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August 15, 2017

Trump and Venezuela


August 15, 2017

Trump’s threats against Venezuela escalated recently from the economic to the military: after announcing sanctions he threatened that all military options were ‘on the table’. Trump’s actions were perfectly timed to lend support to the U.S.-backed opposition in Venezuela, whose ongoing violent rebellion aims to topple the government of democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro.

The apex of violence was focused on stopping the recent elections to the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), convened by President Maduro to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution with the goal of resolving the current social-economic crisis. The ANC was tasked to become the most powerful governmental body while in session. Part of Maduro’s motivation in convening the ANC was to break the political deadlock that started when the US-backed opposition gained control of the Venezuelan parliament, the National Assembly.

The wealthy opposition promised to prevent the ANC elections from taking place, while Trump promised economic sanctions if the ANC election wasn’t cancelled. The other usual suspects of Latin American counter-revolution also condemned the ANC elections: Spain, the Vatican, and the Organization of American States (OAS) were among other governmental and western NGOs that denounced the ANC, since they recognized that the U.S.-backed opposition would be deflated if the ANC were successful.

The western media that condemned the ANC elections has consistently failed to condemn the ongoing street violence by the U.S.-backed opposition, who used attacks on voting centers, roadblocks, economic sabotage and “general strikes” to prevent the election from taking place.

But the elections happened, and the unexpectedly high turnout rattled the nerves of the opposition, who didn’t expect the traditional base of Chavismo – the working and poor – would come out by the millions to support a broad diversity of candidates within the Chavismo Left.

The international media covering the election took zero notice of the enthusiasm from Venezuela’s poorest neighborhoods. A U.S. labor delegation that travelled to Venezuela to witness the elections was impressed by the broad participation and long lines at various voting centers in poor neighborhoods. SEIU 1199 Executive Vice President Estela Vasquez made notice of the lack of western media attention:

“One thing that I did think was significant is that I didn’t see any international media. No reporters from the New York Times, no cameras from CNN, no cameras from Fox Television, or any other international media… covering the poor working class neighborhoods that are the backbone of this revolutionary process in this country,”

The enthusiasm for the election that Vasquez noticed was echoed by a prominent left critic of Maduro, Stalin Perez Borges, who said:

“July 30 [the election] was also a tsunami within the ranks of Chavismo that propelled even those who are unhappy with the government to participate and send a message to the domestic and international right that we have not yet surrendered to imperialism nor are we willing to kneel before the neoliberal plans that the politicians and economists of the [opposition] have prepared for us…”

Because the opposition boycotted the elections, the ANC consists overwhelmingly of representatives of the left, where there lives a diversity of revolutionary political opinion. A third of the ANC was specifically reserved for representatives of trade unions, communal councils, indigenous groups, farmers, students, and pensioners, all sectors that have been radicalized by their experience under Chavez and by the violent actions of the opposition.


This article has been excerpted from: ‘Trump Versus the Venezuelan Revolution’.


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