Canada Openly Seeking “Regime Change” in Venezuela

by Yves Engler

April 2nd, 2018 - Is there no voice in Parliament willing to denounce Canadian interference in another country’s electoral process?

The Trudeau government is engaged in a wide-ranging campaign to weaken Venezuela’s elected government. In a bid to elicit “regime change,” Ottawa has worked to isolate Caracas, imposed sanctions, and supported the country’s opposition.

Recently, foreign minister Chrystia Freeland endorsed Peru’s decision to block Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from attending the mid-April Summit of the Americas in Lima. “ As Venezuela slides deeper into dictatorship, and as Venezuelans continue to suffer, Maduro’s participation at a hemispheric leaders’ summit would have been farcical,” Freeland noted. But, Freeland has no problem with the presence of Brazilian President Michel Temer, who doesn’t have any pretence of electoral legitimacy. Nor has she opposed the participation of Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez who defied that country’s constitution in running for a second term and then ‘won’ a highly questionable election.

Chrystia Freeland twists and turns on calling elections

Since the summer Freeland has participated in five meetings of the Lima Group, a collection of foreign ministers opposed to Venezuela’s elected government. As part of this initiative she declared that Canada wouldn’t recognize the upcoming presidential election. Two months ago she tweeted out that “ we reject this decision by the Gov of Venezuela to call these elections, as they do not give a reasonable amount of time to ensure free and fair elections” and then three weeks later Canada’s foreign minister “ demand [ed] that presidential elections be called with sufficient advance notice.” When the opposition and government agreed to push back the presidential election from April 22 to May 20, Freeland responded by tweeting “ Maduro regime’s decision to postpone Venezuela’s elections until May changes nothing.”

Another demand Freeland has made of the Venezuelan authorities is that international observers be allowed to monitor the election. Yet, the Venezuelan government’s vocal request for UN observers has been opposed by the country’s opposition alliance. Behind the scenes the US is undoubtedly lobbying the international body to reject Caracas’ request.

(Notwithstanding the partisan attacks, Venezuela has among the world’s most efficient, secure and transparent electoral systems. In 2012 former US President and head of the Carter Center Jimmy Carter stated, “ as a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”)

The third condition Freeland has imposed for respecting the election is “ that all Venezuelan political players be included in the election.” But, the Maduro government doesn’t have the power to release those found guilty of crimes and repatriate political figures who have fled the country to avoid criminal charges.

Alongside its impossible-to-meet conditions, Canadian officials have prodded Caribbean countries to join its anti-Venezuela campaign. At a Jamaica-Canada bilateral consultation three weeks ago Canadian officials brought up Venezuela and earlier in the year Freeland tweeted that “ Canada welcomes signatures by Saint Lucia & Guyana to Lima Group declaration.” Last month Freeland met Costa Rica’s vice minister of foreign affairs to discuss Venezuela and Canadian representatives were part of a recent session dealing with that country on the sidelines of a Group of 20 finance ministers meeting. Canadian officials are set to join an upcoming discussion of Venezuela called by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

United Nations Human Rights Council condemns economic sanctions of US and Canada, and EU

Following Washington’s lead, Ottawa imposed two rounds of sanctions on Venezuelan officials in the Fall. Last week the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning the economic sanctions the US, Canada and EU have adopted against Venezuela. It urged “states to refrain from imposing unilateral coercive measures (and) condemn(s) the continued unilateral application and enforcement by certain powers of such measures as tools of political or economic pressure.”

As I, Anthony Fenton, Neil A. Burron and others have detailed, Ottawa has supported opposition groups inside Venezuela. In August outgoing Canadian ambassador Ben Rowswell told the Ottawa Citizen: “ We established quite a significant internet presence inside Venezuela, so that we could then engage tens of thousands of Venezuelan citizens in a conversation on human rights. We became one of the most vocal embassies in speaking out on human rights issues and encouraging Venezuelans to speak out.”

In line with its policy of amplifying oppositional voices, on March 7 the Canadian Embassy in Caracas gave a human rights prize to Francisco Valencia, director of the Coalición de Organizaciones por el Derecho a la Salud y la Vida (CODEVIDA). Numerous media outlets reported on the award given to an aggressive opponent of the Venezuelan government. “ I believe that we are facing a criminal State”, Valencia told Crisis en Venezuela.

Ottawa guilty of interfering in electoral process of Venezuela

The Embassy’s human rights prize is co-sponsored with the Centro para la Paz y los Derechos Humanos. The director of that organization, Raúl Herrera, has repeatedly denounced the Venezuelan government. Six months ago Herrera said, “ the Venezuelan State systematically and repeatedly violates the Human Rights of Venezuelans and political prisoners.”

