Speech to Rally held August 1, 2017 in Toronto, near the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland.
by Barry Weisleder, federal secretary, Socialist Action
We should begin by congratulating the people of Venezuela. Over 8 million voted on July 30 to elect a National Constituent Assembly. That is more than voted for President Nicolas Maduro in 2013, or for his party in the 2015 legislature election. It is 1 million more than the votes claimed in the right wing’s fake referendum two weeks ago.
The people of Venezuela stood up to a mountain of media lies, to threats by a number of capitalist governments, and to months of violence organized by reactionary fanatics, who were chiefly responsible for 125 deaths and over 2,000 injuries in the streets.
Efforts to foment a coup, to cause panic by creating shortages in medicines and other imported items, were frustrated by the resilience of the Venezuelan working class.
But Ottawa and Washington will not take Yes for an answer, not even 8 million times. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland denounces the election. She says the Constituent Assembly will cause more violence. It sounds like wishful thinking on her part. I think Freeland, whose grandfather was editor of a Nazi newspaper in German-occupied Poland during WW2, shows that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
I think Freeland and Justin Trudeau should be more concerned about electoral reform in Canada, about the police spy law C-51 (which they promised to amend substantially), about the lack of clean drinking water and proper housing in many indigenous communities, and about taxing the super-rich, instead of increasing the Canadian military budget by 70 per cent.
And what about their friend in Washington? President Trump, who got three million votes less than Hilary Clinton, calls Nicolas Maduro a dictator, and threatens more sanctions against Venezuela. Sunday’s vote was mandated by the Venezuela constitution. But Trump says No. Please tell me: Who made Trump head of Venezuela’s Supreme Court? The arrogance of imperialism knows no bounds.
Sadly, the New Democratic Party foreign affairs critic, Helen Laverdiere, called Sunday’s vote “illegitimate.” Well, in light of the massive turnout, despite an organized right wing boycott, and in light of the achievements of the Bolivarian process, we must say that the NDP criticism is illegitimate.
Clearly, a new chapter in the history of Venezuela is opening. Big challenges and tests lay ahead. As someone famously said, “The revolution is not a tea party.”
Nicolas Maduro in a recent speech told the rulers of the Empire that he “will not be taken for a sucker.” In other words, this is no time to put faith in conciliation, or the OAS or the Vatican. It’s time for the Venezuelan working class to settle accounts with the exploiters, the hoarders, the drug smugglers, the banksters, the violent thugs who would burn, not only Chavistas, but every leftist, every union member, everyone who benefits from social housing, medicine and education.
We have to support Venezuela as the hour of reckoning approaches. The road forward is
workers’ power. The road forward is socialist revolution, the road of Russia 100 years ago under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky, the road of Cuba in 1959, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Haydee Santamaria and Vilma Espin. As Che said, “The revolution will be a socialist revolution, or it will be a caricature of a revolution.”
There must not be a repeat of the tragedy of Chile in September 1973. Forward to socialism! And our task here is clear. We should ask all the working class organizations to take up the call: “Self-determination for Venezuela. Respect the vote. Ottawa, Washington, Hands Off Venezuela!”