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      Free Alex Saab Now!
      No To Sanctions On Venezuela!
      U.S./Canada Hands Off Venezuela!

      By Janine Solanki

      Sanctions imposed by the United States affect a third of humanity, with more than 8,000 measures impacting more than 40 countries. Venezuela is one of these countries facing brutal sanctions responsible for at least 40,000 deaths from 2017 to 2018, as the Center for Economic and Policy Research reported. In recent years under the pandemic, sanctions have made shortages of medical supplies and other necessities even more critical.

      In mid-2020, Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab was en route to Iran to negotiate a deal to alleviate the effects of U.S. sanctions, enabling Venezuela to receive more fuel, food and medical supplies. Alex Saab was abducted at the command of the U.S. government. He was arbitrarily imprisoned and tortured for over a year in Cape Verde before being extradited to the U.S.

      The campaign to free Alex Saab remains a demand at the forefront of the Venezuela solidarity movement and every monthly “U.S./Canada Hands Off Venezuela!” online picket action. The monthly actions are organized by the Venezuela Peace Committee in Winnipeg, the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, and Just Peace Advocates.

      The August 18th action featured speakers from Venezuela, including Professor Luis Acuña, Charge d’Affaires of the Venezuelan Embassy in Canada, speaking from Venezuela. Liliam Mendez, a member of the Free Alex Saab Movement in the Venezuelan state of Apure, spoke to update participants on Alex Saab’s case and encouraged people to join in to fight for his freedom.

      The movement in defence of Venezuela is truly worldwide. At this picket, Irma Sofía Nava spoke from Mexico, where she is a leading organizer with Mexico Solidarity with Venezuela and Spokesperson for CONAICOP (National and International Council of Popular Communication, an international organization founded in Venezuela), Mexico.

      Speakers from Canada included writer and analyst Bhagwant Sandhu, a retired director general with the federal government in Canada, who also held executive positions in B.C. and Ontario provincial governments. The online action was chaired by Alison Bodine, 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).

      This online action always opens the floor to greetings from solidarity groups across Canada before participants turn on their video for a group photo! With activists holding protest signs and Venezuelan flags, this online protest stretches from Venezuela to Canada and worldwide!

      Ten days later, another important webinar was held, discussing resistance throughout Latin America to U.S. hegemonic policies. The August 28 webinar, “Summit of the “Americas” vs. CELAC: Whither the Monroe Doctrine @ 200?” was organized by the International Manifesto Group with the sponsorship of organizations in Venezuela, the U.S. and Canada, including the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice. The panel of prominent speakers included: Adán Chávez Frías, Venezuelan Ambassador to Cuba; Carlos Ron, Venezuelan Vice Minister of Foreign Relations for North America and President of the Simon Bolivar Institute for Peace and Solidarity Among Peoples; Camila Escalante from Bolivian- based media outlet Kawsachun News; Colombian social activist and journalist Laura Capote; Montrealbased author and journalist Arnold August; independent journalist Benjamin Norton, who is editor of the anti-imperialist news outlet Multipolarista; Elias Jabbour, author and Associate Professor of Theory and Policy of Economic Planning at the Rio de Janeiro State University; Austin Cole, member of the Black Alliance for Peace’s Haiti/Americas team; with moderation by Radhika Desai, author and Professor at the Department of Political Studies, and Director, Geopolitical Economy Research Group, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.

      To learn more about events in defence of Venezuela, visit www.firethistime.netM or follow on Facebook @firethistimemovement, Twitter @FTT_NP and Instagram @firethistime and @FTT.Venezuela

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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