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“We must defend Venezuela’s democracy” – U.S. Ambassador, Eastern Caribbean and OECS

By U.S. Ambassador Linda Taglialatela
U.S. Ambassador Linda Taglialatela

U.S. Ambassador Linda Taglialatela

The following is an Op-Ed by Ambassador Linda Taglialatela, U.S. Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the OECS.

As Ambassador, I occasionally promote U.S. policies that are unpopular with some government leaders in the Eastern Caribbean. That is the case now.

The situation in Venezuela has reached the point where it is impossible for me to remain silent. What is happening in Venezuela is wrong. We need to act together to prevent the further deterioration of democracy and stop the suffering of the Venezuelan people, particularly its children. I say this fully aware of the historical ties between some governments in this region and Venezuela.

However, right now we are witnessing Nicolas Maduro do everything, including clearly violating the Venezuelan Constitution, to cling to power while the Venezuelan people starve in the streets. Do not let political differences get in the way. What Maduro is doing to Venezuela and its citizens is wrong and we should not stand idly by as people suffer.

In the United States, as in the Eastern Caribbean, democracy is a part of our collective DNA. Sixteen years ago in Peru, our nations underscored this principle with the adoption of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, affirming the right of the peoples of the Americas to democracy and obligating all our governments to defend that right.

The Organization of American States (OAS) for decades provided us a forum to discuss our greatest challenges and take action together to address them. The General Assembly in Cancun this week will address the death spiral of democracy in Venezuela.

The Maduro Government has relentlessly and intentionally undermined other Constitutional branches of government from the inside.

Since opposition parties won a majority of seats in 2015, the Maduro government systematically smothered Venezuela’s National Assembly. Citing vague, unproven claims of electoral fraud allegedly committed by three legislators, the government denied the legislative branch the right to pass laws. The captive judiciary declared Venezuela’s Congress “in contempt,” stripping it of all legislative authority. Maduro usurped the right of the National Assembly to appoint new members of the National Electoral Council, a right clearly provided for in Article 296 of Venezuela’s constitution.

Maduro increasingly relies on Venezuela’s military to control the economy, intimidate opponents and suppress popular discontent. More than 331 Venezuelan civilians are being held and prosecuted by military courts in secret trials. Yet Article 261 of Venezuela’s Constitution clearly states that the jurisdiction of military courts is limited to offenses of a military nature. Venezuela’s own Attorney General, appointed by then-President Hugo Chavez in 2007, condemned the trials and was refused access to the prisoners.

Faced with a crumbling economy and massive popular dissatisfaction, the Maduro regime is now destroying the last vestiges of the democratic order. The government recently called for a constituent assembly to abandon Chavez’ constitution and write a new one in a process that would instantly wipe away the current democratically elected National Assembly, as well as the Attorney General and other existing institutions, trampling on popular suffrage and other constitutional requirements.

When a government breaks with democracy, we must act in solidarity with its people. Not through intervention or interference, but with diplomacy and mediation among all parties to help find a peaceful, democratic, and comprehensive solution.

The spillover effects from Venezuela’s crisis are serious and growing, whether it is irregular migrant flows to countries in our region or the increasing flows of arms and criminal activity that affect the Caribbean in particular. All our countries have a direct stake in finding a negotiated solution that restores the rule of law and economic prosperity to our troubled neighbor.

The General Assembly of the Organization of American States is the venue for us to unify as a region and act to foster negotiations in Caracas to return to a respect for democracy, end the polarizing violence, and help the Venezuelan people reclaim their democratic rights and their power.

At times the Caribbean has differences with the United States, but no one can deny that something very wrong is happening in Venezuela right now. Taking action to change that shows more solidarity with the people of Venezuela than continuing to support the very regime that is oppressing them and dismantling their democracy. More than ever, they need to see that they have friends and neighbors in the Caribbean that care and are watching with growing concern.

I urge you to let your leaders know that you stand shoulder to shoulder with the Venezuelan people as they fight for their fundamental human rights.

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This article was posted in its entirety as received by stlucianewsonline.com. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of stlucianewsonline.com, its sponsors or advertisers.

8 comments

  1. David Comissiong

    Dear Editor,

    Please publish the following as a Guest Column in response to the US Ambassador.

