Demonstrations started after Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’ Chief Executive announced a law on extradition to China, allowing the Chinese Communist Party to arrest Hong Kong activists considered to be a threat to “national security”. What are Lam’s and Hong Kong’s capitalists’ political goals behind the extradition law?
Lam: A characteristic of today’s event is the fact that Carrie Lam prioritizes on satisfying the demands of the CCP regime rather than those of the Hong Kong people, not even those of the Hong Kong capitalists. The capitalists in Hong Kong also fear being extradited to mainland China for getting on the wrong side of the CCP bureaucracy.
Carrie Lam opted to expedite the bill in order to gain the trust of Xi Jinping.
The CCP regime has two primary goals. First, to extradite the mainland Chinese corrupt tycoons and bureaucrats that fled to Hong Kong. In the past, the Chinese government has sent people to directly extract these elements back to the mainland, but such methods were criticized as Chinese Police overreaching its authority beyond its jurisdiction.
On May 6 to 8, 2019 the first International Academic Conference examining the life and ideas of the great Ukrainian revolutionary and leader of the Russian revolution Lev Davidovitch Bronstein, now universally known as Leon Trotsky, was held in Havana, Cuba. The Conference was organized by the Juan Marinelo Cultural Center in conjunction with the Cuban Institute of Philosophy, and was hosted by the Casa Benito Juarez in Old Havana.
Sponsoring organizations included the Trotsky House and Museum in Mexico City, the Editions Carlos Marx, of Mexico, and the Center for the Study Investigation and Publication of the Thoughts of Leon Trotsky, in Mexico City and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The site of the conference was surprising given the past animosity of sections of the leadership of the Cuban Communist Party towards Trotskyism and the Cuban Trotskyists. The opening statement of the conference organizers included an apology to the Cuban Trotskyists who were unjustifiably jailed by the government in the late 1960’s.
The changing attitude towards Trotsky and his ideas was expressed most clearly in the personal testimony and the political evolution of the sparkplug behind the conference, Frank Garcia Hernandez (FG) a teacher and graduate student in sociology, whose doctoral thesis is on Trotskyism in Cuba.
The interview was conducted by Rob Lyons (RL) who is the Socialist Action – Canada international solidarity coordinator, based in Costa Rica, and who attended the conference.
RL: Let me say, first of all, that the Conference has caused much commentary in sections of the revolutionary left, especially in the Americas, given the Cuban government’s previous antipathy towards Trotsky and Trotskyism. What motivated you and your co-organizers to swim against this stream? A related question is, of course, in your opinion is there a greater openness to the ideas of Trotsky among the Cuban political vanguard and the Party membership?
FG: First of all, thank you very much for interviewing me.
I send a revolutionary greeting to all the comrades who are reading this article.
When I first read Trotsky’s name, I was 10 years old. It was in a book – not published in Cuba – about flags and shields of the world. I liked them a lot as a child and even today I collect flags. Each country represented brought a brief historical review. The Soviet Union, at the time of publication of the book, still existed, and in its text, I read that Lenin and Trotsky led the October Revolution.
From a young age my uncle had trained me in Marxism. All my family are revolutionary, former members of the July 26 Movement. But the communist was him: a brave militant of the old PSP whom I respected and admired a lot. As you will understand, he had no fondness for Trotsky. Since I was a child, I had read a lot of Soviet Union children’s literature about the October Revolution and, of course, there was no mention of Trotsky. I asked my uncle who that man mentioned in the book of flags was. A traitor, he told me. And I did not question it. My uncle had been tortured almost to death in 1958 by the Batista police for the simple act of spreading communist literature.
After that I continued to admire Stalin. He had defeated fascism and, although in Cuba there was not a good deal of talk about him, neither did it speak badly of him. However, one could read Soviet literature with titles such as The Bolshevik Party Struggle Against Trotskyism. My admiration for Stalin — deepened by my uncle who only criticized him for the cult of personality — mixed with my rejection of Gorbachev and his clique who, in addition to destroying the Soviet Union directed criticism against Stalin. It made me identify Trotskyism with perestroika and, my reaction was that I felt like a Stalinist.
So, I continued thus until my arrival at the University of Havana. There I became friends with Latin American students who were members of the youth sections of their respective communist parties, who also did not have a good opinion of Trotsky, although many did not admire Stalin either. Subsequently, thanks to a Colombian friend – Álvaro Jácome Boada – I discovered the figure of the revolutionary priest Camilo Torres, and later Paulo Freire and Popular Education.
