Wednesday 20th September 7pm
from Clydebank Trades Council
Speakers from Venezuela Solidarity Campaign: Frieda Park and PHIL McGarry Wednesday 20th September 7pm in Clydebank Town Hall 5 Hall St, G81 1UB
from Clydebank Trades Council
Speakers from Venezuela Solidarity Campaign: Frieda Park and PHIL McGarry Wednesday 20th September 7pm in Clydebank Town Hall 5 Hall St, G81 1UB
This Emergency Briefing was called to highlight the situation in Venezuela, especially the destabilization and anti-democratic U.S. Tactics of Intervention. Chaired by Vicky Grandon of Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.
Recorded Wednesday 31st August 7pm at John Smith House, Glasgow.
We are forwarding here a statement from the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign with the request that you support it and circulate it further. After that we give you links to three articles which give up-to-date insights into the situation in Venezuela
Tony Burke, Unite the Union,
Dr. Francisco Dominguez, Venezuela Solidarity Campaig
Colin Burgon, Labour Friends of Venezuela
We, the undersigned, note the growing concern across progressive movements and governments across Latin America that elements of the Right Wing within Venezuela have called again for the 'ousting' of the elected President Nicolas Maduro before the constitutional end of his term.
The success of such a campaign would mean the implementation of a hardline neo-liberal programme in Venezuela, which could only further exacerbate the country's economic problems and overturn the advances in social programmes and labour rights of recent years.
Announcements from the right-wing this week follow the decision of the US to renew sanctions against Venezuela, which have been condemned by the Union of South American nations.Agreeing with the Latin American community of nations, we call for respect for Venezuela's national sovereignty and ongoing solidarity with the social achievements Venezuela has made in recent years.
1. Venezuela’s Right Wing Confesses to 17 years of Political Delinquency: The Amnesty Bill - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-francisco-dominguez/venezuelas-right-wing-con_b_9401644.html?utm_hp_ref=venezuela
2. Right Wing Majority in Venezuela’s National Assembly: The Constitutional and Political Stakes - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-francisco-dominguez/right-wing-majority-in-ve_b_9069350.html?utm_hp_ref=venezuela
3. Fixing the Venezuelan Economy - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-weisbrot/fixing-the-venezuelan-eco_b_9318760.html?utm_hp_ref=venezuela
"A confesion de parte, relevo de prueba"
(Spanish legal expression: "When there is confession, no evidence is required").
Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes could not imagine how correct he was when he said that the challenge a Latin American writer faced was to produce fiction that was more extraordinary than reality itself.
Venezuela's Right Wing Opposition has just managed to perform an event that surpasses Gabriel Garcia Marquez's magic realism: On 18th February 2016, making use of their majority in the National Assembly, they have passed an Amnesty Bill that seeks to provide legal impunity to acts of political delinquency they and their supporters have perpetrated for 17 years. Venezuela's Right Wing majority in the National Assembly's 'amnesty' bill is not only an admission of guilt for, but also a well organised catalogue of, the political offences they and their supporters have perpetrated since 1999.
The Bill is upfront about what it seeks to amnesty: "acts defined as crimes, misdemeanours or infringements [...] and other acts provided for herein." (Art.1) This Bill is an Opposition's colossal Freudian slip since with it they, unwittingly, have admitted their guilt of more than a decade and a half of illegal, violent and undemocratic political felonies.
The Amnesty Bill is not yet law, since it needs to go through several constitutional procedures, including being vetoed by President Nicolas Maduro, who has condemned the Bill in the strongest terms. In the highly likely event of President Maduro vetoing it, the Bill will then be referred to the Supreme Court (TSJ) to get it to issue a ruling on its constitutionality. The TSJ can declare the Bill unconstitutional regardless of the size of the Right Wing majority in the National Assembly (for details of what the Opposition majority in the National Assembly can and cannot do read my article in the Huffington Post, Right Wing Majority in Venezuela's National Assembly: The Constitutional and Political Stakes).
The Right Wing Opposition Amnesty and National Reconciliation Bill (Proyecto de Ley de Amnistía y Reconciliación Nacional, in Spanish) makes its stipulations retroactive to 1st January 1999, and in 45 articles, covers all manner of felonies and crimes committed up to the moment it becomes law (which, in the unlikely event of being approved, might be this year, 2016) when would be officially promulgated in the country's National Gazette (Art.2, p.6). As we shall see below, the political felonies and crimes it covers are comprehensive since the bill's scope ranges from misdemeanour at a public rally to terrorist acts involving explosives and firearms. The choice of period gives the game away since it includes ALL the illegal, criminal and law-breaking political acts perpetrated since 1999 by Opposition leaders and their supporters throughout the governments of both Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro.
