Venezuela’s Anti-Blockade Law - A Critique of Maduro and the Lies of Western Media: By. Edward Liger SmithRead Now
Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan Constituent Assembly have passed an anti-blockade law in an effort to circumvent crippling sanctions from the United States, and jump start the Venezuelan economy. The law will look to increase foreign trade in Venezuela, which many Venezuelan Socialists now fear will lead to an increase in privatizations, particularly in the oil industry, as well as an increase of foreign capital moving into Venezuela. Voices from the revolutionary left in Venezuela have also expressed concern that the law will lead to less government transparency in business dealings. Hashtag #NoApruebo (I don’t approve) was seen trending on Twitter in Venezuela at one point, as Venezuelans voiced their concerns that the law is a betrayal of Bolivarian Socialist values. President Maduro has argued that the law is necessary in the face of the US economic blockade.
The past four years have seen the Trump Administration ramp up sanctions, which began in the 2000s with George Bush, and were escalated further under Obama. The Anti-Blockade law shows how many struggles in Venezuela stem from US sanctions. While the US media portrays Maduro as an evil dictator, destroying his own countries’ economy, and oppressing his own people. In reality, the primary critique of Maduro from the working masses of Venezuela themselves, is his inability to combat US sanctions with the same success as his predecessor Hugo Chavez. The anti-blockade law, and subsequent public response, can reveal much about the current situation in Venezuela. A situation which Western corporate media has consistently lied about, in an effort to manufacture public support for regime change in Venezuela.
The public outcry against the anti-blockade law on Venezuelan Twitter reveals that many of the Western media narratives about Venezuela are inaccurate. The nonprofit outlet Human Rights Watch (HWR) claims Venezuela “imposes prison sentences of up to 20 years on those who publish messages of intolerance and hatred in media or social media.” HRW says that the Government aggressively targets those who speak negatively about them. The public outcry against the Anti-Blockade law provides an example of how censorship in Venezuela is largely overblown by Western Media. Valid accusations of police brutality, and Government violence in Venezuela, are always met with loud public outcry from the masses in opposition. There are of course valid critiques of Maduro and the Venezuelan Government, however the reality in Venezuela is far from the totalitarian dictatorship it’s made out to be by outlets like HRW.
Many Western Media outlets cite HRW as a source when discussing Venezuela, despite the fact that HRW has faced criticism for having former CIA members, and multinational business executives on their board of directors. Rather than sending journalists to investigate Venezuela, HRW publishes reports from members of the US backed Venezuelan Opposition, who are the minority party in terms of public support. This gives us a glimpse into how lies can be perpetrated on a mass scale in order to sway public opinion in favor of regime change. Even the name Human Rights Watch, gives readers the impression of a non-biased organization reporting on human rights abuses out of concern, when in reality the organization is controlled by corporate executives, and former CIA officials. And most of the so called reporting, is from far right members of the US backed Venezuelan opposition. HRW is just one of many NGOs who feign concern for human rights, while spreading lies, or exaggerations to manufacture support for regime change.
The work of HRW is frequently cited by Western media outlets when discussing Venezuela. A survey conducted by Fair.org found that “Zero Percent of Elite Commentators Oppose Regime Change in Venezuela.”  This is in the US, who claim the Venezuelan media is one sided and controlled by the Government. It is hard not to see the irony of a country whose media offers no scrutiny to the idea of overthrowing another countries’ leader in favor of a far right alternative, accusing another country of having a corrupt media apparatus. In reality Venezuela has a mixture of state and opposition media, with the privately owned Venivision dominating the Venezuelan TV and News Market. A far cry from the hegemonic US media, who loudly beat the war drums for the US Empire at every turn.
While the anti-blockade law provides an opportunity for us to critique Maduro and the PSUV Government, the critique stems from the President’s inability to combat US Imperialism. The people of Venezuela are not calling for their President to be ousted, but rather they are demanding he remain faithful to the ideals of the Bolivarian Revolution. A 2017 poll found that 75% of Venezuelan’s still support Socialism. While Venezuelans have their critiques of Maduro, they ultimately recognize that their economic hardships are mostly being caused by the United States, and the economic blockade.
