Venezuela: LA leaders condemn 'siege'

June 23, 2014
(Left to right) Cuban President Raul Castro, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and Venezuelan P

At the G77 plus China Summit held in Bolivia that ended on June 15, several Latin American presidents gave public backing to Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. They called for regional unity against an bid for “conservative restoration” under way in the South American country.

The summit, held in Santa Cruz, eastern Bolivia, brought together 133 countries, about two-thirds of the member states of the United Nations.

During the opening event, the presidents of Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba made declarations in support of Venezuela. All four are members of the regional Bolivarian Alliance of the People's of Our America (ALBA), an eight-member anti-imperialist bloc founded by Venezuela and Cuba in 2004.

The speeches came after right-wing opposition protests in Venezuela that broke out this year that included calls for Maduro’s ouster. Protests included violent street barricades and riots.

Opposition leaders claimed the protests were to draw attention to economic problems, but authorities and government supporters say the violence was aimed at provoking a coup.

Over three months of unrest, 42 people have been killed and about 900 wounded. Fatalities include opposition activists, government supporters and members of security forces.

Venezuelan government officials recently revealed communications that they say constitute a plot by high-profile opposition figures to organise Maduro’s assassination. Those accused deny the claims.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa declared to a crowd of thousands at the G77 summit’s opening event that a “coordinated power strategy” was being implemented by the US government and the region’s right wing to “re-colonise” Latin America. Correa placed events in Venezuela in that context.

“At the regional level, there is a conservative restoration that wants to do away with progressive governments,” he said. “There is the siege of the democratic, legitimate government of our friend Nicolas Maduro, and the whole of Latin America is with our beloved Venezuela.”

Correa said the Latin American left should unite in response. “We progressive and leftist movements must be more united and coordinated than ever, and this meeting helps with that.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales said the countries of the G77 plus China had expressed their support for Venezuela against the “imperialist attacks” of the US. Venezuelan officials have accused the US of supporting opposition unrest and intervening in the country’s affairs with the threat of sanctions.

Morales, who is serving as president of the G77 plus China, said: “Brother Maduro: all of our solidarity, all of our support. We respect the battle that’s being fought.

“As long as imperialism and capitalism exist, the struggle will continue.”

Addressing the summit, Maduro said an international diplomatic and media campaign was being waged against his government to justify a possible ouster. He warned that the continent would “rise up” if any such attack on the country’s constitutional order occurred.

The latest opinion poll in Venezuela, conducted by private firm International Consulting Services, put approval for Maduro at 62%.

In his speech, Maduro said the countries of the global South should solve their problems without outside intervention. “The solution to the South’s problems is in the South,” he said. “And in this world where the South can already walk on its own feet, and think with its own head, it’s time for the North to learn to respect the men and women of the South.”

Maduro congratulated the work of the summit, saying: “Little by little, we’re seeking and finding the path to overcome centuries of exploitation, colonialism, and slavery, to construct a humanity that is truly human in all aspects.”

The summit’s final declaration included points on the defence of sovereignty in the use of natural resources, the need to reduce the external debt, and the need for greater global commitments on climate change.

Meanwhile, US vice-president Joe Biden has made renewed criticisms of Maduro’s government. Biden referred to Venezuela as “an emblematic case of the weakening of democratic institutions” in a June 16 interview published in Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo.

[Abridged from Venezuela Analysis.]

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