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Vol. 81/No. 15      April 17, 2017

(feature article)

OAS steps up moves against Venezuela’s sovereignty

The Cuban government and mass organizations there have been speaking out against the campaign by Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro to expel Venezuela from the organization. This is part of a broader effort to replace the government headed by President Nicolás Maduro.

On March 14 Almagro demanded that Maduro call elections within 30 days, free people that Almagro says are political prisoners, replace the country’s Supreme Court with judges who meet Almagro’s criteria of being “independent” — that is, politically opposed to the Maduro government — and reinstate laws passed by the opposition-controlled National Assembly that had been overturned by the court.

Since the election of Hugo Chávez in 1998, on the heels of mass popular mobilizations, the Venezuelan government’s close ties to revolutionary Cuba and its refusal to bow to Washington’s dictates on trade and foreign policy have drawn the ire of U.S. imperialism.

On March 28, the OAS met to hear Almagro’s report despite opposition from the governments of Bolivia, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Barbados and Dominica, as well as Venezuela.

Leading up to the OAS meeting, President Maduro said Almagro was “rekindling the darkest pages of the OAS history.”

“The OAS confronting Venezuela today is the same one that has endorsed aggression and military intervention, the same one that has kept a complicit silence about serious democratic and human rights violations in the entire hemisphere,” said a March 29 statement from the Cuban Foreign Ministry, referring to the OAS’ sordid history in the Americas.

In 1962, at Washington’s insistence, the OAS expelled Cuba to punish Cuban workers and farmers for overthrowing the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and their decision to build a socialist society. In 1976 it showed its support for the bloody dictatorship in Chile of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, which had overthrown the elected government of Salvador Allende, by holding its meeting there. Pinochet is just one of a long line of U.S.-backed dictatorships that the OAS championed.

In 2009, in the face of Washington’s growing isolation in the region due to Cuba’s exclusion, the OAS invited Cuba to return. The revolutionary government has no interest in having a relationship “with an organization that has served the purposes of domination, occupation and aggression by the United States, and as a platform to attack and plunder Latin America and the Caribbean,” Cuba’s Foreign Minster Bruno Rodríguez restated in 2012, reported Cuban newspaper Escambray.

Ahead of the March 28 meeting the governments of the United States, Canada and 12 Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, signed a statement echoing Amalgro’s accusations against the Maduro government. But expulsion should only be used “as a last resort,” it said.

Washington’s ultimate goal — like the regional powers in Latin America vying for the capitalist economic and political interests of their own propertied rulers — is to replace the Maduro government with one more to their liking without provoking deeper political turmoil, economic breakdown and social explosion in Venezuela, and in the region. Washington and pro-imperialist forces in Venezuela are stepping up pressure against the Maduro government as the world capitalist economic crisis is having a devastating impact on the country’s ability to continue financing social programs at home and extending assistance to other countries. They are counting on the deepening social and political crisis and frustrations over the growing shortages of basic goods and medicines to further undermine support for Maduro and the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

After Chávez was elected, his supporters won 122 of 128 seats in the National Assembly. Today opponents of Maduro’s government have a “supermajority.”

On Feb. 13 the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against Venezuela’s Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of allegedly being involved in drug trafficking activities. The measure by the Donald Trump administration was the result of an investigation initiated under President Barack Obama. In 2015, the Obama administration ordered sanctions against seven other Venezuelan officials. President Maduro has denounced the measure as an attempt to discredit his government and lay the ground for further intervention.

In a move that gave Almagro and other supporters of imperialist intervention more of a handle, the Venezuelan Supreme Court suspended the powers of the National Assembly March 29. The court said it would exercise legislative power instead.

The next day the governments of Colombia, Chile and Peru recalled their ambassadors to Venezuela. The Mexican government also criticized the move.

In the face of stepped-up calls for violating Venezuelan sovereignty, several mass organizations in Cuba spoke out, including the Central Organization of Cuban Workers (CTC), the Federation of University Students and the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP). “Once again the Yankee Ministry of Colonies violates the sovereignty of one of our peoples,” said ANAP on March 31, adding that the OAS was seeking to use “foreign intervention to re-establish a shameless regime.”

On March 31 the pro-imperialist opposition parties in Venezuela organized demonstrations against Maduro. According to the Financial Times, there were some scuffles between students and national guardsmen outside the Venezuelan Supreme Court. More clashes took place April 4.

On April 1, following a meeting convened by Maduro of the Defense Council — a body made up of top ministers and politicians including the head of the armed forces — Maduro announced that he had spoken to the Supreme Court judges and convinced them to reverse their decision to dissolve the National Assembly.

Seth Galinsky contributed to this article.  
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