Published On: Wed, Aug 24th, 2016

The campaign of intervention against Venezuela must end

HerreraAs Venezuela’s Vice Minister for North America and Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, I often urge my counterparts in the region to look beyond sensational headlines, in favor of a more realistic and nuanced perspective on my country. The integration of our hemisphere and its people is a fundamental objective of the Bolivarian Revolution, which advocates the inclusion and equality of all men and women through participatory democracy.

For well over a decade now, we have worked tirelessly for the democratization of all peoples’ fundamental rights to health, education, food, employment, and unparalleled housing access, among other things. Despite the very real economic challenges that my country now faces with global oil prices at their lowest in a decade, inflation, and the unfortunate political sabotage by a small sector of our opposition, we stand by these principles and continue to pursue our process of social inclusion to ensure justice and basic human rights for our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

Our commitment to democratization through peaceful means has always gone beyond our borders, working for the unity of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, whether it be in Haiti, Colombia or the United States, where for more than 15 years a political and media campaign against my country has been waged by the US Department of State and leaders of the Latin American right wing. That is why I have been deeply dismayed and concerned over the last year to see a regional campaign being mounted against my country by the Secretary General of the Organization of America States, Luis Almagro.

The Secretary General of this hemispheric body has launched a targeted and unlawful campaign to justify intervention in Venezuela. Since he began his tenure in the spring of 2015, Mr Almagro has used aggressive twiplomacy along with his bully pulpit to attack Venezuela, our government, and our institutions.

Between the months of February and July of this year, the Secretary General tweeted 802 times of which 504 tweets focused on OAS member countries and/or their officials and 298 on general issue topics. Of those 504 tweets, Venezuela received 233 mentions, Colombia was second with a meager 34 tweets and Brazil followed with 29 during this six-month period.

What is striking is not only the number of tweets about Venezuela, but the quantity coupled with the negative content of the tweets; 218 of the 233 tweets portrayed my country and our government in a negative light, accounting for a whopping 93.5% of all tweets about Venezuela. Ten tweets were neutral (.04%) and only five were positive (.02%).

The negative tweets focused on restating, regurgitating, and shining a spotlight on all the key demands of our political opposition. For example, of the typically weekly, and more often than not, daily tweets focused on Venezuela, the Secretary General constantly called on my government to heed the calls of the opposition and submit to their demands, such as holding a recall referendum to remove our democratically-elected President, Nicolas Maduro, or freeing the alleged political prisoners by implementing a misnamed “amnesty decree”. On March 8, 2016, during a visit to Chile, the Secretary General even took the unprecedented step of publicly encouraging members of our National Assembly to formally request the invocation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which could remove Venezuela from the OAS.

The Secretary General's political agenda in favor of the opposition becomes even more evident when attention is paid to the consistent follow up given to each political issue of the Venezuelan opposition over this social media platform. He repeatedly highlights their concerns and demands, and calls on my government to take action. In one tweet condemning the Venezuelan government, he stated that “with political prisoners, there is no democracy,” referencing his earlier calls to provide amnesty to those who have been found guilty of breaking Venezuelan law. We are the only country, it seems, that merits such a reminder.

These findings become even more shocking when you place his apparent concern for our country's problems in the geo-political context of this six-month period. While several countries in our hemisphere faced turmoil and civil unrest as a coup d’état took place in Brazil (that country garnered only 29 tweets during the last six months), police brutality became a polarizing issue in the United States of America, and the level of violence in Northern Mexico (which was only mentioned three times during this period) and Central America continued to be serious causes of concern for the citizens of those nations, Mr Almagro sustained his high level of focus on Venezuela.

It is also important to note that no other country received the same amount of calls to action by the Secretary General. In fact, in most cases he called on a country only once to act, then never mentioned the issue again. This was never the case for Venezuela.

If we define a campaign as the systematic effort to plan a course of action to achieve a desired objective, there is no doubt that the social media efforts mounted by Secretary General Almagro, along with his well-known political position against the Venezuelan government since he assumed his post, are designed to undermine our Bolivarian Government and the ongoing efforts to promote dialogue to find a political solution to my country’s ongoing challenges. This interventionist campaign against Venezuela must end. For if it is allowed to continue, all of the nations represented by this regional body are in danger.

By Bernardo Alvarez Herrera

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