How can we make doves of peace out of liberals?

This article is a translation of "Hoe maak je van sociaalliberalen nog vredesduiven?"

By tweeting an ominous ¨Maduro´s sham election is another step towards dictatorship¨ Nikki Haley, US ambassador for the UN, opened a new round of accusations against the Venezuelan government after elections for a National Constitutional Assembly were held there at July 30th [1]. Whenever a top-brass official of the US flexes a muscle, their most loyal allies will follow right away. Apparently Sjoerd Sjoerdsma (MP D66) thought it took the Dutch government too long, so he spurred them to run a bit harder to catch up with the Americans.

Most remarkable about his questions to the government is the Orwellian lexicon. The choice of words and questioning seem to be entirely dependent on the way the US is framing the situation. Democratic elections are depicted as if they are a new example of dictatorial conduct, whereas attempts to topple a democratically elected government by fomenting extreme violent street protests seem to represent the ultimate purity of democracy.

In fact, every citizen (or representative of social groups, like indigenous people, workers, employers) was eligible for election in the National Constitutional Assembly. When the Assembly will have finished a proposition for a new Constitution, it will be taken to the people that will have a decisive, mandatory vote by referendum. In the Netherlands we can only dream of so much direct democracy. However, Sjoerdsma – who is member of a party that at some time cherished ideas for more democracy as crown juwels – obviously sees a problem with the legitimacy of this amount of influence now (question 2).

Promulgation of this election was entirely legal, that is, if the democratically ratified 1999 constitution is followed [3]. There is also quite an amount of support from the populace. According to polling agency Hinterlaces 79% of the people said in advance that anyone who would want to, should be free to vote in this election [4].

To get the facts straight. Maduro is not rewriting the Constitution himself nor receives more executive powers somehow, as is written relentlessy in western media. Maduro and his government may even be voted out of office in the presidential elections that are due in 2018 – apparently at a time the opposition is not prepared to wait for.

The chavistas think its important to attain constitutional recognition for the socalled ¨missions¨ (government social programs), probably out of precaution in case there will be a defeat at the presidential elections. Parliament is not the best way to go at this time, as it is controled by the opposition, and they are systematicly disinclined to negotiate, let alone work together in this matter. So its true the chavista government is trying to work around Parliament, namely by addressing their issues directly to the citizenry – something that must be appalling for every direct democracy hating party.

Next to delegitimization of the ruling party by calling them dictators will the creation of a sentiment of crisis convey a sense of urgency to targeted audiences that there has to be an intervention somehow. Sjoerdsma is talking about the violence, the refugees and even great peril for the Dutch Antilles (questions 1, 3, 8 and 11), but never the impression arises that the extremist parts of the opposition and their violent tactics have anything to do with the deteriorating situation. Even rumours about famine – and so the need to intervene humanitarily when the government ¨keeps refusing aid¨ – are used to arrive at a certain solution (question 9).

The majority of the deathtoll during the disturbances in the last months that has a known origin, can be attributed to the opposition violence [5]. Also 6 police officers have been killed, chavistas have been set on fire and hospitals have been vandalized. On August 6th an attack was carried out against an army base by a group of heavy armed men. Even the Supreme Court has been under fire when a rogue army officer fired missiles from a hacked helicopter. Obviously this was not an institution of the kind western politicians want to defend.

Sjoerdsma, however, is depicting an image of the situation as if it is characterized by an overuse of violence perpetrated by a dictatorial regime against peaceful unarmed protesters. Actually a full-blown war is waged by US backed oligarchs and extremist forces against the government in a historical remake of events.

Deterioration of the situation has a direct link to the polarizing force that is emanating from US policy and its support of a clique of neoliberal/neofascist interest groups, which is reminiscent of the coalition behind the Pinochet liberalism of the Chicago School in the ´70´s. Rex Tillerson issued an open threat [6]. If we don´t like you and your political model does not further our interests, we intervene. Anyone questions about legitimacy?

The first elections that were held in Honduras after the 2009 coup only showed US friendly conservative parties. In Brazil the approval rate of president Temer [7] is only 4% (Maduro still has more than 20%). In Colombia GDP per head fell in 2014/15 from 7.918 $ to 6.056 $. The amount of people living below the extreme poverty line in Mexico is about 50% (in Venezuela 33%; was 50% when Chávez assumed power). The level of violence in Venezuela is high, but thats also true for Colombia, Mexcio and Honduras (highest murder rate in the world). When you are a journalist, the odds you will be a victim of deadly violence is 100 to 1000 times higher in Mexico and Colombia than in Venezuela.

