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      In Vancouver and Around the World –
      U.S./Canada Hands Off Venezuela!

      By Janine Solanki

      For the last 20 years, the Bolivarian Revolution has been changing Venezuela from a society built on the backs of poor people, to a society built by and for its people. Venezuela’s mass supported Missions have provided the Venezuelan people with education, healthcare, subsidized food and even homes – currently, 2.5 million built on the road to 5 million with the Great Housing Mission. Perhaps even more important, the Bolivarian Revolution has empowered poor and working people in Venezuela to organize within their communities for the betterment of their lives and their country, with the support of the revolutionary government of Venezuela.

      However, rather than respect Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination, the government of the U.S. and their imperialist allies like Canada have instead been pushing their campaign of regime change in Venezuela. They are backing right-wing counter-revolutionary elements in Venezuela, imposing crippling sanctions and economic war against the people of Venezuela and most recently, backing an attempted coup against Venezuela’s democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro.

      February 8 Action

      For almost four years, the Fire This Time (FTT) Venezuela Solidarity Campaign has been holding monthly protest actions in solidarity with Venezuela, alongside forums and other educational events. The latest of these monthly actions on February 8, 2019, was just a few weeks after the governments of the U.S. and Canada tried to install Juan Guaidó as the new “self-declared” interim President of Venezuela. Supporters of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution came together with renewed vigour to defend Venezuela against this recent undemocratic attack. Protesters held picket signs high and chanted “Hands Off Venezuela!” in front of the U.S. Consulate in downtown Vancouver, and in between rounds of picketing came together to hear from speakers over the loudspeaker.

      With the escalation of U.S. aggression against Venezuela, it is even more critical for social justice organizations and peace-loving people locally and worldwide to unite together in defence of Venezuela. With this in mind, Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign signed onto a statement against U.S. sanctions and meddling in Venezuela, initiated in the U.S. by Venezuela solidarity activists, and answered the call for coordinated actions on February 23. For more information on this initiative visit www.nowaronvenezuela.org

      February 23 Action

      As part of this international day of action, the Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign held a rally and petition campaign in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver. The action brought together people from many different backgrounds, grassroots groups, organizations and parties in defense of the people of Venezuela and the democratically elected President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro. Protesters chanted "No to Sanctions! No to War! US/Canada Hands Off Venezuela!" while people passing by stopped to talk with organizers and get more information, and to sign on to the “Canada Hands Off Venezuela” petition. As part of the rally program, protesters heard greetings direct from Venezuela, from Azza Rojbi and Mike Larson, two FTT Venezuela Solidarity Campaign organizers who were participating in the International Che Guevara Youth Brigade in Venezuela!

      Earlier in the day, the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign also participated in another action in front of the CBC news building, organized by the newly formed Venezuela Peace and Solidarity Committee of Vancouver. All in all, on February 23 more than 150 cities around the world held demonstrations in solidarity with the people of Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution – beyond North America and throughout Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and across Europe!

      Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign is continuing not only its monthly actions but also educational events to counter the campaign of misinformation and fabrication against Venezuela that we see in our daily news. Fire This Time has also been sending its organizers on educational and solidarity trips to Venezuela. The coming months will include events as well as articles in Fire This Time newspaper where FTT organizers will share their experiences and eye-witness accounts from Venezuela. To find out more visit www.firethistime.net or follow us on Facebook and Twitter @FTT_np.

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