By Rachael Boothroyd-Rojas, Venezuela Analysis, April 18, 2017
CARACAS – Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez hit back at a joint statement issued by 11 Latin American governments on April 17, accusing them of intervening in Venezuelan domestic affairs.
The declaration was made public by Colombia’s Foreign Ministry on Twitter, and calls on the Venezuelan government to “ensure the right to peaceful protest” and “avoid violence” during mass pro and anti-government marches this coming Wednesday.
“These governments have been developing an interventionist politics at the heart of the Organization of American States [OAS] and in other group regional spaces,” said Rodriguez on Venezuelan state television VTV Tuesday, referring to an effort by fifteen OAS member states on April 3 to declare a rupture of the constitutional order in Venezuela.
Signed by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Paraguay, Perú, and Uruguay, Monday’s statement additionally urges Caracas to release a timetable for regional elections that were delayed last year “to solve the serious crisis affecting Venezuela and which worries the region”.
However, opposition leaders have confirmed that regional elections would not be enough to halt their protests. They say that they will stay in the streets until all of their central demands are met, including the removal of several Supreme Court judges and immediate general elections.
Monday’s statement also goes on to express condolences for the six victims who have lost their lives as a result of opposition-led violent protests over the past ten days, and calls on opposition militants to “exercise their right to protest peacefully… and in calm”.
For her part, Rodriguez accused the governments of hypocrisy, and questioned the human rights records of many administrations that had signed the statement. The top diplomat said it was not the place of other regional governments to pass judgement on Venezuela’s democracy.
“There are many [countries], I would say the majority, which do not have the morality to be able to make reference to Venezuela and to talk about democracy in our country… Of all the groups mentioned there, Venezuela is the only one that is able to demonstrate to the whole world, a participative and protagonist democracy, and let’s not get started on human rights,” she said.
“These governments do not recognize that there is a legitimate and constitutional government in the country, and they attempt to erode the foundations of Venezuela’s rule of law. That’s why they have received a forceful response from the Venezuela government, which rejects and protests these positions,” she continued.
Several other international institutions have also issued communications in reference to the ongoing protests and Wednesday’s planned demonstrations.
For its part, the U.S. State Department backed the 11 country statement in a press release on Tuesday, in which it accused the Venezuelan government of several unsubstantiated violations, including the torture of demonstrators and allegedly providing weapons to “armed bands” under the control of socialist party leaders.
“We also again remind the public forces – members of the Police, the Army and the National Guard – as well as members of the judiciary, of their legal and constitutional responsibilities to protect, not prevent, peaceful demonstrations,” reads the statement.
The press release also goes on to warn “those responsible for the criminal repression of peaceful democratic activity, for the undermining of democratic institutions and practices, and for gross violations of human rights” that they will be “held individually accountable for their actions by the Venezuelan people and their institutions, as well as by the international community”.
Speaking on state television on Tuesday evening, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro fired back at the Trump administration, accusing it of promoting regime change in the South American nation.
“The United States of America and the State Department have given the green light for a coup process to intervene in Venezuela,” the head of state denounced.
OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro likewise issued a statement Tuesday in which he refers to the Venezuelan government as a “repressive regime,” citing a long list of the government’s alleged violations of human and political rights. The OAS head has tried unsuccessfully several times to have Venezuela suspended from the regional body.
Meanwhile, a more cautionary communiqué was issued by the European Union appealing for calm in the South American nation, although it did not specifically criticize the Venezuelan government.
Venezuelans to march against intervention, right-wing violence
Telesur, April 19, 2017
Tens of thousands of Venezuelans will march in Caracas on Wednesday, April 19 in separate marches, including government supporters marching in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution and to reject coup plans by the right-wing opposition. “It is going to be the largest red tide that has been seen in the history of Venezuela, and they will join several avenues and highways of the greater Caracas with people in peace, on the streets, shouting the slogan ‘united people will never be defeated,'” said President Nicolas Maduro.
Wednesday is also the celebration of 207 years of independence for the South American country. “April 19 is a date of patriots, it is a date of revolution, it is an anticolonialist date, it is our date,” said Maduro.
The opposition is also convening a “Mega March” calling for Maduro’s ouster, which comes after more than a week of violent protests have left several dead and causing an estimated 50 billion bolivars in damages. Among the fatalities is a year-old boy who was shot and killed when opposition protesters entered a social housing complex during the protests and an 83-year-old woman who died after not being able to receive medical attention due to opposition roadblocks.
A high school, a community health center, various subsidized food markets and several government offices have also been attacked, authorities said.
Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said the Chavista march will be a “lesson” to those who “promote intervention, but also to the imperial powers that today dare to stuck their noses where no one has asked them to.”
Rodriguez said Venezuela would defend its sovereignty in any scenario, even if it’s not as part of the Organization of American States. The head of the regional bloc, Luis Almagro, has been working with Venezuelan opposition leaders to spearhead a campaign to apply the so-called “Democratic Charter” against the country, effectively removing Venezuela from the OAS.
Venezuelan leaders maintain this is part of a plot to justify an intervention. “The project for Venezuela is not to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, but rather the intervention and permanent tutelage that will prevent Venezuela from continuing to develop its project of a great nation, its Bolivarian project, but also what it has meant as an ideological reference for the region,” said Rodriguez.
President Maduro has accused the U.S. government had “given the green light” for a coup in the country and said that security forces had arrested an “armed commando group sent by the opposition in order to attack the mobilization called by the right-wing for Wednesday to generate violence and deaths in the country.”
Support for Chavismo climbs in Venezuela, by Rachael Boothroyd-Rojas, Venezuela Analysis, April 13, 2017
Support for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and the allied leftist coalition, the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP), has risen to 35% – up from 27% in January – according to a new poll. Carried out by independent think tank Hinterlaces, the survey shows that the ruling Chavista parties – which share the same voting ticket – continue to be Venezuela’s most popular electoral option despite an ongoing economic crisis.
The poll puts support for the entirety of Venezuela’s opposition parties six points below at 29%, which includes 7% for Democratic Action, 7% for the Popular Will party, 6% for the Justice First party, and 6% for the opposition MUD coalition as a whole. A significant 36% of Venezuelans interviewed did not sympathize with any national party….
Venezuela and Bolivia condemn ‘coup’ at OAS, by Lucas Koerner, Venezuela Analysis, April 3, 2017
Caracas, April 3, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela and Bolivia condemned Monday what they termed a “coup” in the Organization of American States (OAS) after an extraordinary session concerning Venezuela was held without the presence of the president and vice-president pro tempore in violation of internal protocols…
Russia supports Venezuela sovereignty, opposes foreign intervention, Telesur, March 31, 2017