Below, Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network activist Federico Fuentes, provides answers to common questions about recent events in Venezuela.
Is recent unrest in Venezuela due to government repression against peaceful protests?
No. This version of events, widely disseminated by the media, ignores the fact that security forces only acted after groups within the protests initiated violent actions. In the case of the first of the current round of protests that gained media attention, in Tachira on February 6, police only moved in after small groups of protesters attacked local governorship offices and home of the local governor.http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140206/maduro-quieren-apl...
When protests took place in Merida the next day, security forces intervened only after armed protesters had carried out actions such as hijacking trucks carrying food and medicine.http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140207/herido-estudiante-...
During protests in Caracas on February 12, which gained international media attention due to deaths on the day, there is clear evidence security forces only moved into action after a small group of protesters had them, destroyed the attorney-general’s office and burned five police trucks.http://www.elsoldemargarita.com.ve/posts/post/id:128117
Mark Weisbrot The Guardian
The current protests in Venezuela are reminiscent of another historical moment when street protests were used by right-wing politicians as part of an attempt to overthrow the elected government. From December of 2002 through February 2003, there was strike of mostly white-collar workers at the national oil industry, along with some business owners. The US media made it look like most of the country was on strike against the government, when, in fact, it was less than one percent of the labor force.
The spread of cell phone videos and social media in the past decade has made it more difficult to misrepresent things that can be easily captured on camera. But Venezuela is still grossly distorted in the major media. The New York Times had to run a correction last week for an article that began with a statement about "The only television station that regularly broadcast voices critical of the government …" As it turns out,all of the private TV stations "regularly broadcast voices critical of the government". And private media has more than 90% of the TV-viewing audience in Venezuela. A study by the Carter Center of the presidential election campaign period last April showed a 57 to 34% advantage in TV coverage for President Maduro over challenger Henrique Capriles in the April election, but that advantage is greatly reduced or eliminated whenaudience shares are taken into account.
Venezuela has commemorated the one year anniversary of the death of former president Hugo Chavez with rallies across the country.
Supporters of the socialist president turned out in hundreds of thousands for official commemoration services, despite ongoing opposition protests.
In a show of force, in Caracas red crowds flooded the city centre for military and civil parades. Supporters of social programs launched under Chavez, along with social movements aligned with the government also rallied in the capital.
Representatives of neighbouring left leaning governments attended the commemorations, including Cuban president Raul Castro, Bolivia's Evo Morales and representatives from Ecuador, Argentina, Suriname and others.
On Wednesday 5 March 2014, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters were among those who organised a rally in Trafalgar Square, called in support of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.
After 15 years of victories for the Revolution at the ballot box, right-wing extremists in Venezuela are once again attempting to overthrow the government through violence and provocations in the street.
The rally was held on the first anniversary of the death of Hugo Chavez, who led the Bolivarian Revolution until his tragic death in 2012. Protestors made speeches and chanted, ‘Viva Chavez, Viva Maduro, Viva Venezuela’ and distributed information about the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution in favour of the poor majority, and the real situation faced by the country.
The violent protests in Venezuela are being supported by the US, which wants to destabilise Venezuela and overthrow the government of Nicola Maduro of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, as well as by private media inside and outside the country, which spread lies and misinformation about the reasons for the protests and who is responsible for violent deaths.
Day: Wednesday 5 March
Time: 5 to 7pm
Place: Trafalgar Square
Dia: Miercoles, 5 de Marzo
Hora: 5-7 P.M
Lugar: Trafalgar Square
Evento en Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/744229175609484/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular
Paul Dobson Green Left Weekly
In response to the violence instigated by the Venezuelan elite, the working classes of Venezuela took to the streets this week. They went out not with pistols or grenades, but with brooms and shovels to clean the burnt trash and remove the barricades that have restricted the free movement of thousands of citizens.
In many states around the country, public servants, revolutionaries, volunteers, motorbike riders, officials, and even elected representatives such as governors have joined forces in impressive operations of public cleaning. It is a peaceful, humanitarian response to the chaos created by the fascist protests.
Trash collection is, according to the constitution, the responsibility of the mayor of each municipality. However, in many municipalities controlled by right-wing mayors, such services have failed in recent weeks. This has left an impressive accumulation of trash, bringing with it health problems such as respiratory illnesses.
