The Ontario government has issued a decree targeting post-secondary students, faculty and staff and their collective defence organizations. The January 17 decree contains three parts:
1) a tuition reduction of 10 per cent across the board at institutions;
2) changes to Ontario's student financial assistance program placing a greater burden to cover education on students and their families; and
3) a requirement that post-secondary administrations make membership voluntary in student unions, which are the collective defence organizations of the student body.
Attack on Student Organizing
The government seeks to hide and force through without response from the working people the liquidation of the collective defence organizations of the students. The government sees this as necessary to impose further anti-social changes in education. It strives to undermine the resistance of the youth and students to the government's attacks on their rights. It wants a legal means to brand as criminals and outlaws those youth and students who organize to resist the overall anti-social, anti-worker, pro-war direction of governments at both the provincial and federal levels as they integrate Canada and Ontario even further into the U.S. war machine.
The Ford government announced that starting next year every institution will be required to allow students to opt out of "all non-essential non-tuition fees," which is an open assault on student organizing and their right to resist. A news release from Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities states, "[every student in Ontario will be] empowered to choose which student fees they want to pay and how that money will be allocated. Fees for essential campus health and safety initiatives will continue to be mandatory.
"Student fees in Ontario can range as high as $2,000 per year and, too often, force students to pay for services they do not use and organizations they do not support. We will ensure students have transparency and freedom of choice regarding the campus services and organizations which get access to their money."
Revealing that these measures are specifically aimed at targeting the collective organization of the student movement, the opt-out provision will not apply to "fees used to fund major, campus-wide services and facilities or fees which contribute to the health and safety of students [which] are deemed mandatory, and will remain a part of the fee structure. Essential campus initiatives include: walksafe programs, health and counselling, athletics and recreation and academic support."
The government is hiding its true intentions behind the
recognition that such programs and infrastructure are important. By
targeting the collective organization of the student movement, it is
targeting their collective consciousness. Even the "services" the
government says can be kept where fought for by the students through
their organizations. The aim is to eliminate students' ability to make
their own decisions on matters of concern on campus by making
membership voluntary in the independent students' unions and other
on-campus groups, those which are not under the control of the
administration of the university, college or the government. The
government will give students the "freedom of choice" to opt out of
these "non-essential" membership fees knowing full well that a majority
of students are strapped for money. By so doing, the government claim
to uphold "individual choice" is based on the false premise that
collective rights negate individual rights. This, in turn, supposes
that there is no such thing as a society which has general interests
with which both individual and collective interests must be harmonized
while individual and collective interests must also be harmonized. Far
from giving society an aim consistent with the needs of its members and
the times, individuals are turned into random persons with individual
likes and dislikes which the monopolies will satisfy. It is a
profoundly anti-social outlook with measures which are destructive and
have anti-social consequences.
Tuition Reduction Without Offsetting Increased Government Funding
The government says tuition fees are to be reduced by 10 per cent. The reduction will affect the budgets of universities and colleges as the funds are not being replaced with government funding. This will lead the educational institutions to pursue their own restructuring to make up for the loss of those funds. The reduction will undoubtedly be used to justify attacking the rights of campus faculty and staff as has happened in the past.
Another result will be to lead these institutions to seek even greater funding from private monopolies in return for providing research and training for their future employees. Greater private funding outside any public regulations to do so in return for educated youth is always accompanied with greater monopoly influence on the curricula and other features of education.
Students will pay less tuition in the short term; however other measures being put in place make this an exercise of giving with one hand while taking even more away with the other. The Ford government is deliberately attempting to hide its plans and actions on this front.
Changes to Student Loans
The government is imposing changes to the student loan program to make it more difficult for students to obtain loans to finance their education while at the same time replacing existing grants with loans. The measures include a reduction in non-repayable grants and their replacement with loans. The government will do this by reducing the family income thresholds associated with eligibility for the Ontario Student Grant. The government also introduced the charging of interest on student loans during the six-month grace period after students graduate before they are required to start paying back their loan.
