By Les Blough in Venezuela
“Our song is peace, Obama. Give peace a chance, to life, to respect for the worthy Venezuelan people and not with the drums of interventionism.”
– Message from President Maduro to President Obama
Last Thursday [13 March 2014], Venezuelan intelligence services found a weapons cache with over 2,000 mortar rounds and other heavy weapons in Rubio, Tachira State near the Colombian frontier. This isn’t “protests” and it’s not an “insurrection” or even “an attempted coup.” This is a US war against Venezuela and it is being treated as such by the Venezuelan government.
The U.S. hasn’t stopped its creeping assault on Venezuela over the last 15 years. Many readers know the history: First the 2002 coup, then the managers’ lockout of the petroleum industry for 2 months in 2002-2003; the assassination of Danilo Anderson in 2004; the ongoing sabotage of the infrastructure, electricity and food distribution through the years; the 2012 attack and destruction of Venezuela’s largest oil refinery at Amuay killing 48 people and injuring many more; the war on the economy, driving up consumer prices and hyper-infiltration in 2013; infiltration of the homeland by CIA operatives and military attaches in the US Embassy in Caracas, inciting riots, violence and sabotage under diplomatic cover; Uribe’s Colombian paramilitaries; 4-5 weeks of terrorist attacks this year, assassinating members of the National Guard and Intelligence officers in addition to students and Venezuelan citizens.
CICPC (Criminal and Scientific Police Investigation Corps) have also discovered plans for overthrow of the democratically elected government drawn up by Colombians, a US private “security company” based in Florida and members of the opposition. The agency also intercepted a recorded telephone conversation among opposition members advising and directing the new war for destabilization. For the last 4+ months the US government has funded and advised insurrection in the guise of “student protests,” consistent with its strategic formula for “regime change” in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. All of this combined amounts to an undeclared war against the Venezuelan people and their democratically elected government.
On 14 March 2014, President Maduro stated that during the last 4 weeks, “right-wing shock groups on the right have perpetrated 500 violent events throughout the country.” He said the government has had to mobilize more than 20 thousand National Guard troops and the Bolivarian National Police to stop the assault. 68 National Guard troops have been wounded and over half of them by bullets. 1529 people have been arrested and all but 105 have been released. President Maduro said that only 558 or 1/3 of the 1529 people arrested are students. He added, “Many of these people have been recruited, hired to this type of activity.”
John Kerry’s Aggressive Propaganda
On Thursday [13 March 2014], US Secretary of State John Kerry knowingly lied before a committee in the US Congress when he demanded that the Venezuela stop its “terror campaign against its own citizens … We are trying to find a way to get the Maduro government to engage with their citizens, to treat them respectfully, to end this terror campaign against his own people and to begin to, hopefully, respect human rights in an appropriate way.”
Kerry knows full well that his own government is the principal architect of this, another US war against a sovereign country. He knows full well that President Maduro has met with opposition political leaders, business owners and students to bring them into the plan for peace, reconciliation and stability. Kerry is aware that opposition business leaders met with the administration on national public television and signed on to his peace plan. He also knows that the hard core of the right wing refused to meet to discuss problems and have rejected any effort to resolve their issues in a civil and democratic manner. Kerry knows full well that the “terror campaign” of which he speaks is one launched by his own State Department using “student protests” as a pretext.
Kerry is fully aware that on the same day he used the loaded term “terror” to describe the Venezuelan government, the US Senate sponsored a bill that compels Washington to target Venezuelan officials and calls publically for an additional $15 million dollars in funds to support US terrorism in Venezuela. Ten members of the US House of Representatives are seeking to impose visa bans, asset freezes and financial sanctions on Venezuelan officials. The $15 million is a drop in the bucket of the many millions the US government has dumped on the Venezuelan minority opposition over the last 15 years through USAID and National Endowment for Democracy to overthrow the government.
