Recent moves by the Puerto Rican government headed by Governor Ricardo Rosselló are shameful. They transform our country into a platform for imperialist intervention amid aggression against the legitimate government of Venezuela.
Rosselló has announced that the island will become a “logistic center” from which the transition of Venezuela towards a “full democracy” will be prepared. To such ends, he indicated that the government of Puerto Rico will provide space for the meeting of the Commission of Reconstruction of Venezuela, under the direction of opposition leader Antonio Ledezma.
This is just one of many imperialist maneuvers against Venezuela, led by the United States.
In December 2014, the government of the United States, within the framework of its interventionist policy, approved the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act. Its origin is found in a bill submitted in March of that same year by Cuban-American New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menéndez. He is a longtime enemy of the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutions.
The Act empowered former U.S. President Barack Obama to sanction people he determined were responsible for alleged acts of violence against the Venezuelan opposition. The Act also authorized him to impose sanctions on those allegedly responsible for such acts. These sanctions included, among other measures, blocking their assets, establishing prohibitions on transactions with assets in the United States and the revocation of their visas and other issued documents.
During the fiscal year following the Act’s approval, millions of dollars were allocated for the following purposes: (a) to defend human rights in Venezuela; (b) to increase the capacity of civil society in that country; (c) to support independent media and prevent the restriction of their coverage; (d) to improve government transparency and accountability; and finally, (e) to help Venezuelan protesters whom the U.S. president determines are victims of repression by the current Venezuelan government.
On Feb. 12, 2015, the Venezuelan government made public the way in which state security agencies managed to thwart a new coup attempt against the government of President Nicolás Maduro. Coup attempts in Venezuela, as we know, are neither theoretical nor new. They are real.
Remember that in February 2002, a coup attempt against the government of former President Hugo Chávez was carried out. Likewise, during the years 2014 and 2015, the Venezuelan opposition, after its defeat in various electoral processes, promoted a climate of insecurity and violence in the country in order to establish conditions that would lead to another coup.
Venezuelan opposition protesters. | Source: Joe Raedle, Getty Images
On March 9, 2015, Obama issued an executive order titled Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela. It included seven high-level officials of the Venezuelan government linked to the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, FANB, and the prosecutor’s office, who from their respective public responsibilities played an active role in combating a coup attempt on February 12, 2015. The executive order did not serve any other purpose than to pretend to delegitimize officials who played a key role in dismantling the coup attempt. The United States tried to stigmatize any attempts by the Venezuelan government to defend itself.
As part of its defensive strategy, Venezuela’s FANB launched joint air, land and sea military exercises with Russia on March 14 of that year. Likewise, within the framework of popular mobilization, the grassroots organizations of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, PSUV, and the masses participated in activities alongside the FANB, such as gun training, survival skills and community self-defense.
In 2015, the White House published an edited version its National Security Strategy. In it, the Executive Branch of the U.S. government laid out its top security priorities within a five-year period. At the time the document was approved, the United States was supporting a new coup plot against Maduro’s government. Contrary to what the United States affirms in its National Security Strategy, it is not the government of Maduro that is contributing to chaos in Venezuela. It is the U.S. government. Since the founding of the Bolivarian Revolution in the late 1990s, the United States has not ceased to promote the destabilization of the revolutionary government by supporting right-wing gangs and criminals who promote violence.
The process of destabilization against Venezuela in the past few years has not paused. Maduro’s response, however, has been for the Venezuelan people to deepen their revolution through the exercise of the constituent power. Thus, on May 1, 2017, Maduro summoned the people — under the provisions of the current Constitution of 1999, invoking articles 347, 348 and 349 — to a National Constituent Assembly. Its purpose was to make necessary changes to the country’s constitution with the intention of safeguarding and deepening revolutionary gains.
