Of Venezuela and Hypocrisy 267


Hugo Chavez’ revolutionary politics were founded on two very simple tenets:

1) People ought not to be starving in dreadful slums in the world’s most oil rich state
2) The CIA ought not to control Venezuela

Over the years, Chavez racked up real achievements in improving living standards for the poor and in providing health and education facilities. He was widely popular and both he and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, also racked up very genuine election victories. Maduro remains the democratically elected President.

But the dream went sour. In particular it fell foul of the tendency of centrally planned economies to fail to get the commodities people want onto shop shelves, and to the corruption that goes with centralisation. The latter was certainly not worse than the right wing corruption it replaced, but that does not diminish its existence.

Every revolution will always displace an existing elite who are by definition the best educated and most articulate section of the population, with most access to resources including media – and to CIA secret backing, which has continued throughout at an increasing rate. Chavez did not solve this problem in the way Robespierre, Stalin, Trotsky or Mao would have done. He embraced democracy, let them be – and largely left their private offshore billions, and thus their power, untouched.

Inevitably the day came when economic and administrative failings cracked the solidity of support from the poor for the revolution. The right then stepped up their opposition with a campaign led by corrupt billionaires, which the western media has failed to acknowledge has been throughout murderously violent.

The problem with revolutionary millenarianism is that its failure to achieve utopia is viewed as disaster by its proponents. Maduro ought to have accepted that it is the nature of life that political tides ebb and flow, ceded power to the opposition gains in parliament, maintained the principles of democracy, and waited for the tide to turn back his way – taking the risk that the CIA might not give him the chance. Instead he has resorted to a constitutional fix which dilutes democracy, a precedent which will delight the right who in the long term have most to fear from the populace. Given the extreme violence of the opposition, I am less inclined to view arrests as unquestionably a straightforward human rights matter, than are some pro-western alleged human rights groups. But that Maduro has stepped off the democratic path I fear is true. He has, bluntly, gone wrong, however difficult the circumstances. I condemn both the departures from human rights best practice and the attempt to use a part indirectly elected body to subvert the elected parliament.

But, even today, Venezuela is still vastly more of a democracy than Saudi Arabia, and a far greater respecter of human rights than Israel in its dreadful repression of the Palestinians. Yet support for Israel and for Saudi Arabia are keystones of the foreign policy of those who today are incessant in their demands that we on the “left” condemn Venezuela. The BBC has given massively more news coverage to human rights abuse in Venezuela this last month than in a score of much worse countries I could name – than a score put together.

Human rights abuse should be condemned everywhere. But it only hits the headlines when practised by a country which is on the wrong side of the neo-con agenda.


267 thoughts on “Of Venezuela and Hypocrisy

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  • Andy

    ”Maduro has stepped off the democratic path I fear is true. ”

    Can I ask how Maduro has ”stepped off the democratic path”?

  • Mark DC

    Only those who have not lived under socialism want to live under it. Those who have lived under it want to escape it.

    • Tedb

      Spot on Mark.

      Socialism is the work of the devil. Corbyn would destroy the UK if he ever gets in the door.

    • Rob Ollis

      Born in the UK, after the second world war, I lived under the socialism of the then Labour party. From the slums of Birmingham, (and you would not believe the deprivation of those back to back hovels), I enjoyed the newly created NHS; improved housing, full employment with rights. I lived through a golden age of British socialism. As old age sets in, I live in fear as I see the dismantling of all that made this country fit to live in, and to feel proud of. Your glib orinions have no credibility.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ Rob Ollis August 3, 2017 at 13:58
        Indeed; I was born in 1943, and second your observations.
        But the Soros & Co. hit the pound hard when Wilson was Prime Minister; and then MI5 plotted against him (see ‘Spycatcher’, by Peter Wright). Wilson had largely kept Britain out of Vietnam, much to the chagrin of our ‘American Cousins’.
        Then along came Thatcher, with her monetary policies straight from Pinochet’s Chile, and her intent, largely successful, to break the Miners Union, and other unions.

  • Mark DC

    I think the point about the demands for the left to condemn Venezuela stem from the fact that so many on the left, including the messiah JC himself, have advanced socialist Venezuela as a model for Western society. No one, to the best of my knowledge, has said we ought to be using Saudi Arabia as a model state.

