25 March, 2019

Blog

Venezuelan Crisis, Western Interference, Democracy & Socialism

By Laksiri Fernando –

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

The situation in Venezuela is more complex than what it appears. There are two major crosscurrents in operation. First is between President Nicolas Maduro’s national government and the US, the latter attempting to exploit the existing crisis to bring Venezuela under its economic and political control with the backing of other Western powers. Second is between the authoritarian regime of Nicolas Maduro and the opposition led by Juan Guido that dominates the National Assembly or Parliament of elected representatives. In the second case it is also a conflict between the executive presidential system and parliamentary democracy. 

The most irony is that both Maduro (United Socialists) and Guido (Popular Will) belongs to two socialist parties in the country although the latter has not clearly expressed his socio-economic programme to the people yet. He is mainly representing the joint opposition in Parliament. Their main campaign is to bring democracy to the country which is terribly lacking particularly under Maduro. What complicates the situation and raises doubts about Juan Guido’s intentions are his collision with some of the Western powers and particularly the US. 

Given the history of the country, crisis within the economic system, poverty and living difficulties of the broad masses and concerns of the people within and outside the country on democracy and human rights, the best option would be for all parties to dialogue and come to an understanding in holding both presidential and parliamentary elections without delay and also without confrontation and violence towards resolving the situation. It appears that undue interference from outside can both derail and distort the situation in the country further.     

US/Western Interference 

US interference in Venezuela and Latin America in general is long standing going back to the Monroe Doctrine (1823). The US wants to consider Latin America as its backyard which is resisted by many governments including those who are opposing President Maduro at present. What is wrong with Western policies towards Third World countries in general is not that they express concerns or even influence on democracy or human rights, but they try to impose policies, solutions, values and political changes disregarding the social conditions, political independence, cultures or people’s wellbeing in those countries. Their sanctions most of the time are like punishing the poor. 

It is not partnership that they aspire for, but subjugation or submission. It may be possible that in the case of some people or organizations this is not that conscious or intentional, but that cannot be said about most of the governments, politicians or even some organizations. If not racism, at least some form of superiority complex seem to govern their behaviour and views, underpinning economic and ideological interests. 

Venezuela is the most tragic case at present that the Western and particularly the US meddling and sanctions have produced with disastrous social effects. 

Democracy and Socialism 

There is no question that Venezuela is lacking in democracy at present. The policies and practices of President Nicolas Maduro or the ruling United Socialist Party are ideologically authoritarian although socio-economically socialist. This has been a perennial problem in most of the socialist parties and regimes in the world beginning with the former Soviet Union. This is also the nature of many socialists and socialist parties in Sri Lanka, either practicing authoritarianism themselves or aligning with authoritarian political leaders most of the time. However this is not a reason for the outsiders like the US to meddle in the internal affairs of Venezuela or any other country, if the US is truly democratic. The democratic problem or the contradiction in socialism is something that the socialists themselves should rectify, although there is nothing wrong in others pointing it out. 

On the other hand, what the world politics or international relations show is that although the countries like the US are internally democratic (yet to an extent), their foreign policies and actions are completely authoritarian or even dictatorial. We have seen this in Palestine, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. In the case of Latin America, this has continuously been the case and there had been direct military interventions in most of the countries throughout years making Latin America virtually a region of political and economic chaos. The feelings of the people against American ‘imperialism’ is depicted in the attached street drawing in Caracas.         

pastedGraphic.png

Who is Responsible? 

Who is primarily responsible for the current crisis and chaos in Venezuela today? Large responsibility should go to the United States because of their sanctions while the internal regime is also equally responsible. 

When Hugo Chavez won the presidential elections in 1998, it was through a mass upsurge of popular aspirations for national sovereignty and socialism that it happened. It was a democratic election no less than any American election. It overturned America’s theory of ‘end of history,’ Chavez initiating twenty social missions in the name of Simon Bolivar and other national figures and ‘heroes.’ Significantly, none of these were in his name or his family members! 

