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Venezuelan consul speaks out against U.S. intervention

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead

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Minneapolis, MN – On Aug. 20, Jesus Chucho Garcia, the Venezuelan Consul in New Orleans, spoke in Minneapolis at May Day Bookstore about the current situation and the future of Venezuela. The store was packed with activists from the peace movement, the Latin American solidarity movement and Venezuelans living in the U.S.

Garcia began speaking of key Latin American history, “In the 1980s and 90s Latin America lost its sovereignty to the U.S., the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, and to U.S. and Canadian corporations. But this history started to change at the end of the 1990s when [President Hugo] Chavez came to power. A relationship with Cuba was nurtured to enhance the dignity of the people. Fidel [Castro] helped build this strategy. Fidel told Chavez that the Venezuelan process would be different, that they had to find new ways. Fidel was a good Marxist and explained that we had to regain our sovereignty, to change the constitution, because it was a ‎bourgeois one, and to create a participatory democracy – not a bourgeois one.”

Garcia continued, “Before Chavez, 90% of the oil revenue went to U.S. companies and to the 5% of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie. This equation had to change but at a cost. In April 2002 there was a coup planned by the U.S.” He added, “This coup radicalized our process.”

Garcia explained how Venezuela has been a leader in the integration of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, is respected and supported by these countries in its efforts against neoliberalism, and how they used their oil wealth to assist the developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

However, Garcia was also critical of the role oil has played in the development of the Venezuelan economy. “Oil is not everything. The rentier model – where a country derives most of its income from the rent or sale of its natural resource to external clients – went into crisis. This is a crisis of that model. But that does not mean that our participatory democratic process is in crisis.”

The right wing in Venezuela has control of the legislature and is pushing to remove President Nicolas Maduro. The fall in oil prices combined with manipulations by distributors of food and other goods is causing shortages and hardships for the Venezuelan people. The U.S. has supported efforts to remove President Maduro and has contributed to the hardships of the Venezuelan people through restrictive sanctions.

Garcia spoke very harshly against countries like the U.S. using the current situation in Venezuela to justify intervention, “We have the right to correct our mistakes. Our production model has failed but we know what happens when something is called a ‘humanitarian crisis’. I lived in Africa, in Mali and other countries – I know it leads to intervention!”

Garcia addressed the role of the opposition and imperialism in this current crisis, “The bourgeoisie and international forces are trying to sabotage our process. Look at what has happened in other countries. That is why I began with a historical overview. They have been currently practicing their tactics in Honduras and Paraguay. We have to solve this problem as Venezuela not with outside intervention.”

Joe Callahan, an activist with the Minnesota Cuba Committee, reflected on the importance of the event, “U.S. solidarity activists have a responsibility first of all to oppose U.S. intervention like the sanctions imposed on Venezuela, along with opposing any ‘covert’ actions. Events like this forum can be an important part of this.”

The event was organized by the Minnesota Cuba Committee and endorsed by Minnesota Peace Action Coalition, Anti-War Committee, and Women Against Military Madness.

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