Venezuela: US sets stage to undermine elections

Maria Corina Machado is a name we will hear repeatedly as Venezuela heads towards presidential elections in July. Machado, of hard-right party ‘Vente Venezuela’, is the US candidate of choice, despite being disqualified from running for political office for 15 years on the basis of corruption allegations – to say nothing of her well-documented complicity in coups, destabilisation and assassination attempts. While the Plataforma Unitaria Democratica (PUD) opposition coalition she leads has been forced to propose a little-known former diplomat, Edmundo Gonzalez, as proxy to officially stand in her stead, she has cast herself as a figurehead for the enemies of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution and remains the poster girl of US imperialism as it prepares the ground to once again delegitimise Venezuela’s elections and provide a pretext for the resumption of sanctions.


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Venezuela: Britain escalates Guyana tensions

The Essequibo lies on the north-east coast of South America. Ostensibly it forms part of the territory of Guyana though neighbouring Venezuela has disputed the border for over a century. Today, tensions have been reignited due to the discovery of massive oil fields in disputed offshore waters.


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Venezuela sanctions relief: temporary, coercive and conditional

Following the ‘Barbados agreement’ struck between Venezuela’s Socialist Party (PSUV) government and the US-backed opposition, Unitary Platform, the US has temporarily eased sanctions. The deal is conditional on Venezuela meeting ever-changing US goal-posts for elections in 2024. As the US Treasury has made clear, it is ‘prepared to amend or revoke authorisations at any time... All other restrictions imposed by the United States on Venezuela remain in place’.


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Venezuela: reform strengthens popular power

El Panel Commune

On 22 June Venezuela's National Assembly approved a major reform to the 'Organic Law of Communal Councils'. Celebrated by communal activists and deputies in parliament, this is a victory for socialist forces, placing popular power back on the agenda. Communal councils and communes, structures of participatory democracy and collectivised production, are a vehicle for working class power in Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution; yet they exist alongside traditional forms of bourgeois democracy. The ruling PSUV socialist party is an electoral coalition, containing radical currents committed to socialist revolution alongside self-serving capitalists hungry for state contracts. Recently, in the face of asphyxiating US sanctions which have cost an estimated $350bn, the PSUV government has pursued capitalist solutions, handing over land, state-owned industries and property to big business. Private profits have grown whilst communes have clamoured for resources. The communal movement has pushed back against this trend and finally secured a reform that recognises and enhances the ability of the working class to organise at grassroots level.


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Venezuela ‘Theft of the century’

In April, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) gave the green light to auction off shares of the Venezuelan-owned CITGO Petroleum Corporation. CITGO refines, transports and sells petroleum and other fuels and lubricants. Despite being based in the US state of Texas, the company is majority-owned by Venezuela’s national oil company PDVSA. With three refineries and 4,000 petrol stations, CITGO is worth $10bn. Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez rightly denounced the OFAC decision as ‘the theft of the century’.


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Goodbye, Guaido: Venezuela remains defiant

RCG protest for Venezuela at the Bank of England (photo: FRFI)

For once we can wholeheartedly agree with the capitalist press – the farcical ‘interim presidency’ of Juan Guaido in Venezuela has been, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, a ‘spectacular failure’. Rocketing from obscurity in January 2019 by swearing himself in as ‘president’ on a street corner, Guaido was instantly recognised by the US, Britain and the imperialist West as the rightful leader of Venezuela. Guaido has never stood in an election. His make-believe ‘presidency’ was always predicated on the US refusal to recognise Venezuela’s 2018 elections in which Socialist Party (PSUV) President Nicolas Maduro won 67% of the vote. Devoid of any real power, all Guaido has presided over is a string of ludicrous coup attempts; from snapping selfies with Colombian narco-traffickers and attempting to manufacture a USAID invasion of Venezuela at the border, to a failed military putsch with a handful of treacherous officers, to the infamous ‘bay of piglets’ flop of a mercenary invasion. Each time Guaido’s antics have been extinguished by Venezuela’s revolutionary working class and poor – organised, disciplined and ready to defend their sovereignty. 


