New Zealand’s support vital for the United Nations, rule of law & democracy in Venezuela & the world
22 February 2019
Prime Minister, Rt Honourable Jacinda Ardern
Parliament Buildings, Wellington
Letter by Kay Weir
Dear Rt Honourable Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Rt Honourable Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters
Firstly, thank you Prime Minister for your splendid work to help create a more equitable society in NZ, no easy task when so much needs to be done. And congratulations on your ground-breaking talk at the economic forum in Davos, being invited to discuss the NZ government’s great initiative, the well-being economy. Drawing attention as Prime Minister of NZ, at this time in history to the need to address increasing inequality at this famed international forum is an extraordinary achievement. Our organization, the Pacific Institute of Resource Management, based in Wellington, applauds your efforts to bring about a fairer society in NZ, and the world, with plans in NZ that include building affordable homes.
2 million affordable homes: Venezuela
Venezuela’s socialist government has already built 2 million affordable homes in the past 7 years, as part of its People’s Social Protection System (1, 2). President Nicholas Maduro’s plan was to continue to build a million more homes in 2019. But as you know his democratically elected, legally recognised government with a mandate to reverse the pervasive poverty from earlier decades, is being directly threatened by yet another U.S.-led illegal regime-change attempt. There have been several this century in countries in the Middle East and North Africa that have killed at least 6 million people in violent deaths with indiscriminate bombings, invasions and sanctions, causing millions of refugees to flee their destroyed countries (3–6). When there’s much discontent in the EU and UK about refugees flowing into their countries from these wars, why support yet another effort to overturn a legally recognised government that’s likely to cause more refugees?
Supporting the UN, democracy & rule of law in Venezuela
We are delighted the NZ government is upholding democracy and international law in Venezuela, not supporting a coup attempt to replace the elected President with an unelected, self-declared president, supported and funded by the U.S. (7, 8). The U.S. protégée would represent U.S interests and the wealthy in Venezuela, rather than the majority of Venezuelans. It’s preposterous the US is interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela, trying to dictate who is president, against all democratic norms, the UN Charter and international law. We note that United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres has rejected aid requests from self-proclaimed “interim President” Juan Guaido, saying: “the U.N. only co-operates with the country’s recognised government, led by President Nicolas Maduro.” (9). We note also that Italy, Hungary, Iran, Turkey, Russia, Cuba, Syria, China, Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay, the African Union (55 countries), El Salvador, Nicaragua, countries of the Caribbean community, all support the democratically elected President Maduro (10–13), and international law. Adding up the populations in these supporting countries, it’s clear that most of the world’s people support the democratically elected President Maduro.
UN report: US-led economic war on Venezuela causes many deaths
The present crisis in Venezuela, and pretext for the attempted coup to replace Venezuela’s legally recognized President, has not been brought about by poor policies of its socialist government as claimed by the US (14). They say millions are fleeing because of poor governance, that Venezuelans are starving and need aid. Such criticism is deceitful, ignoring the dire effects of years of illegal economic sanctions, blockades and financial manipulation deliberately employed by the US and allies to destroy Venezuela’s economy.
A detailed independent expert report on Venezuela’s situation by United Nations Special Rapporteur, Mr Alfred de Zayas, published September 2018, explains what has really happened. It refers to many deaths caused by “economic asphyxiation” (15). Mr de Zayas notes:
The effects of sanctions imposed by U.S. Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of countries imposing them. Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this. (15)
Making Venezuela’s economy scream
When UN Independent Expert, Mr de Zayas visited the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in 2018, he talked with many experts, including Pasqualina Curcio, who published a well-documented book, The visible hand of the market, analysing the economic war on Venezuela.
She reminds readers that in 1970, when Salvador Allende was the democratically elected President of Chile, Richard Nixon told Henry Kissinger that the United States would not tolerate an alternative economic model in Latin America and gave orders to “make the Chilean economy scream,” and when all the boycotts and sanctions failed, Allende was removed by Pinochet’s coup in September 1973.
Spanish economist Alfredo Serrano, head of the Centro Estratégico Latinoamericano de Geopolítica, analyses the manipulation of Venezuela, the refusal of banks to process Venezuelan international transactions, obstacles to obtaining insulin and other medicines, artificially induced inflation, and the arbitrary ‘dollar today’ figures.” (15)
The Banco Central de Venezuela informed the UN’s Independent Expert that:
the sanctions, besides hindering access to external financing and international payments, had affected the normal performance of the national productive apparatus, resulting in reduction in supply of local goods and services. For the previous year and a half, the bank had been experiencing difficulties with the correspondent investment of high-level banks; from a total of 33 correspondent accounts, it currently had 14, which operated under a discretional compliance system, with many limitations that resulted in certain operational restrictions, mostly focused on public debt payments. The problems had worsened relating to the operation of correspondent banks, mainly Citibank, Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank, which currently handled only public debt payment. The situation was resulting in obstacles to the realization of public sector payments (i.e. foods and medicines). Demonstrably, unilateral coercive measures and financial blockades have aggravated the economic crisis and caused unemployment and emigration to Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador, among other countries.” (15)
Additionally, staff of the Banco Central de Venezuela explained to Mr de Zayas, the UN Independent Expert, that in the present Venezuela’s crisis:
the pernicious exchange rate published on a website was not grounded in factual purchase and sale transactions that had been negatively impacting the economy, primarily, as a price marker, raising inflations levels, constituting an instrument of war that had risen constantly, accumulating during the year an upward variation trend over 2,465 per cent.
According to Pasqualina Curcio,
the manipulation of the exchange rate has been the most effective strategy to disrupt Venezuela’s economy. It has an impact not only on the foreign exchange market, but also price levels of the economy, leading to loss of purchasing power, distortion of markets and production.
The variations of the parallel exchange rate published in websites since 2012 do not correspond to the historical behaviour of the ratio between international reserves and monetary liquidity… This type of parallel exchange rate do not respond to economic factors but rather to political ones in the framework of this manipulation of the economic warfare against the people in Venezuela … The unconventional nonviolent warfare method that has been evidently used since 2012 to distort the Venezuelan economy and provoke social unrest and political destabilization is known in economic terms as supply shock, generated by inflation costs. (15)
Urgent: Lift deadly sanctions for Venezuela’s recovery
Mr de Zayas compares modern-day economic sanctions and blockades to medieval sieges of towns forcing them to surrender, except that today’s sanctions “attempt to bring sovereign countries to their knees.” A difference is that,
twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by manipulation of public opinion through fake news, aggressive public relations and pseudo-human rights rhetoric giving the impression that a human rights ‘end’ justifies the criminal means. (15)
False human rights rhetoric is in evidence now with U.S-led allies, and their self-declared president, calling loudly for aid to be delivered to relieve Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis. The ‘aid’ has now mid-February 2019 been airlifted by the US military to Venezuela’s border with Colombia. A potentially violent showdown is imminent with President Maduro rejecting the aid and US protégée Guaido planning soon to run the caravans of trucks with the US aid into Venezuela. But if the U.S. and EU countries were truly interested in helping people in Venezuela, why not simply remove their destructive sanctions and financial manipulations that have caused the economic crisis, killed people and economically crippled Venezuela?
UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur, Mr de Zayas reports that if the years of crippling US-led sanctions, and financial manipulations were lifted, Venezuelans would no longer die from lack of medicines, or food and with its many resources the country has a good chance of economic recovery.15 This is the real answer to Venezuela’s crisis, not implanting an unelected government and president dictated by the US for its own interests, in complete denial of international law and the sovereign, democratic rights of Venezuela and its people.
