University of Ottawa Professor Melts Down at #HandsOffVenezuela Presentation

March 25, 2019

On March 24, 2019, I concluded a three-city speaking tour about my recent visit to Venezuela. My presentations were open to the public. There was no charge for admission. I was not compensated by anyone to speak at these events, nor were my travel expenses reimbursed by anyone.

Thanks to the admirable efforts of the organizers, who volunteered their time to make this tour possible, all three events were well-attended.

In my presentations, my over-arching theme was that Western corporate media are presenting a grossly imbalanced picture of the reality in Venezuela, and that, while the government of Nicolas Maduro is far from perfect, Western powers cannot be trusted to defend the interests of ordinary Venezuelans – particularly the most vulnerable members of Venezuelan society. The crisis in Venezuela should be resolved by Venezuelans. Foreign powers should confine their role to the facilitation of a peaceful, negotiated resolution with a minimum of suffering.

My presentations in Toronto, Ottawa and London, Ontario were well-received by audience members. In Ottawa, however, I encountered a small group of vociferous, pro-opposition disrupters, including University of Ottawa Associate Professor Isaac Nahon-Serfaty.

I had never heard of Nahon-Serfaty before my presentation in Ottawa. I ascertained subsequently that Nahon-Serfaty has authored numerous anti-Chavismo op-eds, several of which have been published by Postmedia. As I have previously written, Postmedia’s newspapers routinely compromise journalistic integrity in order to advance the right-wing agenda of those who control Postmedia.

Predictably, Nahon-Serfaty’s Postmedia op-eds agitate for foreign intervention in Venezuela and are replete with evidence-free attacks on Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro – for example, the wholly unsubstantiated claim that Nicolas Maduro presides over a “narco-dictatorship“.

In my Ottawa presentation and in the Q&A which followed it (during which the moderators did not vet questions or comments), Nahon-Serfaty and his associates constantly interrupted me. At the outset of the Q&A, Nahon-Serfaty screamed at me and repeatedly accused me of lying. When an elderly audience member became fed up with Nahon-Serfaty’s theatrics and objected to his behaviour, Nahon-Serfaty rushed in his direction and had to be restrained.

Frankly, I have never seen behaviour like this from a university professor. Continue Reading ›

Venezuelans Who Oppose Nicolas Maduro Say Trump Wants To Control Venezuela’s Resources

During my recent trip to Venezuela, I sought out and spoke to both supporters and critics of President Nicolas Maduro.

On February 14, 2019, the Real News published a report of my interviews of ordinary Venezuelans who support President Maduro (that report can be watched and listened to here).

This just-published report concerns my conversations with Venezuelans who are critical of the Maduro government.

Interestingly, even among those who oppose President Maduro, I was hard-pressed to find anyone who believes that Donald Trump is genuinely interested in the well-being of the Venezuelan people. On the contrary, there appears to be a widespread belief among both supporters and opponents of the Maduro government that Trump’s singular objective is to secure control of Venezuela’s resources, and particularly its massive oil reserves.

Equally interesting was the attitude of Maduro’s opponents toward the legacy of Hugo Chavez. While many supporters of Juan Guaido are hostile to the Chavez legacy, there appears to be considerable respect for the achievements of Hugo Chavez even among those are critical of President Maduro.

My report on my conversations with opponents of the Maduro government can be watched and listened to here.

Is Participatory Democracy the Solution to Venezuela’s Crisis?

During my recent trip to Caracas, Venezuela, I spoke with Atenea Jimenez, the speaker of a Network of Communes.

Atenea argued that collective, grassroots decision-making is the key to solving Venezuela’s crisis.

She also stated that “the biggest fear of all is that a self-proclamation of a president nobody voted for is legitimized.”

My conversation with Atenea can be seen and heard here:


Lima Group Members Invoke Human Rights While Trampling On Them

As Lima Group members Columbia and Brazil foment unrest on Venezuela’s borders, their right-wing regimes routinely violate human rights in their own countries.

For The Real News Network, I met in Caracas with Venezuelan human rights activist Antonio Gonzalez Plessman to discuss the human rights situation in the region.

According to Mr. Gonzalez Plessman, Western governments and media are magnifying human rights violations in Venezuela while minimizing or ignoring altogether human rights violations by the governments of Lima Group members, including Colombia and Brazil.

My discussion with Mr. Gonzalez Plessman can be watched and heard here:

Venezuela’s Former Minister of Communes and Culture Talks to TRNN About the Crisis

For The Real News Network, I recently spoke in Caracas, Venezuela with Venezuela’s former Minister of Communes and Culture, Reinaldo Iturriza.

Mr. Iturriza argues that U.S. sanctions “were conceived to make it difficult for the Venezuelan government to recover from an already critical economic situation due to the drastic fall of oil prices.” Those sanctions, he says, have had “terrible effects” on Venezuela’s people.

Our discussion can be watched and heard here: