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Additional resources on Venezuela

The US-sponsored coup d’etat in Venezuela has failed to produce the desired result: the fall of the Maduro government. Yet the suffering of the people of Venezuela continues now other means are used to attack the Bolivarian revolution: the threat of a military invasion and the sabotage of the electricity network. The economic boycott is being intensified and the media campaign of vilifying the Bolivarian revolution is still going on. In addition to the resources mentioned in the previous newsletter we have some listed some alternative media that cover the coup In Venezuela from an anti-imperialist point of view.

https://therealnews.com/: the Real News Network

https://thegrayzone.com/: the Grayzone

https://venezuelanalysis.com/: Venezuela analysis

https://www.fort-russ.com/category/latin-america/: Fort Russ News

https://www.globalresearch.ca/: Global Research

https://www.telesurenglish.net/: Telesur

Stephen Small keynote speaker at conference: Black In/visibalities contested

The Afro European network organizes its 7th biennial conference in Lisbon. Stephen Small, co-editor of the book series Decolonizing The Mind, is one of the keynote speakers.

The conference is a platform for the production of knowledge in the pertinent field of transdisciplinary research on racism, black cultures and identities in Europe. It also offers the opportunity to strengthen and widen networks between scholars, activists and artists that question structural racism and are critically engaged with the production of postcolonial knowledge on european blackness and the african diaspora. This dialogue and networking is promoted through keynotes and panels, round-tables, individual speakers and artistic and cultural activities.

Click here  for more information.

Resources on Venezuela

The Islamic Human Rights Commission has set up a webpage with resources on the current situation in Venezuela in English, Spanish and Dutch. The page contains references to background information and analysis of the coup. Ramon Grosfoguel, Sandew Hira, Maz Blumenthal and Ahmed Kabalo reports directly from Venezuela with their analysis of the situation.

See the webpage here.

The imperialist coup in Venezuela: a decolonial analysis

Sandew Hira
The Hague, Holland
February 8, 2019

A new form of coup has emerged in 2019. Apart from military coups and invasions by foreign USA and America has invented a new form: setting up a virtual state supported by the imperialist by acknowledging a president that is not elected by the people, seizing state assets and transferring them to this president, and in the final analysis setting up an alternative army.

The facts

The Western media has created an image of the Bolivarian revolution as the ultimate proof of failure of revolutionary politics. I will not deal with these distortions and refer to sources that goes in depth on this issue:

https://www.globalresearch.ca/venezuela-straw-breaks-empires-back/5667967

https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14305

I will develop a theoretical analysis of the new technique of imposing colonial/imperial rule on oppressed people.

The classical method

The classical method of colonialism since 1492 has been invasion, occupation, genocide, colonial administration rule with brutal and violent means, divide and rule, using “house negroes” and promoting mental slavery. In the rise of colonialism European nation states have competed with each other in gaining imperial supremacy. Spain and Portugal ruled in the sixteenth century, Holland played a major role in the seventeenth century, France and England rose to the imperial top in the eighteenth and nineteenth century and the United States gained the upper hand in the 20th century. America, who was a colony of England, ruled in a different way than its predecessors. The purpose of colonial rule was economic exploitation: enriching the West at the expense of the rest.

The European states use invasion, occupation and colonial administration as the main instruments of colonial rule. The USA use military intervention often followed by the installation of indigenous elites as rulers and safeguarded by military bases as its main instrument. They don’t set up an own colonial administration as the Europeans did.

Here is a list of military interventions by the USA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations.

Military coups and interventions

Since World War II America has used military coups and military to establish its rule. The military cadres were often trained by the Americans. The generals and officers were in close contact with their instructors and when the times was their they staged a coup and took over the state apparatus.

A military coup aims to take over state power from within. Military intervention aims to topple a regime that can not to toppled from within.

Taking over the state means in practice:

  • Establishing a new government and administration: the executive power.
  • Controlling the army, police and intelligence services; killing and imprisonment of opposition forces and installing a reign of terror.
  • Closing down the parliament (legislative power) or installing a rubber stamp parliament.
  • Controlling the judiciary: judges, prosecutors.
  • Controlling the communication infrastructure, media and the educational system to impose the narrative of the ruling power and controlling the mind.
  • Controlling the economic institutions of the state: central bank, state companies, trade unions etc.
  • Controlling the institutions for dealing with the world (participation in international institutions, formal relations with other states).

The anti-colonial and anti-imperialist forces

He biggest threat to colonial rule was the anti-colonial movement. Every act of oppression generated an act of resistance. The struggle of the anti-colonial movement resulted in the twentieth century in the political independence of the former colonies. The classical European colonizers (France, England) lost their direct political grip, but American military might and networks re-established control in an indirect political way.

The triumph of the Russian revolution in 1917 and the ensuing new world system after World War II resulted in a world that was divided in a socialist and capitalist bloc. Socialism had an answer to capitalism: the working classes were in power.

  • The oppressed classes (workers and peasants) controlled the government via workers and peasant councils.
  • The capitalist economy was replaced by a planned economy: private companies were nationalized.
  • The educational system was based on concepts of scientific socialism. Culture and media celebrated socialism.

Socialist states came into being via violent revolution: conventional wars (World War II), insurrection, guerrilla war.

The armed forced are the key to the establishment and maintenance of the state. Taking over the armed forces means taking over the most important element of the state. That is the point of departure for the establishment of the political, judicial and cultural control.

The fall of the socialist bloc

Until 1989 two third of the world population lived in the socialist bloc. And then the socialist bloc collapsed. In 1989 socialism was abolished in Cambodia, Hungary, Poland and Romania. In 1990 Benin, Czechoslovakia, South Yemen, East Germany, Mozambique and Bulgaria followed. In 1991 the socialist system collapsed in Somali, Ethiopia and the Soviet Union. Finally in 1992 Mongolia, Congo-Brazzaville, Albania, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Angola followed suit. In less than four years a large part of the socialist bloc just ceased to exist and capitalism was re-established. The largest socialist society (China) re-introduced the market economy but within the political framework of socialism. The same goes for Vietnam and to a much lesser extent to Cuba.

The ideological implications of this collapse were important. Marxism is the theoretical basis for socialism. If socialism collapsed, what should we think of Marxism as a theory of liberation? Where did it go wrong? In struggling with these question new theories of liberation came into existence under such labels as orientalism, liberation theology, postcolonialism and decolonial theory.

There are also practical implications: preparing for socialism meant establishing a Leninist vanguard party to take over the state in a period of social revolution and thus establishing a military wing of the party that can act at the moment of truth and seize state power during a revolution. But if socialism is a questionable answer, what do you do if you take state power: keep the capitalism system in tact? How do you organize for a just social, political and economic system.

In the Middle East a country like Iran provided an answer outside of Marxism: Islamic Liberation Theology. In 1979 the pro-Western dictator Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was ousted from power by a mass revolution led by anti-colonial Islamic theologians. In Latin America an answer was sought in the combination of Marxism, nationalism and indigenous thinking under labels as Zapatismo, buen vivir, pacha mama etc.

New challenges

In countries with a parliamentary system these forces managed to take state power in elections with leaders like Evo Morales of Bolivia, Cristina and Néstor Kirchner in Argentina; Rafael Correa of Ecuador; Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay and Lula da Silva in Brazil. Elections made it possible to take control of the executive and legislative branch of government. The most crucial problem however are the armed forces: army, police, intelligence services. Any revolutionary government that has no control of the armed forces will sooner or later end up like Allende: murdered in a violent coup d’état.

But then there is still the judiciary, the communication infrastructure, the media, the educational system and the economic institutions. How to deal with them?

Do you want nationalization of all private properties, or just some. Do you want a planned economy or a combination of market and planned economy? Do you want to bring the private media and cultural institutions that are not controlled by the state under the control of the state? What does independence of the judiciary means? Can the judiciary be independent or can it be used as an instrument of warfare (lawfare).