Clearly Ottawa is guilty of interfering in the electoral process of Venezuela. When Russia has been accused of (a much more mild) form of intervention every party in Parliament is quick to condemn them.

Has the NDP become so tied into the American Empire that it cannot point out this obvious hypocrisy?

Canada on Venezuelan conflict

Canada on wrong side of Venezuelan conflict

by Linda McQuaig

March 15, 2018 - In terms of foreign policy damage, whatever harm Justin Trudeau did by parading around India in colourful outfits is a nothing-burger compared to the severe hardship he is inflicting on Venezuela.

And yet media commentators have been full-throttle in denouncing the prime minister’s alleged wardrobe malfunction on his recent India trip while being silent – or downright supportive – of Trudeau’s decision last fall to join the Trump administration in imposing sanctions on the struggling South American nation.

Anyone following the international media coverage would conclude that the Venezuelan government is terribly autocratic and that Western nations, led by the U.S., have stepped in with sanctions out of concern over human rights abuses there.

A closer look suggests a different scenario that puts Western actions in a less laudable light: Washington is waging economic war against a nation that dared to rise up and reject U.S. control over its ample oil reserves.

The Obama administration targeted individual Venezuelans with sanctions, but the Trump administration’s sanctions are much broader, taking punishing aim at the country’s entire economy.

Sadly, Trudeau is backing up the U.S. bully, apparently hoping to win a reprieve from Trump’s arbitrary trade measures – a strategy that seems unfair to Venezuela and also likely futile. We’ll return to Canada’s sorry role in this saga in a moment.

Venezuela has been in Washington’s cross hairs ever since the dramatic 1998 election of Hugo Chavez, a charismatic, populist leader – and this is one case where the word “populist” legitimately applies.

Unlike the “populist” Donald Trump, Chavez actually came from humble roots as the child of black and Indian parents, and actually championed his country’s large peasant population.

Indeed, unlike many Third World leaders who siphon off their nation’s wealth in cahoots with foreign multinationals and local elites, Chavez enraged Washington by nationalizing Venezuela’s oil and redirecting the wealth to health care, education, housing and food for the poor.

Venezuela’s wealthy elite, angry about losing their privileged position, vowed to overthrow Chavez – and briefly did in a violent 2002 coup, with the help of Washington, before being repelled two days later when hundreds of thousands of pro-Chavez demonstrators from poor neighbourhoods took to the streets of Caracas.

Many in the elite had worked for the U.S.-owned oil industry when it effectively ran the oil-rich nation. And, like the Cuban elite after Fidel Castro nationalized U.S.-owned industry there, the Venezuelan elite has remained close to Washington.

After the failed 2002 coup, Venezuela’s elite concentrated on demonizing Chavez – and Nicolas Maduro, his hand-picked successor, who narrowly won election following Chavez’s death from cancer in 2013.

Although lacking Chavez’s charisma, Maduro has continued to win elections even as the country’s economy has plunged, along with world oil prices. Frustrated, the opposition has adopted increasingly violent tactics – including a bizarre attack last year when rebels dropped grenades from a helicopter on the country’s Supreme Court.

Alfred de Zayas, a UN-appointed expert sent to investigate the chaos last fall, met with dozens of opposition activists as well as church and human rights groups, and concluded that the Maduro regime has made “major mistakes including excessive force by the police.”

But de Zayas also found that popular support for the Chavez revolution remains strong. And he accused anti-government demonstrators of having “attacked hospitals, nursery schools, burned ambulances and buses in order to intimidate the people. Is this not classic terrorism?”

The UN expert also explained that the sanctions – which he considers reminiscent of U.S. measures against Chile’s Salvador Allende in the 1970s – are aggravating the suffering of Venezuelans, and he called for them to end. “That would be the greatest help,” he said.
But Canada refuses to listen. Our sanctions aren’t as broad as Trump’s, but they lend Canadian credibility to penalizing Venezuela, thereby providing political cover for the harsh U.S. measures.

And so we continue to inflict sanctions on Venezuela, citing the lofty goal of defending human rights – even while we actively trade and sell arms to full-fledged dictatorships, such as Saudi Arabia.

What’s going on in Venezuela is a bitter class war, with millions of poor people committed to defending a revolution carried out in their name, and Canada taking the side of the wealthy, well-armed opposition.

Linda McQuaig interviewed Hugo Chavez in Caracas in 2004 for a book she wrote on the geopolitics of oil.

