Hurricane Irma lays bare France’s Venezuela hypocrisy

Hurricane Irma has just passed through
the Caribbean, in a procession of tragedies that have destroyed lives and left
material damage behind.
In response to this natural disaster,
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro sent humanitarian aid to Cuba, Antigua and
Barbuda (with 95% of buildings in Barbuda destroyed), and the French colony of
Saint Martin on September 10.
Speaking from Caracas airport, Venezuela’s
Minister of Interior Nestor Reverol Torres said the donation, including 10 tons
of clothing, mattresses, potable water and non-perishable food, was being done
within “a framework of respect and solidarity with the people of Saint Martin”.
He said the humanitarian aid would be delivered
by a Venezuelan military plane as “part of the international cooperation that
falls within the framework of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our
Americas (ALBA)”, the solidarity-based anti-imperialist trading bloc initiated
by Venezuela and Cuba in 2004.
Few media outlets in Paris paid attention to
this gesture by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Yet it raises questions
that few journalists have bothered to ask; the same journalists who only a few
weeks ago were so willing to repeatedly denounce Venezuela.
This precious help, from a country facing an
economic crisis, has exposed the incoherence of the position taken by French
President Emmanuel Macron.
Only three weeks ago, Macron called the
government of President Nicolas Maduro a dictatorship. What mystery of our
diplomacy explains why France now supports cooperation ties, of whatever type,
with an undemocratic regime? Is there any coherence in our country’s diplomacy
or did Hurricane Irma disorientate our foreign policy?
Why is the French government authorising a
military plane that has come from a dictatorship to land on our territory?
Given France continues to be sovereign in both
its management of risk situations and natural disasters, it must have
authorised the arrival of aid from the Venezuelan government.
And if, as foreign minister Quai d’Orsay said on
August 30, France should “evaluate our relations with Venezuela on the basis of
the rule of law and fundamental liberties”, then it would seem that the
updating of diplomatic ties amid the ruins of Irma indicates that Paris has
“evaluated” the political situation in Venezuela in a positive light. Recent
declarations by our ambassador in Caracas also point in this same direction.
The French government knows the Venezuelan
government is no dictatorship. But for media and political purposes, the
president has decided to subordinate our country’s diplomacy to dodgy political
tactics against the left-wing La France Insoumise (FI, France
Macron has sought to use the state apparatus for
his own party’s purposes, which is extremely worrying.
How could it be any different? As each day
passes, the pro-people proposals contained in the FI’s program, “A Common
Future”, as shown to be correct.
The humanitarian aid sent by Venezuela occurred
within the framework of regional solidarity promoted by ALBA, which includes
various Caribbean countries. This is the same famous ALBA that FI leader
Jean-Luc Melenchon wants France to join, much in the same way as France
participates in other regional bodies, such as the Organisation of Eastern
Caribbean States, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Association of
Caribbean States.
As far as we know, no other regional
organisation has sent aid to victims in Saint Martin.
What will the members of the media-political caste
do now? Will they protest against the humanitarian aid sent by ALBA to our
compatriots? Will they dare, after Irma, to raise the FI’s proposal that France
join ALBA?
And what will Macron do during his trip to the
area? Will he publicly thank the “Venezuelan dictatorship”? Will he launch a
process for France to join ALBA?
It seems the tailwinds of Hurricane Irma have
considerably damaged what little coherence was left within the French state.
[Translated and
slightly abridged by Federico
Fuentes for Green Left Weekl