President Obama, John Kerry and some members of the US Congress are direct participants in US state-sponsored terrorism in Venezuela, funding and silently supporting hundreds of attacks on the infrastructure; killing 28 people and wounding many more thus far; targeting the humanitarian missions, banks, media centers including national public television (VTV) and community radio; physical attacks on the National Guard to which I have been eye-witness; weapons caches for military operations; hundreds of electronic cyber-attacks on government computer systems; fire-bombings; assassinations of Venezuelan military personnel with high powered, scope-mounted rifles and plans discovered to bomb government buildings and tunnels.
Bluntly stated, John Kerry is a liar and a sponsor of the terrorism he condemns. By any standard, he is and represents an enemy of the Bolivarian Republic.
In reality, we here in Venezuela, are comforted by the fact that Kerry, since he became Obama’s Secretary of State, has failed miserably in Syria, lost control of the Ukraine to President Vladimir Putin and his carefully crafted plan to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution appears to be on its last legs at the time of this writing.
Response to Kerry by Foreign Minister Elias Jaua
On March 14, speaking at a ceremony a day before the ending of the 10 day commemoration to honor the late President Hugo Chavez on the anniversary of his death, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua responded to Kerry:
“We denounce you as an assassin of the Venezuelan people, Mr. Kerry. We are not going to lower our tone before any empire, until you order your lackeys in Venezuela to stop the violence against the people…
“You encourage the protests in Venezuela and we are going to denounce that in every part of the world.
“You who are so hurt that we speak out, as you said to me in Guatemala, ‘You all need to lower your tone.’ We will not lower our tone.”
FM Jaua’s words ring in the US State Department and halls of the US Congress as they see that the Venezuelan government has made steady progress in its counter-attack by capturing caches of weapons like the 2,000+ mortars and other heavy arms in Tachira on Friday, reducing the guarimbas (violent riots) from 18 municipalities with opposition mayors and police to 2 and by making some key arrests.
Those who still think the US forces are invincible, particularly in Venezuela, should take notice that first and foremost, the Venezuelan people have been empowered with education, ideological acumen, armed and armored with love, the kind of pride all citizens should have in their own countries and filled with a fighting spirit to defend their homeland.
Venezuela also has solid alliances with almost all Latin American countries as evidenced by the recently expressed support of OAS and UNISUR. Add to that, their political and economic alliances in ALBA, CELAC and MERCOSUR and the unqualified support of Russia and China. In addition, the US dependence on the largest proven petroleum reserves in the world is a vital consideration when thinking about this US war on Venezuela.
Since the subversive attacks began on February 12, the government’s strategy has been to put out one fire at a time, arresting those carrying out attacks with the courts releasing most of them under caution, finding and eliminating stashes of heavy weapons and explosives and gaining ground in this war one step at a time using the method of “winning by attrition,” wearing the enemy down and forcing them into retreat.
In addition to its unflagging support of about 20 million citizens (at least two thirds of its population) and millions more around the world and its international alliances, Venezuela has a military that must be respected by any potential enemy. Its armed forces include 114,000 active frontline personnel, 438,000 reserves, 20,000 active members of the Bolivarian National Guard, over 14,000 National Police in 8 key states, each officer with a university education and a trained & armed Citizen Militia, some 500 thousand strong, that only a fool would ignore.
The following represents minimum estimates for Venezuela’s military equipment: Its land-based military is equipped with 390 Tanks, 706 Armored Fighting Vehicles, Self-Propelled Guns, Artillery Pieces, Rocket Projectors; Chinese built JYL-1 truck-mounted long range 3D surveillance radars; at least 100,000 Russian-made AK-103 assault rifles & 5,000 Dragunov sniper rifles while it manufactures its own Kalashnikovs; night vision equipment; night vision optics, in President Chavez’ words, “for use on every single rifle in the Venezuelan army.”
The Venezuelan Air Force has at least 235 Aircraft including 24 K-8 Karakorum trainer jets, 84 weaponed helicopters, 51 military gunships, Russian built Su-30s and missiles, at least 24 Su-30MK modern jet fighters with a large assortment of missiles, 200 laser-guided bombs, 50 air-to-surface missiles, 50 anti-ship missiles, 50 TV-guided cruise missiles, 100 medium-range air-to-air missiles and 150 short-range air-to-air missiles. At the time of these purchases in in a 3 year period from 2005-2008, Chavez stated that Venezuela “must ready itself for a possible U.S. invasion.”
