Venezuela speaks

Helena Menéndez

Helena Menéndez, press secretary of the Venezuelan embassy, delivers a message to progressive British workers at CPGB-ML’s international barbecue, held at Saklatvala Hall in Southall, west London, on Saturday 25 July.

She outlines the history of the last 15 years of struggle in Venezuela, whose basic meaning has been to use the vast wealth of Venezuela to improve the lives of Venezuelan workers and peasants.

This is precisely why the progressive Venezuelan government has fallen foul of US imperialism, whose former president James Monroe openly declared his doctrine that European powers had no business in the Americas – for they were now the colonial possession of the USA. For almost 200 years, this ‘principle’ has guided US policy, being reasserted by the entire US establishment, including presidents such as Ulysses S Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

Interestingly, the present secretary of state, John Kerry, mouthed a formal renunciation of the Monroe doctrine at a meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in 2013, but it is absolutely clear from his speech – and from the ongoing actions of the US throughout the Americas – that this was just a piece of ‘soft power’ window-dressing, and that the USA has not changed its desire to enforce its status as regional (and, indeed, world) hegemon.

For proof of this, we need look no further than Venezuela, which is presently being subjected to a relentless series of attacks designed to destabilise the progressive government of Nicolás Maduro.

These economic attacks include, among other things, the hoarding of consumer goods to cause shortages and price rises; criminal racketeering to buy up subsidised goods and export them for sale in neighbouring countries (particularly Columbia); paramilitary incursions (particularly from Columbia) into Venezuelan territory; and a programme of US-led and enforced sanctions that may well escalate into a full US economic embargo (blockade) of the country.

All this comes at a time when falling oil prices – also due to US manipulation of oil-producing nations, encouraging overproduction and low prices – are hitting Venezuela’s income hard.

All these measures are being ramped up in the approach to Venezuela’s parliamentary elections, which are to be held on 6 December 2015, and are designed to send a brutally frank message to the Venezuelan people: come to heel, accept our economic dominance and allow us to plunder your natural resources, or we will not let you enjoy the fruits of an egalitarian society in peace.

The Venezuelan government, led by President Maduro and the Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSV), is taking determined measures to counter the US’s attacks, and is confident it can secure another parliamentary victory and the breathing space to improve the lives of its people still further. In her speech, Helena points to many of the institutions founded by the late President Hugo Chávez – such as the Bolivarian Bank and new regional alliances like Petrocaribe and ALBA – which have a stabilising influence in Latin America and which remain as an egalitarian legacy, making the continent a very different place today than it was when Chávez came to power in 1999.

However, while a wealthy compradore elite continues to act in concert with the US imperialists as the ‘enemy within’ Venezuela, the entire model of the Bolivarian revolution bears within itself the seeds of its possible defeat. We wish the Venezuelan people well in hewing a path by which they will be able to secure and consolidate the people’s ownership of all their sources of natural and industrial wealth and finally oust the leeching comprador class that holds the country back from realising its true potential.

Excellent speeches were also given at the barbecue by Comrade Jorge Luis Garcia, Councillor of the Cuban embassy, and Comrade Hyon Hak Bong, ambassador of the DPR Korea. Each of these comrades brought to British workers a message of solidarity from the front line of the anti-imperialist struggle; connecting us with some of the world’s most staunch anti-imperialist, progressive and socialist movements, peoples and governments.

British workers have much to learn from the workers of these countries about how to build and maintain a movement for social emancipation.