These measures are presented as shifting loans to "the most needy." This is an insidious attempt to divide the youth between "the most needy" and the allegedly "less needy" so as to negate the right of all youth to an education that the society is duty-bound to provide. An aspect of the neo-liberal anti-social offensive is to eliminate universality in social programs under the hoax of directing available funds to those most in need. This attacks the modern definition that the economy of industrial mass production is capable of providing the rights and well-being of all with a guarantee and that the state is duty-bound to do so.
With these measures of the Ford government, students and their families will not only end up paying more for their education, they will also be under greater pressure to apply for public loans and, when not available, to take out private loans with higher interest rates. Both the public and private loans hand over greater amounts of students' and their families' funds to the financial oligarchy further entrenching its wealth and power.
1. On many campuses students have voted in referendums over the years to finance campus facilities, especially for athletics and recreation, as governments refused to invest in the conditions students require for their education. These measures let governments off the hook for properly funding education and allowed them to shift available public funds into pay-the-rich schemes for the global monopolies. In addition, students' unions have established programs for students, funded through ancillary fees approved through referendums, such as health and dental plans and others. These also make up for the refusal of successive governments to provide the youth with the conditions they require to live healthy lives. This letting government off the hook through ancillary fees paid regardless of the capacity of individual students to pay will be permitted to continue.
2. For the 2019-20 school year, a government news release indicates that the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) will:
- Continue to provide grants to students with the greatest financial need;
- Ensure that students who receive OSAP are those who have shown they have financial need and eliminate the non-needs-based portion of the Ontario Student Grant;
- Increase the share of funds going to low income families from 69 to 72 per cent;
- Ensure 82 per cent of grants will go to students with a family income of less than $50,000, up from 76 per cent under the previous government;
- Reduce the family income thresholds associated with eligibility for the Ontario Student Grant, provide some provincial loans to low-income students, and increase the per-term cap for the Ontario Student Loan;
- Base the calculation for student financial assistance on a contribution from students that reflects the recent increase to minimum wage and increase and restore parental contribution rates back to 2017-18 amounts;
- Make the computer allowance reflect a one-time purchase, rather than an expense eligible for each year of study;
- Change the definition of independent student for Ontario aid to a student who has been out of school for six years, up from four years, with parental income factored into the OSAP needs assessment for students up to six years out of high school, to address concerns outlined in the recent Auditor General's report;
- Change the grant-to-loan ratio to a minimum of 50 per cent loan from Ontario for students in second-entry programs (e.g. post-graduate college certificates, graduate degrees, law, etc.) at publicly-assisted Ontario institutions and for students attending institutions outside of Ontario;
- Maintain the current $25,000 annual income threshold for the Repayment Assistance Plan, ensuring that students can get on their feet after school before they need to start repaying their loan;
- Align Ontario's repayment terms with that of the federal government by charging interest during the six-month grace period, to reduce complexity for students.
Provincewide Actions Oppose Ford
Across the country, working people continue to express their support for the Wet'suwet'en land defenders and their just stand to affirm their sovereignty and claims on their hereditary lands and their right to say No! Shown below are events held from January 15 to 23. The actions are sure to continue as the Wet'suwet'en continue to face violations of the agreement reached on January 8 by the hereditary chiefs and the RCMP. Meanwhile, the interim court injunction granted to Coast Gas Link against the Gidimt'en checkpoint and enforced by the RCMP raid remains in place until the defendants -- those arrested on January 7, as well as residents and supporters of the Unist'ot'en camp -- file a response in court January 31.
(Photos: TML, Solidarity with All Land Defenders, UBCIC, A. Glickman, C. Kelly, J. Wong, Clayoquot Action, Extinction Rebellion, Grassroots Rendering, A. Pettman, Fight C, R. Deer, Climate Justice Edmonton, R. Bluesky, J. West, J. Tomchishen, One Dish One Mic, G. Broughton, M. Hale, c. Perry)
No to "Regime Change" in Venezuela
On January 23 and 24, U.S. imperialism and the coup forces it commands took new steps to try and force regime change on the people of Venezuela. Within minutes of illegally and unconstitutionally declaring himself "interim president" of Venezuela at a mass rally of opposition supporters, deputy Juan Guaidó was recognized by U.S. President Donald Trump as the "legitimate" president of the country. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared shortly after that the U.S. would continue to use the full weight of its economic and diplomatic power to impose regime change, or what he called "the restoration of Venezuelan democracy."