President Maduro’s Strategic and Tactical Success
The Venezuelan government has been exemplary for all nations under imperialist assault. President Maduro’s Plan for Peace and Life continues to be supported by the masses who turn out tens and hundreds of thousands strong across the country week after week, just as they were yesterday filling several square kilometers of Los Proceres in Caracas. The absolute solidarity within government and the military along with the people’s fervency and rock-solid confidence in President Maduro’s leadership is obvious to anyone who lives here. This is the civic-military union that was created and bequeathed to the Venezuelan people by Comandante Chavez and is obvious to anyone who stops reading the disinformation campaign of the capitalist media and takes time to do their homework.
The government’s strategy of limiting the violence to the municipalities run by opposition mayors and police who support it has been brilliant. Moreover, their tactics of restraint have succeeded in several ways:
- President Maduro introduced a comprehensive Plan for Peace and Life to which the Venezuelan people have responded, amassing millions in demonstrations across the country, supporting peace over violence.
- The government has advanced the Peace Plan beyond Venezuelan borders gaining approval and support internationally, particularly in the OAS and UNISUR.
- The Maduro administration has followed the constitution and the law by encircling, containing and gradually reducing the enemy’s tactical aggressions without repression and violence.
- They have employed intelligence services to investigate, identify and arrest key operatives, locate and capture their caches of heavy weapons.
- During this very difficult period, the government has denied the enemy justification to accuse it of human rights violations, a manipulation used against Syria in the political/media war.
President Maduro introduced a comprehensive Plan for Peace and Life to which the Venezuelan people have responded, amassing millions in demonstrations across the country, supporting peace over violence.
Maduro’s March 15 Address to FANB and Venezuelan Citizens
Yesterday [15 March 2014], President Maduro addressed the Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB – National Armed Forces of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) and thousands of citizens at the “Walk of the Heroes” in Los Proceres, Caracas. We have preceded this article with our translation of an AVN report on his address. The Venezuelan people have been extremely patient as citizens whose loved ones and friends have been killed and wounded and whose public services and property have been damaged or destroyed over the last 4 weeks. Yesterday, Maduro pivoted to the final stage of the battle in two ways, one moral & diplomatic and the other with the application of force.
Maduro’s Diplomatic Move
In his address President Maduro made a direct appeal to President Obama as one head of state to another. His words to Obama, beginning with the words of John Lennon:
“Our song is peace, Obama. Give peace a chance, to life, to respect for the worthy Venezuelan people and not with the drums of interventionism. All across the country I called on the opposition not to participate in an intervention in Venezuela”
Again speaking directly to the US President, Maduro proposed a joint high level commission to study and adopt a new relationship between the US and Venezuela:
“President Obama, with humility I convey this proposal and with humility it is instantly ordered. Do not be swayed by the bureaucracy of the State Department that has trapped John Kerry, Secretary of State…. [Let’s develop] a new type relation between the United States, Venezuela and, if possible, Latin America, for the duration of the 21st century, to end the coups d’état and the threats against the Latin American people.”
The Government’s Application of Force
Maduro’s pivot to using force to end the attempt to overthrow the government must be prefaced with the way in which it has handled arrests thus far. Since the first violent attacks took place against Venezuela in San Cristobal near the Colombian border on February 12, the National Guard and National Police are to be commended for their remarkable discipline and restraint in not engaging in forms of brutality and torture that is typical of the police in the US and their military abroad. Of course there are isolated incidents of excessive force among 20,000 National Guard and police responding to over 500 violent attacks, many directed at them while defending the country in uniform. Those who have used excessive force have been identified and jailed, pending investigations and trial by the democratic government institutions which eschew violence and brutality regardless of who are the perpetrators.
