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Jomo Sanga Thomas.(iWN file photo)
Jomo Sanga Thomas.(iWN file photo)
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By Jomo Sanga Thomas*

(“Plain Talk”, Jan. 10, 2020)

“If your desire is to get a true picture of a country, it is better to go to the reference section of a good library than to gain your information through a guided tour from devoted government officials.” — Joe Slovo, South African revolutionary leader.

These words have stuck ever since I read them more than two decades ago. Since then, I have opened my eyes just a little more, listened just a little closer, paid more attention and became far more sceptical. (All to my benefit.)

On this trip to the land of Bolivar and Chavez, we traveled through Margarita, once a busy and thriving “city state”, where nationals from across the Caribbean came to shop and turn bargains into a livelihood. Today, Margarita has been reduced to little more than a sleepy town. You ask what caused the downturn, and the almost universal response points to the western sponsored blockage, led and directed by the American government. Are there dissenters? Yes, we found people who blamed the Chavistas and socialism. If they will only go away, one man said, things will be better.

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We took a ferry from Margarita to Cumana, a city in Sucre state, where we met people going about their business much as we do across the Caribbean. Some going to work or at work, others standing in line to collect cooking gas from a government facility, still others selling trinkets or begging. Others just liming on the street corners or in public spaces in the imposingly beautiful country.

Then the journey of a lifetime. We travelled, by car, for more than seven hours, sometimes at breakneck speed from Cumana to Caracas. We zipped through Miranda state and saw people, black like us, smiling, walking and working. Passing through towns and villages, we witnessed something truly creative and unique, people “set up shop” in the middle of the highway selling fruits, vegetables and juices to motorists. How did they do that?

There were speed bumps on the highway so motorists must slow down. In addition, these were convenient police checkpoints. Security did their jobs. People sold their goods. We saw no antagonism between the poor and the police as we witness daily on the streets of SVG.

Nothing however prepared us for what we witnessed in Caracas. We expected a dreary city with its lifeblood choked. We found a metropolis much like New York or Lagos; activity unlike Kingston or Bridgetown. View BBC, CNN and MSNBC or read the New York Times, Jamaica Gleaner or Trinidad Guardian, and they portray images of starving people eating out of garbage bins, empty shops and supermarkets, dirty streets and hungry children as the predominant way of life.

Clearly, this is a contrivance intended to make believe that the government is inept, corrupt, unable to govern, and things are falling apart. There are challenges, huge challenges. This is no attempt to sugar-coat reality. The inflation rate is beyond imagination. The exchange rate is 75,000 Bolivars to US$1. Things are tough for the poorer classes and may get even harder, but the media picture is grossly exaggerated. Moreover, many in the lower classes will not survive without government assistance. As it is in Jamaica and SVG as well.

We saw no evidence that people were dying from starvation. In Caracas, we saw no more begging than elsewhere in the Caribbean. We were pleasantly surprised by the dental health of the population; no missing teeth and only a few persons with rotting teeth. We learn that this great achievement was attained because of government-sponsored programme, “Smile Venezuela”.

Venezuela has been producing oil for about 100 years. The last twenty years is the first time in which most of the country’s resources were directed towards addressing the pressing needs of the people. For the commitment and choice away from the ruling and middle classes and towards the people, the Chavistas have been forced to fight for their survival. The West makes the economy scream thus creating hardships for the people.

In the face of the negative press Venezuela has received, we must remember not to forget that the revolution brought free health and dental care, free education and millions of homes for mostly ordinary citizens. How much more could have been achieved if the most powerful countries on earth will leave the people to choose their own path of development and refrain from their wrecking policies?

We were in Venezuela last Sunday when Juan Guaido, the Trojan horse of America, was soundly repudiated by the National assembly with the help and assistance of members of the conservative opposition. At the assembly session, Guaido assessed that he did not have the votes to be returned as President of the National Assembly refused to entry the chamber. He later untruthfully claimed that he was prevented from entering. He also falsely declared that there was not a quorum (minimum of 84 members) for the assembly meeting when, in fact, 115 members attended.