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Venezuela: US offers sanctions relief as economy strengthens

ANSWER coalition demands no sanctions against Venezuela

The imperialist sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine have had a sharp impact on global oil supplies, leaving major states casting around for new sources of the precious commodity. It is this desperation that drove US officials to travel to Caracas in March to negotiate with President Nicolas Maduro, leading to the announcement by the US government on 17 May that it will lift some sanctions on Venezuela, authorising US and European oil companies to ‘negotiate and restart operations’. Whilst the US has used the opportunity to wring concessions out of Venezuela’s socialist government, forcing it back into negotiations with a discredited opposition, the relaxation of the oil embargo will bring significant benefits to a Venezuelan economy already beginning to emerge from the worst effects of years of US sanctions. SAM McGILL reports.


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US eyes Venezuelan oil as tensions escalate

Nicolas Maduro

On 5 March, US envoys travelled to Caracas for the first time in 20 years, desperate to secure energy imports amidst the deepening crisis over Ukraine. They met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Since 2018, the US has refused to recognise the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) government, using this as a pretext to ramp up sanctions, launch a new round of opposition destabilisation and isolate Venezuela diplomatically. Having defied these attacks and withstood the devastating economic and social consequences, today the Bolivarian Republic stands strong. SAM McGILL reports.


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Return the gold to Venezuela!

On 8-9 January the Revolutionary Communist Group and supporters of its newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! took to the streets demanding that Britain return $1.8bn of gold to Venezuela.


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Venezuela: mega-elections see gains for socialist forces

Popular rally calling for participation in the 6 December elecitons (photo: Orinoco Tribune)

On 21 November, Venezuela headed to the polls. Over 70,000 candidates from 111 political parties competed for 3,082 posts, encompassing governors, mayors, state legislators and councillors. The process underwent 16 different audits and took place under the watchful eyes of over 300 international electoral observers from 55 countries, including official missions from the UN, European Union, Carter Centre (US) and the Latin American Council on Electoral Experts (CEELA). Following the failure of a four-year electoral boycott and coup-mongering efforts led by self-declared ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido, the hardline US-backed opposition returned to the ballot box. Turnout was 42%, significantly higher than the 30% turnout for 2020’s parliamentary elections. 


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British Supreme Court upholds theft of Venezuela's gold

RCG demonstration outside the Bank of Enlgand, 2020 (photo: FRFI)

In a criminal ruling on 20 December, Britain's Supreme Court recognised as the owner of $1.8bn of gold held in the Bank of England's vaults, not the legitimate socialist government of Venezuela, but rather the discredited opposition ‘interim president’, Juan Guaido – the failed puppet of US imperialism. In its ruling, the court recognised that the British government 'unequivocally' recognised Guaido – a stooge who now holds no elected position and no legitimacy within the country, even amongst the fractured opposition – as Venezuela’s head of state. This is utter piracy and runs roughshod over the rights of millions of Venezuelan people who elected Nicolas Maduro President of Venezuela in 2018 with 67% of the vote.  Imperialist Britain sees fit to lecture the world on 'fundamental values', yet from Afghanistan to Bolivia, Kenya to Venezuela,  demonstrates nothing but contempt for democracy, especially exercised by poor people in former colonies, demanding control over their resources. The ruling sends a warning message to any of the 30 countries whose central banks store gold bullion in the Bank of England's vaults – 'Britain is a rogue state, step out of line, oppose Rule Britannia and we will confiscate your gold.'


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US rides roughshod over Venezuelan sovereignty

Street art of Alex Saab

On 16 October 2021, Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab was extradited to the US from the west African archipelago state of Cape Verde on bogus charges of 'money laundering'. In June 2020, Saab was en route to Iran on a humanitarian mission to secure shipments of food, medicines and fuel on behalf of Venezuela's socialist government when his plane stopped to refuel in Cape Verde. He was detained at the behest of the US and kept in prison until his extradition. Saab is not wanted for violating any laws in Cape Verde or Venezuela. In an investigation into Saab’s transactions with Swiss banks, the Swiss government found no evidence of money laundering. The Colombian-born businessman was first granted diplomatic immunity in 2018 when he was appointed as a Special Envoy to Russia and Iran. Following his detention in 2020, he was additionally appointed as Alternate Venezuelan ambassador to the African Union. Lawyers defending Saab point to a raft of flagrant irregularities and disrespect for international protocol:


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Venezuela: imperialism forced to the negotiating table

Venezuelan negotiators in Mexico City

Renewed negotiations between the United Socialist Party (PSUV) government of Nicolas Maduro and the right-wing ‘Unitary Platform of Venezuela’ began in August in Mexico. Despite Covid-19 and the impact of crushing sanctions on the economy, the PSUV sits at the negotiating table in its strongest position for years. Imperialism’s great hope for ‘regime change’ has failed; self-declared ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido is increasingly a nonentity, and the opposition has been left fractured and weak.


