Venezuela: BBC forced to apologise
It seems that the ‘objective’, ‘unbiased’ BBC is not quite as objective and unbiased as its masters in Britain’s imperialist bourgeoisie would have us – and the rest of the world – believe. The broadcaster has just been forced to apologise to the Venezuelan embassy for statements made by the well-known television historian Simon Schama in the course of an edition of Question Time dedicated to the British general election and broader questions of democracy.
Schama gratuitously opined that the workers and peasants of Venezuela, who are helping to spearhead a world-historic resurgence in the progressive, anti-imperialist aspirations of nearly the entire Latin American continent, would in fact “give their eyes to have a real democratic verdict of the people”.
But, oh dear, Question Time’s executive director then had to go on record as saying that “Simon Schama’s comments were inaccurate.
“I apologise,” he choked, “if they caused offence… [H]e was wrong to suggest that Venezuela does not offer its citizens a real democratic choice.”
The very fact that this veteran spin doctor for imperialism referred to Venezuelan “citizens”, as distinct from the ‘subjects’ that those of us with British passports remain, is particularly poignant at a time when Venezuela is marking her bicentennial as an independent republic free of the Spanish colonial yoke.
The recent celebrations held to commemorate this 200th anniversary turned the capital, Caracas, into a veritable sea of people. There was a spectacular march by the Venezuelan army and the armed civilian militia, a fly-past by the air force and a procession by thousands upon thousands of the ordinary working people who are standing up against US imperialism and pushing forward the national-democratic Bolivarian revolution.
What upset Washington and Whitehall even more than this display of resistance, solidarity and national unity must have been the presence on the reviewing stand not just of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, but also of his leading anti-imperialist allies, presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and – especially – Raúl Castro of socialist Cuba.
The resoundingly loud message from Venezuela is that never again will the peoples of Latin America be cowed into colonial and neo-colonial submission by forces intent on robbing them of their resources and their dignity in the interests of superprofits for the rich few based first in Madrid and then later in Wall Street.
This comes against the backdrop of a well-orchestrated campaign of vilification, led of course by US imperialism, of president Chávez and his Movimiento Al Socialismo [Movement Towards Socialism] party. The short-term dream of the imperialists is that they can destabilise the process leading up to key parliamentary elections scheduled for September of this year. Failing that, an international campaign of slander against the Bolivarian republic might just succeed in convincing world public opinion that, if the forces of social progress and anti-imperialism do win that election, as they are fully expected to, the poll was clearly rigged.
There are demonstrable lies being told on the economic front as well. Coups d’état don’t work in Venezuela, as evidenced by the short-lived ousting of Hugo Chávez in 2002. The Venezuelan masses, in whose interests his government was and is operating, merely reinstalled him.
In its attempt to remove Chávez and reverse the Bolivarian process, imperialism claims that putting the interests of the Venezuelan people before the obscene profits of US-based multinationals has led to near economic collapse. In fact, the reverse is true. In 2003, less than a year after being restored to office by his country’s workers and peasants, the president nationalised the oil industry. Result? The country’s economy has since grown by some 95 per cent.
However, the Washington lie machine represents just one of two prongs of an imperialist pincer movement. The other is a systematic and escalating militarisation of northern Latin America, aimed at encircling and intimidating Venezuela.
Washington’s main remaining client state in the region, Colombia, has proven as willing as usual to oblige. That country’s despicable and murderous puppet regime has now granted US forces the use of seven new military bases – all under cover of the campaign against drug trafficking, of course.
The newly-installed reactionary clique running Panamá has followed suit, offering US imperialism four bases. And the warships and aircraft carriers of the 4th fleet have been aided no end by the supine collaboration of the Dutch government. With its help, the US navy has been able to use the Netherlands Antilles – and particularly the island of Aruba – to facilitate its sabre-rattling patrols only just outside Venezuelan territorial waters.
The imperialists’ goal is clear: Chávez must go and the process he represents, one of empowering working people at the expense of multinational superprofits, must be stopped in its tracks.
The problem is that there is a growing international campaign which has quite a different agenda, that of exposing US threats against Venezuela and maximizing solidarity with Hugo Chávez and his Bolivarian project.
That initiative is represented in Britain by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, which has been working hard to bring the reality of what Venezuela’s working masses are seeking to achieve to a wider public. All anti-imperialists should embrace this effort and seek to publicise Venezuela – its achievements and the threats it faces – among friends and workmates up and down Britain.
Long live Hugo Chávez and the people of Venezuela!
Down with US and British imperialism!