[News] What You Should Know About the Ukraine-Style Anti-Government Protests in Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Feb 24 19:57:43 EST 2014

    What You Should Know About the Ukraine-Style Anti-Government
    Protests in Venezuela

*The Venezuelan autocrats of the past are now masquerading as 
democrats**with the aim of just getting all their old privileges back*


by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya 

The US-supported opposition in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is 
taking its cue from the anti-government protests taking place across the 
Atlantic Ocean in Ukraine. Failing to win any of Venezuela's elections 
by earning a popular mandate from the majority of the population in the 
last few years, the leaders of the mainstream opposition are now 
resorting to colour revolution tactics and a Ukraine-style disruption 
strategy. The aim of these opposition leaders in Venezuela is to 
manipulate the galvanized anti-government protesters into creating a 
political crisis in Caracas. Mainstream opposition leaders are doing 
this by instigating the protesters into taking steps that are geared at 
toppling the Venezuelan government.

The same opposition leaders and their foreign supporters are using the 
cover of the undeniable misgivings about rising crime rates, political 
corruption, and economic turmoil in Venezuela as a disguise for what is 
essentially looking like an attempted coup. The socio-economic 
misgivings of a segment of the population are being used as a pretext to 
legitimize street action and violence aimed at toppling the government

It is ironic that many of those opposing the Venezuelan government in 
the name of democracy, equality, and security were once supporters of 
autocratic and openly corrupt governments before the Chavez era. Memory 
loss or outright hypocrisy is at play. When the same oligarch's that 
form and finance the Venezuelan opposition that is supporting and 
instigating the current anti-government protests were in charge of 
Venezuela, corruption was widespread, poverty rates were much higher, 
inequality was greater, and there was much higher inflation. Nor was 
Venezuela even a functioning democracy.

Despite the Venezuelan governing party's democratic mandate, which 
includes winning most the municipal seats during the country's December 
2013 elections, the US-supported Venezuelan opposition wants to use 
flash mobs to oust the government and to take over the country. Of the 
337 mayors elected in December 2013, the final vote counts awarded 256 
mayor positions to the ruling party and its coalition of pro-government 
forces. This amounted to a win of seventy-six percent of the mayoralties 
in the South American country's municipal elections, which confirms that 
the majority of the population supports the current Venezuelan governing 
party and its political allies.

Despite their short comings, the governing United Socialist Party of 
Venezuela and its political allies have one of the most democratic 
mandates in the world. In relative terms of fair voting, the government 
in Caracas has much more democratic legitimacy than the governments in 
countries like Britain, Canada, France, and the United States, which 
portray themselves as champions and models of democracy. The governing 
United Socialist Party and its coalitions, including the Great Patriotic 
Pole (GPP) coalition, have gone to the poles more times and for more 
issues than any of the current governments in Britain, Canada, France, 
or the US. On any occasion where constitutional issues or major issues 
involving Venezuela's political structures were being contemplated, the 
government and governing party let the Venezuelan voters make the 
decisions through popular referendums.

 From 1999, the period that the Chavez era started in Venezuela, until 
2014 there has been six referendums dealing with the country's national 
constitution, union structures, and even an opposition motion to have 
President Hugo Chavez removed from office through an electoral recall at 
the polls. Four presidential elections, four parliamentary elections for 
the National Assembly, and four regional-level elections for state 
governors and legislatures have all taken place too. Nicolas Maduro's 
election as president in April 2013, just a few months after Hugo Chavez 
had won the presidential elections in October 2012, reconfirmed the 
support and confidence that over half of the population had for the 
government. Moreover, not only has there been four municipal-level 
elections, but municipal leaders began to be democratically selected by 
election ballots instead of being appointed; it was the leaders of the 
US-supported opposition that preferred to appoint municipal leaders 
outside of electoral mechanisms instead of letting the people decide 
themselves through voting.

*The Mainstream Venezuelan Opposition is Anti-Democratic*

What the US-supported opposition has been trying to do is to take over 
Venezuela outside of electoral mechanisms. It does not care about 
democracy or what the majority of Venezuelan citizens want. Where the 
mainstream opposition leaders have failed to get popular support or to 
win via the ballot box, they have used trickery and every option 
available to them for taking over the South American country. This 
includes the use of force, instigation of violence, attempted coups, 
intense propaganda campaigns, continuous collusion with the US 
government, and deliberate price hikes.

