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      Excerpt from speech by Nino Pagliccia at the rally in Vancouver organized by Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution January 26, 2019.

      Last Wednesday January 23rd, the most absurd event took place in Caracas. An unknown Juan Guaidó of the Venezuelan opposition party appointed himself interim President of Venezuela without fulfilling a single requirement of the protocol required for a presidential investiture ceremony to take place. No one knew him until a few days ago when he was declared president of the National Assembly that has been in contempt and therefore not legally functioning since 2016. Just the day before on January 22nd in a widely distributed video the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gave him the blessing for what was going to happen the next day on January 23rd. Our own Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke with him on the phone probably trying to reassure him that Canada has his back in case he was getting cold feet. The only experience we know he has is as a 'guarimbero'. He actively participated in the most violent 'guarimbas' in 2017 in Venezuela. We all remember all those terrorist actions where they destroyed property, built barricades, attacked the police and burned people alive.

      Guaidó called on Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution of 1999 to appoint himself. That article clarifies the circumstances when there is no presence of the president in order to replace him. None of the assumptions to establish the absolute absence of the president has taken place: neither death, nor resignation, nor dismissal by Supreme Court, nor physical or mental incapacity, nor abandonment of office, nor recall by the people. Nicolas Maduro is alive, in power and is the legitimate democratically elected president of Venezuela according to the Venezuelan constitution.

      Foreign intervention in Venezuela is not new. The US has tried to destroy the Bolivarian Revolution since the failed attempted coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002. Fast forward to 2014 and to this day, Venezuela is confronting severe sanctions from the US, Canada, the EU and some Latin American countries. Sanctions are crippling the Venezuelan economy and affecting the population

      In the same way that Guaidó appoints himself as illegal president in Venezuela, the likes of Trump and Trudeau in our continent appoint themselves as judges in the internal affairs of Venezuela. They use their own twisted reasons imperial and colonial power to impose their sentence and they refuse to meet with Nicolas Maduro. What are they afraid of? The principal reason given in Canada is that the Canadian government does not recognize the elections on May 2018, that elected Nicolas Maduro. 16 political parties participated in the elections that year. The fact that 3 parties decided not to participate does not make the electoral process illegitimate.

      The Canadian government position is reckless. Maduro won with a wide margin. He obtained 6,2 million votes that 67.8% of the electoral vote. Close to 200 international observers were present. The UN refused to send an observer, why?

      But here is where it gets personal. I was forbidden by the Canadian government to vote at the Venezuelan consulate in Vancouver together with many others Venezuelans across Canada. That was my right as a Venezuelan and the Canadian government took that away from me.

      And here's where the U.S. and Canadian governments fall into ridicule in this whole tragedy: Of the 25 elections at different levels that have taken place in Venezuela, over the last 20 years, the only one that they would recognize is the election of the National Assembly of 2015, where the opposition won a majority that was recognized right away by the Venezuelan electoral authority. However, three candidates committed fraud and another election in those districts had to be called. The National Assembly refused to do that. The Supreme Court of Venezuela declared it in contempt, and it was suspended in 2016.

      The Canadian government is complicit in a U.S. sponsored coup attempt in Venezuela. It's committing a reckless action and it's not speaking for all Canadians, certainly not for me. I join all those Canadians and organizations who are speaking up against the Canadian government's dangerous illegal interventionist colonial and imperial attack on Venezuela.

      As a Venezuelan, I make a special appeal to all Venezuelans in this country to be on the side of peace for Venezuela and not to fall into the trap of a coup. As a Canadian I call on the Canadian government to end all sanctions against Venezuela and recognize the legitimate president Nicolas Maduro.

      Hands off Venezuela! Long live the Bolivarian Revolution! Viva Nicolas Maduro!

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