VENEZUELA will not bow to imperialist threats, government figures told an international solidarity conference in the capital Caracas on Saturday.
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said: “We have one thought: we want peace.”
More than 200 delegates from more than 60 countries gathered for the Todos Somos Venezuela (We are all Venezuela) conference.
Hundreds more from national organisations, including trade unions and the Communist Party of Venezuela, packed the Teresa Carreno Theatre venue, chanting slogans of Latin American unity, defiance of US imperialism and support for President Nicolas Maduro.
Mr Arreaza drew a parallel between former US president Ronald Reagan’s support for the Contra counter-revolutionary death squads in Nicaragua from 1981 and Washington’s current backing of the Venezuelan opposition.
The Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition’s four-month campaign of regime-change violence this year left 124 people dead, including members of the security forces and bystanders attacked on the mere suspicion of being government supporters.
“Today it is Venezuela, but yesterday it was Nicaragua — it is Syria, it is Palestine,” Mr Arreaza warned.
“The war was promoted from Washington, Bogota and here in Venezuela too,” he said, alluding to the “oil war” against Caracas and its allies Russia and Iran.
“We have seen things we thought we would never see in Venezuela. Men burnt alive for being Chavistas, or presumed Chavistas, 29 of them, nine of whom died.”
But the mainstream media “held the government responsible for the deaths,” giving US President Donald Trump the justification to threaten military intervention.
Mr Trump had already ordered “hard sanctions,” which, Mr Arreaza warned, would worsen the food and medicine shortages that had fuelled the riots.
Those sanctions were punishment for Venezuela electing a new national constituent assembly to amend the constitution and chart a path out of the crisis. Six people died on July 30 as the opposition tried to disrupt voting in a last-ditch rampage.
But “despite these threats and violence, eight million went out to vote on July 30,” Mr Arreaza said.
Constituent assembly speaker Delcy Rodriguez, recently returned from peace talks with the opposition in the Dominican Republic, said: “Venezuela is the victim of an unconventional war.”
She said Venezuela’s revolution was “emancipating, indomitable” but had been “stigmatised as a dictatorship by Washington, which intends to impose the Monroe plan on our continent” — referring to the 19th-century doctrine labelling Latin America as the US’s sphere of interest.
“They have the impudence to address our internal affairs as if they were the affairs of the empire,” Ms Rodriguez said.
“We want peace, we want dignity,” she said, looking forward to a “beautiful dawn” of equal relations.
“President Nicolas Maduro is not alone in the world. The Bolivarian revolution is not the only one.”