In Defense of Venezuela
Today, and for years, we have been told that Hugo Chávez is an evil “authoritarian”, that President Maduro is an evil “dictator”. We are told that “the Venezuelan people” hate President Maduro, that the Bolivarian government must be overthrown in the name of “democracy” and “freedom”.
We are told that hunger in Venezuela constitutes a “humanitarian crisis”, therefore should be intervened. Firstly, hunger does exist in Venezuela (as recognized by President Maduro), as it does in the whole world, including in capitalist America where some 40 million people starve while 30%–40% of food is wasted and destroyed. According to the Global Hunger Index, Venezuela as of 2018 has a rate of 11.4%, up from 8.4% in 2010. But down from 15.2% in 2000. Hunger did rise since 2010, but during the span of the Bolivarian Revolution, hunger is down.
So why did hunger rise in Venezuela in recent years? They claim the problem is socialism, the social programs, the nationalization, etc.
If the problem is caused by the social programs, then why did the United Nations (Food and Agriculture Organization) recognize Venezuela in 2012 for cutting extreme hunger and poverty in half, in 2013 for reducing hunger. Again in 2015 for cutting malnutrition by 50%. The renowned social programs have been very successful and internationally recognized for their feats and achievements.
The true source of hunger in Venezuela is from the economic war by the U.S. & co. through the oil price war, the economic blockade & sanctions, resource hoarding by wealthy elites to create artificial shortages and price gouge, halting the privately held productive forces (factories) of society, and more.
Venezuela’s economy, as noted by Vice President Delcy Rodríguez and President Nicolás Maduro, was heavily ingrained in the production of oil. This allowed for the U.S. & the empire’s oil allies to launch an oil price war against Venezuela (as well as against Russia, Iran, etc). In an act of self-criticism, President Maduro & Vice President Rodríguez have stated that not diversifying the economy fast enough was one of the government’s errors and that diversifying the economy is one of their top priorities, in order to lessen the impact that the oil war has on the nation.
The U.S. launched a formal economic attack on the PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company in 2019 after years of building up to it, sanctioning it aggressively. The PDVSA, in case you don’t know, rather than giving heads of the company massive salaries, the money is instead used to give massive contributions to the social programs and Bolivarian Missions that are responsible for, among other feats of the revolution, the cuts in hunger and poverty, as recognized by the United Nations. America’s John Bolton praised the sanctions on the PDVSA, cheering that it will cost Venezuela billions more — effectively cheering that billions worth of food, housing, pensions, education, medicine, etc will be stolen from the Venezuelan people.
The U.S. economic blockade against Venezuela has already cost the nation $113 billion between 2013–2017, according to Centro Estratégico Latinoamericano de Geopolítica. That’s 113,000,000,000 dollars stolen from Venezuela in four years, that’s countless tons of medicine, food, and other resources deprived from the people of Venezuela. It is an attempt to economically isolate Venezuela, to create a man-made famine, and to subsequently crush the Venezuelan resistance to the U.S. empire, paving way for another coup or military invasion to install a pro-U.S. ally who will allow the U.S. to extract the oil, monopolize the markets, have access to a cheaper source of labor, etc. The handful of millions tossed at Venezuela by the U.S. & co. as “aid” is nothing in comparison to the $113 billion dollars taken from Venezuela by the imperialist blockade. If they were concerned about the Venezuelan people (which they clearly are not), then they would end their sanctions which caused the misery in the first place, not give back a fraction of what they withheld as “aid”, pretending to these great, heroic benefactors of the Venezuelan people all the while they’re the ones causing this.
Wealthy elites like Lorenzo Mendoza hoard resources (such as food) in order to create artificial scarcities and shortages in the nation then price-gouge ordinary working people in order to maximize their profits. Other crooks have completely cut production to spite the country. One example of this is the U.S.-based Kimberly Clark company. The company shut down a factory in Maracay, Venezuela in 2016 and conducted a mass firing of approximately 1,000 workers which violated the Venezuelan constitution and national law. In response, the Venezuelan workers took over the factory and began producing tens of millions of paper products including vaginal health products, diapers, and toilet paper. Another example is the U.S.-based Clorox company — just outside of Caracas in Los Valles del Tuy, Miranda, the capitalists abandoned a factory after leaving mass voicemails to employees saying the workers were being liquidated and the company will stop producing. Then the nearly 500 employees had assembled a meeting with former Vice President Jorge Arreaza where they came to the conclusion that the factory must and will be taken over by the workers and production will resume. These are only a few of the many examples of companies violating labor laws in Venezuela, abandoning factories, and halting production of basic human necessities. Other examples include companies like Kellogs, Goodyear, and General Motors.
