Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Venezuela, Honesty and the Left.

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Time for the Left to Defend Human Rights in Venezuela.

Many people will have watched yesterday’s report on Venezuela on  the BBC  Newsnight.

It was deeply disturbing.

“In Venezuela, activists say the government is using torture and imprisonment without trial against those who oppose it – a claim the government denies. So who are the people hoping to overthrow President Maduro? Vladimir Hernandez reports.”

The programme showed evidence of repression that would shock all supporters of human rights.

I am not in a mood to listen to those who will try to cast doubt on the BBC report.

There are plenty of other reliable sources of information which confirm their facts begining with, La represión de Maduro se salda con al menos 36 muertos en un mes.  El País (May.

The Guardian reports today, “It takes a lot of courage’: Venezuelan protesters tell of rising police violence.As general strike begins, more than 100 have died and hundreds more arrested in anti-government protests since April. Spanish language media takes the same angle, Una huelga general endurece el pulso contra la Constituyente de Maduro. Tres muertos, 367 detenidos, calles desiertas y barricadas en el paro organizado por la oposición a una semana para la Asamblea Nacional Constituyente. El País (Today). The mass emigration of the population is also startling, Les Vénézuéliens s’exilent en masse vers la Colombie. (le Monde)

The splits inside the Chavista side (signaled in the Newsnight film) are well known: La procureure générale du Venezuela critique la répression de l’opposition.

Here is some more of the BBC coverage:

How is the left reacting?

First of all we have the Morning Star’s ‘reports’ which say nothing of state repression.

VENEZUELA’S right-wing opposition launched a 48-hour “civic strike” yesterday, calling on workers to stay at home in its latest campaign to derail plans to convene a new constituent assembly.

President Nicolas Maduro has confirmed that Sunday’s elections will go ahead to choose the members of the assembly, despite the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition’s three-month campaign of rioting which has led to hundreds of deaths.

The CTV union federation, which supported the 2002 coup against late president Hugo Chavez, said its 333,000 members would join the strike.

On Tuesday, Mr Maduro said Venezuela would “choose between peace and war, between the future or the past and between independence or colonialism.” He has said that the new constituent assembly will promote peace and reconciliation.

Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada has demanded answers from the US over “systematic” efforts to overthrow its elected government. He said there was a “campaign of intelligence operations at the highest level to overthrow the constitutional government of President Nicolas Maduro.”

The Foreign Ministry accused Washington of providing “finance and logistical support to the Venezuelan opposition as an integral part of its destabilising efforts against democracy.”

It also condemned former president Barack Obama for extending his 2015 decree designating Venezuela an “extraordinary threat to US national security” before leaving office in January.

It also attacked Mr Obama’s successor Donald Trump for additional sanctions imposed since he took office.

This is what Cuba said….

Cuban Communist Party second secretary Jose Ramon Machado denied claims Havana would mediate between the government and opposition.

He said it was up to the Venezuelan people and government to overcome their challenges “without foreign meddling in their internal affairs.

“Those who from the outside try to give lessons on democracy and human rights while encouraging coup-mongering violence and terrorism should take their hands off that nation.”

Counterpunch,

Time for the “International Left” to Take a Stand on Venezuela    July the 17th

Venezuela is heading towards an increasingly dangerous situation, in which open civil war could become a real possibility. So far over 100 people have been killed as a result of street protests, most of these deaths are the fault of the protesters themselves (to the extent that we know the cause). The possibility of civil war becomes more likely as long the international media obscure who is responsible for the violence and as long as the international left remains on the sidelines in this conflict and fails to show solidarity with the Bolivarian socialist movement in Venezuela.

