Venezuela Extends Bolivarian Solidarity to Caribbean Neighbors

Venezuela's commitment to assisting its smaller Caribbean neighbors

by Earl Bousquet

The Maduro administration equated it to the solidarity shared between South American Liberator Simon Bolivar and Caribbean revolutionaries.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela says it is pleased to have come to the help of it Caribbean neighbors hit by Hurricane Irma and again threatened by Jose, which is quickly following in Irma’s deadly path.

Spokespersons for the administration led by President Nicolas Maduro loudly lauded Caracas’ rapid response, equating it to the solidarity shared between Venezuelan and South American Liberator Simon Bolivar and Caribbean revolutionaries who assisted in Venezuela’s war of independence.

Venezuela’s National Constituents Assembly (NCA) President and former Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez underlined the importance of the assistance as more proof of her country’s commitment to assisting its smaller Caribbean neighbors.

Among the Caribbean figures being remembered in Caracas today as it helps the small twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda is Jean Baptiste Bideau, a Saint Lucia-born seaman and shipwright who built boats for Bolivar and the revolutionaries, saved Bolivar’s life once, became a captain of Bolivar’s flagship and was made Governor of Eastern Venezuela after victory.

Bideau died on April 7, 1817, in the battle at Barcelona where he died defending Venezuela’s independence at Casa Fuerte, an abandoned religious hermitage, where his bones remain 200 years later.

Venezuela earlier this week responded in quick and real time to a direct appeal from Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister for assistance in the wake of utter devastation on both islands by Hurricane Irma.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne made a direct telephone call to President Nicolas Maduro Wednesday, following the utter devastation of the tiny island of Barbuda by the most powerful hurricane on record this century to hit the Atlantic region.

By Thursday, a Venezuelan Air Force aircraft had been dispatched with rescue and assistance material and supplies for Antigua and Barbuda comprising 40 volunteers with medical and other emergency supplies.

The first aircraft landed at VC Bird International Airport on September 5 with 10 tons or relief materials along with 20 firefighters and 34 civil defense personnel. The supplies included mattresses, medicines, boots and water.

The gesture to Barbuda came just days after Venezuela also donated US$5 million to support Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas, as well as free fuel supplies to emergency vehicles, plus a pledge of over US$3 million to assist the Mayor of Houston’s relief program.
Responding to the call for assistance from a smaller neighbor, Venezuela also ensured implementation of continued assistance through a roster of rescue personnel to ensure ongoing support to Barbuda.

By Friday, another Venezuelan Air Force aircraft was in Saint Lucia collecting water supplies for Barbuda, sourced and loaded by the Venezuelan Embassy in Saint Lucia, with Ambassador Leiff Escalona on hand to ensure timely loading and departure of the airplane's peaceful humanitarian mission.

Prime Minister Browne, who had visited Barbuda during what he described as a most awful lifelong experience, was particularly thankful for Venezuela’s lightning-fast response to his direct appeal to the Venezuelan President.

Under pressure from an accumulated list of U.S.-imposed sanctions over several years, Venezuela is now faced with the real possibility of a U.S. military invasion, which President Donald trump refuses to pull off the table.

Economic conditions, aided and abetted by nefarious political means, have multiplied the hardships on the ordinary Venezuelan while the tiny minority of well-off citizens face no such daily life hardships.

But even in the worst of times, Caracas has remained committed to its Bolivarian pledge to always assist and offer solidarity to its Eastern Caribbean neighbors in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), from where Simon Bolivar got much support the struggles and battles for Venezuela’s independence.

President Hugo Chavez set out from 1998 to re-establish the sort of interminable bond between Venezuela and the Eastern Caribbean.
Chavez personally attended the funerals of Dominican Prime Ministers Roosevelt ‘Rosie’ Douglas and Pierre Charles.
Venezuela is also party to a bilateral agreement with Antigua that has seen the ALBA Bank support investments in tourism and petroleum on the twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda.

Under Chavez and Maduro, Caracas has strengthened its Bolivarian ties with the Eastern Caribbean through PetroCaribe and ALBA, two entities that have ensured the beneficiary nations – large and small – enjoy near-zero interest charges and seemingly endless years to repay related petroleum and other related loans.

The United States has fought hard – albeit unsuccessfully so far – to urge an influence Caribbean states to wean themselves off their reliance on dependable fuel supplies at low cost from Venezuela (urging them to either switch to ‘shale’ gas with all its ‘fracking’ risks) or to select Mexico as another supposedly more dependent supplier.

The Venezuela help to Barbuda (and Antigua) also comes at a time when several public, private and non-government efforts are under way to provide additional direct help to Barbuda.

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Dr. Jacqueline Bird, a prominent Antiguan national with much exposure in Saint Lucia and the rest of the OECS, is working with others to access and provide any possible additional relief that citizens of the neighboring islands can and are willing to offer.

Other individuals and entities are also coming together to garner and deliver as much aid and assistance that can be provided by private and non-governmental sources.

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China Rejects New US Sanctions Against Venezuela, Calls for Internal Solutions

“The present problem in Venezuela should be resolved by the Venezuelan government and the people themselves,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

China has rejected new U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, calling for an end to foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the South American country and adding that unilateral sanctions have historically only complicated situations.

