Crisis in Venezuela: A Role in the Guild?

By Susan Scott, NLG Task Force on the Americas

Guild members knowledgeable about the situation in Venezuela are forming a working group to provide analysis for media and solidarity groups on issues relating to Venezuela’s current constitutional crisis.

The Guild has sent a dozen delegations to Venezuela since 2006, most serving as international “acompañantes” for the amazing Venezuelan elections. There is now a cohort of Guild members who are well versed in the situation in Venezuela. We have met with all sides—politicians, judges and lawyers, media, labor, and grassroots groups—and have written numerous reports available at nlginternational.org. In the past few years, the Venezuelan economy has been in crisis.

From the drastic plunge in oil prices to the dysfunctional exchange rate (facilitating hoarding and massive fraud by the importers and theft and resale of subsidized goods by the “bachaqueros”), the situation is dire. Poor and working-class Venezuelans who were finally able to make a living during the early Bolivarian years are now standing in long lines for basic goods and medicines—and violence is on the rise. To add insult to injury, a drought has brought the water behind the Guri  Hydo-Electric Dam (source of 2/3 of the country’s electricity) meters from total loss of power, causing the government to declare blackouts, and 2-day work weeks. Tourism has tanked and it is now extremely difficult to send a delegation from the United States.

The right-wing opposition (and U.S. government and media) is taking full advantage of this perfect storm and are building on their long-term efforts to destabilize  the Bolivarian project.

The Organization of American States (OAS) is now threatening to expel Venezuela because of its Supreme Court’s decisions declaring unconstitutional legislation of the new National Assembly majority—including privatization of the 1.2 million homes built since 2011. There are some threatening sounds coming from the U.S. Congress and Department of Defense that could result in military action against Venezuela. Venezuelan diplomats and National Assembly members are being denied visas to the US.

The new NLG working group on Venezuela will focus on legal issues relating to all of the above. Anyone interested in participating should email Susan Scott at syscott@sonic.net.■

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