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      Vancouver Activists Picket at U.S. Consulate & Petitioning Government of Canada: Hands Off Venezuela!

      By Janine Solanki

      Over the last 19 years, the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela has been building a society where the needs of the Venezuelan people are the number one priority. This has transformed a country where in 1998, 50% of Venezuelans lived in poverty, to one that by 2012 the United Nations Agency for Human Settlements reported as having the highest wealth equality in Latin America. This and many other improvements for the lives of Venezuelans came after social programs were introduced under the Chavez government and continued with President Nicolas Maduro, and with the efforts of the Venezuelan people who are organized and engaged in moving the Bolivarian Revolution forward.

      However the U.S. and their allies, including Canada, are trying to turn back the great progress Venezuela has made with sanctions, military threats and support for Venezuela’s violent and counter-revolutionary opposition which attempts to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

      The government of Canada has been ramping up its aggressive rhetoric and actions against Venezuela. In 2017, Canada imposed two sets of sanctions against Venezuela. Then on December 25, 2017, Chrystia Freeland, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada expelled the Venezuelan Ambassador to Canada, Wilmer Barrientos Fernandez and the chargé d’affaires at the Venezuelan Embassy in Canada, Angel Herrera. This unjustified, unjust and provocative move escalates Canada’s actions against the democratically elected government of Venezuela. With extreme hypocrisy, the government of Canada admits to using its own embassy in Venezuela to fund and promote anti-government organizing, despite repeated official warnings. This lead to the earlier expulsion of Canada’s charge d’affaires.

      Here in Vancouver, the Fire This Time Venezuela (FTT) Solidarity Campaign brings together peace and justice loving people to demand that Canada and the U.S. end their sanctions and threats against Venezuela, and respect Venezuela’s self-determination and sovereignty.

      On Friday January 12 the FTT Venezuela Solidarity Campaign held its monthly action starting out with a picket action outside of the U.S. consulate. Despite a heavy downpour, protesters gathered to hear from speakers on the situation in Venezuela and held up picket signs reading “U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!” and “No Regime Change in Venezuela!”. In between speakers, the protesters raised their voices in energetic chanting and marched in front of the U.S. consulate. Protesters then moved to the busy downtown Vancouver plaza at the Vancouver Art Gallery, for an info display and petition drive. Activists gave out information on the situation in Venezuela, and collected petition signatures on an important new parliamentary petition against Canada’s sanctions on Venezuela. The petition is being circulated across Canada and after it collects over 500 signatures will be discussed in Canada’s House of Commons. You can sign the petition at https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Sign/e-1353

      The action wrapped up with a traditional closing song and drumming by Eagle Eyes, an Indigenous elder and activist from the Sechelt nation, recognizing that action was taking place on the traditional and unceded territories of the Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilwətaɁɬ), the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), and the Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh) Coast Salish Nations.

      The FTT Venezuela Solidarity Campaign will continue these protests every month, demanding that the government of Canada and the U.S. respect the sovereignty and self-determination of Venezuela, and stop its sanctions and threats. To join these actions and to get more information visit www.firethistime.net and follow on Facebook or Twitter @FTT_np.

      U.S./Canada Hands off Venezuela!

      Follow Janine Solanki on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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