The governments of Canada and other members of the
so-called Lima Group quickly followed suit. At a press conference from
Davos, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland stood shoulder to
shoulder with the presidents of Colombia and Brazil and the
Vice-President of Peru as each one declared their government's support
for the U.S. puppet who had just declared himself Venezuela's "interim
president." As it turns out these paragons of "democracy" had been
working together behind the scenes for some time to orchestrate what
had just taken place, according to news reports. Freeland, speaking "on
behalf of Canada," tried to sugarcoat her government's involvement in a
full-fledged regime change operation by asserting that the person who
had just declared himself “president" of a parallel “transition
government” was acting in compliance with the country's constitution --
an outright lie.
As the usurper swore himself into office in front of his sponsors and supporters, "to formally assume the competencies of the national executive as interim president of Venezuela," other streets of Caracas were filled with tens of thousands of mainly working people who came out to reject the coup attempt against their president Nicolás Maduro and affirm their loyalty to him and to the Bolivarian revolution that is the legacy of Hugo Chávez.
They were addressed by President Maduro, who denounced the U.S.-orchestrated coup attempt and announced the decision of the Bolivarian government to sever all ties with the U.S. government, giving its diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave the country. He later confirmed that the Venezuelan embassy and consulates in the U.S. would also be closing.
Pompeo responded by declaring that the U.S. did not recognize the Maduro government's authority to break off diplomatic relations and so it would not be withdrawing its personnel. He then issued a provocative threat, saying the U.S. would "take appropriate action to hold to account anyone who endangers the safety and security of the U.S. mission and its personnel."
The same day, Venezuela's Defence Minister, Vladimir
López, declared the full support of the National Bolivarian
Forces' (FANB) for President Nicolás Maduro, saying they would
never support a coup perpetrated by dark forces. The position of
the FANB was ratified and further elaborated in an official
statement the next day.
On January 24, a special meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) was held at the request of the U.S. and a number of its close collaborators, including Canada. At the meeting, the U.S. Secretary of State browbeat all those he possibly could into recognizing the puppet "interim president," incredibly equating this to "aligning with democracy" and "respecting the rule of law." He said the time for debate was done, that it was time for the OAS as a whole to act.
Pompeo also used the occasion to announce that the United States was ready to give its puppet in Venezuela the laughable sum of $20 million for what he called "humanitarian assistance to the people of Venezuela" and was also going to help "rebuild" their country and economy.
Right after Pompeo concluded his imperial diatribe
"restoring democracy in Venezuela," Medea Benjamin of the U.S.
anti-war group Code Pink stood up holding a placard reading, "OAS:
Don't support a coup d'état" -- an act which was met with loud
applause. Before she was dragged away by security, she shouted
appeals to delegates and repeated that a coup d'état is not a
For her part, Canada's Ambassador to the OAS Jennifer Loten had the gall to declare that actions which seek to overthrow a legitimately constituted government uphold democracy and human rights and are in accord with the rule of law.
Venezuela was honourably and courageously represented by
its representative Asbina Marín Sevilla, whose statement was a
powerful indictment of the criminal plot unfolding against her nation
and people. Among other things, she said some countries in the OAS are
supporting a fascist coup that seeks a civil war, and a dictator who
openly calls for conflict and foreign intervention to come and kill his
countrypeople and defend his surrender of the country. That's how the
U.S. likes its dictators.
