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Venezuela: Stand up for principle, not military intervention!

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There is hardly any God-loving human soul in this part of the world whose heart does not bleed for the suffering of the of Venezuela, our Caribbean neighbour and friend of many years standing. We may agree or disagree as to what has caused this social and economic crisis or, indeed, what is the best solution, but at least the vast majority of us would like to see an end to the hardships being endured by the Venezuelan people.

In seeking an end to the crisis though, it is important that we first recognize that it has little to do with whether one supports President Maduro or the Bolivarian Republic, or indeed, supports the actions of powerful international countries seeking to impose their own solutions. The welfare of the Venezuelan people and the time-honoured international principles of sovereignty, non-interference and respect for the human rights of all peoples, enshrined in the articles of the United Nations to which we all subscribe, must be our baseline.

It is therefore difficult to reconcile the actions of those who are today mobilising “aid” for the Venezuelan people, with the crippling and criminal sanctions imposed by the USA, Canada and the European Union on Venezuela, which have denied its people the access to essential supplies. Worse, these same nations have enjoined in a criminal hijack of Venezuelan financial resources, preventing its legitimate government from accessing the financial means to provide their own people with such essential goods and services. Whatever the shortcomings of the government of Venezuela, there is no denying this fact. It is like denying a man or woman work to feed their family, but then offering food to the hungry children if they deny the parent.

In the face of all this, the Ambassador of the United States of America to the Eastern Caribbean has the gall to put out a press statement, calling on our governments in the hemisphere to join in the campaign of sanctions, isolation and criticism of the government of Venezuela. She went even further by saying that such actions equate to the international campaign against the inhuman and odious apartheid regime in South Africa which we all abhorred and lent support to its eradication. Where did her government stand on racist South Africa?

More, the “grave concern” so hypocritically expressed for the plight of the Venezuelan people, does not seem to be a factor in the plight of the people of Yemen, far worse off than those of Venezuela, or their brothers and sisters in Libya, Syria or Iraq, all victims of US military aggression and that of its Middle Eastern feudal allies. How hypocritical can we get?

Further, the USA still has in place an economic embargo against the people of Cuba, (other countries as well), nearly 60 years after the Cuban Revolution. Cuba has had no war with the USA, yet it continues to face economic isolation whereas the USA has “Most Favoured” trading status with countries with which it has fought wars long after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.

All the signs point to a bludgeoning of international opinion to browbeat entire nations and peoples into submission to the will of the mighty USA. Whatever our private thoughts, we are reluctant to go with our consciences. The fear of US reprisal, particularly in the case of Caribbean citizens, the fear of denial or revocation of US visas and Green cards, make us reluctant to confront the lies. Don’t get ‘Uncle Sam’ vex!
I have no doubt in my mind that mistakes and administrative lapses may well have occurred in Venezuela, but where have these not occurred? If the situation has reached crisis point, shouldn’t the “friends” of the Venezuela people, including such a powerful trading partner as the USA, be trying to promote and facilitate dialogue?

What has given one country, no matter how mighty, the right to arbitrarily decide who should be President in another country? Would we have accepted the European Union, China or Japan, following the disputed US Presidential elections in 2000, deciding to recognize Al Gore as President? Would it have been right for outsiders to recognize Ralph Gonsalves as Prime Minister of SVG after the 1998 elections, or conversely Arnhim Eustace after disputed elections here in 2010?

Is might, the only right in the world? We are at a critical moment in our history, in the history of this hemisphere, Our America. Countries have a right to approve or not approve of the policies of other nations, but NEVER the right to unilaterally decide what is right and wrong or to punish others who do not subscribe to their will. It will be a dangerous precedent if we accept foreign interference in Venezuela and the insistence of others to dictate to smaller and weaker nations.

This is not pro-Maduro or anti-America, it is about principle and international law. An invasion of Venezuela and the installation of a client regime will be a warning to us all to “tow the line or else..”. It will be a blow to regional integration, to the efforts at regional solidarity, against PetroCaribe, and CARICOM which courageously stands for non-intervention and peaceful resolution.

Our heroes and patriots, from Chatoyer and Montezuma, to Jose Marti, Simon Bolivar, have fought and died for the independence, rights and freedoms of our people. We must not acquiesce to this new form of colonisation.

Renwick Rose
is a community activist and social comm
entator.

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