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Going for gold: imperialist hypocrisy on Venezuela exposed

RCG protest demanding the Bank of England return Venezuela's gold (photo: FRFI)

With breath-taking arrogance, the British government has set itself up as the arbiter of who is the rightful head of a sovereign state. In papers submitted to the Supreme Court in London, as a new case began on 19 July over Venezuelan gold held by the Bank of England, the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab attacked what he called the ‘illegitimate regime’ of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (elected in 2018 with 67% of the vote), claiming that ‘the UK government has the right to decide who to recognise as the legitimate head of a foreign state’.


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Venezuela: popular participation is key

Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution is at a crucial juncture. A US-led blockade has devastated the economy. GDP has contracted 70% since 2013. Oil exports are severely restricted. International reserves have plummeted from $20bn in 2013 to $6bn. Secondary sanctions cut off fuel for agriculture and transport. $30bn of Venezuelan assets are frozen worldwide, including $1.8bn of gold withheld by the Bank of England. The currency is effectively demonetised, depreciated from $1 to 8 Bolivars to $1 to 1 million Sovereign Bolivars (a new currency introduced in 2018 wiping five zeros off the Bolivar). Hyperinflation has stripped purchasing power for the working class by an estimated 99%, hammering living standards.


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Scathing UN report on deadly Venezuelan sanctions

Protest rally in support of Venezuela

On 12 February 2021, UN rapporteur Alena Douhan released a report from her 12-day visit to Venezuela to investigate the effect of the comprehensive US and EU sanctions placed on the anti-imperialist state. In the report she condemns the sanctions and urges countries to lift their blockade, citing the widespread damage to Venezuelan civilians and its infrastructure. CANDICE STARLING  reports.


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Britain’s covert war on Venezuela

Demonstration in Brazil thanking Venezuela for medical aid supplies

The investigative journalism website Declassified UK has uncovered new evidence of Britain’s ongoing attempts to undermine Venezuela’s socialist government. In 2020, the British government initiated a project designed to promote Venezuelan opposition media; a separate programme, Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), has backed Venezuelan opposition campaigns to the tune of £75,000 since 2016. The British government is the sole external funder of Transparencia Venezuela, which has been organising an opposition coalition since 2019. Last year, the left-wing news website The Canary exposed a secret ‘Venezuela reconstruction unit’ inside the British Foreign office.


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Venezuela: Sanctions bite as nation heads to the polls

Solidarity protest in New York, US

Update: Venezuela's Socialist Party wins super-majority.

In the 6 December 2020 National Assembly elections, the PSUV and the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP) won 69% of the vote, gaining control of 253 out of 277 seats in the incoming parliament. Turnout was low for Venezuela, at 30.5%, with participation hampered by crushing sanctions and economic crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic and a boycott from the hard-right section of the opposition. Nevertheless, the vote provides the PSUV governing party with a super-majority, retaking control of the legislative power from the opposition coalition which triumphed in the last parliamentary elections of 2015. Combined opposition parties won 28% of the vote. The Popular Revolutionary Alternative, running on a communist party (PCV) ticket won 3% of the vote, taking just one seat in the new parliament.  The election ended the stalemate between other branches of Venezuela's government and the opposition controlled National Assembly which has been declared in contempt of the supreme court since 2016 due to allegations of voter fraud and the failure to re-run elections for three seats. The election also puts an end to Juan Guaido's increasingly tenuous claim as interim president. This puppet of US imperialism had sworn himself in as president in January 2019 based on his assumption of the rotating position of the Head of the National Assembly in 2019 and led a string of failed coup attempts against PSUV president Nicolas Maduro. Under orders from the Trump administration, Guaido boycotted 2020's parliamentary elections, his popularity having hit rock bottom. Nevertheless, the US, the European parliament and Britain continue to recognise him as 'interim president'.