Never before in Venezuela's history has a foreign government dared to do so much as this mafia government, which is itself the biggest threat to peace in the region, Marin said. Never before has a Venezuelan prostrated himself before a foreign power like the puppet who has declared himself "president," as if he were a king. He does not recognize the Head of State, he does not recognize the Supreme Court of Justice or the National Electoral Council; he does not recognize the Attorney General or the Ombudsman or the Comptroller General, but he does recognize the power of the United States. One did not have to support Nicolás Maduro to reject such a puppet, she said, whose political boss is in Miami and who gets his orders from the White House. She said all of them were traffickers in death who have been waging an economic, political and psychological war against Venezuela and now want to convert it to a shooting war.
Marín Sevilla dismissed the communiqué
read out on behalf of
a group of member states by Argentina, as nothing more than
propaganda to justify a coup which applies only to those who
signed it. She ended by declaring that Venezuela is not alone,
that today's generation will not fail its ancestors nor its
In the end, the lies, slander and threats Pompeo used to try and sway those present did not yield the results he, Canada and the so-called Lima Group wanted. Eighteen of the 34 OAS member states refused to recognize the usurper Juan Guaidó. Along with others who took firm stands, members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) played an important role in denying the coup forces the majority they sought by staunchly defending the principles of non-intervention and self-determination.
Later in the day, 10 heads of state and two foreign ministers of CARICOM released a statement in which they "reaffirmed their guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights and democracy" and offered their good offices "to facilitate dialogue among all parties to resolve the deepening crisis." They also called on external forces to refrain from doing anything to destabilize the situation in the country and called on all to "step back from the brink."
While the U.S. did not succeed in getting its coup declaration adopted at the OAS, Pompeo issued threats on behalf of the U.S. which not only spurned international law and all norms of diplomacy but made it clear that the U.S. will continue to foment acts of violence. He warned "remnant elements of the Maduro regime" not to use violence to "repress" the "peaceful democratic transition," as he called the coup d'état his government is organizing against the Venezuelan people.
The Trudeau government's claim that it is upholding
"democracy," "human rights" and the "rule of law" cannot hide
that high crimes are being prepared against the Venezuelan people
in Canadians' name.
Condemn Canada's Role in Attempting to Overthrow the Legitimately Constituted Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela!
(Photos: TML, TeleSUR, ANSWER, Workers World Party, A. Chavez)
Over the last few days there has been a serious overreach by Luis Almagro of the authority he has as secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS).
If Mr Almagro continues to exceed his authority, plainly set out in the Charter of the OAS, the already fragmented organization will be headed for grave fracture.
The job of the secretary-general of any multi-national or international organisation is to represent the positions of the collective membership of the organization either after direction by the appropriate governing bodies or after discussion with them that establishes a consensus. Almost from the day of his installation, Mr Almagro has steadfastly ignored any such requirements.
In his latest overreach, Mr Almagro has taken upon himself to unilaterally and publicly anoint an "Interim President" of Venezuela. Almagro's selection is Juan Guaidó who was elected by the National Assembly -- made up of only opposition party representatives -- as its president "for a year." He made this spontaneous statement at a meeting on January 15 at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a U.S. think-tank based in Washington, DC.
No official organ of the OAS has made any such decision or even discussed it, and none has authorised Mr Almagro to make it.
This latest unauthorized statement on Venezuelan matters is the most recent in a series by Almagro, directed at the Venezuelan government that ruled-out both he, as secretary-general, and the OAS as honest brokers in trying to reach a settlement to the political divisions that have plagued Venezuela over the past five years.
The secretary-general has also taken to tweeting his
views, which he incorrectly represents as speaking for the OAS, a
grouping of 34 countries. In a tweet on January 11, Luis Almagro
stated: "We support the agreement in Venezuela's national
assembly declaring the usurpation by Nicolás Maduro and the need
to apply constitutional article 233 on a transitional government
and the call for an election."
Exactly who is the "we" to whom Almagro referred is unknown, since he did not identify them. But what is known is that it is not any official organ of the OAS, including the Permanent Council, which is the highest decision-making body, representing all member states at ambassadorial level.
It may be that Mr Almagro is working with a handful of countries which, from their own governments' declarations, oppose the government of Nicolás Maduro to the point where they are using every means to topple it, but in doing so, he is not representing the OAS or the collective will of the member-states. Governments are free to pursue their own national policies on Venezuela, but they have no entitlement to impose those policies on the OAS.
The reality is that the membership of the OAS is deeply divided, not over the troubling humanitarian, political and financial crisis in Venezuela, but over the response to it.
There is no member state that condones the political impasse created by both ruling and opposition parties; the shortage of food and medicines; the hardship being endured by a large number of Venezuelans; and now the flow of refugees into neighbouring countries. The disagreement arises from the manner in which 14 countries, calling themselves "The Lima Group" has held private meetings to fashion decisions which they then try to push through the Permanent Council of the OAS on a majority vote of 18.
The problem with this approach is that when a majority of 18 secures passage of a resolution or a declaration on which others have not been consulted and that is unpalatable to them, a trail of bitterness is left among the 15 others, particularly when it is known that governments have been cajoled and pressured to help attain the majority of 18.
It is sad that in the Americas, the governments of countries that benefitted from the wisdom of the founding fathers of the United States, ignore the observation of Thomas Jefferson, one of the authors of the U.S. Constitution, that: "All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression."
Tied-up with Secretary-General Almagro's disdain for the official organs of the OAS is his decision now to run for a second term, although he had previously indicated that he would not. His stance on Venezuela, particularly, would have endeared him to those member states whose governments might wish him to remain as an additional instrument for advancing their peculiar interests.
But, if Mr Almagro is not reined-in and his overreach not curtailed, many member-states will not tolerate it, and the organization will be damaged irreparably. Governments, except the timid and the frightened, will not sit by idly while their rights are eroded, and their voices disregarded.
Mr Almagro's latest dangerous pronouncement, made casually at the CSIS meeting on January 15, is that, if what he calls "the interim president" of Venezuela being Juan Guaidó, one of the leaders of the opposition, designates representatives to the OAS, he will accept their credentials and seat them, presumably ousting the current delegates.
The secretary-general has no such authority. No instrument of the OAS gives him that power. And, if it is that Mr Almagro is setting-up this possibility for any vested-interest group in the OAS to force adoption of such a notion by a majority vote of 18, the OAS, in its present form, will not survive it.
To be clear, objection to any such action will not come because any country is blindly supporting the Maduro government in Venezuela; it will come because the precedent it would establish would be far-reaching and dangerous for any other country that is targeted for whatever reason.
The rules of international organizations and international law must be respected and upheld, or disarray will result.
Venezuela needs a negotiated and sustainable solution for the sake of its people and for the stability of the region. Promoting division within Venezuela and isolating its de facto government from diplomatic discourse simply protracts the hardships the people endure.
Sir Ronald Sanders, in addition to being Antigua and Barbuda's Ambassador to the U.S. and OAS, is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London and Massey College, University of Toronto.
(Caribbean News Now, January 18, 2019)
This Thursday, January 24, the Sectoral Vice President for Political Sovereignty, Security and Peace and People's Power Minister of Defence, General-in-Chief Vladimir Padrino López, accompanied by the expanded Superior General Staff of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, took a firm and unwavering stand to reject the illegal actions that a parallel government intends to carry out in Venezuela and, at the same time, ratified the Bolivarian National Armed Forces' (FANB) full adherence to the Constitution and laws of the Republic.
Also, during the reading of the official statement from his office in Fuerte Tiuna, the head of the military reproached the interference by foreign governments, which he described as "disrespectful of international law and the principle of the self-determination of peoples."
On the other hand, the Minister of Defence guaranteed citizens peace as well as the proper functioning of State institutions, saying vandalism or terrorist acts will not be tolerated.
In the same vein, the Bolivarian National Armed Forces recognized -- once again -- the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro Moros, as Constitutional President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Commander-in-Chief of the FANB, emphasizing that he was elected on May 20, 2018, through free, universal, direct and secret elections.