President Maduro, so often underrated as a bus driver and trade unionist, has proven to be a skilled strategist and tactician. Always speaking of dialogue, peace and the dignity of the Bolivarian Republic, he has outmanoeuvred his opponents. Amidst great odds and difficulties, he has held the republic together and continues to deliver necessities to the people.

It is not an easy task battling the most powerful forces on earth; forces that possess the economic, financial, cultural, political and military heft and the wherewithal to do serious harm to your country and survive. The proof of that power is reflected in the fact that the American government was able to impose the unknown Juan Guaido on the nation and hoist him onto the world stage. Fifty nations to recognise the usurper. When he was declared president, 85% of Venezuelans did not know who he was.  

A world order of independence and economic justice, respect for a nation’s sovereignty and right to self- determination is needed now more than ever. We must commit to fight for it or risk living in a world of endless wars and strife, deprivation, environment degradation and exploitation of the world’s peoples.

Venezuela is contributing towards the emergence of a new and better world. The least we can do is offer solidarity.

As the poet Claude Mc Kay says, “If we must die, let us all die like men.”

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

24 replies on “Oh Venezuela”

  1. JOMO relate to us this, “We were in Venezuela last Sunday when Juan Guaido, the Trojan horse of America, was soundly repudiated by the National assembly with the help and assistance of members of the conservative opposition”! Well JOMO, they say one picture is worth a thousand words and so it is!

    So here is the picture that betrays JOMO’s terrible lies and equally demonstrates for us, what is JOMO’s version of democracy, as we see it in action in Maduro’s Venezuela:

    Read JOMO’s account of events and contrast it with the picture; JOMO: “At the assembly session, Guaido assessed that he did not have the votes to be returned as President of the National Assembly refused to entry the chamber. He later untruthfully claimed that he was prevented from entering. Truly, for a Lawyer and Speaker of the House of Parliament, this man JOMO lacks all forms of credibility.

    Therefore when JOMO tells us that “President Maduro, so often underrated as a bus driver and trade unionist, has proven to be a skilled strategist and tactician”. We know otherwise! For the man Maduro, is nothing but a brute and a gross thug.

    Moreover, there were times when Jeromy Corbyn and his allies in the UK praised socialist Venezuela! However not so now!

    Why not? Because of Venezuela’s Failed Socialist Policies; Yep, up there in the UK the far left in the form of Jeromy Corbyn and his pals had stopped hailing Venezuela and their Socialist model at the time of the recent British election, once the scale of their shocking failures became self-evident. However for the pseudo-socialist diehards like JOMO, who most obviously have their head in the sand, this is not the case.

    Well JOMO, as we say, one picture is worth a thousand words!

    1. I will post the picture with Guaido at the entrance and where he refused to enter trough the gate. His attempt to climb over the fence was a stunt to augment his discredit claim to the presidency and to deflect from the fact that his own supporters in the legislator decided to abandon him.

    1. Jose, I thought these kind of silly statements died when the cold war past into history. Be more informed and come again with a more meaningful comment.

      1. This is pure propaganda, just as one of his previous pieces supported Cuba and the Castros. But why would he be inventing propagandist stories about Venezuela and Cuba, why? Is it because Cuba and Venezuela are in control of SVG? Does he need to do that to be able to continue in politics in SVG?

        Or have they put him on the payroll to keep him on side?

      2. James I think you have hit the nail squarely on the head, this is quite simply false news at its worst.

        I doubt he can go back to the US to live and work, be has burnt his bridges there. So the only way forward is to send him to live in Venezuela, it may be safer there for him than SVG.

        He is becoming a far bigger nuisance than before, since his boss allowed him to remove his muzzle.

        Anyone who supports the dirty Maduro regime, does not deserve to live in SVG.

  2. We really have to again ask did JOMO ever depart SVG. Note; “Fleeing by foot: The Venezuela exodus grows. Fleeing Venezuela, caminantes travel hundreds of kilometres by foot to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and beyond” as millions of Venezuelans seek to avoid deprivation elsewhere.