A powerful coalition of domestic forces in cahoots with Washington has unleashed an economic war against Venezuela's progressive government since 2012, which, intensified with the premature departure of the late Hugo Chavez in March 2013, and has, as in Allende's Chile, taken its toll on the electoral support for the government thus dealing a severe blow to Chavismo at the election to the National Assembly on 6th December 2015. The opposition won a two-thirds majority: 112 our of 167 MPs. (Due to allegations of vote-buying, the election of three opposition MPs from the state of Amazonas has been contested; the Supreme Court has upheld it and, pending investigation, suspended their swearing in as MPs, thus denying the Right a two-thirds majority; nevertheless this has marginal political and constitutional significance, thus this entire article is written as though Venezuela's Right does enjoy a two-thirds majority.)
Ever since there have been a number of rushed and misleading media reports wrongly suggesting that this two-thirds conservative majority can proceed to dismantle and bulldoze all the structures of the Bolivarian state, including the very government led by the elected President Nicolas Maduro. One publication nonchalantly asserted that a "supermajority" would allow the opposition to begin the process of appointing and dismissing Supreme Court judges and convene a convention to rewrite the constitution." ("The coming confrontation",The Economist, Jan 16th 2016.) These assertions may be true but only under very specific constitutional conditions which we seek to explain here, for as long as the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution remains Venezuela's key instrument that informs the legal and constitutional parameters within which any structural change must take place.
The constitutional provision that may allow the Right to force the resignation of President Maduro is the recall referendum (Art.72). They already resorted to a recall referendum against Hugo Chavez in August 2004 the then President who won with 59%. The constitution stipulates that it can be forced only once during the term and when half the mandate of the elected official - the President of the Republic in this case - has elapsed. Anybody can force a recall referendum against the President of the Republic provided 20% of the registered voters (which at present is about 4 million) support it.
The elected official's mandate will be deemed to be revoked "when a number of voters equal to or greater than the number of those who elected the official vote in favour of revocation, provided that a number of voters equal to or greater than 25% of the total number of registered voters have voted in the revocation election, [...] and immediate action shall be taken to fill the permanent vacancy in accordance with the provided for in this Constitution and by law." (Art.72) . (The Constitution of Venezuela is the only one in the world with the constitutional right to recall any elected official once half their mandate has elapsed; it applies to Mayors, MPs, Governors, and the President of the Republic.) Half of President Maduro's mandate will elapse in April 2016, and thus a recall referendum, if it takes place, will be between April and June 2016.
Were the opposition to collect enough signatures a recall referendum can be successful only if the number of votes against President Maduro is identical to or higher than the number of votes he obtained when elected President in April 2013, that is, 7,587,579 votes. At the 6th December 2015 elections to the National Assembly the Right got 7,707,322 votes, which represents a small increase from their results at the April 2013 presidential election when their candidate, Henrique Capriles, got 7,363,980 votes, that is 343,342 more votes, barely an increase of 4.22%.
At the 6th December 2015 election, the government got 5,622,844 votes. This, when compared to the 2013 presidential election, shows that about 2 million Chavista voters, disgusted with the economic situation, punished the government by abstaining. The 6th December election results for the opposition can be accounted to a large extent by their political capitalization on the terrible economic situation Venezuelans have been facing since the unleashing of the economic war. The ousting of the Maduro government was not on their electoral manifesto, thus they may find it difficult to turn the totality of the 6th Dec. 7,707,322 voters into votes to recall President Maduro in a referendum.
Thus, a recall referendum may or may not be forced this year but if held, it is not a foregone conclusion that the opposition will win it. But if the opposition wins it, this will force presidential elections, which, if the opposition won them as well, the Right will launch a full-on assault on all the social gains made since Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998.
With the right wing now in control of the Venezuelan National Assembly, we must redouble our solidarity efforts, writes FRANCISCO DOMINGUEZ
IN VENEZUELA’s December 6 election, the right-wing opposition coalition MUD won two-thirds of the National Assembly. It got 112 MPs while pro-government candidates (PSUV) won 55 seats. For supporters of Chavismo (a left ideology associated with former president Hugo Chavez) this represents 33 per cent of National Assembly seats but 42 per cent of the popular vote. The opposition secured 56.2 per cent.
Despite the massive national and world campaign to malign the country’s electoral system as prone to fraud, and the national electoral authority, the CNE, as the key mechanism of the fraud, the CNE — as it has done on 19 previous occasions — conducted itself impeccably.
With its typical efficiency it gave a full report on time, reporting the victory of the opposition.
Furthermore, President Nicolas Maduro recognised the results without raising any doubts of objections as to their genuineness. Most important of all, he correctly declared that democracy and peace were victorious.
This came after so many catastrophic predictions by the world media and so many US government officials, including presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, sowed doubts about the cleanliness of Bolivarian Venezuela’s election system but also, crucially, the democratic nature of Chavismo. Many a media commentator, writer and media hack knowingly told lies to demonise the Maduro’s government.