These reforms were possible and successful largely due to the oil money that the country received during this period. As we all know Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. Otherwise, the economic base for socialist reforms was quite weak when Chavez took over the country. The economy was run largely by illicit traders, traffickers and companies exploiting the poor. However, the oil fortunes changed largely due to US manipulations and the decline of world prices. Noam Chomsky has said:       

I never described Chavez’s state capitalist government as ‘socialist’ or even hinted at such an absurdity. It was quite remote from socialism. Private capitalism remained … Capitalists were free to undermine the economy in all sorts of ways, like massive export of capital.”

Not that I completely agree with Chomsky, but what he said had some truth. During the oil boom, there was an expanding middle class who wanted more and more capitalism or market, instead of socialism or state control. This was apart from the social missions or socialist programmes that Chavez initiated. There was no effort to strike a balance.  

More pertinently, after Chavez (2013) there was a rapid deterioration of socialist policies under Maduro. This is one reason why there have been splits and defections within the United Socialist Party giving rise to many socialist parties and groups to emerge. If Maduro is socialist, he is of the old type. There are others in the opposition who want to bring neoliberalism to the country. The situation is complex. 

Constitutional Crisis 

There is obviously a constitutional crisis in the country. The National Assembly or Parliament was elected in 2015 with the opposition dominating and Juan Guido leading. The President Nicolas Maduro was elected in May 2018 marred with accusations of fraud and manipulation. Whatever the truth, both sides have not attempted to resolve the situation through the judiciary or negotiations. Many of the other Latin American countries are siding with the opposition, given Maduro’s extreme and arrogant policies. They are also perhaps eying for Venezuelan oil! 

In January this year the Organization of American States (OAS) approved a resolution ‘not to recognize the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro’s new term as of the 10th of January 2019.’ The US has a major influence over the OAS. It is on that basis that Juan Guido has self-assumed the position of the ‘Interim President’ without any constitutional basis. This is a measure far fetched of democratic norms and practices. To worsen the constitutional crisis further, the US, Canada and many members of the OAS and the EU have recognized Juan Guido as the Interim President, making the country having two Presidents. 

Instead, what they should have done is to call the President and the National Assembly to negotiate, compromise and resolve the constitutional and other issues amicably. US has complicated the matters further by imposing new sanctions against Venezuela deepening the economic crisis, poverty, scarcity of food and medicine. 

Conclusion  

There are undoubtedly questions about democracy and human rights under the present socialist regime complicated by the US and other Western interferences. On the other hand, Western interferences have strengthened the political defence of Maduro and his government. It is completely understandable for the organizations like the JVP to protest against the American interferences, sanctions and hypocrisy as they have done last month. However, there are serious issues about the type of socialism that Maduro and his party practices. 

The Socialist International (SI) after having a meeting in Santo Domingo in late January issued a statement on the situation that could be considered more balanced and appropriate. There are three points that can be highlighted. (1) The Socialist International has called upon all parties in Venezuela ‘to resolve political differences peacefully’ and has rejected ‘any form of military intervention.’ (2) The SI has reiterated its position as previously expressed after the May 2018 presidential elections, that the elections did not have the ‘necessary legitimacy and democratic credibility’ and declared confidence in the National Assembly as the ‘only existent legitimate institution of government.’ This may be controversial. (3) More importantly, they have called for elections that ‘must be monitored by a new, fully independent and impartial electoral authority.’       

I myself do not have any affiliation or contacts with the Socialist International. I have no obligation to follow their views. However, I have known a former President of the Socialist International, Hugo Miranda, quite closely, who has always been keen in ‘blending socialism with democracy and human rights.’ When he said ‘this lacuna is a problem in Latin America,’ I used to say ‘it is a perennial problem in Sri Lanka as well.’  

