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Of Venezuela. The Situation Does Relate to Climate Change. And the US Has No Business Dictating Anything There

#1
[I've moved a discussion of Venezuela to the Forum so that it can be broadened here to include ecosocialist and environmental aspects of the Venezuelan crisis. My post below is a reply to Shanelle's email to me yesterday. Note: there was much I needed to write to her. Only one paragraph below directly relates to climate change, so if that is what you would like to read about, go directly to the large-print paragraph.]

Shanelle, thank you for replying to an email request that you provide the articles/sources that have led you to condemn Maduro. Seeing your articles helps me to understand some of what you are arguing. I'm going to lay out my own opinion and then provide links that are examples of how my thinking has developed in this way.

First, you express concern about increasing green/brown tendencies within environmental groups. I am not a green/brown person nor do I have any evidence that such thinking is part of SCNCC. Red/green, yes. Fascists be gone, I say.

Second, I understand that the US, Canada and the EU have been funding efforts for many years to get socialism out of Venezuela--because these countries want to control Venezuelan oil. Self interest rules in capitalist countries. No governments are spending money in Venezuela out of the goodness of their hearts or for moral principles. They see an opportunity to make money. Many oil companies who had their Venezuelan assets seized in 2007-9 by Chavez would welcome a pro-US government in Venezuela that would make it easier for them to recover what they had lost. Greed. Business. Self interest. Not humanitarian goals.

Third, I do not support Guaid[o] or Maduro, but I insist that Venezuela must work out its problems without outside government intervention, especially as a significant degree of the country's internal chaos has been engineered by outside interventions. If the US and other capitalist countries step in to secure a more 'democratic' government, the US is demonstrating imperialist and colonialist behavior--just as this country has been doing for decades. I do not support that behavior, and hope a good anarchist won't support that either. I believe the US must be forced to admit its true motives in interfering in Venezuela and should not in any way be supported in beginning yet another armed conflict outside US borders.

Fourth, for months now the mainstream press that you cite has been promoting the idea of Maduro's cruelty, lack of legitimacy, and incompetency. The people in the US are being subjected to a media blitz designed to convince them that military intervention and/or economic sanctions in Venezuela are justified. I am surprised that a good anarchist (and I do not use the phrase sarcastically as a man I greatly respect and have worked beside is an anarchist in central Illinois) would accept these mainstream media distortions.

Fifth, I have not written about any of this on SCNCC because it is an ecosocialist site and I have not taken the time to lay out how I believe this conflict in Venezuela relates to climate change--though I do know they are connected. The oil that capitalist imperial powers would pump out of Venezuela will further hasten planetary global collapse. If the US, Canada and the supporting EU countries succeed in ousting Maduro, Venezuelan oil production will increase. The Guardian commentary piece last on my list best sums up what I reason is happening in Venezuela. US sanctions against Venezuela are playing a significant role in the chaos developing there. The US has no right to dictate how Venezuela's problems should be resolved.


And last, recent US presidents have brought untold death and destruction to the planet. Both political parties in the US are content to visit terrible suffering on many of its own citizens. Our recent political elections have been marred by corruption and might be characterized as soft coups. Yet no outside country took it upon itself to step in and make our systems better. The current government is castigating a Venezuelan regime for ills it also visits on people at home and abroad. The US has no right to dictate anything to Venezuela.

In conclusion, I support neither Guaid[o] or Maduro, but do support Venezuela's right and need to resolve its problems so its people and environment are not sacrificed on the altar of capitalism .

The views expressed in this email are mine alone. They are not SCNCC views. SCNCC is a collective of activists who differ in their points of view. We share with each other what we think and write, but do not demand blind allegiance in any way on political and environmental matters. Instead, we attempt to persuade each other to our points of view. And we cite specifics to accomplish that goal. I thank you again for sharing the specifics of this issue that have led you to reach the conclusions you hold. I find that style of communication most helps me to understand where you are coming from.

Supporting articles:

US Regime Change in Venezuela

Canada's Goal of Overthrowing Venezuela's Government is Decades Old

Did Venezuela's President Really 'Steal' the Election from an Unknown Who Didn't Run?

Trump's Economic Sanctions Have Cost Venezuela about $6bn since 2017

To Understand Venezuela's Future, Look to the Bond Market, Not Politics and Protest

Recognizing Juan Guaid[o] Risks a Bloody Civil War in Venezuela

I'm not sharing your email with SCNCC, but I am sharing my email with a thread on the SCNCC Forum, where you are invited to reply.

Adelante!