‘Aid’ a Trojan horse
We are concerned that the US and its allies are using their “aid” crisis in Venezuela which they themselves created with years of illegal harsh sanctions and financial manipulation, as a way to impose their unelected protégée as president and a government dictated by America who will do what America wants. Aid for Venezuela is a Trojan horse, politically giving false legitimacy to a cynical coup that makes a mockery of international law and the UN Charter. It distracts from the real sabotage of Venezuela by sanctions and financial manipulation. Also, Venezuela’s legitimate President Maduro and government fear that many ‘aid’ trucks, can distribute weapons to the violent opposition cultivated in Venezuela by the US (2, 7, 8, 18,19) and bring about civil war. This would greatly increase suffering in Venezuela and potentially bring wider war, causing chaos in the region. Democracy and millions of Venezuelan lives are at risk, as well as the integrity of the UN Charter and human rights conventions.
Role for NZ upholding UN charter, condemning unilateral actions
NZ has two key advantages in seeking a leadership role in this growing existential crisis in international affairs: it is too small to be threatening, and has a history of being an “honest broker,” both key in achieving its recent chairmanship of the Security Council. NZ could and should seek support from like-minded countries to demand respect for the UN Charter and Human Rights Conventions in the interests of peace and security of the whole world. An early objective would be the removal of all sanctions and financial manipulations on Venezuela, as recommended by United Nations Rapporteur, Mr de Zayas (15). It would be a tragedy at this time in history when the world is at last waking up to the inequality crisis, if Venezuela’s socialist government which has dramatically reduced widespread poverty of earlier decades (2, 17), providing free education and health care, etc, were to be replaced by an imposed president and government, against democratic norms, to help US interests dominate the country for its resource wealth and a narrow neoliberal development model that creates inequity worldwide.
Current attempts to replace Venezuela’s elected President Maduro with a U.S. protégée, and disgraceful threats of military intervention, follow years of US-led regime change wars in other regions. These well-funded wars this century have devastated the Middle East, and North Africa, killing millions of people (3–6) destroying Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. How can New Zealand stay silent while America destroys country after country through activities that regularly breach the UN Charter? Which country will be next? Surely it’s time to speak out and begin seeking allies in the UN to uphold the rule of law, democracy and UN conventions and develop a new culture of co-operation around peaceful initiatives, building security for all, a culture you have begun here in New Zealand through our coalition government.
APPENDIX — Background notes on Venezuela’s crisis
History shows the U.S. has meddled brutally and illegally in Latin American countries for decades. Venezuelan sociologist, Dr Maria Paez Victor in an interview in 2018 reported:
The USA has opposed, destabilized, overthrown or assassinated every progressive reformer that appeared on the political scene in the region for more than a century. (2)
The US has a long record of sponsoring “regime change” campaigns in Venezuela, with 3 attempts to assassinate Hugo Chavez, the first president of the Bolivarian republic. (7) In 2002, President Chavez was ousted for two days in a US-backed coup that was ultimately defeated.16. Recently, adding insult to injury, American Elliot Abrams, who played a role in the aborted coup against Chavez (16), was appointed “to promote democracy in Venezuela” (23). Abrams was also convicted for misleading Congress over the infamous Iran-Contra affair, where the US illegally sold weapons to Iran, funnelling the proceeds to right-wing Contra forces terrorising Nicaragua. The Contras set-off a decade-long war, killing an estimated 50,000 Nicaraguans (23). There have also been 3 attempts to assassinate President Maduro, most recently in 2018, with a drone at a military parade. (7)
Venezuela lifts millions out of poverty
Venezuela has had a popular socialist government since 1999 aiming to reverse the great poverty and inequality in Venezuela of previous decades. Dr Maria Paez Victor reports: “The Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela dramatically reduced poverty, malnutrition, homelessness, and has provided universal health care and free education from daycare to university” (2). Previously a small wealthy elite over decades had controlled government and Venezuela’s bountiful oil wealth for its own and America’s benefit, while 60–80% of people lived in poverty, a third suffering extreme poverty and malnutrition (2). In the 1970s, Michel Chossudovsky studied poverty and malnutrition in Venezuela, finding a very poor country with tremendous wealth. He comments: “When we look at what’s happening in Venezuela today with U.S. policymakers saying, ‘We want to come to the rescue of the people who have been impoverished,’ it’s a nonsensical statement. The history of Venezuela was a history of poverty right until Hugo Chavez became president in 1999.” (17)
US makes a fool out of UN Charter: funds opposition
Since 1999, when Hugo Chavez became the first elected socialist President of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Republic, the US has grossly interfered in Venezuela’s internal affairs, giving millions of dollars to opposition groups to undermine the new government. 18,19 By 2010, the Venezuelan opposition was receiving a huge $40–50 million yearly from US funded government organizations like USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy, according to a report by Spanish think tank, the FRIDE Institute. 7 Venezuela’s government has outlawed such funding but the money still flows. It is against international law for a country to interfere in the internal governance of a country which the US has been doing in Venezuela, even funding violent opposition parties (7). This makes a fool of international law and the United Nations Charter.
