A reportback session from a recent fact-finding mission to Venezuela, featuring Green Left Weekly journalist Federico Fuentes, was held on April 7.
Fuentes took part in the two-week tour to Venezuela organised by the Latin American Solidarity Network (LASNET) and the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (Melbourne) in early March. The purpose of the tour was to get a first-hand look at the real situation on the ground and help build solidarity with the Venezuelan people.
The latest US-orchestrated coup attempt in Venezuela, which began with opposition leader Juan Guaido’s self-proclamation as “interim president” on January 23, has been accompanied by an extreme level of distorted and dishonest reporting by establishment media outlets.
Fuentes told the meeting that "the reality of every day Venezuela was starkly different to what was portrayed in the media".
He said two things stood out. "The first was a completely different political climate than even I expected." Far from a situation of "virtual civil war" that one might expect in a context of two competing claims to the presidency, "the situation was largely calm".
The second was the very real difficulties that Venezuelans experience every day: "It is not the way it is portrayed in the media, but that is not to say that every day is not an extremely hard day for Venezuelans, no matter what their political persuasions, no matter what part of the country they live in."
Fuentes also outlined how the failure of US imperialism, the Venezuelan opposition and the media to acknowledge the ongoing existence of the grassroots mass Chavista movement was a big part of why their coup attempting was failing.
In discussion, a supporter of the Venezuelan opposition challenged Fuentes' characterisation of the recent developments in Venezuela as a "coup" and that Guaido had “self-proclaimed” himself as president.
Fuentes answered by citing the numerous statements made by the main opposition parties in the National Assembly against the idea of Guaido declaring himself “interim president”. He also said that the main opposition leaders did not know Guido was planning to announce his “interim presidency” on January 23, something that was confirmed by one of the main opposition leaders, Henrique Capriles, in an interview done subsequent to the announcement.
By contrast, Fuentes said, US figures were tweeting about the impending coup and the Spanish Foreign Ministry revealed that the US had contacted the Spanish government alerting them to be prepared for important developments on January 23.
The Brisbane meeting was organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network and was supported by Australian Solidarity with Latin America (ASLA), Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) Brisbane, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Fron (FMLN) Brisbane, Just Peace, Socialist Alliance, Communist Party of Australia and unite.