Yves Engler–in my opinion one of Canada’s best journalists/authors (if not THE best)–explains:
“The Lima Group was formed because the governments that were critical of the Maduro government in Venezuela, because they couldn’t get resolutions through the Organization of American States.
They didn’t have the majority of votes to pass resolutions at the OAS. So they basically set up another forum to bring together governments, mostly right-wing governments, in Latin America that were critical of the Maduro government.
And Canada has played–was right there at the founding.
Canada hosted the third meeting of the Lima Group, and now is hosting a second meeting; I think the first country to host two different meetings of the Lima Group.
And this is just part, one part, of a multifaceted Canadian campaign to undermine the Maduro government in Venezuela.
That campaign includes all kinds of critical comments against the Venezuelan government; includes back in September bringing the Venezuelan government–first time ever that a member state has brought another member state to the International Criminal Court.
Canada and a couple of other governments brought Venezuela to the International Criminal Court. Canada has brought in three rounds of sanctions against Venezuela.
Canada has been funding opposition groups in Venezuela.
Canada has been pressuring Caribbean countries to join the Lima Group, to join the critical statements of the Maduro government.
And so–and then in recent–last few weeks, last couple of months, Canada has been right at the forefront in this campaign to recognize the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the interim president, as the president of Venezuela, and completely reject the legitimacy of the Maduro government.
So the Liberal government in Canada is viewed by many as a sort of a progressive government.
But the Trudeau government in Canada has been right at the forefront of this campaign to try to undermine the Maduro government.
And you know, this is certainly what they’re looking for. My estimation is their preference would be a military coup. But there is some indication that Canada even would be fine with a foreign invasion.
In fact, when the head of the Organization of American States a few months ago sort of mused about a possible foreign invasion, the Lima Group, or 11 of the 14 members of the Lima group, criticized the head of the Organization of American States for talking about a foreign invasion.
Canada, Colombia, and Guyana were the three countries that refused to to condemn any talk of a foreign invasion.
So possibly even Canada is prepared to accept some form of military type intervention as part of this effort to get rid of the Maduro government.”
“The Canadian media is sort of on two hands.
On one hand they are just following the sort of Washington-Ottawa propaganda about how, you know, Maduro’s a total dictator that needs to be overthrown. On one hand they’re doing that, and that’s the sort of bulk of the discussion.
But simultaneously they have, as Paul pointed out, the Globe and Mail and the Canadian press both run incredibly–what should be viewed as incredibly damning stories about Canada’s role in building opposition support for Guaido.
They talk about how Canada’s facilitating meetings within Venezuela, facilitating meetings internationally to try to solidify support for this recognition of the head of the National Assembly.
But the thrust of the stories are that, you know, to just present this as a positive affair that Canada is pursuing, to the point where a few of the NDP, the social democratic party, MPs, or people in that party, a couple of them have expressed criticism of Canada’s policy on Twitter, and the media has sort of pushed back against the NDP’s, in my opinion, quite mild criticism of Canadian policy.
But I do want to echo, for sure, what Paul is saying.
There’s a quote in terms of Canada’s role historically in terms of serving empire, and the fact that sometimes it’s better to have a sort of Canadian face on an intervention than a more sort of, more easily demonized U.S. face.
In his biography, Jacques Chretien, a former prime minister, says quite explicitly that he told Bill Clinton that if we just go along with you in everything, we’re just going to be perceived as a 51st state. But if we, if it looks like we have a little bit of independence, we can do more for you than the CIA can do.
And it was almost like–that’s a paraphrase, almost word for word.
So there’s just this historic kind of putting a bit of a Canada, a positive Canada cover on policies that the U.S. is pursuing around the world.
And there’s a long history of that in the hemisphere beyond the example that Paul gave with regards to Afghanistan.
In Haiti in 2004, Canada played a very important role in the overthrow of the elected government of Jean Bertrand Aristide.