Sandra
 
#2
It is such an old, corrupt narrative it is difficult to believe you even need to re-articulate it Sandra. New imperialism, same as the old imperialism. If you just spend one minute thinking of the concept of "economic sanctions", imposed by a country which has done so much pillaging in the region (what Harvey calls primitive accumulation), you see the horror behind the mask.
 
#3
Thanks, Sandra. Just posting some of what I wrote to you:

To answer your question about if I support American imperialism, I absolutely do not and I agree with you about America's long history of destroying other countries. But the U.S. is not the only place in the world that causes death and destruction.

I wrote to the list that we can oppose an American invasion and also oppose brutal dictators. Genocidal regimes like Assad's and Maduro's, as well as Putin's imperialism, have caused millions of people to flee their countries. Protesters in Venezuela are rising up against Maduro's brutal dictatorship. I support sending humanitarian aid to Venezuela, which was blocked by Mr. Maduro, who stated, "We are not beggars." I also support the international community putting pressure on Maduro to step down.

I'm not at all saying people must support Guaido, but I am saying we must not advocate a military dictatorship for others -- that means opposing the Maduro regime. I, and the anarchists I work with, are deeply troubled by the red-brown phenomenon. That is, leftists are increasingly aligning themselves with fascists and absolutely brutal dictatorships around the world.

U.S. sanctions are not what caused the economic crisis in Venezuela. I'm sending you this video in which that very issue is discussed.

And links:

Trump must not be allowed to dictate Venezuela's democratic recovery | Reynaldo Trombetta

Venezuela has fallen to a dictator. But we can help to restore democracy | Reynaldo Trombetta

Crackdown on Dissent | Brutality, Torture, and Political Persecution in Venezuela

https://www.washingtonpost.com/worl...878f96be19b_story.html?utm_term=.518059a697ca

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/18/world/americas/venezuela-election-president-maduro-food.html

https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/...arricades-key-bridge-to-cut-off-aid-1.6915185

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/06/on-the-road-venezuela-20-years-after-hugo-chavez-rise

https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2017/08/19/dear-spanish-left-im-sick-of-you/

https://unherd.com/2019/02/why-is-the-hard-left-so-conservative/

https://www.vox.com/world/2017/9/19/16189742/venezuela-maduro-dictator-chavez-collapse

And on post-left anarchy, which I also mentioned in our e-mails: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/jason-mcquinn-post-left-anarchy-leaving-the-left-behind
 
#4
Thank you, Sandra, for your well-informed and fair comment on the crisis in Venezuela. In my personal extensive research, including conversations with a number of Latinos well versed in the history of the American continent, I arrived at a similar, if not identical, conclusion matching yours.

I disagree with several of Shanelle's statements basically accusing Maduro to be prime source of the suffering of the Venezuelan people. I may agree that some of his economic decisions had not been helpful; I also may agree on his authoritarian style. Fidel Castro and Chavez faces the same accusations. To their defense let me say that leaders facing months and years of all sorts of hostile actions and intrigues on the part of the US bully tend to turn to increased authoritarianism. Calling them 'dictators' is an outrageous exaggeration, Shanelle. That much said for now. I am afraid - and I already shared that with you - that you rely too much on US government propaganda outlets such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Vox, etc..

Here is one of the best, trustworthy accounts on the crisis:


What is Going on in Venezuela?


by Aaron Bastani
@AaronBastani

What is Going on in Venezuela? | Novara Media

On Novara Media:
see novaramedia.com/about

The 200+ year history of US interventions tells a simple and clear story: It about access to natural resources and markets under the banner of free-wheeling, unrestrained Capitalism. Everything goes, fake news, lies, meddling, bribery, assassinations of ideological opponents, wars. The result: Millions of deaths culminating in acts of genocide, many millions of maimed people, oppression, violations of human/individual right, including the rights of Americans, massive structural and environmental destruction, massive pollution, gigantic waste of material and financial resources. US qualifies as the globe's preeminent master rogue. All that has only been possible because the collective of the American people, as a consequence of many decades of concentrated 24/7 indoctrination and fear-mongering, have remained largely silent.

As a German citizen I have an additional narrative to share: Born in 1946 by parents, refugees from the Sudetenland, then placed in Germany proper I and the rest my German compatriots had been the victims of intense US post-War II meddling under Adenauer through media and money, assuring the adoption of the US Capitalist free market ideology and the defeat of a reemerging socialist/social-democratic movement under Ollenhauer. Many years later - I think it was in the late 80s, I came across the story about that post-war period in Germany in the Times of India; that article has disappeared since when I searched the paper's archives.