In the statement, Padrino López said that "for a long time a vulgar coup d'état has been in the making against the legitimately constituted government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela by sectors of the extreme right, brazenly supported by imperial agents."
In this regard, he denounced the claim of "establishing a de facto parallel government, lacking legality and popular support, for the shadowy purpose of generating chaos and anarchy in our society."
Finally, the General-in-Chief reiterated that the
military will never accept a President who has been imposed,
or self-proclaimed outside the law; nor will it ever be
subordinated to a foreign power or to a government that is not
democratically elected by the people of Venezuela.
(January 24, 2019. Translated from original Spanish by TML. Photos: MPPDefensa, Prensa FANB.)
Statements on the Developments in Venezuela
The Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Cuba condemns and energetically rejects the attempt to impose a coup d'état, a puppet government at the service of the United States, in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and expresses its unwavering solidarity with the government of Constitutional President Nicolás Maduro Moros.
The true objectives of actions against Venezuela are to control the vast resources of this sister nation and destroy the value of its example, as an emancipatory process defending the dignity and independence of Our America.
As President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez said: "The sovereignty of our peoples is expressed today in one's attitude toward Venezuela. To support the legitimate right of the sister nation to define its own destiny is to defend the dignity of all."
Other coup attempts should not be forgotten, such as the military coup of 2002 and the 2003 oil lockout; the aggressive U.S. Executive Order describing Venezuela as "an unusual and extraordinary threat to national security and foreign policy" of the superpower; unilateral coercive measures; the call for a military coup against the constitutional government of Venezuela; the President of the United States' threat to use "a possible military option" and the August 4  assassination attempt against President Maduro.
The acts of a group of countries and the shameful role of the OAS constitute a new, desperate attempt to implement an unsuccessful policy of regime change, which has not been imposed due to the unwavering resistance of the Venezuelan people and their determination to defend national sovereignty.
Havana, January 23, 2019
The following Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) -- Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago; Foreign Ministers of Grenada and Suriname; meeting by video-conference on January 24, 2019, issued the following statement:
Heads of Government are following closely the current unsatisfactory situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a neighbouring Caribbean country. They expressed grave concern about the plight of the people of Venezuela and the increasing volatility of the situation brought about by recent developments which could lead to further violence, confrontation, breakdown of law and order and greater suffering for the people of the country.
Heads of Government reaffirmed their guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights and democracy.
Heads of Government reiterated that the long-standing political crisis, which has been exacerbated by recent events, can only be resolved peacefully through meaningful dialogue and diplomacy.
In this regard, Heads of Government offered their good offices to facilitate dialogue among all parties to resolve the deepening crisis.
Reaffirming their commitment to the tenets of Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter which calls for Members States to refrain from the threat or the use of force and Article 21 of the Charter of the Organization of American States which refers to territorial inviolability, the Heads of Government emphasized the importance of the Caribbean remaining a Zone of Peace.
Heads of Government called on external forces to refrain from doing anything to destabilize the situation and underscored the need to step back from the brink and called on all actors, internal and external, to avoid actions which would escalate an already explosive situation to the detriment of the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and which could have far-reaching negative consequences for the wider region.
Heads of Government agreed that the Chairman of Conference, Dr the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis would seek an urgent meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General to request the UN's assistance in resolving the issue.
Mexico and Uruguay gave a timely response to recent events in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Together, the Governments of Uruguay and Mexico called on all parties involved, both within the country and abroad, to reduce tensions and prevent an escalation of violence that could aggravate the situation.
In accordance with the principles of international law, Mexico and Uruguay are urging all actors to find a peaceful and democratic solution to the complex situation facing Venezuela. To achieve this goal, both countries propose a new process of inclusive and credible negotiations, with full respect for the rule of law and human rights.
The Uruguayan and Mexican governments, in line with the declarations of the United Nations and the European Union, as well as the governments of Spain and Portugal, express their full support, commitment and willingness to work together in favour of stability and peace and the welfare of the Venezuelan people.
