Caracas, December 25, 2021 (Orinoco Tribune)—In the latest episode of Chavista Chronicles from Caracas we had the pleasure and honor to interview two remarkable Venezuelans who have been living in Canada for several decades. They are among the most outspoken Chavistas and anti-imperialist voices of Canada.
Maria Páez Victor is a sociologist, born in Caracas, Venezuela where she obtained her first degree. She has an MA from the University of Kent at Canterbury and a PhD from York University, Canada. She lives in Toronto, and travels regularly to Venezuela and Britain. A life-long enthusiast of Latin American and British history and politics, she participates regularly in Canadian and Venezuelan television, radio, and public events, and has published numerous articles on recent and historical topics in both English and Spanish. She is also the founder of the Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle in Toronto.
Nino Pagliccia is a Venezuelan-Canadian statistician who writes about international relations with a focus on the Americas. Nino Pagliccia has managed collaborative projects with Cuban partners in the University of British Columbia’s Global Health Research Program. He is the editor of Cuba Solidarity in Canada—Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations (2014). He has been the vice-president of the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association in Vancouver and founding co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba. He has led groups doing volunteer work in Cuba for over 12 years.
We asked Nino and Maria four questions, and after that they asked us two questions—one on how to help Orinoco Tribune become mainstream and the other on how to support Orinoco Tribune financially as well as in any other way. In regard to the first question, Orinoco Tribune editor Jesús Rodríguez-Espinoza mentioned an idea that he has envisioned in recent weeks, about creating an entity to raise funds for independent media projects with the help of anti-imperialist NGOs, progressive businesses, etc., and that entity might become an important financial arm for strengthening the work of many independent media projects that really need support.
In this regard Maria suggested to reach independent radio shows that might spread the multimedia work that Orinoco Tribune and other independent media projects produce on a regular basis and need more visibility.
Nino Pagliccia asked which social media platform is the best to prioritize. According to Jesús, Facebook is the biggest platform in terms of clicks that Orinoco Tribune receives, followed by Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn. However, he opined that although diversification is important, the platform having the most number of registered users has to be prioritized. Hence, Facebook and Twitter are the most important ones.
Another question by Nino was what the Alexa rank of a website means. In response, it was explained how, since over 20 years ago, Alexa become the main reference of how relevant a website is. Orinoco Tribune is currently ranked higher than Common Dreams and very close to The Intercept in terms of ranking.
Orinoco Tribune’s questions and the responses of Maria and Nino are summarized below:
1- What is your opinion about the 21N regional elections in Venezuela?
Maria set the pace of the interview answering this question. She stated that it was a resounding victory for PSUV/GPP alliance, which also signified a win for democracy because even the extreme right parties that only months ago were trying to overthrow the government also participated in the election. She also commented on the importance of the geopolitical situation that came as a result of the elections to know where improvements and renovations should be made to strengthen the revolution.
Nino Pagliccia endorsed Maria’s analysis of the electoral results. He spoke on the importance of the timing of the extreme-right opposition’s decision to participate in the elections, remarking that is was because these opposition factions got the green light from Washington and also because it was a trial run to see the real opposition strength ahead of the 2024 presidential election. For Nino, PSUV losing Zulia state is a concerning surprise due to the fact that it is on the border with Colombia. Maria Páez added that losing Zulia was not that important, as, according to her, having an old adeco as Manuel Rosales governing the state will be good because he is a sly fox politically.
2- How Canada and the Canadians are dealing in the fight against imperialism?
Maria Páez discarded the notion of Canadians fighting against imperialism, stating that there is no revolution in Canada. She explained how the “leftist” NDP has behaved in recent years, trying to wash out anything resembling socialism within the ranks of the party. She insisted that any revolutionary trend in Canada is in the indigenous peoples and suggested that Venezuelan authorities should focus on the Canadian indigenous movement. For Paez-Victor the real anti-imperialist movement in Canada is the indigenous movement against the atrocities of the settler-colonial racist system represented by the Canadian State and the residential schools, and the resistance to the pipelines affecting indigenous territory.
She also highlighted the negative under-representation embedded in Canada’s political process and the elitism within Canadian bureaucracy that she believes is even more exclusive than the US bureaucracy.
Nino too expressed that there is no real democracy in Canada, as there are some senators who are directly appointed by the Prime Minister and are not elected by the people. Regarding the imperialism question in Canada, he stressed that imperialism is the ideology of Canadian foreign policy, making it an imperialist country. In this perspective he explained that it is very difficult for Canadians to understand the imperialist nature of their own country.
