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The Invisible Venezuela and the International Greens Movement

By: Alfredo Lascoutx-Ruiz, International Liaison Committee Delegate, Green Party of Canada

For the Greens worldwide there is a country that has disappeared from the political radar, becoming almost invisible: Venezuela…

A Few days ago, the International Liaison Committee of the Green Party of Canada received via the Federation of the Green Parties of the Americas a statement issued by Ecological Movement of Venezuela, MOEVE, requesting the support of the Global Greens for the presidential recall referendum of Nicolas Maduro. As the report issued recently by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, the reports of other international NGOs such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, and the information from numerous international news agencies; the statement of MOEVE describes the dramatic political, economic and social situation of the Venezuelan population, aggravated after the death of President Chavez three years ago: crime rates responsible for 27,500 killings only during 2015. The highest inflation in the world that threatens to reach 700% by the end of 2016. Closure and massive exodus of businesses (there are about 4.000 remaining from the 13.000 existing in 1999). Expropriations of productive farms today mired in neglect. Economic recession and rampant misuse of public funds (Transparency International puts the government of Venezuela as one of the most corrupt in the world). Public sector debt of US$ 249,523 million (2014) including US$ 5,576 million (2014) used to purchase military armament from Russia and China, according to the Institute for Peace Research in Stockholm. Minimum monthly salary of 15.000 Bolivars equivalent to US$ 0.50 cents/day. Widespread shortages of food and medicine, described as a humanitarian crisis.

Parallel to the tight control of the executive power and destruction of democratic institutions, a new ruling class -the Bolivarian nomenklature-  preaches a diffused and anachronistic socialism but practices a XXI Century's Stalinism where government corruption goes hand in hand with political repression, the militarization of society and serious violations of human rights. But while the Venezuelan situation is known by most leaders of the Green parties of Global Greens, it is never the less surprising the absolute silence kept by most of Canadian and international environmental organizations which seem to be still under the influence of a refined propaganda machine, tenaciously built by the charismatic Hugo Chavez. Thus, the mirage of a revolution that has betrayed itself still manages to eclipse the vision of global environmentalists.

And now, amid the total crisis of a country without money, cities without water or electricity, people without food, without health, without security, the militarized revolutionary government of Nicolas Maduro decreed in February 2016 the establishment of the Mining Arch Development Zone of the Orinoco river, for the open pit mining of gold, diamonds, coltran, bauxite, torio, iron and other minerals, in an area of 111,843.70 km2 (equivalent to 12% of Venezuelan territory and 3 three times the size of Belgium ) affecting the entire population; especially the Yekwana, Sanema, Pemon, Warao and Yanomami indigenous peoples. As quoted by ‘Chavistas’ also opposed to this mega-mining  project, "there is located the Imataca Forest Reserve and within its area of influence are other  Areas Under Special Administration Regime, such as natural monuments, biosphere reserves, parks national wildlife refuges, protected zones, other forest reserves and protected watersheds by international conventions including the Caroní River is included, which provides the largest reserves of fresh water in the nation and provides hydroelectricity to plants that generate 70% of the energy consumed in the country."

Although the government maintains absolute control of information, it is known that the project has been offered to 150 national and international companies, among which highlight Gold Reserve of Canada, CAMC Engineering Co. and Citic Group of China, and Afridia-MDWC with based in Kinshasa, Dubai and London. In addition, through research related to the Kimberley Process, it is known the presence of powerful international mafias from Colombia and Surinam, presumably linked to the diamond markets of Amsterdam and Antwerp.

Despite the efforts of MOEVE and many other Venezuelan environmental groups to alert the international community about the dangers of the Orinoco's Mining Arch project, the state maintains suspicion against the democratic political opposition who dares to denounce the Chavista regime. After 17 years of Bolivarian Revolution, we should ask ourselves if we have failed at identifying who are in fact the political offenders, particularly when they proclaim themselves as revolutionaries and hide behind populists’ discourses: have we failed to overcome the false dilemma posed by stereotypes of Left and Right? Have we have chosen silence instead of courageous analysis? Don’t we have eyes to recognize a nation and its people on the brink of collapse?

So while the allegedly "green" discourse and the supposed revolutionary vocation of Maduro’s government keeps control of our selective blindness, the Venezuelan case uncovers a profound contradiction in the consciousness of political ecologism, an "ethical" nuisance that that interpose ideological opacities between the stark Venezuelan reality and the idealistic vision of a “politically correct” international green movement. Therefore, we say for now that for Green Parties globally Venezuela is invisible.

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