Venezuela, a country besieged by the USA and Canada

Canada vs. Venezuela
Sat. March 24, 2018, University of Toronto
introduction by Maria Páez Victor to an event in defense of the Bolivarian revolution

Friends, Compañeros, good afternoon to you all.

Thank you so very much for being here today, expressing your solidarity with Venezuela, a country that is being besieged by the power of the USA and its allies, including Canada.

The economic war being waged against Venezuela is brutal: sabotage, hoarding, smuggling, fires, street gang violence, paramilitary raids on farmers and food delivery trucks, destroying electricity lines and black market and monetary manipulations. The object is of to destroy the Venezuelan economy and bring down its legitimate, democratic government. This USA economic war is not new, they did the same in Guatemala in the ‘50s, El Salvador in the 80s, Chile in the 70’s and is still trying in Cuba.

The sanctions imposed on Venezuela impede it from buying, selling, paying its international debts and even obtaining its own revenues from its US based CITGO oil company. Right now, as we speak, there are large ships loaded with food and medicine languishing off the port of La Guaira that are unable to unload because of the sanctions.

The reasons for this war are twofold:
One, is that Venezuela has the largest deposit of petroleum in the world, surpassing even those of Saudi Arabia. Powerful countries and oil companies wish to totally control it. They resent that the Venezuelan Bolivarian government considers oil the patrimony of its people, not corporations, and is using the revenues for social needs. Former Secretary of State Tillerson, who recently headed Exxon Mobil, had a particular interest in bringing down Venezuela: as Exxon is the only oil company not present in Venezuela because it refused to accept the country's constitutional control over its natural resources.

Secondly, Venezuela is a bad example for capitalism. Its Bolivarian Revolution has clear achievements:

• securing Venezuelan sovereignty over its oil and other natural resources,
• providing valuable public services for its people with the oil revenues,
• its participatory democracy and protection of human rights,
• reducing poverty and exclusion,
• its stated desire for a socialist system not a capitalist one,
• and its remarkable inroads towards regional solidarity and integration.

I am sure you have all read the atrocious coverage of Venezuela in the Canadian media, full of lies and exaggerations. One would think people are dying in the streets. Instead just this week we learned that extreme poverty has been reduced once again, now stands at 4.4%, even in these hard times’ because the social net has government priority.

The media coverage is not generally based on Canadian viewpoints since its source comes overwhelmingly from the regurgitation of biased reports of the NYT, Reuters, United Press and USA pundits. It is a shame that our media outlets rely on foreign USA views on Latin America and the Caribbean.

However, just last week Metro and the Toronto Star surprised us by publishing an excellent article on Venezuela written by that brilliant journalist, Linda McQuaig – who by the way, is the only major Canadian journalist ever to be given an interview by President Hugo Chávez. A barrage of vituperative Twitter insults fell upon her for having the audacity to write positively on Venezuela.

For those of us who have chosen to live in this beautiful land of Canada, with its peace-loving and generous people, that has welcomed so many of us with open arms, it is a source of great distress to see the present Federal Government engaged in illegal sanctions clearly to effect “regime change” in Venezuela.

Venezuela, is a country that has never demonstrated anything but friendship towards Canada, that is no threat whatsoever to the Canadian people or their interests.

These sanctions are in direct violation of the fundamental principles of the United Nations and Organization of American States, in other words, of international law, as they impinge on a country’s sovereignty and internal affairs.

Minister Christia Freeland has stomped all over the ideals held in the Canadian imagination of fair dealing, respect of international law and peacekeeping. Freeland’s hostile policy towards Venezuela frontally contradicts Canada’s traditional constructive engagement approach.

She is prepared to stoop very low and drag down the reputation of this fine country just to get on the “good” side of Trump (if he has one) to preserve NAFTA, whatever its shortcomings may be.

I am of the mind that Freeland would never have found any role in the cabinets of Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien.

Let us, remember as we discuss the illegal - and I would forthrightly state, immoral- USA, EU and Canadian sanctions against Venezuela, that the government of the day is not Canada.

By political convention it may represent the country, but Canada’s people are greater than any particular administration.

Today we will be discussing Canada’s foreign policy. And it behooves us to understand that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is among the ministries, the most unresponsive to ordinary citizens. For us, it is shrouded in secrecy with very little attempt to really consult the citizens on whose behalf they make portentous decisions.

We have organized this event to alert Canadians of the damage that Minister Freeland is doing to a democratic, peaceful, and friendly country in their name.

