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      Vancouver Activists Defend Venezuela Against Attempted Coup and Sanctions

      By Janine Solanki

      In January 2019, the U.S. backed an attempted coup against Venezuela’s democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro. The Venezuelan people came out in full force and defeated the coup attempt with massive demonstrations. However, the U.S. government refused to respect the voices of the Venezuelan people and their right to self-determination. On April 30th Juan Guaidó, the U.S. puppet who has declared himself the “president” of Venezuela, made another attempt at a coup.

      After two coup attempts failed in Venezuela, the U.S. government turned their sights to the property of the Venezuelan government in the U.S. Secret Service and police facilitated the illegal takeover of the Venezuelan military attaché building in Washington DC, and the Venezuelan Consulate in New York City on March 18. On the invitation of the Venezuelan government, a group of activists formed the Embassy Protection Collective to guard the Venezuelan Embassy against an illegal takeover by the goons of U.S. puppet Juan Guaidó. For 37 days the embassy was protected, in the face of harassment, blockades of food deliveries, break-in attempts and the shutting off of water and electricity. On May 15, federal agents broke into the embassy, in contravention of international law, and arrested the remaining embassy protectors. Further violating the Vienna Convention, the U.S. State Department has allowed a fake so-called “ambassador” to occupy the Venezuelan embassy

      All of these aggressive actions are in addition to the criminal blockade that the U.S., Canada and European Union have imposed on Venezuela. These illegal sanctions have taken the lives of 40,000 people according to a recent study by the U.S. Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR). One tragic example occurred on May 24, 2019, when a seven-year-old boy became the second child to die while waiting for a bone marrow transplant. His life-saving procedure would have been performed under an international medical agreement between Venezuela and Italy, which due to U.S. sanctions has been suspended.

      Here in Vancouver, Canada, activists and supporters are standing in solidarity with the Venezuelan people. On May 10th, Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign held a monthly protest action demanding U.S./Canada Hands Off Venezuela! The action started with a picket in front of the U.S. Consulate in downtown Vancouver, where activists raised their picket signs and voices high in defense of Venezuela. At this time the activists protecting the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington DC were in their intense final days before their arrest, and Vancouver activists showed their support with a banner reading “Solidarity with the Embassy Protection Collective!” After a customary group photo with picket signs, banners and Venezuelan flags under the U.S. Consulate sign, the protest continued to the busy Robson Square in downtown Vancouver. A huge Venezuelan flag and a massive banner attracted people to the information table, where organizers were ready to talk to curious passersby about what is really happening in Venezuela and to provide them literature to take and petitions to sign.

      Now more than ever, we must stand in defense of Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination! To find out about the next FTT Venezuela Solidarity Campaign action visit www.firethistime.net, or follow on Facebook, on Twitter @FTT_np and on Instagram at ftt.venezuela!

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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