Yes US money invested in Germany under the Marshall Plan was largely responsible for Germany's quick industrial recovery. US history was so much as not at all taught in German high schools (Gymnasium) at the time and the US image sold to us was a positive as could be. After the 1973 Munich Olympics I met an American girl (on a 'A Year Abroad' college project) on campus who later became my spouse. At some point we had been separated for years and it was me who traveled to the US time and again in the 70s and 80s and met the people and their beautiful (then still less disfigured) land. In 1988, after months in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, under the Soviet occupation, first-aiding refugees on their migration to Pakistani refugee camps , I moved to the US, disappointed about the poor quality of my medical training and the desire to join my girl friend. On the way to the Munich train station to borad m flight in Frankfurt my younger brother accompanied me and at some point remarked, " You are so enthusiastic about America... Let's see (whether your expectation will come true)..."

I entered the pediatric residency program at Brown University, sharing an apartment with a Chinese and an Indian graduate student. That is when my political awakening happened, lying on our living room floor with pieces of the NY Times shared between us. At the time medical residencies had been brutal (many still are), working, practically living in the hospital, suffering from chronic fatigue in 60-70 hour work weeks with shifts of 30-35 hours length, for $32k a month. Never ever in my life had I been so tired, having had three car accidents in two years, falling asleep driving. Welcome to the extractive, exploitative work world of America. In Munich, I worked 40 hours a week with overtime paid, six weeks of vacation; during my rotation in the ICU the medical staff had a midnight meal with wine...
 
#5
I don't know what happened but my comment headed under What is Going on in Venezuela? above was cut short after posting at full length. I found out about the amputation only now, 24 hours later. I apologize. I will try to complete it. Gunther

... The rest of my professional experience in this country which included Harvard, Indian reservations, rural Mississippi and Emory taught me that free speech exists only on paper and administrative retaliation quickly follows any perceived transgression. Which led me to retire 15 years early. I learned to live frugally and concentrate on issues most important to me: Questions around the existence of God; ecology and the rapid decline of environmental health, the death of American democracy and the thrust of US foreign policy through the centuries. I never regretted to exit US employment. Running a private office was no solution as physicians depend on an army of specialists and, therefore, would have kept me imprisoned, at least, administratively in this shameless for-profit system.

You can imagine that more than a few people asked me why I am staying here and not returning to my home country. Well, after twenty years abroad you cannot be sure what your home country morphed into during your absence. Because of the multitude of US issues I did not find the time trying to keep up to date on the developments in Germany. It didn't take long, though, to realize the vassal relationship Germany had with the US. This recognition was most depressing to me as I value few things more than independence and sovereignty. Another huge disappointment was, and still is, Germany's shameful support of apartheid Israel which now tries to counter the BDS movement by conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism using tactics as outrageous as made public by the documentary The Lobby. Add to all that the less than mediocre quality and vitality of German democracy you may understand that returning home was not an attractive option, not to mention that a return would have psychologically been perceived by me as defeat and was, therefore, out of question.

The US meddling and the destruction of numerous countries is a huge problem for me as I cannot hide my anger about, and hatred of, the US government and my despise of the lethargic American citizenry in the face of the horrendous crimes committed by its political leadership. I am aware that my rooting for the people of Venezuela and numerous other countries in their struggle to fend off the US colonial power explains itself by identifying in myself an identical motivation to extricate my German homeland from the suffocating embrace, economically and militarily, by the US. My 31 years in this country opened my eyes at the cost of a rather isolated existence and chronic stress and emotional upheaval.
 
#6
The UN has no power and the General Assembly is afraid of provoking the ire of the US; in fact, the US has repeatedly warned that it will remember which countries opposed US requests. That does not mean that UN employees write worthless reports or run worthless investigations.

The video titled An Ocean of Lies on Venezuela documents an interview by Abby Martin of Alfred de Zayas, the UN rapporteur on Venezuela:


The US intentions could not be clearer and its tactical approach more mean-spirited.

Gunther
 
#7
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Gunther
 
#10
False flag operations are the trademark signs of US intentions to bring down foreign governments

Burning Aid: An Interventionist Deception on Colombia-Venezuela Bridge?

Sen. Marco Rubio and coup leaders claim the Venezuelan National Guard burned US aid trucks on the bridge in Colombia. But all available evidence points in the opposite direction.

By Max Blumenthal


Burning Aid: An Interventionist Deception on Colombia-Venezuela Bridge?