 …

So, instead of silence, neutrality, or indecision from the international left in the current conflict in Venezuela, what is needed is active solidarity with the Bolivarian socialist movement. Such solidarity means vehemently opposing all efforts to overthrow the government of President Maduro during his current presidential term in office. Aside from the patent illegality that the Maduro government’s overthrow would represent, it would also be a literally deadly blow to Venezuela’s socialist movement and to the legacy of President Chávez. The international left does not even need to take a position on whether the proposed constitutional assembly or negotiations with the opposition is the best way to resolve the current crisis. That is really up to Venezuelans to decide. Opposing intervention and disseminating information on what is actually happening in Venezuela, though, are the two things where non-Venezuelans can play a constructive role.

Socialist Appeal (17th of July) continues in this vein,

Defeat reaction with revolution

The reactionary opposition represents the interests of the oligarchy (bankers, capitalists and landowners) and imperialism which stands behind them. If they were to take power they would launch a massive austerity package on the Venezuelan workers and the poor, with brutal cuts in public spending, the abolition of the Bolivarian social programs, the privatisation of social housing, the privatisation of expropriated companies, the privatisation of re-nationalised utilities, the abolition of the main rights and protections in the Labour Law, etc. At the same time, they would launch a political purge of all state institutions, ministries and state-owned companies and  an all out assault on democratic rights, unleashing a lynch mob against chavistas and their organisations.

For this reason we must oppose their reactionary campaign and stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan working people.

But,

As we have explained elsewhere, this does not mean giving support to the present policies of the Maduro government, which are ineffective in combatting reaction and by making constant concessions to the capitalist class undermine the social base of support of the Bolivarian movement. Even now, during the campaign for the Constituent Assembly elections, the so-called “patriotic businessmen” are advocating the privatisation of expropriated companies as well as the use of the Assembly to “strengthen private property rights”. This is the main plank of the campaign of Oscar Schemel, for instance, with the full backing of businessman and minister Perez Abad, which has been given ample time in all the state media. That road leads directly to disaster.

The only way to defend the conquests of the revolution is by unleashing the revolutionary self-activity and organisation of the masses of workers, peasants and the poor. An example of what is possible can be seen in the campaigns organised by groups like the Bolivar Zamora Revolutionary Current (which has organised Popular Defence Brigades) or the Alexis Vive Patriotic Force (which is calling for a new revolutionary leadership).

The offensive of the oligarchy must be defeated, but it can only be defeated by revolutionary means.

The duty of revolutionaries and consistent democrats internationally is to oppose the insurrectionary attempts of the reactionary opposition and defend the gains of the Bolivarian revolution. Taking a “neutral” position puts you objectively on the side of counter-revolution. We must wage a relentless campaign against the lies of the international media, to denounce our own imperialist governments which support reaction in Venezuela in the name of “democracy” and “human rights”. At the same time we must support and encourage those in Venezuela who are beginning to draw the correct revolutionary conclusions from this crisis: we cannot make half a revolution.

These might be fringe leftist groups but more seriously El Pais has accused Podemos of complicity with Maduro: Cómplices de Maduro (28th of July). That is, “guardan silencio, cuando no justifican a Maduro y acusan a la oposición de antidemocrática..” Podemos leaders have kept silent, when they are not justting Maduro and accusing the opposition of being antidemocratic.

Others are beginning to ask broader questions.

Being honest about Venezuela. Socialist Worker (USA, no relation these days to SW UK).

The world’s media, overwhelmingly hostile to the Bolivarian process, sneer at President Nicolás Maduro’s rhetoric while presenting the right-wing parties, which certainly launched this wave of violence, as defenders of democracy. This definition of democracy apparently allows whole populations to fall into poverty and illness, with nearly 100 people left to die in the streets.

Meanwhile, the international left has accepted the explanations government spokespersons offer, still believing that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Thus, when a helicopter attacked government buildings on June 28, some observers simply added the event to the catalog of right-wing violence.

It is, unsurprisingly, far more complicated than that.

Oscar Pérez, a retired officer of the state security services, piloted the helicopter. Pérez has close ties to ex-Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres, whom Maduro dismissedin 2014. Torres, like the majority of the current cabinet and around half of Venezuela’s state governors, belongs to the military. He also leads one of a number of Chavista factions angling for power.

