Maduro Denounces US Support for Coup Plot in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro denounced that the alleged coup against the Bolivarian government of Venezuela responds to a script designed in the offices of the US Department of State.

In a speech delivered last night from Simón Bolívar Room of Miraflores Palace (Government House), Maduro said that Washington gave the green light and the approval for a coup process against Venezuela.

In his address, broadcast live on Venezolana de Televisión channel, the president exposed the nation plans of violence envisaged by groups of the opposition right to be executed in the coming hours.

Maduro commented that the communiqué issued yesterday by the US Department of State is 'a written script to generate violence, death, chaos.'

'Venezuela is not willing to endure coups of any kind ... We are going to fight and confront the coup plotters, and we are going to defeat them with the people and the Armed Forces united, and the Constitution in the hand,' he said.

He also denounced opposition MP Julio Borges, current president of the National Assembly (in contempt), for 'assuming the leadership of this coup that we are going to face and with all the constitutional and institutional firmness.'

'What Mr. Julio Borges has done today constitutes a crime against the Constitution and thus must be processed sooner rather than later by the national justice system, it must be prosecuted when he openly calls for a coup, for the division of the Armed Forces.'

Borges, a member of the right party Primero Justicia (Justice First), and linked to the most extremist wing of the Venezuelan opposition, publicly endorsed the April 2002 coup against President Hugo Chavez, and is involved in the neutralized conspiracy actions in February 2014, which left a toll of 43 dead people in Caracas.

Maduro emphasized that 'we cannot allow an open call to the coup d'etat, we have to fight it, we have the means and we must do it. The time has come for the fight, the time has come to define the destiny of the country, we are at crucial times to decide the fate of our people and I will be in the front.'

A massive march is planned for Wednesday in the center of Caracas, convened by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), to celebrate the 20 years of the Bolivarian electoral route, and the 207th anniversary of the cry for independence.

By its part, the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Table (MUD) also called for a protest march in the state of Miranda and in peripheral areas of the Capital District.

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5 Venezuela Opposition Leaders Who Took Part in 2002 Coup

As in 2002, right-wing figures continue to try to topple the democratically-elected government in Venezuela.

During Venezuela's April 11, 2002, right-wing coup attempt against popular President Hugo Chavez, main figures who now lead the opposition were not mere bystanders as the coup-leaders led an attack on the presidential palace leading to the deaths of dozens, squashed rights, attacked ministers and annulled all legislation.

teleSUR looks at five current key opposition leaders who participated in the failed coup.

1. Henrique Capriles Radonski

Co-founder of right-wing Primero Justicia — a party set up with funding from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute — Capriles was mayor of the upper-class district of Baruta in Caracas during the April 2002 failed coup against Chavez.

ANALYSIS: How Venezuelans and Hugo Chavez Defeated a Right Wing Coup

When a violent group of protestors tried to forcefully enter the Cuban embassy, located within the municipality, as they believed that Bolivarian leaders were hiding inside, Capriles joined them and jumped over the fence — violating diplomatic territory.

After a confrontation with Cuban diplomatic staff, Capriles told the crowd he could not find out whether Bolivarian state officials were hiding, sparking further violence against the embassy. The embassy’s electricity and water supply were cut off, windows smashed and diplomatic cars attacked.

2. Leopoldo Lopez

In April 2002, Lopez, then mayor of the wealthy Caracas district of Chacao, was among those who led an opposition march which was re-routed toward the Miraflores Palace, where thousands of Chavez supporters were also demonstrating. Dozens of people were killed in the ensuing clashes, which have been shown to be a premeditated, orchestrated massacre to justify the coup and kidnapping of President Chavez.

IN DEPTH: Anniversary of Venezuela's 2002 Coup

In the days that followed, Lopez participated in a witch hunt for officials from the Chavez government, including the illegal detention of Minister of Interior and Justice Ramon Rodriguez Chacin. It is astonishing to recall that Lopez did this while still occupying the office of mayor.

Lopez also led the 2014 violent guarimbas, for which he is serving a sentence of almost 14 years, after being convicted of crimes of public instigation, property damage, and arson.

3. Henry Ramos Allup

The former president of the national assembly is closely associated with the old guard of politicians, hailing from the Democratic Action party, one of two parties that would alternate power for 40 years between 1958-1998 after having signed a formal agreement, the “Punto Fijo” pact.

