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      Venezuela Solidarity Activists in Vancouver Take to the Streets in Defense of Venezuela!

      By Janine Solanki

      Here in Canada we may hear news about Venezuela on our radios and nightly news programs. However, it is the news we do not hear that is important. The news we do not hear is that in March 2018, the Venezuelan government announced it had completed building two million affordable homes in just seven years, as part of the People’s Social Protection System, and plans to build another million homes by December 2019. What we do not hear is that 95.4% of Venezuelans eat three times per day according to the National Institute of Statistics. This is thanks to social programs providing subsidized food, free meals, and free school dinners, which have played a significant role in eradicating hunger and child malnutrition. This is considering that in 1998, when Comandante Hugo Chávez was elected as president of Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution began, 21% of the population suffered from undernourishment according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations definition. By 2017, that figure had been reduced to 2%.

      In Vancouver, Canada, the Fire This Time (FTT) Venezuela Solidarity Campaign has been organizing every month in defense of Venezuela, demanding that the governments of the U.S. and Canada respect the sovereignty and self-determination of Venezuela. On March 2, the monthly action started out with a picket action in front of the U.S. consulate in downtown Vancouver. Protesters held up picket signs demanding “U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!” and “No Regime Change in Venezuela!” while chanting energetically and marched in front of the U.S. consulate. The protesters gathered in between rounds of picketing to hear from local speakers, who drew attention to the March 5th anniversary of the passing of Comandante Hugo Chávez. Now five years since his death, the people of Venezuela are still fighting to advance the Bolivarian revolution, despite imperialist attempts to destroy it.

      The action then continued at the downtown square of the Vancouver Art Gallery, where an information table and large Venezuelan flag was setup. Passersby stopped by the table to learn more about Venezuela, and activists handed out leaflets to those passing by on the busy street.

      International Day of Action

      A few weeks later, March 17 was called as an international day of action in defense of Venezuela, in direct response to a call for pro-foreign intervention demonstrations by Venezuela’s U.S.-backed, violent opposition. The Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign brought together Venezuela supporters for a banner drop over the busy downtown Vancouver Stanley Park highway. Cars driving under the overpass couldn’t miss the giant banner reading “U.S./Canada Hands Off Venezuela!” alongside activists holding picket signs, and the protest received a great response with honks of support from passing cars. The international response to the action was far and wide, with video and photos of the action retweeted around the world, including by the Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. Supporters at the protest also got to hear from the experiences of a delegation of FTT organizers who had just returned from Venezuela, where they participated in an international solidarity conference.

      The Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign also participated in two events in solidarity with Venezuela organized by the Hugo Chávez People´s Defense Front Southwest Canada Chapter. On March 15 an event in commemoration of the life of Hugo Chavez was held, and the Fire This Time delegation to the solidarity conference in Venezuela was invited to report back from it alongside other participants from Vancouver. Then on March 18 the Hugo Chávez People´s Defense Front called for a rally in downtown Vancouver also as part of the international days of action for Venezuela. The Fire This Time editorial board member Alison Bodine, who was also a delegate to the Venezuela solidarity conference, was invited up to speak.

      The Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign will continue being out on the streets every month, protesting in front of the U.S. consulate and demanding U.S./Canada hands off Venezuela! To join in the next event visit www.firethistime.net or follow on Facebook and Twitter @FTT_np

      Follow Janine Solanki on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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