And again, there was Bill Graham, the former defense minister, said in a book about about the war in Afghanistan, he said that because Canada didn’t officially join the coalition of the willing that invaded Iraq in 2003, they felt like they needed to not only go heavily into Afghanistan, but also participate significantly in the coup in Haiti.
So part of this Canadian policy in Venezuela today is about Canada’s close ties to the U.S. empire.
And Canada, in my opinion, has been quite a beneficiary.
The Canadian corporate class have been very much beneficiaries of U.S. empire for half a century.
And the mining sector in Latin America is a big force, banking sector is a big force that partly explains Canadian policy there today.”
SEE ALSO Yves’ recent article on Venezuela, “Canada joins with imperial ‘Mafia’ to threaten Venezuela“, excerpts including:
“…Over the past two years Canadian officials have campaigned aggressively against President Nicolás Maduro. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has repeatedly criticized Caracas’ democratic legitimacy and human rights record. Recently she said, “the Maduro regime is now fully entrenched as a dictatorship” while in September Ottawa asked (with five South American nations) the International Criminal Court to investigate the Venezuelan government, which is the first time a government has been formally brought before the tribunal by another member.
In recent weeks Canadian diplomats have played an important role in uniting large swaths of the Venezuelan opposition behind a US-backed plan to ratchet up tensions by proclaiming the new head of the opposition-dominated National Assembly, Juan Guaido, president. The Canadian Press quoted a Canadian diplomat saying they helped Guaido “facilitate conversations with people that were out of the country and inside the country” while the Globe and Mail reported that “Freeland spoke with Juan Guaido to congratulate him on unifying opposition forces in Venezuela, two weeks before he declared himself interim president.” Alongside Washington and a number of right-leaning Latin American governments, Ottawa immediately recognized Guaido after he proclaimed himself president on Wednesday. Canadian officials are lobbying European leaders to recognize Guaido as president as well.
Ottawa has long provided various other forms of direct support to an often-violent opposition. In recent years Canada channelled millions of dollars to opposition groups in Venezuela and 18 months ago outgoing Canadian ambassador, Ben Rowswell, told the Ottawa Citizen that “we became one of the most vocal embassies in speaking out on human rights issues and encouraging Venezuelans to speak out.”
Alongside its support for the opposition, Ottawa expelled Venezuela’s top diplomat in 2017 and has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Venezuelan officials. In March the United Nations Human Rights Council condemned the economic sanctions the US, Canada and EU have adopted against Venezuela while Caracas called Canada’s move a “blatant violation of the most fundamental rules of International Law.”
Since its August 2017 founding Canada has been one of the most active members of the “Lima Group” of governments opposed to Venezuela’s elected government. Canada is hosting the next meeting of the “Lima Group”. Freeland has repeatedly prodded Caribbean and Central American countries to join the Lima Group’s anti-Maduro efforts.
In September, 11 of the 14 member states of the “Lima Group” backed a statement distancing the anti-Venezuelan alliance from “any type of action or declaration that implies military intervention” after Organization of American States chief Luis Almagro stated: “As for military intervention to overthrow the Nicolas Maduro regime, I think we should not rule out any option … diplomacy remains the first option but we can’t exclude any action.” Canada, Guyana and Colombia refused to criticize the head of the OAS’ musings about an invasion of Venezuela.
Alongside the head of the OAS, US president Donald Trump has publically discussed invading Venezuela. To the best of my knowledge Ottawa has stayed mum on Trump’s threats, which violate international law.
…Thus, while the scope of the Trudeau government’s current campaign against Venezuela is noteworthy, it’s not the first time Ottawa has supported the overthrow of an elected, left leaning, government in the hemisphere. Canada passively supported military coups against Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 and Brazilian President João Goulart in 1964 as well as ‘parliamentary coups’ against Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo in 2012 and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in 2016. Ottawa played a slightly more active role in the removal of Dominican Republic president Juan Bosch in 1965 and Chilean president Salvador Allende in 1973. In a more substantial contribution to undermining electoral democracy, Ottawa backed the Honduran military’s removal of Manuel Zelaya in 2009.
