Oppose the US war plans for Colombia and Venezuela

Statement by the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network

On February 12, 2008, Colombia's Senator Piedad Cordoba announced the suspension of the rescue operation of three Colombian parliamentarians who were to be liberated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The operation was suspended due to bombings by the Colombian military that put the lives of the prisoners at risk. The operation would have represented the second unilateral step by the FARC towards attempting to reach a humanitarian accord, following the earlier release of two prisoners in January.

These moves have occurred within the framework of the mediation process led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, agreed to by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in August then suspended by him in November. The previous rescue operation was also suspended when the Colombian military bombarded the area designated to release the prisoners.

The new round of bombing by the Colombian military is a stark reminder of the war policies of the Uribe government - backed by the United States administration – which aim to keep Colombia in a permanent state of war.

The desire of the majority of Colombian people, particularly the family members of FARC prisoners, is for a negotiated political settlement. A statement recently issued by numerous Colombian organisations and individuals, including the Colombian Association of Family Members of Detained and Liberated by the Guerrilla Groups, explains:

After more than forty years of uninterrupted armed conflict, there is an urgent need to find viable paths that allow us to advance, without any more hold-ups or delays, towards a negotiated political solution of the armed conflict, where the rights of the victims are preserved. We reiterate out conviction that the war that Colombia is suffering can only be overcome via a broad, pluralist and concerted national dialogue with society.

The mediation process head by Venezuela's president began to open such a path, before it was terminated by the Uribe government. Chavez has continued to offer to play any role he can in facilitating an end to Colombia's decades-long civil war, which has often spilt over into Venezuela territory.

The reason why Uribe stopped the process is clear: Washington fears a political solution to the Colombia's war, which provides a pretext for the militarisation of the region through Plan Colombia and now Plan Patriot. Any moves towards peace put into question the role of the US and its policy of violence and conflict, which has achieved worse than nothing.

Playing on the sentiments of the Colombian people for peace, the Uribe government and its allies promoted demonstrations against the FARC on February 4. These demonstrations, despite the intentions of many who participated, aimed to build support for increased military attacks on the FARC guerrillas. No mention was made at the rallies of the 15,000 Colombians who have disappeared at the hands of the Colombian military and paramilitaries, or the more than 3000 mass graves, or the more than 3500 massacres committed by the paramilitaries between 1982 and 2005, or the 16 extrajudicial executions committed by the military in January 2008 alone.

The demonstrations were also used to attack Chavez, accusing him of supporting terrorism and narco-trafficking. These false accusations are in line with recent statements by the US government and are part of a destabilisation campaign to spread the war across the border into Venezuela.

Venezuela represents a powerful brake on Washington's war plans for the region. Chavez's policy of promoting regional economic, political and cultural integration is helping to unite a continent-wide rebellion against US-imposed neoliberalism. Chavez's call for peace in Colombia is a direct threat to the US policy of pursuing violence across Latin America to get rid of leftwing governments that oppose US domination and exploitation.

Unable to rely on political means to push back the Venezuelan revolution, the US is building up its war drive against Venezuela, for which its links to the Colombian paramilitaries are crucial. Just like the US propaganda and lies about "weapons of mass destruction" in the lead up to its war on Iraq, today Washington is talking about Venezuela as a "drug haven" that is "arming terrorists" and is a "threat to stability".

That is why the Venezuelan government is completely correct when it says "there cannot be peace in Venezuela without peace in Colombia". It is also why Chavez's efforts to meditate a peaceful solution must be supported by all those who oppose war.

Calling for a global demonstration on March 6 "For the disappeared, for the misplaced, for the massacred, for the executed", the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes (Colombia) asks those who participated in the anti-FARC demonstrations: "You marched on February 4. Will you accompany the victims of the paramilitaries, the para-politicians and state agents on March 6?"

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network supports the March 6 demonstrations. We support the peace process led by President Hugo Chavez. We say: US hands of Colombia! US hands off Venezuela! US out of Latin America!

