Science for Peace deplores the steps taken in recent days by the Government of Canada to overturn the elected government of Venezuela. Through the Lima Group and in direct communication with anti-government leaders in Venezuela, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs has openly worked for rejection of the authority of the elected Maduro government. This is not only a violation of the principles of the United Nations, it is contrary to the spirit of peace-making efforts. An indispensable precondition for world peace is non-interference in others’ internal affairs. Our diplomats should be working with those of Mexico and many Caribbean states in a neutral effort to find a Venezuelan solution to that country’s current economic and political travails.
Canadian political alignment on this issue with the right-wing governments of Latin America and with the Trump administration is alarming and profoundly unacceptable. There is a well-documented history, beginning in the early twentieth century, of American support for authoritarian regimes in Latin America. This involvement has included military training, provision of weapons, military interventions, collaboration in the planning of coups, and acquiescence in the imprisonment and even torture of the political opposition to pro-American governments. In Venezuela itself, the US government supported an unsuccessful coup against the duly elected Chávez government in 2002. Canada has, in recent years, supported the replacement of elected governments in Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti and now in Venezuela.
Canada’s relations with Latin America are problematical in broader terms. Canada provides a financial and legal haven for businesses that exploit labour and decimate the forests, agriculture, and watersheds in these countries. Canadian banks mire these countries in debt and buy up public utilities. Protests against Canadian mining companies in Mexico, Peru, Bolivia and Guatemala are met with police and military brutality. In addition, Canada needs to maintain a distance from the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. Bolsonaro, among other policies, threatens our common future by opening up the Amazon, the lungs of the planet, to deforestation for profit
It appears that the political and economic interests pursued by the Trudeau government are shaping its interventionist stance toward Venezuela and its more general policy orientations in Latin America. If Canada is concerned about brutal authoritarian regimes that wreak havoc, it might turn its attention to Saudi Arabia and the war in Yemen. It is surely hypocritical to sell military hardware to Saudi Arabia while condemning the Maduro regime for lesser crimes than those practised by Saudi Arabia.
People need to solve their own problems to build a democracy that is meaningful. Foreign interference is not only unethical in the case of Venezuela today, but ultimately will make matters worse – the usual outcome of Western interventions in the global south yesterday and today.