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      "Venezuela Solidarity" Canada Speaking Tour
      A Great Success!

      Professor Steve Ellner Talks in Four Cities:
      Winnipeg, Vancouver, Nanaimo and Kamloops

      By Alison Bodine

      In October, Vancouver, Kamloops, and Nanaimo British Columbia were host to a series of dynamic events bringing the truth about Venezuela to hundreds of students, working and oppressed people. At each event, guest speaker Professor Steve Ellner of the Universidad de Oriente in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela was tasked with offering his perspective on the provocative questions - “What is Really Happening in Venezuela?” There is no doubt that his presentation, alongside those of the other featured speakers, generated lively and important discussions that are a great contribution in fight against U.S. & Canada sanctions on Venezuela and the mass media lies and deceptions that come along with such attacks.

      The first event of the tour held in Vancouver, BC was a great success. It was organized by the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, and endorsed by Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC), Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade (FCAB-Vancouver), Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), Iranian Community Against War (ICAW), Youth Third-World Alliance, Fire This Time Newspaper, Battle of Ideas Press - Canada, Stories from the Salish Sea, Communist Party of Canada-ML, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) – Vancouver.

      Speaking front of a large “U.S./Canada Hands Off Venezuela!” Professor Ellner spoke to a full room of 120 people at the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library, drawing on his 40+ years of living, researching, writing and teaching in Venezuela which has given him a unique perspective on the Bolivarian revolutionary process in Venezuela that began nearly 20 years ago with the election of President Hugo Chavez in 1998.

      Before hearing from Professor Ellner, participants at the Vancouver event also had the honour and privilege to hear directly from Venezuela that night, with a special videoconference session with Carlos Ron, Vice Minister of Foreign Relations for North America at the Venezuela’s Ministry of Popular Power for Foreign Affairs. Professor Ellner’s talk was also proceeded by an introduction by Alan Freeman, a Marxist scholar and founding member of the Venezuela Peace Committee – Winnipeg. The successful event was opened and closed by Coast Salish Elder Kelly White.

      It is also important to note, that although supporters of Venezuela’s violent and counter-revolutionary opposition came to the event in order to try and disrupt it, they were overwhelmed by the positive and open nature of the discussion and atmosphere. This was another victory for an already successful event in defense of the sovereignty and self-determination of Venezuela.

      The next day the BC tour continued at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. Here, Professor Ellner was hosted by Professors who wanted to expose their students, and the University community as a whole, to the reality of Venezuela today. Professor Ellner delivered an engaging and thought-provoking presentation that definitely introduced Venezuelan history and current events in a new and important context for the participants.

      The tour next stop that evening was at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC in an event co-hosted by Friends of Venezuela in Nanaimo and the Vancouver Island University Faculty Association International Solidarity and Human Rights Committee. Professor Imogene Lim, who chairs the Committee introduced the speakers and facilitated the lively discussion that followed. Alan Freeman of the Venezuela Peace Committee, and was later joined by Professor Ellner, who spoke over the phone due to weather that prevented travel to the island that day.

      Both of these important events, and the BC tour as a whole brought the truth about Venezuela to workers, students and activists who would not have otherwise heard about what is happening on the ground due to mass media lies and distortions.

      As the U.S. government and their allies like the government of Canada continue to increase their brutal sanctions and threats against Venezuela, it is the task of working and oppressed people to organize in defence of Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination. The Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign will continue to organize events and actions about Venezuela, including more international and local guest speakers. To follow the FTT Venezuela Solidarity Campaign’s ongoing actions, which will include other speaking tours, please visit www.firethistime.net or follow on Facebook and Twitter @FTT_np.

      The “What is Really Happening in Venezuela?” speaking tour with Professor Ellner was part of a larger tour coordinated between the U.S. and Canada by the Campaign to End U.S. & Canada Sanctions on Venezuela, which also included an event in Winnipeg, Canada organized by the Venezuela Peace Committee. In all, Professor Ellner will be hosted by cities across the U.S. and Canada for more than 30 events in just about two months. For more information about the Campaign visit: https://afgj.org/focus-areas/venezuela-solidarity-campaign/campaign-to-end-us-and-canada-sanctions-against-venezuela

      Follow Alison on Twitter:@Alisoncolette

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