Thirty people heard Venezuelan chargé d’affaires Daniel Gasparri speak about the current situation in his country, at an October 3 meeting organised by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC).
Gasparri said that the economic blockade imposed by the United States stops Venezuela from exporting its oil and importing goods including medicines. Under the blockade, ships involved in trading with Venezuela cannot get insurance.
Moreover, the US has “kidnapped” CITGO, the US subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Gasparri said.
Many countries are unwilling to defy the US and trade with Venezuela, though some are, including Russia, China, Iran and Turkey. Others do so secretly to avoid reprisals. Venezuela is able to sell some oil to such countries, Gasparri said, but for a lower price.
Because Venezuela’s social programs have been funded by oil revenue, they are inevitably affected by the blockade. But health and education are still free, he added.
Gasparri said that most people in Venezuela realise the country's economic problems are not the government's fault. Support for self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaido has faded and a section of the opposition has held talks with the government.
VSC’s Kevin Bracken, who chaired the meeting, said the Victorian Trades Hall Council has condemned the blockade. Some unions are also supporting VSC's aid projects in Venezuela.
The federal parliamentary Labor Party, by contrast, supports the Coalition government’s decision to recognise Guaido as the Venezuelan president.