February 17, 2014: Nearly a year ago, March 5, 2013, delegations of world leaders, dignitaries and millions of Venezuelans went to pay their respects at the funeral of President Hugo Chavez. The Bolivarian Process, since 1999, has brought greater equality and happiness to Venezuelans and true solidarity and inspiration to people and nations under the thumb of US hegemony. We knew we would have to defend it. The Venezuelan undemocratic and violent right wing includes US-funded private university students, civil society groups tied to the 2002 coup, and the old political and economic elite. The US government and transnational oil and corporate interests view this year as the time to destabilize and overthrow the new government.
Those of us who have seen directly the empowering changes gained by the Venezuelan people, and who are aware of the thirst of the US for this oil rich country and their need to stamp out its good example, need to stand up together right now and demand hands off Venezuela. The era before President Chavez, ruled by the violent elite interested in oil and blood drenched opulence, is not such a distant past. International solidarity is an important component of the Venezuelan people’s own struggle of defense against all outside interference. The lies and propaganda, effectively delivered through the US corporate media, sound unmistakably like past pretexts the US government has pushed to gain public support for covert war.
Lies must be reinforced over and over again whereas the truth stands out like a candle in the darkness. In the past year we have seen a campaign against the democratically elected socialist government of Venezuela reminiscent to the one of 2002. Then the former oligarchs, backed by the US, staged a violent coup which was quickly reversed by the popular movements. Following that failure, they tried capital strikes and a devastating employee lockout at PDVSA, the state oil company, that was then run to the exclusive benefit of the extreme wealthy. Again they were defeated by the social movement supported government.
With the death of President Chavez, the right has falsely believed that the strength of the Bolivarian Revolution would weaken to their advantage. They came within a couple of percentage points during the election of the presidency of an electoral victory by dressing their wolf (presidential candidate Henrique Capriles) in sheep’s clothing. Falsely promising to continue the programs that Chavez popularly championed, they still lost. Since then they moved on to capital strikes, the hording of commodities and the capital flight of their money to bank accounts in Florida and Panama. In the run up to the recent municipal elections, they thought they could use fear and misinformation to generate an electoral victory. But they were unable to manipulate the electoral system, which has been called, “the best in the world,” by former US President Jimmy Carter.
While still in his first year of office, President Maduro has stood up to these manipulations by putting barriers to hoarding and capital strikes. He has also taken bold measures to combat violent crime. The challenges facing Venezuela are great, but they march peacefully towards a modern democratic socialist future. The counter revolutionaries, backed by US imperialism, seeks at every step to undo the revolutionary struggle. Their goal is to dowse the torch Venezuelans carry of great hope for the poor countries and movements of oppressed people everywhere. Despite these dark forces, on December 7th, two days after the funeral of another great world respected leader, Nelson Mandela, Venezuelans came to the polls and delivered a wide victory in municipal elections in support of the government of President Maduro.
There will never be another Hugo Chavez or Nelson Mandela but their greatness has been an inspiration for millions, perhaps billions of people. That inspiration doesn’t end with their passing. President Maduro isn’t the legend that Chavez has become but he has proven himself a skilled and passionate leader who is responsive and supported by the majority of the Venezuelan people. Ultimately the people of Venezuela are the empowered and skilled builders of their own destiny and the violence of the right will only embolden their resolve for a better world.
Beginning February 12, we have entered a new period in which the extreme right, unable to win democratically, seeks to win by fear, violence, subterfuge and media manipulation. They are more confident because the US government has always supported them despite their violence. Our solidarity in the US must take away their support by exposing the truth and inhibiting the huge amount of resources thrust into the right wing’s pockets for destabilization. Hands off Venezuela is the demand that our elected federal officials must hear from all of us. Finally, all corporate and social media that falsely strives to confuse the populace of the US with the lies that the Maduro government is authoritarian; that the opposition is democratic and independent, and that what we are witnessing is a popular uprising against dictatorship, must be countered with vigilance.
Contact your elected officials today! Tell them hands off Venezuela!