"By blaming the Venezuelan government for burning the USAID trucks, Rubio was clearly attempting to establish the casus belli he had been seeking. Yet neither he nor anyone in the “whole world” had seen the national guard set the fire, as he claimed. In fact, the evidence pointed in the exact opposite direction, suggesting that the masked opposition youth had torched the trucks themselves."

Even when the US government was not directly involved in setting fire to the trucks the absence of any disagreeing voice concerning the authorship of the crime suggests its consent to it.

Typically, all US MSM buy these lies and spread them without a shred of evidence.
 
#11
Hi Gunther,

I took a look at the articles you sent and I'm familiar with the authors, so let me start off with that lying piece of shit Max Blumenthal, because David Klein and Howard Ehrman also get their information from Blumenthal and the conspiracy theory website "MintPress News." Max Blumenthal used to be a principled journalist, but today he spends most of his time smearing rescue workers in Syria and defending monsters like Assad and Putin, so it doesn't surprise me that he's now writing pro-Maduro propaganda and dumping his hot garbage all over the Internet. Louis Proyect has written a lot on Max Blumenthal and Benjamin Norton and how terrible they are, and you can read more about that below in the links I'm sending. They're also getting sued by Sulome Anderson -- thank gosh.

I see you also sent an Abby Martin video. I used to think Abby was a principled journalist after she denounced Russia's actions in Ukraine on RT News. But no, she's shilling for brutal dictators now, and she's good friends with Max Blumenthal. They both went to Venezuela and tried to make it look it like there was no major food shortage there and they both denied that there was a humanitarian crisis. She works with ANSWER here in LA, and I'll probably see her at ANSWER's rally later this month. My friend and I are going to call her out if she's there. You shouldn't watch a state-run news channel like TeleSUR for honest reporting on their own corrupt government.

When you say it's not all Maduro's fault, you are correct. But not because, as you say, U.S. sanctions caused the economic crisis. As explained in the video above, targeted sanctions aimed at specific individuals aren't going to cause an economic crisis like this, and the U.S. was Venezuela's #1 buyer of oil! Hugo Chavez -- who was the darling of the left for so long -- caused this economic crisis with his autocratic policies. It's Maduro's fault, and also Chavez's fault, and as Left Voice explains, Venezuela was NEVER socialist.

“Socialism of the 21st century” was nothing more than a fraud. It was a farce made up of “socialism” in words, but the defense of capitalism in deeds—and not just any capitalism, but a rentier economy totally dependent on oil. In Venezuela, from every $100 that enter the country as foreign exchange, $97 is for oil, and the rest is for other minerals. Chavista “socialism” did not even develop national industries. Venezuela never stopped being a capitalist country.

In the beginning, the government attempted to make some social reforms, but it never encroached on the privileges of the big businessmen and capitalists. Even the National Constitution respects and preserves the right to private property. There was talk of “communes”, but the Chávez government was always based on the bourgeois state and especially the armed forces.

Jacobin wrote that "Marea Socialista, previously organized as a current within the PSUV, has now divided into two groups, with sharply contrasting analyses of the Venezuelan crisis."

Eli Lake pointed out: "To support Maduro right now is not to stand against American imperialism. Rather, it is an endorsement of the imperialism of America’s adversaries...What is the rationale for the anti-imperialists who demand America keep its “hands off” Venezuela, while saying nothing about the Chinese, Cuban and Russian hands that are already there?"

Sandra pointed out that SCNCC did not take a unified position on this. It did not, but the majority of SCNCCers who weighed in on it are clearly Maduro/Chavez apologists and I think it's appalling and repulsive that the white, male, leftists of SCNCC are shilling for the dictator. From the police-state worshiper David Klein, with his nutty and racist "analysis", who doesn't even want socialists to denounce Maduro, to Howard Ehrman, who blames most of this mess on U.S. sanctions, to you, Gunther, with your pro-Maduro articles written by Assadists, and to a lesser extent, John Foran and Sandra, and even William Robinson, who didn't engage in the discussion but signed that appalling letter of Maduro apologia, with Noam Chomsky. Robinson and Chomsky teamed up with Boots Riley and TIM ANDERSON -- two leading supporters of Assad -- in signing that letter. If people want to sign a decent letter on Venezuela, they can sign this one instead: In support of a democratic solution, by and for the Venezuelan people

Chomsky at least had the decency to walk back his initial praise for Chavez as he saw the regime becoming more dictatorial, so I have no idea why he would sign the letter he did. It's not the first time Chomsky has fucked up in a major way -- he has denied genocide in the past and repeated far-right conspiracy theories with regard to Syria. There's a link to that below. When we want to know what's going on in places like Syria and Venezuela, the first people we should listen to are Syrians and Venezuelans -- not white leftist American "experts." The two Guardian articles you dismissed that I sent above are written by a man who is from Venezuela, whose family and friends still live there. Rey Trombetta also pointed out that the opposition boycotted the May 2018 election after 2/3 of parties were illegalised, the opposition coalition was prevented from running (http://historico.tsj.gob.ve/decisiones/scon/enero/207132-0053-25118-2018-15-0638.HTML …), opposition candidates were banned from politics and Maduro created a parallel National Assembly after losing the previous election.