Behind a façade of governmental unity, another struggle is developing, but none of the groups are fighting to continue the revolutionary project or to reconstruct the mass movement that saved it after the attempted coup and the bosses’ strikes of 2002-3.

The opposition is also split into rival factions. Some advocate dialogue with the president, while others, especially the group that Leopoldo Lopez and his partner Liliana Tintori lead, almost certainly support the most violent street fighters. They aim not only to get rid of Maduro but also to destroy Chavismo itself.

Most Venezuelans know the major players on the right: they belong to the wealthiest and most powerful families, who controlled the economy until Chávez arrived. Since the first street barricades went up, Maduro has tried to work with representatives of these right-wing sectors. In 2014, for example, he called in Lorenzo Mendoza, head of the Polar multinational and one of the richest Venezuelans.

Gustavo Cisneros, another member of that exclusive clan, has remained untouched in the nearly 20 years of Chavismo. He recently claimed that Venezuela needs a Macri, referring to the militantly neoliberal Argentine president, who is currently working to dismantle that country’s public sector. Cisneros likely speaks from knowledge of the right’s strategic thinking.

As the economic and political crisis deepens, it’s become obvious that neither the government nor the opposition will offer any real solutions. While Maduro betrays the revolution by courting the bourgeoisie and sliding backwards into neoliberalism, right-wing forces have brought in violent mercenaries to try and disrupt the country even further. As these two groups struggle for power, ordinary Venezuelans are watching the gains of Chavismo slip away.

It must have been hard for the comrades of the ISO to say the above, but it needed to be said.

Nobody can accept the state version of what is happening in Venezuela, or its claim to ‘defend’ anything resembling socialism.

We have to defend human rights.

It is time for those in this country who are close to these issues to speak out.

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Written by Andrew Coates

July 28, 2017 at 11:34 am

15 Responses

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  1. Podemos may be ‘silent’ but the Podemos-backed Mayor of Madrid is not, she called for the release of Social Democrat Leopoldo López.

    There’s also the Jacobin piece attacking Maduro, which has caused tumult in the US left. And there’s this call from Venezuelan anarchists, which Rs21 reblogged http://libcom.org/library/call-venezuela-anarchists-latin-america-world-solidarity-much-more-written-word-el-liber

    I have written several posts on the UK left’s silence. This was my last in which I point out that the effective abandonment of the ‘Bolivarian revolution’ by Corbyn etc. shows why his ‘Man of Peace’ act is truly an act http://paulocanning.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/venezuela-proof-corbyns-no-man-of-peace.html

    Despite the silence, five big unions continue to fund the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.

    This on Caracas Chronicles is an absolute Must Read on the current situation. It explains how the military are key to what happens next and how Maduro is effectively taunting them through his adoption of Cuban tactics.
    https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2017/07/25/union-civico-militar-is-the-venezuelan-way/

  2. Good stuff Andrew. Reblogged at Shiraz.

    Jim Denham

    July 28, 2017 at 2:51 pm

  3. Thanks Paul, and Jim.

    Paul, you have followed this closely.

    It is surely time for the left to follow your example and take some distance from those justifying the unjustifiable.

    If Maduro supporters think they have at least the tacit support of the broader left they should be firmly told that they do not have it.

    Here is the Jacobin – text by Gonzalez which the ISO reproduced, with some more important points….

    Being Honest About Venezuela. Mike Gonzalez is, I assume, the piece you mention Paul.

    As Nicolás Maduro’s increasingly antidemocratic government battles violent right-wing forces, ordinary Venezuelans are watching the gains of Chavismo slip away. 8.7.2017.

