US-Venezuela relations and the need for a real solidarity movement

By Venezuelan Voices

Photo credit: Oswaldo Pacheco @ojpg72

As the new US government starts shifting away from some of Trump’s domestic and foreign policies, there is the enigma of what path it will follow regarding Venezuela. Trump’s policy was totally disastrous for the Venezuelan people. It was a policy of interference and economic aggression that aggravated the brutal crisis already suffered by the Venezuelan people as a consequence of decades of plundering policies by the Chávez and Maduro governments. Maduro launched a monstrous attack on the wages, union liberties and living conditions of the Venezuelan masses as early as 2013.

In addition to financial and oil sanctions established in 2017 and 2019, and the encouraging of a military coup since 2019, Trump also propped up the fiction of the Guaido interim government, facilitating its corrupt operations. Trump also stole substantial assets and funds from the Venezuelan State, using part of these -approximately US$ 600 million- for the xenophobic border wall with Mexico.

Of course for Trump, the suffering of the Venezuelan people was completely irrelevant to his policy decisions. Taking into account the long history of US official support for dictatorial client regimes in Latin America and the world, to this very day still valid in places like Egypt, Honduras and Haiti, the claims about worries for democracy in Venezuela are not to be taken seriously. Yet the fact is that, putting aside the complete lack of legitimacy for Trump’s stated goals in Venezuela, far from weakening the Chavista civil-military regime, his policy actually helped consolidate it and gave it the alibi of the “blockade” to blame on external factors the hunger and misery that millions of Venezuelans suffer under Maduro.

Trump not only inflated the corrupt and right-wing opposition sector. Also through Giuliani and other operators, corrupt negotiations with the Bolibourgeoisie that must be investigated took place, together with Trump’s real estate deals with members of the Chavista regime involved in money laundering of corrupt money.

Biden has not outlined a clear policy regarding Venezuela, but the record of the Democratic Party is terrible when it comes to interventionism in Latin America, from the invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 to the coup in Honduras in 2009 with Obama’s support.

Upon assuming the presidency, Biden has given continuity to the policy of maintaining a puppet “interim government” represented by Guaido. He did not announce any change regarding the oil and financial sanctions. So far, continuity is given to important elements of Trump’s policy, although there’s a symbolic gesture in the license issued on February 2 by the Office of Foreign Assets Control making minor changes to some of the sanctions related to Venezuelan port and airport activities. Maduro, who invested heavily in the US lobby industry during Trump’s government, will probably continue to pursue normalization, offering massive privatizations as an opportunity for US companies.

As the struggles against racism and police brutality, for women’s rights and workers’ strikes contributed to Trump’s defeat, we, as Venezuelan left opposition activists, want to engage in discussions and raise awareness in the US left and social movements about the need to fight for a halt in US aggressions against the Venezuelan people, while developing at the same time true solidarity with those who struggle for the rights of workers, women, indigenous peoples and peasants in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan people have the right to free themselves from Maduro’s oppressive rule, exercising the right of self-determination. There is nothing to be gained from imperialist interference, as it has been demonstrated, but solidarity between peoples is crucial.

Through popular denunciation and mobilization, pressure can be exerted to reverse oil and financial sanctions, prevent the confiscation or sale of Venezuelan state assets such as Citgo, and for official recognition of the illegal diversion of Venezuelan money for Trump’s wall. Also, to demand the release of all Venezuelan immigrants trapped in ICE concentration camps, as part of the struggle for the release of all detained immigrants and the closure of that infamous institution.

US oil companies use semi-slave labor in Venezuela; for example Chevron, Schlumberger and Halliburton have paid wages of less than $0.50 a day to their Venezuelan workers. It is very important to advocate for the end of this collusion between big US oil companies and the Venezuelan regime to abuse Venezuelan quasi-free labor, taking advantage of the repressive climate in the country.

DSA and other organizations of the left and the labor movement have the responsibility to speak out and demand an end to the sanctions, while also demonstrating true solidarity with those struggling against extreme misery and Maduro’s state terrorism.

The social and economic disaster has made Venezuela’s the second largest forced migration in the world after Syria in the last decade, with more than 5 million people displaced abroad. Many more survive in dire conditions inside the country. The only options are not either supporting imperialist intervention or supporting Maduro’s cynical, corrupt and repressive government, as it is often presented by most of the anti-war and left movements now, under a “solidarity with Venezuela” rhetoric.

It’s urgent to build a genuine solidarity movement.

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