The events in Venezuela have reached a dangerous point.
Failing to remove Nicolás Maduro, including physically, the extremist opponents of the legitimate government of Venezuela have opted for a highly confrontational scenario. The United States and several other countries in the region have recognised the opposition leader who has sworn himself in as Venezuela's interim president. This can only deepen the social divide in Venezuela, aggravate street protests, dramatically destabilise the Venezuelan political community and further escalate the conflict. The deliberate and obviously well orchestrated creation of dual power and an alternative decision-making centre in Venezuela is a direct path towards chaos and erosion of Venezuelan statehood. Several people have already died. We firmly condemn those who are pushing Venezuelan society into the abyss of violent civil discord.
We regard Washington's unceremonious actions as yet another demonstration of its total disregard for the norms and principles of international law and an attempt to pose as the self-imposed master of another nation's future. The United States is clearly trying to apply a tried and tested regime change scenario in Venezuela.
We are especially alarmed by the signals we have received from some capitals on the possibility of foreign military interference. We warn that such opportunism can have catastrophic consequences.
We urge the sober-minded Venezuelan politicians standing in opposition to Nicolás Maduro's legitimate government not to become pawns in other players' chess game.
We believe that political activity is only acceptable if it is pursued within the constitutional framework and in strict compliance with the national legislation. Of course, the people must be able to freely express their opinions, including through rallies, but only if they do so peacefully in a manner that will not provoke violence or, worse still, endanger public safety.
Venezuelans alone have the right to determine their future. Any destructive foreign interference, especially amid the current tensions, is completely unacceptable. Incitement has nothing in common with a democratic process; it is a direct path towards lawlessness and violence.
It is a mission of the international community to help promote understanding between the political opposition forces in Venezuela that respect national interests. We are ready to cooperate with all countries that share these views.
(January 24, 2019)
Support the Democratically Elected President, Nicolás Maduro.
ALBA Social Movements Ottawa expresses its deep concern for the continuing aggressive actions of the United States, trying to attack the constitutional order and destabilize the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The U.S. is making every attempt to attack the legitimacy of President Nicolás Maduro Moros, who was elected as a result of free and democratic elections with national and international observers. On May 20, 2018, President Maduro was elected to second term with 68 per cent of the votes.
The leaders of more than 120 countries expressed their congratulations and support for the election of President Maduro and 90 countries sent delegations to the inauguration ceremony in Caracas on January 10, 2019.
At this time we are witnessing a brutal and despicable media campaign of disinformation to manufacture a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse to justify interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela and imposing the U.S. goal of regime change in contempt of the will of the Venezuelan people.
The U.S. imperialists and a handful of collaborator countries like Canada have even sunk to the level of declaring that the President of the Legislative Assembly of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, should replace Maduro as President. This is a flagrant violation of the Constitution of Venezuela as the National Assembly has been declared in contempt by the Supreme Court. Under the guise of defending democracy, this action promoted by the U.S. is nothing more than a coup d'état with a president imposed through foreign interference in violation of the Constitutional order in Venezuela.
In the past few days, in typical mafia style, both U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton and Senator Marco Rubio have openly called for the Venezuelan military to overthrow President Maduro. These despicable actions deserve the full condemnation of all peoples who defend democracy and the sovereignty of Venezuela.
The Venezuelan people will not accept this dictate in violation of their democratic choice and in violation of international law.
As President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro has declared that the government will continue its repeated appeals to the opposition for political dialogue for a peaceful resolution of the problems facing the nation. This is the only path forward for all patriotic forces who defend the right of Venezuelans to decide their own fate without any foreign interference.
ALBA Social Movements, Ottawa Chapter declares its support for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, its democratically elected President, Nicolás Maduro, its unwavering, peaceful vocation and its right to choose, within the principle of self-determination, its national authorities, since sovereignty resides in the Venezuelan people which legitimizes the constituted powers of the Venezuelan State.
