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Minneapolis stands with Iran, Venezuela, Cuba against U.S. sanctions regime

By Wyatt Miller |
July 14, 2019
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Minneapolis protest against U.S. war moves.
Minneapolis protest against U.S. war moves. (Misty Rowan)

Minneapolis, MN - “Workers of the world, unite! Not ‘workers of America unite’ or ‘workers who look like us, pray like us or love like us unite.’ It’s all workers,” said union organizer David Gilbert-Pederson of Minnesota Workers United. “We have more in common with the tailor in Tehran than the bankers who crashed our economy. We have more in common with the bus driver in Caracas than the politicians locking kids in cages.”

Gilbert-Pederson spoke to a protest on Lake Street, July 13, of over 80 people gathered to oppose recent U.S. war threats against Iran and Venezuela. Organized by the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition, the protest featured speakers from a variety of labor, international solidarity and anti-imperialist groups, and called attention to murderous new U.S. sanctions against Cuba as well as Iran and Venezuela.

In a speech, Mary Beaudoin of Women Against Military Madness said, “We are at war on Iran right now. The U.S. is engaged in a ‘hybrid war,’ meaning it’s waging a war with a variety of tactics. The U.S. is encouraging a terrorist group, the MEK, which wants regime change in Iran. And in January, the U.S. State Department was caught funding the Iran Disinformation Project, which has been promoting war in Iran to the media, and smearing Americans who expressed opposition to war in Iran.”

“But by far sanctions on Iran have done the most harm. Sanctions are an act of war,” she continued. “They have crippled Iran’s economy, and made it impossible to import items for agriculture, industry and health care, which are needed to keep its infrastructure functioning. Iran is under siege, and the dying has begun.”

Recent weeks saw rising tensions between Iran and U.S.-aligned forces in the Persian Gulf. An escalating back-and-forth of threats against oil shipments through the narrow Strait of Hormuz - just off Iran’s southern coast - has stemmed from the unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal with Iran and the imposition of extreme sanctions. The crisis reached new levels last week with the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker by UK authorities as it passed by Gibraltar, allegedly at the behest of the Trump administration.

Despite the news cycle’s focus on war threats against Iran, the Minneapolis protesters were also keen to point out that similar acts of U.S. aggression continue against Latin American countries.

“The Center for Economic & Policy Research estimates that over 40,000 Venezuelans have died because of U.S. sanctions,” explained Tracy Molm of the Anti-War Committee, who in April traveled to Venezuela with a Freedom Road Socialist Organization delegation. “It’s important to note that sanctions overwhelmingly affect the most vulnerable in society, denying people desperately-needed medicines and supplies like cooking gas, making daily life very difficult in the countries targeted.”

“The latest round of sanctions on Venezuela are aimed at the CLAP, a government food distribution program. The CLAP program provides food to 6 million Venezuelans,” Molm continued. “If sanctions were the ‘humanitarian solution,’ why would the Trump government target food programs? That’s because sanctions aren’t humanitarian at all. They are a tool of warfare!”

Joe Callahan of the Minnesota Cuba Committee called out the Trump administration for re-imposing the U.S. blockade on Cuba, in part for the socialist country’s longstanding humanitarian missions in Venezuela and around the world. “Mike Pompeo and others have tried to blame Cuba for the failure of the coup attempts in Venezuela. To be sure, Cuba is closely allied with Venezuela. There are tens of thousands of Cuban doctors there, and the Cuban government has strongly denounced U.S. aggression against Venezuela. But of course the real reason for the failure of the coup attempts in Venezuela was the lack of support of the Venezuelan people and military,” he said.

Demonstrators chanted and held signs, got supportive honks from passing motorists, and a number of pedestrians joined in support.

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