And what about the Carter Center? "The Carter Center and others routinely have expressed concern about government interference in recent electoral processes. The Carter Center has not observed elections formally in Venezuela since 2004.”

And are you just going to dismiss reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch? And what about Jorge Ramos, who was detained by the Venezuela government for asking questions? His article (which is below) came out in the New York Times a few days ago: "The Dictator of Venezuela Earns His Title."

It's almost comical that eco-socialists will support a Green New Deal and talk about things like "the revolution" and then turn around and support a dictator who kills and tortures protesters and defend an economy that was entirely dependent on oil. This could be the most brilliant satire on idiot leftism.

The Left Keeps Getting Venezuela Wrong

Socialists Should Take a Stand on Venezuela: No Trump, No Maduro, No War

Bloomberg - Are you a robot?

No, Venezuela Was Never Socialist

Max Blumenthal follows Ben Norton down the bloody primrose path

Obama signs off on sanctions against Venezuela

The West's leftist male 'intellectuals' who traffic in genocide denial, from Srebrenica to Syria

https://www.cartercenter.org/news/pr/venezuela-020419.html

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-re...one-worst-human-rights-crisis-its-history-new

https://medium.com/@sulome/legal-complaint-against-max-blumenthal-and-benjamin-norton-ee82bf69ddc2

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/opinion/jorge-ramos-venezuela.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jul/03/noam-chomsky-hugo-chavez-democracy

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-re...O3gAO_m_8ZzRFlPWKEyT0LpgeT0TdOGZz6GQAEx-B56Cc

https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/venezuela1016_web_1.pdf
 
#12
Hi, Shanelle:

I got a notice this morning for your post to Gunther (and most of the writers at SCNCC, apparently). Having read it all the way through, I'll reply as follows:

I reemphasize what I've written to you before: it is possible to not support Maduro and his violent policies against some people in Venezuela, but continue to support the need for Venezuela to decide its own future using the Constitution and government organization it has chosen. You seem to conflate, as in presenting false alternatives in a reasoning argument*, a position that focuses on Venezuela's right to decide its own future with a position that would then, implicitly support any and all actions Maduro takes. I'm trying to get through to you that this is not the only way to think about Venezuela, and it certainly does not reflect my ideas. Is your mind unable to appreciate the distinction many of us are trying to make about this mess in Venezuela? I and others writing here do not want the US to assume it has the right to impose its will or its ideas on Venezuela. Is that anything with which you could agree? And if not, why not?



*False Alternatives

Def.: Misformulating a problem as a choice between two (or more) alternatives, when there exist other alternatives that have not been considered.

False Alternatives is essentially a problem of oversimplification. Its usual form is: "You have a choice between A and B. A is obviously unacceptable, therefore you must do B." This is actually a perfectly acceptable form of inference known as the Disjunctive Syllogism. The problem is that the choice itself may be misrepresented; i.e., the real choice might be between A, B, C &D. Also, sometimes more than one option can be available to you at the same time. It is worth pointing out that choices are not always expressed as "Either...or." Sometimes people will say "If you don't do B, then A is going to happen." If you think about it, you'll see that this is just another way of saying that you have a choice between A and B. Six Common Fallacies
 
#13
We all agree that an American invasion would be terrible, so that's not the issue here.

So far, this is what SCNCCers have come up with:

> The economic crisis was not caused by Chavez and Maduro — it's actually the U.S.'s fault.
> Maduro is not a brutal dictator — that's an outrageous exaggeration.
> Juan Guaido is a puppet of the U.S. and part of a CIA plot to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro.
> The protesters are all right-wingers and fascists and CIA-backed.
> Maduro was democratically elected.
> Liberal mainstream media is just trying to make Maduro look bad so the U.S. can have an excuse to invade Venezuela.

Each of these assertions made by SCNCCers and other socialists are so flimsy, so easily debunked, that it's surprising there's a need to debate any of this. The links I sent before explain everything. The left should stop making excuses for Maduro and start supporting the protesters who are rising up against a brutal dictatorship. I hope they succeed and overthrow Maduro's criminal regime.