    • craig Post author

      Utter tosh. Please quote some examples of Corbyn and those around him saying we should follow Venezuela as a model for our state.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        Looks to me like the point is that the Tories, New Labourites and the media are complaining Corbyn hasn’t said anything striking about Venezuela since 2015, although, like a great many Venezuelans, he strongly supported Chavez until the latter’s death in 2013. It’s an ‘all editors, please c&p’ job, originated by someone who feels threatened by Corbyn, and anxious to promote a link between Corbyn and the strangling of cute kittens. Corbyn’s been noticeably silent on the subject of strangling cute kittens, too, and we know what conclusions to draw from that, don’t we?

        I note that our great and good have been unanimously silent on several subjects, too…the Rwandan criminal Kagame’s highly predictable re-election after his changing the rules to permit him a third term. The inundation of Gaza by raw sewage due to the PA’s refusal to supply it with adequate power. Everything about South Sudan and Yemen. Etcetera.

        And most of us recognise the pre-regime-change destabilisation of a Latin American country with oil and ideas of its own.

      • Alasdair Macdonald

        You are right in your main post about the attitude of the quasi ‘left’ London media. The New Statesman is taking exactly the misinformational line about Venezuela and using the situation in Venezuela to attack Jeremy Corbyn. The ‘Herald’ today has a dig, too.

        Why does the NS board not get shot of closet Tories like Jason Cowley, Julia Crampton, Helen Lewis, Chris Deerin? Mr Cowley was explicitly pro Mrs May at the last election and throughout Mr Corbyn’s leadership has written of him or published articles that were as mendaciously insulting as any in the Daily Mail, Express, Times, Telegraph.

  • Paul

    Craig,

    Jusrt to be clear, could I summarise your post as:
    1) Democracy is, per se, a good thing
    2) It’s gone a bit astray in Venezuela
    3) But it’s still better than Saudi Arabia in general, and better than Israel in its support of human rights?

    If so, I agree with you on all but the Israel point – the issue in Israel is surely its attitude in occupied territories. Within Israel itself my perception (for a position of far less knowledge than you, so I’m happy tobe corrected) is that it is a decent respecter of human rights. The issue is in the territories is has occupied outside its borders, on which I tend to agree with you.

    • Andy

      ”Within Israel itself ”

      Israel says OPT belong to Israel, so ”within Israel” includes a few million Palestinians living under brutal military occupation in OPT.
      Palestinian Israeli citizens are second class citizens.

        • Republicofscotland

          Tedb.

          “The Arab citizens of Israel live in a reality in which they experience discrimination as Arabs. This inequality has been documented in a large number of professional surveys and studies, has been confirmed in court judgments and government resolutions, and has also found expression in reports by the state comptroller and in other official documents.”

          “Although the Jewish majority’s awareness of this discrimination is often quite low, it plays a central role in the sensibilities and attitudes of Arab citizens. This discrimination is widely accepted, both within the Arab sector and outside it, and by official assessments, as a chief cause of agitation.”

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_citizens_of_Israel#Civil_rights

          It seems it’s not thuat difficult to find information to the contrary.

    • Álvares Reyes

      “a decent respecter of human rights”

      No, it’s not.
      It’s a racist white supremacist state. See Abby Martin’s recent reportage – How Black Lives Don’t Matter in Israel

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n10pSFUJ4RA

      Also Max Blumenthal has talked about Israeli racism and strive for ethnic purity:

      https://youtu.be/d0TxlVi3P0k?t=1m41s

      Needless to say, the EU (and the US) approve of all of this, they seem to have even hired a racist white supremacist to further they campaign in Israel:

      https://electronicintifada.net/content/fuck-it-wipe-out-gaza-says-spokesman-new-eu-campaign/21296

      “Ivri was a writer for Latma, a defunct Israeli sketch show that reflected extreme right-wing and racist views, such as depicting migrants and refugees from African states as apes.”

      “Since 2016, Israel has escalated its campaign against human rights defenders. Even the EU managed to issue a timid protest of Israel’s so-called transparency law, which tightens monitoring of human rights groups that receive funding from European governments.”

  • Republicofscotland

    “The head of the CIA has suggested the agency is working to change the elected government of Venezuela and is collaborating with two countries in the region to do so.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/cia-venezuela-crisis-government-mike-pompeo-helping-install-new-remarks-a7859771.html

    It would be very very difficult for a leader to stay completely on the path of democracy, with the Great Satan breathing down his/her neck.