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 3
    0

    Laksiri your articles are not worth commenting and to be honest I am tired of hearing Venezuela discussions (with people who think Lanka is having none) when we have enough to worry of our own. Prof, Lanka will soon be the next Venezuela. You will get more opportunities to give your expert opinions.

    • 5
      5

      Thanks Laksiri, Good stuff keep it coming!
      Chiv; Venezuvela is highly relevant to Sri Lanka because the Washington Consensus (MCC IMF, WB) is waging low intensity Economic War and has put Lanka into a DEBT TRAP with Vulture Funds in order to control Lanka in the COLD WAR against China in the Indian Ocean. The Washington Consensus IMF with EU and Japan as proxies have put Sri Lanka into a Debt Trap, are crashing the currency, in order to assset strip and acquire strategic lands, ports and airports and Transport infrastructure in Sri Lanka in the COLD WAR against China in the Indian Ocean.
      55 percent of Lanka’s sovereign debt is held by US and EU big banks linked international soveriegn Bond traders and VULTURE FUNDS and 25 percent of debt by Japan JICA and ADB with IMF and WB next.

      • 3
        4

        Right on Don!
        The Endgame of the Economic War and also the UK-US Human Rights circus in Lanka and at UNHRC Geneva is to Divide, Distract, and set up a US military base in Trincomalee’s China Bay, now that and China has Hambantota!!!

        • 3
          1

          Yes, Dr. Laksiri,
          JVP seems playing a strange game. No protests about planes flying from Tincomalee to Singapore without customs and immigration clearance and US military planes flying into BIA without customs clearance or the so called temporary US naval logistics Hub at Trincomalee outside US embassy, but only a tiny one about Venezuela!
          Seems that JVP has been bought or sold and AKD is desperate to run for President and so JVP is distracted and fiddling with its 20th Amendment to the Constitution!!

          • 1
            4

            International community has taken over Srilanka. they at free will go every where in Srilanka meet people. See how often they to meet Tamils. One reason is Western spy agencies have built block votes in those countries. So,the diplomats have to help their govts. I say, in a very corrupt system, it was wrong for JVP intervened in the President’s decision to dissolve the parliament. they should have supported it. I think JVP know snow they became stupid and naked because of how they behaved during the 51 day UNP debacle and now they talk to Mahinda Rajapakse who is another Ranil. Only thing is Mahinda rajapakse can not say green satake wearing Rathu Sahodarayas.

        • 4
          0

          Don Stanley,

          “Lanka into a DEBT TRAP”

          Let’s cut the pseudo-intellectual word-games and get straight down to the basics

          Did IMF, World-Bank, Washington, Moscow, Peking, Buddha, Vishnu …… or whoever your favourite bogeyman ……… persuade Mahinda to take high-interest loans from China and build unproductive crap all over Hambanthota?

          Simply put …….. Mahinda’s unproductive crap is the cause of our “debt-trap!”

          Better still ……… which one of your favourite bogeymen persuaded Mahinda to get commercial flights to take off from Katunayake and land in Mattala five minutes later?

          Bloody Monty Python couldn’t have written this script ………

          All ye guys have the talent to write great comedy with a serious analytical twist ………. it would have been a rollicking laugh if not it’s such a tragedy for the country ……….

          Why is that all these bogeymen can’t get Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia ………. in a debt-trap? Any ideas? The difference between them and us? :))

  • 6
    1

    CT
    We should be focussing on this island rather than wasting our time solving problems of other countries.
    We have different democratic principles in this island where we support war criminals, crooks, robbers, racists, bigots, ……………….. and expect everyone to support the coup leaders, argue for hours and days, until cows come home, about the legitimacy of coups, ………. even if we are wrong, plain stupid, …. have fascist tendencies.

