While in Caracas, Fire This Time had the chance to interview two revolutionary Venezuelans about the conclusion of the international Sao Paulo Forum; the impact of the unjust economic blockade on Venezuela; and about their message for people living in Canada, the United States, and around the world. First, we spoke with Lucrecia Hernández who coordinates a non-governmental human rights organization, SURES. Secondly, we interviewed Victor Salcedo, an organizer with the JPSUV (Youth of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela) who is in charge of international relations of the JPSUV in the state of La Guaira, this was his second interview with Fire This Time, to read his first interview please see Fire This Time Volume 13 Issue 5 (May 2019).
((1)) Fire This Time: Lucrecia, thank you for being here with Fire This Time. Do you want to introduce yourself?
Lucrecia Hernández: My name is Lucrecia Hernández. I run a social human rights organization called SURES. We work and study the issue of human rights in general and principally the issue of political violence by the opposition in the country.
FTT: After the Sao Paulo Forum - where Venezuela invited thousands of people from all over the progressive world to join in working and planning the tasks of the anti-imperialist movement - What do you see as the achievements of the Forum and what do we need to do next?
LH: I believe that one of the fundamental achievements is that we get together, that we meet and are able to see each other face to face. To be able to discuss and strengthen ties, not only through social networks or in a virtual way, but also to communicate, to feel each other, to hug, and to express our solidarity directly. I think that the forum was very important. I congratulate the forum due to the participation of social movements and as with the previous the forum where we built an agenda of dialogue with political parties to put forward a plan for our struggle, a plan for common struggle related to different issues. From actions to how to strengthen joint mobilizations and how solidarity goes in both directions, not only towards Venezuela, but also how social movements and organizations in Venezuela want to express our support for struggles in other countries. I think there was an important advance in this aspect.
I also believe that we made important advances in our communication and political development. Social movements discussed and set a common action plan and strengthened the formative aspect of our organizations. In exchanges we learn about experiences from different places. We often have little information about what is happening in the United States or what is happening in Canada, and when the agenda allows for these exchanges our social movements, and the youth of our countries, can learn about experiences in Canada and the United States. So that they see that the American dream does not exist. That in the U.S. there are also difficulties, there is an economic situation that is very difficult and complex for the most disadvantaged classes.
FTT: Well, you have already answered part of my second question, but I want to ask you more specifically about the sanctions, not only by the United States, but also Canada and Europe. How do they have an impact on the daily lives of Venezuelan people?
LH: Yes, since 2014 our organization, along with other human rights organizations, have been denouncing this situation. Today we are becoming a platform against the economic blockade on Venezuela. We have been denouncing – both in national and international arenas and in multilateral organizations – the impact that these sanctions have had on the lives of revolutionary people, on the daily lives of all people, in terms of their right to food, health, and all socio-economic developments in the country. They have tried to create the idea that the sanctions are only aimed at public officials, but most of the sanctions are impacting both public and private companies in our country and are impacting the main industry of the state, that is the oil industry de Venezuela, which is the one that produces all the profits that the state requires for social investment to develop social programs.
The issue of the exact impacts is complex. As social movements, we have been trying to systematize the impact the blockade has had, but today the impact is very real. We also feel it because most of the food was imported, also medicines were imported, these necessities came from countries that have imposed the sanctions, from the U.S., from Canada, from Switzerland. Now we must rebuild Venezuelan imports, look for new markets, look for new routes, search for ships that can bring medicines and food. Because those ships and those entrepreneurs have also had sanctions imposed against them. So, we must rebuild the entire structure to be able to give satisfaction to the Venezuelan people. There is a real impact, but there is also a very strong path being developed by social movements to confront that impact and to advance the struggle of the Venezuelan people of solidarity, of all the alternative methods that we have been developing in this battle against the bullying economic measures that the governments’ of North America have been forcing on our country.
FTT: Thank you, your answer gives us a good idea of our great task, which is to confront that economic blockade against Venezuela. My final question is how people in Canada, the United States, Europe and around the world can stand in solidarity with the Bolivarian process and with the Venezuelan people?
