Critics of U.S. intervention into the political crisis in Venezuela will host an event at Casa Latina on March 2 about the recent political developments.
The event, called “Hands off Venezuela,” will have time for attendees to ask questions and discuss the modern political climate in Venezuela under President Nicolás Maduro and Latin America at large. The group will also discuss the history of U.S. intervention in Venezuela since the election of former President Hugo Chávez in 1999. There will also be two speakers at the event.
A number of countries, including the United States, have criticized Maduro and questioned the fairness and transparency of the most recent presidential election in Venezuela, which has seen economic and political turmoil in recent years.
However, critics of the countries calling for sanctions or military action against Venezuela say these tactics are ploys to grab economic and political control of the oil-rich nation, especially given the United States’ track record with intervention in South America.
One of the scheduled speakers at the “Hands of Venezuela” event is Peter Bohmer, a professor of economics and political economy at The Evergreen State College, with an interest in Latin America. Steve Ellner, a professor of economic history and political science at the Universidad de Oriente in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela since 1977 will also be scheduled to speak over Skype. Ellner has published numerous works on Venezuelan politics and history.
The group says it will also discuss organizing activists against international intervention in Venezuela. The event is sponsored by Legacy of Leadership, Equality and Organizing (LELO), Casa Latina and National Lawyers Guild. Both LELO and Casa Latina are worker rights organizations, with the former’s goal being to empower low-income workers of color, recent immigrants and women. Casa Latina specifically focuses on the rights of immigrant workers, and the National Lawyers Guild is a progressive bar association with a focus on human rights.
The ongoing political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela stems from a challenge to Maduro from opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself the interim president of Venezuela in January, according to The Washington Post. Guaidó’s challenge rests on the claim the Maduro won his recent reelection through election fraud. Guaidó is the head of the National Assembly.
Maduro became president in 2013 following Chávez’ death. Since coming to power, Maduro has silenced opposition parties and forces, and decreased the power of the National Assembly. He has been branded a dictator by his opposition in the National Assembly and abroad, and his reelection in 2018 has been challenged by over 60 countries, including the U.S., according to Al Jazeera.
President Donald Trump has backed Guaidó, stating that the U.S. will use diplomatic and economic means to support democracy in the country, according to The Washington Post. Trump has also not ruled out military action as an option to address the crisis.
Other countries still support Maduro, including Russia, and Maduro has recently moved to block aid coming into the country. This absence of aid is particularly severe given Venezuela’s economic crisis and runaway inflation, caused by Maduro’s policies and the collapse of oil prices.