Political struggle by revolutionary forces within a parliamentary democracy with the old state institutions in tact get a new dimension. In the old context of revolution the focus of political struggle was armed forces: social struggle sooner or later ends up in taking control of the armed forces.

Now it is proven that revolutionary forces can come to political power by elections and the masses of oppressed people is able to understand and act on revolutionary policies by electing leaders that want to deliver on promises for a just and social society.

This brings in a new dimension of political struggle: the election as the platform for social struggle that inevitable have to address the state power. The old elite is now removed from one part of state power. They will react with a reorganization of the power they have in other parts of the state and society, such as the use of private media, parliament and opinion makers to constantly attack the new government and create an atmosphere of crisis and panic, the use of those parts of the judiciary they control, the organization of demonstrations my making use of legitimate concerns of sections of the population that is suffering from economic crisis that is created and maintained by the opposition etc.

Now there is a new element in the struggle: the organization of a coup by taking over not the whole state of elements of the state. Venezuela is the first country where this is being undertaken. What is the mechanism of struggle that is used in this coup? The create an atmosphere of illegality of the current government.

The good, the bad and the ugly

In Venezuela this has not worked despite the fact that the private media are in the hand of the opposition and in a country of 30 million it is possible to bring hundreds of thousands of people into the street for protest. They still constitute a minority that is not able to win elections. In Venezuela the technique has failed, but outside of Venezuela it works in the countries where imperialism controls the narrative of the mass media. The use of lies is an crucial element in creating this atmosphere.

  • Elections that are lost by the opposition are fraudulent.
  • The masses of the people hold the government responsible for the economic crisis and therefore they have no legitimacy in the eyes of the people.
  • The government is brutal and uses violence against its own people.

The power of deceit is in the constant repetition of lies. Thus it is possible to colonize the mind of people who act on false information. Because there is no free press in the west where the principle of multiple views is respected (the views of the Venezuelan people are not aired in the West) it is possible to have large sections of the people who believe and act on this false information: the support the demand for getting rid of an elected government by force.

Another element in the colonization of the mind is the hypocritical framing of politics as a choice between the good versus the ugly. The west represents the good of humanity and universal values of freedom and the political adversaries of the west are the bad and the ugly. The framing is constituted by the media and the Western experts/pundits who constantly stress the ugly and the bad by constructing lies based on selective presentation of facts: Maduro is dictator and the people are demonstrating against him. The images shows that.

Once the framing is established, anything goes. There are no legal of moral limitations on what the good can do against the ugly, because the good is by definition always right. And so international laws and institutions are pushed aside. War and economic boycott are justified. Just anything is possible, however outrageous it is to common sense. You are either for or against Maduro and at the same time you don’t question those who present themselves as good. There is no discussion about principles of sovereignty or hearing both sides of the story.

A new coup d’état: Juan Guaidó

And so the stage is set for a new form of coup. An individual who until recently was unknown to the majority of Venezuelans declares himself the unelected president of the country and immediately get recognition of mightiest country in the world. In fact, he is the puppet of his master: the USA. And now parts of the functions of the state are transferred to this person.

The function of president of a country is conferred upon him. Then the puppet president can exerts his power: he can invite the USA to invade his country. He uses an alternative justice system. A new Venezuelan Supreme Court now functions in exile that supports this president. Its 33 jurists live in the U.S., Panama, Colombia and Chile. Every 15 days, they hold court via video conference. It has sentenced Maduro to 18 years in prison.

The economic assets of Venezuela that are outside of the country and under direct influence of the West are brought under control of the puppet president: the Bank of England refuses to return gold that belongs to the Central Bank of Venezuela and thus operates within the economic boycott policy of the puppet president. The bank accounts of Venezuela in the USA are handed over to the puppet. It block $7bn in assets and results in $11bn of lost export revenue over the next year.

