By Francisco Dominguez
At the launch conference of the No Cold War international campaign opposing the US aggression against China, on the 25th July 2020, Carlos Ron, Venezuela’s Deputy Foreign Minister, spoke alongside many international speakers to explain why Venezuela supported the initiative.
As Carlos Ron explained, historically, from the early 19th century, Latin America has been subjected to US aggression under the ‘justification’ of the Monroe Doctrine and as a result it has suffered untold instances of US military intervention and, in the 20th it had to endure ‘coups in Guatemala, Grenada, Chile, Brazil Argentina, Dominican Republic, the bloody civil wars in Colombia, in Central America, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the criminal blockade against Cuba that it still exists.’
And Venezuela itself has been the target of a nasty, systematic hybrid war involving a ferocious propaganda war, a large number of economic sanctions, threats of military aggression, confiscation of Venezuelan assets abroad and the blocking of food, medicines and health inputs.
By standing up to the Monroe Doctrine ‘we’re paying the price’, Ron said.
This stands in stark contrast with Venezuela’s relationship with China from where it obtains resources, technical, medical and economic cooperation. Thus Carlos Ron explains that China has been a key ally for Venezuela in this Covid-19 crisis and in the middle of this blockade’, but also ‘China became then a strategic partner for Latin America because it didn’t come with that Cold War mentality’.
Venezuela’s Deputy Foreign Minister aptly summarises the reality and the nature of the relationship of Latin America to the United States and to China.
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Carlos Ron, Venezuela’s Deputy Foreign Minster
No to the Cold War against China – speech from the inaugural online conference of the No Cold War international campaign
Well thank you very much for this opportunity and it’s great to be with such a great panel and see so many familiar faces. On behalf of the people of Venezuela the Bolivarian Revolution and on behalf of president Nicolas Maduro we salute this conference.
We wanted to participate because we feel it is very important that we stand up against this pretext of a new Cold War. If there’s one region around the world that knows very well the catastrophic effects of the Cold War certainly its Latin American and the Caribbean. For large part of the 20th century we were one of the main battlefields in that war. Thousands of people died, were tortured, imprisoned, disappeared as a result of Washington’s Cold War tactics meanwhile democracy, land reform, human rights, environmental, rights, you name it, they were all sacrificed in the name of the Cold War and international law was constantly trampled upon. We had coups in Guatemala, Grenada, Chile, Brazil Argentina, Dominican Republic, the bloody civil wars in Colombia, in Central America, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the criminal blockade against Cuba that still exists. This is all stems from that Cold War. So we have to entering this new or a new environment that resembles that one.
After the Cold War was formally over and the Washington Consensus took over with devastating economic policies throughout the region deepening the divide between those few that then had everything and the many that had nothing until the people started reacting to this and turning it a bit around and during the last 20 years what we’ve had in Latin America has been a struggle where new governments came in, popular democracies came in with leaders that resembled their people and that countered this US corporate dominance trying to find an independent way, one that opened the door for regional integration but also very importantly for integration with other parts of the world that we weren’t accustomed to.
China became then a strategic partner for Latin America because it didn’t come with that Cold War mentality, it didn’t approach the region, Venezuela in particular I could speak for, as property, or as possible colonies and sought partners for shared development and shared growth and Washington resent this because, honestly, I think it can’t understand that there can be other sets of values around the world that don’t mimic their own.
The United States has never looked at Latin America as a strategic partner but rather always from an imperialist and from a supremacist perspective. In the 1800s, under the struggle for independence of the South American nations, Thomas Jefferson wrote about our countries saying ‘those countries cannot be in better hands’, meaning the hands of colonialist Spain, ‘my fear is they’re too feeble to hold them till our population can be sufficiently advanced to gain it from them piece by piece’. So this idea that we are the property of the United States – it is entrenched into their history and it became doctrine, it became the Monroe Doctrine and didn’t stay back in the 1800s, it’s still here today in that both of Trump’s Secretaries of State Tillerson and Pompeo have invoked the Monroe Doctrine, so has Bolton when he was in place. In particular they wanted to invoke this principle to counter Chinese presence in the region.
The thing is for us it is really about what the US’s geopolitical competition – this is an issue of self-determination. We in Venezuela, as well as any other Latin American nations, we have the sovereign right to have the relations we consider are beneficial to our people and no Cold War logic should have a different say and this is a matter of principle for us.
What makes this worse is that we see this new Cold War building up in the middle of the huge crisis that the United States is having, and a lot of our friends have spoken about this, but we’re facing this pandemic over 145,000 lives have been lost [25th July 2020], more than 40 million people have lost their jobs and it’s disproportionately affecting the poor, the racially discriminated, the homeless, the undocumented workers, and so the United States seeks again to turn this into an issue with a foreign threat and looks for China and, by the way, it’s not only this administration, but you see the discourse of the possible alternative and they’re all trying to exacerbate this, this shady threat. We have stood up against this vision, we have stood up against this vision of Latin America as a property of the United States, and we’re paying the price. There’s a constant hybrid war against Venezuela with illegal economic sanctions with the threat military intervention with, attempts at diplomatic isolation, the fierce propaganda that talks about the Venezuelan democratic process. And there’s no real interest in Venezuela’s well-being or the people of Venezuela, if there was, there wouldn’t be blocking food, medicine, from coming in, gasoline going down to this point, as opposed to what we have with China, where with China we have a relationship of cooperation and primarily a relationship of respect.
China has been a key ally for us in this Covid-19 crisis and in the middle of this blockade. We’ve received help, the technical help, we have teams working here in Venezuela to allow us to craft our policies to deal with this, we’ve had aid that they’ve offered, aid just this week with the vaccines to all of Latin America, so this is a very different concept from the Monroe Doctrine.
We wish we could have working relationship with the United States, one based on respect but if we’re going to start from the Monroe Doctrine moving apart from the arrogance and the aggression to think that we are their property, their backyard, is just impossible. So this is our context from Venezuela, this is why we have to fight this new Cold War.
We call on all nations, we call on people, on all movements to stand for peace, to stand for stability, to stand for international law. We have real challenges that we must face together, we face plans to make us run out of resources, we have poverty that could still be turned around if we were somehow to focus on that and not in starting a new Cold War, so from Venezuela we are in solidarity, this is our perspective and we are in solidarity with all people fighting against this new Cold War. And we say no to nuclear war against China or against any other people, we are here for peace and for brotherly relationships.
Thank you very much.