19 thoughts on “ExxonMobil’s regime change plan for Venezuela

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  3. Saturday 29th July 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    Venezuelan ambassador to Britain ROCIO MANEIRO talks to James Tweedie about the looming threats to her country from within and without

    THIS Sunday Venezuela will reach the crest of a crisis that has been building since December 2015, if not since the beginning of 2014.

    More than 100 people have died in the riots that began at the start of April, compared with 43 in the “guarimba” riots of 2014.

    President Nicolas Maduro’s United Socialist Party (PSUV) government has called elections to a new constituent assembly which will propose amendments to the 1999 “Bolivarian” constitution that was the brainchild of late president Hugo Chavez.

    The opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition boycotted the initiative as soon as Maduro announced it on May 2. It had already walked out of talks with the government — mediated by the Vatican, regional bloc Unasur and ex-leaders of the Dominican Republic, Panama and Spain — on January 26.

    US President Donald Trump, who has continued the regime-change policies towards Venezuela of his predecessors Barack Obama and George W Bush, last week threatened further economic sanctions against Venezuela if Sunday’s election goes ahead.

    The same day, the Mud announced its “zero hour” series of actions including strikes — in reality lockouts by bosses — declaring a rival government at the National Assembly they won control of in December 2015 and urging the armed forces to turn against Maduro’s executive.

    Venezuela’s ambassador to Britain Rocio Maneiro took time out from her busy schedule this week to speak to the Morning Star about the situation.

    On the Mud’s bid to create a rival power centre, she says: “No branches of Venezuelan government, including military and security forces have recognised the parallel structure that the Mud opposition coalition wants to install.

    “Not even head public prosecutor Luisa Ortega, who has been critical of the constituent [assembly] process, has recognised the illegitimate government of the opposition.”

    Yesterday the Mud planned to stage a mass mobilisation to “take Caracas.” Is now the moment when they will attempt to overthrow the government?

    “Without question this mobilisation should be seen as a coup attempt. The opposition has earmarked this effort as its ‘final push’ before the constituent assembly on Sunday, convening its activist base, for a dramatic event.

    “I have confidence that they will not succeed.”

    There are signs the “final push” has been losing momentum in the last week, with turnout at marches dwindling. Are Mud supporters growing tired of the bloodshed?

    “Venezuelan people do not want violence, we reject violence, and in that respect, we have seen the demonstrations becoming more aimless every time. The near-daily protests have a self-destructive tendency, in which the increasing violence discourages further participation.

    So what happens after success? “The Mud, no doubt, will continue the pattern that it has adopted since President Maduro took power in 2013.

    “At this moment, the most likely scenario is that the Mud will not recognise the constituent assembly or the outcome of the vote — in fact it has already called for a boycott.

    “They are attempting to stop the constituent assembly from going ahead knowing that, if successful, the assembly will represent an electoral victory for the PSUV and ‘Chavismo’ more widely, due to its popular, inclusive nature.”

    On July 16 the Mud organised its own, unofficial referendum against the convening of the assembly and seeking support for its “unity government.” It was marred by a lack of transparency or any mechanisms to prevent ballot fraud, and turnout was — according to the Mud — about 2.5 million.

    “This ‘referendum’ has been a failure for the opposition, and for that reason it chose not to publish official results, just give estimates.

    “It is impossible to know the actual figures, since all voting records, electoral registers and other information was destroyed as soon as the exercise was over, while no agency was on hand to validate the results.

    “[But the] main purpose of the ‘referendum’, in my opinion, was sadly accomplished: to provide propaganda arguments that could be used by the international media and hostile governments in order to claim that the constituent assembly had been rejected by the masses, and justify interference.”

    Overt action by the US has so far been limited to sanctions on individuals in the government and security forces. Rumours are it could block dollar payments for the economic staple, oil.

    But with 40 per cent of Venezuela’s exports now going to China and 20 per cent to India — the same as to the US — what would that mean?

