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      Peace-Loving People From Venezuela to Vancouver Demand
      "U.S./Canada Hands Off Venezuela!"

      By Janine Solanki

      “We seek a peaceful transition to power. But all options are on the table” said U.S. President Trump on February 18, 2019. These are not just words – the U.S. government is doing all they can, short of direct military intervention, to interfere in Venezuela’s affairs and violate their sovereignty and selfdetermination. The escalation of the U.S. economic war on Venezuela, including harsh sanctions, and U.S. support for violent right-wing forces in Venezuela culminated in the U.S.-backed attempted coup in January 2019.

      The history of the U.S. in Latin America is a long one. There have been plenty of U.S.-backed coups that have installed bloody dictators, funding and arming of right-wing groups and training of some of the regions most notorious dictators, torturers and assassins, especially through the infamous “School of the Americas”. It is no surprise that today Trump’s pick for the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela is Elliott Abrams. Abrams has a long history of involvement in U.S. covert actions in Latin America that have cost many innocent lives.

      The Venezuelan people are feeling the impacts of U.S. sanctions in their daily lives, and living under the threat of U.S. war. Here in Vancouver, Canada, the city’s antiwar coalition Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) is demanding that the U.S. and their allies, including Canada, stop their sanctions, threats and meddling in Venezuela’s affairs.

      On March 15, MAWO organized its monthly antiwar rally and petition campaign in downtown Vancouver, with the main demand being “U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!” This action as also in coordination with the March 16 “Hands Off Venezuela” march in Washington, DC, organized by the ANSWER Coalition.

      Picket signs and banners made the demands against U.S. sanctions and war on Venezuela loud and clear, attracting the attention of many people passing by. Teams of activists collected signatures on a petition demanding that the government of Canada end its sanctions against Venezuela, raising many discussions with those who stopped to sign. An info table was also set up and was busy with people who stopped to collect literature, sign petitions and talk to organizers. Before the action came to a close, protesters gathered for a rally program. Alison Bodine, MAWO’s chairperson, MC’d the rally and outlined why it is important to defend Venezuela against these imperialist threats and actions. Brian Sproule spoke on behalf of the CPC-ML condemning the U.S. actions against Venezuela. Azza Rojbi, an executive committee member of MAWO and Mike Larson, a MAWO activist and organizer, also spoke to give their eye-witness accounts of what is really happening in Venezuela, as they had recently returned from a youth brigade and international conference in Venezuela.

      MAWO organizers have also travelled across Canada and the U.S. to participate in antiwar actions, bridging solidarity and cooperation to build a stronger antiwar movement! On March 26, MAWO executive committee member Azza Rojbi travelled across to Ottawa, Canada to participate in a march and rally protesting four years of U.S./Canada-backed, Saudi-led war on Yemen. To read the report on this action please visit page 6. On March 30, six MAWO organizers marched in the Washington, DC mobilization to stop NATO and resist U.S./Canada attacks on Venezuela. To read more on this check out the report on page 21.

      MAWO will continue to defend Venezuela against the U.S. and Canada’s imperialist aggression, and demands that the sovereignty and self-determination of Venezuela be respected! For upcoming events and actions visit www.mawovancouver.org, follow on Facebook or on Twitter @MAWO_van

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