Trinidad and Tobago Oilfields Workers' Trade Union expressed solidarity with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday, in wake of a month-long, sometimes violent protests led by the right-wing opposition that has left 39 people dead in the country.
“We are opposed to the opposition forces in Venezuela. We join arms with the suffering people in Venezuela, suffering which comes as a result of the opposing forces and their actions,” Ancel Roget, president general, said at the Venezuelan Embassy in Port of Spain, according to Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday.
OWTU is one of the most powerful trade unions in Trinidad and Tobago. Three other union representatives also read statements expressing their support for Maduro and his government.
Roget said they were gathered to express solidarity for the Venezuelan government, the people of Venezuela, and for the Bolivarian Revolution.
Venezuela's opposition has, with support of much of the international mainstream media, decried Maduro as an autocrat who has wrecked the nation's economy and demanded elections to resolve the political crisis, while the government has slammed the opposition for endorsing violence in the streets.
Key opposition leaders have attempted to portray the deaths as examples of state repression, despite evidence to the contrary and similarities to the 2014 right-wing opposition-led guarimbas violence. Mainstream media have by and large echoed this version of events, using titles like “Venezuelan Regime Has Blood On Its Hands” and “Venezuela's Tiananmen Moment."
“The story is not properly told and the mass media is carrying a different line,” Roget said. “The mass media is carrying the line of the opposing forces, the dark forces in Venezuela, which are hell bent on the intent to undermine, to circumvent and topple the democratically elected government.”
On Thursday, Venezuela’s opposition leader Julio Borges travelled to Lima to meet with Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski as part of an effort to shore up greater international support for a “democratic agenda.” Howeverm the Venezuelan government has called for dialogue and elections, as well as convening a constituent assembly.
Roget said there is misinformation propogated by the mass media throughout the Caribbean region which suggests that Maduro does not have the vast support of working people in the region. Venezuelan Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago Coromoto Godoy Calderon said she was happy to see the support of the working class of Trinidad and Tobago and she described Maduro as a president of the working class.
Right before the International Workers' Day, President Maduro announced an increase to the minimum wage by 60 percent and a rise in food stamps by 15 percent in order to protect workers from the effects of the economic war.
Standoff in Venezuela
Last week, Maduro announced he would call a National Constituent Assembly with the purpose of “transforming the state," while also reaffirming support for dialogue with the opposition.
Calderon said the call for a new constituent assembly will deepen the rights of the people by “defending democracy and socialism in Venezuela. Social inclusion and social justice.”
Seventeen opposition parties accepted to meet with the government to discuss the matter, while right-wing parties in the MUD coalition — the Democratic Unity Roundtable — are still refusing to sit with the government whhich calls into question there commitment to a democratic solution to the country's political impasse.
“At this time the dark forces of imperialism are attacking our country,” Calderon said. “Because we come from (Venezuelan liberator Simón) Bolívar and (late former president Hugo ) Chavez we will defend our land, our solidarity, our independence, with our own life if necessary.”