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Minnesota joins national protests for end to U.S. intervention in Venezuela, around the world

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
April 2, 2019
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Minneapolis protest against U.S. intervention in Venezuela.
Minneapolis protest against U.S. intervention in Venezuela. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - On March 30 around 100 people gathered at the busy intersection of Minnehaha Avenue and Lake Street in Minneapolis to participate in the national call for action issued by the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). UNAC’s original call was to draw attention to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO’s) 70th anniversary but as the United States’ attempts to force Juan Guiado into power in Venezuela became more aggressive, the focus of the protest shifted more to #HandsOffVenezuela.

Kim DeFranco, a member of Women Against Military Madness and the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition, opened the protest, “Today, we say no to NATO. This year, NATO will be starting its 2019 summit in Washington DC and is set to ‘celebrate’ 70 years of existence on April 4. The U.S., with the support of NATO allies, will continue intervening in other countries around the world. Recently, we see Colombia, now a new NATO partner and U.S. ally, will be playing a big role in the U.S. moves against Venezuela. Trump just announced he wants to add Brazil to NATO, so he can order them to wage war against Venezuela. We need to stand in solidarity with Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution! We oppose U.S. intervention in Venezuela! We are opposed to U.S. intervention everywhere!”

Sarah Martin, also a member of Women Against Military Madness, recently participated in the U.S. Peace Council delegation to Venezuela and was one of the protest’s main speakers, “They say the country is in a humanitarian crisis caused by the Maduro government’s corruption and mismanagement. This economic crisis is caused by U.S. sanctions and the economic war. These lies and deceptions are nothing new. This is business as usual.”

Martin continued, “Think of the track record and how U.S. intervention always destroys a country - life is never better for the people. In Iraq it was weapons of mass destruction which never existed. That war destroyed and impoverished a once prosperous country. In Afghanistan, which is the longest war in U.S. history, the excuse to stay after not finding Osama bin Laden was to protect the rights of women. Ask the women of Afghanistan how that worked out for them. In Libya, the pretext to bomb was to get rid of an evil dictator, but he’d actually built a country with free health care, housing and education. Now Libya is devastated, in utter turmoil and many Libyans think their only option is to make the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean to safety. In Syria the pretext for that U.S. proxy war was also to get rid of a brutal dictator. What these governments all have in common with Venezuela is they have not and will not submit to U.S. pressure and domination. Life is not made better for the people when we intervene. So when your friends and family and coworkers of good will are confused about Venezuela and wonder if we should intervene, remind them of the record and disastrous results.

March 30 was also Land Day in Palestine. Land Day is an important anniversary which marks Israel’s deadly attacks on protesters in 1976. Last year Palestinians organized the Great March of Return which started on Land Day, where tens of thousands protested at the Gaza border. The protest continued every week over the past year despite lethal attacks from the Israeli Defense Forces. Electronic Intifada reports that “Almost 200 Palestinians have been killed during the weekly protests since their launch at the end of March 2018. More than 40 of them were children.”

Sabry Wazwaz, a Palestinian-American activist with the Anti-War Committee, addressed the crowd too, “The Palestinian people are simply asking they have the same rights as Jews on their homeland. We also must remember Palestine also means Palestinian Jews. Palestine does not mean a land for only Arabs. My wife was born in Palestine. So were her parents and their parents and their great grandparents. Why should Jews from Russia who have never even been to Palestine immediately receive more rights and privileges than my wife who was born there? All I am asking is everyone to have the same rights and the laws apply to all equally.”

Across the street, about six counter protesters held up signs in support of ‘self-proclaimed’ president Juan Guaidó as a part of “Operación Libertad” in Minnesota. Guaidó called for protests to help the U.S.-orchestrated coup to success, but Maduro remains in power.

The protest was organized by the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition. Their next action is called “Yes to Peace No to NATO” on April 4 at the Minnesota State Capitol, 75 MLK Blvd. in Saint Paul, and starts at 12:15 p.m. on the capitol steps.

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