By Arnold August on February 14, 2019
After spending two days in Caracas on February 3 and 4, including a semi-private meeting with President Maduro, this is my basic impression. The situation in Caracas is the opposite of what is portrayed in the international corporate media in the U.S., Canada and other countries in the West. It is calm. There are no people starving to death nor “civil war” violence as the media repeat.
That is not to say that there is not an economic crisis, but this is largely caused by the crippling economic sanctions and threats that the U.S. has imposed on Venezuela over the last few years. The sanctions and threats began under Obama in March 2015 and were continued by Trump, the Justin Trudeau Liberal government and others.
Let us get to the heart of the matter. Many valuable articles have already been published concerning the legitimate election of Maduro in the last elections of May 2018 on the one hand and, on the other, regarding the violation of Venezuelan and international law, including the United Nations in “recognizing” its man in Caracas.
Furthermore, the main issue now is the right of Venezuela to its sovereignty and to choosing its own path without foreign interference, irrespective of any other consideration. Moreover, within this optic, the principal reality – ignored by the international media – is the civilian military union as a key component of Venezuelan democracy. It is not recognized either by ignorance or by mere wishful thinking, as those who want to eliminate the Bolivarian Revolution know very well it is this union that blocks their plan.
Although it was not the first time that I had heard Maduro speak, his February 4 talk in that semi-private meeting with Venezuelans and foreign guests was a clincher. Among other points, he outlined in detail how he and the other leaders (whom I also met briefly in that meeting) have been and are today still working to organize and inspire – and in turn are being inspired by – all the sections of the armed forces all over the country, from pilots, navy to the army to the people’s militia. He pointed out that this civilian military union has been developing in the country over several decades.
What is this civilian-military union? Chávez said that he found the idea of the civilian-military alliance in the political thought of the Venezuelan intellectual, guerrilla leader, Fabricio Ojeda, who wrote in his 1966 book La guerra del pueblo (The People’s War): “The anti-feudal and anti-imperialist basis of our revolutionary process suggests a form of alliance that can accommodate differences in background, political credo, philosophical conception, religious convictions, economic or professional status, or party affiliation among Venezuelans. The strength and might of the common enemy calls for a united struggle to defeat it… The forces most inclined to fight for national liberation are the workers, peasants, petty bourgeoisie, students, intellectuals, and professionals as well as the majority of officials, Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), and soldiers of the air, sea, and land forces…”
In Ojeda’s vision, which Chávez shared, all these civilian and military sectors are called upon to come together in a genuine national revolutionary alliance. (Ramonet, Ignacio, Hugo Chávez: Mi primera vida. Conversaciones con Ignacio Ramonet, Vintage Español, Nueva York, 2013). Translation Arnold August).
While Maduro declared in his February 4 speech that his government is ready to participate in any efforts at mediation, he also made clear that Venezuela is ready to defend its country: “Not one Yaqui soldier will enter Venezuela.”
The threat of U.S.-led military intervention is more real than ever. The issue is as follows: no to military intervention in Venezuela and full support for the right of Venezuela to defend itself in the worse-case scenario. Polls in Europe and other countries show support for this position, while the main unions in Canada have issued and are issuing statements rejecting the pro-Trump position of the Justin Trudeau Liberal Party position and demonstrations are taking place in the U.S.
The Justin Trudeau government hosted the so-called Lima Group in Ottawa on that same day, February 4, when we were in Caracas meeting with the Madura government leadership. The official communiqué reaffirmed its support for the Trump position on Venezuela, consisting of foreign interference in the internal affairs of that country with full support of its puppet as the so-called president.
The position of the Justin Trudeau government is a major and historical (in the very negative sense of the term) change in Canadian foreign policy, including within his own Liberal Party. In contrast for example, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War (March 2013) former Liberal Party Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said in an interview regarding Canada’s position to NOT support the U.S. war in Iraq, that
[Chrétien] has no regrets about rejecting Canada’s participation in the U.S.-led mission. It was a very important decision, no doubt about it. It was, in fact, the first time ever that there was a war that the Brits and the Americans were involved and Canada was not there, Chrétien told CTV’s [Canadian national news network] Power Play.
The move also helped assert Canada’s independence on the world stage, he said.
Unfortunately, a lot of people thought sometimes that we were the 51st state of America. It was clear that day that we were not.
Chrétien said he refused to commit to military action in Iraq without a resolution from the UN Security Council. He said Canada always followed the UN and intervened in other conflicts when asked to.
Chrétien also said he was not convinced that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction – the threat that fuelled support for a U.S.-led invasion of the country – and that turned out to be true.
Chrétien also addressed his visit to Venezuela last week [March 2013] (to attend President Hugo Chávez’s funeral).
He said he went because he knew Chávez personally and “never had any problem” with the controversial leader, even though he didn’t agree with him “on many things.” He also wanted to show his respect for the people of Venezuela.
He had support of the people and he was loved by the poor of his country. He was kind of a Robin Hood, Chrétien said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper [of the Canadian Conservative Party] angered the Venezuelan administration by saying in a statement that he hoped the country can have a better, brighter future after Chávez’s death.
Chrétien said the Venezuelan authorities were very, very happy to see him at the funeral, because they were very unhappy with Harper’s remarks.
Let us recall what everyone in Cuba, Latin America, and many in Canada knows: Justin Trudeau’s own father, as Liberal Party Prime Minister of Canada, went to Cuba when he stood next to Fidel Castro in June 1976 and shouted in a public meeting “Long live Prime Minister Fidel Castro!”, and had taken other positions independent of the U.S.
For these peoples in the South (as the Canadian people already recognize now), like any other family in whatever system, family relations and characteristics change. Regarding foreign relations, Justin Trudeau is not at all like his father. The Canadian press can quote me here: “Justin Trudeau’s father would turn over in his grave if he knew what his own son was doing.” Everyone in Canada hates Trump for all his policies, yet Justin Trudeau is aligned with him.
The Trudeau government, while giving lessons to Venezuela about democracy and freedom of the press for example in the February 4, Ottawa Lima Group meeting, denied access to Telesur. This is the email that Patricia Villegas, President of teleSur, received following the request to cover the Lima Ottawa meeting (a screen shot taken by the author from Villegas’ Twitter account):
Furthermore, the Trudeau government talks about democracy for Venezuela but does not recognize the position of millions of unionized workers in Canada and others against the pro-Trump interventionist Venezuela policy and in support of Venezuela’s right to self-determination and sovereignty.