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US slaps sanctions on Venezuela as some fear right-wing destabilisation

VenezuelaIn January, Venezuela’s progressive, elected President Nicolas Maduro warned that the right-wing opposition in the country is trying to create conditions which could lead to a coup, similar to the 2002 attempt to overthrow the late President Hugo Chavez. Destabilisation attempts have intensified following President Chávez’s death in 2013 – as the opposition believe that their time has come. His warning came days after right-wing opposition leader Henrique Capriles called for a change in government, with the President saying:

They are using the same script: economic warfare, campaigns to promote social unrest, rumors of a coup d’etat. They have the same objective that they had throughout 2001, 2002 and 2003.”

In recent months, a series of raids on distributing companies has revealed that they were hoarding products to generate shortages as part of what has been termed an ‘economic war,’ with those opposed to the democratic government using their economic power to weaken Maduro’s support to justify the ousting of the government – as was done in Chile in the run up to the 1973 coup there, echoing the strategy of president Nixon to “make the economy scream” to “prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him.” (You can watch a video on the comparisons with Chile here.)

Additionally, in the first half of 2014, 42 Venezuelans died following the violent protests that followed the explicit call from elements of the Right for the undemocratic and unconstitutional ousting (La Salida) of Venezuela’s elected government. The principal causes were lethal opposition violence and the use of deliberately dangerous street barricades from an extreme, anti-democratic, minority.

President Maduro’s warning also comes against the background of new US sanctions against Venezuela, which were signed by President Obama in December. The Venezuela Defence of Human Rights and Civil Society Act, earlier agreed by the US Congress and Senate at the behest of Republican right-wingers amongst others, authorises sanctions against Venezuelan officials and calls for a US government strategy to increase funding for and availability of anti-government media in Venezuela, including utilising the Voice of America for this end.

As well as creating diplomatic barriers, these sanctions could prompt violence, according to Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez, who says the move sends a message to violent right-wing groups that they can continue with acts of anti-democratic destabilisation.

Washington’s antipathy toward Venezuela is not new.  It is well know that Washington supported the coup in 2002 but US efforts did not end there. Investigative journalist Eva Golinger has documented how over 12 years US government agencies have provided well over $100 million to opposition groups.

Perhaps that’s not surprising as Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. But it should not be tolerated.

All supporters of social progress and national sovereignty around the world should join Latin America and many others across the world in not only condemning these sanctions but all attempts to destabilise Venezuela’s elected, constitutional Government.

Matt Willgress is national co-ordinator of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.

You can get more information and lobby your MP to speak out against US sanctions on Venezuela at Marcos Garcia will be amongst the speakers at an Emergency Meeting against US Sanctions on Venezuela at 6.30pm on February 4 at the Marx Memorial Library, 37A Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0DU (nearest Tube: Farringdon) organised by north London VSC. You can register here or by emailing

One Comment

  1. Barry Ewart says:

    Yes sadly it’s the same old depressing UNDEMOCRATIC script from the US where the Right there in “The land of the free” are trying to bring down A Left Wing democratic Government in Latin America because they disagree with it. The World should stand up to Grotesque US Right Wing Republican bullying and let the Repulsive Right know they are out of order. As democratic socialists we should stand by Progressive Democratic Left Wing Governments and as for the US – working people there should kick the poisonous Republicams out of the Senate and the US itself needs a US Labor (formed in partnership with trade unions?). They also need to ban all donations from corporations to political parties or have strict limits after shareholder ballots. Both the Democratics and Republicans in the US it could be argued rule for the US Corporations and I think these greedy organisations can perhaps smell oil. Perhaps somone should take the US to the UN – it’s time the Right in the US stopped interfering in free democratic countries. They of course have a long history in this field and who can forget Chile and before that the vile Henry Ford funding Nazi rallies in Nazi Germany which aided the rise of thugs to power. The free and democratic World needs to stand up to the Right in America! Yours in peace, hope and international solidarity!

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