Principled leftists like the authors at Left Voice are placing the blame where it actually belongs: on Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. Why can't other leftists do the same? Because Maduro calls himself a "socialist" and is anti-U.S.? Right now, less than 20% of Venezuelans support Maduro, they hate him more than anything, yet most leftists have thrown their support behind the dictator and they've smeared the protesters as "fascists." This shows oppressed people that they cannot count on leftists to support them when they're trying to overthrow a brutal regime. It also shows the world how morally and intellectually bankrupt the left truly is. I supported all my claims above with evidence; now you guys are going to have to dismiss every article I sent as "fake news written by CIA operatives" — and I seriously doubt any of you are going to do that.

If you guys aren't apologists for Chavez and Maduro, then no one should have any problem acknowledging that the economic crisis in Venezuela was created by those two highly authoritarian leftist leaders. No one should have any problem throwing their support behind the protesters who are starving to death and are trying to overthrow the Maduro regime.

I got an e-mail from Gunther about an interview that appeared on CounterPunch. I recommend this 2016 article on CounterPunch that was written by a principled leftist who is also a professor of Latin American Studies: Venezuela and the Silence of the Left

Some highlights:

"The left acts as if all leftist governments must be unconditionally defended, no matter how authoritarian and corrupted they become. In acting this way they hark back to the Stalinist days of unconditional allegiance to the party, or to the Cold War years when even timid critiques to the left—even within the left–produced knee-jerk attacks and excommunications. The left has failed to critique a “leftist” government whose policies have led to the current crisis in Venezuela. It took Noam Chomsky ten years to realize that Chávez has become a dangerous authoritarian ruler who betrayed the grassroots movement born out of his initial emergence into the Venezuelan political scene... What leftist leaders and thinkers should have said and didn’t say (with the exception of José Mujica in Uruguay, who wrote a letter to Nicolás Maduro pleading to cease the brutal repression of peaceful protests) was that Venezuela cannot be an example of a successful leftist government. "

"The default position in the left is to blame Venezuela’s dismal situation on American interventionism. To be sure, the U.S. did play a role in all this. There was the attempted coup in 2002 led by a misguided opposition, with the support of Bush’s government in the U.S. and Aznar’s government in Spain; it didn’t last more than two days in power. But as abhorrent as this intervention was, the U.S. did not have nearly as active a role as the hawkish U.S. interventions in the seventies, the one in Chile being, perhaps, the most infamous. American interventions have shifted focus to the Middle East. After the failed coup, the U.S. left Venezuela pretty much to its own devices, with a relative thawing of relations when Barack Obama came to power. In March 2015 Barack Obama declared Venezuela a national security threat, providing his government with the tools to block assets in the U.S. belonging to Venezuelan officials involved in corruption, implicated in drug trafficking and accused of violation of human rights. But this declaration has had negligible impact in Venezuela’s internal affairs. The truth is that the U.S has been relatively indifferent to Venezuela’s problems since 2002. This indifference is not motivated by a genuine respect for Venezuela’s sovereignty. It has simply been more convenient and less costly to leave things as they are, as long as Venezuela continues to provide the U.S. with 17 % of its oil consumption. Ironically, despite Chavista anti-imperialist rhetoric, the U.S. has been and continues to be Venezuela’s most important commercial partner. How different a situation from that of Cuba, besieged for decades by an aggressive economic embargo. The debacle of Venezuela, its social decomposition, the demise of its middle class, the collapse of its economy, its scarcity of goods, its corruption and drug trade, its health care crisis and its alarming public safety record cannot be simply “dismissed” as a consequence of American interventionism."

"The left in Latin America has failed to criticize Chavismo, but the right has cunningly jumped to the opportunity. Right-wing politicians, in their electoral campaigns and in their attempts to impeach leftist leaders, love to use Venezuela as a convenient example of a political model to be avoided at all cost. Why hasn’t the left exercised a sensible measure of self-criticism and offer a candid reflection on the Venezuelan case as a way of countering right-wing opportunism?"

"What troubles me even more, in the face of Venezuela’s hopeless present, is that such uncritical sympathy for Chávez cast a veil over the fact that Venezuela’s current ruination is in large measure the consequence of his policies and his political solipsism."
 
#14
Shanelle, I will agree to disagree with you. Your sources are not without flaws, too, but I have more pressing tasks before me and won't take them apart bit by bit.

