NDP condemns only one of three Latin America coup attempts


Peru protest

It’s good Jagmeet Singh and Heather McPherson criticized the failed ‘Bolsonarista’ coup in Brazil. It would be better if they also challenged the Liberals’ support for overthrowing governments in Peru and Venezuela.

After Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau and a slew of global leaders expressed opposition to the rightist mob that ransacked Brazil’s presidential palace, Congress and Supreme Court on Sunday the NDP leader tweeted, “the people of Brazil deserve strong, democratic institutions. I strongly condemn the authoritarian attacks on Brazil’s democracy that took place on January 8th. And stand in solidarity with Lula and his democratically elected government.” For her part, McPherson tweeted an article that appeared on the front of Monday’s Globe and Mail with the statement, “New Democrats stand with the Brazilian people and support the democratically elected government of President Lula. The January 8 attack by Bolsonaro supporters are an attack on democracy. Such attacks must be strongly condemned.”

At the same time as Singh and McPherson denounce the failed coup in Brazil, they have been silent on the usurpation of power in Peru that has seen over 40 killed. On December 7 Peru’s elected left-wing president Pedro Castillo was impeached and jailed. Ottawa immediately backed the removal of a president whose government called the Canadian backed anti-Venezuela Lima Group “the most disastrous thing we have done in international politics in the history of Perú.”

The Liberals have helped Washington consolidate a coup that sparked a furious popular backlash and has been criticized by most governments in the Hemisphere. Ottawa has defended an unelected regime that suspended civil liberties and imposed a curfew while deploying troops to the streets. On December 23 Canada’s ambassador in Lima, Luis Marcotte, tweeted, “I met today with President Boluarte to reiterate Canada’s commitment to continue strengthening the relation and to support Human Rights and transparent and fair elections.”

After a pause over the Christmas period a general strike was launched last Wednesday. Large swaths of the country have been shuttered and on Monday security forces killed 17 in the Aymara town of Juliaca.

Despite receiving hundreds of emails weeks ago calling on Canada to “join the 15 regional governments refusing to recognize an unelected regime that has imposed martial law and killed dozens of protesters”, McPherson has stayed silent on the matter.

On the other side of South America, the Liberals finally admitted the Juan Guaidó charade was over. As part of a brazen, multifaceted, bid to overthrow Venezuela’s government Ottawa claimed a marginal right-wing opposition politician was the country’s president for four years. Late Friday the Liberals released “Canada’s statement on the recent vote by the Venezuelan National Assembly to dissolve the interim government”, which finally ended Canada’s recognition of Guaidó. Following the US, Canada may have been the last country to do so.

Initially the NDP joined the Guaidó charade. In the days after declaring himself president in a Caracas park, then NDP foreign critic Helene Laverdière repeatedly agreed with Canada’s support for Guaidó. Prior to that Laverdière echoedVenezuela’s lunatic far right by calling vice-president Tareck El Aissami “a drug lord” from whom “the American government has seized billions of dollars of his assets for drug trafficking.” In response to her position on Venezuela, the NDP Socialist Caucus submitted a motion to the party’s December 2018 convention titled “Hands Off Venezuela, Remove Hélène Laverdière as NDP Foreign Affairs Critic.”

While the NDP indirectly backed away from it, the party (to the best of my knowledge) never formally retracted Laverdière’s recognition of Guaidó. Amidst criticism from NDP activists, Singh equivocated on explicitly recognizing Guaidó in early 2019 while at a 2021 talk NDP MP Matthew Green declared “we ought not be a part of a pseudo-imperialist group like the Lima Group” seeking to unseat the Venezuelan government. The party also responded to a 2021 Canadian Foreign Policy Institute election questionnaire by saying they wanted Canada to have “less focus” on the Lima Group.

Today the NDP should be calling for a public inquiry into Canada’s role in rallying the Venezuelan opposition behind a plan to declare a marginal opposition politician president. The four-year Guaidó charade can’t be allowed to pass with a short statement released late on a Friday.

As we’ve seen with the ‘Bolsonarista’ coup bid in Brazil, the NDP has the capability to condemn right-wing forces usurping power in Latin America. The party should also challenge Canada’s antidemocratic role in Venezuela and Peru.

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