    How could a leader of any South American country make real progressive changes, without first acknowledging the USA’s desires on the continent.

    The Great Satan, has a lot to answer for, it would be better for the world if states such as Texas and California gained secession, it might start a domino effect in the US, and weaken the Great Satan’s often neferious foreign policies, aimed at less well prepared countries.

  • Andy

    The Guardian wants regime change. Front page of it’s website is full of Venezuela ”news”.

  • Sharp Ears

    Needless to say Aaronovitch chimes in, knocking Jeremy in the process.

    August 3 2017
    Corbyn’s silence on Venezuela speaks volumes
    David Aaronovitch
    Those on the far-left who portrayed the socialist republic as a beacon now need to be honest about what went wrong
    I think it was Dave the Maoist who asked Julian the Trotskyist “Where were you on the Long March, comrade?” It had been a heated discussion in the bar after a meeting of the university socialist society. But though Dave and Julian were heavily invested in the debate, no one else cared. No one in the world.

    So, I hear the keen, new Labour voter today reading all this stuff about Corbyn and his comrades and their silence over Venezuela and asking in a similar way: “Come on guys, what does it matter? Let’s talk about cuts to the NHS.”

    Is it an answer to say that it certainly mattered to Corbyn until very recently? If he and his friends hadn’t been so bothered by… paywall
    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/corbyn-s-silence-on-venezuela-speaks-volumes-tpctb0lcm

    Taken to task. Jolly good.
    https://twitter.com/DAaronovitch/status/892996218586112000

    Reminder on AA’s standards,
    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/?s=aaronovitch

    • Mathiasalexander

      Which brings us to the question of why people are being paid six figure sums for writting shite that nobody reads.
      Is it to keep up the appearance of the MSM being really clever and important?
      Are they really recieving that much money?
      Are the circulation figures fake?

  • Geoff Jones

    The other morning the BBC Today show gave airtime to an opponent of the regime who unequivocally called for US military invasion to topple the government – with no balancing voice.

    • Andy

      The opposition boycott elections, calls for military intervention/Venezuelan military to overthrow government, and are supported by the US.

      So, in fact, liberals are saying the democratically elected Venezuelan government be overthrown in a violent coup and replaced by a US backed fascists junta.

  • Salford Lad

    I stand to be corrected , but I do not believe that Venezuela is a centrally planned economy. There has certainly been economic mismanagement by the Bolivarian Movement of Chavez/Maduro. They failed to invest in their agricultural and Industrial base and produce the goods necessary to support the State and create employment. There has been too much reliance on oil revenue, giving an unbalanced economy
    The fall in the oil price from circa $147/bbl to approx $45/bbl has impacted on the Socialist movement, by the reduction in revenue required to buy imported commodities. This has been the Achilles heel which the elites and their stringpullers in the shadows have used to create civil unrest..
    I have travelled in South America and it is evident ,that there are but 2 classes , the rich and the exploited dirt poor.
    The problem of shortages is a tactic to increase civil unrest. Some essential domestic goods are being deliberately withheld by the elites who control many of the supply industries and of course the media.
    No doubt the CIA are stoking the unrest with their well worn Colour revolution tactic play book, of financing agent provocateurs and the strategic manipulation of perception, aka propaganda.
    We have seen this Hybrid warfare strategy, many times, over recent years in Libya, Syria ,Ukraine, etc.

      • Salford Lad

        @ Tedb,
        You obviously have been living in a bubble of equanimity. The US has been interfering in Latin America for over a 100 years,Have you no knowledge of the Monroe Doctrine.
        Have you not acquainted yourself with the death of the Chilean President Allende. Have you not heard of the coup in Guatemala against President Jacob Ardenz, have you not heard of the CIA cocaine financed war in Nicaragua against the Sandinistas.
        Have you not heard of the CIA organised invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.etc.
        Poverty can be cured by money, hunger by food, homelessnes by housing, but they have yet to find a cure for stupidity and it is a life sentence.

  • John Strover

    Thank you for that, Craig. It has helped me to understand the situation better. I liked a lot of what Chavez achieved but have not known what to make of Maduro and the present crisis. I hope that Corbyn makes a statement along these lines.

  • Dave

    Off topic, but the almost unanimous vote in Congress to impose more sanctions on North Korea, Iran and Russia has incited a backlash from EU who will bound by this US imposition too. Perhaps the wording of the motion to trap Trump, could ironically assist him due to overreach by creating new found allies in the EU against the globalists.

  • Michael McNulty

    The main reason socialist societies tend to fail is because conservative governments everywhere cannot afford for socialism to succeed so they apply tariffs and sanctions, and if need be, war. If socialism was left to achieve its potential most classes of people would want it.

    It’s a bit rich for the privileged to dismiss socialism as Utopia when they live in Utopia, with huge incomes where tax avoidance is excusable, with executive toys like yachts and jets to play with, and much of their their law-breaking is above prosecution. It’s like CEO’s and MP’s who say there’s no such thing as a free meal when they’re about the only two groups of people whose meals are free.

    • Salford Lad

      Peter Koenig, is an ex World Bank Economist and geo-political analyst, he gives an in- depth analysis of the recent Constitutional vote in Venezuela.
      It is a rather long read , but may benefit some who care to inform themselves of the intricacies of the Venezuelean situation. As always, we receive our information at a distance and can only make a judgement from sourcing several views. All have their own bias, but a self filtering of news in these days of perception manipulation is an essential requirement.
      http://thesaker.is/venezuela-the-national-constituent-assembly-is-in-place-but-the-fight-for-sovereignty-isnt-over/

    • Loony

      There are examples of socialist societies failing as a consequence of outside interference – Chile serves as one example.

      However all socialist societies fail – and some of those societies have either been big enough to resist outside pressures or have been actively supported by the “enemies of socialism”

      The most amazing achievement of the USSR was that it squandered vast natural wealth and ultimately bankrupted itself. The experienced living standards of the Chinese population have increased immeasurably since its government removed everything but the communist logo from its policies.

      The Khmer Rouge was actively supported by the US and the UK. Not even the deliberate slaughter of one third of the population was sufficient to cool the ardor of Margaret Thatcher for that particular regime.

      The apartheid regime of South Africa was much sanctioned and explicitly followed policies designed to favor one small privileged class. However the experienced living standards for the vast mass of the population have taken a turn for the worse under the internationally supported communist regime of the ANC. Zimbabwe too has been crushed under the weight of socialism. Given the manifestly racially elitist regimes that preceded the current regimes then it is an extraordinary achievement of socialism that it has been able to make the economic situation worse than it was before.

      Is it not odd that there is one particular form of government (socialism) that has been responsible for upwards of 100 million deaths in the last century or so and still the western intellectual elite think that this is the kind of experience that most people would choose if only they were allowed the option.

      Orwell nailed the problem years ago. It is not that socialists like the poor, It is that they hate the rich. 100 million plus deaths of poor people is a small price to pay to feed their hatred of the rich. The poor may be poor – but being poor does not make them stupid. It is their lack of stupidity that enables them to ignore the siren calls of their intellectual masters. There is nothing much to choose between modern day high priests of socialism and the historic Aztec priests of human sacrifice.

      Still you are onto a winner – as all western governments are effectively following socialist money printing policies – so you too will get to experience the manifest joys of full spectrum economic collapse.

      • Sinister Burt

        Maybe the ones that didn’t collapse due to outside interference didn’t need to be attacked so much – i’m pretty sure western power was much happier with stalin doing his (pretty damn un-socialist) thing ‘in one country’ than with the chance of less brutal attempts at socialism closer to home catching on (the ‘threat of a good example’). Do you really think that the CIA and the british establishment spent all that time and money corrupting socialist ideas in europe into blair-style ‘atlanticism’ (eg mocking bird) working for the good of mankind? They recognised the real threat socialist ideas (the non dictatory ones) were to their entrenched power and reacted accordingly (and still act to continually trying to top up the propaganda convincing people to vote against their own interest because ‘scary socialism is bad mmkay’).

        To conflate all different political efforts that come under the broad umbrella of socialism into one, equating (eg) marxists, leninists, stalinists, syndicalists, anarchists and social democrats is tendentious. Socialism includes many different theories and practices over the years – writing them all off as one smacks of ideology on your part it seems to me. The NHS is socialism (well, the tories are working on fixing that) – at the very least this should make a rational person pause before writing socialism off entirely (unless you’re one of the people who’d rather have the ‘freedom’ to die for lack of personal financial luck)

  • Stu

    You would think that the coup in Brazil would attract at least as much attention as events in Venezuela but apparently not…

  • Voice of Treason

    Venezuela is an open liberal democracy with a mixed, capitalist social market economy. It has never been a command economy or in any way remotely Marxist. Even now, the vast majority of capital and wealth is in private hands (including the newspapers and TV stations which are overwhelmingly anti-government), with the exception of a few key industrial sectors, notably the oil industry. Free market competition prevails throughout most of the economy, including those few where shortages are in evidence (e.g. toilet paper). Its problems are the result of deliberate economic warfare prosecuted by the rich elites who control most of Venezuela’s economy, backed by the US. In addition, gangs of armed, hired thugs roam the streets lynching pro-government supporters and causing mayhem, attacking hospitals and infrastructure.

    We’ve seen it all before, as it follows a very well worn pattern (Iran, 1953, Guatemala, 1954, Chile, 1973, and countless other examples). The truth is plain to see if you watch the following reports by Abby Martin, a US journalist who has received death threats from the opposition. Other journalists have been shot by them.

    1) Truth about the economy and media: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUYWrPiUeWY

    2) Truth about opposition ‘protests’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig6yFP8HjVQ

  • eddie-g

    “In particular it fell foul of the tendency of centrally planned economies to fail to get the commodities people want onto shop shelves, and to the corruption that goes with centralisation.”

    It also fell foul as a result of the collapse in the oil price. Venezuela’s oil is more expensive to extract, and relatively sulphur-heavy, which makes it more expensive to refine. At around $50 a barrel, where we’ve been since late 2014, PDVSA can’t makes ends meet and the Venezuelan government loses its main source of revenue.

    No arguments with you re. Western hypocrisy, but it’s also a stark example of a petro-state which operates on the margins. A bad turn in the oil market puts huge strain on its economy.

    • Loony

      You write “Venezuela’s oil is more expensive to extract…” More expensive than what? It is not more expensive than US shale and it is not more expensive that Canadian tar sands – both of which act as the marginal source of supply.

      Oil prices fluctuate and have always fluctuated. Venezuela has some 15.4 GW of installed hydro capacity and it is some of the most cost effective hydro in the world. Some estimates are that its average cost of production is as low as 1.2 cents/kWh and its marginal cost of production is close to zero. Yet Venezuela suffers from extensive power cuts. Ask why this might be. Any answer that involves the CIA or reactionary rich people is the wrong answer.

      • eddie-g

        More expensive than most other countries: (even US shale, apparently)

        http://graphics.wsj.com/oil-barrel-breakdown/

        Again, the point here is that this is a government that that relies on oil revenues for around 50% of its budget. Some countries are better equipped to handle market fluctuations, Venezuela is not.

        • Loony

          The article from the WSJ is a perfect example of the cult of fake news.

          The WSJ knows with absolute certainty that US shale is more expensive than anything that comes out of Venezuela, but then spins its journalism to seek to convey the opposite of what they know the truth to be.

          Bonds issued by PdV now yield 152%

          https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-01/pdvsa-bond-s-152-yield-signals-fading-trust-in-venezuela-chart

          There is evidence to suggest that the Dallas Fed has strong armed banks into not pushing US shale producers into bankruptcy

          http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-16/exclusive-dallas-fed-quietly-suspends-energy-mark-market-tells-banks-not-force-shale

          If you have one activity that is being financed at close to zero interest rates and which is not permitted to go bankrupt then that activity will appear to be more economic than another activity that is being financed at 152% interest rates. No-one today seriously argues that interest rates are anything other than a political construction – and so politics now comes to be the sole arbiter of what is and is not profitable.

          It is not possible that any market would place a minimum 150% premium on the product of one entity over another – especially when, after refining, and transportation costs to market the end product is homogeneous.

          So you have economic policy crafted to produce perverse outcomes and journalism desperately dedicated to obfuscating the truth. That journalists lie about substantially everything is surely beyond doubt. Ensuring that society is bound together by a web of lies is unlikely to have a positive outcome.

          • Ba'al Zevul

            Didn’t Mussolini say something to the effect of ‘when you can’t put a cigarette paper between the corporations and the government, you’re getting close to fascism’? Well, he’s the authority on fascism, anyway. We’re getting close to fascism, and the US has just arrived there.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ eddie-g August 3, 2017 at 13:59
      Not so much a ‘bad turn’ in the oil price, but a catastrophic one, falling about two thirds (intentionally engineered by Saudi Arabia at the behest of the ‘Empire’, in order to hit Russia, Iran and Venezuela, as well as ‘collateral damage’ to others).
      They had not been ‘wasting’ their wealth while it was coming in, but building homes, schools, clinics and increasing the living standards of the people.

      • Hieroglyph

        “They had not been ‘wasting’ their wealth while it was coming in, but building homes, schools, clinics and increasing the living standards of the people.”

        Which, as you know, does indeed constitute ‘wasting wealth’ in neoliberal circles. Because all wealth should funnel upwards, and eventually end up in a tax-haven, where it can earn absurd levels of interest which is in no way a ponzi scheme. Anything else is basically burning money.

        Apparently they have teams of people employed to negate potential stock market collapse. I fear their hard work may soon end. Later this year, allegedly, but I guess it’s always ‘later this year’.

  • Kevin McTiernan

    Your willingness to speak truth as you see it, your insight, and balance, are both a balm to my soul and a beacon. A beacon showing me evidence of what I know in my heart; we’ve passed a tipping point, darkness is in retreat. Sure it’ll take time, and it’ll be back n forth. But we WILL be free. Thank you for what you do Craig

  • Robert

    Neither Chavez nor Maduro advocated or attempted “revolutionary millenarianism”, rather social democracy (as Chavez told Tariq Ali, in South America’s situation real socialism is impossible), and neither had the power to prevent corporations from withholding the delivery of products to supermarket shelves, which is what has happened. No government on Earth is fully on the “democratic path” but to ignore the role of the US-coordinated campaign of economic warfare is to misunderstand the multiple causes of the current crisis. The integration of American state and corporate power in this effort is similar, though on a larger scale, to the attack on Wikileaks via economic blockade.

  • Tony

    Two really awful Labour MPs have urged Corbyn to condemn what is happening in Venezuela.

    But no problem with Blair and all the regimes he has links with.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Tony August 3, 2017 at 14:59
      Angela Jones and Graham Smith will be dealt with by Momentum at the next election, God willing.

      • Loony

        …and there you have it. People with whom you disagree are to be dealt with by Momentum.

        In a democracy such people will be dealt with by the electorate. I have no idea who the people are that you refer to, however you reference only 2 individuals. The electorate dealt with the entire EU, so the capability of the electorate is not in doubt. What is in doubt is the fact that you cannot be certain that the people will agree with you. So according to you extra measures are necessary in order to safeguard the primacy of your view.

        Do you not understand how fantastically dangerous your ideas are? If you have the right to “deal” with people with who you do not agree then do people who do not agree with you have the right to “deal” with you? If not, why not?

        • John Spencer-Davis

          “In a democracy such people will be dealt with by the electorate.”

          Yes, but it depends what you mean by the electorate. The two people mentioned are MPs, and they have no God-given right to continue as parliamentary candidates at every General Election. That depends on their Constituency Labour Parties and affiliated organisations who have a right to vote them out and vote different candidates in. That is what is meant by “dealt with by Momentum”. There’s nothing sinister about it.

          “If you have the right to “deal” with people with who you do not agree then do people who do not agree with you have the right to “deal” with you?”

          Yes, of course they do, in the way outlined above. J

    • John Spencer-Davis

      Livingstone is reported as saying that not to carry out a massacre has helped lead to the present difficulties.

      “One of the things that Chávez did when he came to power, he didn’t kill all the oligarchs. There was about 200 families who controlled about 80% of the wealth in Venezuela,” Livingstone told Talk Radio.
      “He allowed them to live, to carry on. I suspect a lot of them are using their power and control over imports and exports to make it difficult and to undermine Maduro.”

      I assume this is also what Craig means when he says:

      “Chavez did not solve this problem in the way Robespierre, Stalin, Trotsky or Mao would have done.”

      I must say I find the attitudes behind these apparently offhand comments quite shocking. The trouble with simply killing your political opponents when you come to power – aside from the fact that it is murder, which is supposed to be something humans shouldn’t do – is that in doing so you become unable ever to relinquish power, because you can’t kill everybody, and the families and friends of those executed will be looking for justice for those executed, if you ever are in a position where judgment can be carried out against you. You will also be perfectly aware of this, and it will frighten you, and make you determined to entrench yourself against the possibility. Purges, therefore, do not lead to democracy, but to more and more authoritarianism and repression – as Robespierre, Stalin and Mao and their victims discovered. I believe this is why Mugabe, for example, has been so unwilling to hand on or even share political power.

