Venezuela’s right-wing opposition last month launched a new campaign to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power, calling for his immediate resignation.
The last campaign to oust the elected constitutional president in 2014 led to a wave of violence.
“We call on the entire Venezuelan people in order to force Maduro to resign as the president of the country,” the executive secretary of the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition Jesus Torrealba told reporters.
Torrealba also called on Venezuelans to take to the streets to demand Maduro’s resignation.
Responding to the right wing, the Socialist Party’s Diosdado Cabello, who is former head of the National Assembly, said: “They want to organise street rallies to generate violence and bring about a coup, supported by the US.”
His latter point is given credence by the fact that, just days before the Venezuelan right confirmed its campaign to oust Maduro, President Barack Obama renewed an executive order that declared Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
The order allows the US government to impose sanctions on Venezuela. Its renewal was announced by the president in a letter to congressional leaders, which claimed that alleged conditions that had first prompted the order had “not improved.”
When the executive order was first issued by Obama in March 2015, leaders from throughout the region condemned the decree and massive mobilisations took place in Venezuela.
Obama eventually responded to this by seemingly admitting that Venezuela “does not pose a threat” to the United States in an interview with the EFE press agency, but his actions this week would suggest that the US is still strongly backing “regime change” in Venezuela.
The nations of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the Union of South American Nations have again strongly criticised Obama’s move to renew the executive order.
It is true that Venezuela faces many problems, not least in terms of its economic difficulties. These are being exacerbated both by a conscious economic war — with echoes of the situation in Chile prior to the 1973 coup that brought General Pinochet to power — and the plunge in world oil prices.
But the right’s programme of vicious neoliberalism — illustrated by its proposals for the mass sell-off of housing — will only make these worse, while reversing the gains in reduced poverty and inequality, plus increased labour rights, in recent years.
Throughout the labour and trade union movement, there is a collective memory of the awful developments that followed the overthrow of both Salvador Allende in Chile in the 1970s and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s.
We need to remain vigilant and echo the views of Latin America in opposing external intervention in Venezuela and the regime change it aims for.
The solidarity statement published in today’s Morning Star and accompanying public meeting are just the start of what we need to be doing.
- Tony Burke is vice-chair of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign and assistant general gecretary of Unite. The VSC will have an emergency meeting entitled Venezuela: No to Regime Change — No to US Sanctions on Monday April 18 from 6.30pm with an eyewitness account from Venezuela-based journalist Paul Dobson and Ambassador Rocio Maniero at Unite, 128 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8TN. You can register on the door or online at www.venezuelasolidarity.co.uk.
50 leading figures stand in solidarity with Venezuela against US sanctions
We, the undersigned, note the growing concern across progressive movements and governments across Latin America that elements of the right wing within Venezuela have called again for the “ousting” of the elected President Nicolas Maduro before the constitutional end of term.
The success of such a campaign would mean the implementation of a hard-line neoliberal programme in Venezuela, which could only further exacerbate the country’s economic problems and overturn the advances in social programmes and labour rights of recent years.
These announcements from the right wing follow the decision of the US to renew sanctions against Venezuela, which have been condemned by the Union of South American Nations.
Agreeing with the Latin American community of nations, we call for respect for Venezuela’s national sovereignty and ongoing solidarity with the social achievements Venezuela has made in recent years.
Dr Francisco Dominguez – Secretary, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
Tony Burke – Assistant general secretary, Unite the Union and VSC vice-chair
Colin Burgon – Labour Friends of Venezuela
Bob Oram – Chair, Morning Star management committee
Rt Hon George Howarth MP
Rachael Maskell MP
Michael Connarty – Former Labour MP
Linton Kwesi Johnson – Poet
Andy De La Tour – Actor
Michael Mansfield QC
John Hendy QC
Mick Cash – General secretary RMT
Manuel Cortes – General secretary, TSSA
Mick Whelan General secretary, Aslef
Ronnie Draper – General secretary, BFAWU
Chris Kitchen – National secretary, NUM
Ben Chacko – Editor, Morning Star
Megan Dobney – Regional secretary, Sertuc
Maggie Ryan – EC member, Unite the Union
Andy Green – EC member, Unite the Union
Stephen Miller – EC member, Unite the Union
Peter Kavanagh – Regional secretary, Unite London & Eastern Region
Jim Kelly – Chair, Unite London & Eastern Region
Moz Greenshields – Former NEC member, Unison & TUC trade union councils committee
Bert Schouwenburg – International officer, GMB
Roger King – EC member and international committee member, NUT
Max Hyde – Former president, NUT
Bill Greenshields – Former president, NUT
Terry Hoad – Former president, UCU
Ian Hodson – National president, BFAWU
Martin Mayer – Chair, Unite the Union United Left & Labour Party NEC member
Pete Willsman – NEC member, Labour Party
Carolyn Jones – Director, Institute of Employment Rights
Liz Davies – Barrister, honorary vice-president of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers (personal capacity)
Derek Wall – International officer, Green Party of England & Wales
Lindsey German – Convener, Stop the War Coalition
Kate Hudson – General secretary, CND
Maggie Bowden – General secretary, Liberation
Susanna Mitchell – Friends of Le Monde Diplomatique
John Gledhill – Emeritus professor of social anthropology, University of Manchester
Michael Wayne – Professor
Maura Duffy – Programme director BSc in global health and lecturer in global health, University of Manchester
Dr Michael Derham – Senior lecturer, UNN
Dr David Raby – University of Liverpool
Hazel Marsh – University of East Anglia
Luke Daniels – Caribbean Labour Solidarity
Louise Richards – Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group
Pablo Navarrete – Alborada.net
Phil McGarry – Political adviser, RMT Scotland & chair, Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign