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      Free Alex Saab! US/CANADA Hands Off Venezuela!
      Over radio waves and online, Venezuela solidarity
      activists demand Free Alex Saab!

      By Janine Solanki

      Venezuela has been in the crosshairs of the United States government for over 24 years, ever since Venezuela established their sovereignty and independence through the process of the Bolivarian Revolution. Venezuela has since been subject to crippling U.S. sanctions, US-backed coup attempts, foreign meddling and interference and even the unlawful arrest of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab.

      At the end of November 2022, talks between the democratically elected government of Venezuela and the US-backed Venezuelan opposition concluded in Mexico with a partial agreement. However, the U.S. blockade and sanctions against Venezuela remain in full force. The Biden Administration has not provided any relief to the suffering imposed on the people of Venezuela. The people of Venezuela continue to face daily hardships and lack of access to food, medicines, and everyday goods because the U.S. government is attempting to strangle the economy of Venezuela.

      Around the world, supporters and defenders of Venezuela are demanding an end to U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and an end to threats, coup attempts and meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs. In Canada, monthly online picket actions are organized by Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, Just Peace Advocates, and Venezuela Peace Committee in Winnipeg with the support of Venezuela solidarity organizations and individuals across Canada.

      Hands Off Venezuela!

      On November 22, 2022, the 21st consecutive virtual picket action was held, with supporters joining in from the US, Canada, Venezuela, Belgium, the UK, Senegal and Poland! The action had a panel of speakers including Dr. Maria Páez Victor, Venezuelan-born sociologist and author, founder of the Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle in Toronto, Canada and producer of the radio program Venezuela Viva; Roigar Lopez Rivas from the Free Alex Saab Movement in Venezuela; Michelle Munjanattu, a NYC-based union activist; and moderation by Alison Bodine, coordinator of the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. At each of these actions, groups and individuals from Canada and Quebec spoke to share their solidarity with Venezuela before participants turned on their video for a group photo holding picket signs, Venezuelan flags and fists of solidarity.

      The following month's action on December 20, 2022, included special guest Carlos Ron, the Vice-Minister for North America at the Venezuelan Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Other speakers who joined the event were: Indhriana Parada from the Free Alex Saab Movement in Venezuela, who recently released a book about Alex Saab; Michelle Ellner, CODEPINK Women for Peace, Latin America Campaign Coordinator; and Professor Luis Acuña, charge d’affaires of the Venezuela Embassy in Canada speaking from Venezuela.

      Free Alex Saab!

      The main focus of each action is on the campaign to free Alex Saab. On June 12, 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. During a refuelling stop in Cape Verde, Alex Saab was abducted and arbitrarily imprisoned at the command of the U.S. government. On October 16th, 2021, Alex Saab was illegally extracted by the U.S. from Cape Verde, bypassing his diplomatic immunity, and is currently being unjustly held in a Miami jail. On December 23, 2022, U.S. Federal District Court Judge Robert Scola released his decision not to recognize the diplomatic status of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab. This decision, and Alex Saab’s continued detention in a Miami jail, is a further violation of international law and a continued injustice against Alex Saab and the people of Venezuela.

      Following the December 23 decision, the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign launched a postcard campaign directed at U.S. President Joe Biden. The postcard is calling for the immediate release of Alex Saab and to return him to his wife, children and loved ones in Venezuela.

      The Radio Frequencies of Venezuela Solidarity

      While the U.S. mainstream media campaign either ignores Venezuela or spreads misinformation and lies, grassroots and progressive news sources speak up, to tell the truth about Venezuela, the Bolivarian Revolution and the injustices the U.S. government is committing against Venezuela. The radio program Venezuela Viva broadcasts weekly on CHHA at 1600am, over Toronto's Latin American radio station. The program is produced by Dr.Maria Páez Victor and Nino Pagliccia, Venezuelan Canadian activist and political writer based in Vancouver. On November 17, Nino interviewed Alison Bodine, coordinator of the Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, who spoke about the necessity of activists to unite in Canada, the U.S. and worldwide in defense of Venezuela and for the freedom of Alex Saab. To listen to Venezuela Viva live, tune in on Thursdays at 11 am P.T. / 2 pm E.T. on 1600am or https://streema.com/radios/CHHA

      Alison Bodine was also interviewed on the radio and Facebook live program Proletarian Internationalism by the Frente Intercontinental of the FMLN in El Salvador. During this interview on November 30, 2022, Alison spoke about the work of the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign and the importance of joining together with Venezuela solidarity activists worldwide. The recording of this interview is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6njfJ9ZgdWM

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

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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