Yves Engler / Venezuela Analysis & Grahame Russell / Rights Action – 2019-02-01 22:25:09
Canada Is Complicit in Venezuela’s US-Backed Coup D’etat
Yves Engler / Venezuela Analysis
(January 28, 2019) — Most Canadians think of their country as a force for good in the world, but recent efforts by Justin Trudeau’s government to overthrow Venezuela’s elected government have once again revealed the ugly truth about the Great White North. We are an important partner in imperialism, willing to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, up to and including the use of military force, to benefit the perceived self-interest of our elites.
Over the past two years, Canadian officials have campaigned aggressively against President Nicolas Maduro. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has repeatedly criticized Caracas’ democratic legitimacy and human rights record.
Recently she said, “the Maduro regime is now fully entrenched as a dictatorship” while in September Ottawa asked (with five South American nations) the International Criminal Court to investigate the Venezuelan government, which is the first time a government has been formally brought before the tribunal by another member.
In recent weeks, Canadian diplomats have played an important role in uniting large swaths of the Venezuelan opposition behind a US-backed plan to ratchet up tensions by proclaiming the new head of the opposition-dominated National Assembly, Juan Guaido, president.
The Canadian press quoted a Canadian diplomat saying they helped Guaido “facilitate conversations with people that were out of the country and inside the country” while the Globe and Mail reported that “Freeland spoke with Juan Guaido to congratulate him on unifying opposition forces in Venezuela, two weeks before he declared himself interim president.”
Alongside Washington and a number of right-leaning Latin American governments, Ottawa immediately recognized Guaido after he proclaimed himself president on Wednesday. Canadian officials are lobbying European leaders to recognize Guaido as president as well.
Ottawa has long provided various other forms of direct support to an often-violent opposition. In recent years, Canada channelled millions of dollars to opposition groups in Venezuela and 18 months ago outgoing Canadian Ambassador Ben Rowswell told the Ottawa Citizen that “we became one of the most vocal embassies in speaking out on human rights issues and encouraging Venezuelans to speak out.”
Alongside its support for the opposition, Ottawa expelled Venezuela’s top diplomat in 2017 and has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Venezuelan officials. In March, the United Nations Human Rights Council condemned the economic sanctions the US, Canada and EU have adopted against Venezuela while Caracas called Canada’s move a “blatant violation of the most fundamental rules of International Law.”
Canada has been one of the most active members of the “Lima Group” of governments opposed to Venezuela’s elected government since the bloc’s founding in August 2017. Canada is hosting the next meeting of the “Lima Group.” Freeland has repeatedly prodded Caribbean and Central American countries to join the Lima Group’s anti-Maduro efforts.
In September, 11 of the 14 member states of the “Lima Group” backed a statement distancing the anti-Venezuelan alliance from “any type of action or declaration that implies military intervention” after Organization of American States chief Luis Almagro stated:
“As for military intervention to overthrow the Nicolas Maduro regime, I think we should not rule out any option . . . diplomacy remains the first option but we can’t exclude any action.”
Canada, Guyana and Colombia refused to criticize the head of the OAS’ musings about an invasion of Venezuela.
Alongside the head of the OAS, US President Donald Trump has publically discussed invading Venezuela. To the best of my knowledge, Ottawa has stayed mum on Trump’s threats, which violate international law.
Why? Why is Canada so eager to overthrow an elected government? Recent headlines in the Globe and Mail (“Venezuelan crisis buoys prospects for Canadian heavy crude oil producers”) and Wall Street Journal (“Bond Prices in Venezuela Jump on Prospect of Regime Change”) suggest some short term reasons. But looking at the situation from a historical perspective confirms Noam Chomsky’s claim that international affairs is run like the Mafia. The godfather cannot accept disobedience.
Thus, while the scope of the Trudeau government’s current campaign against Venezuela is noteworthy, it’s not the first time Ottawa has supported the overthrow of an elected, left-leaning, government in the hemisphere. Canada passively supported military coups against Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 and Brazilian President Joao Goulart in 1964 as well as “parliamentary coups” against Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo in 2012 and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in 2016.
Ottawa played a slightly more active role in the removal of Dominican Republic President Juan Bosch in 1965 and Chilean president Salvador Allende in 1973. In a more substantial contribution to undermining electoral democracy, Ottawa backed the Honduran military’s removal of Manuel Zelaya in 2009.
Canada played its most forceful role in the removal of a progressive, elected, president in the hemisphere’s most impoverished nation. Thirteen months before Jean-Bertrand Aristide was, in his words, “kidnapped” by US Marines on February 29, 2004, Jean Chretien’s Liberal government organized an international gathering to discuss overthrowing the Haitian president. JTF2 special forces secured the Port-au-Prince airport the night Aristide was ousted and 500 Canadian troops were part of the US-led invasion to consolidate the coup.
With regards to Venezuela it’s unclear just how far Ottawa is prepared to go in its bid to oust Maduro. But, it is hard to imagine that the path Canada and the US have chosen can succeed without Venezuela being plunged into significant violence.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Venezuelanalysis editorial staff.
