Hands off Venezuela! Canada’s subversion of Venezuelan sovereignty is motivated by corporate greed

On Saturday February 9th, dozens of people gathered on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery to protest against the US-Canadian-EU backed coup attempt in Venezuela. The rally was preceded by a large gathering in support of the striking CUPE Art Gallery workers, who then hung around off to the side during the “Hands off Venezuela” rally. The backdrop of the CUPE strike highlighted international solidarity between working people in Canada and in Venezuela against the corporate interests represented by coup-plotter Juan Guaidó in Caracas and his backers in Ottawa.

The Volcano is publishing a transcript of the first speech given at the Hands off Venezuela rally, by Nino Pagliccia, who is a local Venezuelan activist involved in solidarity work with Cuba and Venezuela. This speech provides a helpful overview of Guaidó’s coup attempt in Venezuela, and of the central role of imperialist powers – Canada, alongside the US and EU – in this subversion of Venezuelan sovereignty. As Pagliccia argues, the response in defence of Venezuelan sovereignty and the Venezuelan revolutionary process must also be international. – Eds.

Hello friends, I’m so happy to see you out here. I am a Venezuelan Canadian and I will speak as such. I would also like to say that I greet friends and workers who are on strike [CUPE workers at the Art Gallery]; we are in solidarity with them. The Venezuela government has done so much for our workers in Venezuela and I’m sure they would be in solidarity with them right here today.

The situation we have right now in Venezuela is that we have one individual, Juan Guaidó, who has self-appointed as interim president of Venezuela, rewriting the Venezuelan constitution. I will come back to that. The other situation we have is that we have governments like the Canadian, US, European governments who have appointed themselves as judges of Venezuela; they are judging what has happened in Venezuela and it is a shame. And they are breaking international law. So what do they have in common? They are a capitalist and imperialist greedy bunch of people who want to put their bloody hands on the resources of Venezuela. And that’s all they have in common. They have no interest in the people of Venezuela.

I think that it is important to highlight that Juan Guaidó is trying to take hold and give away the wealth and resources of Venezuela. But that belongs to the people, it belongs to Venezuelans and does not belong to Juan Guaidó and his cronies in Venezuela.

I think that what we have probably seen on TV or YouTube where Donald Trump has basically come to a very easy conclusion; he says let’s split 50/50 – you get in power, you give us 50% of your wealth and we’re even. That is a shame.

Back to the constitution: let me say that Juan Guaidó has self-appointed himself as president of Venezuela based on one article of the Venezuelan constitution, article 233. Now I never get tired of stating that that is false. Article 233 of the Venezuela constitution does not grant him the right to self-appoint himself as president of Venezuela. The reason is that article 233 states only 6 causes for which a new president would have to be appointed if the elected president can not take hold of the office. Those are: resignation, dismissal by the supreme court, medically certified incapacity, abandonment of the office, being recalled by the people, and death. None of that applies to Nicolás Maduro. He is alive and well, we can hear him speaking. So Juan Guaidó is totally breaking the constitutional law of Venezuela.

Now let me also say that the international group supporting Guaidó’s claim to presidency, the so-called “Lima Group,” is a splinter, shameful group of Latin American countries, with Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland taking the leadership of that group. There is nothing legal in international law that the Lima Group, Canada, the US government, the EU government is doing to cause regime change in Venezuela. It is breaking the Charter of the United Nations. Article 1 and 2 of the UN Charter establishes very clearly that there should be no use of force or threats in advocating peace among nations. That’s what those governments are doing. They are breaking international law that they agreed to.

There are more international laws that have been broken, specifically in our region, in our hemisphere by Canada, the Lima Group and the US. And that’s the Organization of American States (OAS) charter. Article 19 chapter 4 of the 1948 OAS charter spells out that there is no cause for intervention of any kind in any member state, and that includes Venezuela to this day, until they are out of the OAS.

They say there is an economic crisis in Venezuela. Of course there’s an economic crisis in Venezuela. If Canada had such criminal sanctions imposed, I would dare Canada to see if we can survive. Sanctions have to come to an end. Sanctions are criminal, sanctions are an intervention that is outlawed by the OAS.

The sanctions are even harsher because they actually impose a blockade on Venezuela. US government sanctions prevent the Venezuelan government from getting international financing from countries that are not implementing sanctions. And that’s what is causing the economic crisis.

This is a gang that is attacking the government of Venezuela, against Nicolás Maduro’s government. That is what we have to protest.

Coming back to recent developments: Mexico, Uruguay and the 14 nations of the Caribbean Community have called for a dialogue, an open dialogue, to be held in Montevideo, Uruguay about the crisis in Venezuela. And it just happened on February 6t. So what is wrong with that? There is nothing wrong with that, that’s what Maduro has been asking for. The Venezuelan government, from Chavez to Maduro, have been asking for a dialogue for 20 years. They are not closing their doors to speaking as long as they are respected internationally and in Venezuela. No preconditions.

So the meeting was held February 6 in Montevideo. You would think that that’s great, that is progress. Well, what do we hear? We hear a declaration from Federica Mogherini of the EU – I call her Federica Warmogherini – on behalf of a group calling themselves the International Contact Group. Well guess what? They took over the meeting and they issued a declaration. And what do they say in the declaration? They ask for presidential elections in Venezuela.

Venezuela had legitimate elections last year May 20, 2018 and Nicolás Maduro was elected president of Venezuela. That’s the situation. Nobody called the EU to be at that meeting, much less to be issuing statements that undermine the sovereignty and independence of Venezuela.

So finally, just to make sure we all know: Canadian involvement is not just out of politics and concern for democracy in Venezuela – and all the BS we hear. The involvement of the Canadian government is for Canada’s access to resources in Venezuela, just as it is for the US government. Donald Trump declared openly that that’s what they are after: if they can get a hold of the oil they’ll be happy; that’s all they need.

Our government here has been more polite, discreet, secretive. The Canadian corporations have high stakes interest in the mining industry – in mining exploration and exploitation – in Venezuela. That’s what they are after. That is the truth. We have to call on the Canadians to admit their interest and we have to be clear that we are protesting against that kind of interventionist position in Venezuela.

We must stand with Venezuela, we must say to the Canadian government “Hands off Venezuela!”

*Transcription by Dave Diewert, slightly edited for clarity by The Volcano

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