Vol. XLIII No. 05 February 03, 2019

Hands Off Venezuela

THE United States has declared war against the legitimate government of Venezuela headed by President Nicolas Maduro.

This is the meaning of the brazen act of interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela with the Trump administration announcing the recognition of a rightwing opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as the interim president.  Alongside this illegal act came also the call to the Venezuelan armed forces to withdraw support to the lawfully elected president. 

That Guaido declared himself as the interim president on January 23, which was immediately endorsed by the United States, shows that what was attempted was a coup d’etat.  This has failed since the defence minister and the army chief have pledged support to the lawful elected government. There was a massive demonstration in Caracas in support of President Maduro.

Ever since Hugo Chavez became the president of Venezuela in 1999 and ushered in the Bolivarian revolutionary process, the rightwing oligarchy in the country, backed by the United States, has been seeking to topple the Bolivarian government and bring about a regime change.

In 2002, a coup attempt was staged against President Chavez, but it failed due to the massive popular mobilisation.  Since then, there have been concerted efforts by the rightwing opposition sponsored by the capitalist oligarchy and US imperialism to destabilise the government through street protests and engineered violence. 

The present crisis in Venezuela stems from two factors.  Firstly, after the sharp drop in oil prices since 2014, the Venezuelan economy has been in doldrums with its adverse impact on the life of the people. Sabotage by the big capitalists and sanctions imposed by the United States worsened the situation.

The second factor is external.  After the steady advance of the Left in Latin America for one and a half decades, there has been a reversal. The rightwing forces backed by US imperialism went on a counter offensive. The balance of forces has now changed with a rightwing government in Argentina and the election of a far-right president in Brazil. There are rightist governments in Peru, Columbia and Chile.  The presidents of two neighbouring countries, Ivan Duque in Columbia and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil are committed to the overthrow of President Maduro.  President Trump has now joined forces with the rightwing within Venezuela and the rightwing governments in Latin America to bring about a regime change and to suppress the Left in Venezuela which was the vital centre of the Left advance at the turn of the new century.

That the United States is in deadly earnest about overthrowing President Maduro is evident from the moves to curb purchasing oil from Venezuela. The assets of the State-owned oil company PDVSA in the US have been impounded. This is meant to harm the Venezuelan economy as the United States is the major importer of its oil.

The illegal intervention in Venezuela by the United States is supported by other Western powers.  France, Britain, Germany and Spain called upon Maduro to order fresh election in a week’s time, failing which they would recognise the interim president. The Venezuelan government has dismissed this demand out of hand.  It was in May 2018 that presidential elections were held; Maduro had polled 67.8 per cent of the vote with a section of the opposition boycotting the election. 

As Venezuela faces up to this serious threat to its independence and national sovereignty, it is time for all democratic and anti-imperialist forces around the world to express solidarity with the Maduro government and to strongly condemn the imperialist maneouvres.  The Modi government has remained silent about this conspiracy to destabilise the legitimate government of Venezuela.  It needs to speak out against such efforts at regime change.

(January 30, 2019)