    “Now Maduro has called for a new Constituent Assembly to convene at the end of July. This will barely resemble the 1999 meeting. Then, discussion was open and public, and people engaged with the process optimistically. This time, the Maduro administration will carefully orchestrate the event, making sure whatever changes the government chooses to introduce will be approved. There will be no debate, no transparency.

    What Maduro intends remains unclear, but it will certainly involve pushing through the Arco Minero plans and privatizing parts or perhaps all of PDVSA, the state oil corporation. It may also legitimize the increasing concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands, selected not by a participatory process, but by an internal war between powerful groups thirsting for control.

    Other more sinister forces have been responsible for some of the more barbaric actions that have been reported. They wear balaclavas and have taken to firing ball bearings into the chests of young men, passing pedestrians, drivers.

    Their actions go beyond protest; these thugs almost certainly draw a paycheck from the far right. They are likely paramilitaries who work for the drug traffickers whose influence is growing.

    They do not narrowly support the right: they aim to make the country ungovernable, to deepen the despair and the fear that affects growing numbers of Venezuelans. At the same time, the state security forces, the National Guard in particular, are increasingly involved in the violence. It is hard to tell how far these networks have interpenetrated.

    Meanwhile, multinational corporations are waiting to seize the country’s enormous oil, gas, and mineral wealth under the complacent eye of an openly neoliberal government. This includes not just the United States but also China, Russia, and the other giants of global capitalism.

    Some on the Left have called for violence, but it is hard to imagine a more irresponsible and cynical posture. Indeed, it doesn’t amount to much more than posturing, since the mass movement that grew around Chávez and that fought to defend his vision has been disarmed and demoralized.

    Faced with the systematic undermining of democracy, the demonization of dissent, the death of trade unionists and of grassroots leaders like Sabino Romero, the erosion of popular confidence in the government, and the growing violence, committed Chavistas can do very little. A call to arms simply invites the military to intervene.

    Others on the Left have chosen to say nothing or ignore the complex reality. Whatever their motives, their silence amounts to complicity with a new ruling class that hides behind the language of socialism.

    These elites have helped demobilize the grassroots movement that defended its revolution in 2002–3, and whose diverse forms of community organization could have grounded a successful Chavista project.

    Despite this setback, the memory of those years persists wherever people operate cooperatively in their own defense and keep the traditions of solidarity alive — even if many of them have fallen momentarily silent.

    The Left outside Venezuela can help rebuild the movement by participating in an honest accounting of what went wrong. As socialists, we are not required to choose the lesser evil. Rather, we should support those in struggle in rebuilding the basis for a genuinely democratic society.
    About the Author

    Mike Gonzalez is a former professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Glasgow. He is the recent author of Hugo Chávez: Socialist for the 21st Century, published by Pluto Press.

    https://jacobinmag.com/2017/07/venezuela-maduro-helicopter-attack-psuv-extractivism-oil

    Andrew Coates

    July 28, 2017 at 4:17 pm

  4. That’s the one. Jacobin also published on Syria attacking those pushing conspiracy theories on sarin etc. That’s also caused consternation.

    TBF, Andrew, I am past hoping regarding the UK left and Venezuela. We need something like that El Pais Editorial. Because the crisis is truly coming to a head – hence the BBC report, amongst others – then perhaps something like that will follow. But the silence I fear will never truly get called out, even though those who have engaged in it, especially a figure like Owen Jones, must know full well it is indefensible. If they truly think, as one assumes they do, that the crisis has its roots in Washington DC then how can they defend abandoning the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’?

    The connections between Spain and Venezuela are obvious and strong, here not so much. And those public figures and media who are calling out Corbyn and the rest are people like Dan Hannan and they’re doing it on the basis that ‘Corbyn wants to turn the UK into Venezuela’, which is ridiculous. What else there is is about history, past statements, when the real question is about now, why are they silent now? This is why calling all this a ‘smear’ cannot work.

  5. I have been reluctant to comment in the past because I have not been involved in the issues around Venezuela.

    All I can do myself is express general human rights concerns.

