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      Solidarity Activists Building A United Front To Defend Venezuela!

      By Janine Solanki

      Today Venezuela is continuing to stand strong against the non-stop campaign of destabilization and brutal sanctions against Venezuela carried out by the U.S. government and their allies, including Canada. Every day, the people of Venezuela face shortages of goods, fuel, food, medicine, and daily necessities resulting from inhuman, brutal, and heavy imperialist sanctions and blockade. These attacks on Venezuela include the unjust imprisonment of Venezuelan Diplomat Alex Saab, who was arrested while in Cape Verde en route to Iran to negotiate shipments offuel and humanitarian supplies for Venezuela. Since being kidnapped by the United States government on October 16, 2021, he has been held in jail in Miami awaiting trial on trumped up money laundering charges.

      In Canada, activists have come together to demand that U.S/Canada Hands Off Venezuela! These monthly virtual picket actions are Organized by Venezuela Peace Committee in Winnipeg and the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, and Just Peace Advocates with the support of Venezuela solidarity organizations and individuals across Canada.

      These virtual actions unite activists across borders and time zones and feature speakers in Canada, the U.S., Venezuela and beyond. A regular speaker representing Venezuela is Professor Luis Acuña, Charge d’affaires of the Venezuela Embassy in Canada. Professor Acuña joins almost every action to speak from Venezuela since the Canadian sanctions and hostile actions prevent him from carrying out his post in Canada. Speakers often join from the U.S., Canada, and Venezuela, such as during the April 14 action, which featured Benjamin Prado, Under-SecretaryGeneral of Unión del Barrio, an organization in the United States that works in defense of Mexican and Latin American communities, and Radhika Desai, Professor at the Department of Political Studies, and Director, Geopolitical Economy Research Group, University of Manitoba and a foundingmember of the Venezuela Peace Committee in Winnipeg, Canada.

      The May 12, 2022 action also featured speakers from Venezuela, Canada and the U.S. Nelson Herrera spoke from Venezuela, where he is the Secretary General of the Vice-Presidency for the Working Class of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), as well as the General Coordinator of the Anti-Imperialist Workers Platform (PCOA). Nelson also spoke about his experience as a General Coordinator with the union representing workers in Venezuela’s Grand Housing Mission (2014-2017) and a member of the National Constituent Assembly in Venezuela (2017-2020). From Canada, Montreal, Quebec-based author/journalist Arnold August spoke. Arnold is a Contributing Editor for The Canada Files and a member of the International Manifesto Group. Arnold writes regularly about Canada-Venezuela affairs and is the author of three books on U.S./Cuba/Latin American issues.

      Each action also provides updates on thefight to free Alex Saab. At the May 12th action, updates were provided by Roger Harris, a board member of the Task Force on the Americas, a 37-year-old anti-imperialist human rights organization. Roger visited Cape Verde, where Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab was being held, in June 2021 as part of an international delegation to free Alex Saab. Roger has travelled to Venezuela numerous times and met with Camila Fabri, the wife of Alex Saab, and others working on his case. He is with the U.S.-based Campaign to Free Alex Saab and the Sanctions Kill Coalition. Each month, speakers stress the importance of this campaign, defending Alex Saab’s freedom and fighting the U.S. government’s illegal, unjust and inhumane extraterritorial detentions. During the June 16 action, participants heard updates on the campaign to free Alex Saab from Roigar Lopez, a representative of the Free Alex Saab Movement in Venezuela who builds digital communications for the campaign. On July 14, Vanessa Ortiz, also a member of the Free Alex Saab Movement, spoke from Venezuela from her perspective as a Venezuelan journalist. The July 14 action featured another journalist perspective, from José Luis Granados Ceja, who is based in Mexico City. José Luis is a staff writer with Venezuela Analysis and host of their podcast and writes on a freelance basis about many Latin American issues.

      One of the pivotal struggles in solidarity and defense of Venezuela took place in 2019 when the U.S. launched a right-wing attack and takeover of the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC. On the July 14 action, David Paul shared his perspective as a leading member of the Venezuelan Embassy Protection Collective who defended the Venezuelan Embassy in 2019. David Paul is a member of the Sanctions Kill Coalition, Task Force on the Americas, and the Democratic Socialists of America.

      Defending Venezuela against U.S. sanctions and intervention is an important issue for the antiwar movement to take on. During the July 14 virtual picket action, this aspect was spoken to by Ken Stone. Ken is a long-time anti-war, labour, anti-racism, and environmental activist. He is Treasurer of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War and Executive Member of the Syria Solidarity Movement.

      Alison Bodine chairs the monthly virtual picket actions. She is the coordinator of the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign and author of “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Venezuela.” (Battle of Ideas Press, 2018).

      These actions continue to defend Venezuela every month, and you can join to show your solidarity too! Register via Zoom and join at https://tinyurl.com/handsoffvzla

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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