He added that foreign policy has to be broken down in order to make it more “digestible” for ordinary people. In Canada there are Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Green, and for Pagliccia they are all imperialists, and that is why it does not matter much which party is in power. In this sense he mentioned the issue of the fighting jets that the Canadian government is buying. Maria added that many within the Canadian military also consider this to be a warmongering move, as it hinders the purchase of helicopters that are really needed in Canada. Nino added that at the end of the day, Canada is buying fighter jets under NATO directive.
Maria Páez-Victor commented that during the pandemic there were eye-opening events that made clear for many Canadians the cracks within the alliance with US and Europe imperialism, like the crisis of face masks or the way Canada’s partners handed the crisis.
On Jesús’ query about the lack of hope on the Canadian left in Canada, Nino went on to highlight the works of anti-imperialist people like Yves Engler, Aidan Jonah of The Canada Files, Arnold August, Joe Emersberger and Justin Podur, who are good examples of Canadians fighting imperialism, disregarding the so-called left and right analysis. However, he clarified that they do not constitute a movement and that is what Canada is lacking. Here Nino recognized the campaign launched by Canadians to avoid Canada to have a seat in the United Nations Security Council and the impact that many Canadians have in that outcome.
Maria recognized the wonderful work of the intellectuals, journalist and writers that Nino mentioned, but she wondered on how to make them become mainstream. At that point she insisted that Canadian internal and foreign policy are very interconnected but the secrecy of the government puts a clog into the foreign policy and makes it difficult to understand for many Canadians. In this sense she also insisted that we must face the media warfare and let other voices be heard, and in this regard she mentioned what for her is the amazing work the Orinoco Tribune has achieved in that battle of the ideas, filling the huge information gap on Venezuela in English, getting the message out to ordinary Canadians.
3- What might be Canada’s new aggression against the Bolivarian Revolution?
Canada is going to follow whatever policy the United Stated draws up, in Maria’s opinion on this issue. She does not see any sign of change, irrespective of the fact that Freeland is not Canada’s foreign affairs minister anymore or that Biden is in the White House now. For her, Canada’s economic dependency on the United States is alarming and that is what drives Canada’s blind relation with the US. Hence, Canadians are going to continue with the same aggression that led by the gold diggers or the mining corporations.
Nino Pagliccia, adding to Maria’s response, mentioned that Canada signed an agreement in 2017 with the US to topple the Bolivarian Revolution. There they divided the tasks to attack Chavismo, leaving the US to run the aggressive role and let Canada have the “good cop” role with the Lima Group. However, according to Nino the aggressions are failing, as the Lima Group is vanishing, the Venezuelan opposition is participating in the elections, and more and more countries in Latin America are being governed by leftists.
In this scenario Pagliccia wondered whether Canada will adopt a more aggressive role, training paramilitary forces in Colombia, or whether it will continue to play a softer role. However he agreed with Maria that it will depend on what instructions the Canadian government receives from the US.
4- How do you see Venezuela and Chavismo in 2022?
For Nino, in 2022 the first outcome will be former deputy Juan Guaidó finally vanishing from the scene. According to him the real issue will be the recall referendum against President Maduro. Analyzing the Articles 72 and 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution, he concludes that if the recall referendum does not happen before January 2023 there would not be much incentive to hold it, because the current Vice President, appointed by President Maduro, is Delcy Rodríguez. Meanwhile, the opposition will have to decide on its candidate for president and that is not going to be an easy task.
At this point Jesús Rodriguez suggested that the recent rally of the opposition pushing for the resumption of the Mexico Talks might be in G4’s interest on having some pardons for some of its leaders who might run as candidates.
For Maria there is not much ground or traction for a recall referendum against Maduro. The key issue for her is that the Venezuelan economy is getting better and diversifying out of necessity as a result of the blockade. A new Latin American political map will also help Chavismo to advance. She also raised the question of impunity, asking why Juan Guaidó and many other extreme-right politicians are still out of prison after breaking so many laws.
Featured image: Screenshot of the Zoom interview with Maria Páez-Victor and Nino Pagliccia. Photo: Orinoco Tribune
Special for Orinoco Tribune by Jesús Rodríguez Espinoza
Jesús Rodríguez-Espinoza is an expert in international relations, Venezuelan politics and communication. He served for several years as Consul General of Venezuela in Chicago (United States) and prior to that he was part of the foundational editorial team of the website Aporrea.org. He is founder and editor of the Venezuelan independent and anti-imperialist website Orinoco Tribune.