While the deadly violence that has plagued the country since February 2014 is the responsibility of the opposition, Western media continue to accuse the democratic government of Nicolás Maduro.
Since 1998, the Venezuelan opposition has consistently rejected the results of the country's democratic elections. There is a single exception: it recognized the legitimacy of its own victory in the constitutional referendum of December 2, 2007, something it won by less than 1 percent margin of difference. The right has been strongly opposed to the legitimately elected governments of Hugo Chávez, in office from 1999 to 2013, and that of Nicolás Maduro, in office since April, 2013. All means have been used in attempts to overthrow them: coups, political assassinations, sabotage of oil installations, economic warfare (since 1999), calls for revolt and media smear campaigns.
Since February 2014, Venezuela has been hit by deadly violence, violence that has killed more than 40 people, including at least five policemen and a government prosecutor. More than 600 people have been injured, including 150 police officers. Property damage exceeds 10 billion dollars and includes buses burned, subway stations vandalized, a university -- UNEFA -- completely destroyed by fire, dozens of tons of food destined for government-run supermarkets burned to cinders, public buildings and government offices looted, electrical installations sabotaged, medical centers devastated, electoral institutions destroyed, etc.
Faced with destabilization attempts that are clearly intended to provoke a breach in the constitutional order, the Venezuelan authorities mounted a vigorous response and arrested several opposition leaders who had launched appeals for anti-government uprisings or promoted acts of vandalism, as well as arresting nearly a thousand people who had been involved in the violence. Like any state governed by the rule of law, and in strict observance of constitutional guarantees, the Venezuelan justice system indicted the accused and applied sanctions provided for such acts by the penal code.
Western media, which sides with the undemocratic and coup-prone opposition, have been content simply to denounce human rights violations. At the same time, they fail to report the murders committed by the protesters, the seizures of weapons and explosives carried out by police within groups that present themselves as peace-loving and the destruction of public and private properties.
On Wednesday 28 June, Venezuelan authorities publicized correspondences between opposition leaders and U.S. diplomats which, they say, constitute a plan to assassinate president Nicolas Maduro and overthrow his administration.
Jorge Rodriguez, mayor of Libertador municipality and leader of the governing political party, presented data collected by Venezuelan intelligence agencies which point to opposition figure Maria Corina Machado as the principle strategist of the proposed “annihilation” of Maduro.
“I believe the time has come to join forces, make the necessary calls, and obtain the financing to annihilate Maduro… and the rest will come falling down,” read one of Machado’s emails intercepted by government security agencies.
Opposition spokespeople have alternately challenged the authenticity of the emails and casted doubt that their content serves as evidence of a fully formed plot.
Machado was already facing charges for incitement and crimes against the homeland earlier this year, and was linked to the failed 2001 coup d’état on Hugo Chavez.
Since February, Machado has called for Maduro’s immediate ouster in public rallies, and repeatedly encouraged the “street action” that led to violent street blockades in many Venezuelan cities, which have resulted in the deaths of 42 people. The victims include pro and anti government demonstrators, nonpartisan citizens, numerous security personnel and the additional destruction of universities, transit and other public property.
The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) late on Friday rejected a legislative initiative which is being processed in the United States in order to impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials in connection with the protests facing the South American country in the last three months.
Unasur foreign ministers and officials -gathered at the Ecuadoran Galápagos Islands- signed a statement remarking that the intended sanctions violate the principle of non-intervention in the affairs of other states and hit against the process of dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition
Such sanctions are also "an obstacle" for the Venezuelan people "to overcome their hardships with independence, peace and democracy," the foreign ministers stressed in their resolution.
Pro-opposition university authorities and lecturers largely closed 18 of the country’s 61 universities on Thursday 22 May. The strike was part of a protest action that coincided with fresh incidents of street violence, including an attack on the youth wing of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (JPSUV).
Earlier this week the Venezuelan Federation of University Professor Associations (FAPUV) ordered the one-day strike at the country’s autonomous and private universities. The country’s remaining 43 universities, many of these private or state run, stayed open.
Marches and other demonstrations by pro-opposition lecturers and students marked the strike. Keta Stephany, a FAPUV representative, argued to the press that the purpose of the strike was to demand the release of students arrested in connection with on-going opposition unrest in the country.
“Today we’re protesting for the freedom of 164 students in custody and around 3000 citizens arrested for protesting in the last 100 days…because of this the right to protest is being defended,” she said.
Authorities maintain that no one has been arrested for peacefully protesting, and that the arrests made have been against those committing violent acts ranging from alleged homicide to destruction of public property.
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Author and journalist Eva Golinger details recent U.S. funding of the Venezuelan opposition, concluding that, “What is clear is that the US government continues to feed efforts to destabilize Venezuela”.
Anti-government protests in Venezuela that seek regime change have been led by several individuals and organizations with close ties to the US government. Leopoldo Lopezand Maria Corina Machado- two of the public leaders behind the violent protests that started in February – have long histories as collaborators, grantees and agents of Washington. The National Endowment for Democracy “NED” and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have channeled multi-million dollar funding to Lopez’s political parties Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular, and Machado’s NGO Sumate and her electoral campaigns.
These Washington agencies have also filtered more than $14 million to opposition groups in Venezuela between 2013 and 2014, including funding for their political campaigns in 2013 and for the current anti-government protests in 2014. This continues the pattern of financing from the US government to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela since 2001, when millions of dollars were given to organizations from so-called “civil society” to execute a coup d’etat against President Chavez in April 2002. After their failure days later, USAID opened an Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Caracas to, together with the NED, inject more than $100 million in effortsto undermine the Chavez government and reinforce the opposition during the following 8 years.
Rafael Ramos, representative of the youth-wing of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (JPSUV).
The third dialogue talk between the Venezuelan government and opposition has produced more results, while the armed forces have largely “liberated” another city from militant opposition street barricades.
During last night’s peace talk between prominent members of the government and the opposition’s Democratic Unity Table (MUD) coalition, the opposition agreed to designate two representatives to the Truth Commission.
The Commission is a proposal by President Nicolas Maduro to investigate “all” acts of political violence that have occurred during the opposition’s recent protests, riots and street barricades. The actions have affected civil life since early February, but have reduced in intensity in recent weeks.
The Truth Commission will also have parliamentary representatives from the government’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and “respected” members of civil society.