Henry Ramos Allup was one of the leaders of the 2002 coup. Videos show him running from the Miraflores presidential palace before Chavez’s return. In 2011, he revealed in an interview with Ciudad CCS that the executive order that set up the “de facto” government was prepared one week before the coup against Chavez and that the owners of the mainstream media were also directly involved in covering the event.

ANALYSIS: Venezuela on April 11: 2002 Coup to 2015 Economic War

Shortly after being elected to office on Dec. 6, 2015, Ramos Allup criticized the 1999 constitution, calling it a “disaster,” and signaling his desire to have it reformed. He praised the 1961 constitution that allowed only two parties to govern as “civilized.”

Ramos Allup has stated that the main priority of the opposition national assembly is “a change of government,” referring to the stated goal of right-wing legislators to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power.

4. Maria Corina Machado

Machado, just like Capriles Radonski and Lopez comes from Venezuela’s business elite and was vice president of right-wing party Sumate and an opposition lawmaker when the coup against Chavez occurred.

Machado signed the decree evoked by Ramos Allup, which broke the constitutional order and dissolved state institutions for two days.

OPINION: The 2002 Coup: Destabilization and Revolution in Today’s Venezuela

Machado is still allegedly devising plans to undermine the Venezuelan government, according to Venezuelan investigative journalist Eva Golinger, in 2013 she met USAID official Mark Feierstein, along with other leading figures of the Venezuelan opposition.

She was also among the most prominent promoters of the 2014 opposition violence that claimed the lives of 43 people.

5. Julio Borges

A lawmaker since 2000, Borges founded the right-wing Justice First party and currently leads the opposition MUD coalition. He was chosen as the new president of the national assembly for the 2017 session, even though his tenure is not recognized by the Supreme Court.

After the 2002 coup attempt against Chavez, Borges demanded the entire government resign and played a major role in the subsequent campaign for a recall referendum — which Chavez won.

ANALYSIS: How the US Funds Dissent against Latin American Governments

Borges was again elected to the national assembly in 2015, where he continued to play a major role in attempts to overthrow Maduro’s government. In February 2015, Air Force General Osvaldo Hernandez, who was accused of participating in a plot to launch a coup against Maduro, said Borges was involved in the plot as well.

In October 2016, Borges led the failed — and constitutionally illegal — initiative to put Maduro on trial, arguing that the democratically-elected president had staged a “coup,” consistently appealing to the Washington-based Organization of American States to intervene in Venezuela.  

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Venezuela's Maduro to Mexico: We're Not Your Enemy. The US Is

"I extend my hand so that together we can fight for solidarity and support for all Mexican migrants in the United States," Maduro said.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday night called on his Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto to stop supporting aggressive measures against the South American country.

RELATED: Venezuelans Respond to OAS with Massive March

Commenting on attempts by the Organization of American States, OAS, to revoke Venezuela's membership, Maduro said Nieto's administration should instead fight the policies of the U.S. government.

"I extend my hand, President (Enrique) Peña Nieto, so that together we can fight for solidarity and support for all Mexican migrants in the United States," Maduro said at a televised meeting,

"We should denounce the wall that Washington wants to build on the border of both countries."

On Tuesday, the OAS organized a meeting aimed at suspending Venezuela from the regional organization for alleged "human rights abuses."

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During the meeting, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso expressed "concern" about Venezuela's political and economic situation. Videgaray, siding with the Canada and the U.S., sponsored calls for regime change against Maduro's democratically-elected government.

The countries sponsoring the efforts to expel Venezuela also include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.

Videgaray had urged his regional counterparts "to not remain indifferent," adding that the bloc wants to "restore democratic normalcy," as reported by Expansion, a CNN partner.

ANALYSIS: Chavez' Legacy in Venezuela: Transforming Millions of Lives

When Mexico announced plans last week to support regime change in Venezuela, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez described Videgaray's actions as "servile" to U.S. imperialism.

"Chancellor Caso builds walls with Latin America instead of defending and serving the sovereign interests and rights of its people," Rodriguez posted on Twitter Thursday.

"He attacked Venezuela to ingratiate himself with his imperial owners. He believes that the Mexican people will forget their betrayal."

A third of the 35 OAS member countries would need to vote on applying the charter to trigger Venezuela's suspension. The vote, however, has not yet taken place.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio threatened dissenting countries that if they did not vote in favor of expelling Venezuela by invoking the Democratic Charter, it would be difficult to defend the continuation of U.S. aid to their people.