US protégée joined discredited violent group
Before the attempted coup to depose President Maduro was announced and supported by the U.S. on 23 January 2019, Mr Guaido was a mid-ranked member of a minor, discredited political party, called Political Will. 7 He was little known in Venezuela, but was known in Washington political circles for his interest in destabilizing Venezuela’s government which the US encouraged, he attended university in the U.S. 7 Political Will became discredited and unpopular in Venezuela because it used violent tactics that killed people in efforts to undermine Venezuela’s government. Guaido himself was directly involved in violent incidents in 2014 when 43 people were killed.7 If this had happened in NZ, it’s highly likely he would have been imprisoned and such a party would be banned. Yet Guaido is portrayed to the world by America as offering democracy from the ‘despotic’ government, when the reality is he joined the most violent faction of Venezuela’s most radical opposition party, which rejected taking part in democratic elections and participated in street violence intended to discredit the government. In another event organized by Political Will people were burnt alive (7). By far the majority of Venezuelans are against this violence, so Guaido’s party was discredited.
Venezuelans oppose interventions & sanctions
A study conducted early in January 2019 by polling firm Hinterlaces, before the coup attempt of 23 January, found that 86% of Venezuelans disagree with international military interventions. And 81% oppose the US sanctions that have seriously damaged Venezuela’s economy.7 It’s clear that most Venezuelans don’t want America to replace their legal, democratically elected government with a right-wing opposition that seeks to impose neoliberal economic policies, helpful to America. This would rid Venezuela of its Bolivarian socialist principles vital in the world today to bring about equitable societies
2018 Democratic election fair: international observers
Unsubstantiated claims have been made that President Maduro’s election was fraudulent, in the May 2018 election, where he won 68% of the vote to the opposition’s 30 percent. Some opposition parties, including Mr Guaido’s party refused to participate in the elections.7 However, Venezuela’s election was overseen by around 150 independent observers from around the world (20), including Palestine, Spain, UK, Ireland, USA, Australia, Syria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, the Philippines, Indonesia, France, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile, Surinam, Paraguay, Colombia, and Peru. China, Russia. independent group, the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts (CEELA) also participated. These observers were adamant; the election was fair and transparent (21), reflecting, the will of Venezuelan citizens. The EU itself was invited to send an observer, but declined. Some EU members, (not Italy or Hungary) in a 2018 press statement made unsubstantiated criticisms. This was replied to by actual observers at the election who sent a letter to Federica Mogerini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, in June 2018. (22)
Observers’ letter strongly rebuts EU criticism of elections
Excerpted from the letter:
We noted, in particular, not only the sophistication of the voting system which, in our collective view, is fraud-proof, but also that every stage, from the vote itself to the collation of returns, their verification and electronic submission, was conducted in the presence of representatives of the contending parties. As for ‘reporting irregularities,’ we would be interested to hear of examples, since the reporting system is exceptionally rigorous and tamper-free. We doubt you have any evidence to back up the EU’s claim of ‘numerous reporting irregularities.
