By Nino Pagliccia – Oct 2, 2020
In a recent video conference, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro stated that the US government has “given the CIA the green light to carry out covert terrorist operations against oil, electrical, military, electoral and public service targets [in Venezuela].” One such covert terrorist action included the plot to attack an oil refinery, by a former CIA operative who Venezuelan authorities arrested together with another individual.
Venezuela is approaching the constitutionally mandated election for a new National Assembly (NA). The NA that was elected in 2015 has been in contempt for serious irregularities, including swearing in members who had committed fraud, and will be replaced through the December 6 election. Many parties will participate in the election, including the governing party (United Socialist Party of Venezuela – PSUV), the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and a group of opposition parties.
The US and its allies, including Canada, have no interest in allowing a legitimate election to take place in Venezuela. With a new Assembly, Juan Guaidó would most likely lose his claim to the country’s presidency, a right that was never constitutional to begin with. The pro-Guaidó parties are boycotting the election, and this explains the increasing aggressive activity against the Bolivarian Revolution.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has recently undertaken trips to four South American countries – Suriname, Guyana, Brazil and Colombia. The visits to the first two countries may have had secondary interests in securing business deals and to prevent investments from China. But the Orinoco Tribune suggested that Pompeo’s visit to Guyana “also coincidentally seems very aligned with the ‘maximum pressure’ [and] illegal US strategy to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.” Meanwhile, his visit to Brazil and Colombia clearly sends a message that the US obsession to remove Maduro is reaching a fever pitch.
The US threatening actions against a sovereign country is certainly something to be criticized, but this is regrettably consistent with the profile of a hegemonic empire prone to waging hybrid wars on different countries. Venezuela is a prime country for US interests.
Nevertheless, what analysts should be especially concerned about is that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) may be contributing to US aggression towards Venezuela.
The UN has not recognized Juan Guaidó’s claim to the presidency on the basis that States and not governments are UN members. But a report issued September 16 by the so-called UN International Independent Mission on Human Rights accuses the Maduro government of committing crimes against humanity since 2014. This plays directly into the hands of Guaidó and potentially provides the US with a pretext for military intervention.
The Communist Party of Chile and the Argentine Chapter of the Network of Artists, Intellectuals and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity are among the organizations rejecting this 411-page report. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted that it is “a report plagued with falsehoods, prepared remotely, without any methodological rigor, by a phantom mission directed against Venezuela and controlled by governments subordinate to Washington; it illustrates the perverse practice of engaging in politicizing human rights and not in doing human rights policy.”
This “phantom” mission was never recognized and approved by the Venezuelan government for such a human rights investigation. The reason is that the government is already working in coordination with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which recently opened an office in Venezuela. That office has made 15 visits to 14 detention centers, recognized by the High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet herself, in which it conducted confidential interviews – but none of these findings are part of the report by the “independent mission.”
On the contrary, the mission reports “that it was not able to visit Venezuela and undertake in-country fact-finding” with the implication that no cross-examination was ever conducted. Nevertheless, it reports very serious accusations of extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests “and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment committed since 2014.” Some of the sources used include highly questionable organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Unrest (OVCS), which seems to keep its own register of unproven “crimes” and “protests” in Venezuela with its own statements of “repression from the Nicolas Maduro regime.” These are hardly unbiased sources of information.
In an article published at The Canada Files, Daniel Xie writes that “pro-US forces such as the Lima Group and the Organization of American States (OAS) may be responsible for the findings. The Lima Group has sponsored the report itself, which Canada has blindly regurgitated.” The article concludes that upholding the so-called Lima Group against Venezuela, “Canada is once again on the wrong side of history.”
The report also uses arguments – unrelated to human rights – that can be construed as interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, when it states that the National Constituent Assembly of Venezuela is illegitimate. This is precisely the same argument used by the US government and its political allies like Canada.
Similarly suspicious is the report’s questioning of “concessions expropriated from international companies” in the Mining Arc Region of Venezuela. The report did not fully investigate the critical relationship between internationally granted rights to expropriations and violation of human rights. By its own admission, “the Mission was unable to investigate [the numerous violations] due to time and resource constraints.” Canada’s mining industry has a deep and ongoing interest in Venezuela.
Finally, the unexpected publication of this report at a time when the Venezuelan government is gearing up for a democratic election is hardly coincidental. The report has the distinctive features of a political attempt to invalidate the electoral process, in which the proponents of regime change are already interfering to undermine the legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro.
Canadians should strongly condemn the report.
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.