In his convocation, Maduro specifically called on Venezuela’s working class people to participate. He indicated that the purpose of the convocation was to elevate to constitutional rank the missions created by the Bolivarian Revolution, such as: (a) the Housing Mission, which opens the way for citizen access to housing; (b) the Barrio Nuevo Mission and the Tricolor Mission, which have been crucial in the provision of health services and care for the most vulnerable sectors of Venezuelan society; and (c) the Food Mission, which guarantees access to food at a time when sectors of the oligarchy hide food to start chaos-inducing shortages.
Supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution paint murals for the Barrio Nuevo Mission in Venezuela. | Source: VTV
Maduro’s proposal was rejected by the same opposition groups that since 2014 have been calling for a National Constituent Assembly. To reinforce their rejection of the National Constituent Assembly, these right-wing groups received the support and financing of Venezuelan oligarchs, the government of the United States and their allies in the region. Organization of American States, OAS, Secretary General Luis Almagro joined this interventionist endeavor.
At that time, the Venezuelan government denounced at least 11 public pronouncements and four statements made by the United States government against their country, as well as the campaign carried out by Almagro between Feb. 28 to April 19. This included four extraordinary sessions of the group and illegitimately approving resolutions against Venezuela without the consensus of the member countries of the OAS. Almagro counted with the complicity of the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Within the strategy against Venezuela, several military exercises have been carried out under the auspices of the U.S. Southern Command in which U.S. military personnel based in Colombia work with Brazilian and Peruvian troops.
Mass support for the constituent process and the Venezuelan government generated new manifestations from the U.S. government and the recalcitrant Venezuelan right. After the failure of terrorist violence during Spring 2017 and the loss of its capacity to overthrow Maduro’s government, the plot against the Bolivarian Revolution entered a new phase. Its objective is now to end the Bolivarian Revolution by launching a program of direct attacks, promoted and directed from abroad. One of the most outstanding was the recent attack against Maduro during a commemoration and military parade on the Venezuelan National Guard’s 81st anniversary.
Just a few hours after the event, in a televised speech made to the Venezuelan people, Maduro set responsibility for the attack on sectors of the Venezuelan right with the direct support of the Colombian government. According to Maduro, former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos hinted during the final days of his term that the Venezuelan leader might not be around soon.
In the attack, two small drones with explosive capacities were used. One of them, thanks to systems of detection by Venezuelan security agencies, was diverted into the air, crashing into a building adjacent to the place where the president, his wife and high officials of his government and the FANB were. Meanwhile, the other exploded a short distance from where the president was. According to subsequent statements by Maduro, the people who operated the drones used in the attack were trained between the months of April and June on a farm in Chinácota, Colombia, in the department of Santander.
More recently, on Oct. 25, on the occasion of his appearance before the General Assembly of the United Nations, U.S. President Donald Trump also spoke about against Maduro, his government and the Bolivarian Revolution. There, he announced his decision to force his overthrow, announcing new economic sanctions against Venezuela. These sanctions add to the recent freezing of the operations of Citgo gas stations, which sell oil in the United States. Citgo is a subsidiary of the revolution-run Petroleum of Venezuela S.A., or PDVSA, oil company.
As part of the new sanctions, purchases by Venezuela of U.S. companies with dollars are prohibited. He also indicated that he did not rule out any measure against Venezuela, which suggests that military intervention remains a consideration.
According to an Oct. 3 letter by the co-president of the Hostosian National Independence Movement, Wilma Reverón Collazo explained that as part of maneuvers against Venezuela, the U.S. government has been “creating conditions for the military sixth phase,” which includes the training of more than 9,000 military and police in the Hemispheric Institute (formerly the School of the Americas). She also denounced the creation of the so-called “Pacific Alliance,” which is made up of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. It serves as part of U.S. policy to destroy regional solidarity and promote future military intervention.
On Oct. 1, in El Nuevo Día, a column written by Miguel Enrique Otero appears, titled “Military Intervention in Venezuela: Reality and Desire.” The author claims that the same thing that happened with the Republican Guard of Saddam Hussein in Iraq will happen in Venezuela. He notes that “the revolutionary units dissolved in a matter of hours, there was hardly any resistance, the soldiers fled in a disorganized manner, abandoning their weapons, uniforms and documents that could be used to identify them later.”