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Venezuela Rejects OAS Intervention Report

Caracas- Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro repudiated the report on the nation presented by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, that ''ignores the institutional processes and principles of the organization.''

According to the local media, the head of state described today the document presented by the Uruguayan politician as illegitimate and illegal, and considered that its sole purpose was to destabilize the Bolivarian Revolution and promote foreign intervention in the South American nation.

Almagro, a well-known enemy of the Venezuelan people, has forged false assumptions against the Republic in order to accentuate the economic war against our society, said the statement published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

His performance as the head of the OAS has exceeded his powers and has been marked by abuse of power, guided by his complicity with the coup, extremist and antidemocratic opposition in Venezuela, the text argues.

It is the despicable hatred of converts, it says, what moves his actions, his aberrant writings will be lost in the night of history as an example of the extent to which a bent person is capable of destroying the function of an organism.

It also regrets that Almagro 'revives the darkest pages of the interventionist and coup history of the OAS, by imposing mechanisms that flagrantly violate Venezuela's legal and constitutional order and the OAS Charter, its fundamental principles and rigorous norms which regulate their performance.'

The Foreign Ministers of the Hemisphere, meeting at the OAS General Assembly on June 15, 2016, had noted with concern such irregularities, and decided to refer the Permanent Council to review its action, the president said.

He also accuses Almagro of leading 'the hemispheric concert of the fascist right that harasses, and aggressively attacks Venezuela, without scruple or ethics, characterized by the anti-legal and fraudulent forging of false positives against our sacred homeland.'

Venezuela will take legal action against the Secretary of the OAS, said Maduro, who also reaffirmed that 'conspiracy, miserable and insurrectionary action' promoted from that organization will not stop the country and the people on their way to the bright future marked by the Liberators.

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Maduro Denounces Distortion of Hugo Chavez's Image

President Nicolas Maduro has denounced the distortion and manipulation that opposition sectors are trying to make of the history of the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez.

When speaking to his compatriots on Saturday, during the main event on the 25th anniversary of the civic-military rebellion that took place on February 4, 1992, under the leadership of Chavez in Maracay, the president called to show the true image of the Bolivarian leader on television and movie theaters.

We have to bring Chavez to television and the national and world cinema, he said. Maduro instructed Ernesto Villegas and Adan Chavez, ministers for Communication and Information and Culture, respectively, to comply with this task.

The campaign by the political and economic ruling class of the national and world right wing, which makes efforts to manipulate the history of Commander Chavez as a world leader who managed to awaken popular struggles, has became more intense in recent weeks, he said.

Maduro pointed out that 'the enemy is terrified by the example that Commander Hugo Chavez means, meant and will mean for the history to come in Latin America' and for that reason, they endeavor to distort the recently lived history, with TV series and films, he added.

During his speech, the president stressed the meaning of the civic-military deed against the government of Carlos Andres Perez and his neoliberal policies, and emphasized that with that action, the patriotic and independence ideal of Simon Bolivar was reborn.

He pointed out that Commander Chavez roused the people on February 4, and recalled that his appearance on television, where he acknowledged his participation in the military rebellion marked a milestone in the country's history.

About 2,362 gunmen from the military garrisons of Aragua, Carabobo, Miranda, Zulia and the Capital District, led by young officers Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, Francisco Arias Cardenas, Yoel Acosta Chirinos, Jesus Urdaneta and Miguel Ortiz Contreras, participated in the February 4, 1992, historic action.

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Venezuela's President Insists on Dialogue to Secure Peace

Venezuela's Government insists on the political dialogue as the best tool for peace, despite the denial of the right wing sector to seat at the discussion table, President Nicolas Maduro said.

At a television appearance, Maduro added that several initiatives have been implemented, as well as meetings between foreign observers and the opposition alliance Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD, in Spanish).

A document came out of those encounters which is under debate to move forward in the political talks.

Maduro said the MUD should still abide by commitments it pledged to since last November.

'I'm optimistic, however, that the opposition will carry out those agreements, that's why I call on the opposition to stay on the peace process for the good of the country', the President said.

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Venezuela Rates Meeting on Dialogue as Excellent

Caracas, Jan 20 (Prensa Latina) Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro rated a meeting that took place here with the international partners of Unasur and the Vatican to strengthen the dialogue process in the country as excellent.

Maduro made his remarks this morning in Twitter after meeting the Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), Ernesto Samper, in the Palace of Miraflores, in order to continue strengthening the momentum of dialogue between the National Government and opposition sectors.

The ex-presidents José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Leonel Fernández, Martín Torrijos, attended the meeting along with the Apostolic Nuncio, Aldo Giordano, who will be the representative of the Holy See in the talks.

Unasur issued a press release of the participants in the process restating the support and commitment to re-launch dialogues between both sectors.

In the document, they announced that they will present a plan to the Government and to the so-called Democratic Unity Board (MUD) aimed at re-launching the talks that are now facing a stage of stagnation due to the opposition's refusal to talk.

Samper said that the initiative to reactivate the dialogue contemplates the solution of different types of proposals and needs that Venezuelans have.

He added that in addition to the political part, the dialogue has to do with the solution of the social problems of Venezuelans with the different commissions.

The former Colombian president said that this process has already shown results and created spaces of confidence among political sectors, while announcing the interest of meeting with the opposition spokesmen today to convey to them the same concerns expressed to the government.

By its part, the government representative at the dialogue table, Jorge Rodríguez, ratified the support to the talks with the opposition sectors and stressed that the only possible path the government is committed to reach peace, is dialogue.

The mayor of Caracas also asked the opposition sectors to cease any violent action that generates destabilization and chaos in the nation, and to join again to the national dialogue.

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The 10 Victories of President Maduro in 2016

In early 2016,Venezuela’s authorities had very difficult problems to solve. Namely, 1) the neoliberal opposition had won the legislative elections of 2015 and controlled the National Assembly, 2) the price of oil, the main export of Venezuela, had fallen to its lowest point in decades, and 3) US President Barack Obama had signed an executive order that declared Venezuela to be an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the US national security and foreign policy”. 

That is, in three decisive areas (political, economic and geopolitical), the Bolivarian revolution seemed to be playing defensively. Meanwhile, the counter-revolution, both internal and external, seemed to have power at its fingertips. 

Furthermore, Chavismo had been under attack from the media since Hugo Chávez arrived to power in 1999. The negative propaganda had intensified since April 2013 and reached unseen levels after the election of President Nicolás Maduro.

This permanent aggression by the media created and propagated such a level of disinformation about Venezuela that it even confused many friends of the Bolivarian Revolution. In particular because, in this “post-truth era”, lies, intellectual fraud and deceit aren’t sanctioned with any sort of negative consequence, not even in terms of credibility or image. Anything goes, everything that’s useful to achieve an end is valid in this era of post-factual relativism, and sometimes not even the most objective facts or pieces of data are enough to disprove false statements. Denunciations against this strategy are ridiculed by media as “conspiracy theories”, and an obsolete element of an “old narrative” that has no basis. 

As I was saying, all odds seemed to be against the President of Venezuela in early 2016. The head of the National Assembly, opposition member Henry Ramos Allup even dared to say, emboldened by the parliamentary majority they had achieved, that he would oust Maduro “in less than six months”. He was undoubtedly inspired by the institutional coup that had ousted President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, and hoped to achieve a victory in a recall referendum.

That was the state of affairs when President Maduro, in a masterful series of moves that nobody had predicted —and that were perfectly legal according to the Constitution—  surprised everyone. He renewed the members of the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ), whose Constitutional Court has the last word when it comes to interpreting the Constitution.

And then the opposition made two huge mistakes:

They decided to ignore the warnings of the SCJ and carry out a session with three deputies from Amazonas state, whose appointment was under cautionary suspension due to irregularities in their election. Of course, the SCJ blocked this act of disobedience and declared the National Assembly to be in contempt due to the presence of three “irregularly elected” deputies and therefore stripped all validity from decisions made by the organism until this situation is solved. So not only did the assembly fail to legislate to control the government but it annulled itself, wasting the power it held. That was Maduro’s first victory in 2016. 

In their obsessive effort to overthrow the President, the anti-Chavista opposition also decided to ignore the legal requirements to launch a revocatory referendum in 2016. And therefore, they failed again. And that was Maduro’s second victory.

Even so, there was a phase, in March and April, where everything got terribly complicated. Because the usual attacks by the enemies of the Bolivarian revolution were joined by another destabilizing factor: a huge drought, the second biggest since 1950, and extreme heat caused by El Niño. In Venezuela, 70% of electricity is generated by hydroelectric plants, and the main hydroelectric central comes from the Guri dam.  When the amount of rain decreased, the water levels of this dam dropped to next to minimum.

The counter-revolution sought to take advantage of this situation and sabotage electricity to enrage the people and create chaos and protests. This was even more dangerous because the lack of rain also caused drinking water shortages. 