In the long text you've inserted above the author makes the following statement, "such uncritical sympathy for Chavez" as a position that somehow defines all leftists opinions about Chavez and Maduro. Or just Chavez. Or just Maduro. Regardless of who it's meant to reference, there is no such thing as a unified position on the left about either of these men.

I can only speak for myself. I support Venezuela's need to determine for itself it's decisions about current problems. I remain convinced that should the US interfere any further than it already has or is, Venezuela will only suffer more. Your comments continue to point discussion away from this position, and to paint all leftists with a broad brush. I do not agree with the validity or merit of your tactic.

Sandra
 
#15
I don't see you guys complaining about Russia, China, and Cuba interference. Staying out of Venezuela's affairs completely means that those countries will help Maduro stay in power and Venezuelans won't be able to get rid of their fascist leader.

Non-interventionism left 500,000 Syrians to die at the hands of Assad and Putin. I support sending humanitarian aid to Venezuelans and I support targeted sanctions, but not the more recent oil sanctions. And I'm pretty sure if you guys had to live in Venezuela you would want other countries to help.
 
#17
I have been following this conversation for some time and was happy to just note the different viewpoints and references — until now. Now I feel I must say something to correct an egregious wrong I see here.

Sandra keeps supporting the concept of non-intervention as the correct path for the US regarding Venezuela. The argument sounds great and seems certainly valid on its face. Who could argue against allowing the Venezuelan people to decide their own fate? What a noble cause. Just one problem: It's a complete lie, sophistry run amok. In fact, it is not possible for the US to do nothing and allow the people of Venezuela to determine their own destiny — and calling for that policy is political and real nonsense.

I have family in Venezuela, so my information is as direct as it gets. The people of Venezuela currently have a knife at their throats. They CANNOT determine their own fate. The country has been hijacked by Maduro and his confederates in the armed forces, and the people are virtually powerless now. And the ONLY world power capable of resisting the influence of Russia and Cuba (and to a lesser extent China) in the country is the USA. To do nothing is to condemn Venezuelans to a brutal dictatorship (hundreds have already been killed or arrested, millions forced to flee) that has already wrecked their economy and lives. As Andrés Velasco points out in an article that should be read by anyone interested in Venezuela (and realpolitik) (Venezuela Shatters the Myth of Non-Intervention | by Andrés Velasco), non-intervention in cases like this is a myth, and utter nonsense. And evil. It's equivalent to doing nothing when you see your grandmother being assaulted on the street. That too would be "non-intervention" — but would anyone call it ethical? Apparently Sandra does, and has right on this page. Shame on Sandra for writing such things. When you accuse Shanelle of being "non-logical" and then condescendingly ask "is your mind unable to appreciate" the value of letting Venezuelans decide their own future — that is the height of sophistry. I am compelled to call out this kind of intellectual dishonesty, and I would hope that everyone else reading this post does so as well.

Promoting non-intervention in Venezuela today is in real terms EXACTLY EQUIVALENT to supporting Maduro. And such support is (obviously) your right, intellectually, if that's how you feel. Just DON'T LIE ABOUT IT. If you support Maduro then say so. Don't hide behind high-sounding rhetoric that actually means nothing. Don't lie.

Also, if you're going to express support for Maduro, I think you should at minimum explain why... and honestly this time.
 
#18
To Jose P.


Welcome to the SCNCC Forum. I appreciate the time and care you have devoted to writing your post on Venezuela. Your strong opinions on this issue ask me to clarify my position, which I will try to do below.


First, I do not equate assertions with facts. You passionately claim that what I say on this issue means I support Maduro--in fact, that I cannot avoid supporting Maduro given what I have written. That assertion is false, no matter how energetically you bring it forward. I will attempt to explain why I take this position.


I live in the US Midwest. All that I know of Venezuela must come from the news sources I am able to access. They are many, but they all provide interpretations of carefully selected information designed to support one position or another. The link you provided, for example, clearly looks at certain facts in Venezuela and interprets them to mean, as you do, that Maduro is a devil and that foreign intervention in the country is the only way to unseat this man. I and Shanelle and others on this list have been trading news articles back and forth on this issue for weeks now. If I wanted to, I could as I have discovered this morning, send back to you a long list of articles that interpret the Venezuelan situation as I do. I won’t bother with that little exercise. It’s been tried on this list before.


So, instead, let me turn this discussion a bit. As I wrote above, I live in the US. I have experienced firsthand how the current US capitalist system, which is no longer a democracy by the way, harms people here and abroad. In my own small way, I try to describe those harms on a local level and to work with activists attempting to turn our country toward a path of equity and environmental and social justice. It’s very slow going. And all of us on the planet may end up suffering very badly because the US has become too powerful and its government and economic system too confident that it has all the answers--even as it ignores the truly terrible results its meddling is bringing to life on Earth.