    There are obviously issues which people like Mike Gonzalez are looking at.

    I will look out for more.

    I am personally interested not just for the UK left but the influence the “Bolivarian Revolution”, which many of us have made a point of not referring to as our ‘inspiration’, though clearly we have deep sympathies for the Latin American radical left, played a big role in la France insoumise’s original ideology.

    La revolución bolivariana se cuela en la campaña francesa con una propuesta de Mélenchon

    https://elpais.com/internacional/2017/04/15/actualidad/1492258867_178060.html

    Andrew Coates

    July 28, 2017 at 5:44 pm

  6. Most if not all of the mainstream media outlets mentioned were against Chavez too. so I don’t believe I will be taking any lessons from them. We are all well aware the CIA has been trying to destabilize Venezuela for a decades and more. Why should we follow their lead in Venezuela? We have enough problems of our own to solve here, surely? Comrades if you wish to show solidarity to socialist comrades fine, but lecturing them and telling them “you don’t want to do that is not the way.’ I feel also its a massive error to claim the current members of the Maduro government represent a new ruling class, the more so when the old ruling class are ready and waiting to turn the clock back and destroy all the gains of the Chavez years. Which was hardly a paradise for workers in the town, cities and countryside now was it.

    The workers of Venezuela will have to decide on their own road through struggle, the days when the left had a policy on every thing thankfully are long gone. What we must not do is find ourselves in the same camp as our class enemy and I doubt I need to remind any comrade here, the BBC, The Guardian, El País are hardly our friends. I would advise caution, for me the Cuban’s have it about right.

    Organized Rage

    July 28, 2017 at 6:48 pm

  7. The ‘gains of the Chavez years’ started reversing at least five years ago, if you trust people like NGOs collecting child hunger statistics. But I suppose that’s all being orchestrated by the CIA too.

    The only reason the regime is standing at all is that it’s being propped up by the dodgy end of Wall Street and they’re selling debt for pennies. https://www.wsj.com/articles/venezuelas-humanitarian-crisis-tests-wall-street-ethics-1497790802?mod=e2tw But whoops! That’s the WSJ so like any good conspiracy theorist the info must be rejected because of the source.

  8. Cheers for French reference Andrew.

  9. Counterpunch is a disgusting publication: “most of these deaths are the fault of the protesters themselves”.

    Howard Fuller

    July 28, 2017 at 7:13 pm

  10. Paul Canning, you may well know more about Venezuela than I so I will not get involved in a debate on that subject, although i will just add this, you wrote the gains of the Chavez years’ started reversing at least five years ago. The word started is important as it implies they are not complete and are still worth defending. It’s also worth noting the inside and outside pressure on the Maduro government started about the same time as the US/CIA stepped up their campaign a gear against the Chavistas. Just a thought.

    I am stunned by your belief in the independence of NGOs when many have clearly been heavily influenced by CIA agents of influence within them. David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee is a prime example. Since the 1980s the CIA and British security services have been at this dirty work. I’m not suggesting all they do and the statistics they put out are all wrong because they are not but we should be cautious about what motivates some of their most senior officials and in-turn the strategy and policies of some of these NGOs.

    Mick Hall

    July 29, 2017 at 11:23 am

  11. Solidarity With Venezuela.

    “Over a hundred people have been killed during a rolling programme of violent protests, blockades and targeted attacks on public buildings and suspected government supporters. Some have been shot by police, troops or motorbike “colectivos,” but most have been victims of the opposition campaign of destabilisation.

    Violence runs through the oligarchic opposition like Blackpool through a stick of rock, stretching back at least to the 1989 Caracazo when the ruling class deployed state forces to slaughter thousands of working people protesting against their impoverishment through government neoliberal policies.”

    “Friends of Venezuela must speak out in support of the revolutionary process and the right of Venezuelans to elect their constituent assembly in peace and without outside interference.”

