Last week, the government of Donald Trump executed a media strategy of intimidation, manipulation and political plunder against the Venezuelan people, instructing its diplomatic representatives to publish in unison a campaign of lies in the regional media to attack democracy and the legitimate, elected government of Venezuela.
In Barbados, the US ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean published an article riddled with falsehoods in The Nation, Barbados TODAY and Barbados Advocate, the sole function of which is to try to generate an international media smear campaign against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the American governments’ obsession since the very beginning of the government of ex-President Hugo Chavez in 1999.
This new offensive unveils what has been the United States of America’s foreign policy towards Venezuela in the last 18 years. They have not ceased their attempt to appropriate the riches of Venezuela by any means. They have used all possible means for this – from coups d’état to economic sabotage and media attacks – and now they are trying to manipulate and blackmail the peoples and governments of the region.
The government of Donald Trump and his representatives must know that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a free, sovereign and independent country that in the last 18 years – inspired by the teachings of Simon Bolivar and under the leadership of Commander Hugo Chavez and President Nicolas Maduro – has increased its Human Development Index with the implementation of ethical, political, economic, social, cultural, educational and sports projects that today proudly show its achievements and advances, despite the persistent attacks that the Government of the North has taken up against Venezuela.
The US government lacks any morals to criticize and try to protect any country because, in their own nation, they permanently violate the human rights of a good part of the population, especially Afro-descendants, Latinos and Indians. According to figures from the Amnesty International Report 2016-2017 (https://www.es.amnesty.org/en-que-estamos/paises/pais/show/estados-unidos-de-america/), at least 1,000 people died at the hands of the police during that period (according to what they were able to obtain in the press, because the US government does not release the figures), and a “disproportionate amount corresponded to black men.”
We speak of the government of a country that, a few weeks ago, boasted of having launched the “mother of all bombs”, which has military bases and war fronts in much of the planet, a country where racial and hate crimes have shot up since the election of Mr. Trump, who ordered the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico and who has planned to detain and quickly deport between two and three million immigrants. These and other issues should be dealt with by the US government.
The institutions in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela are solid and independent. In Venezuela, for example, the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice, the Attorney General, the Ombudsman and the authorities of the electoral body are chosen after a strict evaluation system in which citizens are directly involved, and their removal is also a process which must be approved by powers other than the Executive branch. Could we say the same of the US? “Trump removed the Attorney General for opposing the anti-immigration decree”, “Trump chooses “textualist” Neil Gorsuch as the new Supreme Court magistrate”, are just two headlines in the international press which explain how the representatives of those powers are selected and removed in that country.
Venezuela has a proven democratic system: 20 elections have been held in the last 16 years, which is an average of more than one election per year. A striking fact is that the opposition has never recognized the electoral arbitrator (National Electoral Council), or the election results when they were not in their favour. To understand the absurdity of this behaviour, it is the same electoral arbitrator who has validated the triumph of governors and mayors of the opposition on different occasions, and that only in December 2015 certified the opposition triumph in the Parliamentary elections.
Will the US government have any morals to criticize democracy in Venezuela, since in that country they have such an undemocratic system in which the one who draws the least votes can win the presidency, as was the case with Mr. Trump? Mr. Trump and his diplomats in the region should also look at child poverty rates. According to UNICEF (https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc10_eng.pdf), child poverty in the US is among the highest in developed countries at 23.1%.
Could we then say that there is a humanitarian crisis in the United States? Mr. Trump and his diplomacy should worry about stopping the suffering of their people and not, on the contrary, increasing it by eliminating the Obamacare health assistance programme, which will leave more than 30 million Americans uncovered.
Faced with this panorama of inequality in the US that the mainstream media often hide, Venezuela has just been certified by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) as the country with the least inequality in the continent, with a rate of 0.381.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2015 report, Venezuela has 6% unemployment, well below the vast majority of Latin American countries; the United Nations UNDATA report notes that Venezuela had 89% urbanization between 2014 and 2015, one of the highest in the region; in terms of university studies, the same UNDATA report establishes that Venezuela has 83% university enrollment; finally, the UNDP ranks Venezuela 71st in the Human Development Index.
We must also point out to Mr. Trump and his diplomacy in the region that the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela establishes – in its article 348 – that the President of the Republic has the right to convene a National Constituent Assembly, that the call made by the Venezuelan Head of State represents a constitutional, democratic, peaceful and electoral mechanism, and the opportunity that the Venezuelan people have to redefine some aspects of our Constitution that guarantee peace, as well as the consolidation of the values of justice, sovereignty and identity.
These aspects are substantive for a government, such as the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, that is concerned about the happiness of its people and the guarantee of peace in the region. The weapons of our people are their ideas, their faith, their love for their neighbour, their dedication to collective work, the Homeland, solidarity with our Caribbean and Latin American brothers, a very different attitude to the war, genocide and coups d’état which US governments have been pushing for decades in our region and the world.
Venezuela’s banner of struggle will always be truth and peace. Against this, their campaigns of lies and defamation cannot win. As our Liberator Simon Bolivar from the Americas said, “Because I love freedom, I have noble and liberal sentiments; and if I tend to be severe, it is only with those who seek to destroy us.”
(David McD Denny is general secretary of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration)