Hands off Venezuela

Peter Ewart
Peter Ewart

BY PETER EWART

Special to the News

If there is a hell, there must be a special place in it for those governments who foment violence, coup d’etats and civil wars in other countries.  Yet that is exactly what the U.S. and Canadian governments are, once again, doing.

For the last 20 years, successive U.S. governments (both Democrat and Republican) have waged an economic, financial, and trade war against Venezuela, with numerous sanctions and punitive measures, as well as grossly interfered in the country’s political affairs including backing an unsuccessful coup d’etat in 2002.  To its shame, the Canadian government has supported and participated in this aggressive and illegal activity which has magnified economic problems and caused huge chaos in the Venezuelan economy and hardship for the people.

Most recently, Canada, the U.S., and other countries under the thumb of the U.S., have declared that the elected president, Nicholas Maduro, and the Venezuelan government is somehow not legitimate and that a self-proclaimed Opposition leader is now the head of government.  Such a declaration is outrageous and reeks of hypocrisy.  Since when do foreign, hostile powers get to declare who constitutes the government of a particular country?  

Indeed, many people in the U.S. and other countries subscribe to the belief that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election and that Donald Trump was not legitimately elected.  Whether that is true or not is another story. Whatever the case, does this now give other countries the right to bypass Trump and recognize Hillary Clinton as president?  How would the Trump administration react to such a claim? 

So, what is Venezuela’s crime?  Why is it being singled out for such punishment?  When all the other excuses and rationales are stripped away, it comes down to one thing.  Venezuela insists on having an independent foreign policy and defending its sovereignty, including nationalizing its oil industry which for many decades was a cash cow for foreign multinationals. 

It has nothing to do with the Canadian and U.S. sanctimonious claims about the Venezuelan government being “undemocratic.”  If that were the case, why does the U.S. president hug the leader of Saudi Arabia which has a government that forbids any kind of elections.  And why has the Canadian government allowed billions of dollars of military equipment to be shipped to that country?

The behaviour of the U.S. is imperialist in nature and the Canadian government is acting as an appeaser.  The past one hundred years are filled with examples of the U.S. wreaking havoc on countries like Guatemala, Chile, Cuba, Iraq, Syria and Libya by overthrowing governments, fomenting civil wars, and imposing sanctions.

In 2014, the Canadian government, which is so sanctimonious in its claim to being a defender of “human rights,” participated in the NATO bombing of Libya and the overthrow of the Quadaffi government.  Today, Libya, which before was the leading economic power in Africa, has been reduced to a shambles with whole sections of the country completely destabilized and wracked with sectarian violence and lawlessness.  In previous years, Canada has also supported violent coup d’etats against the governments of Haiti and Honduras which has contributed to much suffering in those countries and the current refugee crisis in both Canada and the US. 

No good comes to the people from these interventions.  Only violence and chaos.  And shame to the perpetrators.  

We need a government in Canada that stands for the peaceful resolution of problems in the world and which respects the sovereignty of other countries.  In the meantime, Trudeau and Trump – keep your hands off Venezuela! 

Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia.  He can be reached at: peter.ewart@shaw.ca