During four days, September 16-19, I was in Venezuela, as one of about 200 delegates (including seven Canadians) invited from 60 countries, representing political, social, religious and trade union organizations. I was representing the Canadian organization Frente para la Defensa de los Pueblos Hugo Chavez at the solidarity meeting “Todos Somos Venezuela – Dialogo Mundial por la Paz, la Soberania y la Democracia Bolivariana” (We Are All Venezuela – World Dialogue for Peace, Sovereignty and Bolivarian Democracy).
However, this was not an ordinary invitation to an ordinary meeting. This was not an occasion for a photo op to be seen with famous Venezuelan people, and the dialogue did not just involve expressions of solidarity. This was an urgent call to the world to roll up our sleeves and work alongside the Venezuelan people anywhere we live.
Why such urgency and such a wide call?
There is a concerted plan by the U.S. government to overthrow President Maduro and to completely wipe out the Bolivarian Revolution and the governing Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV, United Socialist Party of Venezuela). The first attempt was the failed coup against Chavez in 2002. Then there have been attempts through parliamentary coups and referendums to remove the president “constitutionally”.
Failing all of that, the level of violence, orchestrated by the rightwing Venezuelan opposition, increased reaching a peak in April-July of this year with 120 Venezuelans killed, some burned alive as suspected Chavistas. This tactic was used to destabilize the country and reach international visibility with the aid of corporate media, setting up the perfect excuse for the U.S. government to justify any intrusion in the name of the “poor suffering” Venezuelan people.
Following U.S. threats of military intervention and escalating sanctions, the violence has subsided. But the last round of sanctions of August 25 were applied, amounting to a virtual financial blockade that prevents Venezuela from having access to international financing necessary for its oil industry.
Regrettably, Canada has recently joined the U.S. in applying sanctions to 40 high-ranking Venezuelans including President Maduro.
The sanctions come from governments that want to strangle the Venezuelan economy for the purpose of regime change; hence the call to the meeting “Todos Somos Venezuela” in Caracas.
During the four days we had an opportunity to hear from and exchange with President Nicolas Maduro; Jorge Arreaza, Minister of Foreign Relations; Delcy Rodriguez, former Minister of Foreign Relations and current President of the National Constituent Assembly; and Adan Chavez, brother of Hugo Chavez, vice president of the National Constituent Assembly, and United Venezuelan Socialist Party (PSUV) International Coordinator.
Among the international delegates Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, shared his undivided solidarity with Maduro. Other delegates were Fernando Gonzalez, former “Cuban Five” prisoner and President of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples; Maria do Socorro Gomes, president of the World Peace Council; the son of murdered President Patrice Lumumba, from Congo; and Sonia Gupta, renowned academic from India, who gave a strong speech praising Venezuela for the “creation of a new value system and a new model of democracy” to replace the “worn out model.”
Now that all delegates have returned home, what next?
The Caracas Proclamation issued on the last day stated, “Our commitment to peace, sovereignty and the Bolivarian democracy is closely linked to the development of a broad and permanent conference of solidarity in each country, promoted by every political, social, religious and trade union organization of democratic nature that participates in this Conference.”
From the first day we were divided in several working groups with a clear mandate, to work on a draft declaration or proclamation; and to produce a plan of action.
The result was an “Action Plan to strengthen solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and to promote the emancipation struggles of the peoples.”
The general activities listed in the Action Plan include: collecting and distributing statements of support for Venezuela at all events and public activities; expanding the support base for the Bolivarian Revolution in the different sites of struggle; visits from activists willing to go to Venezuela to perform voluntary activities; coordinated international information campaigns on Venezuela’s government policies, National Constituent Assembly, call to peace, Venezuela’s participatory model, etc. The Action Plan calls to launch a collective and coordinated social media offensive; information on the website Venezuelanalysis.com can be used as a resource.
Some of the scheduled activities in the Action Plan were already underway in the first half of October. These included worldwide activities on the electoral process prior to the Governors’ elections of October 15 in Venezuela, as well as street mobilizations and visits to U.S. embassies. Solidarity activists have participated in events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the murder of Che Guevara. Indigenous Resistance Day, observed on October 12 in many countries, was an occasion for actions to reject U.S. interventionist policy.
Coming up soon, December 20, 2017, has been designated as the “International Day against Imperialism”, in commemoration of the invasion of Panama in 1989 by the United States. Throughout December, the symbolism of the Christmas holidays will be used to promote a global campaign of peace and solidarity with Venezuela against international aggression, with messages such as “Venezuela wants Peace”.
The work plan is ambitious but it must be done for the sake of justice and to fight back against U.S. imperialist ambitions on Venezuela and on all of Latin America.
For the Caracas Proclamation and Action Plan, and to join in any action, contact the Frente para la Defensa de los Pueblos Hugo Chavez: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Nino Pagliccia’s next article about the Caracas meeting will focus on the theme “Socialist and anti imperialist spirit.”)