But all this are part of a coup that ultimately needs a military component. As Mao Zedong says: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. An so there are frantic attempts to split the army. If this does not succeed the next step is the organization of a military intervention. But the result is uncertain. In the storyline of the good versus the bad a military intervention immediately produces the desired result: the masses of Venezuela will welcome the liberators with open arms. Given the experience in Iraq, Afganistan and Vietnam the outcome might not be so certain, so the military intervention might me more of a threat than a reality. Then the next stage is to organize armed resistance by a mercenaries and fomenting a civil war in the hope that this will tear the country apart and eventually will lead to the downfall Maduro.

The new coup scenario is mind blowing for people with decency, common sense and feeling for justice. But is a logical outcome of a decay of the old imperial world system.

A long view of history

The 21st century if the scene of the downfall of American imperialism. The Spanish and Portuguese empire lasted for 325 years from 1500 till 1825 (more or less). The Dutch empire lasted 350 years from 1600 till 1950. The French empire lasted for 310 years from 1650 till 1960. The British empire lasted for 360 year from 1600 till 1960. The year are not exact time markers but give a sense of the duration of the empires with each empire have its prime might in different centuries.

American imperialism came to prominence at around 1900 and reached its peak fifty years later when it rise from the ashes of World War II to global power. After the demise of the Soviet bloc liberal theorists like Fukuyama argued that history came to an end and capitalism has triumphed indefinitely. But the rise of China as a super power poses new challenges. Henry Kissinger argues: “We have been dominant in the last fifty years. They have been dominant in 1800 of the last 2000 years.” Conservative political scientist Graham Allison says: “The past 500 years have seen 16 cases in which a rising power threatened to displace a ruling power. Twelve of those ended in war.”

We are living through an era of the decline of an imperial power that is part of colonialism and the rise of a new world order in which countries that have been under colonial influence are being liberated and take on a new role. The US empire is being challenged in every part of the world.

In Latin America the Cuban people were in the forefront of fighting American imperialism, who never succeeded in establishing regime change in Cuba. The rise of revolutionary movements for change challenges the power of the American backed old elites and Venezuela is at the forefront in leading these movements together with Bolivia.

In the so called Middle East the coalition of the apartheids regime of Israel with the corrupt dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and Egypt is the cornerstone of US policy and they are challenged by the struggle of the Palestinian people. Iran is a major anti-colonial force in this region and a leading supporter of the Palestinian liberation struggle.

And alongside the resistance against imperialism comes the rise of China as a new superpower and the old tension between the West and Russia that challenge American hegemony.

Any conflict in the world is now a complex relation of local struggle with an global and historical dimension. The struggle in Venezuela is not just about a controversy between Maduro and Juan Guaidó. It is not only about the struggle between the oppressed Indigenous and colored population and the old white-skinned elite in Venezuela. It is not simply the age-old fight of the colonizer and the colonized. It is part of a new changing world order in the era of decline of American imperialism.

Therefore it is a duty of every progressive person who wants a world of peace and justice to take sides in the struggle in Venezuela, because it is part of a wider struggle for peace and justice. We need to defend principles of honesty and integrity in media coverage and hold on to the principle that both side should have equal hearing and fight the colonization of the mind. And especially for activists in the global north who are enduring a daily bombardment of misinformation about what is going on in Venezuela, this is the time to show if you understand the historical dynamics of colonialism and imperialism: do the right thing and mobilize against military interventions and economic boycotts.

 

 

In solidarity with Angela Davis

In October 2018 the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute announced that Angela Davis, a Birmingham native, would receive the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights award, calling her “one of the most globally recognized champions of human rights, giving voice to those who are powerless to speak”.

Recently, the organization changed its position and said Davis does not meet the criteria after all but did not explain why. It is now clear that it is because of her outspoken support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that protests against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

DIN urges all activists to distribute the statement by sister Davis on this issue.

Angela Davis’ Statement about Birmingham

On Saturday January 5, I was stunned to learn that the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Board of Directors had reversed their previous decision to award me the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. Although the BCRI refused my requests to reveal the substantive reasons for this action, I later learned that my long-term support of justice for Palestine was at issue. This seemed particularly unfortunate, given that my own freedom was secured – and indeed my life was saved – by a vast international movement. And I have devoted much of my own activism to international solidarity and, specifically, to linking struggles in other parts of the world to U.S. grassroots campaigns against police violence, the prison industrial complex, and racism more broadly. The rescinding of this invitation was thus not primarily an attack against me but rather against the spirit of the indivisibility of justice.