    “Substituting Venezuelan oil for other sources is much more difficult than it sounds. For instance, many US refineries located in the Gulf of Mexico are made to process Venezuelan crude, and adapting them would be impossible or very costly.

    “That’s without mentioning the difficulty that the US would encounter in finding a reliable and immediately available source of the equivalent size. Moreover, this would likely result in an increase in the price of oil domestically, and possibly internationally too.

    “But remember, an oil blockade is not the only measure that Washington could adopt against the Bolivarian government.”

    Will Trump go further, now victory in the 15-year covert war against Venezuela is in sight?

    “With Venezuela, regime change still remains the number one priority for the US, despite Mr Trump’s promise of seeking a more isolationist foreign policy. As President Trump recently stated, ‘all options are on the table,’ and forceful regime change cannot be discounted, even as a last resort.

    “It is always realistic to think that the US could try a political change in Venezuela using force. The illusion would be to think that Venezuela will not respond.”

    But, she stresses, “nowadays the US and its imperialist allies’ preferred route towards regime change is through multilateral avenues, using diplomatic manoeuvres and pseudo-official mechanisms to try to force through change without appearing overtly aggressive, as was done in the Organisation of American States.

    “A military invasion would have to be the very last option.”

    Given the level of violence on the streets, necessitating the deployment of the army to ensure security at polling stations, does the government expect a good turnout?

    “Yes we do. This constitutional mechanism provides a way in which the majority of peace-abiding Venezuelans can play a full role in facing the country’s problems.”

    Will the assembly find a way out of the current conflict?

    “One of the proposals mentioned recently was for a Commission for Justice and Peace, which would investigate abuses committed as part of the crisis and hold those responsible to account.”

    Last Friday Maduro said Venezuela would soon “astonish the world with its new economic model.” Was he talking about socialism or a “post-oil economy” as has already been mooted?

    “President Maduro suggested nine distinct priorities for the constituent assembly.

    “One of these priorities was economic, in order to overcome Venezuela’s crippling oil dependency and develop its industrial plans.

    “Importantly, the new model that is being fought for in Venezuela would enshrine a huge scope of social programmes into the constitution, as well as place new forms of democratic organisations, to consolidate the participatory democracy.

    “This should be seen as a strengthening and deepening of the socialist model, another step in the establishment of true democracy — in which people themselves, not mere representatives, participate directly in the ruling of the country.

    “Socialism cannot be exclusively state-led, but through the full participation of the working classes, peasants and the social majorities at the vanguard of society.”

    All eyes will be on Venezuela on Sunday.

    Rocio Maneiro is the Venezuelan ambassador to Britain. James Tweedie is the Morning Star’s international editor.

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-fde3-Regime-change-is-still-the-USs-top-priority#.WXxSBlFpwdU

  4. Wednesday 2nd
    posted by Morning Star in Features

    Trump’s intervention in Venezuela represents another chapter in the long history of US interference in Latin America, writes SUSAN GREY

    RECENT comments show the CIA is still working for regime change in Venezuela and encouraging the right-wing governments of Mexico and Colombia to do the same. In a Q&A session at the Aspen Institute think tank, CIA director Mike Pompeo said he was “hopeful that there can be transition in Venezuela” and that he had recently been in Mexico City and Bogota “talking about this very issue, trying to help them understand the things they might do so that they can get a better outcome for their part of the world and our part of the world.”

    The remarks — which are strongly suggestive of collaboration between the CIA and the governments of Mexico and Colombia to remove the elected President of Venezuela — have been condemned by supporters of Venezuela both at home and abroad.

    Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, in a televised interview, denounced the comments and called for explanations from the Mexican and Colombian governments.

    In a meeting with reporters in Washington, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada accused the CIA of a secret operation “to split up a democratically elected government,” and Venezuelan charge d’affaires Carlos Ron said: “What this group is trying to do with Venezuela is basically divide the government, recognise other leaders and foment a conflict with the Venezuelans. This is absolutely unacceptable.”

    Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research in Washington and critic of US foreign policy in Latin America, said attempts to get rid of the Venezuelan government dated back 15 years.

    US interference in Venezuela takes many forms, including not only political pressure, sanctions and propaganda, but also funding of right-wing opposition activity through organisations such as the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2016 alone more than $1.6 million (£1.2m) was channelled to opposition groups for dozens of projects thinly disguised as efforts to promote political awareness or participation. For example, over £26,900 was given for a project to “promote citizen engagement in the development of innovative alternatives to address Venezuela’s democratic challenges” and over £37,800 for training youth groups in “critical thinking, democratic principles, human rights, cyberactivism, and leadership skills.”

    One of the first major actions supported by the US was the temporarily successful coup to unseat former president Hugo Chavez in 2002 by a combination of industrialists, businessmen, media owners and conservative military officers.

    The coup was unsuccessful thanks to popular support for the government.

    Since then opposition groups have persisted with undemocratic efforts to topple the elected government, including a management lock-out of the oil industry, aided and abetted by US-linked IT staff who sabotaged computer systems, and multiple incidents of street violence and attacks on government institutions and public services, which are still continuing today.

    Universities have been ransacked, health clinics set on fire, bus stations wrecked and food delivery vehicles attacked.

    In the streets, masked protesters throw Molotov cocktails and set fire to barricades as they try to provoke the security forces into retaliation.

    Maduro has repeatedly called for dialogue with opposition groups, but has been rebuffed.

    When challenged about the CIA chief’s comments, the US State Department claimed to support democracy in Venezuela, but called for the cancellation of the elections for the Constituent Assembly — which over eight million people (41.5 per cent) participated in on Sunday despite right-wing opposition calls for boycotts and violent protests seeking to derail the elections — and threatened to intensify sanctions against Venezuelan citizens.

    Ironically, the CIA revelations take place at a time when the White House is struggling to deal with suggestions that Trump’s campaign team colluded illegally with Russia to influence the result of the US elections.

    These latest revelations confirm that the US is stepping up intervention and hostility against Venezuela aimed at regime change. With so much media misrepresentation taking place at the moment, one thing you should remember and what should be the context to every media story about Venezuela is that US President Donald Trump’s administration is seeking to complete the job George W Bush couldn’t and get US hands back on Venezuela’s massive oil reserves.

    Progressives internationally should be clear that whatever problems Venezuela has, Trump, US intervention and neoliberalism are not the answer — the US should keep out of Latin America and national sovereignty must be respected.

    Susan Grey is an executive committee member of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign — you can sign up at http://venezuelasolidarity.co.uk.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-9b2f-CIA-confirms-the-US-has-its-eyes-on-Venezuelas-oil#.WYOab1FpwdU

  5. Thursday 3rd August 2017

    James Tweedie looks at the connections of Smartmatic owner Mark Malloch-Brown

    THE Morning Star can reveal the link between the electronic voting firm behind Venezuelan ballot-rigging claims and the putschist opposition.

    On Wednesday, London-based Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica claimed at a press conference that the 8.1 million turnout figure in Sunday’s National Constituent Assembly election had been “tampered with” and inflated by about a million votes.

    Asked why he did not alert Venezuelan authorities, he said: “I guess we probably thought that the authorities would not be sympathetic to what we had to say.”

    A Venezuelan source told the Morning Star all Smartmatic executives left the country on Monday.

    Smartmatic is owned by Baron Mark Malloch-Brown, former minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth office under former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown from 2007-09.

    Lord Malloch-Brown has close links to Hungarian-born US billionaire NGO kingpin George Soros, who is a major funder of New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) — a longstanding and fierce critic of Venezuela’s socialist government — pledging $100 million (£76 million) over 10 years in 2010.

    Mr Malloch-Brown was a member of the Soros advisory committee on Bosnia from 1993-94.

    As UN Development Fund administrator in 2002, he suggested the agency work alongside Mr Soros’s Open Society Institute.