The international media focuses on those isolated incidents with reports and YouTube videos, (e.g. Syrian disinformation campaign) to mislead people with false charges of government repression and human rights violations. Officials like John Kerry and members of the US Congress reinforce those false accusations, ramping up the rhetoric to charge the government with using “terror” against its own citizens. Who can be so blind or willfully ignorant to set this scenario outside the context of US and international “human rights organizations,” that accused Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar Al-Assad with “killing their own people.” In the meantime the US has been killing, maiming and displacing millions in US/NATO unprovoked wars against those sovereign countries!
On Saturday, March 15, President Maduro ordered the guarimberos (right wing fascists posing as students) to remove their street barricadas and leave their areas of violent attacks. He gave them “a few hours” to do so warning that if they do not give up these public spaces, he will take “necessary actions to liberate these spaces that have been taken by fascist groups.” He said he would begin with their occupied spaces in Plaza Altamira and on Avenida Francisco de Miranda, in the opposition-controlled municipality of Chacao in Caracas.
At 3 a.m. this morning, March 17, he sent FANB (the military) to the streets of Chacao in Caracas, San Cristobal in Tachira and Valencia in Carabobo to begin their work. Tonight the streets are cleared of all guarimbas with a thousand national guard and national police patrolling the streets from Los Ruices where they attacked national television (VTV) for weeks to Chacaito near Central Caracas. The subway system and city bus services have been restored and traffic is flowing unimpeded. Earlier today, I spoke with a citizen who lives in this upper-middle class area (Los Palos Grande) who told me the people there, including members of the opposition are relieved that the national government has stepped in and an end to it, restoring services and normalcy to citizens living there.
Rodriquez Torres, Minister of Interior Relations for Justice and Peace, spoke to the public in Caracas today saying that tasks are being performed for cleaning and beautification in the Plaza Francia of Altamira and its surroundings. He said that from the three in the morning on Monday the government and the FANB (Venezuelan Military Forces) are deployed throughout the municipality:
“We are restoring the rights of thousands of citizens of Chacao kept sheltered in their homes by the violent actions of groups that here were done,It is an operation that was began in the early morning hours of Monday to recover this space where there had been violence, terrorism and vandalism. Avenida Francisco de Miranda has been divided into five quadrants from Chacaito to Los Ruices, with vital areas and critical points, for intensive patrols in these sectors to return normalcy and calm in this city. It is purely a matter of order and public safety. The Municiple Police continue to operate without any kind of problem. Chacao was the only point in Caracas where the situation of violence has been maintained and this is why we made the decision, by order of the President, to take control of this space.”
Minister Torres also referred to the acts of violence that have been taking place in only two other municpalities, sectors of San Cristobal, Tachira State on the Colombian border where the trouble began on February 12 and in Valencia, Carabobo State. Of these two municipalities he said, “similar actions were taken and there are sectors that are fully controlled by the security force. In Táchira, the situation each day is rapidly improving, in the coming days, we will have a San Cristobal that has been fully recovered.”
The opposition mayors and police responsible for these areas have refused to enforce the law during the last month, supporting the riots. Moreover, today, the US and European corporate media immediately accused the Maduro government of “repressing student protests.”
Understandably, many have wondered why President Maduro didn’t declare a state of emergency, militarize the country and stop the guarimbas weeks ago. I must admit that I wanted firm, direct action to end the fascist protests immediately but I have to congratulate the government on its intelligence and strategy, limiting the guarimbas to just 5% of the national territory and ultimately defeating them – despite the international media portraying the so-called protests as being a “national uprising”.
Finally, as we approach the end of this battle in the war against Venezuela, we relearn the wisdom of El Commandante Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías and his spiritual son, Nicolas Maduro, bringing us closer to another decisive victory over the latest aggression against the people of the Bolivarian Revolution by the counter-revolutionaries – the enemies of the Venezuelan people.
¡CHAVEZ VIVE¡ ¡LA PATRIA SIGUE!
This updated article was contributed to Friends of Lebanon, and was originally published on Axis of Logic here on 16 March 2014 and updated on the 18th. Spanish translation available at the link. This article is included on FOL because its themes find echo in the history of the Middle East and because Venezuela has indeed been a friend to Lebanon.