Activists in Washington, D.C., rallied January 26 in support of the Venezuelan government and against the attempted coup d’etat set in motion by the United States in Venezuela. Hundreds chanted with signs and banners in front of the White House for the U.S. and its allies to keep their hands off Venezuela.
The ANSWER Coalition and Party for Socialism and Liberation were joined by the Metro DC Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, Code Pink, Friends of the Congo, the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party and others in sending a message that nobody has the right to determine the destiny of Venezuela except the Venezuelan people. Speakers focused on the hypocrisy of U.S. government claims that it is promoting democracy in Venezuela, highlighting the U.S. government’s long track record of supporting right-wing dictatorships in the region and around the world, as well as the lack of democracy in the United States.
Eugene Puryear of the PSL pointed out that, while Washington claims the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has impoverished the country and deprived its people of the necessities of life, the government here shows little interest in securing those things for its own people. With 40 million people in poverty in the United States and an open assault being waged on the right of tens of millions of people to access the country’s already-weak health care system; while one in six U.S. children is living in food insecurity, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has little room to stand before the United Nations and decry povertyin any other country.
“What if they went to the United Nations Security Council and censured themselves?” Puryear asked the crowd.
“To recall these facts when we’re being constantly bombarded, over and over again, with what someone else has supposedly done wrong,” Puryear said, “the hypocrisy of the US government – that in and of itself is a signal that it ain’t about what they say it’s about.”
Indeed, Maduro’s government isn’t the enemy of the American people. It was Venezuela’s state-owned oil company Citgo – now seized illegally by the U.S. state and its proceeds being dumped into a U.S. account instead of flowing back to the Venezuelan people – who provided the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as well as the South Bronx, some of the most oppressed areas in the U.S., with free heating oil in solidarity.
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of anti-war organization Code Pink, noted that the United States government consistently fails to criticize the lack of democracy in its allies, like Saudi Arabia, or the dictatorships it has installed and supported in Latin America for over a century – indeed, many of these it falsely labels as “democratic!”
The previous day, Benjamin dropped a banner during the Organization of American States meeting condemning Maduro, which read “OAS: Don’t Support a Coup in Venezuela.”
Benjamin described the U.S. and its puppet in the opposition, self-proclaimed-Interim President Juan Guaido, as setting Venezuela down “a dangerous path.” She described how the opposition in Venezuela was going door to door, trying to convince rank and file members of the military, as well as low-ranking officers, to defect to Guaido.
Only three congressmembers have made statements against the Trump administration’s move for regime change in Venezuela: Ro Khanna, Tulsi Gabbard and Ilhan Omar, Benjamin noted. She called on activists to “flood the halls of Congress” to demand they stand up for the principles of non-interventionism.
“If you truly care about people in Venezuela,” she said, “don’t support creating a civil war.”
“They’ve been trying for 18 years” to get rid of the Bolivarian revolution, D.C.-area solidarity activist Olivia Burlingame-Goumbri told the crowd of roughly 150 people.
Journalist Max Blumenthal called Guaido’s government a “wikipedia-verified government,” denouncing it as “the most public, obvious, overt coup” in history. He added that Guaido is so unknown, even his own backers don’t know his name – Pompeo mispronounced it before the United Nations Security Council that day!
But with the U.S. government building an international movement against Maduro’s democratically elected government, “the poor people in Caracas are looking to us,” Burlingame said, “we have to be clear the U.S. doesn’t have the right or duty” to intervene in Venezuela.
Caroline from the DSA noted the U.S. has many illegitimate and undemocratic institutions of its own, from the unelected U.S. Supreme Court to gerrymandered Congressional districts that ensure a 98 percent reelection rate for representatives. PSL member Morgan Artyukhina recalled how the U.S. state has attacked the political opposition here, too: “Opposition candidates like Jill Stein weren’t even allowed to participate in the electoral debates. Jill Stein was arrested trying to get into one of the debates, how is that not shutting down the opposition?”
“When they say that there’s no democracy in Venezuela, I have to laugh, because they have a democracy there like we’ve never seen before,” they said, noting the deliberate cross-section of society represented in the Venezuelan Constituent Assembly, which is drafting a new constitution for the country. “I think the fact that there is this real, democratic movement happening in Venezuela is an interesting contrast to what is happening in Brazil … that’s the kind of people that these people are, they look at [Brazilian President Jair] Bolsonaro and say, ‘this is a good thing, this is what we want to do in Venezuela.’ That’s just monstrous to me and I hope that sounds monstrous to you, too.”
Brian Becker, National Director of the ANSWER Coalition, said, “The U.S. has no moral authority to preach about democracy.”
“We cannot be neutral in this class struggle,” he said, “we are either for the Bolivarian Revolution or against it.”