Stand Up and Be Counted For Venezuela!

Writing for the Morning Star, Matt Willgress calls for vigilance as President Maduro warns of the danger of further coup plots in Venezuela.

Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro warned last Saturday that his country’s right-wing opposition is still trying to ferment a coup against his elected administration.

This is despite the government thwarting a coup plot in February and the arrest of a number of military personnel this week.

“In the 25 months [since I came to power], they haven’t stopped the attacks against the Bolivarian revolution,” Maduro told Russia Today on his visit to the country to mark Victory day.

Venezuela’s right wing seized power in a short-lived 2002 coup against Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez. Since then, the government has had to thwart, year after year, a series of attempts at destabilisation of the country year after year, from the oil lockout that ruined the economy in 2003 to last year’s violent “La Salida” — the exit — street-protest campaign aimed at ousting the elected government.

Since the tragic death of Chavez in 2013, the destabilisation efforts have been stepped up by the leaders of the right-wing opposition egged on by their paymasters in Washington. According to Eva Golinger the opposition received about $120 million (£76m) between 2002-12.

As soon as President Maduro was elected in April 2013 this opposition sought to unseat him even before he was sworn into office.

Fraud was alleged without any hard evidence and despite the fact the opposition parties signed off a dozen audits prior to the election. They continued to make these baseless allegations, even after a recount confirmed the results.

Henrique Capriles, the losing candidate, used these events to call his supporters onto the streets to “vent their anger.”

Following doctored pictures on newspaper front pages and deliberately misleading claims about improper storage of ballot boxes the protests quickly escalated into violence.

Tragically, 11 government supporters died. Attacks were also made on the houses of the families of prominent politicians and of the head of the electoral council.

The local headquarters of left-wing political parties, health clinics and other social services set up by the government were also attacked.

Once these protests had fizzled out the opposition chose a new strategy of “Economic sabotage, employed to exploit and create difficulties in the economy and damage key infrastructure,” reported Telesur English, with “worrying echoes of Richard Nixon’s strategy to ‘make the economy scream,’ used to undermine the progressive government of Salvador Allende in Chile in the 1970s.”

Even this economic war did not stop Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and its allies winning a clear majority in December 2013 local and regional elections. Not even such a clear electoral victory for “Chavismo” stopped sections of the opposition from seeking to overthrow the government.

In January 2014, a number of opposition leaders demanded “the exit” of the Maduro government. Leopoldo Lopez, a right-wing politician, said the aim was regime change: “There should be a complete … change in those who are in power … It’s clear now that the problem isn’t just Maduro, it’s all the heads of the public powers who have kidnapped the state.”

He added that this was only possible by “getting the people into the streets.”

A wave of violence soon followed, leaving 43 people dead. The Venezuelan government was responsible for four of those, which had resulted from opposition supporters clashing with security forces.

Tough action was taken against the officers involved, including arrests, and the firing of the head of the military police.

But the root cause of the deaths was the violence of opposition extremists.

Nine police officers were killed and civilians were killed trying to clear the opposition street barricades.

Maduro is therefore quite right to warn of the dangers of further anti-democratic destabilisation from the right and coup plots in the months and years ahead.

This is especially the case when one considers the clear correlation between these anti-democratic actions by the opposition and statements made by the US administration.

In 2014 alone, the US (including Barack Obama, John Kerry and Joe Biden themselves) issued 103 hostile statements against Venezuela’s government. In the first three months of 2015 alone the US made 170 such belligerent statements.

Speaking during a visit to Russia Maduro said the Venezuelan people will continue to “defend the revolution,” arguing that “Chavez prepared the peoples to be very active, very critical and very demanding … and these people continue … to defend their revolution,” and added that “sooner or later we are going to do to the US what was done to the British empire.”

We have to make sure we stand clearly in solidarity with Venezuela’s revolution — against external intervention and internal anti-democratic destabilisation — as the country approaches national elections later in the year. It both needs and deserves our support.

  • The Morning Star is supporting the Rally for Venezuela — End the US Sanctions, No More Intervention! organised by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign on June 4 at 6.30pm (doors 6.00pm) at Hamilton House (NUT HQ), WC1H with speakers including Ben Chacko of the Morning Star, Tariq Ali, Kate Hudson (CND), Grahame Morris MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Richard Burgon MP, Neil Findlay MSP, Sandra White MSP and leading international guests from Venezuela, Latin America and the US. You can register online at and invite friends on Facebook at
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