Say No to US & Canadian-led
‘Lima Group’ Meeting in Ottawa, Canada,
Plotting Further Illegal Actions to
Force Government Change in Venezuela
Grahame Russell / Rights Action
On February 4, 2019, government officials from Canada and the US, from the corrupt, repressive, military-backed regimes of Brazil, Guatemala and Honduras, and from a few other Latin American countries are meeting in Ottawa, Canada. (CBC News, Jan 28, 2019, https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/venezuela-lima-group-meeting-1.4996005)
Prompted by the US, and invited by Prime Minister Trudeau and Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, they will discuss further political, economic, media-propaganda and — covert or overt military — actions to continue with illegal efforts to try and oust the government of Venezuela.
* * *
Democracy Now! reports (https://www.democracynow.org/2019/1/29/headlines) that in a recent interview on Fox Business, US national security adviser John Bolton openly said US oil companies could benefit from what’s happening in Venezuela.
“We’re in conversation with major American companies now that are either in Venezuela or, in the case of Citgo, here in the United States. I think we’re trying to get to the same end result here. You know, Venezuela is one of the three countries I call the ‘troika of tyranny.’ It’d be good for the people of Venezuela. It’d be good for the people of the United States.” [Emphasis added — EAW.]
From Yves Engler’s article (link below):
“Recent headlines in the Globe and Mail (“Venezuelan crisis buoys prospects for Canadian heavy crude oil producers”) and Wall Street Journal (“Bond Prices in Venezuela Jump on Prospect of Regime Change”) suggest some short term reasons why is Canada so eager to overthrow an elected government.”
Over the past two years, democrats in the US, liberals in Canada, and much of the mainstream media in both countries have criticized, opposed and even mocked President Trump and officials in his government and White House. Now, a majority of democrats and liberals have joined republican and conservative counterparts in support of this President Trump/US and Prime Minister Trudeau/Canadian-led effort at illegal government change.
At the same time, these same politicians — and most media outlets — are censoring any discussion about the illegality of arbitrarily “recognizing” an opposition politician as president of Venezuela, and of the economic sanctions already applied by Canada and the US against Venezuela.
This entire situation is as arbitrary — and even absurd — as it sounds. It is also illegal, very harmful and deadly. It can only get worse.
“Propaganda is as powerful as heroin;
it surreptitiously dissolves all capacity to think.”
— “A Sunday at the Pool in Kingali,” by Gil Courtemanche)
So as to give false credence to the so-called Lima group, there is no concern expressed by most politicians from the dominant parties in the US and Canada, and no media coverage about the Lima group “allies” such as the anti-democratic/ corrupt/ military-backed/ pro-global business/ refugee-producing governments in Honduras and Guatemala. (I leave it to others to describe the nature of other Lima group allies, such as the incoming military-backed, anti-democratic — but yes, pro-global business — regime in Brazil.)
The US and Canada’s whole-hearted inclusion of Guatemala and Honduras as ‘democratic allies’ in this illegal power play means — for a majority of US and Canadian politicians and much of the media — that there are not systemic human rights violations — including political prisoners — in Guatemala and Honduras. There is no government repression and killings of community, human rights and environmental defenders.
Organized crime rings (including drug traffickers) have not infiltrated all branches of the government, police and military. There is no widespread fear, destitution and poverty. And 10s of 1000s of refugee migrants, fleeing Honduras and Guatemala every year, have no reason to flee.
“If you are not careful, the press will have you
hating the people being repressed
and loving the people doing the repressing.”
It is hard to know what to do about this illegal power play, brazenly led by the US and Canada, supported by the likes of Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, etc., when the very institutions of our counties and societies — governments, political parties and oversight committees; judiciaries and related investigatory administrative bodies; publicly and privately owned media outlets, that have as their fundamental duties and responsibilities to provide checks and balances, and/or to investigate and report on abuses of power and authority (from the local to state/provincial, to federal, to global levels) — are actively participating in or ‘justifying’ this illegal, harmful and violent attempt and government change.
Fundamentally, it is up to folks across the US and Canada to continue with organizing, education and actions aimed at holding ourselves, our media and our governments accountable for this and other illegal interventions across the globe that are, invariably, for our own selfish economic and political interests.
“There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones: search for understanding, education, organization, action . . . and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future.”
— Noam Chomsky
Politicians and government officials, and mainstream media outlets will decide, as always, whether they take their fundamental responsibilities — related to honesty, truthful reporting and representation, democracy, rule of law and justice, human rights — seriously, or not.
“Do with it what you will. Cry over it. Get angry. Forget it.
But don’t say in years to come that you would have lived your life differently
if only you had heard this story. You have heard it now.”
— Thomas King, Native storyteller and Professor at University of Guelph
Rights Action (US & Canada)
Rights Action funds human rights, environmental and territorial defense organizations in Guatemala and Honduras; we provide relief funds to victims of political repression, health harms and natural disasters; we expose and work to hold accountable the US and Canadian governments, companies and investors, international actors (World Bank, etc.) that cause and profit from the repression, environmental harms and human rights violations.
To support our community-based partner groups defending human rights, the environment and their territories in Honduras and Guatemala, contact “Rights Action” at:
US: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
Canada: (Box 552) 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
Follow the Work of Other Solidarity Groups/ NGOs
Honduras Solidarity Network:
Witness for Peace:
School of Americas Watch:
Common Frontiers Canada:
Breaking the Silence :
NISGUA (Network in Solidarity with People of Guatemala):
CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with People of El Salvador):
Alliance for Global Justice:
GHRC (Guatemalan Human Rights Commission):