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      Vancouver Rallies Against Coup in Venezuela

      By Janine Solanki

      Today, the governments of the U.S. and Canada are supporting violent right-wing counter-revolutionary forces in Venezuela. On January 23 2019, the U.S. and Canada backed an attempted coup when Juan Guaidó declared himself president of Venezuela, violating Venezuela’s democracy which elected President Maduro in the fair and transparent May 2018 elections.

      This failed coup is coming after years of increasingly harsh sanctions from the U.S., Canada and the European Union, and an economic war which has crippled Venezuela’s economy. The western mainstream media has no shortage of inflammatory news against the Venezuelan government, but ignore the gains made since Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution began in 1999.

      In Vancouver, Canada, the Fire This Time (FTT) Movement for Social Justice – Venezuela Solidarity Campaign has been standing up in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and Venezuelans right to self-determination. Just in the first month of 2019, the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign organized two protest actions demanding U.S./Canada Hands Off Venezuela!

      On January 4, the FTT Venezuela Solidarity Campaign held a monthly action, which started out at the U.S. consulate in downtown Vancouver. Protesters picketed with signs reading “No Regime Change in Venezuela!” and “Self-Determination for Venezuela!”, and stopped to hear from speakers in between rounds of picketing. After the action wrapped up, organizers setup an information table at the busy Robson square, where passers-by stopped to get more information, talk with organizers and sign the petition against Canada’s sanctions on Venezuela.

      On January 26, the FTT Venezuela Solidarity Campaign made an emergency call for organizations and individuals to join together against the U.S. backed attempted coup in Venezuela. Over 80 people came together in downtown Vancouver’s Robson square, stretching out across the busy walkway and attracting attention with a huge Venezuelan flag and a long banner reading “U.S./Canada Hands Off Venezuela!”. The action brought together people from many different political parties, organizations and grassroots groups, who united against the illegal and undemocratic attempts of the U.S. and Canada to overthrow Venezuela’s president and violate their self-determination and sovereignty.

      The program of the action was MC’d by Alison Bodine, coordinator of the FTT Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, who spoke to those walking by about what the action was about and invited people to find out more at the information table. Speakers included: Nino Pagliccia, a Venezuelan Canadian journalist and social justice activist who writes regulary for many media outlet including People Voice, central organ of Communist Party of Canada and an organizer with the Hugo Chavez People’s Defense Front Southwest Canada Chapter; Naty Rosales of the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) – Vancouver; Nicaraguan Sandinista fighter and social justice activist Mayra Climaco; Salvadorian Vancouver-based poet Lucy Ortiz, Tamara Hansen, coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) and an editorial member of Fire This Time newspaper; Brian Sproule from the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist Leninist); and Chilean activist and radio host of Coop Radio’s El bus de las 7, Macarena Cataldo Hernandez. This wide-ranging and diverse group of speakers spoke strongly to denounce the actions of Canada and the U.S. against Venezuela. Many of the speakers referred to their own experiences of U.S.-backed coups and interventions in other Latin American countries, experiences which they do not wish to see repeated in Venezuela. With a strong and defiant spirit, protesters joined their voices in both English and Spanish to demand “Manos fuera de Venezuela!” (Hands off Venezuela!).

      Here in Vancouver and around the world, people are coming together in defense of Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination. The FTT Venezuela Solidarity Campaign is committed to keep organizing both protest actions and educational events about Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, and working together with groups in Vancouver, the U.S. and beyond to build a strong and united defense against imperialist attacks on Venezuela. To find out more about these actions visit www.firethistime.net or follow on Facebook and Twitter @FTT_np.

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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