2019 was a year of victories for Venezuela, President Maduro claimed at a ceremony on 23 January for the anniversary of the fall of the Jiménez dictatorship in 1958.
This was also the date chosen last year by Juan Guaidó to proclaim himself “interim president” of Venezuela. His argument, prompted by Mike Pence, was that the office was vacant, because of their non-recognition of the election of President Maduro, and therefore should go to the chairperson of the National Assembly, the office he held.
Enjoying the patronage of the United States, Guaidó was recognised by the United States and the European Union, together with their allies and client states, amounting to fifty-two states in all, which have intensified the economic war against Venezuela, causing great hardship to the population.
The economic war is accompanied by a propaganda war, which excludes positive, or even impartial, reporting of Venezuela in the corporate media.
Confirming President Maduro’s words, Juan Guaidó has gone from one disastrous defeat to another. The attempt to forcibly bring in so-called humanitarian aid to Venezuela from Colombia failed miserably; they even burnt a lorry on the border, and the media dutifully blamed the government forces.
His associates were caught embezzling money supposed to be for military deserters; he himself was shown to have been brought across the border by a criminal paramilitary drug-trafficking gang. He stood on a motorway overpass in eastern Caracas and called for a military coup, claiming that he was speaking from a nearby army base, but to no avail: the army stayed loyal.
Nothing works for Guaidó except the money he gets from the United States—$450 million from the US Agency for International Development alone. His latest indignity: he no longer holds the office of chairperson of the National Assembly, on which he based his claim to the presidency. A majority of the opposition deputies have denounced him, have elected a new chairperson, and reached an agreement with President Maduro concerning the Assembly elections, due this year.
Never mind: he met his remaining supporters, claiming to be the real National Assembly, and continues his pretensions. The United States announced its continuing support. It has appointed him president of Venezuela; and what right have mere Venezuelans to disagree?
The commemoration was attended by the participants in the International Anti-Imperialist Conference being held in Caracas. Four hundred delegates from seventy-two countries shared their experience and expressed their solidarity with Venezuela. A large delegation from the United States was particularly impressive, including Bahman Azad of the US Peace Council, who organised the Dublin conference on US and NATO military bases in Dublin in November 2018. Four of the brave defenders of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington are now facing trial.
My own contribution to the group discussing sovereignty referred to neo-colonialism as a class alliance. For example, in Latin America the oligarchies cannot rule without the United States, nor can the United States rule without them. Naturally, I drew on our own history in this regard.
In spite of the president’s brave words, and the total collapse of Guaidó’s challenge, Venezuela is in a very difficult situation. The economic war has inflicted colossal damage on the economy, and the country is surrounded by enemy states with ultra-right governments. The imperialist offensive has had a number of victories, most recently with the fascist coup in Bolivia, while Brazil and Colombia are harbouring and training terrorists.
Venezuela has twice been declared a “clear and present danger to the United States,” by nice Mr Obama and nasty Mr Trump, both determined to destroy the Bolivarian Revolution initiated by Hugo Chávez. For the ultra-right wing of the opposition, elections would not be enough: they want to totally destroy Chavismo, an objective shared by the rulers of the United States.
The participants in the conference face a mighty task when they return home: organising solidarity with Venezuela.