Printed by permission of Dr. Maria Paez Victor

ALBA Leaders Praise Chavez Legacy, Slam US Attacks on Venezuela

The member states are meeting in Caracas to discuss regional trade and the U.S.-led attacks on Venezuela.

The summit of presidents of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, or ALBA, kicked off in Caracas Monday moments after The Venezuelan President Maduro addressed Venezuelans alongside leaders of Latin American and Caribbean member states who are attending the meeting.

Venezuela Describes US as 'World's Greatest Victimizer'

Leaders arrived in the capital Caracas Monday morning as they slammed the United States-led attacks against Venezuela's sovereignty and honored late President Hugo Chavez on the 5th anniversary of his death. Puerto Rico’s revolutionary Oscar López Rivera also attended the ALBA summit as he completes his tour in Venezuela.

"Five years ago I had to give the hardest news of my life. Five years later we remember Chavez, no longer with tears, but with a smile and commitment to the future of the Fatherland," Maduro said marking the 5th anniversary of the death of late President Chavez before kicking off the ALBA summit. "Today with more security and strength than ever we say that the Venezuelan people are more Chavista than ever. Chávez lives!"

"On Sunday, May 20th we will have elections. We are deciding between peace and violence; Democracy or coups; Between the independence or the submission of the Fatherland," the president added referring to the upcoming presidential election in hwich he is a candidate.

Venezuela: Oscar Lopez Rivera Pays Homage to Late Hugo Chavez
During his opening address to ALBA, Maduro gave a warm welcome to Puerto Rican independence hero Oscar Lopez Rivera at the ALBA summit. He went on to call for more ALBA meetings in order to address "vital issues for the Latin American and Caribbean region."

"ALBA has the need to meet in a periodic way, work meetings that allow us to advance in the political, economic challenges of our people," he added at the group-s 15th meeting taking place at Miraflores Presidential Palace.

The Venezuelan leader further denounced attacks against his country by regional right/wing governments. "We have been discussing the theme of the Summit of the Americas. We discussed the illegal attempt of the Government of Peru to discriminate against Venezuela and prohibit the participation of our country." Maduro stressed that "Venezuela will not be shut up by anyone."

He then went on to discuss his country’s innovative cyber currency Petro and called for including it in ALBA’s economic agenda.

Raúl Castro then addressed the leaders at the opening session of ALBA saying that threats against Venezuela also threaten peace throughout the region.

"We proclaim the unwavering support for the Bolivarian Revolution and the civic-military union of its people commanded by comrade Nicolas Maduro," Raúl told his counterparts at the summit. "The United States since 1999 when Comandante Chavez has become president, they have resorted to methods of unconventional warfare in order to subdue this country, which owns enormous natural wealth."

He added that only the people of Venezuela can solve any problems faced by their nation and further slammed Peru for attempting to prevent Maduro from attending the Summit of the Americas.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega echoed a similar sentiment as he hailed the legacy of Chavez recognizing that ALBA and other regional independent organizations would have never been possible without the late leader’s efforts. "The U.S. tries again to provoke the disintegration of what we have managed to build...This is a disrespectful attitude to the people of Venezuela and Latin America."

“We see clearly the attempt to delegitimize the revolutionary process of Venezuela that has been advancing in spite of challenges and difficulties. In the face of violence, the people have always called for peace,” Ortega stressed.

Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit also recognized the legacy of Chavez before slamming intervention attempts into the internal affairs of Venezuela. “Peru's attitude is a flagrant violation of international law. They are denying the people of Venezuela their right to participate. We condemn this decision.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales then took the stage calling on leaders to “strengthen our unity as countries that seek equality for humanity.” He then slammed the complicity of some regional governments in the attacks on Venezuela. “I cannot believe that some Latin American presidents are instruments of the American Empire.”

President Maduro later honored Puerto Rico’s revolutionary Oscar López Rivera by giving him a replica Simon Bolivar’s Sword.

Meanwhile Ecuadorean Minister of Defense Patricio Zambrano said the the Summit of the Americas should be a space for meeting and dialogue between countries, "and not an organism of exclusion." Zambrano's comments were echoed by the head of the delegation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines who slammed what Peru is doing as “an attack on the Latin American unity that we can not allow.”

The Saint Vincent delegate further called on President maduro to “continue with the legacy of Chavez, you have suffered unthinkable pressures, you have joined the people of Venezuela.”

The meeting will also feature events in memory of Bolivarian Revolution leader and former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who passed away on March 5, 2013.

Meanwhile, an event tilted World Day in Solidarity with Venezuela will also take place Monday in the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas, where more than 800 people from social movements and organizations will debate communication, social rights issues and national sovereignty