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      Calgary events discuss “What is really happening in Cuba and Venezuela?”

      By Janine Solanki

      On January 23, 2019, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, released a statement recognizing Juan Guaidó as the interim President of Venezuela. While Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro was elected in transparent, fair elections, Guaidó just “declared” himself president of Venezuela – with the support of the governments U.S. and Canada. Ignoring Venezuela’s sovereignty, self-determination and democratic process, the mainstream media in Canada has reflected the position of the government of Canada, reporting a manipulated view of the situation in Venezuela.

      The government of Canada’s aggressive approach to independent countries also has targeted Cuba. On May 8, 2019, the Canadian Embassy in Cuba announced they are no longer processing visas. This heavy-handed move effects families, Cuban students, Cuban musicians and visiting Cuban professors… and many other Cuban visitors, impacting culture, sports, education and other exchanges in Canada.

      With these recent actions by the government of Canada, an important question that people in Canada should be asking is, what is really happening in Cuba and Venezuela?

      On May 31 and June 1, two events were organized in Calgary, Alberta to discuss this very question. Both events featured visiting speakers Alison Bodine (Vancouver) and Arnold August (Montreal). Alison Bodine is the coordinator of the Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, and recently returned from an eye-witness delegation to Venezuela that studied the impacts of U.S. and Canada sanctions. She is also the author of the book “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Venezuela” from Battle of Ideas Press. Arnold August is a journalist and author of several books including: “Cuba & Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion” and “Cuba-U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond”. Since 1997, he has spent extended periods in Cuba pursuing his intensive investigations. He has recently returned from both Cuba and Venezuela.

      On May 31, the Association of the Chilean Community in Calgary opened its doors for a Spanish-language event, organized by the Colectivo por la Memoria Salvador Allende and the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association – Calgary. In attendance were many people from the Chilean community in Calgary, who understood all too well how dangerous U.S. interventions and coups are, from their experience with U.S. economic warfare and the 1973 U.S.-backed coup in Chile. After the speakers gave their presentations the event continued with a lively question and answer period. At the close of the event, the authors were busy signing copies of their books purchased by attendees.

      On June 1, another event with the title “Cuba and Venezuela: What’s Really Happening?” took place at the Calgary Central Library in downtown Calgary. This event was co-organized by the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association - Calgary, Colectivo por la Memoria Salvador Allende, and Fire This Time Movement For Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. Both speakers gave talks which provided solid facts alongside personal experiences from their travels in Cuba and Venezuela. Many of those in attendance were supporters of Venezuela, or genuinely just there to find out what is “really” happening. However, some in attendance were right-wing Venezuelan opposition, with the sole intention of disrupting the event. While everyone was welcome to share their comments or questions in the discussion when it became apparent that some people were not respecting the organizers and the majority rule of the event, they were asked to leave. This very successful event was also an example of the struggle within Venezuela – the counter-revolutionary opposition may try to provoke and disrupt, and assert force, but when the majority is standing up for their rights and in defense of the truth, they can and will win.

      These important events in Calgary are opening the door to more educational events and actions in Calgary and other parts of Canada, aimed at countering the hostile actions by the government of Canada and the mainstream media lies against Cuba and Venezuela. Through events and actions like these, Cuba and Venezuela solidarity activists can bring the truth about Venezuela and Cuba to people in Canada, and defend the self-determination of these countries under imperialist attack.

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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