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      The U.S. and Canada Cry Crocodile Tears for the People of Venezuela -
      Vancouver Monthly Protests Demand: U.S./Canada Hands Off!

      By Janine Solanki

      "We gather today to discuss the challenges the Venezuelan crisis represents for all of us and how we, the Lima Group, can bring the world community together to re-establish democracy in that country." – Phillipe Champagne, Foreign Minister of Canada, February 20, 2020.

      The above quote is an excerpt of the opening remarks by Foreign Minister Champagne at a meeting of the so-called Lima Group held in Gatineau, Quebec. Under the guise of “democracy” and “human rights” this meeting was yet another round of planning and discussion about how the “international community” can assist the United States-led campaign to bring about the overthrow the democratically elected President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro. This is, in fact, the sole purpose of the Lima Group, which includes representatives from the government of Canada and 11 right-wing governments in Latin America.

      The truly brutal face of the U.S. government and Lima Groups interventions in Venezuela are further exposed in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic. The United States government’s deployment of warships, military aircraft, and soldiers to the Caribbean surrounding Venezuela, announced in March, is not to bring the people of Venezuela “democracy.” –Just as the increase of brutal and crippling sanctions against Venezuela, throughout the first four months of 2020 is certainly not in the interest of “human rights.”

      As peace-loving people living in the United States and Canada we have the responsibility to think critically about the sanctions and war being imposed on people in Venezuela. We must question how it is that these governments can claim they support the people of Venezuela, when their financial and commercial blockade killed an estimated 40,000 Venezuelans from 2017-2018 alone? (As reported by the Centre for Economic Policy Research). And why is it that the mainstream media echoes U.S. President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau when they call for “new elections” in Venezuela, but then doesn’t say a word when on March 8, 2020 counter-revolutionaries destroyed 49,408 electronic voting machines and other voting devices by burning a warehouse to the ground in Caracas?

      Each month, the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign takes to the streets with supporters of Venezuela in Vancouver for two solidarity actions – a picket action at the U.S. Consulate and information tabling at the Vancouver Art Gallery. At these dynamic actions, participants raise their voices against the cruel U.S. and Canada sanctions and war on Venezuela and hear speeches from people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences in support of Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination.

      The February 7, 2020 protest action and information tabling in Vancouver took place three days after the U.S. President rhetorically declared that “Maduro's grip on tyranny will be smashed and broken,” during his State of the Union address. Trump’s war-mongering rhetoric gave the chants of “Trump Hands Off Venezuela!” an extra boost as picketers marched at the steps of the U.S. Consulate. Recent U.S. increased sanctions against Venezuela, and a meeting between the self-declared “interim President” of Venezuela Guaidó and Prime Minister Trudeau were important topics of discussion with passers-by. On March 5, 2020, the Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign’s actions also marked the 7th anniversary of the passing of Comandante Hugo Chávez, the leader of the Bolivarian revolution and President of Venezuela from 1999 until his untimely death in 2013. As participants in the actions chanted at the front steps of the U.S. Consulate in downtown Vancouver, they were inspired by the eternal example of Hugo Chávez, and especially by his fierce defense of Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination in the face of U.S. imperialist attacks.

      The people of Venezuela are determined to defend their democratically elected government, and their rights that they have gained through the Bolivarian revolution - rights to housing, healthcare, education, nutritional food, and many more. They do so not only as they face COVID-19, which now threatens nearly every country on the planet, but murderous U.S. blockade and war.

      As Comandante Hugo Chávez said, "In Venezuela, they don't command us from the Pentagon, the White House or the United States Embassy. We are free and we will never be slaves, at all costs."

      From the U.S. and Canada, we, as poor, working and oppressed people, must amplify the voice of the people of Venezuela, and work to build a more united and stronger movement in defense of Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination.

      To find out about the next FTT Venezuela Solidarity Campaign action, including on-line actions, visit www.firethistime.net, or follow on Facebook, on Twitter @FTT_np and on Instagram @ftt.venezuela

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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