Latin American Presidents Denounce “Siege” of Venezuela at G77 Summit

At the G77 + China Summit held in Bolivia over the weekend, several leftist Latin American presidents gave their public backing to Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and called for regional unity against what they consider an attempt at “conservative restoration” currently underway in the South American country.

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The presidents of Cuba (Raul Castro), Bolivia (Evo Morales), Ecuador (Rafael Correa) and Venezuela (Nicolas Maduro) at the opening of the G77 + China summit in Bolivia (agencies)
The presidents of Cuba (Raul Castro), Bolivia (Evo Morales), Ecuador (Rafael Correa) and Venezuela (Nicolas Maduro) at the opening of the G77 + China summit in Bolivia (agencies)

Mérida, 16th June 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – At the G77 + China Summit held in Bolivia over the weekend, several leftist Latin American presidents gave their public backing to Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and called for regional unity against what they consider an attempt at “conservative restoration” currently underway in the South American country.

In other international news, Venezuela has welcomed the re-election of Juan Manuel Santos to the Colombian presidency as a vote for “peace”.

G77 + China Summit

The summit, held in Santa Cruz, eastern Bolivia, brought together 133 countries, around two thirds of the member states of the United Nations.

During the opening event the presidents of Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba made declarations in support of Venezuela. All four are members of the regional ALBA alliance.

The speeches came in the context of the Venezuelan opposition movement which took to the streets earlier this year, a hard-line wing of which openly called for Maduro’s ouster. Violent street barricades and riots occurred as well as more peaceful protests. While leading members of the opposition claimed the protests were to draw attention to economic problems, authorities and government supporters argued that violent actions were an attempt to provoke a state coup.  

Over the three months of unrest 42 people were killed and around 900 wounded, with fatalities including opposition activists, government supporters, and members of security forces.

Venezuelan government officials also unveiled communications recently which, they argue, constitute a plot by high profile opposition figures to organise Nicolas Maduro’s assassination. Those accused deny the claims.

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa declared to a crowd of thousands at the G77 summit’s opening event that a “coordinated power strategy” was being implemented by the United States government and the region’s right-wing to “re-colonise” Latin America. Correa placed the events occurring in Venezuela within that context.

“At the regional level there is a conservative restoration that wants to do away with progressive governments: there is the siege of the democratic, legitimate government of our friend Nicolas Maduro, and the whole of Latin America is with our beloved Venezuela,” he said.

The Ecuadorian president then argued that the regional left-wing should unite in response to this situation. “We progressive and leftist movements must be more united and coordinated than ever, and this meeting helps with that,” he continued.

Meanwhile Bolivian president Evo Morales told media on Sunday that the countries of the G77 + China had expressed their support for Venezuela against the “imperialist attacks” of the U.S., who Venezuelan officials have accused of supporting opposition unrest and intervening in the country’s affairs with the threat of sanctions.

Morales, the pro tempore president of the G77 + China, declared, “Brother Maduro: all of our solidarity, all of our support. We respect the battle that’s being fought. As long as imperialism and capitalism exist, the struggle will continue”.

In his own address to the summit, President Maduro argued that an international diplomatic and media campaign was being waged against his government to justify a possible ouster. He warned that the continent would “rise up” if any such attack on the country’s constitutional order were to occur.

The latest opinion poll in Venezuela, conducted by private firm International Consulting Services, put approval for Maduro at 62%. Nevertheless such polls have varied, with polls by two different companies in April / May indicating that Maduro’s approval was 52% or 40.8%.

In his speech Maduro also advocated that the countries of the global South solve their problems without outside intervention. “The solution to the South’s problems is in the South, and in this world where the South can already walk on its own feet, and think with its own head, it’s time for the North to learn to respect the men and women of the South,” he stated.

The Venezuelan president continued by congratulating the work of the summit. “Little by little we’re seeking and finding the path to overcome centuries of exploitation, colonialism, and slavery, to construct a humanity that is truly human in all aspects”, he said.

The summit’s final declaration included points on the defence of sovereignty in the use of natural resources, the importance of reducing the weight of external debt, and the need for greater global commitments on climate change. The G77 + China hopes that their position can set the agenda for global development and build on the work of the Millennium Development Goals.

On the side of the G77 summit, President Maduro met with UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon. According to diplomatic sources Maduro informed the top UN official of his conviction that there is an “American hand” in recent internal destabilisation attempts, and that U.S. actions toward Venezuela represent an attack against the country’s sovereignty and stability.

Meanwhile U.S. vice president Joe Biden has made renewed criticisms of Maduro’s government, referring to Venezuela as “an emblematic case of the weakening of democratic institutions” in an interview published today in Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo.

Santos re-election

Maduro yesterday congratulated the re-election of Juan Manuel Santos to the Colombian presidency. Santos defeated rival Oscar Zuloaga in the second round presidential runoff with 50.9% of the vote.

Zuloaga is considered to represent the agenda of former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, who governed 2002 – 2010 and pursued belligerent policies toward Venezuela. Relations were restored when Santos, Uribe’s former defence minister, arrived to the presidency in 2010.

Santos’ victory was also seen as important for continued progress in negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in which Venezuela is a mediator.

Declaring that the Colombian presidential election had been a choice between “peace and no peace”, Maduro said, “I want to say to the people of Colombia and president Santos that they can count upon the Bolivarian government of Venezuela to keep working for peace”.