    In November 2019 it was reported that “Venezuela is being kept afloat by hundreds of millions of dollars shipped from Russia, reports suggest, as it struggles to survive crippling US sanctions”.

    “Venezuela kept afloat thanks to US $315 million in cash sent from Russia, customs records suggest.”

    But as the “Opposition leader Juan Guaido struggles to maintain momentum in his bid to remove President Maduro” it does not change the facts that Venezuela is a now “basket case.”

    Venezuela is the perfect example of the result of applying a failed socialist dogma and equally failed economics in a country that was once one of the richest in South America. Vincentians too are slowly going the same sad way of failure and decline and are having to rely on Grant Aid for survival. Something JOMO has either turned a blind eye to or his 1960’s schooling in Marxism has wedded him to a denial or just simple blindness.

    Moreover, above all in regards to the man and his report. This on the ground report by another person, shows Opposition leader Juan Guaido struggling to enter the building in question. The Venezuelan Parliament building in JOMO’s filing. The same and the incident would thus cause us to question the sincerity of the man JOMO, who for some time now would have us believe that he is indeed truly to be trusted.

    But to his shame, would anyone buy a second hand car from this man JOMO after this false report of his?

  3. James H that was a stunt after the fact. Do you see any security personnel in that picture? If they blocked him at the gate would they allow him over the fence? You guys need to stop depending on the establishment media for your info and do some leg work for yourself. I will bet for all of your big talk you never once went to Venezuela.

  4. Watch there in the video as Juan Guaidó desperately tried to climb over a fence to enter the National Assembly building and being prevented to do so by several security individuals wearing caps, security visors and brandishing their security shields!

    Not so says JOMO! It would appear that JOMO is in profound denial here. What we have there as presented in the video are the factual evidence as proof, but to JOMO however, there is nothing to be seen but Scotch Mist!

  5. James I would like to congratulate you on the great work and in depth research which helps expose the shysters for what they are.

  6. Oh dear what can the matter be
    And what can the matter be
    Oh dear what can the matter be
    Jomo bydes lang at the trough

    He’ll buy us a twopenny whistle
    He’ll buy us a threepenny fair
    He’ll buy us a Bunch o’ silly stories
    To try and fool us all there

    Oh we saw him going
    And saw him coming
    Oh saw him coming from where
    Outed from the party, hurah

  7. Jomo I think that you should start your political party because your media collum is not convincing anyone. You keep yourself relevant every week by posting some shit that people react to because of the role you played some time ago as SVG Speaker of the House. SVG People may forgave you but it will take some years to remove the stain on your reputation for being a Stooge and a Puppet. Nearly half the people in SVG have no jobs, 46% of the families are disenfranchised, we don’t give a shit about Venezuela, we have no interest there, address the problems facing SVG. That’s better.

  8. Who are jolly green and James ?
    Their comments in any article tell you exactly who they are and their sully purpose in life…
    A famous group of singers called the O’Jays created a song about people like this flacid duo called “The Backstabbers”

  9. Oh Venezuela!

    The Venezuelan nightmare that JOMO says does not exist! So let the people speak for themselves as he who feels it, experiences it, and sure knows.

  10. Well YAGZ you wish to know “who are Jolly and James”? I will speak for myself and tell you who I am! I am a Vincentian who is of a very, very free mind and who cannot ever be made a slave of anyone. If you cannot free yourself, that is your choice.

    I present facts for others to see, so that they too, after close examination, may be able to free themselves too as I have done. Free from the results of many years of plantation slavery and from those who would wish to use the descendants of African Slaves as their cat’s paw.

    You too YAGZ are quite free to present the alternative narrative as you see it or other facts before us but one would assume that you are not yet so courageous or ever fear the master’s wrath!

    These are your slavery days YAGZ! Not mine however.

  11. Jomo I want you to respond to this as Ralph said you left the ULP and now you are dead politically. It reminds me of the Anesia. Now Jomo you are dead wrong morally in the eyes of the Vinncentian public. Please answer this one Jomo.

  12. No sé José, its not up to Ralph its up to the Cuban communist party, they are in control now. Jomo has got to be seen doing and saying the things the Cubans want to hear.

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