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Minnesotans stand in solidarity with Venezuela

By staff |
March 27, 2015
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Minnesotans stand with Venezuela.
Minnesotans stand with Venezuela. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

St. Paul, MN - On March 25, around 30 people braved cold winds to stand on the Lake Street/Marshall Avenue bridge over the Mississippi River to protest the escalation of hostilities by the U.S. towards Venezuela. Protesters held signs reading, “Let Venezuela live,” “Hands off Venezuela,” and “Defend the Bolivarian Revolution.”

Both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are advocating for more meddling in the internal affairs of Venezuela. In February, Venezuela thwarted a U.S.-sponsored coup. 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.-dominated main ally in the region - have called for a revocation of the U.S. sanctions. On April 10, the U.S. and most Latin American countries will be at the Summit of the Americas in Panama where U.S. foreign policy towards the region will be a focus of the meeting’s discussions. U.S. relations with Cuba were planned to be the main topic, but now Venezuela will obviously be a hot button issue at the international gathering.

Meredith Aby-Keirstead, a spokesperson for the Anti-War Committee who met with activists in Venezuela in 2006, explained the purpose for the protest, “We are concerned by the president’s recent actions towards Venezuela, including his executive order declaring Venezuela a threat to national security. When the U.S. and Venezuela will both be at the Summit of the Americas on April 10 we want the people of Venezuela and President Obama to know that he does not speak for us at the summit. We want the sanctions and the executive order revoked.”

Loretta VanPelt, a member of the Welfare Rights Committee, traveled to Venezuela in 2007 to attend the National Book Fair. She spoke first at the protest and said, “The U.S. wants to interfere in Venezuela. The same country who offered free heating oil to low income people in this country. The U.S. is threatened by what Venezuela has done for its people - it has put human needs first! One cannot say the same for this country.”

This protest was co-sponsored by the Anti-War Committee, the End War Committee of Women Against Military Madness, the Minnesota Cuba Committee and the Twin Cities Peace Campaign.

The next event will be a forum where local Latin America solidarity activists will address the issue of Venezuela/U.S. relations and the importance of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela to the region. The forum is on April 18, at 2:00 p.m. at May Day Bookstore, 301 Cedar Avenue South in Minneapolis.