This is by no means the first time that the U.S. and the empire’s allies acted through economic war in attempt to destroy a nation which sought an independent path free from empires and exploitation. In 1922, the Soviet Union was established. In 1925 as the Soviet Union began to set a path for the vital industrialization of the union with hopes of ending the cycle of famines that occurred for centuries prior and to improve the standards of living for the people, the western powers enacted a gold embargo, refusing to accept gold from the Soviet Union. Machines and equipment necessary for the industrialization could only be paid for with grains, oil, and timber; forcing the ultimatum of either bowing down to the west, abandoning industrialization, and not ending the centuries of famines or to push forward against imperialist sabotage and built the nation, but at a great risk. The former was rejected and extreme hardships were endured by the people. The capitalists and imperialists presented the situation with the caption “Look what socialism did!” despite the situation being caused by the economic war of the west, not by socialist policies. To make that point as clear as possible: the hardships were not endured for nothing, as the last famine that occurred in the Soviet Union was in 1947 as socialism continued and overcame the gold embargo, not as socialism ceased.
To quantify “the Venezuelan people hate Maduro”, the media plasters anti-Maduro rallies all over. In fact, they pretty much say that as they claim “Venezuelans protest Maduro in massive rally” or “the Venezuelan people march against Maduro” in their articles. Are the millions and millions of people who do support the Bolivarian Revolution not included in “the Venezuelan people”, are they not Venezuelans? They are. The reality is that there are many people who do like Maduro, there is a silenced class, millions of working people and vulnerable communities who support Maduro are rendered completely invisible and nonexistent in and by the capitalist media.
In another attempt at quantifying this, they look towards the opinion polls. But a major problem with this attempt is that the results of the polls vary widely. This is a fact widely acknowledged in the mainstream, but that still doesn’t stop them from running around with absurd and sensationalist headlines about every opinion poll critical of Maduro or socialism, while ignoring all of the positive opinion polls. For every poll by a pro-opposition pollster claiming that 82% of the people hate Maduro, there is another poll that has results showing a completely different story.
In attempt to quantify the “crisis” in Venezuela, they point towards the so-called “refugee crisis”, to the “millions fleeing from Venezuela”. But they never talk about the inconvenient truth that many people flee to Venezuela.
Net migration rate (per 1,000 population) according to the U.S.’s own statistics (source: CIA, 2017):
- Mexico, -1.80%
- Guatemala, -1.90%
- Peru, -2.20%
- Uzbekistan, -2.20%
- Greenland, -6.00%
- Lithuania, -6.10%
- Armenia, -6.70%
- Guam, -11.10%
- Puerto Rico, -16.90%
And then there is Venezuela, with -1.20%. Not a single person calling for the military invasion of Venezuela, or coup, or sanctions with the justification of a “refugee crisis” is calling for any intervention in Greenland. As for the American imperialists, they go out of their way to avoid doing anything remotely helpful for the people of Puerto Rico as the world has seen for years, and increasingly so as the capitalists parasitically drain Puerto Rico. Nor do they even dare to call for Donald Trump to orchestrate a coup against the capitalist governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuño. For why would they need to “aid” her, Puerto Rico is already in their grasp, the empire already occupies and exploits her.
As we have seen in previous U.S. interventions, in Syria as an example, U.S. policy caused a real, massive refugee problem. Millions of people are forced into a horrible situation of weighing whether to try and survive under the brutal conditions of a U.S. intervention or flee to another country and leave everything behind. After the 2009 U.S. coup in Honduras, immigration from Honduras and to the United States spiked. Through interventions and economic war, through imperialist trade “deals” as well, U.S. policy has caused and causes people to become displaced, to be unsafe, to need to flee for their lives after U.S. policy arms terrorists, props up dictators, drops bombs on their towns, etc. The U.S. overthrew Libya and with the “freedom” and “democracy”, so came slave markets and ISIS. Refugee crisis, entire communities displaced, infrastructure ruined, genocides & ethnic cleansing, terrorism, etc — this is what historically ensues when the U.S. intervenes, and this is what would happen to Venezuela.
