A view from the outside: Is hostility towards Venezuela a wise move?
With Karyl Walker
If a man steal a mango, or breeze blow up a woman dress, bet you life it making headlines in the foreign press – Lord Laro
The declaration by Venezuelan Ambassador to the Organisation of American States (OAS) that a vote by the Jamaican government and 18 other OAS nations not to recognise the legitimacy of Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, as hostile against the will of his country, may have some truth to it.
The 19 nations decided that Maduro’s second term would not be recognised by them and it is indeed a sad day for the region when one of the main benefactors to several countries, especially in Caricom, is being abandoned due to influences from the outside.
The opposition People’s National Party has come out against the vote and lambasted the government for the stance. I agree with the opposition on this point.
The propaganda machine of the first world is well known for its tendency to paint leaders of countries whom have ideological differences in the worst light and flood media reports with allegations of brutal atrocities to sway public opinion against them. This has been their modus operandi for decades.
A careful look at history will show us that many third world leaders have even been killed unjustly by imperialist forces hell bent on gaining control over other countries' natural resources in order to stay on top of the world’s economic pile.
Let us not forget that Nelson Mandela was once branded a terrorist by the same propaganda machine. Now he is regarded as one of the world’s finest ever statesmen.
‘El Commandante’ Fidel Castro has been absolved by history. He was also painted as a brutal dictator who oppressed his people due to his penchant for communism which was not keeping in line with the views of those who wanted to turn Cuba into a haven for the rich and famous and funnel off the profits earned to their country. Castro was also vilified by former leader of the Jamaica Labour party, Edward Seaga, during the turbulent 1970s but his funeral was attended by Seaga protégé and Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness. Cuba arguably has the best health care system in the region and education is free for its people, facts never heralded by the mass media and certain factors who still have that island state under an economic blockade.
Our own Jamaica was the victim of destabilisation in the 1970s due to the fact that late Prime Minister Michael Manley decided to show solidarity with Castro. Those of us who lived through that era remember it well.
Michael Manley (left) with PJ Patterson and Portia Simpson Miller.
Also in Jamaica, when the press was serving the interests of the colonialists, the first man to preach the concept of a black God, Alexander Bedward, was painted to be a madman and committed to the asylum on more than one occasion. As children we were taught that Bedward attempted to fly into the heavens. Now historians are refuting those claims and it has come to light that the rumours were spread in order to turn people away from Bedward and his philosophy.
Late leader of Uganda, Idi Amin, was painted as a cannibal and brutal dictator. Amin was in fact vilified due to the fact that he stood up for his Ugandan people and was about Africa for the Africans.
Muammar Gadafi was also painted as a criminal; now look what is taking place in Libya.
To this date, no weapons of mass destruction has been found in Iraq, a state now lawless and under the constant threat of extremist rule by Islamic militants.
Is Jamaica and the rest of the OAS nations really justified in condemning Maduro based on claims by the mass media? Jamaica should remember that it was the state of Venezuela led by Hugo Chavez who came, in our hour of need, with Petro Caribe. Now our government wants to implement legislation to ensure a hostile takeover of that country’s 49 per cent share in the Petrojam oil refinery.
That country is now in the economic doldrums due to the fall in oil prices and it is not the best of times in Venzuela. However, maybe we should be less hasty in our condemnation of them.
Are we biting the hands that fed us?
There is a dictator whose actions are affecting many Jamaicans and other OAS nationals presently but it is a safe gamble that not one of the member states will ever have any criticism of that individual, for obvious reasons.
Likewise, none of the OAS member states will ever condemn the actions of Israel whose many years ago was declared a racist state which has imposed apartheid-like rule over the Palestinians.
That is my view from the outside.
Karyl Walker is a multi-award-winning journalist who has worked for Loop Jamaica, the Jamaica Observer, the RJR Communications Group and Nationwide Radio among other media entities. He now resides in South Florida.