    In May 2007 Mr Malloch-Brown was made vice-president of Mr Soros’s tax-haven hedge fund the Quantum Fund, but resigned in September that year when he joined Mr Brown’s short-lived government.

    HRW arms division founder and Open Society Institute legal counsel Kenneth Anderson is also on the International Council of the Human Rights Foundation, whose founder and President Thor Halvorssen Mendoza is the cousin of both far-right opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez Mendoza and food distribution giant Polar CEO Lorenzo Mendoza Gimenez.

    Mr Lopez was jailed in 2015 for inciting 2014’s “Guarimba” regime-change riots that left 43 dead.

    Mr Maduro’s government has accused Polar of orchestrating the food shortages that led to the current crisis by hoarding stocks in its warehouses.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-633b-Why-a-British-electronic-voting-firm-joined-the-anti-Maduro-crowd#.WYR0ilFpwdU

  6. Friday 4th August 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Editorial

    LABOUR MP Graham Jones declares that he would have “gone further” than shadow foreign minister Liz McInnes’s criticism of Venezuela.

    McInnes had urged “the government of Venezuela to recognise its responsibilities to protect human rights, free speech and the rule of law.”

    She demanded a response to concerns expressed by the “international community” about supposed authoritarianism and very real hardships affecting Venezuela’s people. This is presumably the US-led “international community” rather than regional states such as Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba that have declared solidarity with Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution.

    Jones, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on Venezuela, advised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that he must make a statement “at some point” and told frontbencher Chris Williamson that “he’s backing the wrong side.”

    Several Labour MPs, including Corbyn, and many unions support the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, but Jones wants “everybody in the Labour Party (to) condemn the Venezuelan regime” for not looking after its citizens. His colleague Angela Smith asks Corbyn to condemn President Nicolas Maduro’s government as “a very serious threat to democracy in that country.”

    If Williamson is on the “wrong side,” it follows that Foreign Minister Sir Alan Duncan, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable and Tory MP Mark Pritchard, who all attacked Corbyn for his silence, while on holiday, over Venezuela, must be on the right side.

    Duncan backs sanctions imposed unilaterally by Washington on the Maduro government and would support global, preferably UN-developed sanctions.

    The minister said that “demonstrators (are) being killed,” that a Sky reporter had been shot at and that Venezuela is “in meltdown.”

    Opposition supporters defying a ban on street demonstrations during the constituent assembly election to build barricades, block streets and attack police are routinely described in our mainstream media as “peaceful protesters.” When did peaceful protest include, as the very Sky News footage cited by Duncan revealed, masked men carrying firearms and a roadside bomb blasting police motorcyclists?

    The opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) agreed to take part in Vatican-mediated negotiations with the government but walked away from talks earlier this year, adopting a new strategy of violent street confrontations to destabilise society.

    Jones points out that “the third, fourth and fifth-largest parties in Venezuela” are members of the Socialist International to which Labour is affiliated and the ruling Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela is not.

    Affiliation to a nominally “socialist” international is less important than where a party stands on imperialism.

    Williamson understands this, pointing out in his Newsnight interview that the US has a track record of interference at all levels, including military overthrow of inconvenient governments, in Latin America.

    Washington backed the briefly successful 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez in which contemporary Mud leaders played key roles.

    Britain’s Socialist International affiliate, under Tony Blair, fell in behind the US imperialist invasion of Iraq, bringing a million dead, the country’s fragmentation and the Islamic State (Isis) death cult’s birth. Yet Jones failed to mention Iraq when indicating his preference for Blair over Maduro and Chavez.

    Venezuela is a divided society with many problems, some self-inflicted but most caused by US backing for an opposition led by representatives of a 200-family-strong plutocracy that has never reconciled itself to ceding power to a government committed to raising the majority from abject poverty.

