Category Archives: International

Canada Marches In Solidarity with Venezuela

Canada Marches In Solidarity with Venezuela
By Victoria Fleming

Dozens of people, equipped with signs, flags, their resonant voices, and plenty of determination, rallied in front of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto on Saturday, September 16, to protest imperialistic actions by the United States and Canada towards the democratically elected government in Venezuela.

With large, vibrantly-colored banners, and signs proclaiming “No to U.S. Backed Violence Against the Venezuelan people,” rally participants quickly took over the sidewalk forming an intimate circle, belting out songs, chants, and speeches in a beautiful blend of English and Spanish.

The chorus of protestors decried the history of western capitalist states intervening against democratically elected leftist Latin American governments.  They recited the list of U.S.-led coups and regime change in Chile, Bolivia, and Honduras as evidence for the West’s ulterior motives in Venezuela.

“We want people to demand that Ottawa and Washington keep their hands off Venezuela,” said Barry Weisleder, the Federal Secretary of Socialist Action.

“Venezuela has been under withering assault by Washington, Ottawa, and their allies who really want to get back control of the oil wealth in the country. Venezuela has suffered from the decline in the oil price, but the problems the Western media focuses on have been chiefly the work of big business groups inside and outside the country who have been attempting to overthrow the elected popular government of Venezuela,” he said.

The rally, organized by the Toronto Venezuela Solidarity Committee, as a part of an International Day of Action, comes as a response to Washington’s draconian economic sanctions and threats of military intervention in Venezuela.  These alarming actions by the United States occurred after the Venezuelan people democratically elected a new constituent assembly on July 30. The assembly has set out to rewrite the constitution in order to codify the rights of ordinary working people, women, and indigenous people, to restore peace to the country after months of ongoing protest, and to help solve the economic crisis, in large part prompted by dropping oil prices and acts of economic sabotage by business groups.

“We are asking the United States to really try and understand what their president is doing in their name. We are asking Prime Minister Trudeau not to follow the lead of this disreputable American president”, said Maria Paez Victor, one of the organizers of the rally and a member of the Canadian, Latin American and Caribbean Policy Center as well as the Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle.

“We are asking that international law be respected, and if not, we are in terrible trouble. International law means we respect the sovereignty of countries, their right to self-determination, and that countries have the right to write their own laws without foreign interference,” she says.

Protestors have one message for the governments of Canada and the United States:  Keep your hands off Venezuela.

Socialist Action remarks at the Hands Off Venezuela rally at US Consulate on September 16, 2017

Socialist Action remarks at the Hands Off Venezuela rally at US Consulate on September 16, 2017
Good afternoon.  My name is Elizabeth Byce and I am speaking to you on behalf of Socialist Action.  I am a retired member of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and a past Secretary of the Toronto Labour Council.
Here’s a riddle:  How can you tell when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is lying?  Answer:  When you see his lips moving.
Trudeau promised electoral reform.  He lied!
Trudeau promised no pipelines without the consent of indigenous peoples.  He lied!
He promised action on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.  He lied!
He promised thousands of good, new jobs through massive investment in public works.  He lied!
Trudeau promised to reverse Stephen Harper’s pro-war policies.  He lied!
Trudeau said “Canada is back” on the world stage as a force for peace.  Well, that’s a double lie.
The Canadian state was never a force for peace.  Just ask the people of Congo, of Palestine, of the Syrian Golan Heights.  Just ask the people of Vietnam, of Afghanistan, of Libya, and Haiti.  Just ask the Acadians, the Quebecois, and the indigenous people of Turtle Island.  
Canada is a colonial-settler, racist, imperialist state.  Worldwide, it props up the capitalist system of plunder and oppression.  It promotes Canadian mining corporations, like HudBay Minerals, that poison the soil and water of farmers in Central and South America, in Africa and in East Asia.  Canadian imperialism exploits migrant workers, and it condones hazardous working conditions here.
In its first budget, the Trudeau Liberal government increased military spending by 70%.  Do you think that was a step for social justice?  Was it a feminist act?  Or was it mainly to line the pockets of the war industry?  The military is the biggest polluter on Earth.
Justin Trudeau is not just the continuation of Stephen Harper.  He is exceeding the Tories by putting more Canadian troops in Eastern Europe, by backing the reactionary regime in Kiev, by supporting the western war on Syria, by heating up the cold war against Russia, China and North Korea.  Finally, there is the naked imperialism of Washington, fully backed by Ottawa, towards the sovereign nation of Venezuela.
The lying Liberals in Ottawa have no business lecturing Venezuela on the subject of constitutional reform.  On July 30 over 8 million people voted in Venezuela to elect a National Constituent Assembly, despite a richly funded right wing campaign of boycott and sabotage. Now the new Assembly is moving to entrench the rights of workers, farmers, women and indigenous peoples. 
The violence and scarcities that exist in Venezuela are mainly the product of actions by the right wing business elite, and their backers on Wall Street and Bay Street.  Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland have to answer for their despicable alliance with Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson.
One more thing.  Equally disgusting is the position of the New Democratic Party.  Its Foreign Affairs Critic, Helen Laverdiere (LA VER DEE AIR), called the election in Venezuela “illegitimate”.  She urged Ottawa to weaken the Maduro government in the Organization of American States.  Clearly, she, and Thomas Mulcair who met with the wife of a Venezuelan terrorist leader, stand with the American Empire.  They betray the interests of millions of workers here and abroad.  We ask the candidates for NDP leader to condemn this policy, and to demand, as we do, the resignation of the NDP Foreign Affairs Critic!
The world has many problems:  capitalist greed, growing inequality, climate catastrophe.  Parts of Texas, Florida, and much of Caribbean were flooded and wrecked, not because of Venezuela, but because of the capitalist system that puts profit before people and nature.  The alternative to capitalism is socialism.  It will take a socialist revolution to get there.  To win we must defend the right of all peoples to self-determination.
Working class organizations in this country must say loud and clear:  We are all Venezuelans!  No to sanctions!  No Coup!  No invasion!  An injury to one is an injury to all!
Together, let’s go forward from this rally.  Let’s build a mass movement for social justice and against foreign intervention. Let’s take it to every work place, to the immigrant neighborhoods, to the busy streets of Toronto.  Solidarity forever!  Imperialist Hands Off Venezuela!

¡Heather Heyer, presente!

On Sunday August 13, Socialist Action members gathered in solemn solidarity with about 200 like-minded people outside of the United States Consulate to participate in a "Vigil for Charlottesville Anti-Fascists". The event was hosted by the Toronto International Workers of the World General Defence Committee. The group listened to a few short speeches and sang "The Red Flag" and "Solidarity Forever" before marching off to City Hall while angrily chanting "Whose Streets – Our Streets", "Refugees In, Fascist Out", and "Nazi Scum Off Our Streets".

The event was a memorial for Heather Heyer, the young woman who was murdered by an ultra-right terrorist, who drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters during an August 12 counter-demonstration against the “Unite the Right” rally. In addition to Heather being fatally run-down, more than 30 anti-racist protesters also sustained serious injuries during the course of the day. This attack was preceded by an August 11 torchlight march on the campus of the University of Virginia. The white supremacists and fascists chanted: “White Lives Matter,” “You Will Not Replace Us,” “Jews Will Not Replace Us,” and “Blood and Soil.” The fascists also attacked a smaller group of counter-protesters,using the torches, sticks, pipes, and brass knuckles, while police stood by and just watched.

This terrorist violence and murder is the latest in a series of violent acts from the far-right. In cities across North America, Nazis, white supremacists, and fascists have been going on a violent offensive to attack Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, queer and trans people, as well as left-wing militants. These attacks have been emboldened by the hateful rhetoric spewed by President Donald Trump. All the while our own Prime Minister Trudeau just watches quietly on the sidelines. Enough is enough!

We say:

  • Fascism is not to be debated – it is to be smashed!
  • Build a United Front to stop and defeat the fascists!
  • Solidarity with the brave fighters in Charlottesville and all the victims of fascism!
  • An injury to one is an injury to all.

Heather Hayer, rest in power!

Supplementary items:

Reading recommendation: Socialist Action USA article by Steve Xavier.


On August 14, Socialist Action members attended an anti-fascist rally of about 60 people on University Avenue, across from the U.S. Consulate in Toronto. Many carried signs or wore T-shirts with slogans; and they chanted:

  • Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go.
  • Nazi scum off our streets.
  • Smash racism.
  • No Platform for Fascists.

 

No coup! No foreign intervention! Imperialist Hands Off Venezuela!

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!”