Already in my personal library I had a book by Trotsky: The Revolution Betrayed. This was thanks to the fact that in February of 1998 I met those who are now my friends: the members of the American SWP that come and go, every February, to participate with the Pathfinder publishing house in the International Book Fair of Havana. As in 1998 I was a Stalinist – I had a picture of Stalin in my room – I did not read The Betrayed Revolution until 2012, when I had theoretically completely dismantled Stalinism. Pathfinder followed me, giving away books by Trotsky and James P. Cannon — In defense of Marxism, History of American Trotskyism, etc. — and my interest in Trotsky grew. By that time, I read a book by the Cuban historian Ana Cairo, which mentioned that on September 12, 1933, a party whose name was the Bolshevik Leninist Party (PBL) and that was a Trotskyist had been founded in Cuba. In another book, this time by Cuban researcher Julio César Guanche, he was still talking about Juan Ramón Breá and Sandalio Junco, both founders of the PBL. Both Cairo and Guanche insisted that almost nothing was known about this part of the story and they called for continuing the research that Rafael Soler had begun in 1997 on the PBL. I entered the Juan Marinello Cuban Cultural Research Institute in October of 2012 and began a long investigation on this subject that I have not finished yet.
In November 2016 I decided to teach a postgraduate course on the life and work of Leon Trotsky at the Central University of Las Villas, in Santa Clara. Although I was born and live in Havana, I have very good relations with that city. The course was received with an excellent reception especially by the university students. I had realized that Trotsky was a very necessary and absent piece of Marxism in Cuba and it was an idea that I confirmed while teaching those classes. So, I suggested the idea to my colleague and friend Fernando Martínez Heredia to issue a call from the Cuban Institute of Cultural Research Juan Marinello to organize an international event about the forgotten Bolshevik. But he proposed to do it in November of 2017. He wanted to take advantage of the centenary of the Great October Revolution.
Unfortunately, Martínez Heredia passed away in June 2017. I continued with my research for the master’s thesis that dealt with the history of Cuban Trotskyism. When I finished the master’s degree, in April 2018, and after taking a short break, I decided to prepare this event that just concluded on May 8, 2019, as a tribute to the centenary of the Communist International, the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution and the memory of Antonio Guiteras and Sandalio Junco, both murdered that same May 8, but in different years.
As you see, this event is the fruit. I believe it is more than an historical circumstance. It is the product of a personal theoretical-ideological evolution. It is true that in the 1980s this event would have been impossible in Cuba, it is true that Cuban intellectuals such as Martínez Heredia, Desiderio Navarro, Jorge Fornet, opened a path towards critical Marxism through the Marxist critique that at some point it had closed.
It is also true that, thanks to Commander Fidel, Cuban society has a broad knowledge of Marxism, a strong cultural preparation that makes sure Trotsky does not exist in a vacuum now, and it is true that, for all this, there is in Cuba a positive predisposition towards all heretical Marxism, critical and unorthodox. But I also believe that, without a sense of protagonism, the event arose from a very personal motivation and I know that it took many people by surprise who would never have expected this to happen. But it is also my opinion that after the event itself, even more with the publication of the book that will collect the memories, we will see a ‘before and after’ between the Cuban university researchers and students: the image of Trotsky will be desanctified and demystified.
The idea of bringing Trotsky to Cuba and the studies that exist around him will have been achieved. Mainly thanks to the Cuban working class, who is the one I first thanked when the event was inaugurated, because it was the workers who made this socialist revolution. Among them was that old PSP member who was my uncle.
RL: For me, the highlight of the conference was the sheer breadth of the topics which made it to the agenda, and the overall quality of the research behind them, in most cases. Unfortunately, because the agenda was so crowded, the conference participants were limited in their ability to discuss these ideas and new research in detail. Could you explain some of the obstacles which were presented in organizing the conference, as well as what institutional and political support you received? I know that it was a monumental task to achieve this successful event.
FG: For the event to have been better it should have had 4 days. The tables (panels) would have had extensive debates, which is, along with the translations and the time that was lost due to the translations, the main weak point of the event. But those of us who live in Cuba know that the economic crisis we are facing today, largely because of the imperialist blockade, did not allow us to hold an event that lasted four days. I did not even suggest it to the officials who worked with me, Rodrigo Espina, Elena Socarras, Georgina Alfonso, Miguel Hernandez, Wilder Pérez Varona, Yohanka León: thank you very much. Three days were a feat. That was the main reason, the economic one, for which the Juan Marinello Institute had to seek support at the Institute of Philosophy and the Institute of Philosophy was the main organizing institution because in fact the subject had much more to do with its lines of research than with the Marinello´s Institute. Finally, the event emerged as a winning proposition.
