The following article by Matt Willgress was originally published by the Morning Star. It explains the Executive Order on Venezuela recently signed by President Obama and how Latin America’s left leaders have responded to this clear declaration from the US that it is aiming for regime change and the overturn of the revolution.
On March 9 US President Barack Obama signed an executive order declaring “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela” and imposed a further round of sanctions on the South American country.
Following the introduction of sanctions earlier in the year and numerous hostile statements from leading figures in the US administration, including John Kerry and Joe Biden, this latest act of aggression has sent out a clear signal that the US has prioritised the overthrow of the elected government.
It is also remarkably similar to an order signed by Ronald Reagan in 1985 against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, which added presidential authority to the destabilisation of a country which at the time — like Venezuela today — was trying to build a different type of society.
Others have drawn parallels to the US invasion of Panama and still more similarities between the situation in Venezuela today and the build up to Pinochet’s US-backed coup against the elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973.
The seriousness which the executive order is being taken in Latin America was shown by the response of Foreign Minister of Ecuador Ricardo Patino, who said: “We know these acts of declaring a country or a group of people a threat to the United States is a prelude to an invasion (as) it has happened many times before.”
As Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro put it: “In a disproportionate action, the government of Obama has issued a ‘national emergency’ declaring Venezuela as a threat to its national security.
“This unilateral and aggressive measure taken by the US government against our country is not only unfounded and in violation of basic principles of sovereignty and self-determination under international law.”
Maduro stressed that it has been “unanimously rejected by all 33 nations of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the 12 member states of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).”
Venezuela does not stand alone. As Bolivian President Evo Morales put it on Tuesday, “Latin America is more united than ever” in “coming together as Latin Americans” to agree common positions.
The UNASUR statement in particular shows how far Latin America has travelled from US domination since Hugo Chavez was first elected in Venezuela in 1998. Its member states rejected the order as constituting “a threat of interference against sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention in other states’ affairs,” and “UNASUR reiterates its request to the US government to evaluate and implement a dialogue with Venezuela as an alternative under the basis of respecting sovereignty and self-determination of the people.”
The Co-ordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement has also joined Latin America on this issue, expressing that it “categorically rejects the latest decisions of the government of the US to expand its unilateral coercive measures” against Venezuela, and urging the US “to engage in constructive dialogue” with Venezuela.
Then, last Tuesday, ALBA — the 11-country alliance in Latin American and the Caribbean — expressed its solidarity and added that US “harassment and aggression against the Venezuelan government and people … encourages destabilisation and the use of violence by sectors of the Venezuelan opposition.”
At the ALBA summit, Cuban President Raul Castro said: “The facts show that history cannot be ignored,” in terms of US policy towards the region and that while the region wants peace, it has to be with dignity: “(We want) to have peace, but standing tall, not on our knees.”
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega meanwhile referred to the “coups in Honduras and Paraguay” and similar “attempts in Bolivia and Ecuador” that have occurred during Obama’s presidency, saying that the US “is a threat to global security, this is not rhetoric, it is reality,” and warning that the executive order “can be used for anything.”
Why are so many nations united against US intervention and destabilisation in Venezuela and concerned about these developments?
Nicaragua’s representative to the UN Maria Rubiales answered these questions this week during the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, saying: “We will continue fighting (as) we cannot accept this new aggression against Latin America and the Caribbean,” and arguing that in “the region we cannot permit attacks against a sister republic, wherever they are from … because today it’s Venezuela, and tomorrow it could be anywhere else, as history has demonstrated.”
Putting it simply, Saint Vincent and Grenadines President Ralph Gonsalves has said that: “The US executive order is a threat to all of us.”
Morales has further argued that this unity is also important in that the US government is trying to divide the region to give itself a route back: “Now that they cannot defeat us politically, nor economically or military through coups, what do they do? They try to divide us.”
Morales concluded by saying: “In the 21st century we won’t accept this kind of intervention by the US,” and that “all of our solidarity and our support goes to President Maduro, and the revolutionary Bolivarian government and people of Venezuela.”
Progressive and left forces in Britain and Europe must not only echo these thoughts but drive the need for solidarity with Venezuela high up our collective agenda as US intervention intensifies in the weeks and months ahead.
Matt Willgress is the National Co-ordinator of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (www.venezuelasolidarity.co.uk) and writes a regular column for the Morning Star on Latin America.
The issues raised in this article will be discussed further at a seminar, US Intervention & Destabilisation in Venezuela — Lessons of Chile & Nicaragua, on Tuesday, March 31, 6.30pm at Unite House, 128 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8TN with Francisco Dominguez, political refugee from the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, Guisell Morales, the ambassador of Nicaragua and Marcos Garcia from the Venezuelan embassy.
This article originally appeared here in the Morning Star