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Venezuela: human rights hypocrisy offers cover for imperialist intervention

USS Nitze off the coast of Venezuela, 2019 (photo: US Navy)

On 16 September, the Fact-Finding Mission of the UN Human Rights Council published a report on Venezuela, accusing state officials, including Socialist Party (PSUV) President Nicolas Maduro, of ordering arbitrary killings, torture and other crimes against humanity. This spurious report completely fails to mention the suffocating US sanctions against Venezuela, described as crimes against humanity by the former UN rapporteur Alfred de Zayas last year. Its extreme bias reflects the politicisation of the human rights industry and its role as a mechanism for regime change. Venezuela’s biggest ‘crime’ is opposing US interests in Latin America and daring to propose a socialist agenda. SAM McGILL reports.


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International anti-imperialist unity on display at launch of Venezuelan solidarity institute

ISB logo

On the date of Venezuelan national hero Simon Bolivar’s 1815 letter from Jamaica, outlining his vision of anti-imperialist and revolutionary solidarity across the Americas, Venezuela launched their institute for international solidarity. On 6 September 2020 the Revolutionary Communist Group participated in the online launch of the Simon Bolivar Institute for Peace and Solidarity Among Peoples, hosted by Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza and President of the new institution Carlos Ron, who thanked the RCG for our solidarity campaigns and protest outside of the Bank of England demanding they return the £820 million of gold stolen from Venezuela.


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Britain’s scandalous withdrawal of recognition of President Maduro’s government

Thousands of Venezuelans rally in support of the Maduro government, 2019

The British government’s withdrawal of recognition from President Maduro’s government in Venezuela is intended to remove any legal obstacle to foreign intervention in that country. The attempts to use force against Maduro, directed by US imperialism, can now be undertaken without concern for international law. This is the key significance of the withdrawal of recognition. It is not some additional or secondary measure taken by imperialism against Venezuelan socialism, but rather it is fundamental to removing any international legal obligation against sabotage and coup mongering.


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Pirates of the Caribbean: Britain’s theft of Venezuela’s gold

‘It is theft … the most famous pirates in the 18th century were the English privateers, they all followed the British Crown … The UK violates international law and intends to steal Venezuelan resources.’
Venezuela foreign minister
Jorge Arreaza

On 2 July, in contravention of international law but in keeping with Britain’s piratical imperialism, London’s High Court of Justice ruled against the repatriation of 31 tonnes of gold to Venezuela. The Central Bank of Venezuela had requested the return of £820m worth of bullion held in the vaults of the Bank of England in order to fund emergency Covid-19 provisions. The lawsuit brought by Venezuela’s United Socialist Party (PSUV) government stipulated that the funds would be transferred to the United Nations Development Programme for the direct import of food, medicine and healthcare materials’ – yet coverage by the mainstream British press such as the BBC and The Guardian instead insinuated it was to be laundered by a ‘corrupt and crumbling regime’ (The Guardian, 25 June). The Bank of England, while purportedly ‘free from political influence’, acted directly in the service of the British government. The arch-reactionary former US security adviser, John Bolton, has written approvingly about the help given by Britain to US imperialism’s attempts to strangle the Venezuelan economy, specifically citing the former Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, as ‘delighted to cooperate on steps [the UK] could take, for example freezing Venezuelan gold deposits’.


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Venezuelan working class defies imperialist attacks

Venezuelan security forces with captured former US Green Berets

Like a scene out of Rambo, mercenaries on speedboats led by US special ops veterans raced towards Venezuela’s coast in two waves on 3-4 May. This was ‘Operation Gideon’, its aim: to capture high-ranking government officials, including President Nicolas Maduro, turn them over to the United States and overthrow Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution. The new coup-government was to be led by Juan Guaido, the opposition leader and self-styled president touted by the US and its allies as the face of ‘regime change’ since he swaggered onto the scene in 2019. Hollywood fantasy quickly evaporated, however, as these charlatans found themselves tied up, detained and defeated by an organised revolutionary Venezuelan people, determined to defend their sovereignty. SAM McGILL reports.


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Venezuela: the fight against Covid‑19 is the fight for socialism!

Communities across Venezuela are producing face masks, with local communal councils and communes distributing them for free to families, particularly to those most in need. (Páez Potencia/Facebook)

Free healthcare; house to house visits of doctors; online video consultations; food boxes delivered to seven million families; suspension of all residential and business rents; prohibition of lay-offs for the rest of the year; cash payments to all workers including in the self-employed, informal and private sector; prohibition of telecom companies cutting off phones and internet; payment of salaries of employees of small and medium businesses. This is a socialist response to the Covid-19 crisis, prioritising people not profit.


