Minnesotans gather, urge solidarity with Venezuela
Minneapolis, MN – People gathered at the May Day Bookstore here in Minneapolis, April 18, for a forum titled “U.S. Meddling Escalates: Venezuela: A New Crisis?”
The forum began with Anne Winkler-Morey, a member of Women Against Military Madness and a professor of Latin American history at Metro State University, orientating the audience to the history and context of U.S. intervention in Latin America.
Joe Callahan was the next speaker. Callahan, a long-time Cuba solidarity activist, spoke about U.S. intervention in Venezuela since 2002. He explained the significance of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, “Removal of the Chavista government in favor of a right-wing regime would be a big blow first and foremost to the people of Venezuela, and a sharp blow to ordinary people around the world and to Cuba. Venezuela has been a bright example to the world, increasing social service expenditures 60% since Chavez was elected, as opposed to the world trend of brutal austerity measures. And they have been a thorn in the side to the empire’s international aggression.”
Meredith Aby-Keirstead, a member of the Anti-War Committee, was the last speaker at the forum. She agreed with Callahan that the revolutionary struggle in Venezuela is important for the U.S. anti-war and international solidarity movements to defend.
Aby-Keirstead explained, “Venezolanos learned in 2002 the power and importance of defending their Bolivarian Revolution and as long as the U.S. continues to attack their government they will respond. Some predict that the right-wing opposition will continue to try to overthrow the Maduro government and that when these leaders are jailed for treason that the U.S. will use their cases as ‘human rights’ stories. The mainstream media in the U.S. has enjoyed telling the narratives of the opposition leaders like Leopoldo Lopez as moderate liberals fighting for democracy when in fact they represent a political elite that want to line their own pockets with the oil wealth of Venezuela. We have our own role to defend the Bolivarian Revolution. We must challenge this narrative of the Venezuelan right wing as a Latin American ‘occupy movement’ or an ‘Arab Spring’ to the U.S. media in letters to the editor, to members of Congress with phone calls, and to Obama with protests and letters. The Venezuelan people will do their part and we need to do ours!”
On March 9 the U.S. increased sanctions on Venezuela and Obama signed an executive order declaring Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat to national security.”
Foreign ministers of the 12-country Union of South American Nations and many members of the Organization of the American States, including Colombia – the U.S. main ally in the region – have called for a revocation of the U.S. sanctions.