- Created: Tuesday, 12 February 2019 19:46
- Written by Newcastle Branch
On Saturday 9 February 2019, supporters of FRFI petitioned against British support for the coup in Venezuela, presenting a viewpoint not covered in mainstream media outlets, even those characterised as being ‘liberal’ or even ‘left wing’. We stood against self-appointed, US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido and called for an end to sanctions on Venezuela. Comrades highlighted how crippling US sanctions imposed since 2017 have resulted in a crash in oil production and severe restrictions on international finance, costing Venezuela at least $6bn last year alone. These sanctions are hardly mentioned, with widespread media coverage of food and medicine shortages being blamed on socialist policies. We also stood against Britain’s part in the suffocation of the Bolivarian revolution, demanding that the $1.3bn of Venezuelan gold withheld by the Bank of England be released to the Venezuelan government. Britain’s backing of Guaido and the coup actively strengthens US imperialism in its attempt to recolonise Venezuela.
In response to our socialist solidarity with Venezuela, 25-30 right wing Venezuelans and Latin Americans came out to oppose us, not only rejecting the democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro and the struggle for socialism, but clearly backing Trump and his handpicked coup leader Juan Guaido. They directly bombarded anyone opposing the coup, exposing their own anti-working-class stance with elitist chants of ‘get a job’ and ‘your benefits are paid by Venezuelan oil’. Their position was clear, aligned with US imperialism and the interests of the rich in Venezuela, as opposed to the needs and gains of the working class and poor in healthcare, education and housing under the Bolivarian revolutionary movement.
These aggressive reactionaries pushed people about in broad daylight, supported by Lib Dem councillor Greg Stone, a ‘professional lobbyist’ who has been discredited for his willingness to accept large funds for controversial overseas investments. Perhaps Councillor Stone has interests in Venezuelan oil also? Shamefully, prominent members of the Newcastle Socialist Workers Party opted to stand and chat with the right-wing Venezuelans, with Simon Hall of the ostensibly anti-racist Newcastle Unites refusing to take a principled stand against the sanctions and coup attempt when asked.
Juan Guaido himself is a founder of the extreme right-wing Popular Will party. His proposed ‘Plan Pais’ for Venezuela calls for IMF loans and austerity conditions alongside calls for private capital to hold majority stakes in the public sector. Guaido and the opposition favour the interests of private profit rather than the nationalisation of health care and education for all. Absurdly, the opposition protesters chanted in unison ‘you are the problem’, failing to recognise that although the US promises $20m in aid to Guaido, sanctions will cost the Venezuelan economy $18bn this year. They refused to allow passers-by to listen to any real information, exclaiming ‘don’t you watch the news?’ - the same British news stations that lied to us about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, whipped up extreme racism in the Brexit referendum and now censor the mass socialist mobilisations against US intervention that are taking place daily in Venezuela. Guaido, who was practically unheard of a month ago, is losing support inside Venezuela. The people see him for what he is, a leader appointed by Washington for a nation with the world’s largest oil reserves. Even sections of the opposition don’t support him. As Diego Sequera, a Venezuelan journalist explains, Guaido is more popular outside Venezuela than within the country itself (see ‘The making of Juan Guaido’, republished on our website from www.grayzoneproject.com).
Despite all the struggles and shortages, the majority of Venezuelans still refuse to back Guaido. In the face of imperialist intervention, they have closed ranks, defending the constitution and the democratically elected President Maduro. It is precisely the voices of the Venezuelan working class and poor who are censored from our media. The failure of the coup so far demonstrates that Guaido’s reactionary supporters in Britain do not speak for all Venezuelans.
Imperialist hands off Venezuela! No sanctions! No coup! Bank of England give the gold back to Venezuela!
Join the International Day of Action - No War on Venezuela
Saturday 23 February – Newcastle Monument 12-3pm
For events near you check www.nowaronvenezuela.org