“What Will We Do?”: The Charge to Defend Venezuelan Sovereignty Ahead of OAS and US Aggression
By Jeanette Charles (Witness for Peace, USA)
Teaser: Jeanette Charles frames a recent gathering between Venezuelan Consul General in San Francisco Antonio Cordero and grassroots movements in light of opposition actions to further de-legitimate the Bolivarian process and amidst greater US aggression.
Text: “Venezuela is important not only for what [the Bolivarian Revolution] has done for the Venezuelan people but also what it's done for Latin America, the Caribbean and the world in facilitating another way to exist without the United States,” reflected a grassroots organizer at a gathering with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s Consul General Antonio Cordero in San Francisco early October.
In recent weeks, the Venezuelan right wing opposition’s ongoing destabilization campaign in conjunction with US aggression has intensified against the Bolivarian Revolution. The opposition has used corporate media and regional bodies like the Organization of American States (OAS) as tools to defame the Bolivarian government and the grassroots revolutionary process. Their attacks have persisted after widespread participation in the July 30 National Constituent Assembly elections where more than 8 million Venezuelans called for peace by electing 545 grassroots leaders to redraft the constitution and to develop proposals to resolve some of the country’s greatest issues from the economy to the opposition's racist and fascist guarimba violence. Throughout the Bolivarian Process’ nearly two decades, the opposition has inconsistently participated and selectively acknowledged elections according to their interests while crying fraud to conjure international concerns over Venezuela’s participatory democracy. These accusations are being used as pretexts to petition for US intervention which the Trump administration has supported, legitimized and buttressed with economic sanctions, a travel ban and casual references to a “military option.”
In light of these realities, grassroots organizers in the Bay Area conversed with Venezuela’s Consul General Antonio Cordero to discuss and unpack recent media distortions and attacks against the Bolivarian Process. The meeting led to an urgent call to organize in defense of peace, sovereignty and Bolivarian democracy. Cordero, a former military officer and public official, offered insight into Venezuelans’ understanding of their current time, place and conditions and conveyed the need, now more than ever, for international solidarity.
“The type of aggression [we’re facing] violates our country’s sovereignty, but it also invades the sovereignty of humankind because at the base of this greed, these interests, an entire nation is at risk of being destroyed like in Libya, Syria, and Iraq,” he expressed. Cordero emphasized how nations have the right to self-determination and sovereignty; however, the US undermines these fundamental rights destroying entire societies and leaving in its wake, “centers of inhumane circumstances.” He lamented the fact that countries such as Venezuela could be subject to the “ same fate based on the whims of one person.”
Cordero’s concerns come as the OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro’s Oct. 13 inauguration of an overseas Supreme Court with alleged jurisdiction over Venezuela. Almagro’s actions were orchestrated ahead of the Oct. 15 gubernatorial elections which resulted in a resounding 18 out of 22 governorships in support of Chavismo, the socialist party and Bolivarian Process. The elections crushed any perceptions of wavering popular support for the Bolivarian Process and called into question the role of international polls as sole barometers for gauging the people’s pulse.
This move, outside of OAS’s political norms, comes in the wake of failed attempts for intervention by Almagro and others in the OAS (US, Canada, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil). Almagro and the opposition's actions ring hypocritical as the OAS is dominated by a US that has repeatedly supported coup governments and recognized illegitimate elections including its own 2016 presidential elections. US standards of “democracy” are illustrated by its recent support of the 2002 coup in Venezuela, 2009 coup and subsequent elections in Honduras, the 1990 and 2004 coups and fraudulent elections in Haiti. Cordero revealed, “The opposition would not risk doing this without the US support. We’ve seen similar strategy in Libya and Syria.”
While the scope of this body’s actions remain unclear, this stratagem could lay the foundation for intervention by creating a legal overseas tool for the opposition to invalidate the democratically elected Bolivarian and Chavista government of President Nicolas Maduro. If the OAS and US are allowed to build this government in exile with impunity, what will they try next? What will their Supreme Court advocate for? What tools will they use against the Bolivarian Process and its government?
As this war against the Venezuelan state, people and sovereignty continues, the lives of millions within its borders are at stake. At this moment we must facilitate thoughtful reflection and build strategic actions for solidarity. Cordero appealed to the roomful of organizers, “We should be more audacious, less timid [in our actions against these threats] because the peace of the world is in jeopardy. To those who suggest that the world’s great conflict will arise in Venezuela: it won’t be because of Venezuela itself, but because of what it proposes.” The Bolivarian Process continues to stand as an extraordinary example and experiment for not only Latin America and the Caribbean but all of us seeking justice, peace and participatory democracy. Venezuela’s bold path advocating for socialism, peace and the integration of historically oppressed peoples and formerly colonized nations stand in direct challenge to US hegemony, global capitalism and war.
Beyond internationally recognized electoral processes, the state’s reparations framework redistributes wealth principally from the country’s oil industry. With these resources, the state provides fundamental human rights to everyone residing within Venezuelan borders (including immigrant and refugee populations) through social programs and basic services as well as grassroots movements by supporting community councils and their crafting of the communal state. Likewise, despite significant attacks against the Venezuelan economy, the Bolivarian Revolution maintains its commitment to supporting cooperative initiatives such as Petrocaribe, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and most recently, CITGO’s donation of 50,000 barrels of oil to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Irma’s destruction. These conditions have radically transformed the Venezuelan way of life and the world. Venezuela’s leadership, coalitions and work have made significant shifts in the global economy and the centers of power.
The majority of Caribbean and Latin American nations continue to hold up the banner of peaceful integration. The opposition, US and other allies continued rejection of electoral results and abuse international mechanisms attempting to legally void the Bolivarian government has far reaching implications for state sovereignty and national self-determination in the region and the world. The potential repercussions of the OAS overseas supreme court are not unnoticed and without resistance by most Latin American and Caribbeans. However, we must also ask ourselves how else can our solidarity take shape and where can we make the most impact?
In September, hundreds of international representatives came together in Caracas to establish coordinated strategies in solidarity with Venezuela. Working groups made up of delegates from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, the United States and Canada presented various fronts of action from: defining the media narrative on Venezuela, launching informational campaigns about the opposition's history of violence with US ties, organizing legislative campaigns against US economic sanctions and more.
“Our proposal was born with President Chávez and is kept alive in all our hearts. We are not willing to let go of this proposal. This [revolutionary process] is why millions of Venezuelans have endured the last 18 years of aggression particularly the last three which have been more intense in the absence of President Chávez,” concluded Cordero. This sentiment was reaffirmed by millions in Venezuela on October 15th and celebrated by millions more internationally.
How we decide to navigate the next few days, weeks and months will be critical as Venezuela enters into new elections for mayorships to the president in 2018. Whether we defend Venezuela, or remain silent as movements and concerned individuals will set the stage for the future of humanity and the world. We must elevate our sense of international urgency as we could have had we successfully identified the critical moments leading up to US backed coups in places like Grenada, Haiti and Honduras in decades past. Our work must uplift and visibilize the Bolivarian Revolution’s achievements realized and those yet to come.