    Morning Star today:

    https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-2ab9-Solidarity-with-Venezuela-1-2

    Andrew Coates

    July 29, 2017 at 12:41 pm

  12. Mick. Possibly the reason I do ‘know more’ is bothering to read more, rather than the slabs of nonsense most of the left publishes. Or doesn’t. One time we had all the usual suspects praising Chavismo to the hills, now there’s no speeches to cover anymore. Shameless.

    ‘ it implies they are not complete and are still worth defending’

    People are starving because Chavismo. The Narco Dictatorship system is Chavismo. The army is making billions off of running the food supply. They refuse to declare a food emergency, which would trigger mass aid. The edifice they created caused this, it has fail built into it. Listen to this extremely balanced BBC World Service report on their economy http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p051zkj8

    Before I utterly explode just read this from leftist Venezuelans http://libcom.org/library/call-venezuela-anarchists-latin-america-world-solidarity-much-more-written-word-el-liber

  13. The Morning Star is never going to report the Collectivos attack on the Parliament because the entire process they support of the Cuba-style ‘Collective Assembly’ is about destroying any last semblance of democracy – and that’s what the MStar supports. There will either be civil war or the army will intervene, and not because ‘CIA’ but because they will realise Maduro has gone that step too far.

    That Corbyn is silent is a scandal.

  14. Describing Leopoldo Lopez as a ‘Social Democrat’ stretches language well past breaking point. The main leaders of the Venezuelan opposition are of the right, indeed the radical right; their chief political reference-point in the region is Alvaro Uribe and his cothinkers (MUD leaders like Henry Ramos Allup hailed the Uribista victory in last year’s referendum on the Colombian peace agreement, lumping together Colombia’s centre-right president Santos with Raul Castro and ‘narco-terrorists’: https://twitter.com/hramosallup/status/782722465764151296). The party of Lopez has indeed been permitted to join the Socialist International but that tells us nothing about its political orientation; it just testifies once again to the fact that the SI will allow absolutely anyone to join (Hosni Mubarak’s party was part of the SI, along with the ruling parties of various other dictatorships).

    Not only is Lopez not a social democrat, in the most generous possible definition of the term, he is not even a democrat plain and simple. When the opposition lost free elections in 2013 and 2014, Lopez organized a campaign of violence to try and overthrow the government by force. Even now, after years when they’ve had more than a decade to find acceptable faces, the MUD is still dominated by politicians who supported the coup back in 2002. The main forces in the opposition have not changed one iota in recent years: they are still profoundly undemocratic, they only accept the results of elections that go their way, and they intend to push through a radical right-wing agenda if they get back into power.

    (This is not, I emphasise, a claim that anyone who doesn’t support Maduro is a reactionary. It is a description of the dominant political forces in the opposition, as it is, without soft soap or wishful thinking.)

    What has changed is the nature of the government, and its relationship to the people who voted for Chávez from the late 90s until his death (and who still voted for Maduro in his presidential run). Without question, the Maduro government is deeply unpopular (although Maduro’s ratings are still higher than those of some Latin American presidents who face no international pressure to resign, Peña Nieto and Temer for example—the latter never having been elected in the first place). It has presided over an economic crisis that has hit popular living standards hard; it is partly to blame for that crisis itself (by failing to reform the system of price and exchange-rate controls), and partly the victim of a global collapse in oil prices (which didn’t just happen like a force of nature: it was a deliberate US strategy over the last few years to reduce the bargaining power of states like Iran, Russia etc. by increasing global supply).

    If the Maduro government showed any real sign of having a strategy to alleviate the crisis, or to address the corruption among state officials and their cronies, it might have held on to more of its support, even if people knew things were going to be harder than they were in the past. But the government has spent the last couple of years fumbling aimlessly and letting things fester, so they’ve alienated a large part of the long-term Chavista base. Some of those people voted for the MUD out of frustration in the 2015 assembly election, others stayed at home and didn’t vote at all. A big part of the population defines themselves as ‘ni ni’, supporting neither the government nor the opposition.