The leaders of the 2014 anti-government protests are the same Venezuelan 
mainstream opposition leaders that supported and collaborated in the 
2002 coup, executed by a small circle of military officers, that was 
coordinated with the US Embassy in Caracas and US Ambassador Charles 
Shapiro. Although the USA falsely claims any involvement, Ambassador 
Shapiro would quickly run to meet the coup leaders and even joyously 
take photographs with them after they had their soldiers kidnap 
President Chavez. Through access to US federal government documents 
under the Freedom of Information Act, it has been indisputably proven 
that the CIA was even given the coup's conspiracy plans five days before 
the Venezuelan opposition launched their illegal and short-lived 
takeover of Venezuela.

The leaders of the mainstream opposition have continued to lie 
shamelessly since that day. Paradoxically, they have also been major 
benefactors of many of the democratic mechanisms of political and legal 
recourse that Hugo Chavez created for Venezuela as a means of increasing 
democratic participation and the channels of empowering people and any 
form of democratic opposition against the government.  Mainstream 
opposition leaders used one of these avenues of recourse against the 
government in 2004 by petitioning for the removal of President Chavez, 
which resulted in a national referendum. The mainstream opposition 
leadership, however, refused to recognize the electoral results of the 
very same 2004 referendum that it had initiated to remove Chavez through 
an electoral recall by voters, just because the results were not what it 

During the same 2004 referendum, the mainstream opposition leaders even 
tried to manipulate the Venezuelan voters and create a political crisis 
through a doctored recording intended to discredit the government by 
alleging fraud by Chavez. Their argument was fallacious, because the 
recording was a parody that was being circulated for months before the 
election. The opposition leadership merely decided to use it as an 
excuse to allege fraud and to delegitimize the whole referendum and the 
Venezuelan government.

Members of the same opposition later boycotted the parliamentary 
elections in 2005 after they had created an electoral crisis prior to 
the voting. Originally, the National Electoral Council of Venezuela 
wanted to use fingerprint scanners to securely register voters, but the 
Venezuelan opposition refused to participate if this took place. One of 
the reasons for the move to use fingerprint scanners was to reduce fraud 
or attempted fraud during elections. After the National Electoral 
Council backed down on its decision to install fingerprint scanners, the 
main opposition parties still boycotted the 2005 parliamentary elections 
and nevertheless tried to delegitimize the Venezuelan government.

These same opposition leaders have tried to utilize technicalities, in 
attempts to manipulate the law, to also take over and divide the 
government and its allies. When President Chavez got sick and then 
eventually died, the mainstream opposition forces tried to use 
constitutional pretexts under Article 233 
<http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-to-keep-vilifying-caracas-even-with-chavez-dead/5329032> of 
the Venezuelan Constitution to push National Assembly President/Speaker 
Diosdado Cabello to assume the interim presidency, hoping it would 
create a rift between him and Vice-President Maduro that would divide 
and ultimately weaken the Chavistas and the United Socialist Party.

After Nicolas Maduro won the April 2014 presidential elections, Maduro's 
opposition rival from the Coalition for Democratic Unity (MUD), Governor 
Henrique Capriles Radonski, refused to even recognize the electoral 
results and unceremoniously declared fraud. With the initial support of 
the US government, Governor Capriles refused to accept the results even 
after an audit of more than half the votes was conducted through his 
insistence. Capriles then demanded that all the votes be recounted, 
which was accepted by the National Electoral Council. Capriles, however, 
made additional demands including a call for the full audit of the voter 
registry and essentially a retracing of all the votes cast (not merely a 
vote count). Even when the National Electoral Council with great 
hardship tried to meet his increasing demands and did verify that Maduro 
won the election fairly, Governor Capriles refused to admit defeat and 
said that the election was a hoax. Even the US government was forced to 
back down from supporting him.

After his defeat Governor Capriles instead instigated his followers into 
igniting violence in the streets. US-based organizations like Human 
Rights Watch (HRW) totally ignored the role that Capriles and the 
opposition played in igniting the violence, instead taking the 
opportunity to criticize the Venezuelan government. HRW actually had 
this to say about the street violence that MUD leaders had started:  
"Under the leadership of President Chavez and now President Maduro, the 
accumulation of power in the executive branch and the erosion of human 
rights guarantees have enabled the government to intimidate, censor, and 
prosecute its critics." Not once were the violent actions taken by the 
mainstream opposition or the corruption of their leaders in the states 
or municipalities that they administer ever mentioned by HRW.

Governor Capriles and the leaders of the mainstream Venezuelan 
opposition have deliberately been trying to instigate violence and a 
loss of human life as a tactic to delegitimize the Venezuelan government 
and to justify the mainstream opposition's strategy to work outside of 
any democratic framework. It cannot be emphasized enough that their aims 
are to increase political chaos and to disrupt Venezuela's political 
stability with the goal of creating a vacuum to justify acting outside 
of the democratic framework of elections.

The objectives of the Venezuelan oligarchs controlling the mainstream 
opposition are not to establish a just society or to weed out corruption 
and crime in Venezuela. Their objectives are to reassert and entrench 
their privileged positions in Venezuelan society and to undo the reforms 
that Hugo Chavez enacted to help the poor in Venezuela.  They want the 
law to cater to their needs and to merely serve as a tool of enforcing 
their dominance. Through the major private corporations that they own 
they have been increasing prices. Moreover, in many cases organized 
crime is tied to Latin America's oligarchs themselves.

When asked about Chavez's legacy, many of the supporters of the 
mainstream opposition parties will admit that Chavez helped the poor, 
but emphasize that Chavez "did nothing for the country (Venezuela)." In 
what has the possibility of being cataloged in the psychological 
research on class, privilege, and perceptions of entitlement 
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuqGrz-Y_Lc> by Paul Piff of the 
University of California in Berkeley 
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuqGrz-Y_Lc>, this attitude exposes the 
psychology of entitlement that is the motivation for the mainstream 
Venezuelan opposition: many of these individuals (who are clearly 
"individuals" in the sense of being individualistic) see themselves as 
"the country" and exclude the Venezuelan poor from being part of the 
country. Thus, bridging the gap between poor and rich or improving the 
quality of life for the underclass citizens of Venezuela means nothing 
to these supporters of the mainstream opposition and does not even 
psychologically register as doing anything worthy to improve Venezuelan 
society. Only service to them and their interests can be categorized as 
legitimate and noteworthy.

*Students Are People, They Should Not be Romanticized*

The imagery of student activists has been a key characteristic of the 
anti-government protests in Caracas. It is worth quoting the February 
14, 2014 
<http://www.coha.org/venezuelan-government-shows-restraint-and-resolve-in-the-face-of-anti-chavista-mayhem/> statement 
of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) about the opposition 
protests in Venezuela. The COHA declared that it viewed "with great 
alarm the violence perpetrated against the democratically elected 
government and civilians in Venezuela that has resulted, as of February 
12, 2014, in three confirmed deaths, 61 persons wounded and 69 
detained." The COHA also noted in the same statement that the bloodshed 
in Caracas came "on the heels of generally peaceful marches held on the 
200th anniversary of the battle of La Victoria, a battle in which 
students played a critical role in a victory against royalist forces 
during Venezuela's war of independence."

Students should not be romanticized as the exclusive defenders or 
proponents of civil liberties or democracy. Perceptions that view 
students this way without any assessment are romantic, wrong, and 
disconnected from the reality on the ground. Student groups can also 
represent various class and group interests that clearly contradict 
equality and justice in their societies or the broader world. The 
romanticization of students and student movements as justice-seekers 
merely gives these groups blank cheques and moral credit, when students 
and student movements should be supported on the basis of their motives 
and the understood causes they are promoting.

In Venezuela's fellow Latin American country of El Salvador, medical 
school students from private universities doing their residencies 
refused to allow those Salvadorian medical school students doing their 
residencies that were trained in Cuba to do the same examinations as 
them. They fallaciously argued that the Cuban medical school standards 
were lower and equated the standards of education and training with the 
costs of the universities and medical schools. What they demanded was 
that the Cuban-trained doctors do an additional year of residency.

While the Salvadorian government argued that the examination results 
would declare who was qualified and who was disqualified, the non-Cuban 
medical school students resorted to protests and political tactics by 
blockading the examination halls and trying to disrupt the Salvadorian 
healthcare system instead of letting the test scores speak for 
themselves. These Salvadorian medical school doctors, mostly from 
private universities, wanted to merely eliminate their better trained 
Salvadorian rivals by imposing additional restrictions on their 
Cuban-trained counterparts by forcing them to do an extra year of residency.

