Things aren’t going so great in Venezuela.
The hospitals are running out of basic medicines, the poor have to line up for hours for food handouts, per capita GDP is down by 40% since 2013, starving citizens are eating Flamingos to survive, the nation has the highest inflation rate in the world, opposition leaders are being taken from their homes at gunpoint, hundreds of thousands of citizens are fleeing to whatever country still has bread, and to make matters worse the government has just begun defaulting on its oil bondholders which could precipitate even more of a total economic collapse.
Even the normally lefty-friendly agencies Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have begun to condemn the socialist regime’s rigged elections, arbitrary detainment of dissidents and open murder of opposition protesters. Here in Australia human rights activists have begun demanding the revocation of visas for the family members of regime officials. Even Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson has come forward to repeatedly condemn the “escalating human rights abuses and deteriorating political situation” in the country.
To top things off, this year the Venezuelan embassy in Canberra was the scene of almost comic violence when Cesar Baena, a championship skier, punched the embassies’ 71 year old landlord in the head as the latter attempted to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid rent. Señor Baena ran into nearby parkland before being apprehended by police and declaring himself a patriotic hero defending the honour of his beloved patria.
According to Harvard professor Ricardo Hausmann, Venezuela’s former minister of planning “The minimum wage… declined by 75 per cent from May 2012 to May 2017… Measured in dollars at the black-market exchange rate, it declined by 88 per cent, from $US295 per month to just $US36.”
Fair to say that it hasn’t been a great time.
Also fair to say that no matter what factors or actors you blame, the Government of Venezuela can’t escape all responsibility for the state of the country. Even the most ardent left-wing Latin American is willing to admit that President Maduro (and perhaps even the sainted Chavez) bear some blame for the dire situation, in between denunciations of falling oil prices and alleged Gringo conspiracies of course.
But that doesn’t dissuade some Australians. Oh no. Down under you can still find a whole bunch of people for whom the flame of Chavismo has yet to fade.
A few months ago two of Australia’s major trade unions pledged their support and “resolute solidarity” with the murderous dictatorship.
Apparently, four hundred opposition leaders locked up and the straight up murder of over a hundred protesters isn’t enough to dull the love of the MUA and CFMEU.
At a July 26 meeting of the Victorian branch of the CFMEU, members resolved to:
“Pledge our support with the people of Venezuela and their Bolivarian Revolution Socialist Government… We call on the Australian labour movement to express solidarity with workers in Venezuela and against fascist and violent gangs.”
In the eyes of our nation’s third-largest and arguably most politically powerful union, hundreds of thousands of hungry demonstrators are “fascists” who deserve to be shot in the head, as some indeed have been.
The previous day the MUA took an almost identical tack:
“We pledge our resolute solidarity with the people of Venezuela and their Bolivarian Revolution.. [we] oppose the attacks by violent, fascist gangs of the right-wing opposition in that country….[and] call on the Australian labour movement to express solidarity with the Venezuelan people, and against right-wing attacks on Venezuelan democracy”.
So everyone’s a fascist, again. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
The union resolutions were published online by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, the group which in 2007, in a letter signed by leading unions, Labor and Greens politicians, and journalists including former Communist ABC presenter Phillip Adams and current Communist filmmaker John Pilger, infamously invited then President Chavez to Australia to teach us how to better run our economy.
The AVSN website is populated entirely with links to articles from Green Left Weekly (the mouthpiece of the Socialist Alliance) and a Venezuelan pro-government press centre called “Venezuelanalysis” which mostly seems to exist as a means of explaining why dead protesters are clever opposition hoaxes and why Chavez was a revolutionary genius of world-shattering proportions who taught the people that negotiating with the capitalist opposition is always futile (yes, seriously).
In short, the AVSN is a front for the well-known violent extremists of the Socialist Alliance and nothing more.
More disturbing is the actions of these unions.
These two unions between them have over 133,000 dues-payers, and I can tell you as someone who grew up with more than a few of them that the amount of rank and file members who care more than a fig for the troubles of an oil-rich nation in the Caribbean could be counted on the fingers of no hands.
So why are some members of the union leadership pulling this crap?
Why are they letting a Communist group tied to a foreign country run meetings out of the ETU offices in Brisbane?
Why are they holding parties for regime activists, the Cuban Consul-General and the Venezuelan ambassador out of the MUA Hall in Sydney?
Why are leaders of the CFMEU, the AMWU and the MUA travelling with extremist Socialist Alliance activists on all expenses paid “solidarity brigades” to Venezuela?
And more importantly, who is paying? Is it the union members, or the government of a hostile foreign dictatorship that starves its people and kills its dissidents?
I’m not sure which would be worse.
Australia’s union movement has historically been one of the most politically powerful in the world, and has also historically stood up pretty well to Communist manipulation. Heroes on the left like Prime Minister Ben Chifley and the “Groupers” around Bob Santamaria stood tall against the red threat when it seemed futile to do so, and as a result of their efforts Australia prospered.
The battles of the Cold War might seem an age away now, but the Marxists are still with us, still gnawing away at the roots of our societies and still dreaming of their revolution.
No matter how many times Communism fails, Communists never learn. It’s up to the rest of us to teach them.
Photo by newsonline