But once again, President Maduro acted swiftly and took dramatic measures: he decreed that millions of incandescent light bulbs had to be replaced by energy saving light bulbs, that old air conditioning systems had to be replaced by new, energy saving ones, he ordered public administration to work half time, and he decreed a special plan of national savings of electricity and water consumption.

Thanks to these bold measures, the president managed to avoid energetic collapse, and obtained one of his most popular victories in 2016.

Another important problem, probably the biggest that the government had to face, partly caused by the economic war on the revolution, was the shortage in food distribution. Before Chávez became president in 1999, 65% of Venezuelans were poor and only 35% had a high quality of life. That means that only 3 out of 10 Venezuelans regularly ate meat, chicken, coffee, corn, milk, sugar and other basic goods. But Chávez wanted everyone to be properly nourished, and in the last 17 years, food consumption grew by 80%. This required a massive investment to increase national food production, but it didn’t grow enough to satisfy the growing demand.

Demand grew, and also speculation. And due to the structural limitations to produce enough, prices hiked vertiginously, while the black market, or bachaqueo, expanded. The government set ceilings on prices of essential goods. Many people bought those cheap, government-subsidized products and sold them for higher prices. Or smuggled them across the border to Colombia or Brazil, where they sold them for double or triple the price. Therefore, Venezuela lost its dollar reserves (which were already scarce due to the drop in oil prices) to the bloodsuckers that stole basic goods from those in need to get rich. Such madness had to stop.

Once again, Maduro decided to act with a firm hand. First of all, he changed the philosophy of social welfare. and he corrected a very important mistake that Venezuela had been making for years. Instead of subsidizing products, the government had to subsidize people. So that those who were truly in need had access to cheaper products. Everybody else pays the market price. This eliminates speculation and smuggling.

And he also announced a change in the economic model of the country: from a “rentist model” to a “productive model”, and defined 15 key sectors to restart the economy of the private, public and communal sector.

One of the practical implementations of these two measures is the creation of Local Committees of Supply and Production (CLAPs), a new form of popular organization. The representatives of organized communities deliver bags full of low-cost food to each home. Many of these foods are produced by the new national industry. In the upcoming months,, CLAPs should feed around four million families. 

Another victory was the government’s record in social expenditure: 71,4% of the budget was allocated there. That’s a world record. No other state in the world dedicates that much resources to the wellbeing of its people.

In healthcare, for example, the number of hospitals grew 3.5 times since 1999. And investment in the new model of humanitarian, free-for-all healthcare grew ten times.

The Barrio Adentro Mission, aimed at caring for the health of those who live in the poorest urban areas of the country, has been received almost 800 million visits and saved 1,400,000 lives. Free medical universities have trained 27,000 new doctors, and other 30,000 will graduate in 2017. Eight states have achieved a 100% coverage with the Barrio Adentro Mission (the goal had been set at six). In 2016, the percentage of retired people who earn a pension (regardless of whether they were able to pay for retirement deductions during their active years) reached 90%—a new record for South America.

Spectacular results were achieved by the Housing Mission, which builds accessible homes for disadvantaged families. Only in 2016, this Mission delivered 359,000 homes for the humble. (While a developed country like France made 109,000 in 2015). Since the beginning of his administration in 2013, a million and a half houses have been made for Venezuelan families. This achievement isn’t even mentioned by hegemonic media.

Last but not least, we must recall some of the brilliant victories that Venezuela obtained in the geopolitical arena. For example, it prevented the Organization of American States, which is dominated by Washington, from condemning Caracas by invoking the Democratic Charter against Venezuela.

It also reaped success at the XVII Summit of the Non Aligned Movement that was held in September 2016 in the country, with the attendance of many heads of state and of government representatives from 120 countries who expressed their solidarity with Venezuela.

The main victory of President Maduro in this area was the unprecedented deal between OPEC and non-OPEC countries to coordinate a reduction in exports of oil. To achieve this, Maduro carried out many international tours.

This historic agreement, signed in November 2016, immediately stopped the drop in oil prices, which had been plummeting since mid-2014, when the price was at 100 dollars a barrel, to 24 dollars in January. Thanks to the agreement, the price hiked to 45 dollars by the end of December 2016.

In the longest and hardest year, in which many thought he would fall, President Maduro, overcame all obstacles and proved his exceptional ability as a statesman. And as a trustworthy leader of the Bolivarian revolution.

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