Canada played its most forceful role in the removal of a progressive, elected, president in the hemisphere’s most impoverished nation. Thirteen months before Jean-Bertrand Aristide was, in his words, “kidnapped” by US Marines on February 29, 2004, Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government organized an international gathering to discuss overthrowing the Haitian president. JTF2 special forces secured the Port-au-Prince airport the night Aristide was ousted and 500 Canadian troops were part of the US-led invasion to consolidate the coup.
With regards to Venezuela it’s unclear just how far Ottawais prepared to go in its bid to oust Maduro. But, it is hard to imagine that the path Canada and the US have chosen can succeed without Venezuela being plunged into significant violence.”
Paul Jay, of the Real News Network:
“I know from personal experience that Canada has been trying
to destabilize and nurture and promote the opposition in Venezuela at least from 2004.
When Chavez was still in power, Chavez had been elected over and over again with internationally observed elections.
Everyone said the elections were clean during the Chavez period. Many people that tried to throw the elections into disrepute were invalidated.
The Carter Center legitimatized them.
I actually personally was on an election observer mission to go to polling stations in 2004, 2005, one of the elections leading up to the referendum on Chavez’s presidency.
And I went to 40 polling stations, and I interviewed opposition people in all 40 polling stations in Caracas. And I asked, have you seen any infractions? And if there were any infractions were they dealt with properly.
And I took video, and I recorded it all, and there wasn’t a single complaint from an opposition observer that there had been anything done incorrectly with those elections.
…Now, right around that time, when they were clean elections, and Chavez was getting elected over and over again, my first trip to Venezuela in 2004
My first trip to Venezuela in 2004, I was producing the big debate show on Canadian TV called Counterspin on CBC Newsworld.
I was a well-known documentary filmmaker. I had founded the Big Hot Docs! Documentary Film Festival.
So I was a known quantity in Canada. And so when I was in Venezuela, I said I’ll go say hello to the Canadian embassy. I was trying to figure out what was going on in Venezuela. I figured some Counselor would pat me on the head and say welcome to Venezuela.
No, I got the number two charged d’affaires that greeted me and brings me into a meeting room with seven members of the opposition who then for two hours beat me over the head with how corrupt the regime was, how awful it was, and so on…
What business does a Canadian embassy have with bringing a Canadian journalist into a room with opposition people, essentially trying to involve me in a conspiracy against the Venezuelan government.
So this Canadian government role in Venezuela has been very active in trying to destabilized the situation, promote and nurture the opposition.
And clearly for two reasons.
Number one, Canada is one of the biggest mining nations in the world, and Venezuela has tremendous untapped natural resources, particularly gold. And Canada has a very strong gold mining sector. And the gold was not–Canada wasn’t, Canadian companies weren’t easily getting at that gold.
…So the ability to nurture an opposition and get an in with an opposition that might come to power, and then favour Canadian mining companies, I think that’s one motivation.
And another motivation, I think, has to do with Canada’s role historically; how it plays with the United States and helps the U.S. and its foreign policy.
And I once interviewed a Canadian general in 2004, Lewis MacKenzie. And I asked him, why is Canada so into this Afghan war? You know, this Afghan, post-9/11.
It could have been dealt with as a police-type operation, in terms of going after al Qaeda. But a full-fledged invasion, full-fledged regime change. Why is Canada in this, and in it for the long haul? Because it’s 2004, after the invasion of Iraq.
And his answer was, I think, very instructive. He said, well, we didn’t go to Iraq. So to keep our ability to selling goods into the United States, we needed to pay with some blood.
We needed to send troops to Afghanistan and have some Canadian soldiers killed to show we’re willing to share the burden. He didn’t use the word empire, but that’s essentially what he was saying.
So the role of Canada assisting in very nefarious American policy, and giving it this Canadian, oh, we’re for the UN, we’re humanitarians, giving it that veneer, it’s an important role that Canada plays.
But it’s, I think, now the recognition of Guaido so exposes Canada because it’s such a clear violation of the UN Charter of non-interference in internal affairs.