Caracas, Venezuela (VA) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro congratulated the people of Greece on their victory against the “financial terrorism of the International Monetary Fund” (IMF) after more than 60% of Greek the population voted to refuse the terms of a Eurozone bailout this past Sunday.
Yesterday, 61.3% of voters delivered a resounding triumph for the country’s “no” campaign in a historic referendum that could potentially lead to a Greek exit from the single currency Eurozone.
The vote was the result of months of relentless negotiations between the Greek government of Alexis Tsipras, elected on the back of an anti-austerity campaign, and the Eurozone Troika, made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The situation came to a head after talks failed to produce a mutually acceptable agreement between the Troika and the Syriza coalition government for paying the Greek national debt, which currently stands at around 174% of the country’s total GDP.
“I’ve already spoken to the ambassadors here and they are telling me that this victory is irreversible, the Greek people are already in the streets celebrating their victory, which we consider to be our victory as well, the brave people of Latin America, long live Greece! Long live Alexis Tsipras!” declared Maduro from a televised act in the country’s National Assembly attended by the Greek ambassador to Caracas on Sunday.
The heated negotiations, which have thrown into doubt the future of the Eurozone, have seen the Troika heavily criticised for intransigence by international observers and the Greek government.
The financial body has consistently blocked alternative payment plans put forward by the leftist Syriza administration, including paying the debt through increasing business taxes, in favour of imposing heavy cuts on Greek public services and pensions.
The austerity measures have been widely rejected by the majority of the Greek population and would doubtlessly exacerbate the already significant levels of poverty in the country.
“That is where we should be headed! Today, Greece gave a lesson to the world, today Greece said to the financial terrorists… to the elites of Europe, they told them that the Greek people will not bow down on bended knees, the Greek people has a right to live, and it will win and build its own path and economy, health to the people of Greece!” declared Maduro to applause during Venezuela’s independence day ceremony.
President Tsipras’ move to open up negotiations to Greek voters via a referendum has grabbed the attention of leftists across the globe, particularly in Latin America where a plethora of governments were elected on anti-neoliberal platforms following the debt crisis of the 1980s and 1990s.
Former Venezuelan president and leader of the Bolivarian revolution, Hugo Chavez, in particular has previously been named by Tsipras as a source of admiration and inspiration.
Chavez was elected in 1998 after more than a decade of heavy handed and unpopular IMF neoliberal economic measures which engulfed the country in extreme poverty and precipitated the 1989 uprising known as the Caracazo.
On coming to office, Chavez promised to build an economy based on social justice and to open up the country’s defunct political system to citizen participation. The Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela was passed by national referendum in 1999. His election represented a break between Venezuela and financial institutions such as the IMF.
“The people are speaking, just like the people of Venezuela in 1989, today the people of Greece spoke,” stated the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello.
An emergency eurozone summit has been scheduled for this coming Wednesday in a last ditch attempt to hammer out an agreement between Greece and its European creditors. It is widely expected that Greece will leave the Eurozone unless a deal is reached at the summit.
The rightwing press in Venezuela has interpreted the government’s praise of the Greek example as proof that it is taking the country “into bankruptcy”.