      “Socialism will be free or it will not be at all.” – Rocker

      Venezuela may be in a bad state at the moment, but would the terror and silence that would have accompanied large-scale executions at the beginning of the Chavez regime have made it a better place? I doubt it.

      • Republicofscotland

        Fair points John, however, and I’m not condoning killing, progress is often accomplished through the shedding of blood.

        You may recoil in revulsion at that thought, however the British government displaced the Chagos islanders, many of whom are now dead due to the expulsion from their homes.

        But there appears to be a bigger outrage at the thought of Maduro, removing those who would hinder the progress of Venezuela for their own benefit.

        • John Spencer-Davis

          I am not a pacifist, but I take Tony Benn’s attitude to political violence. Socialism should always be a movement of peace, and employ violence only if it encounters resistance to the laws of the land. In other words, if a revolutionary socialist government were elected in this country, say, and moved to nationalise the land, for example, if it had been mandated to do so by placing the matter in its manifesto, and it encountered violent resistance from wealthy landowners, it would be quite entitled to use force to put its policies through. All governments are already entitled to use force as a last resort to ensure compliance with their laws.

          That is a very different state of affairs to assuming that people will not comply and executing them en masse as a precautionary measure or as an example to others. J

          • Republicofscotland

            That’s all very well and good John, however Benn nor his family had to face the machinations of the Great Satan, nor feel the full force of its assets used against the people, which manifests in the shape of poverty and hunger, amongst other things.

            I wonder how your ethics would stand up if you and your family were residents in a Venezuela under pressure from the US, and other South American nations and government opponents and rich business individuals backed by outside forces.

          • John Spencer-Davis

            That’s quite true. It’s easy to be high-minded with a full tummy and a roof over your head in a peaceful country. I don’t honestly know how they would stand up, how could I possibly know that?

            However, I maintain that summary execution and the terror that it brings are unlikely to produce good political results. I think that’s true whether or not I ended up as one of the summary executors for comprehensible reasons. J

      • Salford Lad

        Murder of political opponents and Oligarchs is to be condemned. I saw little condemnation by our Western media, but rejoicing, when they murdered Allende ,Saddam,Qaddafi ,Patrice Lumumba, and facilitated the innocent Milosevics death in captivity by withholding his heart medication.
        Theses terror tactics did not bring peace to Iraq, Libya,or the Congo, but facilitated the Western looting of their resources.

        • John Spencer-Davis

          It depends whose ox is being gored. Much killing of political opponents is not even reported on by the Western media, which is even worse. Students of Manufacturing Consent will recall the comparison of Western coverage of the murder of Jerzy Popiełuszko in Poland with the torture and execution of tens of thousands of priests, nuns, political activists and other civilians in Guatemala and El Salvador.

          I won’t say killing is never right, but I will say that it should never be taken lightly and it should always be a last resort, and the result of violent opposition to the policies of a democratically elected government, rather than pre-emptive.

  • Paul Barbara

    A very good resource for keeping abreast of what is happening on the ground in Venezuela is Venezuela Analysis: https://venezuelanalysis.com/
    An opposition figure was arrested with a bag of C4 and nails; yobs are paid to riot; opposition politicians incite rioting – what would Britain or the US do in such cases – put their hands up and cede the streets and safety of the public to the incited, violent thug mobs?

    Salford Lad also pointed out a very good article by Peter Koenig; here it is again, in case anyone missed it:
    http://thesaker.is/venezuela-the-national-constituent-assembly-is-in-place-but-the-fight-for-sovereignty-isnt-over/

  • Ewan

    Do you not skate over a dilemma here: “…waited for the tide to turn back his way – taking the risk that the CIA might not give him the chance. Instead he has resorted to a constitutional fix which dilutes democracy,..” Since the creation of the CIA and for a century before, was the observance of human rights in South and Central America made better or worse by trusting the US of A? better or worse by resorting to a “constitutional fixes which dilutes democracy” (legal and constitutional in this instance)? What should a social democrat with the rights of their people at heart do?

    • Kempe

      Well “fix” is the right word. Had a non-socialist president taken control of a country in such a way steam would coming out ears around here but instead we’re squirming around looking for excuses and scapegoats. Oh and Venezuela isn’t as bad as Saudi Arabia; so that’s all right then.

