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Sarah Martin reports from Venezuela, opposes U.S. intervention

By Autumn Lake

Sarah Martin with President Maduro.

Minneapolis, MN – On March 27, 80 people filled 4200 Cedar to witness a report on the conditions in Venezuela delivered by Sarah Martin. Martin, a longtime peace activist and member of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), joined members of organizations such as International Action Center, Veterans for Peace, Canadian Peace Council, and United National Antiwar Coalition as part of an international peace delegation organized by the U.S. Peace Council and Black Alliance for Peace. The delegation's stated intention was to bring a message of solidarity to the Venezuelan people, to witness firsthand the effects of the United States’ political and economic war on the country, and to see the ways that the Venezuelan people resist the constant onslaught.

The Trump government's continued aggression towards Venezuela has intensified in recent months – beginning with John Bolton's declaration that Venezuela is a tyrannical state and culminating in the U.S.'s recent efforts to materially support the right-wing opposition led by Juan Guaido.

Martin explained that the stage for the current situation in Venezuela was set over 20 years ago. “This latest chapter to destabilize Venezuela and bring it under U.S. domination has been going on since 1998, when Hugo Chavez was swept into power in landslide election after decades of struggle by progressive movements,” Martin said, “They threw out a regime which only benefited the rich, leaving the vast majority of Venezuelans in abject poverty.”

The delegation arrived in Venezuela in the midst of the electrical blackout that was caused by a U.S.-engineered attack, and witnessed firsthand the collective strength of the Bolivarian process and the Venezuelan people's faith in their movement. “It became very obvious that Maduro and the government were in charge,” remarked Martin, “Whereas it was very obvious that Guaido is not in charge of anything – and even worse, wraps himself in U.S. intervention, even calling for a military intervention. [President Nicolas] Maduro is clearly on the rise, and Guaido is fading into oblivion.”

Martin detailed the incredible improvements made to the lives of the working people of Venezuela, with gains in healthcare, education, housing and food security exemplifying the progressive nature of the Bolivarian Revolution. Historically oppressed sectors of Venezuelan society such as women, Indigenous and Afro-Venezuelans, and the LGBT community have seen historic gains in civil rights under the system.

“The level of political understanding and commitment among the people is deep and happens in many ways and places,” Martin said. Witnessing the ways that the Venezuelan people engaged with their government – the weekly solidarity marches, engagement with popular media and even a people's occupation around the presidential palace to protect President Maduro from foreign attack – the delegation was able to see firsthand the grassroots popular support behind the Maduro government and the Bolivarian revolution.

The delegation met with President Maduro and his family on March 15. “He talked about history of Venezuela’s relationship with U.S.,” recalled Martin. “Maduro stated, ‘For 200 years it has been a struggle between Bolivar and Monroe, and now between the two systems, capitalism and socialism, for future of humanity.’” Martin informed President Maduro of the protest in support of Venezuela's sovereignty organized by the Anti-War Committee (AWC) in Minneapolis; Maduro later published a video on Twitter in which he stood with the delegation in a video saluting the work of anti-war activists in Minnesota.

The event was opposed by a group of local Venezuelan expats as part of a series of actions called Operación Libertad en Minnesota. According to their Facebook event page, Operación Libertad en Minnesota was organized to assert that the Venezuelan expats in Minnesota “recognize the National Assembly as the only legitimate organ in office and Juan Guaido as Acting President of Venezuela.” Martin displayed patience and determination despite the yelling and posturing by the pro-Guaido and pro-intervention disruptors.

Martin concluded the presentation by emphasizing that the people's movements in the U.S. need to continue to mobilize in solidarity with the Venezuelan masses. Stating “Their struggle is our struggle, and we must mobilize. Only when the people are in motion will we be able to put a brake on imperialism, and it must be stopped in Venezuela. President Maduro is right. The future of humanity depends on it. It’s all hands on deck!”

The March 27 event was organized by Women Against Military Madness and the Anti-War Committee.

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