In decrying President Maduro as a “dictator”, they point to the 2018 Presidential election. They say that Maduro “banned the opposition”, but this is not the case. Some of the opposition parties refused to participate in the recent municipal elections and according to the Venezuelan constitution, they cannot participate in the Presidential election without being in the municipal elections. If the opposition truly had majority support, as they claim they do, they wouldn’t be calling for elections, then boycotting the elections after the government does have one, and refusing to partake in the elections. The opposition parties that refused to participate in the elections that they previously were calling for, knew they, legally and constitutionally, would be barred from participating in the next Presidential election.
In the Presidential election of 2018, the opposition called the election “rigged”, as they always do. They claim that the election was infested with “irregularities” and “fraud”, as they always do. The Venezuelan government invited the United Nations to send election monitors to the country to witness the election’s process in person themselves. The opposition begged the United Nations to not monitor the election that they claimed would have fraud, even though the U.N.’s election monitors would have witnessed the fraud in person.
Despite the U.N. refusing to monitor the election, there were hundreds of election monitors from various parts of the world and of different positions. Representatives from the African Union, former heads of state, trade unionists, journalists, and others acted as monitors. Even Javier Bertucci, a right-wing businessman who ran against Maduro in the 2018 election, eventually recognized the election results.
President Maduro has not only called for dialogue between the government and the opposition, but he has shown that he is more than serious about it. Meanwhile the opposition has shown that they are not serious whatsoever. In 2018, there was a march in Venezuela by the campesinos. “Poor in the countryside march in outrage against Venezuelan government”, or something like this, you’d expect a headline to be. But there was little English-language coverage of the march (except for TeleSUR, Venezuela Analysis, etc). For weeks they marched 400km(~250 miles), they ignited a hunger strike plan, in a public broadcast they vocalized their complaints and were highly critical of many policies of the government. As the “dictator” that President Maduro is, he decided to use water cannons and chemical weapons to attack them and make them stop. Actually, that is what France’s Marcon is doing with the Yellow Vest Movement; what President Maduro did was he had a public meeting with the marchers to create an agenda and new policies to address their concerns, which included corruption, land evictions, agrarian policy, paramilitary violence, etc. It is clear why the capitalist English-language media didn’t cover the march — the marchers didn’t support pro-U.S. policies or imperial interests, they were serious about having reconciliation, and wanted action, not simply to facilitate chaos and instability.
In the United States, when a Black person is executed by the police, people protest. When they riot, what do they say? They say the protesters are “thugs”, they say “you loot, we shoot”, they say “they’re destroying their own towns”, they say “peacefully protest, you can’t riot or be armed!”, etc.
The opposition has murdered civilians, they have looted locally-owned businesses (usually targeting minority-owned businesses), they have rioted and set fire to towns with molotov cocktails, they have brandished and used weapons during riots, and more. If they say this about protesters in the U.S. who protest police executing Black people in cold-blood, with impunity for holding a toy gun, because of police suspicion they were selling loose cigarettes, for grabbing a wallet, for running away from police, then why don’t they say this about the opposition who does this and more because they don’t like Maduro.
Despite what they may claim, the Bolivarian Revolution has many achievements that have improved the quality of life in Venezuela. As mentioned above, the United Nations has recognized Venezuela’s feats in reducing extreme hunger and poverty. Other achievements include:
- 2,500,000 homes built for workers since 2011 and is on track to fulfill their goal of building 5,000,000 homes by 2025
- Over 5,000,000 laptops to students since 2009
- Illiteracy has been abolished
- Indigenous communities defended against resource & finance speculation
- Workers’ councils established with local women’s groups, ecological groups, & more being incorporated
- Natural resources belong to the people as a whole, according to the constitution
The United States wants to lecture Venezuela about “democracy” when Donald Trump just became President after losing the popular vote. Macron whines “human rights in Venezuela” as his regime brutally oppresses the yellow vest movement. Merkel has her hands around the throat of Greece, squeezing the people for every last drop with austerity as she backs the opposition in Venezuela against “authoritarian” President Nicolás Maduro.
The Venezuelan people have a right to self-determination, to determine their own policies and put forward a path for their own nation. Neither the U.S. nor any other country or coalition of countries has any right to impose their will on Venezuela. To quote Simón Bolívar, 1829: “The United States appears to be destined by Providence to plague [the continent] with misery in the name of liberty.”