This trash proved an effective tool to create disorder by those minority sectors looking to undemocratically oust elected President Nicolas Maduro. Numany highways and transit routes have been blocked off by burning trash since the protests began two weeks ago. Opposition leaders called for a “great blockade” of the streets on February 24.
The eastern city of Ciudad Bolivar was one of the cities where the government's operation was launched. In Ciudad Bolivar, a student from the Bolivarian University of Venezuela who preferred not to give his name explained that “this minority group, this fascist group wanted to disturb the peace in Ciudad Bolivar, what we want for Ciudad Bolivar is to say no to the violence, yes to peace, we are here cleaning the streets of the city because we love Ciudad Bolivar”.
Millions of dollars worth of damages to public property may have been caused by a wave of violence across Venezuela, according to government sources.
The total price tag of public damages could have already topped Bs10 million, the minister for science and technology Manuel Fernandez stated on Monday. He pointed to a spate of attacks on public property over the weekend for raising earlier estimates.
“In [the Caracas neighbourhood of] Altamira they attacked a radio station, in Maracaibo they attacked two trucks full of cell phones, a telephone exchange in Barquisimeto, and an administrative office and a commercial operator,” Fernandez stated. A worker installing lines for the state-owned telecommunications company CANTV was also attacked on the job, according to the minister.
Bs10 million is US$1.6 million at the official exchange rate. However, Fernandez didn't rule out the possibility of the cost of damages continuing to rise.
As opposition violence claims ten lives in Venezuela, the social media machine has gone into over-drive, borrowing images from all over the globe to paint the Bolivarian revolution as repressive and dictatorial. On 22 February Supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Group rallied at Grey's Monument in Newcastle upon Tyne, challenging the international media propaganda that is being used to attack the fight for socialism unfolding in Venezuela.
Venezuelan reactionaries mobilise in Newcastle upon Tyne
The opposition represent the interests of the elite who are desperate to reverse the concrete gains of the working class under the Bolivarian Revolution that has slashed levels of extreme poverty, provided free health care and education for all, built hundreds of thousands of houses, developed thousands of social projects and is building a real transformative democracy of the working class through socialist communal councils and comunas.
They are desperate to preserve their luxurious lifestyles and share of private profits in the economy. Throughout the years the opposition have shown they will stop at nothing in their attempts to topple the Bolivarian government, from coups and assassinations of their own supporters to economic sabotage and calls for direct US military intervention.
In direct contrast to our solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, the representatives of this privileged elite also mobilised on the streets of on 22 February. A group of around 15 international students from Latin America, clad in designer clothes and sunglasses, gathered to demand and 'end to violence and scarcity'. These so-called champions of peace and stability had nothing to say about the opposition's role in promoting this violence and scarcity, refusing to acknowledge the use of false images and media manipulation exposed in our placards.
Our rally easily thwarted the opposition students mobilisation as we made the connection between the fight for socialism in Venezuela, with the fight against austerity here in Britain that is seeing families faced with eviction and homelessness at the hands of the vicious bedroom tax . The fact is Venezuela, alongside socialist Cuba, is spearheading a movement for socialism across Latin America, challenging imperialism and neo-liberal exploitation, demanding dignity and human development. The Bolivarian Revolution remains a beacon of hope and inspiration for movements across the globe.
De-constructing the Venezuelan opposition:
The Venezuelan opposition demands 'democracy', however since 1998 Venezuela has held four national referendums, four presidential elections, and eleven parliamentary, regional, and municipal elections. Throughout this process the Carter centre, which has observed 92 elections across all continents, has described Venezuela's electoral system as 'the best in the world'. The opposition's problem with Venezuela's democracy is that they have been repeatedly defeated at the ballot box, most recently in December's municipal elections where Chavista forces won 76% of positions.
22 February www.venezuelanalysis.com
The Venezuelan government is to send two army battalions to Táchira state, which borders Colombia, to combat a “grave” case of opposition-promoted disorder in the area.
According to press reports and an eyewitness testimony provided to Venezuelanalysis.com, the capital city of Táchira state, San Cristóbal, has been almost brought to a standstill in recent days by street barricades set up by hard-line opposition activists.
According to such reports, in recent days almost no transport has been able to circulate, while the great majority of shops and businesses have been closed. Authorities warn that the street blockades are impeding the delivery of food and gasoline, and claim that transport workers have been threatened.
The government also suspects that “paramilitaries and criminal gangs” are involved in the actions, with the complicity of the local opposition mayor, Daniel Ceballos.