      • Ewan

        I’m curious: Did it take you a conscious effort to miss the point of the comparison between our political classes’ response to Venezuela and to Saudi Arabia? and to miss the point of the question whether to trust the CIA(!) or attempt a “fix” (which happens to be strictly within the law and according to the constitution)? And I note that below you cite the Guardian as an authoritative source – was this conscious satire?

        • Kempe

          That’s an argument that works both ways, how is that self-proclaimed human rights activists who are outspoken in their condemnation of Saudi Arabia soft peddle when it comes to Venezuela? If fixing a vote, ignoring the majority elected representative legislative body and setting up a new administrative house staffed entirely by Maduro sympathisers is within the law and constitution then they both need changing.

          Instead of taking the easy way out and slagging off the Guardian perhaps you’d like to comment on what they were reporting which has been covered by many of other sources.

          https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-vote-smartmatic-idUSKBN1AI1KZ

          • Ewan

            That really doesn’t work, does it? If you condemn Saudi Arabia for killing thousands (many of them civilians) with weapons supplied by us, and for starving millions, you must condemn just as strongly Venezuela for observing its constitution and for failing to contain violent protests without causing almost as many deaths as the protesters.

            If you want to refer me to sources other than the Guardian (sources that will not simply repeat the same line as the Guardian backed by the same careful selection of facts and factoids) perhaps you will have to look beyond the incestuous world of the Western media, which has alas become ever more uniform and ever less trustworthy.

            It is curious that we in the West can cope quite happily with killing hundreds of thousands as a consequence of our mission to keep the world safe for democracy, but have a moralistic hairy fit about a Putin who is, horribile dictu, authoritarian (and has 80 per cent plus approval ratings), or a South American democratically elected president who is creative in his interpretation of the constitution when faced with violent opposition aided by outside forces (let’s not be coy, the CIA), or an Iranian “Islamic democracy” (but not apparently a “Jewish democracy”, or a North Korea which has reacted to a genuine permanent threat (not a self-serving myth of a threat) by itself threatening those who threaten it (a “Samson option” if you will).

            Is it simply a quirk of perspective that we wink at killing hundreds of thousands but shriek in horror at anything that doesn’t look like liberal democracy (liberal democracy being what is currently most efficient at killing hundreds of thousands)? Moral blindness? Hypocrisy?

          • Kempe

            Nobody has ever held up Saudi Arabia as better way of doing things or an example we should follow.

            The Guardian and Reuters were both reporting a press release from Smartmatic so of course their reports look similar. What else were you expecting? Here’s the original release.

            https://www.smartmatic.com/news/article/smartmatic-statement-on-the-recent-constituent-assembly-election-in-venezuela/

            Sorry if it makes uncomfortable reading but I’m sure you’ll find a way to ignore it.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ Kempe August 3, 2017 at 16:08
        Never mind Saudi Arabia; Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy are far superior to the US itself, with it’s Guantanamo, Black torture sites, near daily killings of (usually) Black people, Diebold ‘switch-a-vote’ Electronic ‘voting’ machines, near total corruption of the Senate and Congress, bent law enforcement from the Supreme Court to the local cop (with notable exceptions).
        And unlike one Presidential contender and her entourage, Maduro doesn’t run fraudulent Foundations mixed up in ‘child trafficking’ and every many other illegal activities, nor does Maduro have a strange fixation with ‘Pizzas’!
        ‘There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed’ – thus, the lies are fomented to frame a cover for ‘Regime Change’, be it Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Ukraine, Venezuela, and a slightly varied form in Brazil and Argentina.

        • Kempe

          Oh OK so it’s not as bad as the US so is therefore beyond criticism.

          A long time since I’ve seen Pizzagate wheeled out, you must be desperate. Tell us again about all this child abuse that took place in the basement that doesn’t exist…

    • stu

      It’s coverage of Syria and Trump/Russia has demonstrated that The Guardian now publishes what the security services tell them.

    • Andy

      I wonder how Smartmatic were able to tally the vote?
      How could the government think it could get away with adding a million to the turnout?
      Smartmatic of course didn’t provide any evidence. And the opposition won’t ask for an audit because they didn’t recognize the election.

  • Tommy Jack

    The BBC and other medias (owned by the right wing uber-rich) will always report in favour of that neo con agenda. The media will ignore all human rights violations in order to further that agenda.

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