March 31 — Juan Guaidó, president of the National Assembly — which is operating in contempt of the Supreme Court — and self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela, has been barred from holding public office for 15 years. This decision came as a result of an investigation into undeclared travel and lodging expenses, following the process established by the Law Against Corruption.
According to the comptroller general, the total amount spent on trips outside of the country, mainly to Panamá, was over 310 million bolivares, which is approximately $100,000. These expenditures, particularly when considered along with money spent on hotels inside and outside the country, is unreasonably high given the salary of a National Assembly deputy. Guaidó has refused the request to present legal documentation of his sources of income, which has led officials to suspect that he has illegally accepted funds from foreign governments. (tinyurl.com/yxwku2ef)
This is the second legal action taken directly against Guaidó for his role in the attempted coup. The first was a travel ban, which Guaidó violated by crossing the border into Colombia several days before Feb. 23.
On that day, the right-wing coup plotters tried to break the Bolivarian National Armed Forces and bring U.S. trucks over the Colombian border. This assault was stopped. Now, the legal investigations that were opened at the start of the coup are concluding. The coup plotters can expect to face constitutionally appropriate punishments.
The resistance of the Venezuelan people and the unity between the military and civil society have managed to foil imperialism’s plans for now, causing the U.S. to resort to sabotage and an economic blockade. During the month of March, the Venezuelan government denounced several attacks against the country’s electrical grid. These attacks, which have taken digital, physical and high-technology forms, resulted in several power outages during the month.
Dictatorship vs. ‘democracy’
The informational attacks against Venezuela, carried out by imperialist-aligned media such as CNN, New York Times, Fox and others, have been a defining feature of imperialist regime-change efforts. These corporate news outlets have manufactured the narrative that dominates in the imperialist countries. According to them, Bolivarian Venezuela is an oppressive and corrupt dictatorship.
These same outlets are characterizing the actions taken against Juan Guaidó as yet another dictatorial abuse of power. The truth is that the Venezuelan government has gone to great lengths to ensure that even citizens involved in an attempted coup have their democratic and constitutional rights respected.
One has to first review the facts, which are easily lost when the imperialist narrative is being pushed from all angles. Juan Guaidó was, constitutionally, the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly. That National Assembly has been in contempt of the Venezuelan Supreme Court since March 29, 2017.
On Jan. 23, Juan Guaidó swore himself in as “interim president” of Venezuela in a public square. U.S. President Donald Trump almost immediately recognized him. Then, the self-proclaimed president stated his intent to bring trucks into Venezuela supplied by a U.S. state agency without permission from any legitimate Venezuelan institution.
On Feb. 23, Guaidó and other opposition officials led a series of violent attacks from Colombia against the border. On the other side of the bridge, Venezuelan state forces and the pro-government “collectivos” — organized community groups — prevented any major incident. In the end, as the New York Times was later forced to admit, the opposition burned its own trucks and tried to blame that on Bolivarian forces.
How is a democratic and sovereign country to respond to an open attempt to overthrow the government? These are acts of high treason, and to make matters worse, the coup plotters are not just looking for personal gain. They are openly working with U.S. imperialism to sell the country to North American business interests.
The Venezuelan justice system has responded by opening a series of investigations into concrete crimes, gathering evidence over the course of several months. The Venezuelan constitution guarantees the rights of all citizens, even the ones carrying out a coup d’état.
On the other hand, in the Latin American countries that imperialism labels as “democracies,” leaders of social movements are regularly murdered just for voicing opposition to neoliberal policies. For example, Colombia registered 120 deaths of social movement leaders in the first 100 days of President Ivan Duque’s term. (tinyurl.com/ya6mqs5q)
The total number of leaders murdered in 2018, according to the Colombian Office of the Ombudsman, is 172. That same office also noted that the number of deaths had noticeably risen since the Peace Accords were signed. (tinyurl.com/y3ar8csp)
In the U.S., children are placed in concentration camps just because their parents crossed the border, and Black communities have been criminalized and regularly experience police brutality.