I support Palestinian political prisoners just as I support current political prisoners in the Basque Country, in Catalunya, in India, and in other parts of the world. I have indeed expressed opposition to policies and practices of the state of Israel, as I express similar opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to other discriminatory U.S. policies. Through my experiences at Elizabeth Irwin High School in New York City and at Brandeis University in the late fifties and early sixties, and my subsequent time in graduate school in Frankfurt, Germany, I learned to be as passionate about opposition to antisemitism as to racism. It was during this period that I was also introduced to the Palestinian cause. I am proud to have worked closely with Jewish organizations and individuals on issues of concern to all of our communities throughout my life. In many ways, this work has been integral to my growing consciousness regarding the importance of protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The trip to Birmingham, where I was born and raised, to receive the Fred Shuttlesworth Award, was certain to be the highlight of my year—especially since I knew Rev. Shuttlesworth personally and attended school with his daughter, Patricia, and because my mother, Sallye B. Davis, worked tirelessly for the BCRI during its early years. Moreover, my most inspirational Sunday School teacher Odessa Woolfolk was the driving force for the institute’s creation. Despite the BCRI’s regrettable decision, I look forward to being in Birmingham in February for an alternative event organized by those who believe that the movement for civil rights in this moment must include a robust discussion of all of the injustices that surround us.

Angela Y. Davis

January 7, 2019 to exist.

In defense of IHRC and Ramon Grosfoguel

On December 8, 2018, the Islamic Human Right Commission (IHRC), member of the Decolonial International Network (DIN), organized a successful conference in London with the theme Islamophobia and Silencing Criticism of Israel.

One of the speakers was Ramon Grosfoguel, founder of DIN. Ramon stated that Israel is an extremist state that practices and promotes terrorism against civilian populations while simultaneously has the audacity to accuse those who resist its crimes of being “terrorist”.

He outlined the double standards that are currently in place. For example, one can freely send and raise money for the IDF (with many celebrities recently attending and promoting a fundraiser with the exact aim) but those doing the same for Hamas or other forms of Palestinian resistance are immediately labelled as ‘terrorists’ or ‘terrorist supporters.’ People across the board are fearful of announcing their support for Palestine lest they too are painted with this unsavoury and undeserved brush.

He explained that there is an institutional framework in place to criminalise the supporters of Palestine. Israel micromanages every person, group and institution that criticises Israel. The Israeli lobby is automatically aware of every kind of criticism – even if it has no real impact. There is always a response to criticisms of Israel regardless of who they are from. In particular, those who are proponents of BDS will always find themselves under fire. Artists, musicians and actors who come out in support of Palestine are also labelled ‘anti-Semitic.’ Israel winning public support and opinion in the West is a major strategic operation.

On December 22, 2018, the right-wing news site The Telegraph in the UK published an article attacking IHRC and Ramon with the title: Group awarded more than £140,000 of EU finding described zionism as a ‘criminal enterprise’. It invokes Dave Rich, head of policy at the Community Security Trust, which claims to monitor anti-Semitism, and quotes him against Ramon and the IHRC: “This speech evokes classical antisemitic conspiracy theories, with its talk of global Zionist frameworks and lobbies controlling what people think, and it does so to encourage people to support terrorist groups that are banned in this country. It is yet another example of the IHRC’s extremism.”

The Telegraph calls for an end to the funding of the participation of IHRC in a European research project on Islamophobia. This kind of attack is an illustration of what Ramon in the conference called the “micromanagement” of every person, group and institution that criticises Israel. Now the “micromanagement” he spoke about is applied to his own speech.