    • 7
      1

      NV: Why NOT focus just on this island when the Sri Lanka Debt trap is an international Bail Out Business? Because you are a CIA bot to spread hate speech, Divide and Rule???
      Today According to a Reuters report today, Sri Lanka sold $2.4 billion in five-year and 10-year U.S. dollar-denominated BONDS that represent what Africa Development Bank (AfDB) calls Vulture Funds.
      U.S. investors picked up most of the bonds, accounting for 39 percent of buyers on the five-year bonds and 44 percent on the 10-year ones, according to the term sheet.
      BOC International, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan, SMBC Nikko and Standard Chartered Bank are joint bookrunners for the bond sale for what the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) calls Vulture Funds.European investors followed with 38 percent and 39 percent, respectively, while Asian investors accounted for 23 percent on the five-year bonds and 17 percent on the 10-year bonds.
      Proceeds from the BONDS sale will be used “for expenditure sanctioned by the Parliament of Sri Lanka for 2019”, the term sheet said, like the CBSL Bondscam in 2015 this is for Bondscam Ranil’s reelection bid in 2020 and to pay off existing debt!

      The Endgame of this IMF and big banks Sovereign Bond Debt trap or economic war against Lankan citizens by big banks and Vulture Funds in Collusion with Bondscam Ranil and his Financially Illiterate Butterfly mafia is US MILITARY BASES in Sri Lanka in the American Cold War against China.
      Proceeds from the bond sale will be used “for expenditure sanctioned by the Parliament of Sri Lanka for 2019”, the term sheet said, like the CBSL Bondscam in 2015 this is for Bondscam Ranil’s reelection bid!

      • 3
        1

        CT Editors pl. do a story on all these bond issues that the CBSL is bragging about, but will put Lanka into an even bigger debt trap!

    • 4
      4

      This is typical Lansi vedi bullshit.

      It is crucial that we understand the bastadry of American interference in Venezuela because they will want to use the same template here.

      They will impose economic sanctions to turn the country’s people against progressive regimes that do not bend to their blood sucking plans, or speak on Israeli atrocities against Palestinian women and children, and ‘appoint’ a government of their lackeys. They dis this in Iran in 1937, Iraq in 2003, Libya 2004, and tried and failed in Syria for seven years.

      Who the fruck is this ‘interim’ president, Spanish Jewish conquistador descendant Guido? If he is so popular the poor would have elected him. He is a frucking US/Israeli agent and this US neocon/Jewish project should be condemned by all nations with an anticolonial backbone, apart from the coward hiding at Halgolla.

  • 3
    3

    US will have to eventually bow down to the Russian and Chinese influence in Venezuela.
    ,
    All ready Russian special forces are in plenty, inside Venezuela. Russian nuclear weapons are inside Venezuela allready.
    ,
    The second cold war has allready started. It will be similar to the time of Che Guevara and Castro against the US with the help of Russia.
    ,
    Economic sanctions will be for a long time, but they will thrive at the same time with the help of Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and the New world bank BRICS.
    ,
    No one will talk about the stolen Gold by the West, like in the past, When they did the same to Iraq and Libya, very recently.
    ,
    40 percent of the US population lives on 1 percent of the wealth in US. 8.6 percent population enjoys 85 percent of the wealth in US.
    ,
    This is the democracy we brag about. 55 percent of the blacks have no Jobs. US now purely survives on war and Fuel trading.
    ,
    Russia has almost finished building 3 pipe lines to affect the US, LP gas market.
    ,
    Syria and Ukraine issue is all because of the same. What did US achieve up until now? Venezuela will be the same.

    • 3
      0

      Suranga Gunasekera

      “All ready Russian special forces are in plenty, inside Venezuela. Russian nuclear weapons are inside Venezuela allready.”

      Please cite your evidence.
      Are you telling/insulting the Venezuelans they are incapable of defending their country and (democracy) .

      Please refer to 47 hours Venezuelan coup d’état attempt, failed and failed miserably, like the 50 days failed coup of the Mahindawamsa. It was the people who reversed the Venezuelan coup d’état attempt in April 2002.