With its majority the right wing can now introduce gigantic constitutional changes that could substantially affect the composition of the CNE, Supreme Court, existing constitutional principles and laws and a great deal more. It could organise a recall referendum to oust President Maduro in 2016.
Already Fedecamaras, Venezuela’s CBI, has formally requested the MUD parliamentary majority leadership to repeal the highly progressive labour and fair pricing laws, both which benefit the poor. The latter protects the poorest against the ravages of the economic war the country has been subjected to for at least five years.
The size of the defeat is a reflection of the enormous discontent of ordinary Venezuelans with the deliberately created shortages of basic necessities, especially foodstuffs, the long queues they have had to endure for at least five years now, resulting from well-organised hoarding and massive contraband, massive currency speculation and exorbitant levels of inflation that bit into their standard of living.
They were also fed up with inefficiencies in the delivery of social programmes and the day-to-day running of the administration at all levels. An additional blow was the US development of fracking that led to a drastic plummeting of oil prices, thus denying the Maduro government the wherewithal to address the consequences of the economic war — of which fracking was one more component. On December 6 Venezuelans punished the Maduro government for all of these ills. Paid TV opposition propaganda stated: “The best electoral propaganda for the opposition are the existing queues.”
The opposition gained 343,000 votes last week. By contrast the government lost nearly two million votes. As Venezuelan pollster Oscar Schemel aptly put it: “It was a vote for punishment, not a vote in favour of the opposition.”
Paradoxically, these two million Venezuelans have given the MUD, the option they mostly refused to vote for, a huge constitutional power that the right will use to dismantle the social programmes they felt Maduro was unable to do something about.
For Maduro and his government, it was the most difficult of predicaments. Yet the government was able to maintain 43 per cent of the popular vote. The opposition’s inability to offer an attractive alternative to fed-up Chavistas offers possibilities of recovery but it will also be necessasry to mount broad defence campaigns against the unavoidable attacks to people’s rights that will come from the National Assembly majority.
Those who planned and carried out the economic war aimed at exactly that. As in Allende’s Chile, they sought to erode popular support for the government so as to oust it. The PSUV has entered an intense period of reflection, discussion and repair with an upcoming emergency national conference to devise a strategy to face this dramatic challenge.
Chavismo has the government, the majority of governorships (20 out of 23), plus 76 per cent of the country’s mayoralties. This is not the end of Bolivarianism in Venezuela, even though it faces an externally funded and externally led offensive which represents a mortal threat.
We cannot allow the ghost of Chile 1973 and Nicaragua 1990 to fall on Bolivarian Venezuela. We must redouble our solidarity efforts.
Dr Francisco Dominguez is secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.
Taken from the Morning Star daily socialist newspaper Tuesday 15 December http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-c51a-A-blow-to-the-Venezuelan-left
? Venezuela has a long tradition of welcoming Colombian migrants; be they economic migrants, political refugees, or any other kind. There are approximately 5.6 million Colombian immigrants in Venezuela, of a total population of 30 million. The truth is that Venezuela has cooperated in a consistent and inexhaustible fashion with Colombia and its people, something which is evidenced in the hundreds of treaties of cooperation and in the fraternal welcome of the millions of Colombian citizens that immigrated to the country in the context of the conflict that the country has suffered for over 50 years.
? Venezuela has achieved international recognition for its efforts in welcoming Colombian refugees. Venezuela has welcomed millions of Colombians with the greatest solidarity and protection, as is well documented by the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees of the United Nations and the World Bank, among others.
? The country has suffered the consequences not only of the internal conflict underway in Colombia, but also the Colombian state’s lack of control over violent paramilitary groups and criminal activity in and around the joint border. Of these issues, one of the most prescient is the smuggling of contraband items out of Venezuela, taking advantage of the price controls in place on essential items in Venezuela- making such cross-border operations extremely lucrative, at the expense of the Venezuelan people who have to deal with the shortages caused as a result of these operations. The items that are subject to being smuggled as contraband include, but are not limited to, immeasurable quantities of foodstuffs, medicines, machinery and equipment and, of course, petrol among all sorts of provision and attacks on the Venezuelan national currency, the Bolivar.
? The government of Venezuela calls for its counterpart to assume its own socio-economic responsibilities with its citizens, and tackle the crimes committed within its own territory, so that they do not have to be resolved outside its borders. Venezuela asks Colombia for absolute engagement with its responsibility in putting an end to the criminal acts perpetrated by persons, paramilitary groups or organised crime who operate outside the law, as a result of the indifference of the Colombian State to confront these groups, who commit crimes against human rights, and create the obligation to entirely fix the harm caused by the losses and injuries, in part derived from the lack of attention to its duties as a State.
