Venezuela

Flying into Caracas, the plane was full of middle class Venezuelans travelling home from Miami. On board, no one spoke to the passenger next to them for fear of finding out they were on the opposite side of the political divide.

In highly polarised Venezuela, these things are best left unsaid.

“The US is doing the same thing as it did with the economic blockade on Cuba, to try and suffocate the Venezuelan economy” explained Williams Camacaro, a long-time Venezuelan grassroots activist based in New York.

Speaking to Green Left Weekly in Caracas, Camacaro said “The sanctions will cause a lot of difficulties for Venezuela”, but “the reality is that a lot of time has passed since [the blockade was first imposed on Cuba]. Many things have changed.”

A few days after arriving in Venezuela, we drive past La Carlota military base in the east of Caracas, which was a regular site for the violent street protests commonly known here as guarimbas.

The highway we were travelling on was often blockaded by protesters — guarimberos — who made up the backbone of the self-dubbed “La Resistencia”. They received glowing praise in the international media during the wave of protests that rocked the country from April to July.

The Donald Trump administration announced new, unprecedented sanctions against Venezuela on August 25 that are designed to cut off financing to Venezuela. The Trump team pretends that the sanctions are only directed at the government. But as any economist knows, this is clearly false.

By starving the economy of foreign exchange, this action will harm the private sector, most Venezuelans, the poor and the vulnerable.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has slammed the major damage caused to Venezuela over recent months of opposition violence, comparing the right-wing protesters to the white supremacists in the United States who organised violent and deadly protests  in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12.

Speaking at a media conference on August 22, Maduro deplored how “fascist groups” attacked people based on their observable ethnic characteristics — in the United States and Venezuela.

US President Donald Trump told the media on August 10 that he would not “rule out “military options” for dealing with Venezuela. His comments were followed by the imposition of economic sanctions against Venezuela on August 25.

Labeling Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as a "dictator", the White House said in a statement that the new sanctions seek to block "a critical source of funding" for the Venezuelan government, which is having to deal with a deep economic crisis.

There has been a lot of media focus on Venezuela’s recently inaugurated National Constituent Assembly (ANC). However, little attention has been paid to the response it has generated among grassroots organisations or the variety of proposals being discussed in communities in terms of potential constitutional changes.

In January last year, Henry Ramos Allup, president of the then newly-installed Venezuelan parliament, hastened to make a demonstration of institutional power. The opposition bloc had obtained a strong victory in the 2015 legislative elections and the veteran political leader of Democratic Action (AD) was probably thinking that Venezuela would soon follow Argentina’s suit and do away with its leftist government.

Stalin Perez Borges is an activist with LUCHAS (United League of Chavista Socialists) and a member of the Consultative Council of the Bolivarian Socialist Workers’ Central (CBST).

He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes about the July 30 elections for the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) and its subsequent inauguration, as well as the August 6 armed assault on a military base by right-wing opponents of Venezuela’s socialist government.

After weeks of imperialist threats and opposition violence, the elections for Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly (ANC) took place on July 30. The result was a huge turnout of more than 8 million voters, around 41% of the electorate, which gave Chavismo a much-needed shot in the arm.

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