- Mark Friedman
By Mark Friedman, RLn Reporter
Los Angeles was one of over 100 cities in the United States that saw demonstrations February 23 against US intervention in Venezuela and to stop the threats and destabilization efforts against the democratically elected Maduro government. Demonstrations were held world-wide in response to Washington escalating economic and financial pressure in hopes of bringing down the government of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.
A spirited demonstration at the Santa Monica’s pier included residents from San Pedro to Pasadena.
Sonia De Leon, a Paramount schoolteacher came to protest US intervention in Venezuela. She’s also concerned about the environmental hazards in Paramount created by, Carlton Forge, owned by Warren Buffett which makes war materials and is a heavy metals and toxins polluter. “We need peace, we need money for schools not intervention in Venezuela. We support of the people in the democratically elected government of Venezuela. The US must stop invading countries and spend the money on schools and housing for the homeless.”
Imani Beckett, a sophomore at Palisades charter high school, told this reporter,” We want Trump to stop the military intervention in Venezuela. Past US invasions have shown to make matters worse, with many casualties. The issue is Venezuela’s oil”.
Laura Garza, the Socialist Workers Party candidate for LAUSD district 5 explained that her party” is here to take a stand against US intervention and interference which has been happening for years. The US government is not interested in helping workers and farmers in Venezuela nor here. What they don’t like about Venezuela is its close relationship with Cuba and want to install a government more to their liking. The US sanctions against Venezuela are also an attack on Cuba… US intervention against Venezuela is part of the stepped-up threats against Cuba and presents a dangerous situation for Venezuelan workers and Cuban doctors, internationalist volunteers there. But we differentiate ourselves from supporters Maduro’s government whose actions have demoralized workers.”
Jodie Evans, cofounder of Code Pink and one of the organizers of the protest said “It is fantastic to see diversity of groups here to say no war. No US intervention and no overreach of US imperialism displayed on all the handmade signs.”
President Trump has repeatedly urged the Venezuelan military brass to break with Maduro and support the opposition led by self-proclaimed president Juan Guaidó. If they don’t, “You will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything.”
The Maduro government has maintained a course that pushes working people out of politics and demoralizes them. In the midst of the economic and social crisis there, US rulers now feel they’re in a stronger position to press for the fall of Maduro.
The U.S. government froze U.S. bank accounts of the Venezuelan government and its state-owned PDVSA oil company on Jan. 28. It has also blocked the sale of raw materials needed to process oil in Venezuela.
Under Hugo Chavez, predecessor to Maduro, ostensibly to encourage production and make importing of necessary materials easier, Chávez set up a system where capitalists could buy dollars at a lower rate than on the “free” market. This became a huge source of corruption, especially with capitalists most allied to the government.
The state-run oil industry was plundered by the wealthy and bureaucrats while some profits were used to fund the government’s welfare programs. When the price of oil was high, this masked the underlying contradictions. But when world oil supplies were glutted, oil prices plummeted.
The government tried to keep funding their welfare programs by printing money to make up for the short fall, sparking out-of-control inflation —over 1 million percent this year. Government-subsidized products are scarce. Workers seeking necessities end up standing in lines for hours in hopes of finding something.
Despite the conditions that have led some 3 million people to flee the country, Maduro has repeatedly denied there is a crisis.
Denying the existence of the crisis gives a handle to the cynical maneuvers of the U.S government and oppositionist Guaidó, who shed crocodile tears about the suffering people of Venezuela to present themselves as fighters for humanitarian aid.