      Leave the country to the people let them deal with the crisis domestically. I see your face is lighting up with glee when you expect China and Russia to get involve in this mess to make it worse.
      Well it’s worth remembering Afghanistan, Syria, ….. are still bleeding.

  • 0
    6

    I think Salvador Allende’s grandson understands what is at stake in Venezuela and the nature of the Juan Guaido option and project, far better than this writer:

    “In 1973, Pinochet implemented extreme ‘free market’ (neoliberal) policies which privatised much of the country; handing public services and resources to local and global elites. Inequality skyrocketed.
    Likewise, Juan Guaidó – the right-wing opposition leader that Donald Trump has anointed as Venezuela’s ‘interim president’ – has already drafted plans for mass privatisation of Venezuela’s assets.”

    https://www.thecanary.co/global/world-analysis/2019/02/27/salvador-allendes-grandson-speaks-out-against-western-backed-coup-in-venezuela/

    • 4
      0

      Dayan

      Was Mahinda’s change of government by other means a democratic revolution? Just few days before the coup on 26 Oct 2018 Hindian court clown Swamy crowned Mahinda as the next president of Sri Lanka.

      I don’t see much difference between Dr Mahinda and Juan Guaidó, do you?
      Do you see any difference in the behaviour of Trump compare to Swamy?

      Have you agreed on the commission the Russians are willing to pay for the floating metal that Hopper Sirisena wants to buy while the Navy Chiefs don’t want the metal.

    • 1
      0

      “ I think Salvador Allende’s grandson understands what is at stake in Venezuela and the nature of the Juan Guaido option and project “
      Sirimavo Nationalized Schools; Thero like PhDs came out. Sirimavo Nationalized Estate; permanently Rupee rolling down on the hill. Sirimavo Nationalized Industries, other than Thero, Laksiri Fernando like ultra-Elite socialists, all other self-employed and working class, sacrificed their jobs and time to stand on bread queue. Before he jump into start his preaching, somebody has to tell Thero this is about discussion of comparing so called socialism’s effect on Sirimavo government and Maduro government.

      not about “Juan Guaido option and project”. Does thero has anything to say about Sirimavo or Maduro’s socialism instead of Salvador Allende’s grandson.

      Comedy Thamai!

  • 4
    0

    Prof Laksiri Fernando attributes the present “Venezuelan Crisis” wholly or partially to “Western Interference, Democracy & Socialism”
    This is a topic on its own
    .
    Some Ceylonese socialists of yesteryears and the more recent Sri Lankan socialists point out some similarities between the crisis in Venezuela and in SL.
    They do not talk about the absence of a single Lankan Maduro.
    Many Ceylonese so-called socialists joined the language/religion-divide and prospered unto themselves.
    The Sri Lankan socialists were clumsy, trigger happy, did not have a vision and overtly associated themselves with Che Guevara. It was romantic.

  • 0
    3

    It is simply stupid to say any country in the world runs without any political or economic turmoil. what ever it is, interference by a foreign country, particularly in sabotaging and destructive way exasperate the situation. Oil prices went down because OPEC did it to cut down Oil production by North america using FRACKING. So, that affected many countries. So, was Venezuela. MAduro or Chavez cannot do anything when a powerful country is in the middle. EVEN FOR SRI LANKA, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY INTERVENED in the FUEL FORMULA. Because, that reduces the car use. they do not care about increase fuel fumes and smoke in the air and the cancer increases. Govt should increase fuel prices (Srilankan fuel prices are cheaper than some petroleum producing countries)

  • 4
    0

    Dayan,

    Namedropping again.

    Do not depend on a single source..

    Grandson of Salvador Allende may not be an independent source.

    He sees parallels between 1973 Chile and 2019 Venezuela without any valid reason!.

    Be an independent analyst and not to make the same blunder as you did with Brexit Backstop!

