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      Biden Must Normalize Diplomatic Relations
      and Lift All Sanctions Against Venezuela!

      By Alison Bodine

      On March 5, 2021, Venezuela solidarity organizations and activists across Canada came together to organize the first monthly online picket in solidarity with Venezuela. Below are the remarks made by Alison Bodine, the Coordinator of the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice – Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.

      I think there is a great importance of gathering here today and continuing to build solidarity with Venezuela against the U.S. and Canada sanctions and war. By coming together today, we are taking action for Venezuela. We must take advantage of being here to build a more united, stronger movement to confront what imperialist governments, including Canada, are doing against Venezuela’s self-determination, independence, and human rights.

      Sanctions and Aggression Against Venezuela Expand During the Pandemic

      Since Comandante Hugo Chavez was elected in Venezuela in 1998, the U.S.-led imperialist campaign has been growing in intensity against the people of Venezuela.

      On March 2, 2021 Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, spoke with U.S.-backed puppet Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s unelected so-called “interim President”. According to a Global Affairs readout, “During the call, Minister Garneau expressed Canada’s serious concern over the unacceptable actions taken by the Maduro regime against democratic forces and civil society and reiterated Canada’s commitment to supporting a peaceful return to democracy in Venezuela.” Meanwhile, Canada's government has imposed unilateral and illegal sanctions against Venezuela that are a daily attack on the democratic and human rights of the people of Venezuela.

      Then on March 3, U.S. President Biden extended the 2015 Obama executive order declaring once again that, “he situation in Venezuela continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” With a population similar in size to Canada, over two-thousand miles away from the U.S., Venezuela has been declared a threat to the United States national security.

      This is a dangerous maneuver, which, in part, enables the United States to impose brutal sanctions on Venezuela. This is also a sign that U.S. attacks on Venezuela’s sovereignty and self-determination are going to continue. The United States also maintains its recognition of imposter Juan Guaidó as the “interim President” of Venezuela, as announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the very first day of the new Biden administration.

      Throughout the pandemic, governments of the U.S. and Canada have been relentless in their escalation of the blockade and sanctions against Venezuela. Despite the deadly threat of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States government has imposed further sanctions, especially under former President Trump, limiting access to fuel, food, medicines, and medical equipment. These sanctions have cost Venezuela’s economy at least $114 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.

      In February 2021, Alena Douhan, an independent United Nations human rights expert went to Venezuela to document the impact of sanctions imposed by the U.S., Canada, and European Union. Her preliminary report states, “The devastating effect of sanctions imposed is multiplied by extra-territoriality and over-compliance adversely affecting public and private sectors, Venezuela citizens, non-governmental organizations, third-country national and companies.” Douhan’s report is a strong condemnation of the imperialist campaign to attempt to overthrow Venezuela's democratically elected Maduro government through economic, commercial and financial sanctions.

      People of Venezuela Continue to Defend Their Independence and Self-Determination!

      Today we are marking the 8th anniversary of the passing of Comandante Hugo Chavez. He was one of the giants in the history of the working class struggle for liberation.

      A growing anti-imperialist movement in Latin America is the legacy of Comandante Chavez. A movement that can bring colonial and semi-colonial countries in Latin America and around the world united against the United States bully. Against the endless plundering of Latin America and imperialist drive for capitalist market hegemony, neocolonialism and super exploitation that the U.S. government and their allies hope to bring once again to Latin America and the Caribbean. Despite sanctions, aggression, and continued meddling in Venezuela by the U.S. and Canadian governments and their allies, Venezuelan people continue to defend their popular democracy, president Maduro’s democratically elected government. This is what the U.S. and Canadian imperialist governments and their allies cannot accept and cannot tolerate.

      Building a Venezuela Solidarity Campaign

      We must understand now more than ever what our immediate tasks are as people living in the U.S. and Canada, known as 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 also against the constant attacks, blockade and interventions of imperialism is to build a strong anti-war, anti-imperialist movement that focuses on building a Venezuela solidarity movement in defense of self-determination for the Venezuelan people. This campaign must also demand the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States government and the democratically elected, Bolivarian, revolutionary government of Venezuela. I look forward from the Fire This Time Venezuela Solidarity Campaign to working with people on this call and building this movement.

      A campaign means ongoing political activities, no matter what conditions we may face. We have very clearly seen that the heroic people of Venezuela and their revolutionary government, under Comandante Chavez and now democratically elected President Maduro, are extremely capable of dealing with all kinds of internal counter-revolutionary sabotage. We must immediately increase our effort to explain to people in advanced industrial countries that shortages of goods, fuel, food, medicine, and daily necessities are the result of inhuman, brutal, and heavy imperialist sanctions and blockade. At the same time, we must demand that President Biden normalize diplomatic relations with Venezuela immediately.

      That is why Venezuela solidarity activists and organizations across Canada have started these monthly online actions and have come together today. We must build a movement in defense of the Venezuelan people with the main slogan of “US, Canada and All Other Imperialists Hands Off Venezuela!” and “End the Blockade Against Venezuela!” We must build a movement to defend the self-determination, sovereignty, and human rights of people in Venezuela. Let’s work and focus together on a united effort and a united front on these basic demands. We will win.

      As Comandante Hugo Chavez said, “Let the dogs of imperialism bark…that’s their role, to bark. Our task is to consolidate this century and the real liberation of our people right now.”

      Follow Alison on Twitter: @alisoncolette

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