International Trade Unions Condemn Recognition of Guaidó as Venezuela’s Interim President

Congressman Juan Guaidó of the Popular Will party, president of the National Assembly since January 5, was sworn in on January 23 before a crowd as Venezuela’s interim president. (Credit: National Assembly)

By Ivar Andersen

CARACAS, Venezuela, Monday April 1, 2019 (IPS) – More
than 60 countries have recognized Juan Guaidó as legitimate interim president.
But among international trade unions, support for Venezuelan self-determination
is resolute.

On January 23, the leader of the National Assembly, Guaidó,
declared himself interim president of Venezuela. His claim on the presidency
was immediately recognized by the United States who, through Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo, called for the world to “pick a side”.

A little over 60 countries have followed in the footsteps of the
United States, according to information from Al Jazeera. On February 4, Sweden
joined the list.

“Sweden supports and acknowledges Juan Guaidó as the leader of the
National Assembly and, in accordance with the country’s constitution, his
attempts to serve as interim President of Venezuela, now responsible for making
sure free and fair democratic elections will be called,” said Margot Wallström,
Minister for Foreign Affairs, in a statement that stressed the importance of
solving the crisis peacefully.

The international trade union movement on the other hand, has
chosen a different approach. On the same day as Guaidó declared himself
president, the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA), released a harsh
statement:

“We condemn the unilateral decision adopted . . . by a group of
governments of the region, notably led by the USA, to ignore the legitimacy of
the government of President Maduro and to recognize the self-proclaimed
’president of the transition’, representative Juan Guaidó.”

TUCA is calling upon the government of Venezuela and the
opposition to seek out dialogue, and for the international community to support
this, but also states that the support for Guaidó “is a grave act of
interference and intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign country,
setting back the region to times we thought belonged to the past, in which
coups d’état and military dictatorships were instigated”.

Many national trade union confederations have taken the same
position. South Africa’s largest confederations Cosatu and Saftu condemn what
they both call a “coup attempt”.

Trade unions in Canada are protesting the government’s decision to
recognize Guaidó. The trade union confederation CLC writes that it supports
“the Venezuelan people’s right to peaceful self-determination”.

The country’s largest trade union, the Canadian Union of Public
Employees, states that Canada “has chosen to side with Donald Trump and US
foreign policy”, while the Canadian Union of Postal Workers calls the Canadian
standpoint “deeply disturbing” and “ in direct violation of international law”.

The global union IndustriALL condemns the acknowledgement of
Guaidó and “also rejects the external boycott, which has clear political and
economic motives that violate Venezuela’s sovereignty”.

The relationship between the International Trade Union
Confederation (ITUC) and Venezuela has been tense for some time, due to the
fact that the country’s leadership doesn’t acknowledge ITUC’s affiliate ASI.
But the ITUC also opposes foreign interference in the matter of the presidency.

“Concerning the Presidency of Venezuela, that is a matter for the
people of Venezuela to decide, not any other entity outside of the country,”
says Director of Communications Tim Noonan to Arbetet Global.

The ITUC also refers to its statement on Venezuela, which was
adopted by the organisation’s world congress in December last year, before
Guaidó’s challenge.

“The ITUC supports its affiliates in Venezuela in their struggle
to strengthen democracy and dialogue, and the workers and people of Venezuela
in dealing with the enormous difficulties that they are experiencing due to the
economic blockade imposed on Venezuela.”

The Swedish Trade Union Confederation, LO, is in favour of
humanitarian aid and UN led reconcilliation efforts. The international
department stresses that the LO does not take sides in the question of the
presidency, but does take a swing at foreign involvement.

“The unstable political situation is worsened by superpowers like China, the United States, and Russia trying to manoeuvre the political map,” says Åsa Törnlund, union officer responsible for South America.

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