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      In Defense of Venezuela, U.S. Yankee Hands Off

      By Alison Bodine

      Talk by Alison Bodine at the FTT Venezuela Solidarity Campaign Webinar for Venezuela on June 25, 2020.

      I have been fortunate to travel to Venezuela four times in the last two years with the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice, which I couldn't imagine happening until it did. It has been an incredible experience to travel to a country that I have been writing about in Fire This Time newspaper and have supported for so many years. To go there and learn directly from Venezuela's people and their struggle against interventions, war, and blockade imposed on them by the imperialist government of the United States.

      While at the Sao Paulo Forum, in Caracas, Venezuela, at the end of July 2019, I was able to interview young Venezuelan revolutionary Yakuana Martinez for an article in the Fire This Time newspaper. Yakuana is coordinator of the Estafeta Cultural Center, a collaborative art space that opened one year ago in the very heart of Caracas. She is a young revolutionary woman from a working-class neighborhood who is doing remarkable work despite the U.S. blockade's challenges.

      When asked about the impact of U.S. policy in Venezuela on her life and community, she said, "Given the level of attack against Venezuela today, it seems that the cost of these decisions is high [referring to the decision by the people of Venezuela to build the Bolivarian revolution]. It is costly to be young, to be revolutionary, and to have a struggle for independence that has gone on for more than 200 years. The great empires continue to see us as the third world, as their backyard, as a people who do not deserve self-determination. In the 21st century, we continue fighting for that right. Which seems incredible, but it is true. These attacks have increased after Comandante Chavez died. At that time, they believed that everything was going to end with the death of Comandante Chavez, but it turned out not to be the case."

      Yakuana emphasized a significant point about why the United States, Canada, and their allies, have targeted her country. Venezuela is not under attack only because of its natural resources. Venezuela is in the crosshairs of the U.S. government, of the government of Canada, of the European Union, because of the commitment of the Bolivarian revolutionary process to maintain Venezuela’s independence. Because of their rejection of the United States hegemony in Latin America, and their continued implementation of social justice programs.

      This is one of the main reasons that the U.S. government and their imperialist allies have unleashed war, economic terrorism, and a vicious media campaign against Venezuela. In only the last six months, the U.S. and Canadian governments have been relentless in their escalation of the blockade and sanctions against Venezuela. And despite the deadly threat of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States government has imposed further sanctions that limit Venezuela's access to food, medicines, and medical equipment. These sanctions have cost Venezuela's economy at least $116 billion in the last five years and killed an estimated 100,000 people, as was reported by Alfred DeZayas, a former U.N. rapporteur on human rights. Today, we've been talking about the main reason the U.S. government is attacking Venezuela and what we, as concerned and human-loving people in the United States and Canada, need to do to stand with Venezuela's people in their fight for their sovereignty and self-determination.

      The U.S. and Canadian governments and their allies cannot accept and cannot tolerate a growing anti-imperialist movement in Latin America. A movement which can bring colonial and semi-colonial countries in Latin America and around the world united against the bully of the United States. Against the endless plundering of Latin America and imperialist drive for capitalist market hegemony, neocolonialism and super exploitation. Despite sanctions, war, and continued meddling in Venezuela by the U.S. and Canadian governments and their allies, Venezuela's people continue to defend their popular democracy, the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro, and the Bolivarian revolutionary process.

      The leader of the Bolivarian Revolution and president of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013, Hugo Chávez, began this process over 20 years ago. But the people of Venezuela have stood firm and strong. They have not lost their conviction to struggle with escalating U.S. war and the continuous U.S.-backed counter-revolutionary violence and sabotage. Even during the coronavirus pandemic. This is something that we can all learn, especially when traveling to Venezuela.

      We must understand that now more than ever what our immediate tasks are as people living in the U.S. and Canada, in the belly of the beast. The best way to contribute to the struggle of the Venezuelan people against the reactionary, pro-imperialist right-wing opposition inside Venezuela and against the constant attack, blockade, and interventions of imperialism is to build a strong anti-war, anti-imperialist movement that also focuses on building a Venezuela solidarity movement in defense of self-determination for the Venezuelan people. I look forward from the Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign to working with people on this call and building this movement. I see many people who are organizers and activists in the United States and Canada.

      A campaign means ongoing political activities, no matter what conditions we may face. The objective reality is that there is a coronavirus. We face a challenging situation because of Covid-19, but there is so much that we need to do together to build this campaign. This is especially true when the devastating impact of the U.S. economic, commercial, and financial blockade is intensified due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We must also keep in mind that there is a National Assembly election scheduled in Venezuela for December 2020. Especially since President Chávez passed away, the United States has intensified their campaigns to attack Venezuela during the time of elections. They have done this through promoting violence and hardship to disrupt the electoral process in favour of the Venezuelan counter-revolutionaries and their U.S. backers. Already, the governments of the U.S. and Canada have questioned the legitimacy of the upcoming elections. People who stand in solidarity with Venezuela have the responsibility to respond to these outrageous accusations and meddling. We must remember that the U.S. is not just attacking Venezuela because Venezuela has a socialist government. But because Venezuela is fighting for independence and self-determination. That guides our work, which helps us in our campaign to popularize the Venezuela revolutionary process. We need to make Venezuela an important political issue in our towns and cities and make it part of our ongoing social justice work and campaigns. I look forward to continuing this discussion and thank you again to all the speakers.

      Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette

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