Columns

Jamaican Government has betrayed Venezuela's friendship and sovereignty

By Michael Heslop

Thursday, January 24, 2019

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I write to you to express my condemnation and disgust of the manifest hypocrisy of the Jamaican Government to not recognise the constitutionally elected President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro in the vote at the Organization of American States (OAS) on Thursday, January 10, 2019.

First of all, President Maduro won nearly 70 per cent of the votes cast in an election declared to be fair and without fear by domestic and international observers May 20, 2018.

Further, the Venezuelan electoral system is said to be the fairest in the world, even by former US President Jimmy Carter, who has observed elections in Venezuela several times.

Interestingly, the Government of Jamaica had never voiced any criticism of the election of the President Maduro until, apparently, the 'US empire' pushed it to vote for the delegitimisation of the duly elected president of Venezuela.

Frankly, that vote is not only a vote against the president of Venezuela, it's a vote against cardinal principles of self-determination, non-intervention, and peaceful settlement of conflicts within and between countries.

Indeed, the Jamaican Government's decision to vote against Venezuela's sovereignty is also, in effect, a vote against Jamaica's sovereignty and the sovereignty of other Caricom countries. Look out, because as we say in Jamaica, “The same knife stick sheep stick goat.”

The argument of the Jamaican Government that the Venezuelan Government has engaged in human rights violations is actually laughable had it not been such an unpardonable lie. Truthfully, the Jamaican Government not only needs to examine the multiple acts of police brutality against the working class and poor youth that have gone unpunished for decades, but also the multiple cases of police detentions and abuses of Jamaican citizens who have been jailed for weeks, months and perhaps years without trial. Aren't those cases of human rights violations?

The fact is that the Jamaican Government has, in many instances, never investigated these cases of wanton human rights abuses and so has no moral or political authority to criticise the Government of Venezuela for human rights abuses and as a reason to vote for the delegitimisation of its duly elected president.That's not only morally and politically hollow, but it's also blatantly hypocritical and is intended to appease the US empire and its lapdogs in the Lima Group.

Finally, if human rights violations and anti-democratic practices were seriously the motives for the Jamaican Government to vote for the delegitimisation of President Maduro, and by implication Venezuela's sovereignty, then Jamaica should have voted to delegitimise the elections of arguably all contemporary US presidents, and all the presidents of all the countries of the reactionary Lima Group, given the multiple human rights violations against indigenous Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and other people of colour such as voter suppression, racist police killings, unlawful detentions and solitary confinement, and other forms of torture of prisoners in the US.

Likewise, had the Jamaican Government been serious about its human rights charges against the Government of Venezuela it would be equally true that it would have voted to delegitimise the elections of the right-wing interventionist presidents of the world, particularly countries like Israel, with which Jamaica has maintained friendly and uncritical relationships for decades.

In fact the Front Line Defenders Organization, in cooperation with the European Union, in its annual report 'Human Rights Defenders at Risk in 2017', states that 62 per cent of all the political assassinations in Latin America take place in four countries, namely, Colombia, Argentina, Honduras, and Guatemala — all members of the reactionary Lima Group.

However, Prime Minister Andrew Holness's Government has never moved, to my certain knowledge, to criticise these right-wing governments for human rights violations against their own people, and has certainly not moved to delegitimise any of those right-wing presidents, including Juan Hernandez in Honduras, who was clearly imposed by the US and the Honduran oligarchy on the people after losing the elections.

So why did the Jamaican Government really see it fit to vote in the OAS to delegitimise President Maduro? First and foremost, because the Government of Andrew Holness is shameless and without any dignity, and so it aligns itself with the US empire and its lapdogs in the Lima Group to do its bidding against Venezuela, which continues to battle for its sovereignty from the very same tentacles of the US empire that paradoxically keep Jamaica and all the countries of the Lima Group poor and dependent on the US empire.

Secondly, and primarily, because the Jamaican Government voted the way it did as it wanted not only to appease US imperialism that it opposes the Venezuelan revolution, but also because it wanted to express the solidarity of the Jamaican ruling class, which it serves, with their class allies in Venezuela who are battling the working classes of Venezuela to defeat the Bolivarian Revolution.

Third, the Jamaican Government of Prime Minister Holness cannot be trusted to stand with a friend like Venezuela, who has been steadfast in extending badly needed economic assistance to our people via PetroCaribe, which effectively subsidises the petroleum prices to the Jamaican people when global oil prices started going through the roof.

Fourthly, the Jamaican Government led by Holness, who, paradoxically, was the 2018 chairman of Caricom, has no regard for and no respect for the founding principles of self-determination, non-interference, respect for sovereignty, and peaceful solution of all countries' internal affairs that have guided Caricom's foreign policy since its founding in 1973.

In short, the Government of Jamaica, under the leadership of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, has betrayed all morality and all proper principles in order to seemingly satisfy the political and economic objectives of US President Donald Trump, the US empire, and that of the oligarchies in Venezuela and the region to try to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution by delegitimising its president and its right to self-determination.

Ultimately, Holness and his Government — who seem to have little regard for a steadfast friend like Venezuela — should be reminded of the words of Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State, who said: “America does not have friends, it has interests.” In other words, Holness and the other right-wing Caribbean governments — who, like the lapdogs of the Lima Group who voted to delegitimise President Maduro to set up the conditions for a coup against his government for America's agenda — are well advised that America only uses countries to achieve its imperial interests.

Michael Heslop is a former lecturer in the Department of Economics at The University of the West Indies, Mona. He now resides in the US. Send comments to the Observer or mgaanja@gmail.com.


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