On June 21, 2016 Afro-Venezuelans from all of Venezuela’s 14 states took to the streets in Caracas to show their support for the government of Venezuela against an economic war and foreign intervention. Two days later, people across Venezuela gathered in the public squares of major cities also against foreign intervention and to defend the sovereignty of Venezuela. On the International Day of Refugees, Colombians living in Venezuela marched in Caracas in support of the Bolivarian Revolution and the government of Venezuela.
These mass demonstrations are only a few examples of the way that the people of Venezuela are demonstrating their support of the Bolivarian Revolution. The people of Venezuela, led by the government of President Nicolas Maduro are mobilizing every day, in streets, classrooms and workplaces of Venezuela to defend the gains of the Bolivarian Revolution against a violent counter-revolutionary opposition that works hand-in-hand with the U.S. government.
However, you would know none of this if you were reading the mainstream news. Instead, you would
see the headlines “Venezuela food shortage pushes country to breaking point”, “Rolling blackouts and riots in drought-stricken Venezuela”, “Venezuelans ransack stores, riot in streets as widespread hunger grips South American nation” or “Venezuela is grinding to a halt amid chaos;” all headlines that have been used in the last month for articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post and even Canadian press such as the CBC.
This mainstream media campaign against Venezuela is using lies, deceptions and manipulations to turn Venezuela into a “failed state,” with a people in desperate need of foreign aid and intervention. This is a false and exaggerated narrative that compliments the current policy of the U.S. government and their allies against the sovereignty and self-determination of the people of Venezuela.
U.S. Intervention in Venezuela Continues
Since the beginning of the Bolivarian Revolution with the election of Comandante Hugo Chavez in 1998, the U.S. government has led a constant attack against the people of Venezuela and their right to choose their own government and the future of their country. This has included financial and political support for a violent and counter-revolutionary opposition in Venezuela, including support for a 2002 coup against President Chavez. Most recently, President Obama and the U.S. government have declared Venezuela as a “threat to U.S. national security” and upheld existing sanctions.
Calls for foreign intervention, including support for a motion against Venezuela in the Organization of American States (OAS) have been echoed by all major political parties in Canada, including the NDP. In a recent statement NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Hélène Laverdière (Laurier—Sainte-Marie) said “Canada should be working through the Organization of American States (OAS) to support multilateral diplomatic initiatives. The OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has invoked the Inter-American Democratic Charter regarding Venezuela, and Canada, as a member of the OAS, should support his efforts. Multilateral action is the best way to find a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela.”
So, What About the OAS?
The United States and their allies have also continued to try and impose their will on the people of Venezuela through the apparatus of the Organization of American States (OAS). In May, the OAS member-states (which include the United States and Canada) refused to accept the call of the General Secretary of the OAS to invoke the “Inter-American Democratic Charter” against Venezuela, which could lead to the removal Venezuela from the regional body. Then, in June there was another meeting of the OAS where the General Secretary, Luis Almagro proceeded to read his full report on Venezuela and the reasons they should be banned from the OAS.
The government of Venezuela has denied the legitimacy of the General Secretary to invoke the charter, especially in the light of Almagro’s direct meetings with the opposition in Venezuela as if they were somehow representatives of Venezuela at the OAS. As Delcy Rodriguez, the Foreign Minister of Venezuela has said “"Every day we have evidence of the secretary general's bias in favor of sectors of the opposition who are seeking a coup in Venezuela," she said. “I see now this is ordered by Washington. I know they are on Washington’s payroll to meddle in the domestic affairs of Venezuela.”
Member-states at the OAS meeting expressed their support for dialogue between the government of Venezuela and the opposition as facilitated by UNASUR. As opposed to the OAS, which is based in Washington DC and receives 59% of its funding from the United States, UNASUR is a regional cooperation bloc for and in South America. If the United States and their allies are truly concerned with peace and democracy in Venezuela, they should support the efforts of Venezuela’s neighbors to promote dialogue.
What Are the Media Lies and Deceptions About Venezuela?
At a time when the U.S. government has chosen to mask its intervention in Venezuela under demands for “democracy” and an end to “humanitarian crisis,” mainstream media has also launched a campaign against Venezuela in order to pave the way for further intervention. This campaign is working through all major capitalist media outlets to prove that the people of Venezuela are facing a humanitarian crisis that the government of Venezuela is doing nothing to remedy.