And I know you have family in Venezuela and I suspect you don’t care much for that last paragraph. It may seem beside the point to what concerns you right now, but what the US has done and is doing at home and abroad is exactly why I will write as passionately as you that the US has no business in Venezuela. Even now US sanctions under the Trump regime are bringing terrible hardship to the people of Venezuela. Even as I type that last sentence, though, I realize you will simply find a source that suggests the sanctions are necessary. So let me move beyond that point.


The country in which I was born has a long history of bringing suffering to the countries, islands and continent that lie to the south of us. For a nice long list, please see: “History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America.” In its efforts to impose various manifestations of US ruling class philosophy south of our borders, the US has often allied itself with wealthy families and corporations in southern countries. The author you bring forward in your post, who once was Finance Minister in Chile, a country where US economists and politicians supported one of the most brutal of regimes, seems likely to have ties with this privileged class. Perhaps this Velasco has his own reasons for hoping the US will, once again, extend its influence into South America. Perhaps you could provide a little more background for this author. In the meantime, I will rely on my own reading of US history and repeat that the US, which has brought such terror to the south, has no business in any efforts to improve Venezuela.


Your post expresses little confidence in the people of Venezuela or their ability to return their country to health and equity. I think that is very sad. As beset as we are here in the US, I will not give up on our people or their efforts to bring into existence a better system for us all. And, frankly, because I also read accounts of people in Venezuela who actively support the country’s constitution and do not want Maduro forcibly removed by foreign intervention, I think you are wrong to write off the Venezuelan people so quickly.


Based on your post, I will qualify my position in only one respect: if Venezuela’s people should desire assistance in brokering an understanding between Maduro and Guaid[o], or in bringing the country to a set of conditions that will keep Venezuela from descending into civil war, and that would keep Venezuela from being overrun by a foreign power, I would completely support Venezuela’s right to choose which foreign countries might help with such negotiations. Though what value such a statement has, exactly, I don’t know. I’m a private citizen living in the US. My opinion on such an issue means nothing.


I will end by setting out a final irony. I am, as are all of us at SCNCC, ecosocialist. One of my goals is to support efforts to decarbonize my country, its industries and its military. Currently, US sanctions against Venezuela have forced the country to reduce its fossil fuel production by 70-90%. Also ironically, this reduction is bringing economic trouble to US refineries that would like to be handling Venezuela crude. That reduction in crude oil production and refining is a good thing for the planet. Unfortunately, these sanctions bring suffering to the Venezuelan people, increase both military’s use of fossil fuels for ships, and trucks, and create a situation in which a great deal of fossil fuels may be expended in order to settle a disagreement using military means. The end of all of this may be even more burning of fossil fuels, rather than less. What a mess.


I clearly remember reading how Chavez, who first demanded that the North pay Venezuela to keep its fossil fuels in the ground, found his demand ignored and he then returned to oil production as a way to keep his socialist policies moving forward. These are dangerous and decadent times indeed when the industry that threatens to destroy an entire planet becomes the only way for a country to create the wealth it needs to support its people. We live in truly terrible times.


One major analytical conflict needs to be brought forward: the disagreements in the press of who is responsible for the Venezuelan people’s suffering. Is it caused by Maduro, his attempts to increase his power over the legislature and his success controlling the courts? Or is it caused by the US sanctions, which make it impossible for Venezuelans to obtain food, medicine and more? This morning I read an article in The Atlantic, “How Trump’s Affinity for Strongmen Has a Big Exception.” As you suggest, Jose, the article describes how millions of people from Venezuela are fleeing the country because they cannot survive there.


I think both the current Venezuelan government, and Venezuelan wealthy who have shipped riches overseas and sequestered their wealth rather than help the country, and the US are contributing to the suffering of the Venezuelan people. Isn’t that always how it goes? If systems were truly designed to express the will of the people and to serve the people, situations like this one in Venezuela would not happen. But today’s systems often devolve into struggles for a few to hold power--and to let the large numbers of people within borders suffer.


Whether what is happening within Venezuela is Maduro’s fault, the fault of the rich and powerful within and without Venezuela, or the fault of the US, my country’s tainted history with foreign interventions leads me to hope the US never gets the chance to play a sizable role in the country’s situation. I think Bolivia and Cuba would be of much more help. But then, that is no surprise to you, I imagine. I’m an ecosocialist.
 
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