Sunday, October 15, 2017

Canada Hands off Venezuela guest blog by Alison Bodine

 Canada Hands Off Venezuela!

By Alison Bodine

Today, Venezuela is facing increasing threats, sanctions and foreign intervention. The United States has been the leader of these attacks against Venezuela’s sovereignty, especially through illegal sanctions, threats of military intervention, and the funding of violent right-wing counter-revolutionary groups and political parties. Venezuela was even included in the latest version of U.S. President Trump’s shameful and inhuman travel ban.

The U.S.-led campaign for “regime change” in Venezuela works hand-in-hand with Venezuela’s violent right-wing opposition. These counter-revolutionaries have attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro through an economic war of hoarding, price gouging and other sabotage. They have also waged a violent campaign on the streets of Venezuela that resulted in the deaths of over 100 people in the four months between April and July, some of whom were burnt alive just for being suspected “Chavista” supporters of the Venezuelan government.

Is Canada Really Concerned about “Human Rights” and “Democracy” in Venezuela?

Since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, under both Liberal and Conservative governments, all major political parties in Canada have been consistent in their attacks against Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolutionary process.

On September 22, 2017, Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs announced that Canada is imposing sanctions against the government of Venezuela under the Special Economic Measures Act. According to Global Affairs Canada the sanctions are “against 40 Venezuelan officials and individuals who have played a key role in undermining the security, stability and integrity of democratic institutions of Venezuela.”

These sanctions are the latest escalation in a series of attacks carried out by the government of Canada in the name of supporting “human rights” and “democracy” in Venezuela; an overplayed and unsubstantiated excuse that has been used by the government of Canada before to justify their violations of Venezuela’s sovereignty.

On top of the sanctions, Canada has been a leading voice demanding that the Organization of American States (OAS) to intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela by implementing the Inter-American Democratic Charter. As well, Canadian Professor Irwin Cotler is a member of a sham panel that is being set-up by the OAS, outside of Venezuela and without the support of the Venezuelan people, to investigate possible “crimes against humanity” by the government of Venezuela. Cotler, a former Liberal politician and lawyer, is a good representation of who is participating in this panel. He is hardly unbiased in his views on Venezuela, as an international representative for Leopaldo Lopez, a leader in Venezuela’s violent opposition who is currently under house arrest after being convicted for inciting violence.

The government of Canada was also instrumental in the development of the “Lima Declaration,” which was released in August, 2017 following meeting in Peru of representatives from Canada and right-wing governments in Latin America. The Lima Declaration includes unsubstantiated allegations of the violation of various “human rights” and “democratic” norms in Venezuela, as well as a declaration that the signatories will not recognize the National Consistent Assembly elected in Venezuela on July 31, 2017.

After all of these threats and rhetoric, the question must be asked, since when has the government of Canada been in a position to condemn other countries for their abuses of “human rights” and “democracy”? As it goes, people in glass houses shouldn’t through stones.

This September at the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Trudeau highlighted the human rights abuses committed by the government of Canada against Indigenous people. "There are, today, children living on reserves in Canada who cannot safely drink, or bathe in, or even play in the water that comes out of their taps….And for far too many Indigenous women, life in Canada includes threats of violence so frequent and severe that Amnesty International has called it 'a human rights crisis,’” were just some of what he said that day.

Even just reading this alone, how it possible that Canada can claim to be a leading example for human rights around the world? Not only that, following his speech, Trudeau has been widely criticized for crying crocodile tears. Even if he recognizes the atrocities and abuses of the Canadian government, his government continues to take little action towards improving the human rights of Indigenous people in Canada.

Government of Canada is No Friend to the People of Venezuela

In the face of this hypocrisy, the Trudeau’s government continues to carry forward interventionist policies against Venezuela.

In fact, leaders in Venezuela’s violent right-wing opposition have always found a friendly ear with the Canadian government, and have even had the opportunity to speak in Canadian parliamentary hearings. For example, Maria Corina Machado, an opposition leader, has often found an audience within the Canadian government despite her clearly anti-democratic record. For starters, she participated in the 2002 coup-attempt against Hugo Chavez. She was also the founder of a so-called “election monitoring” organization Súmate, which received at least $22,000 from the government of Canada. Súmate is in no-way supportive of “free and fair elections in Venezuela.” During a 2004 referendum, they were exposed by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter because they “deliberately distributed this erroneous exit poll data in order to build up, not only the expectation of victory, but also to influence the people still standing in line.”

In order to establish and maintain their close relationship with counter-revolutionaries in Venezuela, the Canadian Embassy in Venezuela also awards a “Human Rights Prize” each year to a member of Venezuela’s violent opposition. This is a shameful insult to the mass majority of the people of Venezuela who support the government of Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian revolutionary process.

Build a Strong Movement in Canada in Defense of Venezuela

As long as the government and revolutionary people in Venezuela continue to take a stand for their sovereignty and self-determination, the government of Canada will continue their attacks. The Bolivarian revolutionary process has made massive improvements in the lives of the majority of people in Venezuela, at the expense of private and international interests, including those of Canadian mining and resource extraction companies.

As people living in Canada, we must build a strong and united movement in the defense of the sovereignty and self-determination of the people of Venezuela. We must fight against the illegal sanctions by the government of Canada. We must also demand that the government of Canada to recognize the legitimacy of Venezuela’s democratically elected government and put an end to their meddling in the internal affairs of Venezuela.

U.S./Canada Hands Off Venezuela!
No more U.S./Canada Sanctions and Threats!

Follow Alison Bodine on Twitter: @Alisoncolette

You can also read it on Issuu here:

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