Updated: When it comes to Venezuela, Canada must uphold UN Charter

UPDATE to 8 February 2019 blog post — MUST READ INTERVIEW!

The Sakar interview with leading economist Michael Hudson elucidates the fundamental role that American sanctions and other coercive economic measures have played in wreaking havoc on the Venezuelan economy. Says Hudson:

Just as U.S. policy under Kissinger was to make Chile’s “economy scream,” so the U.S. is following the same path against Venezuela. It is using that country as a “demonstration effect” to warn other countries not to act in their self-interest in any way that prevents their economic surplus from being siphoned off by U.S. investors.

For the full, must-read, interview, click Saker Interview with Michael Hudson on Venezuela (unz.com, 7 February 2019).

Back to original blog post as posted on 8 February 2019.

For those not carefully searching out alternative sources of commentary on Venezuela, the overwhelming media narrative, until very recently, has portrayed President Maduro as a tyrant, presiding over illegitimate elections and a humanitarian crisis entirely of his government’s own making.

We are therefore extremely grateful to Media Lens for its excellent reporting on how the “corporate media” is obscuring what is actually going on, particularly regarding the legitimacy of Maduro’s presidency and the underlying causes of that country’s economic crisis. Part One of their exposé begins:

A ‘Propaganda Blitz’ …[is] a fast-moving campaign to persuade the public of the need for ‘action’ or ‘intervention’ furthering elite interests. Affecting great moral outrage, corporate media line up to insist that a watershed moment has arrived – something must be done!

Click Venezuela Blitz – Part I: Tyrants Don’t Have Free Elections (Medialens.org, 5 February 2019 and updates) for the full article.

Part Two focuses on the real state of press freedom in Venezuela, the devastating impact of American economic sanctions, and the central role of Venezuelan oil in American-led efforts to destabilize the Maduro government:

Just as they blamed Saddam Hussein for the devastating impact of US-UK sanctions on Iraq (1990-2003), corporate media are united in laying the blame for Venezuela’s economic and humanitarian crisis at Maduro’s door. In fact, Venezuela has long been subject to severe US sanctions.

For the full article see: Venezuela Blitz- Part II: Press Freedom, Sanctions and Oil (Medialens.org, 7 February 2019).

Whither Canada?

In our 25 January blog post we expressed concern about Canada’s role:

There is no doubt that Venezuela is in disarray. But it is hard to see how Canada’s astonishingly ill-advised support for the self-proclaimed presidency of opposition leader Juan Guaido can do anything but further inflame the situation, undermine prospects for a peaceful resolution, and utterly contradict our repeated declarations of belief in a rules-based international order.

The final communiqué of the Lima Group meeting in Ottawa did nothing to allay our initial misgivings. While it did include a call for a “peaceful transition… without the use of force”, it also blithely dismissed international calls from the UN Secretary-General and others for dialogue among the parties.

Since that time, after some Canadian labour unions questioned the prevailing narrative that the Presidential elections were manifestly unfair and unfree, other commentators have also raised the alarm. Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom writes:

Canada is playing a dodgy game in the Venezuela crisis. The Liberal government claims it wants to avoid violence. But at the same time it is calling on Venezuela’s military to launch a coup against President Nicolas Maduro.

For the full article, click: Ottawa wrong to support military solution in Venezuela (5 February 2019).

The Globe and Mail also featured an opinion piece from two eminent specialists on Latin America:

John Kirk is a professor of Latin American studies at Dalhousie University, where he has worked since 1978. He is the author or co-editor of 18 books on Latin America.

Stephen Kimber is a professor of journalism at the University of King’s College and the author of nine books, including most recently, the award-winning What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five.

Their column is entitled, Canadian leadership on Venezuela is misguided, misdirected and a mistake (Globe and Mail, 5 February 2019).  They write of Canada’s role in the Lima Group:

Given the crisis in Venezuela, this attempt at “democracy promotion,” as Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland calls it, may seem admirable. But it has little to do with democracy, and more to do with installing a government more to our liking – and may lead to violence, or even civil war.

Rather than complicity in the American end game so clearly laid out by National Security Adviser John Bolton — to have American oil companies invest in and produce Venezuelan oil — the authors urge Canada to support efforts such as:

the negotiation of a “made-in-Venezuela” solution with countries such as Mexico and Uruguay, with mediation by Pope Francis and a key role for the UN Security Council.

Regrettable Change in Position by NDP

Given the glimmers of objectivity and balance that we have finally begun to see in the media coverage of the crisis in Venezuela, it is all the more unfortunate that the NDP has appeared to waffle on its earlier, quite legitimate, refusal to recognise Opposition Leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader.

Unequivocal Support for UN Charter Needed

We call on the Government of Canada to unequivocally state that any international action with respect to Venezuela must be fully in accordance with our obligations under the UN Charter, particularly with respect to the non-use of force.  In the words of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, outlining the international crime of aggression:

The act of aggression means “the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations. [emphasis added]

These acts can include, among others, invasion, military occupation, and annexation by the use of force, blockade by the ports or coasts. – Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court articles 8 bis 1 and 2


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (Protest against President Maduro)

Tags: corporate media, crime of aggression, economic sanctions, elite interests, free and fair elections, free press, humanitarian crisis, Jagmeet Singh, John Kirk, Juan Guaido, Leader of the NDP, Media Lens, President Maduro, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Stephen Kimber, The Lima Group, UN Charter, Venezuela