If the opposition wishes for a solution to the grave crisis, this has to pass through a National Dialogue between Venezuelans with no outside interference nor by way of imposing false legalities and much less using violence to destroy a legal elected government.
NO to Intervention, Yes to Sovereignty!
NO to a coup; YES to a patriotic dialogue!
NO to legal trickery, YES to due process!
The laws and constitution of Venezuela should be respected.
(January 23, 2019)
On May 20, 2018, presidential elections were held in Venezuela, and incumbent Nicolás Maduro was re-elected president for a second term with 67.8 per cent of the vote. A delegation of Canadian election observers were on the ground as eyewitnesses and corroborated what international elections observers unanimously reported -- the Venezuelan presidential elections were fair, transparent and represented the will of the Venezuelan people.
The Canadian government, along with its allies in the Lima Group, have consistently attempted to delegitimize President Maduro and provide unconditional support to extreme right-wing sectors of the Venezuelan opposition. The New York Times reported that the Trump administration has been actively discussing plans with rebel Venezuelan military officials to stage a coup against president, Nicolás Maduro.
Over the past couple of days, the Trump administration has escalated its attacks against Venezuela including recognizing self-proclaimed opposition leader Juan Gerardo Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed Trump and called upon President Nicolás Maduro to "cede power to the democratically elected National Assembly." Juan Gerardo Guaidó is a relative unknown figure in Venezuela with no mandate from the people and whose actions have no constitutional basis whatsoever.
Common Frontiers is deeply concerned with these actions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's willingness to follow Trump's lead. We consider the actions of the Canadian government to be a provocation which violates Venezuela's sovereignty and democratic norms. This reflects interventionist polices that seek nothing less than undemocratic regime change in Venezuela.
Canada's actions will only serve to heighten the conflict and polarization facing the country with the added danger of an open civil war between supporters of Guaidó and Maduro. Accounts from Venezuela indicate at least 13 people were killed on January 23 in the context of violent demonstrations and street blockades during the recent protests called for by Guaidó and his supporters.
We reject any attempts by the Canadian government to interfere with the sovereignty and democratic order in Venezuela or actions that seek to bring about regime change.
Canada should not be supporting U.S.-led coups and be seen as playing politics with democracy and human rights in the region. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has consistently and vehemently condemned Venezuela, while turning a blind eye to well documented fraudulent elections and human rights abuses in Guatemala and Honduras.
The economic and political problems facing Venezuela must be resolved internally by Venezuelans through peaceful dialogue and in accordance with the democratic norms of the country. The role of Canada and the international community should be to support and foster a climate of dialogue and peace, rather than to support attempts to impose a Washington based solution to the crisis in Venezuela.
Common Frontiers is an organization comprised of civil society organizations and labour groups based in Ontario.
(January 23, 2019)
The Executive Secretariat of the Foro de São Paulo expresses its profound rejection of the decision of the Government of Donald Trump, of Canada and of several Latin American countries to support the illegitimate presidency of opposition leader Juan Guaidó in Venezuela, contrary to the popular decision expressed in May 2018, when the people democratically elected compañero Nicolás Maduro for the presidency of the country.
The 2018 elections were legitimate and recognized by
various sectors of Venezuelan society, including the opposition. The
Venezuelan political-electoral system assures the population broad
exercise of the right to vote and has transparency and verification
mechanisms. It was praised by the former president of the United States
Jimmy Carter and now by the former president of the Spanish government
José Luís Zapatero, who joined the delegations of
international electoral observers.
The group that now wants to assume the command of the country is a minority group and does not accept the popular will. This group uses the support of the Trump government and its puppet governments in the region. Trump has already demonstrated on several occasions that he does not respect the sovereignty of other countries and international agreements, in addition to having attitudes that are openly opposed to peace and dialogue for the resolution of conflicts.
We call on the countries of the continent to respect the sovereign decision of the people and the principle of non-intervention.
Together in the Foro de São Paulo, we will fight for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to reach their full sovereignty and independence!
(January 24, 2019. Translated from original Spanish by TML.)
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