LH: Of course, it is important that they come to see Venezuela for themselves. Let them see that Venezuela is a place of peace, it is a people of peace. Let them come to know the experience of how our communities are resisting. Then that they take that message back to their countries and help us with the dissemination of this campaign against the blockade so that more and more voices are added to this campaign against the economic blockade from the communities, from grassroots organizations, and from social movements all over the world. We would also like your support in the United Nations and the OAS (Organization of American States) to raise your voices against the criminal, unfair, and illegal blockade that continues to weigh on our country.
FTT: Thank you very much, on behalf of Fire This Time we are super grateful that you were able to be here with us for a few minutes.
LH:For us it is an honor, a pleasure and all the love of the Venezuelan people to you.
FTT: Thank you!
((2)) Fire This Time: Thank you for being here with Fire This Time once again! First, can you please introduce yourself and your work here in Venezuela and in Vargas.
Victor Salcedo: How are you Tamara? A greeting to all our friends of Canada, please send my thanks to them for their ongoing solidarity there in Canada and in Vancouver. A fraternal and supportive hug for you all. My name is Víctor Salcedo, I am a young person who belongs to the JPSUV (Youth of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela) and I am in charge of international relations of the JPSUV in the state of La Guaira. In addition, I currently work in the Mayor's Office with an international relations project that will help us connect ourselves internationally with movements, delegations, and political parties allied to the Bolivarian Revolution and to receive them here in La Guaira.
FTT: Perfect! You participated with us in the Sao Paulo Forum which was very successful for Venezuela, to unite progressive people from many parts of the world. How do you foresee the work continuing or what do you think are the next steps after this successful forum?
VS: Look, as you just said, I think the twenty-fifth edition of the Sao Paulo Forum was successful. It has given us positive results and we are now able to link the Latin American left movements together with the rest of the world, in the fight against imperialism, against foreign aggression and in favor of the self-determination and the independence of the peoples. This event, precisely, leaves us with a task that is to consolidate that network, that foundation, which must be permanent, must not be temporary, these must be permanent to fight together against imperialist aggression. We must be able to fight until we win.
FTT: We now know that sanctions and the blockade against Venezuela - not only from the United States, but also Canada and Europe - have an impact on Venezuela. Can you tell us a little about the impact on the daily life of Venezuelans?
VS: Of course, there is an impact. Indeed, unilateral coercive measures affect ordinary citizens, Venezuelan people, who are the ones who are hit by the consequences of this imperialist aggression. Obviously it impacts our everyday life, because the food that is distributed through the CLAP [Local Supply and Production Committee], an institution founded by our president Nicolás Maduro, is affected because, for example, I’ll make the figure clear: of the 8 or 10 shipping companies that bring food here by boat, are only one or two are coming a month because they receive pressure. Those companies that dare to disobey the orders of the empire are hit by sanctions. Indeed, it impacts the lives of Venezuelans, because through that food subsidy Venezuelans can buy products at very low prices, very low. That food may not longer arrive, or it does not arrive as often as it arrived one or two years ago after the CLAP project was created. This is a result of imperialist aggression. I believe that the empire is increasingly digging its claws into Venezuela and the Venezuelan people. We are telling them to leave us alone. Do you want us to be free? Well, lift all the sanctions, repeal the sanctions so that they can see how the Venezuelan people can truly solve their own problems internally and without any tutelage of any empire or any country.
FTT: How do you think the people of North America, Europe and also of the whole world can support the people of Venezuela and work towards ending the sanctions?
VS: What I think is necessary are permanent meetings and events. That you come here to Venezuela, see the reality of people in Venezuela, so that you can return to your countries to share that truth. To have the people, in this case Canadian people, hear from you, their fellow citizen who has visited Venezuela and tells them firsthand what is happening here in Venezuela, and what our people fight for – because obviously we are in struggle – it will be a daily fight we will finally win.
FTT: Thank you Victor.
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