By Peter Koenig
On 8 of June, I had the privilege to attend a press conference hosted by the Venezuelan Ambassador in Bern, Switzerland. The purpose of the press conference was to clarify the current highly misrepresented situation in Venezuela, as well as explaining the process of electing a new National Constitutional Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente – ANC) on July 30, 2017.
In his hour-long presentation, the Ambassador introduced the issues at stake by explaining that Venezuela today has the largest known oil reserves in the world and the fourth largest deposits of gas; that the US is importing 60% of its lush energy use (a distant first of the globe’s per capita energy users), mostly from the Middle East, where it is subject to long and costly transport (40-45 days), and to many risk factors, including the Gulf of Hormuz, controlled by Iran, where today about one third of all the world’s petrol must pass through.
By contrast, shipments of petroleum from Venezuela across the Caribbean to the refineries in Texas takes only 4-5 days.
This is the main reason why Venezuela is in the White House’s crosshairs, plus, of course, the fact that for Washington it is totally intolerable to have a sovereign socialist Republic in its ‘backyard’ – and so close, the same syndrome applies also for Cuba, a genuinely successful socialist nation, having survived almost sixty years of atrocious and criminal American strangulation. There is no tolerance for sovereign independent countries that do not bend to the dictate of the United States and her behind the scene handlers.
The Ambassador then went on explaining the process of the upcoming election of the National Constitutional Assembly (ANC). He described the process of direct democracy, where Venezuelans elect their delegates by region and by sector, and where of course, the opposition was also supposed to participate, although the opposition’s leadership has already declared they would boycott the process.
The elected new ANC would then be called to amend the Constitution of 1999, to adapt it to today’s circumstances. The current Constitution was approved in a similar democratic process by the people and sanctioned by the ANC one year after President Hugo Chavez Frias became President in 1998. The 1999 Constitution is still valid and adhered to until this day.
The July election will choose 545 members to the National Assembly, of which two thirds (364) would be elected on a regional or territorial basis, and one third (181) by sectors of professions or activities, i.e. students, farmers, unions of different labor forces, employees, business owners – and so on. This cross-section of people’s representation is the most solid basis for democracy.
The Ambassador assured the journalists that there will be a very high peoples’ participation in the elections, as was the case for the 19 democratic elections that took place since1998, when Comandante Chavez became President.
This election should be an opportunity for the opposition to gather as many Assembly seats as possible, and then help shape the new Constitution in a fully democratic process. Not by street violence.
The fact that the opposition is planning to boycott the election shows clearly, they are not interested in democracy. They have one goal only, to oust President Maduro and take power, privatize state assets, especially hydrocarbons (petroleum and gas) to hand them to international mainly US corporations to be exploited at no benefits for the Venezuelan people.
This was precisely the case before President Chavez took the reins of the country. Foreign corporations, almost all North Americans, left not a dollar in tax revenues in Venezuela.
Venezuela today is arguably the only true democracy in the western world, as said on numerous occasions by Professor Noam Chomsky, MIT.
To counter the neoliberal mainstream media’s (MSM) demonization of the Bolivarian Revolution and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and her President Nicolas Maduro, the Ambassador showed various videos demonstrating that the instigators of violence were clearly the armed opposition. They are constituted and led by a rich elite and supported ideologically and financially from outside.
Among different foreign sources of support and funding, most of them American, is the infamous National Endowment for Democracy – NED, a so called “fake” NGO “think-tank” (sic), receiving from the US State Department hundreds of millions of dollars per year to ’spread democracy’ American style around the globe, i.e. training local rebel groups abroad and within the targeted country to provoke instability through unrest and violence; distribute anti-government propaganda, infiltrate the media, universities and so on. They are the same who were responsible for the so-called Arab Spring and the Color Revolutions in former Soviet Republics, including Ukraine.
The facts explained and demonstrated by the Ambassador showed clearly who was responsible for most of the 67 deaths and more than 1,200 injured within the last couple of months.
This is all supported by unmistakable videos, showing government supporters, who are despite what the western media are saying, the vast majority – between 70% and 80%, demonstrating peacefully and unarmed.
However, western media twists and manipulates the truth to become anti-Venezuela propaganda, including video clips presented out of context, or outright falsified, blame the aggression on the government supporters, accusing authorities and police of oppressing civil liberties, of dictatorship, of killing its own people.
The western MSM do not show the weaponized right-wing opposition attacking police with explosives, putting police cars on fire and throwing Molotov cocktails and more sophisticated explosives at police and authorities.
This point of opposition violence, blackmail and more, is clearly demonstrated by a recent US journalist covering the riots for the pan-Latin American TeleSur TV. Ms. Abby Martin, the host of the Empire Files, an investigative program, told RT (Russia Today) that she received numerous death threats from opposition fighters during her work on the ground in Venezuela. She says protesters threatened to lynch and burn her alive if she tried to contradict their narrative (https://www.rt.com/news/391338-us-journalist-venezuela-threats/). This is to be taken seriously, because several journalists have already been murdered by the opposition.
The Ambassador made two very important points that the west should listen to. He said, that despite the violent social upheavals, the government is respecting the principles of democracy and has not declared a State of Emergency or Martial Law, nor curtailed private-owned foreign media slandering Venezuela with lies.
This contrasts with other countries, like France which for the past two years has been under a declared State of Emergency, just a small step below Martial Law, and is about to put this state of permanent militarization into her Constitution; or take Argentina which is suppressing foreign media like TeleSur (and were at the point of shutting down also RT), because they are telling Argentinians the inconvenient truth.
When the Ambassador opened the floor for questions and comments, most of the journalists present were polite, seeking clarifications of the election process. But there were two sore thumbs sticking out, the representatives of the two largest and most neoliberal Swiss newspapers, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) and the Tagesanzeiger.
They came with a specific agenda. It seems they didn’t listen to anything the Ambassador said. They simply hurled their list of insults, accusations and offensive negative lie-propaganda at the Ambassador. Both of them are what one would assume in Switzerland, educated people. They must know the truth. If they don’t say the truth, they are most likely bought agents of the Anglo-Zionist network that controls 90% of the news throughout the western world. After they accomplished their mission of insulting the Ambassador, they left the conference.
Isn’t it a journalist’s foremost obligation to adhere to a code of ethics? – That’s what they were taught at universities, to seek the truth and portray the truth as objectively as possible.
And what about Switzerland? A country that boasts about its neutrality, appears to have completely abandoned her noble principles and moved to become Europe’s epicenter of neoliberalism. No wonder, such alternative international media like TeleSur and RT are not publicly offered to households by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG), the monopoly holder (90%) of Swiss television and radio providers.
* Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media (China), TeleSUR, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.