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Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Arreaza addresses NYC activists

By staff |
April 27, 2019
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 Arrezea addressing the audience.
Arrezea addressing the audience.

New York, NY – More than 50 people gathered at The People’s Forum, on the evening of April 25 for a talk by the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza. Arreaza was part of a Venezuelan delegation visiting the United Nations to demand an end to U.S. sanctions against their country. The sanctions have completely frozen Venezuelan assets and have stalled government activities meant to help the population.

In the last few months, the United States has heightened the attacks on the democratically elected government of Nicolás Maduro. While the U.S. has always attempted to meddle in Venezuelan affairs since Hugo Chávez became president, the recent wave of attacks come right after the largely pro-U.S. politician Juan Guaidó declared himself president. Guaidó, who hadn’t even participated in the recent elections, gained immediate support Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, etc. While Guaidó doesn’t represent the people of Venezuela, imperialist countries see him as a way to depose the Bolivarian revolution and get their hands on the vast oil reserves in the country.

Arreaza walked the audience through the timeline of the attempted coup and how the country was resisting all attempts of meddling, infiltration and war. Their focus has been to regain the ability to move their own assets. Banks throughout the world have been holding on to Venezuelan assets, estimated to be in the billions, and refusing to let the government pay their bills or to buy necessary items to run a country, such as food and medicine.

An example Arreaza used to highlight the dire situation was a medical one. The Venezuelan government set up a program with an Italian clinic for patients in need of bone-marrow transplants. He explained that Venezuelan hospitals currently don’t have the technology necessary to perform such a specialized procedure. Therefore, the Venezuelan government pays for the patients and their family to go to Italy and receive treatment. They pay their medical bills and accommodations. This is a fantastic program and there are currently 26 Venezuelans, who range from 5 to 55 years old, benefitting. However, since a bank in Portugal refuses to unfreeze their funds, the government can no longer pay for this program, putting 26 people at risk of death.

Throughout the evening, Arreaza was confident in his people and their ability to fight back against U.S. imperialism. For every example where the U.S. attempted to bring down the government, Arreaza gave an example of successful resistance. He also thanked the people of the U.S. who had been marching and protesting U.S. intervention, specifically the people who are currently occupying and defending the Venezuelan embassy.

For several weeks, different groups that support Maduro have been occupying the embassy in Washington DC to prevent the illegal seizure of Venezuelan property. Those brave occupiers were video-streamed into the NYC event. Madea Benjamin of Code Pink told the crowd that they’re taking care of the building and staying there, despite threat of arrests.

The evening concluded with Arrezea thanking the crowd and urging people keep fighting and protesting. Manolo de los Santos, the Executive Director of The People’s Forum, took up Arrezea on his request and called the crowd to action.