19th of August 2015: President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela announced the temporary closure of the border between Colombia and Venezuela in Tachira state (south west of Venezuela) for a period of 72 hours, launching a so-called ‘People’s Liberation Operation (OLP)’ in the area in order to detain the perpetrators of an ambush against members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces that same day, resulting in the injury of two military personnel.
21st of August 2015: The Venezuelan leader extended the border closure and decreed a state of emergency in 6 border municipalities in the state of Táchira (Bolivar, Pedro Maria Urena, Junin, Capacho Nuevo, Capacho Viejo and Rafael Urdaneta).
26th of August: A meeting of the foreign ministers of Venezuela and Colombia (Delcy Rodriguez and Maria Angela Holguin, respectively) was held in which an agreement wasn’t reached in respect to the closure or the possible re-opening of the border. A meeting was pencilled in of the two countries’ ombudsmen to establish ‘the protocol for deportations from Colombia to Venezuela’.
27th of August: The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, called its Ambassador in Venezuela Ricardo Lozana in for consultations. This measure was reciprocated by the Venezuelan government which called its Ambassador in Colombia, Ivan Dario Rincon, in for consultations that very day.
28th of August: President Maduro extended the border closure to another 4 municipalities in Tachira (Lobatera, Garcia de Hevia, Ayacucho, Panamericano) and 3 days later decreed a state of emergency in those same municipalities. The Venezuelan president embarked on a tour that saw him visiting Vietnam, China and Qatar.
31st of August: The Organisation of American States (OAS) held a meeting but did not reach a consensus on organising a conference of the foreign ministers of the countries which make up the organisation (34) to tackle the border issues.
7th of September: The Venezuelan president decrees a state of emergency in 3 municipalities in the state of Zulia, north west Venezuela (Guajira, Mara and Almirante Padilla), at the same time ordering the closure of the border crossing in Paraguachon, in Zulia.
8th of September: The governor of Tachira, Jose Vielma Mora, reported that the Operation for the Liberation of the People (OLP) that had been underway in the region, with 7 paramilitaries belonging to the Los Urabeños being killed, while 8 others had been detained.
• 85% of Colombians who have fled their country as a result of internal conflict or a poor economic situation reside in Venezuela; with the remaining 15% in other countries.
• The Venezuelan government has built and assigned in the last years some 800,000 houses to those in need; 25% of those have been assigned to Colombians.
• Venezuela is the country with the greatest amount of refugees in Latin America and the Caribbean; as well as receiving the second greatest amount of refugees in the Western hemisphere and being among the top 24-25 in the world. (According to data published by different reports of the World Bank between 2010 and 2014, and by a 2014 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR])
• In 2014, Venezuela could count with more than 204,000 protected people in its territory, 95% of them from Colombia, according to the World Bank.
• The US welcomes the most refugees in the Western Hemisphere, with 263,000; however its total population is 300 million, 10 times greater than that of Venezuela’s population. Expressed as a percentage (ratio?) of people, Venezuela hosts more than 10 times more refugees than the US.
• The UNHCR counts with support centres for refugees and/or displaced people in the Venezuelan states of Apure, Táchira and Zulia, where special support is given to Colombian refugees.
• In 2011, a law was passed known as the Organic Law for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, which protects the right to seek refuge, while article 12 of the same law established the Venezuelan National Commission for Refugees.
• In May 2015, the UNHCR recognised our country as a state that complies with international treaties on Human Rights.
• In 2003, Venezuela signed a ‘Memorandum of understanding between Venezuela and Colombia on the treatment of displaced persons in Colombian territory who reach the Venezuelan border’, with the goal of attending to the victims of the Colombian War.
• The Vice President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Jorge Arreaza, said on the 4th of September that following the closure of the Colombian-Venezuelan border, the Bolivarian Government has established a “humanitarian corridor” for 350 schoolchildren registered, both Venezuelan and Colombian, so they can cross the border into Colombia and continue their education in schools of that country.
• He also noted that the Bolivarian Government is guaranteeing the right to work for Colombians living in Colombia and working in companies located in the Venezuelan border municipalities. Therefore, Venezuelan authorities have asked employers for the details of all their employees on their payroll.
Dr Francisco Dominguez of Cuba Solidarity & Venezuela Solidarity Campaigns.
Part of the Scottish Latin America Conference, December 2014.
Express your solidarity - join in support of the people of these countries who are striving to build a fairer & more equitable world - find out more here:
Mo Hume of Glasgow University gives an introduction into the context of violence against women in El Salvador.
Morena Herrera, campaigner for women's rights in El Salvador, reveals her insights into the needs of reproductive rights in the region & the work that still needs to be done to improve them.
Vickie Knox of the Central American Women's Network: promoting women's rights and gender equality
Page 1 of 4