join with us in organizing in defense of Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination and against any foreign intervention. To get involved in the anti-sanctions Campaign, visit our website.”

The Alliance for Global Justice urged people to take action, writing:  “Sign the petition HERE to tell your elected officials NO US-ENGINEERED COUP In Venezuela! It is clear that the US government and corporate media believe they have entered the final offensive to replace the elected Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro with one that will be subservient to US interests. Tell your elected officials (US and Canadian) that you oppose foreign intervention in Venezuela’s internal affairs. This action is counter to both the United Nations and Organization of American States Charters and thus illegal under international law.”  

In the end, the people of Venezuela will not allow US domination of their country. The support for the Bolivarian Revolution is wide and deep. The issue is how much damage will the US and its allies, especially the right-wing governments of Colombia and Brazil do before they realize they cannot defeat Venezuela. The era of US domination is over. – KZ

Washington Ups The Stakes In Ongoing Attempt To Overthrow Venezuelan Government

Jorge Martin,

The ongoing attempt by Washington and the reactionary Venezuelan opposition to remove President Maduro will reach a key stage today. The opposition have called for mass protests and Mike Pence issued a public statement giving the green light for “regime change”. As we have explained before, in Venezuela, there is an ongoing attempt to remove president Maduro through a military coup instigated by Trump, Bolsonaro, Macri and Almagro.

On 10 January, the opposition-dominated National Assembly refused to recognise Maduro as president, calling him a “usurper”, and has said it is the only legitimate power in the country. The opposition is hinting at the president of the NA, Juan Guaidó, becoming the country’s interim president. Guaidó has called on the army to recognise him as such and break with the democratically elected Maduro.

The US has talked openly of a “transition to democracy”, and the National Assembly (which is in contempt of court since 2016) has passed a “law” saying that any army officers who break with the “dictator” will be given a full amnesty. The Supreme Court has now declared these decisions of the NA null and void.

A foiled mutiny

On Monday 21 January, early in the morning, there was a mutiny of a number of National Guard officers, who were later disarmed and arrested. They attacked a couple of National Guard posts with the aim of obtaining weapons. This could be just a one-off incident or a reflection of a more widespread mood of discontent within the armed forces. It is to be noted that the mutineers were mainly low-ranking officers and from the National Guard, not the main body of the army. The government has reported that the guardsmen involved were intending to hand over their weapons to members of the opposition Voluntad Popular party.

The stand-off with the guardsmen took place in Cotiza, a working-class barrio in the north of Caracas. Some of the local residents came out to protest against the government and set up burning barricades. Even if you factor in that opposition activists would have been actively promoting such protests, there are many genuine grievances in these and many other working-class areas, which have suffered the worst of the economic crisis. Particularly, many areas of Caracas have faced long periods of water cut-offs.

In the evening of the same day, there were protests, banging of pots and pans and burning barricades against the government in a number of places in Caracas. While the numbers involved were relatively small, significantly they mainly took place in working-class communities in the west of Caracas, which are traditional chavista strongholds, including in Carapita (Antímano), in barrios, in the areas of El Limón and Ciudad Caribia, on the road to La Guaria, etc.

If this means that the reactionary opposition is starting to connect with the grievances of working-class communities about water cut-offs, hyperinflation, low wages, etc., it would be a dangerous turning point. It remains to be seen if that is the case. The truth is that, since the last round of violent opposition protests, when they attempted to overthrow the government in 2017, the situation has only worsened in terms of the living conditions of working people and the poor. This is also impacted the lower ranks of the military, who face the same conditions. On top of that, since 2017, the government has made repeated promises to solve the economic situation, all of which have been broken. This has had dented confidence in the government’s ability amongst the ranks of chavismo.

Mass opposition demonstrations today

The opposition has called for mass demonstrations today, 23 January, on the anniversary of the overthrow of the Perez Jiménez dictatorship in 1958. They are concentrating all their forces on this call. The aim is clear: to have a show of strength, which will bring the army to breaking point and force it to intervene to remove Maduro. Is that all? Perhaps not. Yesterday a number of people were arrested in Zulia in possession of weapons and military uniforms. The idea that the opposition or sections of it want to provoke an armed incident, which would justify or trigger a coup, is very feasible. This is, after all, what served as a prelude for the coup in April 2002, when snipers fired on opposition and pro-government demonstrators alike. The opposition blamed the government for “opening fire on unarmed demonstrators”, which was the cue for the military coup.

A statement yesterday by US Senator Marco Rubio (the leader of the most belligerent section of the US establishment against Cuba and Venezuela) seems to give credence to this scenario. He talked about plans by Venezuelan secret service SEBIN to fire upon opposition demonstrators:

He is making it clear that the sole aim of this protests is the removal of the elected president and that the US will stand by those carrying out the plan (in fact, the US is a component part of the plotting). This is a scandalous state of affairs. Washington is openly giving instructions for the removal of a government in another sovereign country.

These are not just words. The US is seriously considering stepping up the economic sanctions that are strangling the Venezuelan economy. It might even implement a full oil embargo, which would cripple the government.

Death threats and imperialist meddling

The leader of the most extreme faction of the Venezuelan opposition, María Corina Machado, yesterday said that “if Maduro wants to preserve his life he needs to recognise his time is up”:

This is a direct death threat, which reveals the real character of the “democratic” opposition that counts on the full backing of the US and the EU.

The situation is therefore quite serious. It is clear that Washington and the reactionary opposition now see a window of opportunity and are prepared to go on the offensive until they achieve their main aim: the removal of Maduro one way or another. On the other hand, the EU has made an appeal for negotiations between the government and the opposition in order to solve the crisis. Let us not be fooled. Both Washington and Brussels want the same thing: to remove the president of the country by unconstitutional means. They might have slight differences about the methods, but they agree on the fundamentals.

The economic situation has deteriorated since the last coup attempt in 2017, coupled with the weight of a series of unfulfilled promises by the government to sort out the economic situation. Additionally, the government has used repression against workers struggling for rights and conditions. Most recently the protests of Agropatria workers in Cagua were met with repression by the national guard, and their leaders were arrested. The government has also not done anything to defend peasants struggling for agrarian reform, despite promises to the contrary.

Some have even said it doesn’t matter who wins as the living conditions of workers and peasants are already so bad. They delude themselves. If Washington has its way, it would be an even greater disaster for working people in Venezuela, even leaving aside the political impact in the region and beyond.

Our position remains the same: we do not support Maduro’s government, whose policies are undermining the gains of the Bolivarian Revolution and are unable to address the economic crisis. At the same time, we oppose with all means at our disposal the reactionary Trump-Bolsonaro-Almagro coup.

Marxists, labour movement activists and any consistent democrats have a duty to reject this ongoing coup attempt and defend the right of the people of Venezuela to decide their own future, free from imperialist meddling.

Hands Off Venezuela!

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