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Now that our Canadian government has recognized the self-declared president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, I would like to bring to the public’s attention some facts about Latin America. I am not a supporter of either Guaidó or of Maduro. I am a Mexican Canadian physicist who has worked in Latin American human rights off and on for the last thirty years. As a graduate student I was a member of Amnesty International and I put a five-year pause in my physics research to work in Chiapas, Mexico during the latter half of the nineties with the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre. I now teach at Marianopolis College and do research as an adjunct professor at McGill University.
In the Huawei case Prime Minister Trudeau states that Canada’s hands are tied because we are a “rule of law” country. Given this, it is striking to note that Trudeau’s government is willing to overlook the rule of law in Venezuela by recognizing a self-declared president who has told the press he is not afraid of civil war. The Venezuelan constitution allows for the president of the National Assembly to become interim president when the presidential chair is vacant. A presidential chair is vacant when a president dies, resigns, or is removed by the Supreme Court. None of those have occurred and the Venezuelan presidency is not vacant. The United Nations has 193 member nations. Currently around 20 of those nations recognize the self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó. Mr. Guaidó and his supporters claim the May 2018 presidential elections were fraudulent. But the election rules were agreed by all parties in negotiations held in the Dominican Republic with the Dominican President Medina and the Spanish ex-president Zapatero as mediators. There were three candidates and Maduro won 68 per cent of the vote. Over 80 countries attended Maduro’s inauguration. Just because we may not like the outcome of a vote, does not mean it is fraudulent. Is Maduro’s election more fraudulent than the Brexit vote, or the Trump’s presidential victory? Yet the press in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. repeatedly state, as if an uncontested fact, that the Maduro won through fraudulent elections, that he is not internationally recognized as president and that the Venezuelan constitution allows for Guaidó to auto-declare himself president.
All these statements are presented in a historical bubble that ignores the endless military interventions in Latin America by the U.S. and European powers. How many Canadians know that the opposition and the U.S. have been complaining about elections in Venezuela for decades despite the approval of those election procedures by the Carter Center (founded by former U.S. President Carter)? How many Canadians know that 150 years ago France invaded Mexico, overthrew the government, and installed a monarchy? Elliot Abrams has been named the U.S. special envoy for Venezuela. How many Canadians are aware of his involvement and close ties to military dictatorships and paramilitary groups in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua? Or his involvement and conviction in the Iran-Contra affair, and his pardoning by President Bush in 1992? And what good has come of the countless U.S. military incursions in Latin America and its wars in Iraq, Libya, or Afghanistan? All of these were justified because there was some government or something that did not suit “us.” Yet, in the case of Hussein’s Iraq, it suited the U.S. when it was at war with Iran and they armed both sides to make sure the conflict dragged on. If human rights, democracy, and justice were real concerns in Canada or in the U.S., why are we, or they, still recognizing and selling arms to Saudi Arabia? The truth is this discussion is not about human rights, democracy, or rule of law. It is about obtaining control of Venezuela’s vast oil and gold reserves. Why did Trudeau recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s president in the name of all Canadians? We should hold his government to task when it comes to their lack of coherence in defending our stated values.