The PT government and leftwing politicians remain cautious, not to say silent, in the face of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro's threats to annex the Essequibo territory in Guyana. No one has shown up to fight, probably waiting for the crisis to cool down. And when newspapers deal with the issue, the sources are almost always “people close to the president,” “Brazilian diplomacy,” “Lula’s advisers,” “parliamentarians from his support base,” etc.
To find out what progressives really think about the issue, you have to go down a few steps and wander through the large “red” network of websites, blogs and YouTube channels. In this more “alternative” environment, party leaders, university professors, politicians who currently have no mandate, journalists, influencers and activists in general can affirm their admiration for Maduro.
In general, there are no supporters of a military invasion of Guyana. But not because they consider the consequences of the violence for the Guyanese people but because of fear of sending US troops to the region. Ultimately, everything revolves around the USA and the fight against “imperialism”.
In an interview with the website Brasil 247, former MP, former president of the PT and former prisoner José Genoino explains: “It is Venezuela's right to discuss English imperialism.” He also mentions and condemns the presence of the American company Exxon Mobil in Guyana “which exploits the region’s oil in a unique and monopolistic way.”
The oil company is also the target of a text in the magazine Fórum. “Exxon Mobil: The linchpin of the conflict between Venezuela and Guyana has a whiff of brimstone,” reads the headline of the article by journalist Yuri Ferreira. According to him, the company's “current record” is “just a scandal” and includes episodes of torture and rape.
The same forum still managed to forge an unlikely connection between Venezuelans, Guyanese, guru Jim Jones and, believe it or not, Jair Bolsonaro. In the article “Essequibo was the scene of the tragedy of the Jim Jones sect during the crisis in Guyana and Venezuela,” journalist and professor of Brazilian literature Henrique Rodrigues explains: “Sometimes compared to Bolsonarism, due to the megalomaniacal delirium and unhealthy.” Due the loyalty of his subjects, the mad leader’s movement drove more than 900 Americans to suicide.”
The Opera Mundi website, hosted on the UOL portal, has reproduced statements from members of the Maduro government and published proannexation texts. One of them, entitled “Two Hundred Years of History: Why Essequibo Belongs to the Venezuelan People,” states: “A fraudulent court appointed by England and the United States ruled in 1899 that this territory should pass to the former British Guiana.” A historical fraud , on which his heirs from the Cooperative Republic of Guyana relied not to negotiate peacefully with Venezuela and agree on the return of Essequibo.”
The author of the text (shared by several other leftwing blogs), Venezuelan Anisio Pires a social scientist graduated from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and also a contributor to the PT's official website also says: “The authorities in Guyana have submitted to certain colonialist agreements with the multinational Exxon Mobil and nonsovereign pacts with the United States government since 2015, allowing provocative and dangerous incursions into their territory by US Southern Command troops and also threatening movements to carry out the territory claimed by Venezuela”.
In the newspaper Brasil de Fato, Eduardo Vasco (known as a “journalist specializing in international politics”) writes that “by claiming Essequibo, Venezuela is also defending Brazil's interests.” Because “if the conflict is between Caracas and imperialism, the left is absolutely right to support Maduro.” Nevertheless, according to Vasco, “the government of Nicolás Maduro has always avoided a military solution, preferring the diplomatic sphere to resolve the problem.”
Opera Mundi's founder, journalist Breno Altman, has been known for his support of Hamas since the attacks against Israel in October last year. But he also comments on the current tensions in South America. For him, Venezuela is the “victim of this story” and Guyana is allowing itself to be exploited by the Americans, who want to make economic and military progress on the continent.
At the end of a 50minute video on the subject, Altman gives President Lula some advice: “It would be good if he brought order to his defense minister [José Múcio] and other members of the government who, gratifyingly, appear to be serving North American interests in South America by treating Venezuela as an enemy and Guyana as a victim of alleged or possible Venezuelan aggression.”
For progressives, the media stigmatizes the figure of the Venezuelan dictator
Bruno Altman also attacks the “rightwing press” that only “reflects the position of the White House” and stigmatizes the position of Nicolás Maduro, labeling it “untimely, bellicose and aggressive.”
Another press critic, the professor and trade unionist Elenira Vilela (who made headlines this week for saying that former first lady Michelle Bolsonaro “must be destroyed”), stated in a live broadcast: “The reason for all the fuss about “The way Maduro speaks is a problem because Venezuela is part of what the hereditary and hegemonic media calls the axis of evil.”
In the magazine Fórum, geographer and writer Francisco Fernandes Ladeira comments: “As we know, when we talk about 'international news from the mainstream press', we are also talking about 'manipulation by proimperialist interests.'” Particularly when we talk about Venezuela , we are dealing with even more manipulation. This is where all these clichés, Manichaeisms, typifications and false narratives arise: “the dictator Maduro,” “the Bolivarian dictatorship,” “populism,” “Venezuelans eat dogs,” “a country in constant chaos,” “warlord.” , “Chavismo is synonymous with Bolsonarism” and so on”.
The newspapers' handling of the dispute was also the subject of a series of contributions by João Pedro Stédile, one of the MST's key leaders. “The work of disinformation and manipulation is impressive, with its clear positioning in favor of the US in the Essequibo case,” he explained on X/Twitter.
Elsewhere, Stédile says: “The conflict now lies with the people of Venezuela, who are defending their heritage against the interests of the Exxon company.” So simple. In two decades, when the oil runs out, they will accept it and say that the territory has actually always been Venezuelan, since Simón Bolívar's struggle.”
Maduro's electoral motivation is taken for granted by leftists
For many analysts, the return to the Essequibo question and the subsequent referendum on annexation is nothing more than a factoid created by Nicolás Maduro to protect himself in view of this year's presidential elections. For the left, however, the maneuver is normal, legitimate, “part of the game.”
In a report on the issue published in Brasil de Fato, Rafael Araújo, professor of American history at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, believes that Maduro has achieved two benefits from the public consultation. “One of them is to mobilize the base of the ruling party PSUV and unite them to prepare the political and social base that supports the president for next year's election. The other is to divert the focus from the reorganization of the oppositions for the election, as there was a broad mobilization of the Venezuelan electorate in the opposition primaries.”
For the geographer Iole Ilíada, who took part in a live broadcast to discuss the annexation promoted by Opera Mundi, the Bolivarian governments have never been particularly fond of the issue. And the referendum, in their opinion, was an opportunity to mobilize the population and show that Maduro was aware of this. In the same debate, historian and YouTuber Jones Manoel (PCB candidate for governor of Pernambuco in 2022) called the Venezuelan opposition “stupid” for not supporting the election.
The general secretary of the São Paulo Forum and member of the PT's national executive committee, psychologist Mônica Valente, took the dictator's electoral opportunism lightly. In an interview with the CNN website in which she defended Venezuela's right to claim the Essequibo, she said: “Maybe it has something to do with the election, yes.” But it could also be because Guyana has licenses for the Offshore oil exploration, on which there is no decision yet.”
As you can see, the government remains silent but sends its messages through third parties.