The international community should demand a cease and desist of all foreign intervention into Venezuelan affairs and support a peaceful solution of the crisis by the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro. Any and all other calls to action should be completely off the table until all meddlers have retreated back into their own affairs and clear steps have been taken to uphold Venezuela’s right to self-determination.
It is not that there is no inflation in Venezuela; it is not that the crime rate isn’t alarming; it is not that Venezuelan students have no legitimate grievances; the shortage of goods is no doubt real to the Venezuelan people. The problem is that while all those issues are real, they are by no means a justification for other countries, the United States in particular, to instigate violence and chaos to overthrow a democratically elected government.
It is not hard to discern right from wrong when we step into the shoes of Venezuelans. Take U.S. college students and graduates for starters: they are facing skyrocketing tuition costs, only to enter a comatose labor market, in which they are competing for jobs against their peers and against an under-employed professional class that has seen its professional platform be outsourced to cheaper markets overseas. And they are drowning in student loan debt. The difference between them and Venezuelan college students is that there is no powerful foreign government providing training and funds in the millions of dollars to toss them into the streets as a part of a violent plan to overthrow the government. Imagine the U.S. government’s response to a situation like that!
Take the claim that the government of Nicolas Maduro is undemocratic and unconstitutional. Does it matter that it hasn’t even been three months since the ruling party scored a massive defeat against the opposition in Municipal elections? Does it matter that President Maduro’s United Socialist Party has won 18 elections, and lost only one, in the past fifteen years? Does it matter that President Jimmy Carter, who has overseen elections in 92 different countries, has called the Venezuelan electoral system “the best in the world”?
The violent protests in Venezuela do not represent a defense of democracy, but an attack against it.
It rings shallow and cynical when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calls on President Maduro, by official statement, to release all political prisoners to engage in dialogue. Has Secretary Kerry ever heard of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Chelsea Manning, or of any of the “War on Terror” prisoners held illegally at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere in the obscure network of the American Gulag?
How does Secretary Kerry conciliate his call to President Maduro with his country’s own 1.5 million people who are denied the right to vote on account of past mistakes, or with the American Prison Industrial Complex’s estimated 2.5 million prisoners, mostly people of color? Does Secretary Kerry know the United State’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is about to be reviewed by the United Nations? They will be here tomorrow.
The narrative of crude and unrestrained government repression is constantly exacerbated by Twitter pictures, Facebook stories, and YouTube videos, among other forms of social media coverage, to then be un-vettedly reported as the cruel and desperate reality of the Venezuelan people. The reporting of this reality meets its climax in the form of calls upon the international community to intervene.
The real issues facing Venezuela, the U.S.-financed uprisings, the ensuing violence, the Venezuelan government’s response, the corporate and social media mirage, the official U.S. statement, the “people’s” cry for help, and the eventual “humanitarian intervention,” are all pieces of a larger plan of U.S. conquest. The end result is the installment of a U.S.-friendly president, which is not democracy, but the end of it.
The best way to help Venezuela is by demanding that our own government stop interfering in that country’s affairs. Such a stance is not one of support for the Venezuelan government, nor of indifference to the real issues Venezuelans are facing, it is a stance of understanding and respecting the right of other nations to self-determination. After all, we have a long way to go to achieve real democracy right here in the U.S., and if we think we have the right to get there without foreign intervention, let’s uphold the same right for the Venezuelan people.
Camilo Mejia is a veteran of the U.S. Army and the Florida National Guard. In 2004 he became the first soldier to refuse to continue to participate in the war in Iraq, which he denounced as illegal and the result of petroleum. After his court martial and subsequent conviction, Amnesty International adopted him as a prisoner of conscience and launched a campaign to demand his safety and freedom. After nine months of imprisonment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Camilo was released and became a member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War organization where he eventually became president of its board. He currently works as an organizer at the Miami Workers Center for Immigrants campaign. Camilo is the son of Carlos Mejia Godoy, Sandinista songwriter.