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      An interview with Arnold August

      By Alison Bodine

      ALISON BODINE: Thank you very much, Arnold, for taking the time out of your evening to do this brief interview with me. I have written the main components of an article about this injustice and undemocratic exclusion which happened to you at the U.S./Canada border about 10 days ago. (see page 12).

      Can you explain what you believe were the motivations for the U.S. border officials denying your entry into the country that day?

      ARNOLD AUGUST: It’s obvious that the motivation is political. I was surprised because they took me aside that day on March 16, 2019, when I was on my way from Montreal to Washington D.C. It was a surprise in the sense that it happened before, many years ago, but has not happened for quite some time. Several years ago, they took me aside and mentioned the fact that I had charges against me, what they call a criminal record, dating back to 1972, 1974. Of course, they were all related to political activism.

      What happened at the airport that Saturday was that they notified me that I had this record and that I can’t enter the United States. I said, ‘this is ridiculous you’ve known this for 45 years.’ I’ve been stopped in the past in the same way and questioned, but after the questions and all that, I was never at any time hindered or stopped from going into the United States. So, I said ‘well, why now?’ In the back of my mind, I knew why, but I wanted to try to get that out of them - so I asked, ‘why now?’ But the discussion ended right there, and she said, ‘well here is a document for you to fill out in order to try to challenge the fact that you were not allowed into the United States’, so there was never an answer as to my question - why now?

      First, I think it is interesting to note that they mentioned the ‘72 and ‘74 charges, etc. But since then I have been to the United States, dozens of times, there has never been an incident in the U.S. I guess you could say that I was a model visitor. There was never any incident at all, but all of a sudden it came up on March 16. So that was the end of that there. I am still looking into it, but what specifically - why now? I can answer that myself.

      One has to put one and one together, and that makes two, and that is the following. Firstly, since my visit to Caracas on February 4 of this year when I had the honour to participate in a very intimate meeting with Nicolas Maduro, where he gave a speech for close to two hours, I came back with some very important points. I wrote several articles in support of the Bolivarian revolution, against U.S. interference, and the entire theme of Venezuela.

      These particular articles seemed to be very well appreciated in the United States. For example, since February 4, 2019, they were published in the following press which are popular in the US: Mintpress, Venezuelanalysis, Black Agenda Report, Global Research, teleSUR English and teleSUR Spanish. Now all of them have one thing in common: they are either on the U.S. “blacklist” and/or their web sites and social media have been harassed. So, that’s one reason as to why I was barred from the US on March 16.

      The other possible cause is that on January 20, 2019, I released my new YouTube channel. Normally, as you know I write about Cuba and Venezuela, in that order, but YouTube specifically is dedicated to deconstructing the media lies with regards to Venezuela. I posted a very important YouTube just before the March 16 activity in D.C. It is based on a radio interview from Montreal with Sputnik in Washington D.C. which was also recently on the list of outlets that Washington does not like; specifically Loud and Clear with Brian Becker. I made a video on that, one of the main purposes being to promote the demonstration in Washington DC.

      I was quite active in promoting it, but Facebook actually blocked my Facebook post where that YouTube radio interview was published regarding the D.C. activity. However, I also have another interest that is uploaded that Youtube. It is my support for the Palestinian people.

      Putting all of these things together it seems that this is what happened, the answer to the question that the person at the airport did not want to answer - why now? Well, everything is looking like it is due to my latest activity, especially in terms of journalism and increased social media activity since February 4, 2019.

      ALISON: It is very clear also to us and to me that this was a case of political targeting and really a violation of your democratic rights to speak out and to defend the people of Venezuela. What do you think are the best ways that people can support you at this time?

      ARNOLD: In fact, the initial support was spontaneous on the very first day. On that day, on March 16, I was in contact with a social media journalist in Caracas whom I met in Caracas on February 4. The goal was to send her some of my videos from Washington, D.C., especially the message I was bringing with me citing statements of support and activities on Venezuela by the over 5 million Canadian trade union workers and social/political activists. The young Venezuelan social media activist immediately, within a couple of hours, converted my report from the Montreal airport about my denial of entry into the U.S. into a full video which almost went viral through Twitter. They were widely circulated, especially in Spanish from Caracas and people such as Jorge Arreaza, who is the Foreign Minister of Venezuela retweeted. In addition, teleSUR English, with whom I was likewise in contact with to report on my Canadian message of solidarity to the D.C. activity, also produced a video sent live to Quito, Ecuador, from the taxi driving me back home from the Montreal airport.

      So, in response to your question Alison regarding support, from the very first day, it got around the first 24 hours. Since that time, there’s been an article in Prensa Latina, in Spanish, English and French which the Cuban news agency been circulating quite a bit. As you know COHA published your article on the incident as part of a wider issue.

      Of course, I will continue to write on Venezuela. In fact, I would say that I am even more determined, to tell the truth about Venezuela, to support the Bolivarian revolution, to support Cuba.

      My lawyer and I are still looking into what happened, looking into the fact that it looks like I might have been barred for life from visiting the United States of America. So that it is an ongoing investigation that we’re looking into at this time. Thus, I would say that the best thing it not support for me, but to help to circulate my journalism, not only mine but other people as well on the left, such as Fire This Time. There a lot of left progressive journalists who have done very great work in Venezuela. Some of them, such as Max Blumenthal and Dan Cohen and others, they just returned from Venezuela after four weeks there and are doing excellent work.

      I think the best way to support or to go against this incident is to help circulate all these journalistic views, whether it is Fire This Time, the ones from the United States, my views, on the question of Venezuela.

      It’s an ongoing struggle. Venezuela has won the first round but it’s far from over. I think the United States will never give up. Their main goal is to overthrow the Maduro government, overthrow Chavismo, not only for the oil; but also for the fact that, I would say, it is becoming an epicenter of the international left. It’s becoming more and more a model for the people all over the world who oppose U.S. interference, U.S. bullying, and the U.S. attempts to dominate the world.

      It is pretty inspiring to see all over the world, for example in occupied Palestine, people are demonstrating in support of the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people. This is a theme that I think we all have to work together, that is to mutually help circulate the views that are being written or spoken with regards to Venezuela.

      As you know we’re up against the international corporate media that has carried out and carrying out such a massive campaign against Venezuela, against Maduro. I think this is the worst thing I’ve seen in years. It is even worse than some of the media campaigns that they have been carrying out against Cuba, it is a very serious situation.

      ALISON: Thank you Arnold for this interview, and all of your ongoing journalism and work.

      Follow Arnold August on Twitter:@Arnold_August
      Follow Arnold Alison on Twitter:@Alisoncolette

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