    The details of the crisis in Venezuela have been covered in a lot of detail by left-wing publications over the last couple of years; the Mike Gonzalez piece is hardly a sudden bolt from the heavens, as the post here seems to imply. For the last couple of years, publications of the liberal and radical left in Britain and the US, like the Nation, the LRB, Jacobin and NLR, have published some very informative articles, all more or less critical of Maduro and the PSUV:

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/05/venezuela-crisis-maduro-opposition-violence-elections-economy

    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n13/greg-grandin/down-from-the-mountain

    https://newleftreview.org/II/99/julia-buxton-venezuela-after-chavez

    https://www.thenation.com/article/what-is-to-be-done-in-venezuela/

    That’s just a sample, there’s been plenty more; and if you want to go beyond English, the French and Spanish editions of Le Monde Diplo have also had some good material, from a sharply critical perspective:

    http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2016/12/LAMBERT/56923

    http://www.eldiplo.org//notas-web/herida-en-el-corazon

    So the argument that nobody on the international left has been critical of Maduro’s record in office won’t hold. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the Morning Star would be uncritical; if they can whitewash Assad’s regime, this is small potatoes. I would attach precisely zero credibility to any article in El Pais attacking Podemos over this; El Pais has been consistently deceitful in its coverage of both Latin American left governments and Podemos, so put them both together and the chances of an honest picture emerging are very slim indeed.

    When people claim that the left has been ‘silent’, what they seem to mean is something rather different: the left hasn’t been saying precisely the things they want them to say—in other words, to call for the ousting of Maduro from office as quickly as possible, under various forms of international pressure. I don’t call for that, and I won’t call for that, until I know what is supposed to happen next. I’ve seen what happened in Brazil: another unpopular left president was ousted in a pseudo-legal coup after presiding over an economic crisis and large-scale corruption (not on her part, but certainly on the part of other PT politicians). Since then, Temer’s government has forced through radical right-wing reforms with no popular mandate; it has deployed security forces to repress protests; and it is clinging on to power, even though Temer quickly became much more unpopular than his predecessor.

    The Venezuelan right is more extreme than the Brazilian right and seems to have a much more vengeful spirit; it would also be likely to face more militant protests, so I would expect its behaviour in office to be a lot more brutal and repressive (Honduras is probably a guide to what we can expect). In that scenario, the people who are currently very concerned about democracy in Venezuela would be completely indifferent, just as they are currently indifferent to much greater abuses of human rights than anything which has been happening in Venezuela (Honduras, Mexico and Colombia spring to mind).

    A negotiated settlement that avoids a head-on clash between government and opposition is the only desirable outcome here. If Maduro tries to cling onto power indefinitely by undemocratic means, that will be disastrous; if the current opposition leaders come to power with a free hand to act as they see fit, that will also be disastrous. Julia Buxton has some sensible points to make here:

    View story at Medium.com

    It takes two to tango if there’s going to be a compromise, and the dominant media view, which presents the Venezuelan crisis as a straightforward clash between a repressive government and courageous dissidents, lets the opposition leadership off the hook for their own share of responsibility. So if you think the left has been ‘silent’, that’s partly because they’re rightly cautious about endorsing the dominant narrative about what’s been happening in Venezuela. The pressure that’s currently being brought to bear from outside the country, whether from the Trump administration or from Luis Almagro at the OAS, is certainly not meant to encourage a negotiated settlement, it is four-square behind politicians like Lopez and simply encouraging their irresponsibility and extremism (the Vatican has been playing a better diplomatic role, or trying to anyway).

    Ed

    August 2, 2017 at 8:56 pm

  15. Sorry if this got caught up in queue Ed – the filter worked because of the number of links…..

    Thanks.

    Andrew Coates

    August 3, 2017 at 11:07 am


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