After the occupation of Iraq by the United States, however, there has not been a moment of tranquility. Overall, the author fails to understand that a response of the Venezuelan masses to a potential invasion could be much different from Iraq. On the contrary, it could strengthen the Bolivarian Revolution, as the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 did for the Cuban Revolution, when the people defended their land with honor.
A sign in Cuba reads “Fatherland or death, like in Playa Girón.” Playa Girón is located in the Bay of Pigs. | Source: Along the Malecón
Another report, “Scenarios of Military Intervention: The Capabilities of Venezuela to Defend Itself” by Rubén Castillo in Resumen Latinoamericano shows the other side of the situation from the perspective of Latin America and the Third World. There, the author points out that Maduro has prompted the FANB to carry out joint military exercises with the masses to combat a potential invasion. More recently, according to the report, the FANB is considering military exercises on the border with Colombia, including exercises with elite units of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba.
The author points out that in the past decade, the Strategic Operational Command of the FANB has been preparing to face such an invasion scenario with “the strategic conception of Protracted War,” a concept theorized and practiced by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong. The FANB has also sought the gradual improvement of its military equipment “to the point of having the capacity to deny the airspace to any aircraft that wants to fly over it without full authorization.” As part of this defense strategy, taking into consideration the particular conditions of the country and its territory, a War of Attrition approach is insisted upon.
Unlike the example outlined by Otero in reference to Iraq, Venezuela has important, modern and sophisticated systems of anti-aircraft defenses. These include Russian-made missiles that have already proven their abilities in other war scenarios. These systems can detect any air threats with a distance of 300 kilometers and a height of 25,000 meters. Venezuela also has modern aircraft capable of intercepting any threat on the national territory before the airspace is invaded.
Although in the past the United States has tried to break the military balance between Venezuela and Colombia through Plan Colombia, the capacity of both countries is equal today in some areas. In others, Venezuela surpasses them. According to what was published by the Latin American Summary, Venezuela has a stock of 696 tanks, 57 self-propelled artillery vehicles and 52 Smerch rocket launchers — capacities with which Colombia does not count. Likewise, Venezuela has currently developed important mechanisms for safeguarding the security of the people. Venezuela today also has tens of thousands of citizen-soldiers who are part of its popular militias and a defense system based on the concept of People’s War. Those who put their foreign boots on Venezuelan territory must be willing to pay a high price.
A member of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces, FANB, teaches a woman how to use a rifle during a military exercise in Caracas, Venezuela. | Source: Reuters
On the political and diplomatic level, Venezuela has been strengthening its economic relations and agreements with countries such as China and Russia. Despite the various setbacks experienced by several countries in Latin America with their governments that have given their sovereignty to imperial and neoliberal interests, Venezuela continues to count on the support of the peoples of those countries.
Recent moves by the government of Puerto Rico through Rosselló are shameful to others, offering our country as a platform for imperialist intervention in the face of aggression against the legitimate government of Venezuela.
We Puerto Ricans cannot remain idle given the danger posed to our sisters and brothers in Venezuela and the Caribbean region by the United States’ interventionist policy. We must guarantee peace based on sovereignty, independence and Latin American and Caribbean integration.
Peace that only the Bolivarian Revolution is capable of offering to the brave people of Venezuela. Peace that allows its government and its people to dedicate their energies to the deepening of the revolutionary changes needed in the homeland of Simón Bolívar.
Glory to the brave people!
Note: This article was originally published in Spanish by Otro Puerto Rico es Posible on Oct. 4, 2018 and translated into English by ANTICONQUISTA on Oct. 6 2018. Alejandro Torres Rivera is a member of the National Directorate of the Hostosian National Independence Movement, MINH.