By Katu Arkonada on February 2, 2019

On January 23, 2019, Venezuela entered a new phase of a coup that began on April 11, 2002,  increased in 2013 after the death of Commander Chavez and intensified with the opposition violence of the guarimbas in 2014 and 2017.

The hybrid war that Venezuela is living in has disinformation and media manipulation as one of its main combat weapons. We read and hear lies that analysts who have never been in Venezuela repeat over and over enough times that they become reality for public opinion. Here are 10 of the most prevalent lies:

  1. Venezuela has two presidents: Nothing could be further from the truth. Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution establishes that the President’s position remains intact unless, he dies, resigns, dismissed by decree by the Supreme Court of Justice, becomes physically or mentally incapacitated by a decree of the medical board, or he abandons his position something Maduro has not done.

Guaidó does not have any Constitutional argument to proclaim himself President, since there is no absolute fault of the head of State, who took the oath as established in Article 231 of the Constitution on January 10 and witnessed before the Supreme Court of Justice. In addition, according to that same Constitution, if the President does leave office it is the Vice President who must assume the presidency and call elections.

  1. Guaidó has the support of the international community: Beyond the hypocrisy of calling the West an international community, on January 10 at Maduro’s inauguration there were diplomatic representations from more than 80 countries, from Russia to China, the Vatican, the Arab League and the African Union. These countries continue to maintain diplomatic relations with the government headed by Nicolas Maduro. Guaidó is recognized by the same countries that on January 10 did not recognize Maduro; the United States and the so called Lima Group (except Mexico). Only Georgia (because of its territorial dispute with Russia), Australia and Israel have joined.
  2. Guaidó is different from the violent opposition: Guaidó is a deputy from Voluntad Popular, a political party that already ignored the 2013 presidential elections and whose leader, Leopoldo López, is condemned for being the intellectual author of “La salida”, which promoted the 2014 guarimbas, resulting in 43 deaths and hundreds of injured people.
  3. The National Assembly is the only legitimate body: This is not true either. Article 348 of the Venezuelan Constitution authorizes the President, with the Council of Ministers, to convene a Constituent Assembly, and article 349 defines that the constituted powers (National Assembly) may not in any way impede the decisions of the Constituent Assembly. The decision to convene the Constituent Assembly was an act of shrewdness on the part of Chavismo to circumvent the blockade of the National Assembly that may or may not like it, but it was all carried out with strict adherence to the Constitution.
  4. Maduro was fraudulently re-elected in an election without opposition: Another lie that is repeated as a mantra. The elections of May 20, 2018 were called by the same National Electoral Council (CNE) and using the same electoral system with which Guaidó became a deputy. There were three opposition candidates who obtained a combined 33% of the votes and the rules agreed in the dialogue table held in the Dominican Republic between the Venezuelan government and the opposition, with the former Spanish president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero acting as mediator, who also later participated as an observer in the presidential election.
  5. There is no democracy in Venezuela: Since 1998 there have been five presidential elections, four parliamentary elections, six regional elections, four municipal elections, four constitutional referendums and one national consultation. They total 23 elections in 20 years. All of this with the same existing electoral system, considered the most secure in the world by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
  6. There is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela: There is no doubt that in Venezuela there is an economic crisis right now, the fruit of an economic war that began after Chávez’s death, and is being excelerated by sanctions by the United States Congress (December 2014), after Barack Obama’s executive order declaring Venezuela a danger to the national security of the United States. This was extended and expanded by Trump in August 2017 with sanctions that have prevented Venezuela from purchasing food and medicine.

This crisis has provoked an economic migration that has been characterized and disguised as political exile, something that the data disprove. (Between January and August 2018, the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid received 3,500 asylum requests from Venezuelans, compared to  6,523 requests for refugees from Honduras, almost twice as many).

  1. Human Rights are violated in Venezuela: Let’s analyze the figures of the guarimbas of 2017;131 people died, 13 of whom were shot by security forces (for which there are 40 members were arrested and prosecuted); nine members of the different police and Bolivarian National Guard killed; five people burned alive or lynched by the opposition. The rest of the dead were mostly burned while handling explosives or attempting to bypass opposition barricades.
  2. In Venezuela there is no freedom of expression: Any person only has to see the images of Guaidó speaking before dozens of microphones in the middle of the street, or giving interviews to international media every day to know that this is not true. Furthermore, in Venezuela, unlike Mexico, journalists are not murdered or disappear for doing their job.
  3. The international community is concerned about the state of democracy in Venezuela: The “international community,” represented by the United States and the Lima Group, is not concerned about the prisoners tortured in Guantánamo, it is not concerned about the social leaders and human rights defenders who are murdered daily in Colombia, it is not concerned about the caravans of migrants fleeing the doctrine of neoliberal shock in Honduras, nor is it concerned about the relations of Bolsonaro’s sons with the paramilitary militias who murdered Marielle Franco.

No one judges the serious violations of human rights in those countries of the Lima Group and its ally the United States. What hides behind that concern is not called democracy, it is called oil, it is called gold, and it is called coltan.

In addition, they no longer worry about hiding any of their regime change plans, with former CIA Director Mike Pompeo speaking via videoconference to the Lima Group, or naming  Elliott Abrams, a veteran of the Reagan administration, promoter of death squads in El Salvador and the Contras in Nicaragua, as special envoy for Venezuela.

The conflict, therefore, is geopolitical and is disputed in two scenarios, that of diplomacy and the media that has melded into a hybrid war that bombards us with so much information that leaves us inundated by disinformation.

To these two scenarios are added two variables to complete the equation, the freezing of economic assets and the possible introduction of mercenaries into Venezuelan territory. This is an equation more similar to the warlike conflicts in the Middle East than to the new generation of soft coups in Latin America, which use parliamentary or judicial channels, as colleagues like Marco Teruggi have written about while reporting and analyzing from Venezuela streets.

To clear this equation, in addition to the civil-military unity that they are trying to crack in Venezuela, the mediation proposal of the governments of Mexico and Uruguay, seconded by Pope Francisco, and hopefully by the United Nations, seems to be the only possible way so that this scenario does not lead to more violence and suffering for the Venezuelan people.

The peace of Venezuela, and of all Latin America, depends on it.

Source: Cubadebate, translation, Resumen Latinoamericano, North American bureau

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