Nino Pagliccia – Jun 3, 2020 (Exclusive for Orinoco Tribune)
When we look at Venezuela as we come to a close of the first half of 2020, most of which has been taken over by dealing with the COVID-19 global pandemic, we must recognize that the Bolivarian Revolution has scored 3 major victories over the U.S. attempts for regime change, just in the month of May.
But Venezuela has scored many political victories in the last 20 years following that first electoral victory of 1999 when Hugo Chavez became the democratically elected president of Venezuela that would change the political landscape of Latin America.
His platform promised to transform the country from a de facto dependence of the U.S. to a truly independent and sovereign country. Social programs for the population became his top priority financed by oil wealth and his vision of “Socialism of the 21st Century”.
Chavez was a firm believer that the rich natural oil resources were to be used for the well being of all Venezuelans starting from the most needy and not to enrich the wealthy U.S. corporations and its CEOs.
He was able to gain the ideological support of many Latin American governments and leaders to form Latin American economic, financial and trade organisations like ALBA, CELAC, MERCOSUR.
This must have been a blow to U.S. imperialism. Venezuela was slipping away from the U.S. grasp not only by speaking of socialism – often Chavez referred to Marx and Marxism – but also by pulling together other Latin American countries by example and by sharing Venezuelan wealth.
Chavez was showing that it is possible to reject U.S. imperialism without firing a shot and even survive an attempted coup in 2002.
Although things have changed since, his successor Nicolas Maduro was re-elected president of Venezuela with about 67% of the votes in May 2018. He survived a drone attack in August and is today in full control of the country.
All meanwhile the U.S. government under Trump has enforced a series of escalating illegal unilateral coercive measures – so-called sanctions – with the intention of crippling and destroying the Venezuelan economy and force a popular and military rebellion for regime change. These are full economic and financial “sanctions” supported by a virtual blockade that includes army and navy threats of intervention that can be traced back to the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 (S. 2142), which is a United States law used to impose targeted sanctions on certain individuals in Venezuela.
Even the self-appointment as “president” of an unknown, unelected Juan Guaidó in January 2019 seems to testify to the political strength of Maduro. Guaidó has failed several attempts to overthrow Maduro. He promised and failed to get the high ranking Venezuelan military to defect and is ridiculed even by those who do not support Maduro. His failures are being noticed by the U.S.
But let’s look at the latest three victories scored by Venezuela.
Let’s start with the one that has affected almost the whole world: the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic may provide some evidence of the correlation between healthcare and the political system of a nation.
At the time of writing, Venezuela has recorded 1,819 coronavirus cases and 18 deaths. This is by far one of the best outcomes in Latin America in the control of the pandemic thanks in part to a free healthcare system
Meanwhile, the U.S. has now jumped to the top in number of cases and deaths by the coronavirus. The Trump administration has led a disorganized approach to the pandemic that has been exacerbated by a privatized and deeply unequal healthcare system, inadequately equipped hospitals, competing civil authorities, and a president who openly contradicts medical experts and appears more concerned with the economy and his re-election than the health of his own people.
As author Maria Paez Victor reported, President Maduro, on the other hand, has implemented special measures to cope with the economic effects of the pandemic on the population:
- Banks must extend debt payment deadlines without penalties;
- The state has taken up the payroll of small and medium sized businesses, and there is a firing freeze until December;
- The government also mandated the immediate suspension of rent payments for six months and prohibited evictions;
- Salaries and pensions have been raised and a special stay-at-home bonus has been issued.
- The Venezuelan government has been providing subsidized food packages covering over six million households to guarantee food security.
Despite the coercive measures and financial blockade, Venezuela has received international solidarity and support from a range of other nations including Cuba, China, Russia, and international organizations such as WHO, United Nations, UNICEF, Pan American Health Organization, and the Red Cross, all of which have provided medicines, medical supplies, and food.
This is a battle that is not over yet but one that Venezuela is winning. Venezuela is not only winning over the health emergency of the pandemic, but this is being achieved over the additional burden due to the U.S. blockade.
Iranian tankers to Venezuela
The idea of actually being able to beat the powerful U.S. empire without firing a shot and just using internationally granted rights, has been in the forefront in the last few days when four Iranian fuel tankers were able to dock at Venezuelan ports, and a fifth is approaching bringing much needed supplies of gasoline and other supplies to help restart the Venezuelan refineries. The tankers are bringing 1.5 million barrels of gasoline.
But more importantly they also bring spare parts and solvent to process the heavy Venezuelan crude oil.
Remarkable about this victory:
- The U.S. navy deployed in the Caribbean just off the coast of Venezuela did not make any attempts to stop the Iranian solidarity shipment to Venezuela.
- Both Iran and Venezuela are sanctioned by the U.S.
- Not only one but 5 Iranian tankers are entering the U.S. “backyard”.
Venezuela sent military escorts to accompany the Iranian ships in a display of authority.
Iran and Venezuela will cooperate to develop joint oil industry.
Venezuela is already deploying a new fuel system while increasing local production. And this is not the end of it. Iran is ready to send more tankers to Venezuela.
Mercenary invasion – Military victory
In early May Venezuela witnessed the first attempt of a raid by speedboats from Colombia with armed mercenary forces on the central coast of Venezuela, just a few kilometres from the capital city, Caracas. The response by the Venezuelan armed forces was quick.
A second raid took place the following day. Eight mercenaries were killed and the majority of the mercenaries were apprehended, among them two former U.S. soldiers.
We cannot doubt for a moment that the U.S. was involved with its proxy partner Colombia. There have been confessions that admitted to that.
Even leaving the U.S. outside this equation, there are implications of a disorganized raid with divided players involving facts seemingly out of an action movie:
- Story of a “service” contract between Guaidó and Silvercorp headed by Jordan Goudreau according to which the mercenaries would raid Venezuela, remove Maduro and install Guaidó as president.
- Goudreau accuses Guaidó of breaking the contract and not paying the $213 million due to his company.
- Guaidó denies any knowledge of the contract despite photo evidence of having signed it.
- Goudreau goes ahead with the raid to capture Maduro and possibly attempt to cash the U.S. government bounty on Maduro.
- Guaidó admits knowledge of the raid later. But it is doubtful.
- The most likely scenario is that the intention, by Maduro opposition individuals, of revealing the breached contract was to discredit Guaidó. This is an important signal that Guaidó is losing his bid as leader of the extreme opposition.
The escalation in Venezuela from violent riots to armed mercenary incursions and sabotages, likely aided by the U.S. and its proxy Colombian government, indicates that the hybrid war on Venezuela is moving to more kinetic stages of aggression.
It is fair to say that the strong and committed resistance of a united and people-supported Venezuelan government has been able to withstand such an overwhelming onslaught only seen in times of war. Venezuela’s Bolivarian defense forces and a patriotic civilian population has been able to defuse a mercenary incursion giving the Bolivarian revolution a series of victories.
Not being able to break the Venezuelan civic-military union must represent a formidable and frustrating scenario for the U.S. empire. But it gives the people of Venezuela the confidence behind the two most frequently pronounced slogans:
Leales siempre, traidores nunca. Venceremos! (Always loyal, never traitors. We shall win!)
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.
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