Having failed to instigate a right-wing coup d’etat to overthrow the progressive, independent government of Venezuela, the U.S. government is lashing out against the solidarity movement here. Four members of the Embassy Protection Collective now face serious charges for so-called “interfering” with the functions of the federal government. They had defended the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C., from infiltration and takeover by a mob loyal to corrupt coup leader Juan Guaidó.
At the request and invitation of the people of Venezuela, the EPC had occupied the embassy for 37 days to prevent its seizure by U.S.-backed counterrevolutionaries. Facilitated and protected by federal police, this mob threatened, assaulted and hurled slurs at the Embassy Protectors, harassing the entire neighborhood around the embassy with strobe lights and loud noises late into the night.
Despite the ugly behavior of these right-wingers, publicly documented by progressive reporters, none were charged with any crimes.
However, EPC members Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers, Adrienne Pine and David Paul each face a year in prison and a $100,000 fine for their presence inside the embassy, which not only was completely legal but had been requested by the Venezuelan government.
The legitimate and democratically elected government of Venezuela, headed by Nicolás Maduro, has been able to fend off the imperialist assault on the nation’s sovereignty because of the unprecedented rallying of the Venezuelan people. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets to condemn a small band of right-wing businessmen and politicians intent on overthrowing the government. The Venezuelan people’s message to the U.S. and the world was simple: We will not go back; we will not be recolonized.
In an open letter to the people of the U.S. in February, President Maduro wrote: “The people of Venezuela have painfully suffered social wounds caused by a criminal commercial and financial blockade, which has been aggravated by the dispossession and robbery of our financial resources and assets in countries aligned with this demented onslaught.
“And yet, thanks to a new system of social protection, of direct attention to the most vulnerable sectors, we proudly continue to be a country with a high human development index and low inequality in the Americas.”
It is precisely these policies of the Bolivarian system that the U.S. has been seeking to destroy for the entire 21st century. In 2002, the George W. Bush administration supported a military coup that briefly unseated then President Hugo Chávez, who was immediately restored to power by a vast popular movement.
Shortly after Chávez’s death in 2013, Barack Obama declared Venezuela a “national security threat” and established a new regime of harsh sanctions to starve out the Venezuelan people and weaken their resolve. Obama’s successor, Donald J. Trump, has continued and accelerated this attack on Venezuela’s sovereignty.
“U.S. corporate power and Wall Street can’t call the shots in that country,” said Sara Flounders, co-chair of the International Action Center, at a recent event here in Philadelphia. “And that’s what they’re trying to do. They’re willing to use every tactic. Sanctions are one tactic. They’re using assassinations, drones, military threats; they’re using aircraft carriers.”
The purpose of these attacks, it must never be forgotten, is not to ameliorate a “humanitarian crisis,” as the corporate media claim. Rather, the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is a result of these attacks. The goal of the U.S. ruling class is to reestablish hegemonic corporate control in a country that refuses to relinquish control of its own resources for the sake of global capitalists’ profits.
Eduardo Galeano wrote in “The Open Veins of Latin America,” his excellent history of the colonization of the Americas, that “no country has yielded as much for world capitalism in so short a time; the wealth drained from Venezuela, according to Domingo Alberto Rangel, exceeds what the Spaniards took from Potosí or the English from India.”
When right-wingers who want to sell their country complain of Maduro’s authority, they long for the same kind of “freedom” referred to by a U.S. businessman back in 1953 when Caracas was still controlled by the imperialists: “Here you have freedom to do what you like with your money; for me, this freedom is worth more than the political and civil freedoms put together.”
The Embassy Protectors, on the other hand, were standing up for true freedom and dignity, for the right of the Venezuelan people’s national self-determination. Workers World supports the EPC and demands all charges be dropped!
Hands off Venezuela! Long live the Bolivarian revolution!