It reminds us of the days of slavery on the plantations of the Americans where enslaved Africans were monitored in each and every movement in search of a sign of protest and resistance. That kind of micromanagement was effective in the short term on some plantations in some periods, but could not prevent the historical demise of the system of slavery. And so it goes for Zionism. Its micromanagement of resistance can cause inconvenience and problems in the short term, but one day justice will prevail and Zionism and the apartheid state of Israel will cease to exist.

Genocide Memorial Day in London and Brussel

This year London and Brussels are the venues where the annual Genocide Memorial Day is being organized, a day focused on remembering man’s inhumanity to man. It takes place on the third Sunday of January each year.

In London the theme is ‘Genocide as a tool for colonialism’.

Venue:  Sunday, 20 January 2019 from 12pm – 4pm, P21 Gallery, 21 Chalton St, Kings Cross, London NW1 1JD.

In Brussels the Bruxelles Panthères are organizing a conference with the theme: What Belgium owes to Congo’. Speakers are Sandew Hira, coordinator of DIN, Véronique Clette-Gakuba, researcher at ULB, Toma Muteba Luntumbue, art historian and Martin Vander Elst, researcher at the Laboratory of Prospective Anthropology (UCL).

Venue: Friday, January 18, 2019 from 19:00 to 22:00, Pianofabriek, Fortstraat 35, 1060 Saint-Gilles.

For Malaysia see

Institute for Decolonization of Suriname

Suriname, a former Dutch colony in Latin America, is going to set up an Institute for Decolonization of Suriname (DEKOSUR). After Venezuela that has set up a National Institute for the Decolonization of Venezuela and Bolivia with a Ministry of Decolonization Suriname is the third country in Latin America to undertake a systematic approach at decolonizing society. In its message to the people at the celebration of the 43rd day of independence the ruling National Democratic Party of Suriname stated that political independence is not enough and independence in thinking is needed. “The concept of Decolonizing The Mind is embraced and propagated by the NDP,” says the declaration.

IDS has the following goals:

  • Conducting a scientific research into the history of Suriname from this decolonial vision.
  • Producing a six-volume encyclopedia about the modern history of Suriname.
  • Promoting other publications about the history of Suriname.
  • Developing international networks on decolonization of science.
  • Providing educational programs on the (de) colonization of the mind and decolonization of history and science.

Moejinga Aboikoni-Linga will be the general director of IDS, who will have a staff of eight people. Sandew Hira, coordinator of DIN, will be the scientific director.

Institute for Decolonization in Venezuela

During the Third Decolonial School held in October 2018 in Venezuela Enrique Dussel proposed the foundation of an institute for the decolonization of Venezuela. Soon afterward Ernesto Villega, a former minister in the cabinet of Hugo Chavez, got the responsibility to formally set up a National Institute for the Decolonization of Venezuela. In a conversation with several intellectuals and activists, among them DIN founder Ramon Grosfoguel, Houria Bouteldja and Sabelo Ndlovu, Maduro emphasized the need for such an institute.

Nicolas Maduro, Ramon Grosfoguel and Enrique Dussel

Third meeting of Franz Fanon Foundation at Rutgers University

For the last ten years, the Frantz Fanon Foundation has explored the connection between Fanon’s work and the unfinished project of decolonization in dialogue with a large number of scholars and activists across the global north and south. The Bandung Conference of 1955 has been an important reference in the Foundation’s path, and the Spirit of Bandung has remained a profound and compelling inspiration.

The Rutgers Advanced Institute of Critical Caribbean Studies, and, particularly, its Decoloniality Cluster will host an international encounter with Fanon’s work. The Institute has served as a link between the Frantz Fanon Foundation, which is an international organization, the Rutgers, New Brunswick campus, and regional and local spaces such as the Lazos Community Center in Downtown New Brunswick.

The Rencontres will count with the participation of scholars, artists, and organizers who will not only share their cutting-edge work with each other and all the attendees, but who will inform decolonization projects taking place locally. These projects advance the decolonization of knowledge, critical theory, the human sciences, civic engagement, medical practice, aesthetics, and other areas of knowledge production and creative activity.

For more information click here.