1/ Neoliberal ideology; 2/ Subservience to Washington; 3/ Promote interests of Canada’s mining sector.
No 2448 Posted by fw, March 9, 2019
“The legitimacy of President Maduro is still in dispute, people are starving and leaving the country. It’s a country in crisis, that much can be agreed upon. But it can be hard to find the middle ground between the different points of view regarding the reasons for the crisis. Today’s interview guest walks that middle line well. Yes, there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Few people would say that’s not true. But the reasons for it are not being told in the media, except in the progressive press. He went on a fact-finding mission to Caracas for The Real News from February 1-8, 2019 to talk to both the supporters and the critics of Nicolas Maduro.” —rabble.ca
Dimitri Lascaris is a Montreal-based lawyer, journalist and human rights activist.
This repost is presented in two segments.
First segment — The above passage is the bulk of the text of rabble’s short article to introduce the embedded audio track of 26 minutes of a 30-minute, Feb. 10 interview of Lascaris, by Dave Kattenburg of The Green Blues Show, a music and social justice podcast produced in Winnipeg by The Green Planet Monitor. In addition to the brief text and sound track, rabble includes this disclosure –
“One of Dimitri Lascaris current cases is a lawsuit against the Liquor Control Board of Ontario over the sale of two wines produced in Israel’s illegal settlements. Those wines are sold in Canada bearing labels which, the plaintiffs say, falsely proclaim them to be “Product of Israel”. David Kattenburg is the man who has filed the lawsuit against the LCBO. He is also a close friend of Lascaris but they don’t work together on cases related to Venezuela.”
Second segment – I present my transcript of a 3-minute portion of the full 30-minute version of the audio interview of Dimitri Lascaris about his one-week fact-finding mission to Caracas, Venezuela. This segment includes an embedded SoundCloud audio of the full interview. The transcript of the 3-minute section, which comes towards the end of the interview, focuses entirely on Dimitri’s response to the interviewer’s question: “Why is Canada, the government of Canada, kind of leading the way in putting the screws on Venezuela?”
Dimitri’s vivid and compelling description of his visit is worth listening to in its entirety. To access the posts on the two reporting websites, just click on the following two linked titles.
The political situation in Venezuela is a subject of extremely polarized debate which will likely continue for many months, if not years.
The legitimacy of President Maduro is still in dispute, people are starving and leaving the country. It’s a country in crisis, that much can be agreed upon. But it can be hard to find the middle ground between the different points of view regarding the reasons for the crisis. Today’s interview guest walks that middle line well. Yes, there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Few people would say that’s not true. But the reasons for it are not being told in the media, except in the progressive press.
Dimitri Lascaris is a lawyer, journalist and activist best known for his support of justice for Palestine. In July 2016, he retired from the full time practice of law in order to devote more time to activism and journalism. Among other things, he is now a correspondent and board member of The Real News Network.
He went on a fact-finding mission to Caracas for The Real News from February 1-8, 2019 to talk to both the supporters and the critics of Nicolas Maduro.
I spoke with Dimitri by Skype. Here’s that conversation. (To begin or pause playback, click on upper left white arrow in red circle)
PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT BEGINNING AT 23:10, ENDING AT 26:12
David Kattenburg — Why does the Canadian government take the position that it takes vis-à-vis Venezuela? Why is Canada, the government of Canada, kind of leading the way in putting the screws on Venezuela?
Dimitri Lascaris — I think there are basically three reasons.
The first is ideological. Whatever the Liberals say, however they may be characterized – sometimes I even see them being characterized as being centre-left, which I find laughable – they are a neoliberal government. Ideologically, they are neoliberal. They have no problem with massive disparities of wealth. They don’t talk about the poor. When has Justin Trudeau ever talked about the poor? He keeps saying “We going to grow the middle class, grow the middle class.” But does he actually talk about the poor and the plight of the poor, the homeless? No he doesn’t. These people are ideologically neoliberal and they are hostile, ideologically, to Chavismo, which is essentially socialism. That’s number one.
Number two. It’s subservient to the United States government. Overwhelmingly, Canada’s foreign policy is aligned with that of the United States, even in the case of the world’s most egregious human rights violators – like Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt, and others. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that we are vulnerable in many ways here in Canada to the dictates of the US government because of the power of the American economy and the fact that the dollar is the reserve currency, the fact we have this enormous amount of trade between our two countries. Any Canadian leader would be quite concerned about alienating a presidential administration in the United States, or alienating the US Congress. And so that’s part of it.
And I think the third thing is we have an economy in Canada that is highly dependent on the extractive sector. We have the largest number of mining companies in the world. We have the largest mining stock exchange – the Toronto Stock Exchange – in the world. And Venezuela is not just an oil-rich country. Venezuela is an extremely resource-rich country in many respects — I mean in terms of minerals, for example. And one of the companies that has tried to exploit the resources there is a Canadian company called Crystallex. When its relationship with the Chavez government soured, it brought a claim for a very large sum of money – I can’t remember the amount of money – in Canadian courts. There was a ruling recently that Crystallex can go after oil assets of the Venezuelan government in the United States in order to satisfy a judgement arising from what it regards as contractual violations by the Venezuelan government, which is more concerned about its own people than it is about foreign interests.
So this is an opportunity, I think, in the minds of Chrystia Freeland and Justin Trudeau to promote the interests of Canada’s mining sector. You can be damn sure that if Guaidó comes to power there are going to be a number of Canadian extractive companies lining up to do business in Venezuela.
26:12 END OF THIS SECTION ~ END OF THIS REPOST
FAIR USE NOTICE – For details click here