    DAVID COMISSIONG
    (Barbados)

    INTERNATIONAL  NETWORK  IN  DEFENSE  OF  HUMANITY
    (CARIBBEAN  CHAPTER)

    RELEASE

    A  RESPONSE  TO  THE US  AMBASSADOR ‘ S OFFENSIVE  ARTICLE  ABOUT  VENEZUELA

    After reading the article by Ms Linda Taglialatela ( the United States Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean) that was published in the St. Lucia News on-line newspaper of Monday 19th June 2017 under the headline “We Must Defend Venezuela’s Democracy”, it occurred to me that only an Ambassador representing the Administration of the egotistical Donald Trump would have the effrontery to believe that she is entitled to attempt to circumvent the national leadership of our countries by arrogating to herself the right to utilize our national news media to speak directly to the masses of our people and to enlist them in her (and her country’s) unholy “regime change” crusade against the duly constituted and friendly Government of our fellow Caribbean state of Venezuela !

    Ensconced as she appears to be in an exaggerated sense of her own importance and authority over our people, Ms Taglialatela ends her article by admonishing the people of Barbados and the Eastern Carinbbean as follows:- “I urge you to let your leaders know that you stand shoulder to shoulder with the Venezuelan people  as they fight for their fundamental human rights.”

    So, apparently Ms Taglialatela believes that she knows better than the Prime Ministers and other political leaders of our countries, and that it is up to her to inform and instruct, what she no doubt perceives to be, the ignorant and uninformed people of the Caribbean.

    Indeed, Ms Taglialatela seems to think that she knows the situation in Venezuela even better than Ms Ines Esparragoza, the mother of the late Orlando Figuera– the 21 year old Afro-Venezuelan who was brutally beaten by a crowd of white Opposition supporters; stabbed six times; doused with gasoline; and set on fire. Orlando Figuera was burnt to death simply because he was Black and  was a supporter of the Socialist party of Chavez and Maduro. His grieving mother publicly stated that the Opposition was directly responsible for his death ! Does Ms Taglialatela really think that she knows better than the mother of Orlando Figuera?

    Well I have news for Ms Taglialatela !

    The people of Barbados and the other Eastern Caribbean islands do not need any instruction from her. Our people are well aware that the defining feature of the history of the entire Latin American and Caribbean region is that for hundreds of years the masses of indigenous, mestizo, and black people were exploited and kept in an impoverished state by local white elites acting in partnership with the economic oligarchy of the metropolitian countries of Europe and North America.

    Our people are aware that just as this social pattern applied to Barbados and the other Eastern Caribbean territories, that it applied to Venezuela as well.

    The masses of black and working-class people in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean only began to experience significant social and economic upliftment when– in the 1950’s– representatives of the black masses finally got their hands on the instruments of government and used those instruments to share the national resources more equally and to uplift the people.

    And so it was with Venezuela as well ! It was only with the coming to power of President Hugo Chavez in 1999 that, for the first time, Venezuela became possessed of a President and a governmental administration that were deeply connected to the interests of indigenous, mestizo , black and impoverished Venezuelans.

    Ever since oil was discovered in Venezuela in the 1920’s, big and wealthy American corporations had latched on to Venezuela and– in partnership with the white Venezuelan elite– had plundered and selfishly consigned the country’s oil revenue to themselves, and to the exclusion of the black, mestizo, indigenous and working-class masses of the country.

    It was Chavez and his United Socialist Party that effectively snatched away Venezuela’s tremendous oil resources from the hands of the US multinationals and the local white elite, and began to direct the oil revenue towards education, health, housing and other forms of social development for the impoverished masses.

    And so , our people know instinctively that the political and social battle that is now taking place in Venezuela is centred around an attempt by the local elite and their US backers to retake the Government and the oil industry that the Government now owns and controls.

    This is what you and the Trump Administration are really interested in Ms Taglialatela– not in the welfare of the ordinary people of Venezuela.

    Indeed, the Government that you serve, Ms Taglialatela, has never been interested in the welfare of the ordinary people of Latin America or the Caribbean ! It is well known , for example, that the US Government has a reputation for supporting any dictator who is willing to toe an American line and to permit American economic interests to flourish — Papa Doc Duvalier in Haiti, Somoza in Nicaragua, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Batista in Cuba, Pinochet in Chile, Marcos Perez Jimenez in Venezuela, Porfirio Diaz in Mexico, and a slew of brutal military strongmen in Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Honduras, El Salvador and Uruguay at various times between the 1960’s and the 1990’s.

