“The United States government has launched an economic war against Venezuela because our country has become a threat to the interests of US corporate power,” Carlos Julio Ron, president of the new Simon Bolivar Institute for Peace and Solidarity among Peoples (SBI), told a video conference organised by the Venezuelan Embassy in Australia on October 10.
Ron is also vice-minister of the Ministry of People’s Power for Foreign Relations, and a former Venezuelan ambassador to the US and Canada.
The launch of the SBI on September 6 coincided with the 205th anniversary of Simon Bolivar’s Jamaica Charter. The video conference featured more than 100 international participants. The institute, which is housed in the Foreign Ministry in Caracas, is aimed at helping co-ordinate international solidarity with Venezuela.
Musician Roger Waters was among the many politicians, artists, intellectuals and activists welcoming the initiative. He said all the people of the world “without distinction of color, religion or nationality, need it to help lead us all from this darkness to the light”.
Argentinian sociologist Atilio Borón said the SBI comes at an appropriate time, as the US “redoubles its brutal offensive against the peoples of Latin America”.
Ron told the Australian forum of more than 50 solidarity activists that Venezuela is “in the process of building an alternative system ... [where] the people are actively involved in the social transformation of the country”.
He said that it is because of this fact and because Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world that the United States government “has launched a new stage of its ‘hybrid war’ against our country involving an economic blockade, diplomatic isolation and a military threat.
“President [Donald] Trump has said that the military option is ‘on the table’. We have to take it very seriously. So far, we have faced an attempted coup, violent terrorist attacks and infiltration by paramilitary militias.
“The US and other countries have also moved to officially recognise the former National Assembly president Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, despite him having almost no support inside the country. The US has moved to seize the oil and other assets of Venezuela overseas.
“They have attempted to exert maximum pressure on Venezuela, with the hope of a change of government in our country. None of this has happened, but the US has increased its repressive sanctions against our government — illegal, unilateral measures, designed to destroy the Venezuelan economy.
“Now, Venezuela has become an internal issue in US politics. The Republicans hope that the votes of 50–100 thousand right-wing Venezuelan expatriates in Florida will swing the election for Trump.
“Meanwhile, we face the impact of an economic blockade in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vital medical equipment and supplies are being blocked, as are imports related to the oil industry. This is modern-day piracy.”
He said that despite this, “Venezuela has been able to fight the pandemic and the blockade with the assistance of international solidarity from countries such as Cuba, Iran, China and Russia.
“Despite the serious effects of the economic siege on our economy, the people are standing up and resisting the aggressor.”
The Venezuelan people have “a strong community consciousness, based on solidarity and determination to struggle for their independence” Ron said, adding that they have successfully resisted five years of US attacks and an economic blockade.
The National Assembly elections on December 6 are important, Julio Ron said, because “it could mean that the majority of the right-wing opposition will lose their seats as they are under orders from Washington not to run. This will open the way for new Venezuelan government measures to combat the blockade and to strengthen our economy.”
After a wide-ranging discussion, the forum participants agreed to work on “breaking the information blockade” to explain the reality about Venezuela. This international solidarity would need to include gathering more support from trade unions, political organisations and community groups.