February 14, 2008

[For more background to this statement, visit http://www.greenleft.org.au/2008/739/38238 .For information about March 8 protest actions in Australia, visit www.venezuelasolidarity.org]

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Stop ExxonMobil’s theft from the poor!

Support Venezuela’s right to sovereignty!

Sign-on statement

Please show your support by clicking http://venezuelasolidarity.org/?q=node/2397

United States oil giant ExxonMobil Corporation has launched a major attack on the Venezuelan people’s right to independence and self-determination.

In January and February, ExxonMobil used the courts in Britain, the US and the Netherlands to get injunctions that freeze up to $12 billion in assets of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), in those countries. The British injunction, granted on January 24 without any prior notice to PDVSA, will be heard again on February 22. The US injunction was upheld by a February 13 ruling of the US Federal Court.

ExxonMobil’s economic thuggery is an attempt to undermine and reverse the Venezuelan government’s decision last May to nationalise ExxonMobil’s 41.7% stake in the Cerro Negro project in the Orinoco oilfield. The nationalisation was part of the revolutionary government’s efforts to recover Venezuela’s sovereignty over its natural resources. ExxonMobil rejected the Venezuelan government’s offer of compensation, instead using the legal system in various First World countries to punish the country. In contrast, France’s Total and Norway’s Statoil have agreed to accept from Venezuela close to $1 billion compensation for part of their holdings in the oil project.

ExxonMobil is the world’s largest oil company, and was a key “stakeholder” in the US’s bloody invasion and occupation of Iraq. The corporation’s attack on Venezuela is a continuation of its aggressive response to any government daring to assert its nation’s right to own and control their natural resources. More fundamentally, the attack also aims to destabilise Venezuela and undermine the socialist revolution being constructed by the Venezuelan people.

PDVSA accounts for some 90% of Venezuela's foreign exchange and half of its federal tax revenue, and it is the crucial source of funds for the Venezuelan government's programs that provide free education and health care to the poor. In 2006, the state-owned oil company spent $13.3 billion on such programs, up from $6.9 billion in 2005 and more than double the $5.8 billion it invested in new domestic gas and oil projects.

ExxonMobil’s actions have angered poor Venezuelans, who have held protests around the country. As oil workers’ union leader Luis Carvajal said: “This transnational has exploited our wealth, has exploited our workers and violated our rights. All the workers in the Orinoco oil belt support the nationalisation.”

Venezuela supplies about 10% of the US’s oil. On February 14, PDVSA halted oil supplies to ExxonMobil and the government is now considering suspending oil supplies to the US. As Venezuela's energy minister, Rafael Ramirez, has emphasised, the interests of the Venezuelan nation are more important than any corporation, and Venezuela will not back down from its policy of full oil sovereignty.

In light of these events, we the undersigned:

  • Support the Venezuelan government’s efforts to defend and extend the Venezuelan people’s common ownership and control over Venezuela’s natural resources, and defend the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s right to assert its social, political and economic sovereignty.
  • Condemn ExxonMobil’s economic blackmail against Venezuela and call for it to immediately withdraw its legal campaign against PDVSA.
  • Reject as illegitimate and immoral the British, US and Dutch courts’ order to freeze PDVSA’s assets. Only Venezuela, through its own courts and in accordance with its own Constitution, has the right to decide the ownership and control of the resources in its territory. So-called “international arbitration” on Venezuela’s resources via courts in the First World countries is colonialism.
  • Stand in solidarity with the protest actions of Venezuela’s people, trade unions and social organisations against ExxonMobil and the US government’s economic and political thuggery, and commend the words of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: “They will never rob us again, those bandits of ExxonMobil”.

Please show your support by clicking http://venezuelasolidarity.org/?q=node/2397

For information about protest actions against ExxonMobile in your city, contact the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network at info@venezuelasolidarity.org