    Finally, Ms Taglialatela, you must not believe that our people are so ignorant and uninformed about the situation in Venezuela that you can get away with the parroting of half truths and distortions.

    You claim that the Maduro Government has “undermined” the Opposition controlled National Assembly on the basis of “vague, unproven claims of electoral fraud allegedly committed by three legislators”. Surely you must know that this is a gross distortion. Why didn’t you acknowledge that the Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled that the claims of electoral fraud had been proven, and as a result had gone on to instruct the National Assembly not to swear in the three legislators in question, but that the National Assembly openly and defiantly flouted the ruling of the Supreme Court and admitted the three disqualified legislators?

    You also claimed that the Supreme Court of Venezuela has stripped the National Assembly of all legislative authority. Here again, you must know that this is a half truth. Why didn’t you acknowledge that under the Constitution of Venezuela the Supreme Court has the legal power (and the responsibility) to temporarily take over the functions of any organ of the State that is failing to carry out its Constitutional responsibilities, and that the Supreme court took control of the functions of the National Assembly for a mere ONE  DAY  before rescinding the decision to do so !

    Why the need– Ms Taglialatela– for all the half truths and distortions ? Why not inform the Barbadian and Caribbean people that no nation on the face of this earth has had as many internationally approved elections than Venezuela has had over the past 18 years, under the presidencies of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro ?

    Why not inform our people that the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has won the vast majority of these elections, but that on every occasion that it has lost an election, it has respected and upheld the result? Indeed, isn’t this why the opposition M.U.D. party is now controlling the majority of seats in the National Assembly?

    Wasn’t the December 2015 National Assembly election that was conducted under the auspices of the Maduro administration not a free and fair election? And didn’t the Maduro administration accept the result, even though the result was to their disadvantage?You insult our intelligence Ms Taglialatela, when you suggest that Nicolas Maduro is an undemocratic dictator.

    The reality is that Nicolas Maduro won the Presidential election in 2013 fair and square, and as a result he and his Administration are entitled to and WILL  remain in office until the latter part of the year 2018, and hopefully– if it be the electoral Will of the people– way beyond that date as well . And no amount of orchestrated (and paid for by wealthy Opposition politicians) violent street protests is going to change that !

    No, Ms Taglialatela, you have overstepped your bounds and trampled on our traditional island courtesy and hospitality. Let this be the first and last time that you do so.

    DAVID  COMISSIONG
    Coordinator

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  2. Venezuela is a member of OPEC. It is also a known source of narco-traffic to the U.S.A. Of course the U.S.A. has an interest in meddling and coercing neighbouring nations in the OECS.

    Will there be carrots or disincentives depending on the OECS approach? Draw your own conclusions.

    The U.S.A. has the both the economic and the military capacity to weigh in by themselves.

    OECS nations are non-players in what is a very, very much larger chess game.

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  3. Democracy foy you mean laying your paws on the the country's wealth you blood sucking gnat. As if the US has the god right to be the ones to benefit from the exploitation of the world's wealth. Woman you are nothing but a blood sucker in the true sense of the world. You should be fed to hungry lions if you ask me.

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  4. These situations are never black and white. There is merit in the points presented.However the message is tainted because of the messenger.

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  5. "when a government breaks with democracy we must act with solidarity with its people".
    the question is:
    why can not respect a independent country with elected leaders and think we have to interfere? With interfering in other nations thats why we have war all over the world.

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  6. NO!!!!..........WE WILL NOT SUPPORT US MEDDLING........You'll only want to get you'll hands on Venezuela's oil!!!

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    • The only ones getting a sweet oil deal are countries like St. Lucia who pay little up front and very lenient lending rates for being part of PetroCaribe, an organization created by Chavez to buy votes. St. Lucia just loves the cheap oil it gets and doesn't want to "meddle" for fear of losing that deal.

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  7. Amen to that sister,
    I second that motion.I have said this from the time that crisis started. The Venezuelan president took all the country's monies and squander it to the small islands St Vincent ,St Lucia and the rest.Now look at the state of the country, not one of them made a statement nor to give them back some money or lend a hand .All of them drank momo tablets.THIS IS ABSOLUTE NONSENSE.

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