This manipulative campaign has focused especially on food shortages and the long lines of people waiting to buy basic goods in Venezuela. First of all, it must be said, what right does the U.S. government and media have to tell Venezuela about ensuring access to proper nutrition? Within the United States, the richest country in the world, over 15 million children live in households without consistent access to “nutritious food necessary for a healthy life”, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
Despite the obvious hypocrisy, the mainstream media and U.S. government officials continue to offer their criticisms, placing the entire fault for lines and shortages on the shoulders of the Venezuelan government. There are, however, many other factors that contribute to the great challenges that the Venezuelan economy is facing, not the least of which has been the dramatic fall in the price of oil, Venezuela’s main export. These factors, with very real consequences to Venezuela’s economy are brushed off in major media in order to make room for more photos of empty grocery store shelves.
The continued practice of the smuggling and re-selling of basic goods in Venezuela for a massive profit is another factor causing shortages. In a rare article about the problem of smuggling in Venezuela, Time Magazine interviewed two sisters in Colombia. As Time reports, “… they meet a local who has purchased about 60 kilos of beef at the Mercal, the state subsidized supermarket, for the equivalent of just $54. By the end of the day that same quantity of meat will be on a market shelf in Cucuta, where it will sell for over $200.” Despite the closure of much of the Venezuela/Colombia border by President Maduro in August of 2015 to crackdown on smuggling, the criminal practice continues to funnel food and basic goods out of government subsidized stores and out the country.
To further demonstrate that the mainstream media has no interest in the truth about Venezuela, take for example a photo that has been re-printed dozens of times in mainstream media over the past few years. In this photo, a woman with a grocery cart is seen walking in front of a row of empty shelves, a supposed example of a severe crisis in Venezuela. Although this photo was reported as being taken in Venezuela, it was later proven to be a photo taken in New York in 2011 prior to Hurricane Sandy.
It has also become common practice in the mainstream media to report that the inflation rate in Venezuela has reached 700%, which is a direct lie. This number is only a prediction by the IMF about where the inflation rate is headed in Venezuela in the next year. Instead, Venezuela’s Central Bank has reported that the inflation rate 141.5 percent.
“Each aggression of the opposition must be responded to with more revolution”
Diosdado Cabello, Venezuelan Parliamentarian and former President of Venezuela’s National Assembly
In Venezuela today, the majority of food production and distribution is still controlled by private companies, a factor that mainstream media chooses to leave out when they discuss shortages. These companies, including the largest, known as Empresa Polar, have been found hoarding food as well as raising prices for basic goods. In order to combat this, the government of Venezuela has implemented emergency economic measures that enable them to introduce more control and regulation in the industry. With the emergency decree in place, there are advances being made to diversify Venezuela’s economy as well as boost production in factories left to waste by private industry in Venezuela.
They have also formed a community-based food distribution system, known as CLAP – Local Committees of Supply and Production. As reported by Telesur at the beginning of June, “the CLAP committees have facilitated the distribution of 33,000 tons of food to some 6.4 million of Venezuelans.” As well, the government is working to establish growth of food production in Venezuela, with new projects such as community gardens and urban farms. In another sector, Venezuela actively working to increase food imports outside of the private sector. This includes a recent trade deal with Trinidad and Tobago for food, bath and laundry soaps and toilet paper.
When the right-wing opposition was elected to a majority in the National Assembly in December of 2015, the first laws that they attempted to pass immediately showed their intentions to roll back the great gains made by the people of Venezuela in the Bolivarian Revolution. Despite these attempts, the people of Venezuela continue to receive the important services delivered by the social programs, known as “Missions” in Venezuela. This includes those for housing, health and dental care, subsidized food and education.
“I will say this now and always, Venezuela does not obey orders from the United States.”
– Nicolas Maduro
In the face of a difficult economic and political situation in Venezuela, the Bolivarian Revolution has continued to advance, in dramatic contrast to the chaos and desperation described by mainstream media. As the mainstream media mounts a campaign of lies and deceptions to paint Venezuela as a failed-state, the government of Venezuela is working to combat a very-real economic crisis, a violent counter-revolutionary opposition and constant threats of foreign intervention.
Almost 17 years ago the people of Venezuela choose to pursue a different path than that set out by the U.S. government and their allies in Latin America. With the election of the late President Comandante Hugo Chavez, the people of Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution began to build a more equal and just society. Since then, great gains have been made in the fight against poverty, illiteracy and lack of adequate housing, education and healthcare in Venezuela.
Ever since that day, the government of Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution has been under constant threat. As people in Canada and the United States we must echo the demands of the people of Venezuela against foreign intervention and expose the hypocrisy of the U.S. government in their claim to be fighting for “democracy” and “human rights” in Venezuela.
Follow Alison on Twitter: @alisoncolette
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