Caracas, December 3, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – A delegation of US solidarity activists arrived in Venezuela on Tuesday as part of an international effort to accompany the country’s December 6th parliamentary elections amidst a campaign by the US and other actors to discredit their legitimacy.
Organized by the Taskforce on the Americas and School of the Americas Watch, the group will meet with social movements, election officials, media, and political parities, including representatives of the ruling socialist party, the opposition, as well as the dissident chavista party Socialist Tide.
“It’s important to accompany the Venezuelan people in this process at this time when it’s most vulnerable, with Chávez’s socialist experiment under threat,” says Dale Sorenson, director of Task Force on the Americas and co-organizer of the visit.
The delegation follows on a previous US solidarity brigade that traveled to Venezuela this past July with the mission of reaffirming international support for the South American democracy in the face of escalating aggression by Washington.
Over the past year, the Obama administration has imposed three rounds of sanctions against leading government officials in addition to designating Venezuela a “national security threat”, measures that have been strongly opposed worldwide as interference in the country’s internal affairs.
Most recently, leading US leaders such former Secretary of State and Democratic Party frontrunner Hillary Clinton as well as the Pro-Washington Organization of American States General Secretary Luis Almagro have cast doubt on the fairness of Sunday’s parliamentary vote, despite the presence of an international UNASUR observer mission as well as Venezuela’s stellar record in holding 19 internationally recognized elections in the last seventeen years.
Both Clinton and Almagro have yet to provide evidence to bolster their claims.
In the face of this narrative circulated in the international media, delegates will have an opportunity to observe an election in a country whose electoral system Jimmy Carter has called “the best in the world”.
“It’s essential that there be eyes, ears, feat on the ground here in Venezuela, especially from the United States, given the incredible distortion of what’s happening here in the US and international mainstream media,” explains delegation leader Lisa Sullivan, who has spent the last thirty years living and organizing among Venezuela’s rural poor.
“It’s hard to get a handle on what’s really happening in Venezuela short of actually being here.”
Following several days in Caracas, delegates will travel to northwestern Lara state to observe Sunday’s election in the rural areas, where Venezuela’s campesinos have seen important social and economic gains alongside persisting hardships, including underdevelopment and landowner violence.
For those present on the delegation, Venezuela’s parliamentary elections are not only critical for the future of the country’s 17-year Bolivarian process but also have important implications for possibilities of social change in the US.
“If Americans knew what is truly going on in Venezuela, such as the use of oil wealth to benefit everyone–to create housing, healthcare, education– and that they could do the same thing in the US, it would change everything,” affirms Halifax-based physician Timothy Bood, who has been active in solidarity work in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Chiapas.
Bood is among a handful of delegates visiting Venezuela for the first time, arriving in the South American country at a critical moment when an acute economic crisis triggered by the collapse of global oil prices has produced extensive frustration with the current socialist government widely predicted by international media to lose Sunday’s contest.
Nonetheless, with recent polls showing a closing gap between the socialist party and its rightwing rivals, a socialist win on Sunday would be an historic victory for the Left in Venezuela and internationally, notes Sullivan.
“If a new model of governance that returns the people their dignity and participation can outlast the economic crisis– where the country has lost half of its income– and win, it would be extraordinary, showing the path forward as an alternative to the capitalist model.”