Thanks to the resilience of the Venezuelan people and the brilliance of their Foreign Ministry we are in good company tonight. The US attempt to get support for their position in the United Nations Security Council has failed by 19 votes to 16. Caribbean countries in CARICON are supporting Venezuela as are many others. Even the Lima Group not so long ago sabre rattling is no longer as keen on military intervention, it appears that Colombia has now refused to based 5,000 US troops and the people of Brazil are maintaining pressure on Bolsonaro not to assist the coup.
It’s fashionable to appoint yourself without a mandate to high office, even to be a President these days, so I thought I would appoint myself as official returning officer of a number of international elections.
Here are the results. The first figure I will give is for the percentage of votes cast the second for the percentage of registered votes.
- Donald Trump 46% and 27.3%
- Theresa May 42.3% and 29.1%
- Pedro Sanchez 22.6 and 15.02%
- Emmanuel Macron 24% and 11.69%
- Nicolas Maduro 67.84% and 31.7%
And here a late result
- Juan Guaido 0% and 0%
President Ncholas Maduro was elected through one of the most advanced and closely observed electoral processes in the world. The British Foreign Secretary said he thought there had been tampering with ballot papers in Venezuela. That’s interesting, because they don’t use them, it’s a fully automated, finger print based system, audited publicly on the National Election Council’s TV station before, during and after voting.
The electoral process was observed by at least 150 people, including 14 electoral commissions from eight countries and two technical commissions, 18 journalists and others. No complaints were received.
Maduro got 6.3 million votes. The nearest of his four rivals, Henri Falcon, got 1.9 million.
Maduro is the legitimate democratically elected President of Venezuela and the attempted coup against him is illegal.
Apart from anything else, the current move against him is totally unconstitutional. Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution lays out the rules clearly for how and when you elect a new President and these don’t include getting a call from the White House and then declaring yourself to be so.
What Article 233 says is that when an elected President becomes permanently unavailable The President of the National Assembly can take charge of the Presidency of the Republic, but only to organize elections and inauguration of the new President. But of course there is no vacancy for President.
In the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign we have been monitoring the attacks on Venezuela carefully since we started. There have been many moments of danger, but this is the worst, this is serious. Utmost, world solidarity is needed.
Alfred de Zayas, a distinguished expert on international law and former senior lawyer with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has made a frightening parallel. He says “The mainstream media has been complicit in this attempted coup. This reminds us of the run-up to the Iraq invasion of 2003.”
And President Maduro himself has repeated several times, including in his broadcast to the American people, that Venezuela will not become the Vietnam of Latin America. That is how bad the threats are now. None of us can ever forget that barbarism.
This situation arises from the cruel, US-led attack on Venezuela by way of torture through sanctions designed to starve and punish the people.
In his recent report to the UN de Zayas said “Sanctions kill, they demonstrably cause death through food and medicine shortages, and lead to violations of human rights and are aimed at coercing economic change in a sister democracy.”
Of course we don’t expect anything less of the most murderous imperial state on earth.
Trump said of Iraq in 2016 “To the victor belongs the spoils. You have to go in and take the oil”.
As we know Venezuela has by far the world’s largest oil reserves and fourth largest gas resources. The gangsters want it.
And it’s time we started condemning and boycotting the US culture of violence that pervades so widely across the globe. When there’s another mass shooting in the US, which happens all too often, or another serial killer to join the largest prison population in the world of four million, or to join death row, the debate reduces to a question simply of gun control.
If only they didn’t have so many guns there people say. But the issue is what is in people’s heads. Guns don’t fire themselves. The US seeks to fill the world’s head with glorification of violence, actual and virtual.
Consider the US domination of entertainments and games markets.
The Pentagon works with Hollywood and Silicon Valley to ensure that the ideology of violence and imperialism infects practically every child’s computer game. Aggression and violence and gangsterism are normalised in ways we should be more active in rejecting.
Look at the gangster special US envoy on Venezuela Elliott Abrams, in 1991 convicted of lying to Congress over the Iran/Contra scandal, defender of Rios Mont, the Guatemalan dictator later convicted of mass genocide, and of course Abrams was in the mix in the 2002 attempted coup against Chavez. He’s a democracy Terminator.
Or look at the lesser Capos like Juan Guaido. He was described by a White House spokesperson as “the piece we needed for our strategy to be coherent and complete.” They’ve been training him for ten years, a lot of it in the States, and linking him up with the most extreme neoliberal thinkers, like his tutor in Washington Enrique Berrizbetia.
They teamed him up with the international street thugs who came to Venezuela from Serbia and elsewhere to cause violence and destabilise things. They called it Operation Armageddon and Generation 2007 and their far right cohorts formed the very unpopular People’s Will Party which Guaido’s from. They exploited the terrible droughts in Venezuela and Guaido himself incited gangs to attack the Attorney General.
He’s only President of the National Assembly because the four right wing parties there decided to choose on rotation. It was actually his party chair’s place next, but he was under arrest. So no-one actually voted for Guaido in even that role.
Gangsters are simple, they lie and kill and steal. They are trying to steal Venezuela’s money and gold.
We condemn the freezing of Venezuelan oil company assets in the United States, depriving them further of much needed revenue.
We condemn the complicity of the Bank of England in withholding the £1.2 billion worth of Venezuelan gold deposited for safe keeping here. There must be some noise outside the Bank, we should organise, don’t steal Venezuela’s assets, give them back.
We condemn the European Union Parliament’s call to recognise Guiado if new elections aren’t held and the powerful European countries that have already done so.
We condemn the globalised cartel of neoliberals including the US and EU and their beloved so-called freedoms of capital, labour, goods and services.
We reassert at this critical time in world history, the virtues of respecting national independence. For our own country we want self-determination outside the EU and for Venezuela self determination to build a world of peace and socialism.
Article 233, Constitution of the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela
“The President of the Republic shall become permanently unavailable to serve by reason of any of the following events: death; resignation; removal from office by decision of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice; permanent physical or mental disability certified by a medical board designated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice with the approval of the National Assembly; abandonment of his position, duly declared by the National Assembly; and recall by popular vote.
When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the President of the National Assembly shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.
When the President of the Republic becomes permanently unavailable to serve during the first four years of this constitutional term of office, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the Executive Vice-President shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.
In the cases describes above, the new President shall complete the current constitutional term of office. If the President becomes permanently unavailable to serve during the last two years of his constitutional term of office, the Executive Vice-President shall take over the Presidency of the Republic until such term is completed.”
This text was delivered as a speech by GFTU General Secretary and Vice Chair of Venezuela Solidarity campaign at the 31 January No War In Venezuela rally in Central London