People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 07

February 14, 2010

What of Venezuela Irks Canada’s Minister 


Naresh ‘Nadeem’


AND now a minister in the Conservative government of Canada has joined the cacophony against Venezuela and its president, Hugo Chavez, as part of what is clearly the US led game of slandering, defaming and if possible strangulating this outpost of anti-imperialist protest in the western hemisphere.

Peter Kent is a minister of state in Canada, in charge of foreign affairs (Americas). During his recent brief stopover in Venezuela, Kent took the opportunity to express the Canadian government’s concerns over the “shrinking democratic space” in Venezuela.

During his stopover in Caracas on January 27, Kent said, “Canada is concerned over the Venezuelan government's recent suspension of broadcasting of (three) television stations and the death of two students in protests related to this action. These events are further evidence of a shrinking democratic space in Venezuela.”

And, just to think of it, what was Kent pontificating about? In fact, what has irritated him is the fact that the Venezuelan government recently took certain steps against three TV stations including the RCTV, the network that played a key role in organising the coup that briefly overthrew the Venezuelan government in 2002.

The Venezuelan government’s moves against the said TV stations followed their refusal to comply with the country’s broadcasting laws, which led to temporary suspension of their licenses. Yet the fact is that the broadcasting laws in Venezuela are not essentially different from the corresponding laws in Canada. Like the CRTC regulations in Canada, they too set certain standards for broadcasting the child and adult programmes, prohibit the broadcasting of racist, sexist or inflammatory material, inhibit any incitement to violence, define the limits on commercial advertising, and require that the TV stations should broadcast important announcements of social value.

The question that arises here is: Will Canada not act against a TV station if the latter is found guilty of violating its CRTC regulations?

As for the RCTV channel, which is one of the three channels which the Venezuelan government has moved against, only about three weeks ago, it broadcast an interview with Noel Alavarez, president of the FEDECAMARAS which is an association of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie, calling for yet another attempt at “military solution” to the political situation in the country. However, while pontificating about democracy or the lack of it in Venezuela, Kent did not pause for a moment to tell us what steps --- under the CRTC regulations or otherwise --- would Canada have taken if a TV channel or radio station had called for a “military solution” to the Stephen Harper government in the country.

But howsoever laughable Kent’s concerns about democracy may appear, and they are laughable no doubt, they cannot be lightly dismissed in view of the real threat which the US imperialists and their cohorts like Canada and the Netherlands pose to Venezuela. How can an observer of the Latin American situation forget that it was the same Peter Kent who was one of the most vocal supporters of the military coup that overthrew the democratically elected Mel Zelaya in Honduras in June 2009? Though the dictatorship that was then installed in Honduras has killed scores of people by now, the Canadian government --- of which Peter Kent is a part --- did not even cut off military aid to the Honduran dictatorship.

So much about Kent’s concern for democracy!

As for other accusations Kent has levelled, he claimed that President Hugo Chavez “has a history of concentrating power in the executive.” This is indeed the height of hypocrisy. While the Canadian minister has brought this charge against Chavez, the Conservative government of his country has prorogued the parliament for the third time in as many years. Last year, the Conservatives suspended the Canadian parliament only to ensure that the Liberal-NDP coalition did not come to power. This year, again, the government suspended the parliament to ensure that the people do not get to know about how the Canadian mission in Afghanistan was very much a part of the process of torturing the innocent people. In the last couple of weeks, tens of thousands of ordinary Canadians have come out to protest against the “shrinking democratic space” --- not in Venezuela but in Canada.

As for the Conservative government’s attitude to the media, it has indeed been practising selective barring of certain channels in Canada. It, for example, refused to grant a license to the Al-Jazeera channel to broadcast its programmes in Canada. The current government is particularly notorious for seldom organising media conferences and for pre-deciding the questions media correspondents need to ask, that is, in case it organises a media conference at all.

It is thus amply clear that Kent’s fulminations against Venezuela are very much a part of the attempts the Conservative government of Canada, just like its Liberal predecessor, have been making to demonise the Venezuelan government and, if possible, to get it overthrown. In recent years, the Canadian mission in Caracas has been twice caught passing money over to the Venezuelan opposition. Barrick Gold and some other large Canadian corporations have made it publicly known that they do not like President Hugo Chavez’s face and are worried about their economic interests.

One thing is amply clear. Insofar as the western hemisphere is concerned, Cuba for a long time --- and all alone --- resisted the imperialist onslaughts on its sovereignty as well as on the interests of the whole American people. But Cuba is not alone now, and its perseverance has bore fruits as now a whole line of the Latin American countries is up in arms against their imperialist exploiters. Now the popular movements there have begun to pose a serious threat to the interests of imperialism in the hemisphere, while posing a threat to the system of exploitation by their indigenous capitalists as well. It is thus that the pro-imperialist bourgeoisie are now gripped with the mortal fear that the successes the ordinary workers and other toiling people have achieved in countries like Venezuela or Bolivia can well serve as a source of inspiration for the Canadian and US workers too. For example, the successful squatting actions in the Republic Windows and Doors factories in Chicago directly derived inspiration from the workers’ successful squatting actions in Venezuela. Therefore, for the bourgeoisie and their representatives in governance, it is now much more pressing than ever to discredit and destroy the popular regimes in Latin America.