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      Vancouver Activists in Defence of the Venezuelan Revolution

      By Janine Solanki

      Venezuela today is engaged in a struggle between the past and the future. The Bolivarian Revolution is working to take Venezuela forward to a future of equality, dignity and progress. The US-backed right wing forces are using an economic war, media manipulation, violence and terrorism to take Venezuela back to massive inequality and poverty before Bolivarian Revolution. Venezuelans have seen and felt the gains of the Bolivarian Revolution, such as a new constitution which was their first to be approved by popular referendum, in which human rights, women's rights, Indigenous rights and even environmental rights are enshrined. Thanks to a popular campaign that eliminated illiteracy, everyone is now able to read and write. Venezuelan Missions have made huge gains to provide housing, education, healthcare, literacy and subsidized food for low income people and even to promote art and culture.

      With threats of violence, the opposition called for a “takeover of Caracas” on September 1st 2016. In response, the Venezuelan revolutionary government called on people to hold peaceful protests in support of the Bolivarian Revolution on the same day. This call was answered with massive rallies in cities throughout Venezuela, which demonstrated the will of the Venezuelan people to defend their revolution. The Committee for International Solidarity (COSI) in Venezuela called for global days of action in defense of the sovereignty and self-determination of Venezuela from August 29 to September 4.

      Action One:

      In Vancouver, Canada, Fire This Time's Venezuela Solidarity Campaign answered this call and organized a petition drive and information table in Downtown Vancouver on September 2nd. Armed with Venezuelan flags, picket signs and banners reading “US Hands Off Venezuela” and “Yes to Peace!” the presence of solidarity with Venezuela was impossible to miss for anyone walking by. Supporters and activists handed out information on Venezuela and many people stopped to sign a petition against US sanctions and threats against Venezuela, including against the threatening and hypocritical US Executive Order which decrees that Venezuela is an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. Supporters also participated in a twitter campaign, tweeting photos of themselves with signs reading #ElChavismoSeMueve (Chavismo is moving) and #NoAlGolpeEnVenezuela (no to coup in Venezuela).

      Action two:

      Alongside organizing this emergency action, FTT's Venezuela Solidarity Campaign continued with a monthly protest that has been organized since December 2015, in defense of the sovereignty and self-determination of the people of Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution. On September 9th, the protest action began outside of the US Consulate in Downtown Vancouver. Protesters picketed and chanted “US Hands Off Venezuela!” and “Obama Repeal the Decree Now!” Following the picket, protesters setup down the street outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery for the petition drive and info display “Maduro is our President!”. This monthly action aims to combat the demonizing media campaign against Venezuela, and to engage in discussions with people passing by about what is really happening in Venezuela.

      In addition to direct actions in defense of Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution, Fire This Time has also supported initiatives promoting the art and culture of Venezuela. On September 22nd the Consulate of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Vancouver organized “Venezuela in Motion”, the 3rd edition of a cinematic event highlighting new Venezuelan films. Fire This Time attended and supported the event, as well as had an informational table at the event with brochures from FTT's Venezuela Solidarity Campaign and articles in defense of Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution. Fire This Time members, along with others in the audience, can attest to Venezuela's talent in film-making and appreciate the support of the Venezuelan government for their vibrant film scene.

      Fire This Time's Venezuela Solidarity Campaign encourages all peace-loving people to join in defending Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution. For more info on the campaign, check out www.firethistime.net, and join us for the next protest action!

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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