professor of international law Alfred de Zayas - Venezuela Coup d'état
Alfred De Zayas is professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, expert in the field of human rights and international law and UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order.
In a 72 minute masterclass on history and international law, mr. Alfred De Zayas explains in no uncertain terms that there lies an obligation on all countries (including Spain) to promote the right to self determination and ultimately, yes, that could mean secession, as is the case with Catalonia. More on that towards the end of an interview that starts with Venezuela.
De Zayas: ‘what shocks me in the case of Venezuela is not that a demented president [red.Trump] wants to irrigate upon himself the right to determine “I want this person as president of Venezuela and I want this person as whatever” but the fact that the Dutch the French the Spaniards the Canadians have followed suit so you have here actually a revolt against international law carried out not by banana republics but is carried out by countries that claim to be committed to democracy rule of law and human rights’.
De Zayas compares how article 233 of the Venezuela constitution is falsely quoted in an effort to support regime change to Guaido, much like how then president Bush used the narrative of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ as a pretext for war in Iraq. And just like back then a collusion with the main stream media, including channels like the BBC, makes the narrative palatable to the public. But there are more parallels, de Zayas says, that can be drawn in history. For instance when in Chile Salvador Allende was elected, the United States was ‘not going to tolerate an alternative social economic model, taking hold in Latin America’, which resulted in the military junta of Pinochet in 1973.
The reason for the fight over power in Venezuela now, is who gets to make money off of the natural resources (petroleum, minerals and so on) of Venezuela. They have one of the largest reserves in the world. That increased the standard of living dramatically, but got hit with the drop in global oil prices in 2014 and US sanctions. De Zayas: ‘the United States has made it impossible for Venezuela to borrow and then the banks don't transfer the money so it's a concerted effort to asphyxiate the economy and the amazing thing is that this effort has been going on now for the last four five years full fledged. full fledged economic war against Maduro and Maduro has not fallen from power’.
Julian Assange sought and got asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. De Zayas illustrates how new leadership in Ecuador since then and how, under Lenín Moreno Assange is isolated even further, in violation of international law: an example of ‘lawfare’: ‘it's called lawfare when you use the machinery of the law for purposes of injustice, to undermine the rule of law’.
So when all this is allowed to take place, what’s left of the legitimacy of the United Nations? ‘Well as you know the United Nations is not António Guterres it's not the secretary-general. The United Nations is 193 States and each state has its own geopolitical interests. Each state has its axe to grind so it's difficult to get everybody on board if you’re trying to do something for somebody. For example the working group on arbitrary detention has on more than one occasion called upon the United Kingdom to implement its recommendations in the judgement dating 2016 it's already three years old and the man has had to suffer three additional years’.
It’s the American recipe: ‘Might is Right. and Trump is certainly a principal practitioner’. But Trump got into office by also making the point to not intervene anymore, to focus on America. ‘He's betrayed his own program, just like Lenín Moreno has betrayed his. Trump has abandoned this shall we say attractive aspect of his non-interventionist stands at the time of the campaign. He referred to Iraq and the American adventure in Iraq as a disaster he referred to Libya as a disaster but he wants to create another Libya in Venezuela. And then what is shall we say obscene is to invoke human rights to destroy human rights and to invoke the rule of law to destroy the rule of law’.
Alfred de Zayas has no political ambitions himself. Where his heart lies is with poetry: ‘when I'm translating it's like therapy. I forget all the woes in the world and nonsense that's going on around me and for two or three hours I am in Rilke’s world or in Hesse's world and I feel satisfied, happy, contended.’