Hands Off Venezuela!

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Imagine for a moment there was truly a political revolution in the United States and poor and working folks in the US overwhelming elected a president and congress determined to help the majority of citizens, not just the rich.

Can you imagine what would happen? Yes, the rich would throw an absolute hissy fit, to say the least.

Even though Barack Obama was an imperialist centrist who continued conflicts abroad, killed innocent people across the world with drones and allowed the culprits of the 2008 financial crisis to get off scot free, reactionaries reacted to his presidency as though they were personally under assault. The ultra-right “Tea Party” came about as millions of racist whites reacted to the election of a black man as president.

So if a President and congress were elected that actually DID things the rich hated, you can imagine how much worse it would be.

Welcome to what Venezuela is living through now.

In 1998, Hugo Chavez was elected with 56 percent of the vote (a higher percentage than Bill Clinton or Barack Obama won in any US presidential election) and set about a program to help the country’s poor.

Since then, the US has continued a campaign to derail this process. In 2002 a US-backed coup removed Chavez from power for only a few days before massive protests returned him to power.

Now Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, is in the crosshairs of the United States.

On July 30 in Venezuela, citizens across the country turned out to vote for the National Constituent Assembly.  The vote was to elect delegates to an assembly to draft constitutional amendments which will then be put to a popular vote by citizens. The vote included representatives from virtually all sectors of society – even business and industry was included.

The right-wing opposition, again backed by the United States, boycotted the vote, saying it did not want to give the vote legitimacy. More than 8 million voted for the assembly, according to the Venezuelan government. The vote had a higher turnout than the last two US midterm elections, as noted by revolutionary journalist Mike Prysner.

On Monday, the day after the vote, the United States treasury department placed sanctions on Maduro himself. All of Maduro’s assets subject to US jurisdiction are frozen and the US government has banned American citizens from doing business with him.

The US media has been filled with stories voicing concern about Venezuela, with most portraying Maduro as a dictator. However, it was the American-funded opposition that attacked more than 200 voting places and assassinated at least two candidates for the assembly.


The violent right-wing opposition has been assassinating government supporters and in June even attacked government buildings with a helicopter in a terror attack shockingly applauded by the US mass media. The supposed ringleader of the attack, Oscar Perez, has been celebrated in the United States and remains at large. (Strangely, even though the US refers to Maduro as a dictator, opposition media outlets continue to function unhindered and opposition rallies continue.)

The concern of the US media about democracy in Venezuela is contrasted by its complete silence of the virtual coup in Brazil last fall. Democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff was impeached by the Senate in what many in that country feel was a US-orchestrated campaign to remove Rousseff from power. (Bill and Hillary Clinton are very close with the opposition that toppled Rousseff.)

Of course, the US has overthrown numerous governments in Latin America if they got too close to governing in their own people’s interest: 1954 in Guatemala, 1964 in Brazil, 1973 in Chile. In Colombia, the left-wing Patriotic Union party was virtually decimated by assassinations and political violence from the government and right-wing, US-backed militias.

Those of us who live in the United States bear responsibility for these crimes. It is our job to stand up to the imperialism of this government.

As working people, we have more in common with other poor and working people across the globe than we do with the rich in our own country. We need to stand together against the crimes of the imperialist governments for a worldwide movement to bring about a world where we can all live and thrive through socialism.

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