Venezuelan diaspora in Ottawa are accusing the country’s largest public service unions of spreading “leftist propaganda” by supporting the regime of embattled President Nicolas Maduro.
In a letter to Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) brass, the 36 signatories accuse the unions of taking “a tone of contempt” by organizing cross-country demonstrations to protest the Canadian and United States governments’ backing of National Assembly president Juan Guaido, as interim leader.
“This position raises many questions firstly, about the analysis and source of information members of the union are using, and secondly, the role of unions such as PSAC and CUPE on these international issues,” according to the missive.
“With a tone of contempt for the actions that Venezuelans took to fight against a corrupt tyranny … (and) to promote leftist propaganda,” the letter continues. “Without considering that the so called revolution initiated by Hugo Chavez and continued by Nicolas Maduro’s regime, that constantly violates human rights in Venezuela and have caused a massive exodus of Venezuelans (over 3 million as per November 2018- UNHCR).”
Already in economic tailspin, Venezuela has been in political upheaval since May of 2018 following a protested election that saw Maduro, late-President Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor, win nearly 70 per cent of the vote.
Mass unemployment and skyrocketing inflation have made millions of Venezuelans their country’s primary export, after oil. For those who hadn’t yet fled, Maduro’s swear-in on January 10th was cause for mass protests, some giving way to running street battles with authorities.
On January 22nd, after nearly two weeks of civil unrest in Venezuela, Canada joined Australia, United States and the Lima Group of 12 South and Central American nations in backing Guaido, “supporting his commitment to lead Venezuela to free and fair presidential elections.”
Predictably, a host of authoritarian regimes including Russia, China, Cuba and Iran have backed Maduro – joined by the Canadian unions CUPE and PSAC who lent their support under the guise of “solidarity to the Venezuelan people,” according to a CUPE statement.
Attempts to get comment from PSAC presdient Chris Aylward and vice-president Magali Picard have thus far been unsuccessful while in an email to The Post Millennial, CUPE spokesperson Hugh Pouliot writes: “We don’t have anything to add to the January 25 statement.”
CUPE’s statement claims Guaido is engaging in a “a coup d’Etat” with the assistance of the United States and criticizes the Canadian government for “sid(ing) with Donald Trump and US foreign policy.”
According to Venezuala’s consitution, the National Assembly president can invoke emergency measures during a crisis and assume interim presidential status, which Guaido has done with the promise of new elections to restore democratic order.
As for PSAC’s public statement on the matter, it is hyperlinked to the Canadian Labour Congress – an umbrella organization for PSAC and CUPE interests – which claims the United States is considering “military intervention”.
“The CLC is alarmed at the escalation of international interference in the democratic process of a sovereign nation, including the possibility of military intervention … (and) vehemently rejects a militarized solution to this crisis,” according to its statement. “The people of Latin America have not forgotten the brutal history of military rule in the region.”