    Whatever errors are made along the way, the Maduro government and the Venezuelan people are entitled to expect understanding and solidarity from socialists overseas.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-6972-Labours-Jones-condones-US-imperialism#.WYR1EFFpwdU

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  8. Tuesday 8th August 2017

    A GROUP of anti-government militants who attacked a Venezuelan army base on Sunday were “financed and directed from Miami and Colombia,” President Nicolas Maduro claimed on state television.

    Speaking on his weekly TV programme “Sundays with Maduro,” the president said that the pre-dawn raid by 20 heavily armed attackers included corrupt Venezuelan officials with mansions in Miami.

    “I have ordered preventative and security measures of all military units to be reviewed and heightened.”
    Mr Maduro said that soldiers killed two of the attackers and wounded another. Seven others were arrested and the 10 who escaped were being “actively searched for.”

    The raid on the Paramacay base in the city of Valencia was announced earlier on Sunday in a video released by the supposed attackers. A man in the video who identified himself as Captain Juan Caguaripano called for a rebellion in the state of Carabobo where Valencia is located, threatening that units who did not comply would become a target.

    In a statement, Defence Minister General Vladimir Padrino Lopez assured citizens the situation was under control.

    He said Mr Caguaripano had fled to Miami in 2014 after he was expelled from the army for “treason against the homeland and rebellion” during that year’s “guarimba” regime change riots that killed 43 people.

    Gen Lopez affirmed the armed forces’ rejection of the “acts of barbarism against the people and their institutions” — and reiterated their support for Mr Maduro’s government.

    The president stressed that the attackers “could not bend the course of the National Constituent Assembly which has consolidated peace and respect, on course for the elections for governors.”

    The assembly, which will rewrite the country’s constitution, was elected on July 31 by 8.1 million voters despite a boycott by the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition — backed by US sanctions threats.

    The body voted over the weekend to convene a truth, reconciliation and reparations committee in a bid to end four months of opposition-incited violence that has left at least 123 people dead.

    On Saturday Mud-affiliated Popular Will party leader Leopoldo Lopez was released from jail and put back under house arrest. Former Caracas mayor

    Antonio Ledezma was also returned to house arrest on Friday.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-f34d-Raid-on-army-base-directed-from-Miami#.WYlwe1FpwdU

  9. Wednesday 9th July 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    FORMER Labour Party deputy leader John Prescott has hit out at backbenchers who criticised Jeremy Corbyn over Venezuela for having never spoken about the country in Parliament.

    Mr Prescott shared a tweet on Monday night exposing three Labour MPs from the newly formed all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on Venezuela for their previous lack of interest in the South American country.

    He asked: “What do MPs Graham Jones, Angela Smith and John Spellar have in common? Hate Corbyn. Joined new APPG on Venezuela. Never raised Venezuela in House.”

    The trio have been eager to leap on the latest press bandwagon with their criticism of the Labour leader for not speaking out against socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

    Mr Jones claimed former president Hugo Chavez and his successor Mr Maduro had destroyed the country’s economy, abused human rights and “replaced democracy with authoritarianism backed by military might.”

    He said: “That’s why we should be standing against the regime and for the values we hold.”

    Notorious Labour right-winger Mr Spellar called on Mr Corbyn to “recognise the failure of the regime,” saying Mr Corbyn’s statement, in which he condemned the current violence in Venezuela, “doesn’t do that.”

    Ms Smith said: “Corbyn needs to make it clear that he is on the side of democracy.”

    The MPs notably omitted to criticise an armed coup attempt that was defeated on Sunday which Mr Maduro said was “financed and directed from Miami and Colombia.”

    Co-ordinated “strikes” by Venezuelan capitalists have seen manufactured shortages including the witholding of food and medicine, and the right-wing opposition have fomented street protests that have led to spiralling violence over the past few months.

    In Monday’s statement Mr Corbyn called for dialogue and a process that recognises the independence of the judiciary and respects human rights. He said: “What I condemn is the violence that’s been done by any side — by all sides — in all this. Violence is not going to solve the issue.”

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-0f35-Prezza-notes-trios-sudden-concern-for-Venezuela#.WYq0OlFpwdU

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