We were unanimous in concluding that the elections were conducted fairly, that the election conditions were not biased, that genuine irregularities were exceptionally few and of a very minor nature. There was no vote buying because there is no way that a vote CAN be bought. The procedure itself precludes any possibility of anyone knowing how a voter cast her or his vote; and it is impossible — as we verified — for an individual to vote more than once or for anyone to vote on behalf of someone else. (22)
The claims in your press release are fabrications of the most disgraceful kind, based on hearsay, not evidence and unworthy of the EU. It has not escaped notice that the EU was invited to send observers to the election and declined to do so. NONE of the criticism in your EU press release is, therefore, based on direct EU observation in the field. I would be happy to discuss this further with you and to put you or your colleagues in touch with other observers, among whom were senior politicians, academics, election officials, journalists and civil servants from many different nations including: Spain, UK, Northern Ireland, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Honduras, Italy, several Caribbean countries, South Africa, Tunisia, China, Russia, and the United States (sic).
Jeremy Fox, journalist / writer;
Joseph Farrell, Board of the Centre for Investigative Journalism;
Calvin Tucker, journalist MS ;
Dr Francisco Dominguez, Latin American Studies, Middlesex University”;
Source: International Observers to Venezuela’s Election Pen Letter to the EU
Venezuelans and the democratically elected government of President Maduro have had to endure an illegal, devastating economic warfare attack launched by the US and allies on their country. President Maduro’s “crimes” are his government’s social programmes which share the great resource wealth of Venezuela with the people, building millions of affordable houses, free health care, music programmes and education. In this way, millions of Venezuelans have been liberated from the grinding poverty that afflicted 70% of the population before the Bolivarian republic was elected to government in 1999. (2, 17)
In launching comprehensive sanctions, blockades and financial manipulations to destroy Venezuela’s ability to operate in the world, the US and allies have rejected their espoused values: human rights, international law, peace, justice and democracy, relevant to the United Nations Charter and Conventions. Many Venezuelans have died from lack of essential medicines and food, because of the illegal economic attack as noted by UN Expert Rapporteur, Mr Alfred de Zayas in his report of Sept 2018 on promotion of a democratic and equitable international order. (15) Mr de Zayas advises that if the sanctions, blockade and financial meddling were lifted, Venezuela, with its rich resources would recover. Instead, the US-led allies are seeking another regime change, after many this century that have killed millions of people and destroyed countries. In the new regime-change plan, an unelected US protégée, has bizarrely been declared “interim’ president by the US and allies along with calls from them and the unelected US protégée for the legally recognised President Maduro to step down. Naturally President Maduro is standing firmly against these ploys. Many countries support President Maduro, their populations representing most of the world’s people.
But another threat to the lives of Venezuelans is a Trojan horse in the form of “aid” being offered by the US and the unelected US protégée. The ‘aid’ has been airlifted by the US military to Venezuela’s border with Colombia. A potentially violent showdown is imminent with President Maduro rejecting the aid and US protégée Guaido planning soon to run the caravans of trucks with the US aid into Venezuela. ‘Aid’ for Venezuela is a Trojan horse, politically giving false legitimacy to a cynical coup that makes a mockery of international law and the UN Charter. It distracts from the real sabotage of Venezuela by sanctions and financial manipulation. Also, Venezuela’s legitimate President Maduro and government fear that many ‘aid’ trucks, can distribute weapons to the violent opposition cultivated in Venezuela by the US (2, 7, 8, 18,19) to bring about civil war. This would greatly increase suffering in Venezuela and potentially bring wider war, causing chaos in the region. Democracy and millions of Venezuelan lives are at risk, as well as the integrity of the UN Charter and human rights conventions.
It would be a tragedy at this time in history when the world is at last waking up to the inequality crisis, if Venezuela’s socialist government which has dramatically reduced widespread poverty of earlier decades,2,17 were to be replaced by an unelected imposed president and government, against democratic norms, to help US interests dominate the country for its resource wealth and a narrow development model that creates inequity worldwide.
These attempts to replace Venezuela’s elected President Maduro with a U.S. protégée, and disgraceful threats of military intervention, follow years of deadly US-led regime change wars in other regions. These wars this century have devastated the Middle East, and North Africa, killing millions of people (3–6) destroying Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. How can New Zealand stay silent while the US and allies destroy country after country through activities that regularly breach the UN Charter? Which country will be next? Surely it’s time to speak out and begin seeking allies in the UN to uphold UN conventions and develop a new culture of co-operation around peaceful initiatives, building security for all. The alternative is continuing wars and chaos that inevitable will lead to annihilation of all.
