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Los Angeles FRSO hosts Venezuelan activist and former presidential advisor

By Andrew Keith

FRSO event with Venezuelan political activist Dozthor Zurlent.

Los Angeles, CA – This past weekend, the Los Angeles district of FRSO hosted Venezuelan political activist Dozthor Zurlent as he continued his speaking tour of the United States. Zurlent is a political activist and was an advisor to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He's currently traveling the country to talk about the successes and current challenges facing the Bolivarian Revolution, as well as using his trip to rally support for Alex Saab, a Venezuelan diplomat who is being held hostage by the U.S. government. Zurlent’s other stops on tour included Florida and Wisconsin in late October and early November.

The event was held November 20 at the Church of the Epiphany in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. The choice of venue was intentional as the church has a long history of supporting and sheltering activists and revolutionaries. In the past it served as a shelter for refugees from El Salvador, provided protection for Brown Berets as well as being the headquarters of La Raza, a Chicano newspaper published in the 1960s and 70s.

After a brief introduction on the guest speaker and the history of the church by FRSO and National Alliance against Racist and Political Repression members Sol Marquez and Luis Sifuentes, Zurlent began his speech. He started by talking about how both Venezuela and Aztlan are linked together, saying, “This is a land of struggle, a land of courage. People are linked together in struggle in spite of the fascists. It is the struggle of generations, and we are part of that struggle. Only through revolution will we achieve a society where we can all live together in unity.”

After his opening remarks, the audiences were then shown a brief video on Alex Saab, before Dozthor started the second part of his presentation, where he spoke at length about the goals and achievements of the people of Venezuela highlighting their ongoing struggle against imperialism, or what he called the “supra state,” and the people’s mission to build a communal state from the bottom up rather than the top down.

One of the major successes that Zurlent mentioned was the massive housing initiative first undertaken by Hugo Chavez that has since resulted in millions of houses being built all across the country.

The next part of the presentation focused on the sanctions that the United States has imposed on Venezuela. Zurlent said “The goal of the sanctions was to hurt the country, but the Venezuelan people are the ones who are the most hurt. They want us to get desperate, to say it's all Maduro's fault and to overthrow him. But we already have defeated all their tricks. They've tried three times to kill Maduro, they've tried to sabotage our water, to make our lives miserable and to promote a civil war. But in spite of all this, we continue to grow.”

Since 2014, the United States has levied many sanctions against Venezuela and its government in attempt to cripple the South American nation's economy and force them to sell their resources such as their oil reserves, which are among the largest in the world to American corporations.

Dozthor concluded his speech by restating Venezuela's commitment to the masses, by saying, “This is not a top down revolution. We're not in a hurry to declare ourselves a socialist country, but we are in a hurry to build popular power. We are not going to give up, we are going to continue to build this new system.”

After he finished speaking, the next speaker, Carlos Montes of FRSO, spoke briefly about the history of international solidarity and cooperation that Freedom Road has with Venezuela.

The final speakers for the evening were Jenny Bekenstein of FRSO and Centro CSO and Jared Hamil, a Teamster Shop Steward at UPS and an FRSO member. The two of them talked about their experience in Venezuela. Bekenstein said, “I was impressed by the high level of political consciousness the average worker in Venezuela has. They all have an encyclopedic knowledge of their nation and its history. It's really their first line of defense against imperialism.”

Hamil talked about the need for workers to show solidarity, saying, “The owners of UPS are the same class at home as they are in Venezuela. The average worker in the U.S. has more in common with the average worker in Venezuela than they do with their boss. I urge everybody to show solidarity with workers abroad, but don't forget to fight your boss at home.”

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