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      Venezuela, We Are With You!

      By Janine Solanki

      “The [U.S.] goal is crystal clear — to bring the Venezuelan economy to its knees and to prevent the government from meeting the basic needs of its people, as well as to bring about a change of government by unconstitutional means through the use of force…”

      These very true words from Venezuela’s foreign minister Jorge Arreaza Montserrat were spoken to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on September 9, 2019. The U.S., European Union and Canada have imposed brutal sanctions amounting to a blockade of Venezuela, preventing access to everything from medicine to construction equipment. The U.S. government has frozen $5.5 billion of Venezuelan funds in international accounts in at least 50 banks and financial institutions. In addition, the U.S. has seized the assets of Venezuela’s U.S. oil subsidiary CITGO, valued at about $8 billion. Even if Venezuela could get money abroad, the United States has long blocked international trade by threatening sanctions on foreign companies for doing business with Venezuela.

      What does this look like for the Venezuelan people? As Venezuela struggles to purchase and import medicines and medical equipment from abroad, more than 300,000 Venezuelan medical patients are estimated to be at risk due to the sanctions, according to a report published on April 2019, by the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

      In Vancouver, the Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign is defending Venezuela against sanctions, threats and dangerous foreign meddling by the U.S. and their allies. On September 6, activists came together in front of the U.S. Consulate in downtown Vancouver for a monthly picket action demanding “U.S./Canada Hands Off Venezuela!” Between rounds of energetic picketing, supporters gathered to hear from speakers and raised their voices and demands high to the offices of the U.S. Consulate.

      The action continued with information tabling outside the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch, where activists talked to passersby attracted by the giant Venezuelan flag and banner reading “Hands Off Venezuela! No Sanctions! No War!” Many stopped to sign petitions demanding the government of Canada and the U.S. end their sanctions on Venezuela.

      Solidarity with Venezuela continued into the evening, with an event held at the Vancouver Public Library. At the end of July, two members of the Editorial Board of Fire This Time Newspaper, Tamara Hansen and Alison Bodine, travelled to Caracas, Venezuela as delegates to the 25th International Sao Paulo Forum. This large anti-imperialist conference brought together thousands of people from Venezuela and around the world and gave Alison and Tamara an eyewitness view of what is happening on the ground in Venezuela today. The feature of the evening was Tamara and Alison’s stories, photos and videos from Venezuela, which served to counter the many mainstream media lies about Venezuela with their first-hand experiences.

      The event was also a raffle fundraiser for the defence of the Embassy Protection Collective. For 37 days in the Spring of 2019, the Embassy Protection Collective protected the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC from take-over by supporters of the U.S.-backed puppet and so-called “interim President” of Venezuela Juan Guaido. Four protectors were arrested that now face one year in prison and a large fine. To learn more about this important struggle see the article in Fire This Time Newspaper, Volume 13, Issue 6, June 2019.

      For more information on Venezuela solidarity events visit www.firethistime.net or follow on Facebook, on Twitter @FTT_np, or on Instagram @FTT.Venezuela

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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