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“The present problem in Venezuela should be resolved by the Venezuelan government and the people themselves,” Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said during a news briefing.
“The experience of history shows that outside interference or unilateral sanctions will make the situation even more complicated and will not help resolve the actual problem,” Chunying said.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that prohibits dealings in new debt from the Venezuelan government or its state oil company Friday in an effort to halt financing that the White House said fuels Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s “dictatorship.”

Earlier this month, China said it believed voting in Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly election was “generally held smoothly,” brushing off condemnation from the United States, the European Union and other U.S. allied countries.

As the United States cranks up its threats and actions against Venezuela, China has remained a strong ally to the Bolivarian nation, continuing to honor their business relationships and offering new oil deals.

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Additional support for Venezuela was expressed by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, former Dominican President Leonel Fernandez and former Panamanian President Martin Torrijos during a meeting with the former state dignitaries where the three condemned the financial and political pressure brought on by the U.S. due to the sanctions and threats of military intervention.

The three former heads of state criticized the financial sanctions imposed by the United States and the proposal of a military intervention to solve the Venezuelan crisis. "We consider that the sanctions and the hypothesis put forward by a military intervention do not contribute to an intelligent and constructive solution."

Following Trump’s statement earlier this month, where the president stated that a “military option” to resolve Venezuela’s situation was not off the table, even right-wing allies in Latin America condemned the military threat.

Venezuela's Chavistas register highest vote since 2012 in Constituent Assembly election

The National Constituent Assembly elected in Venezuela yesterday with the sole support of the Chavistas registered more than 8 million votes, or 41.53% of the electorate.

This was substantially more than the 7 million votes for Nicolás Maduro in the 2013 presidential elections and much more than the 5.5 million votes for the Chavista coalition in the 2015 legislative elections, when the opposition won 7.7 million votes largely thanks to the abstention of some two million former Chavista supporters. The country’s opposition parties, currently in control of the National Assembly, boycotted the election.

Among the 545 constituentes elected were First Lady Cilia Flores, the first Vice-President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) Diosdado Cabello, and the former foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez. The results were announced by the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE) Tibisay Lucena around midnight last night. So many Venezuelans lined up to vote that the electoral process was extended to 10:30 p.m.

The newly elected Constituent Assembly is made up of 364 members elected by territorial constituency -- one per municipality, two per state capital and seven per Capital District (Caracas) -- and 181 according to social or class sector (24 students, 8 peasants and fishers, 5 business people, 5 disabled, 28 pensioners, 24 communal council representatives, 79 workers and 8 indigenous (the latter to be elected this Tuesday in assemblies to be held in three states).

The National Constituent Assembly (ANC) will begin sitting 72 hours after the official declaration of those elected. Maduro has indicated that it will be tasked with reforms of the economic and justice systems, reaffirmation of the pluricultural character of the country, the “preservation of life on the planet, “and the constitutional recognition of the all the government social and cultural missions and the Communal Power. In popular assemblies held throughout the country during the three months prior to yesterday’s vote some 22 sectors and social movements (communes, workers, cultural and environmental collectives, etc.) debated and adopted proposals for action by the ANC.

Maduro, in his victory speech last night, said the ANC will, among other tasks, take action against the "parasitical bourgeoisie," largely held responsible for the country's current economic crisis. (La Razo, Crore del Orinoco.)

For more on the election and the immediate tasks facing the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, see

George Ciccariello-Maher, Which Way Out of the Venezuelan Crisis?
Joe Emersberger, Trump Is Not the Venezuelan Supreme Court
Boaventura de Sousa Santos, In Defence of Venezuela

Venezuela is not alone: To U.S. and Canada - Hands off!

Former Ambassador Julio Escalona said that some of the diplomatic tactics currently being used against Venezuela mirror those used against Libya. He said that U.S. aggression against the South American country is precluded by worldwide support for the Bolivarian Revolution.

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During an interview with VTV, Escalona said that Venezuela holds important positions in international organizations and enjoys warm relations with most countries, debunking claims that it is a rogue nation.

“It is false that Venezuela is isolated,” Escalona said. “It was impossible to defeat Venezuela in the Organization of American States (OAS) because Venezuela chairs the Non-Aligned Movement.”

Escalona also raised Venezuela’s work alongside for important U.N. institutions, such as the Human Rights Council, the Security Council and the Decolonization Commision. He added that some of the diplomatic tactics currently being used against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro mirror those used against murdered Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“They are applying here, in some sense, the Libyan model. They succeeded in having the Arab League condemn Libya, they managed to isolate it diplomatically. Once isolated, it took to the Security Council and condemned Libya. That is what they wanted in Venezuela,” Escalona said.

“They wanted the OAS to condemn Venezuela to then apply everything that has the imperial plan and that is why they invented the plebiscite, the so-called popular consultation.”

Escalona, however, reaffirmed that the United States has not been able to attack Venezuela in the same way because it is not isolated internationally.

Russia, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ecuador, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and several other countries have commissioned support for Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution against U.S. aggression. They have also condemned U.S.-backed right-wing protests in Venezuela, which have since claimed at least 95 lives.

Long live the Bolivarian revolution!