The medical school protest in El Salvador was clearly a question of 
economic competition and personal interests and not one of justice, 
fairness, professionalism, or standards. If it was a question of 
standards, the Cuban-educated doctors were their superiors. The medical 
school students ultimately forced the Salvadorian government to put 
restrictions on the Cuban-trained medical school doctors instead of 
fairly settling the matter through the universal examination that all 
medical school graduates must do, which means they used pressure to 
bypass the most logical and fair means of deciding the matter. Moreover, 
it is worth noting that whenever the Salvadorian government has asked 
for doctors to volunteer their services to help in community health 
initiatives it has always been these Cuban-educated doctors and 
residents at the forefront that have offered their services and not 
their counterparts.

Looking back at Venezuela, it is important to identify the nature of the 
student involvement in the anti-government protests and to note that the 
students are actually divided into pro-government and anti-government 
camps. It is also critical to point out that the opposition leaders of 
the anti-government protest are hiding behind the images of the student 
activists to gain wider support for their objective of delegitimizing 
the Venezuelan government. In the words of the COHA 
"While some groups of students marched in celebration of the Day of the 
Student, anti-government demonstrators used the occasion to protest 
episodic shortages of some basic goods, persistent crime, and to demand 
the release of students who had been arrested in earlier demonstrations."

It is also important to point out that the faction of students that the 
mainstream opposition leaders are hiding behind generally comes from 
privileged families that can afford to send their children to private 
universities and post-secondary institutes of higher education. The 
perceptions of students in these private universities and schools can be 
radically different from their public university counterparts about 
subjects like neoliberal economics, privilege, and governing. Although 
proper survey work and research is needed on the matter, the students in 
private post-secondary institutions in Venezuela and other polarized 
parts of Latin America are more prone to support coups, holding 
different perceptions about the military being used to bring the groups 
that they support into power by overthrowing legitimate governments, and 
the unequal distribution of wealth. These types of views have been 
psychologically conditioned through group-think that has been hammered 
in by propaganda, peers, families, and the media that caters to their 
class and lifestyles.

*Constructing False Narratives About the Anti-Government Protests and 
Hiding the Riots*

A distorted narrative about the anti-government protests and riots is 
being constructed. Many of the anti-government protesters with 
legitimate grievances about crime and inflation themselves are being 
mislead by the protest leaders. As mentioned earlier, there is no 
denying that there is a crime problem or inflation in Venezuela, but, 
again, it cannot be overemphasized that the motivations of the 
mainstream opposition are not socio-economic grievances. These 
grievances are merely being used as pretexts by the opposition leaders 
to manipulating the protesters.

Furthermore, it must be understood that the Venezuelan opposition, in 
the first instance, owns almost all the mainstream media in Venezuela. 
The Venezuelan opposition literally has a choke-hold on most the news 
whereas the government only owns public television, receives support 
from community-based radio stations, and is allowed by law to get all 
the networks in Venezuela to release important public messages. In this 
context, the opposition leadership has used its control over the media 
to paint a false image of the events on the ground and to heavily 
distort the image of the Venezuelan anti-government protests in the 
minds of its grassroots followers and to whitewash the riots and acts of 
vandalism that have also taken place in parallel to the protests. 
Communication and Information Minister Delcy Rodriguez has also 
commented on this, saying that the government will prosecute those that 
are knowingly providing a cover for the violence in the streets through 
media distortions.

The Venezuelan opposition has been fighting a continuous propaganda war. 
The distortion of the anti-government protests is merely its newest 
chapter. The mainstream opposition is now involved in a propaganda 
campaign similar to the one launched in front of the Miraflores Palace 
in 2002 that led to the attempted coup against President Chavez. 
Opposition leaders pushed for violence and then when blood was spilled 
because of their deliberate instigation, they used the carnage to 
justify undemocratically removing the democratically-elected Hugo Chavez 
by force.

The opposition leadership has engaged in a dishonest campaign. Doctored 
images and false stories are being used by mainstream opposition 
supporters to depict the Venezuelan government as an authoritarian 
regime that is using brutal violence against unarmed civilian 
protesters. Unflattering pictures of Argentine, Brazilian, Bulgarian, 
Chilean, Egyptian, Greek, and Singaporean police and military forces in 
crowd control mode and anti-protest operations have been circulated and 
passed around through mass communication and social media by Venezuelan 
opposition forces as actions taking place in Venezuela during February 
2014. This even includes pictures of government supporters that were 
hurt by opposition supporters and an edited photograph from a homosexual 
pornography video where the police are forcing a civilian to give them 
fellatio or oral sex which was circulated by the anti-Chavez actress 
Amanda Gutierrez as the brutal group raping of an unarmed 
anti-government protester in Caracas by the government's riot police.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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