The people in Venezuela have legitimate concerns. But also the people in Brazil, Mexico, Honduras and Colombia have these, though their governments are not threatened with regime change. Its the chavista ¨resource nationalism¨ that has to dissapear [8]. Everybody sees it and knows it, except the centrists and liberals in the west.

Also Haley issued in forementioned tweet a hardly concealed threat (¨we won´t accept an illegitimate government¨). Of course she accepts Honduras, Colombia and Mexico as they are now, and she also will accept a repressive oligarchic Venezuela as long as it operates within the boundaries of US interests. The hardcore neoliberal/neofascist core of the opposition feels backed by the west to force a solution by other means than strictly democratic ones, like i.e. presidential elections (perhaps because they lost 18 out of the last 20 elections). Resemblance with the events in Ukraine in 2014 are remarkable, even in the formation of iconic images [9].

According to Haley ¨the Venezuelan people will prevail¨, but obviously that part of the populace that contributed to the numerous electoral victories of the chavistas does not count. The impression arises that the opposition, backed by the US, is ready to upgrade the level of violence, because ultimately they want control over a country without chavistas and chavista influence. The absolute rejection of chavism as an important political force – and with it the parts of their policy that turned out well – seems to indicate that this countercurrent has to be annihilated entirely, as was planned in the ´60´s-´80´s as well.

After the belligerent statements made by Trump, Haley and Tillerson the US media chorus warns that we should be prepared for an all-out civil war. And also Sjoerdsma asks the Dutch government if there is already an evacuation plan ready to move out Dutch citizens (question 10). This is obviously the road that is foreseen for Venezuela.

What our representatives should have done is to insist that the US has to terminate their interventions into the domestic affairs of other nations and to advise the opposition strongly to withhold themselves from using violence and take part in negotiations with the government. Actually the pope is the only western institution that did just that and its this way that receives approval from a very large majority of the Venezuelan population [10].

Unfortunately, liberal politician Sjoerdsma decided differently. The fall of former peace-guru Mient-Jan Faber, who supported the new NATO policy of the ¨humanitarian intervention¨ against Yugoslavia in the ´90´s (speaking about illegitimate and illegal), was an omen of the degeneration of centrism, either from the left or the right. Nowadays liberals even share their beds with rightwing extremists [11] without waking up with the shivers.

Peace demands pragmatism, empathy to understand the position the other is coming from and the ability to look beyond petty interests. The selfrighteousness of western ideology and the clear interests that lurk behind them, make a huge impediment to attain an attitude like that. The absolute identification of the political mainstream with the destructive policies as pursued by Empire should worry everyone who desires peace.

Hector Reban



[2] Tweet made on 1 augustus with attachments, see

Marietje Schaake, also D66, is taking the lead in the European Parliament, see Schaake teams up with Spanish post-franquist politicians in the EP if the topic is Venezuela, see also my “Slow motion coup in Venezuela” (2015)

First response of the EU: The European Union's top diplomat Federica Mogherini said in a statement that the bloc's 28 member states could not recognize the Constituent Assembly "as they have concerns over its effective representativeness and legitimacy".

[3] Artt. 347-50 of the 1999 Constitution convey the possibility to convocate a Constitutional Assembly, see also

See illustration. Translation underscored line: ¨Het initiatief tot een convocatie van de nationale wetgevende vergadering kan genomen worden door de president...¨

Attorney-GeneralLuisa Ortega Diaz, relieved from her office at August 5th because of criticism to her policy, claims in a statement the mandatories in the Assembly are illegal. Of course the question arises why.




[7] Perhaps the American generosity has something to do with the fact that Temer was/is a CIA asset, see

[8] “It’s the oil, stupid!” , zoals ook een gelekte cable duidelijk maakte.

[9] Its no secret the opposition is being helped by US money and state-of-the art propaganda techniques. Tweeter @fcnun collected some social media “memes” that show the resemblances clearly, see thread from

[10] According to polling agency Hinterlaces there is huge support from the populace for negotiations under the leadership of the pope. These have been started up earlier. However, the oppsotion decided to walk away

[11] Who is Leopoldo Lopez? An oligarch with dictatorial leneances of the type the west supports on a regular basis

Strange fruit; Why nobody should support the opposition in Venezuela

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