Max Blumenthal leads South Florida panel denouncing U.S. coup attempts in Venezuela
Fort Lauderdale, FL- 70 members of the South Florida community, some travelling up to three hours, from places as far away as Sarasota, gathered inside the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale to hear award-winning journalist and author Max Blumenthal share the history and implications of the failed U.S. coups against Venezuela. Camilo Mejia of Veterans for Peace and Tracy Molm of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization joined Blumenthal in an illuminating and engaging panel discussion organized by the Hands off Venezuela Coalition.
Tracy Molm, who spoke first, joined in by Skype and provided an historical analysis of the current situation in Venezuela and a report-back of her recent trip to the country as part of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization delegation. She shared personal stories and plenty of pictures depicting the incredible progress made by the Venezuelan government – such as the 2.6 million homes built and massive rise in literacy rate. But Molm and her comrades also witnessed first hand the coup attempt called for by Juan Guaido that was meant to take place April 30.
“It was absolutely shocking,” Molm said. “The U.S. media was going on and on about how there was supposed to be a huge protest led by the opposition, but we were staying in the exact area where that was all meant to be taking place, and nothing happened. People stayed in their houses, went about their day. Rather, tens of thousands of Venezuelans rallied at the presidential palace to defend President Nicolas Maduro should the opposition and the U.S. try to take over. The next day, May Day, we marched with 1 million Venezuelans who rallied to support the Bolivarian Revolution and defend their president and hear him speak.”
Camilo Mejia addressed the crowd next, dispelling the myths regarding the failed coup attempt against Nicaragua. He provided statistics revealing the massive gains made by the socialist Sandinista government in literacy, housing, transportation, higher education and vocational training, and food sovereignty.
Mejia then revealed how the tactics used in Nicaragua are also being implemented in Venezuela, stating, “They take a social issue, a real issue and then use it to manipulate the situation. So last year, what prompted the protests in Nicaragua was reforms to social security. The reality is the IMF was demanding the government implement austerity measures, double the work requirements and raise the qualification age from 60 to 65. The Sandinista government refused to do that and instead chose to maintain the pension program by requiring wealthy people and businesses to pay more in. Well, the U.S. and its allied groups in Nicaragua started a calculated media campaign saying the government is stealing your money and doing away with pensions, and that started the protests, during which the CIA used well-documented tactics to have paid thugs create discord and violence.”
By 8 p.m., the spotlight was on the keynote speaker of the night. Max Blumenthal provided a brief but in-depth history of Venezuela and the Bolivarian movement, from the century of gross inequality suffered by most Venezuelans prior to Hugo Chavez’ sweeping electoral victory in 1998 to the present day U.S.-led sanctions and coup attempts.
He also went into detail about the Venezuelan opposition and its ties to Generation 2007, a group trained and funded for years by the CIA regime change specialists. Generation 2007 cadre members like Juan Guiado and Leopldo Lopez were trained on multi-pronged coup tactics in order to remove Chavez, and later Maduro, from power and roll back the revolution’s advances.
Blumenthal stated, “Pretty much anyone involved in the coup right now was trained by this network. They are taught: no dialogue, no compromise, maximalist demands, take part in very provocative tactics, which are supposedly nonviolent, but which ultimately and purposefully lead to street violence and instability. And they implemented these tactics for years, causing massive casualties, including burning a man in alive in the streets because they believed he was a Chavista.”
Blumenthal went on to explain the impact of U.S. sanctions, stating, “In 2015, Obama implements the first round of sanctions. Minor inflation quickly became hyperinflation because banks now considered Venezuela ‘high risk’ due to the sanctions, and so they would refuse to refinance Venezuela’s debt. So the country’s credit was being destroyed, and the banks wouldn’t loan them money to refinance. And seeing how Venezuela imports the vast majority of its agricultural goods, basically, the United States is using sanctions to deny the Venezuelan population access to food and medicine. So the U.S. uses the sanctions to try and manufacture a humanitarian crisis in order to stir rebellion and chaos. And we’re starting to see that tactic in Iran too, as the people are facing aggressive sanctions by Donald Trump.”