  • 0
    3

    Sri lanka is right now what Venezula was a few years ago. One news report says US aid is given to Anti-corruption work in Srilanka. I mean their money had gone to CIABOC. Some time ago, it said, there was some one from PM’s office. Now it says, PTL has shared BOND SCAM profits even with BASL – Low society of Srilanka. Some time ago, I heard that Ranil was whining about Sirikotha not having enough funds. then CPA, CBK, Mangala knew it, Ranil were discussing it and USA said we don’t have now, find it yourself and Mangala kept distance and some how the bond scam happened. I think, no one knew what exactly was playing behind. Some how now most understands it. there is no opne in the parliament who did not get some dough. It is like that fish which has so many arms and hanging to every thing. So, one command to one arm is enough all the arms are working in unison. Only finally that arms may be thinking, did I do that OR I DID NOT KNOW or tell something else such as explaining what Srilankan economy is to AG.

  • 0
    3

    Venezuela has kicked out German Ambassador for interfering in internal affairs. If Sri Lanka wants to take such action, we have to kick out at least half a dozen Ambassadors. The way some Ambassadors behaved during 52 days debacle was really disgusting. These BPs preach to the rest of the world but do not practice what they preach. But they claim that they come from the so called ‘Civilized Developed World’.

    • 4
      0

      Eagle Blind Eye with Bird brain

      Why do we need Ambassadors in this country? We can very well do without them as we managed in the past 2500 years of glorious history.

      Pack all of them send them back to whence they came.

  • 0
    0

    Oh, the writer has forgotten writing about Russian investments in Venezuela.

    • 0
      1

      ETHIGE: I Hear, RUSSIA has even long range bombers. and russian military advisers. Human right defenders of the world were so furious and they sabotaged the biggest electricity producing powerhouse.

  • 2
    1

    The tactic is to insist on ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom of speech’, then when freedom for exploitation of natural and other resources by western companies is permitted, all will be OK. Look at Burma, Myanmar. Now you can get KFC and Coke freely in Rangoon and so everything is OK. No more adverse reporting by mainstream media as in the recent past.

    • 2
      1

      Dionysus

      ” Look at Burma, Myanmar. Now you can get KFC and Coke freely in Rangoon and so everything is OK. “

      If they don’t have KFC and Coke in their country how could they boycott in times of crisis when they want to bring sanctions against the USA, like the one our great thinker and leader Wimal Sangili Karuppan Weerawansa demanded. Be serious, respect him for his innovative ideas.

      Don’t you think it is up to the people to consume those stuffs or reject them. When you enjoy both coke and KFC in this island and outside why should you deprive both for others unless of course there is consensus among the consumers of the world. Aren’t you being hypocrite, which is popular trademark of the little islanders?

  • 3
    1

    Discussions about Venezuela without talking about their military will go nowhere.

    As The Washington Post revealed, Maduro has survived so far mainly because the military, in trying to protect itself, sees no benefit in switching over to supporting the opposition. The military had been given protection to profit from offering state services as well as by illegally protecting drug lords– a practice started by Chavez and continued by Maduro– that most of the military top brass feel they are too compromised to come out OK in a new government, even under an amnesty.

    And I don’t see any discussion of reports that inflation is rising a million times more from a few months ago. Can any population survive that?

  • 1
    1

    Agnos. The Washington Post will publish “revelations” that are favourable to Washington and the US, which is instrumental in wanting regime change in Venezuela. Only fools get carried away by their reports.

    • 2
      1

      Dionysus,

      If you have evidence to rebut the factual reporting of The Washington Post from other legitimate sources, present it. Otherwise you are just writing BS.

  • 1
    1

    So for Agnos the Washington Post BS is factual? A true believer indeed. Alas there is no cure for gullibility.

  • 0
    0

    Dionysus ok, accepted you do not know the meaning of inflation. But are you blind not to see millions of Venezuelans have already left country by crossing the borders. Are you dumb , blind or both. Are they on sight seeing tour?????

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.