Communist Party USA says Stop Interference in Venezuela
Let us raise our voices for a complete change of U.S. Policy
Efforts by the right wing in Venezuela to get the United States to help them topple the legally elected government of President Nicolas Maduro are intensifying, and being echoed by both Republican and Democratic politicians in the United States, including people in the Obama administration. The Communist Party USA calls for an end to these provocative actions, and for the United States government to turn away from the “regime change” strategy that represents a failure to respect the rights of peoples and nations to choose their own governments. We ask our members and friends to actively work for such changes, including by taking steps included at the end of this memo.
There are new developments this month.
- On Tuesday, April 1, a group of hard-right demonstrators violently attacked the Ministry of Housing building in Caracas, setting it on fire, destroying equipment and records and endangering the lives of more than a thousand employees and also of scores of children in the building’s on-site employee child care center. http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10568 This is one of many incidents in which supposedly “peaceful” demonstrators have carried out acts of mayhem, targeting government facilities that provide help to poor Venezuelans. Targets of attack have included stores specializing in providing food for the poor, health care facilities, a university campus, government vehicles and government personnel. Of the 36 people killed since the disturbances began in January, at least half have died at the hands of rioters, who overwhelmingly come from the relatively privileged and mostly white strata of multi-racial Venezuelan society. Moreover, as Maduro points out, these so-called opposition forces are heavily subsidized by our tax dollars.
- On Tuesday April 1, President Nicolas Maduro published an op-ed on the editorial page of the New York Times, explaining his government’s point of view asking for understanding and support for a peaceful, democratic outcome. http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/10565 In his essay, Maduro writes frankly about Venezuela’s problems but also points out the very solid achievements of his government and that of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, in radically reducing poverty in Venezuela and improving the lives of its citizens. This direct appeal to the people of the United States merits a reply not only from our government but from ourselves as citizens, taxpayers and voters. We must say “no” to U.S. intervention in Venezuela, and everywhere.
And our reply can only be to demand that our government, and politicians of both the Democratic and Republican parties, turn away from the strategy of “regime change” and work to develop positive relations with the Venezuelan government which has been freely elected by that country’s voters. This means an end to funding for the right wing opposition, and end to overbearingly bellicose language about “imposing sanctions” on Venezuela, and the defeat of Congressional efforts to smear Venezuela with resolutions and impose the same kind of sanctions on Venezuela that, in the case of Cuba, have caused worldwide opprobrium and resentment.
ACTION TO TAKE IMMEDIATELY:
Note that Congress has a new website for tracing legislation and getting contact information for your senators and representatives. It will give you information on how your senators and representatives voted on the legislation mentioned below.
- Call, write, and visit your Congressperson. If he or she voted FOR H.Res 488, please state that you disagree with this and explain why. If he or she voted AGAINST this resolution, abstained or did not vote on it, please thank him or her for this vote. Then ask your representative to OPPOSE H.R. 4229 (Venezuelan Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, HR 944 (Venezuelan Liberty Act) and H.R 1687 (Countering ALBA Act). A suggested text of a letter to House Members is below.
- Call, write, and visit your Senators. Anti-Venezuela S.Res.365 passed “with unanimous consent”; please tell your Senators you disagree with this and explain why. Ask your senators to OPPOSE S.2142 (Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014), http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/2142 which will greatly increase tensions between Venezuela and the United States, and lower U.S. prestige worldwide, by attempting to impose sanctions on Venezuela similar to those imposed on Cuba.
- Contact the White House and the State Department and ask them to cease and desist from policies of “regime change” in Venezuela or anywhere.
- Circulate the open letter signed by Danny Glover, Oliver Stone and many other well-known individuals which explains the situation in Venezuela an calls for a change in U.S. policy.
Honorable (insert name)
Dear Representative(insert name),
We, the undersigned, note your “yes” vote on March 4 to Resolution 488 offered by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). Its title is “Supporting the people of Venezuela as they protest peacefully for democracy, a reduction in violent crime and calling for an end to recent violence.” In approving this resolution you joined 392 other congresspersons.
We note, further, that the resolution went forward under a procedure called “suspension of the rules,” one that is used for “legislation of non-controversial bills.” (1) Those of us signing this letter, however, regard the matter as hardly routine. In fact, we suggest, with respect, that you overlooked inaccuracies in the resolution and key background information relevant to the disturbances in Venezuela.
Although we think you should have rejected the resolution, we would like very much to hear your rationale for approving it. We therefore request a meeting with you – or an assistant – in order to learn more about the basis for your thinking.
Below you will find specific points indicating to us that the resolution ought to have been rejected. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
(insert your name and contact)
Relevant information on the resolution
The resolution speaks of Venezuelans “protesting peacefully.” Actually as of March 7, protesters had shot five people dead. Three were soldiers. Six deaths are attributed to opposition roadblocks. Soldiers had killed three people, one a government supporter. When protests started in Táchira, Mérida, and Caracas in early February, police did not intervene until government offices and police cars were being attacked and burned and until food and medical supply trucks were blocked. The government arrested officers who violated orders to act with restraint. (2)
The resolution suggests Venezuela is undemocratic. Over 15 years, however, governments there have won 17 out of 18 national elections. They are elections that the Carter Center in Georgia regards as “the best in the world” for fairness and efficiency. Press freedom abounds: Venezuela’ predominately privately-owned newspapers and television outlets disseminate opposition viewpoints. Their television broadcasts reach 90 percent of viewers nationally. (3)
Real democracy means that everybody benefits. In Venezuela poverty dropped from 50 percent in 1998 to 32 percent in 2011. (4) Social spending increased from 11 percent of the GDP to 24 percent. Pensioners rose from 500,000 to 2.5 million; people finishing college, from 600,000 to 2.3 million. High school enrollment increased 42 percent. Children malnutrition and infants deaths have fallen dramatically. Every year the minimum wage has increased 10 – 20 percent. (5)
Media misrepresentation contributed to the resolution’s passage. Protesters, for example, hardly represent Venezuela’s majority population. Disturbances have taken place in only 18 of 335 municipalities (6), places where the middle and upper classes live and where right-wing politicians are in charge. Most students in the streets attend private schools. National polling shows that 85 percent of respondents oppose “protests continuing throughout the country.” (7)
Passage of Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s resolution occurs within the context of U.S. efforts over many years to cause destabilization within Venezuela. That campaign has contributed to the disturbances playing out there now. The message “follow the money” applies here, we think. Analyst Mark Weisbrot reports, “[O]ne can find about $90 million in U.S. funding to Venezuela since 2000 just looking through U.S. government documents available on the web, including $5 million in the current federal budget.” (8) According to Venezuelanalysis.com: “Over one third of US funding, nearly $15 million annually by 2007, was directed towards youth and student groups, including training in the use of social networks to mobilize political activism.” And, “Embassy cables also reveal US government funding of opposition parties.” Discussing his leadership of the National Endowment for Democracy, a prime source of U.S. funding, Allen Weinstein told the Washington Post in 1991 that “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” (9)