The ultimate irony of the US Venezuela situation is the fact that Venezuela is used in the US as a talking point to argue that “socialism fails every time it’s tried.” Meanwhile, within Venezuela, the masses are critiquing Maduro for not being socialist enough. Arguing Maduro should nationalize more industry, and allow for less privatization of the economy. The economy needs to be diversified, and sectors outside of the oil industry need to be strengthened. Outside of those in the Venezuelan Opposition Party, the people of Venezuela largely want more Socialism, not less. In a recent interview concerning the anti-blockade law Venezuelan Chavista leader Telémaco Figueroa said “Socialism will not happen if we join hands with the bourgeoisie. It is we, the working people, who are called upon to carry out the task of saving humanity” It is clear the working masses of Venezuela remain committed to building socialism, and recognize the enemy in their fight is the imperialist US blockade, and the bourgeois opportunists within their own country.
It is vitally important for US leftists to understand the situation in Venezuela. Many who speak out against the blockade within the US are labeled as “dictator defenders,” even by those who see themselves as leftists. However, it is not Nicolas Maduro who those like me are defending. It is folks like Telémaco Figueroa, and the working masses of Venezuela who I choose to defend. Working masses who will loudly critique Maduro when necessary, but who also realize that their struggles originate from the US economic blockade, which is itself a product of capitalism and neoliberalism. I choose to stand with the working masses of Venezuela, and against the criminal economic blockade being imposed by my own country. Those Western leftists calling for regime change should reflect on what it truly means to be anti-imperialist. It is not Maduro who we must stand behind, but rather the working masses of Venezuela. A revolutionary people who remain committed to building socialism while facing pure economic warfare from the US. I stand with the people of Venezuela, and the Bolivarian Revolution as a whole.
VIVA LA REVOLUCION!!!
 “World Report 2019: Rights Trends in Venezuela.” Human Rights Watch, January 17, 2019. https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/venezuela.
 Bhatt, Keane. “The Hypocrisy of Human Rights Watch.” NACLA, 2013. https://nacla.org/article/hypocrisy-human-rights-watch.
 Teddy Ostrow, Helga I. Fellay, Ian, Gpcus, Doug Tarnopol, John Wheat Gibson, Wondering Woman, et al. “Zero Percent of Elite Commentators Oppose Regime Change in Venezuela.” FAIR, April 30, 2019. https://fair.org/home/zero-percent-of-elite-commentators-oppose-regime-change-in-venezuela/.
 Lucas Koerner., Ricardo Vaz Ricardo Vaz is a political analyst and editor at Venezuelanalysis., Doug Latimer, Janice Olson, EL Comandante, Kc, Wondering Woman, , Arkan, and Michel St-Laurent. “There's Far More Diversity in Venezuela's 'Muzzled' Media Than in US Corporate Press.” FAIR, May 20, 2019. https://fair.org/home/theres-far-more-diversity-in-venezuelas-muzzled-media-than-in-us-corporate-press/.
 Mallett-Outtrim, Ryan. “75% Of Venezuelans Support Socialism: Poll.” Venezuelanalysis.com, August 2, 2019. https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/13251.
 Venezuelanalysis.com, Cira Pascual Marquina –. “The Controversial Anti-Blockade Law: A Conversation with Telémaco Figueroa.” Venezuelanalysis.com, October 27, 2020. https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/15029.
About the Author:
My name is Edward and I am from Sauk City, Wisconsin. I received my B.A. in Political Science from Loras College, where I was a former NCAA wrestling All-American, and active wrestling coach. My main interest are in Geopolitics and the role of American imperialism with relation to socialist states, specifically China and Venezuela. I also worked for Bernie Sanders' campaign in 2020.