Venezuela offers alternative to EU-NATO ‘imperialist violence’ afflicting Africa

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro © Miraflores Palace
While European Union officials continue to issue statements of regret over the increasing number of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean as they attempt to reach Europe’s shores, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is advocating for new ways to address the problem.

Speaking at the special session of ALBA [Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas] in Caracas on August 10, Maduro called upon the 11-member South American and Caribbean bloc to invest in education, health and infrastructure in Africa. In a televised address broadcast on Telesur, Maduro denounced imperialist violence, asking: “Until when will the EU and NATO keep silent about the crimes they have permitted to occur in the Mediterranean?”

The so-called Arab Spring, particularly NATO’s war on Libya, which was waged on the pretext of democratic aspirations, was previously employed to garner support for foreign intervention. Public sentiment in Europe vented its hostility against migrants, equating the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with the expectation that migration towards Europe would cease or be reduced dramatically. However, post-NATO intervention, Libya has fallen prey to mutating violence while migration has tripled since 2011.

According to the International Organization for Migration, the death toll of migrants attempting to reach Europe through the Mediterranean this year has exceeded 2,000. Europe’s response to the deaths was predictable – a showcase of hypocritical attitude that exhibited feigned remorse at the deaths while suggesting increasingly militarized policies, including the interception and destruction of smugglers’ boats which would infringe upon other countries’ sovereignty.

Such methods would have prompted smugglers to seek out alternative routes, rid the Mediterranean from corpses and, above all, provide Europe with the self-satisfaction of having ensured the continuation of plunder and death away from public view. In addition, migration would continue to provide an electoral bargaining tool, allowing political parties to avail themselves of xenophobic attitudes to garner votes. A few days ago, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond embarked upon an example of such rhetoric, stating that migrants are threatening Europe’s standard of living and social structure.

In other news, the UNHRC has criticized EU countries for failing to provide migrants with safer access to the continent. However, in all Western official rhetoric, as well as that of international organizations such as the UN, migration is always discussed as a phenomenon with no foundations in the history of colonization and imperialist intervention – a reality that has formed part of Maduro’s speech to ALBA.

© Esam Omran Al-Fetori

A stark contrast to EU and international rhetoric and action, Maduro’s insistence upon recognition and acknowledgement of colonial violence forms the foundation of his appeal to create new initiatives for stronger African nations. Emphasizing that current migration trends are a direct consequence of “imperialist belligerence, such as the attacks by terrorist groups in Syria and the military intervention against Libya in 2011.”

Launched in 2004 as an initiative between Venezuela and Cuba by former leaders Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, ALBA initially provided an alternative to the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), with Cuban and Venezuela sharing medical and educational resources in exchange for petroleum. As did Fidel through his expansion of Cuban internationalist solidarity, Chavez had also implemented a similar agenda in particular with regard to Palestine, establishing bilateral cooperation in areas such as trade, agriculture, health and culture. This legacy was expanded by Maduro who, during and in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, was one of the few countries that consistently supported Palestine through the same schemes that formed the bulwark of both Cuban and Venezuelan society following their respective socialist revolutions – education and health care.

Since NATO’s intervention in Libya, the EU, together with the UN, has been scrambling to retain the upper hand in rhetoric, with both organizations divesting themselves of responsibility with regard to the country’s descent into unbridled violence. Just as the international community constructed the war on Libya and its aftermath through the pretense of democracy, the current violence is dissociated from its origins by displacing blame upon ISIS, which emerged as a consequence of interference in Libya.

However, the responsibility of declaring Libya a failed state has been repudiated, with both entities seeking to enforce the repetitive agenda of discussions, unity governments and elusive diplomatic tactics. The result has increased impunity for the new colonizers following NATO intervention, as well as ensuring that more lives are lost.

Migrants try to get onboard an overloaded train at Gevgelija train station in Macedonia, near the border with Greece, on their transit route to Europe © Ognen Teofilovski

The dilemma faced by European countries is not addressing violence by alternative measures, but rather how to implement further violence away from excessive scrutiny, thus reducing the visibility of deaths in the Mediterranean and ensuring that the culture of war and victims prevails, with the end result being the shifting of trajectories to sustain an illusion of success.

If ALBA takes up Maduro’s challenge, Venezuela’s internationalist approach to colonial violence will not only signify the transcendence of Fidel’s earlier approaches to oppressed nations.

Within the region, ALBA has emerged as a unified bloc that has shown the US it is capable of sustaining itself, particularly through the Petrocaribe program – an alliance launched in 2005 that allows its members to purchase oil at subsidized prices. Earlier in March, US Secretary of State John Kerry exhibited overt attempts at destabilization of Petrocaribe, warning of a “humanitarian crisis” should the alliance fail, and urging its members to start seeking alternatives to Venezuela’s treaty.

Extending the organization’s cooperation beyond the region will be a direct challenge to the EU’s military approach and its determination to continue creating the conditions that facilitate the implementation of further violence to combat the existing plunder. So far the EU has remained safely ensconced within its deceitful web that manipulates the concept of humanitarian support through measures that are exclusionary, racist and a means to increase regional turbulence to maximize exploitation. Maduro has already proved to the world that his internationalist stance has not been confined to mere rhetoric. If ALBA accepts the challenge, both the EU and NATO will face a challenge that discredits their authority and relevance.

Ramona Wadi, for RT

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.