“Hands off Venezuela” Say Orlando Socialists

venezuela

The Orlando Workers League, with elements of the American Party of Labor Florida/Fidel Castro Division and the Party for Socialism and Liberation gathered to oppose american intervention in Venezuela on January 27th.

By BENJAMIN J. RIZZO

All-day rain and unusually cold temperatures did not deter Central Florida socialists, including comrades from the American Party of Labor, from converging on Orlando City Hall on Sun., Jan. 27 for an emergency demonstration in support of the Venezuelan people and their Bolivarian Revolution. Recently, Venezuela has faced a new onslaught of imperialist attacks from the reactionary Trump administration. The most outrageous provocation was on Jan. 23 when Trump recognized social democrat Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s “president” — almost two weeks after President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for his second term. Trump’s dubious move came despite the fact that much of the opposition (including Guaido’s Popular Will party) boycotted the May 2018 presidential election, which Maduro won with 68 percent of the vote.

“We stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution,” said Sebastian Lemba, of the APL (Fidel Castro Division). “I especially want to point out the hypocrisy in the dialogue in the U.S. We talk about Russian interference all day, every day, and we’re just doing the same damned thing [with Venezuela]. We see this over and over again throughout history. These kinds of U.S.-backed coups always lead to mass murder.”

“The people of Venezuela had elections. The people who chose to boycott them–that’s on them,” said Lemba. “Those elections were not rigged. They were legitimate elections, and some random guy calling himself the president of Venezuela is not going to change that.”

Of course, many observers have questioned whether the Trump regime even has any right to criticize the legitimacy of any other country’s elections or electoral system. After all, in 2016 Trump became president although he received 2.8 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. This was because of the undemocratic Electoral College, part of the legacy in the Constitution of America’s beginnings as a slave nation. And it underscores the hollowness of what passes for “democracy” in the U.S., dominated as it is by wealthy capitalists who purchase politicians of both major parties, along with other factors such as suppression of the voting rights of various groups, most notably African Americans.

Soon after the demonstration began, hundreds of people exited the performing arts center across from City Hall, following a performance of “Hamilton.” They were greeted with signs telling them “Hands Off Venezuela” and “U.S. Respect Venezuela Sovereignty” along with enthusiastic chants, such as “U.S.A., C.I.A., Out of Venezuela.” Undoubtedly, the theatre-goers did not expect to see members of the APL, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the Orlando Workers League out on the street defending the Venezuelan people from U.S. imperialism.

The people involved in the protest understood why it was important to stand strong in the steady downpour and unrelenting chill to publicly express their support for Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution, and their fierce opposition to Trump’s belligerent and clumsy attempts to force that nation back into the orbit of neoliberalism. That would destroy the social gains that Venezuela’s poorest workers have made since the late President Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1999. It also would unleash a bloody white terror of repression against leftists that likely would be similar to what happened in Chile in 1973 after Salvador Allende’s democratically elected government was overthrown in a U.S.-backed military coup.

“There’s a long history of the CIA and the ‘Washington consensus’ overthrowing governments in Latin America, particularly when their governments nationalize their resources, as Venezuela has,” said Jaco, of the PSL. “So we’re here today to say that we, the many, in the United States stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan people against the aggression and imperialist overtures of the Trump regime.”

“This is what resistance looks like,” he added. “We’re out here in the rain.”

“The Orlando Workers League is out here because it’s imperative for activists in the U.S. to fight U.S. imperialism at every turn,” said Delilah Ruth. “We have a responsibility to Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution to defend their gains and Maduro from CIA and U.S. intervention.”

In another tightening of the screws on the Venezuelan people, Trump on Jan. 25 named neoconservative Elliot Abrams as the leader of an effort to undermine diplomatic and economic relations between Venezuela and other nations. This is all designed to bring down Maduro’s democratically elected government, along with the Constituent Assembly (whose members were chosen in a 2017 election, which the opposition also boycotted), and the Bolivarian Revolution.

Abrams has a long history of hostility to socialist governments in Latin America and as a professional liar for U.S. imperialism. He was convicted in 1991 of withholding information from Congress about the Reagan administration’s illegal support of right-wing paramilitary groups trying to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. (Abrams was subsequently pardoned by the recently deceased President George H.W. Bush.)

However, as the British newspaper the Independent noted: “For many Latin America watchers he will be associated with his denial of a 1982 massacre at El Mozote in El Salvador of hundreds of civilians by the military. Mr. Abrams told a Senate committee that the reports of hundreds of deaths at El Mozote ‘were not credible.’

“In 1993,after a UN truth commission which examined 22,000 atrocities that occurred during the twelve-year civil war in El Salvador, attributed 85 per cent of the abuses to the Reagan-assisted right-wing military and its death-squad allies, Mr. Abrams said: ‘The administration’s record on El Salvador is one of fabulous achievement.’”

The stakes for the future of the Bolivarian project and Venezuela’s right to self-determination are enormous. It’s not implausible that with war criminals such as Abrams involved that the Trump administration’s latest flurry of activity against the country, besides seeking to undermine Maduro’s legitimacy while distracting from problems caused by the government shutdown, could signify a campaign to justify even more ominous action. It’s possible this could take the form of a U.S.-led Bay of Pigs or Panama-type invasion. This is why it’s important for us as communists and proletarian internationalists to defend Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution even if we have criticisms of that movement from a Marxist perspective.



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