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No to imperialist aggression against Venezuela and Cuba

RCG in solidarity at the Venezuelan embassy

Rock Around The Blockade, campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group, condemns the escalation of US aggression against Venezuela and Cuba in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Trump administration's deployment of navy destroyers to patrol the Caribbean near Venezuela on 1 April is a declaration of war and the latest move in protracted efforts to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution. The US military deployment is part of a wider manoeuvre planned for the whole region involving aircraft and ground units, adding to deployments to Guyana and a major new military pact with Brazil, Venezuela's hostile neighbours. These actions will amount to the largest US military deployment in the region in the last 30 years.


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Revolutionary Youth: Venezuela's Otro Beta

At the anti-imperialist conference in Havana (November 2019) delegates from the RCG and Rock Around the Blockade spoke with activists from Venezuela involved in the youth movement Movimiento Somos Otro Beta to find out how the Bolivarian Revolution supports young people. Since Chavez's election in 1998 the Chavista movement has been building an alternative society and fighting for socialism against relentless economic, political and terrorist attacks undertaken by sections of the Venezuelan ruling class and their imperialist allies. Despite these crushing attacks, recently intensified by illegal sanctions (see FRFI 271), the Venezuelan government remains committed to directing revenue from state oil sales into housing, healthcare and education. 


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Venezuela: Guaido loses control as opposition fractures

Juan Guaido attempts to climb over a fence as a stunt

On 20 January, Venezuela’s reactionary would-be president, Juan Guaido, embarked on a whistle-stop tour of Europe which included meetings with the British and French prime ministers, European Union ministers and hosting a workshop at the Davos World Economic Forum to drum up support for more sanctions against Venezuela and funding for his own sinking ship. It was his first trip to Europe since he unilaterally declared himself president a year ago and was aimed at shoring up desperately-needed international support, even as his stock at home dwindles. On 5 January he lost his position as speaker of the National Assembly – a position he had used to falsely lay claim to the presidency. This princeling may have been crowned in the imperialist halls of Washington, London and Paris but in Caracas he is viewed as a busted flush even by his erstwhile allies. Sam McGill reports.


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Venezuela’s communes – the backbone of the revolution

Following the right-wing coup in Bolivia, there were mass protests in Venezuela in solidarity with Evo Morales and Bolivia’s indigenous movement. US-backed opposition politician Juan Guaido’s own anti-government street protests, called at the same time, drew a pitifully low turnout. After failing for a year to oust President Nicolas Maduro, Guaido has become increasingly irrelevant. Venezuela’s armed forces have reiterated their support for Maduro and his United Socialist Party (PSUV) government. The army was restructured following a failed coup in 2002 that saw rank-and-file soldiers defy orders and return socialist leader Hugo Chavez to power within 48 hours.


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Venezuela: Fighting the economic war ‘People to people’

The Unidos San Agustín Convive cooperative, Caracas (Photo: Venezuelanalysis / Ricardo Vaz)

An interview with the ‘Pueblo a Pueblo’ network

As US sanctions attempt to strangle Venezuela, costing over $130bn, blocking imports of food and medicine and contributing to the deaths of at least 40,000 people; popular power initiatives are fighting back, building an alternative to the shortages and inflation inflicted by the cruel blockade and economic crisis. One such initiative is Pueblo a Pueblo (‘People to People’), linking rural producers to communities in the cities, joining up production, distribution and consumption. This cuts out the speculators who buy in bulk to sell for sky-high prices, it undermines the smugglers who divert food over the border for resale in Colombia, it confronts the reliance on imports that so often distorts ythe economies of oil-producing nations. Not simply a farmers’ market, Pueblo a Pueblo sets prices and plans production through assemblies, organising with communes and cooperatives to ensure democratic distribution in working class barrios in the cities. Food is brought directly to organised events where a community meal is served as collectives bag up produce for participants to buy at prices 70% cheaper than on the market. It is initiatives such as these, often led by women, that are challenging the logic of capitalism and combating US sanctions. It is exactly this grassroots resistance, this participatory democracy in practice, which is supressed and censored in our capitalist media.


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