The Pacific Institute of Resource Management Inc (PIRM), established in Wellington in 1984, is dedicated to sustainable use of the Earth’s natural resources, and peace, equity and justice issues.
Kay Weir — email@example.com
PO Box 12125, Wellington
Phone +64 4 939 4553 or +64 4 389 5384
1. Venezuela Builds 2 Million Affordable Homes in Just Seven Years: 20/3/2018, Telesur
2. Interview by Mohsen Abdelmoumen of sociologist Dr Maria Páez Víctor in American Herald Tribune: 19/5/2018: The USA Has Opposed, Destabilized, Overthrown or Assassinated Every Progressive Reformer That Has Appeared On the Political Scene in the Region For More Than a Century.
3. How Many People have been killed in America’s Post-9/11 Wars? Part 3. by Nicholas J.S. Davies, Consortium News 25/4/2018.
4. The Silent Slaughter of the US Air War by Nicholas J.S. Davies, Consortium News, 9/5/2017.
5. Raqqa: A City laid Waste the Law laid low by Christopher Black, New Eastern Outlook 2/11/2018.
6. Death & Destruction in Iraq: Extensive US War Crimes: Apocalypse in Mosul in Guise of Bombing ISIS by Felicity Arbuthnot, 2/5/2016 Strategic Culture.
7. The Making of Juan Guaido: How the US Regime-change Laboratory created Venezuela’s coup leader by Dan Cohen & Max Blumenthal, Greyzone 29/1/2019.
8. Juan Guaidó: The Man Who Would Be President of Venezuela Doesn’t Have a Constitutional Leg to Stand On by Roger Harris 8/2/2019 Counterpunch.
9. UN rejects Venezuela’s Guaido, will only cooperate with recognized government of Maduro, PressTV 1/2/2019.
10. African Union Expresses Support to President Nicolás Maduro, 1/2/2019 Orinoco Tribune
11. Bolivia’s Morales reaffirms backing for Venezuela’s Maduro, Reuters 24/1/2019
12. Nicaragua Joins List of Nations Expressing Support for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Periodico 26.cu (and Uruguay, Mexico, Turkey)
13. Nicaragua Expresses support for President Maduro, and Russia, China, Turkey, Cuba Telesur 24/1/2019
14. US-led economic war not socialism is tearing Venezuela apart by Caleb Maupin: Mint Press 12/7/2016.
15. UN Report of the Independent Expert on promotion of a democratic and equitable international order on his mission to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Ecuador: United Nations 10–28 Sept 2018.
16. Venezuela coup linked to Bush team, The Guardian, 21/4/2002. Elliot Abrams, who gave a nod to the attempted Venezuelan coup, has a conviction for misleading Congress over the infamous Iran-Contra affair.
17. Venezuela: From Oil Proxy to the Bolivarian Movement & Sabotage. Abysmal Poverty under US Proxy Rule (1918–1998) Historical Levels of Poverty in Venezuela, Prior to the Bolivarian Revolution. Interview with Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research 10/2/2019
18. US. Funds Aid Venezuela Opposition, Bart Jones, Catholic Reporter 2/4/2004
19.Dirty Hand of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela by Eva Golinger 2014, chavezcode.com
20.International Electoral Accompaniment Missions Declare Venezuela’s May 2 Elections Free and Fair 31/5/2018, VenezuelaAnalysis.com
21. Elections in Venezuela: Democratic, Fair and Transparent. 28/5/2018 (Ceela Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America), final report states.
22. International observers to Venezuela’s elections have written to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, rebutting problems with the EU declaration on the elections: 26/6/2018 in Venezuela Analysis.com
23. Cold Warrior Elliott Abrams returns to battle in Venezuela: the US has chosen a prominent warmonger to promote ‘democracy’ in Venezuela by Belen Fernandez 10/2/2019 Aljazeera.com