Along with Casa Benito Juárez were three Cuban institutions that were initially involved, then four, if we count the Young Filmmakers Exhibition, the institution that generously provided the room where the documentary about Trotsky The World’s Most Dangerous Man was screened. If it had not been for their good will, we would not have had an event.
And it is true that there were misunderstandings. The main one was the negative predisposition of certain officials towards Trotsky. And it is that when the Soviet Union fell, in Cuba we all knew that Stalin was the abominable character that we know today, but nobody here removed the stigma of traitor from Trotsky.
If we add to this that some Trotskyist groups have been extremely critical of the Revolution, I say that often caused by a mixture of dogmatism and lack of knowledge about the Cuban reality, if we add the first and second factor, we will see that the reaction of some people was normal. And it is feared by some people that some of those groups that I mentioned, came here to try to create Trotskyist political organizations in Cuba. Something that has no chance because nobody in Cuba is interested in doing that.
But the event, due to its strictly academic nature, and because those who came showed great respect for the country where they were, prevented certain unfounded suspicions from happening.
RL: At one of the pre-conference meetings where we discussed the organizing of the future conferences like this, I argued that it was the power of the Cuban revolution which was able to act as the magnetism, as Celia Hart once said, that was able to gather such a fractious group of strong willed individuals in one room. I think it is a testament to the power of the ideals of the revolution, upheld like people like yourselves and your partners, that can motivate more such gatherings. What are your plans and ideas for future academic gatherings of this type? Do you think there can be momentum built by those interested militants and academics, outside and inside Cuba, to hold a similar conference? How can our readers help in meeting the challenges of a second event?
FG: On Wednesday, May 1st, in Department 301 Aguiar Street, in Old Havana, where the Brazilian researchers invited to the event, Daniel Perseguim. his partner Karina Quintanilha Ferreira and Edson Oliveira, were staying five days before the start of the event, the first coordination meeting was held for the preparation of the 2nd Leon Trotsky International Academic Event. The following Sunday, May 5, the birthday of Karl Marx, we had the second meeting and it happened in El Vedado, in the department of the American researcher Alex Steiner. This was an idea that emerged, at the same time and separately, from the Brazilians researchers Daniel Perseguim — as already mentioned — Morgana Romao and Marcio Lueira. Apparently, according to my friend Daniel Perseguim, who seems to be at the head of a valuable group of Brazilian academics who promote the idea, as he has informed me, the event should be in October 2020 in Sao Paulo.
The first steps are being taken to obtain the necessary financing. This time, although there will be no magnetism that is generated from Cuba and its revolution, this time it seems that there will be no problem in having a greater number of public and exhibitors who want to participate. This is perhaps one of the greatest ideas that could have emerged at the event.
I never thought it was something that was going to happen. When he told me for the first time, I thought it was a good wish, but nothing more. Then he set the date and time. It was the complete afternoon of Workers’ Day, something very symbolic, where they were – in addition to those I have already mentioned – Bryan Palmer, Paul Le Blanc, Clara Figueiredo – all these guests at the event – the Brazilian architect and photographer Gabriel Kogan and the Cubans students Lisbeth Moya González and Eduardo Expósito. In Cuba I was forced to establish a quota: 40 Cubans and 40 foreigners. We could not receive more despite having registered 192 requests only as public.
I tried to prioritize those who brought research: that was the reason why there were panels of 4 or 5 expositors: the idea was that knowledge would reach the Cuban public. The room, those who were present could testify, was only for 80 capacities.
Now the best way they can help the second edition is done is to achieve funds that certain institutions grant for events like these and as soon as the official announcement is launched, everyone could help us a lot in the dissemination. For that, for receiving information, we use the email
‘email@example.com’ is available. Also, I offer mine ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
In August of 2020, taking advantage of the commemorations that will occur in the Trotsky House Museum in Mexico, we will have an international coordinating meeting. Before, they will be done via Skype or Hangout.
RL: North American imperialism has increased its pressure on Cuba, and has become more bellicose in its claim to rule over its “patio”, another revival of the Monroe Doctrine. Since the revolution and the establishment of the Fair Play for Cuba Committees, Trotskyists have played a major role in building solidarity with the revolution and have consistently been in the forefront of its defense. I think the pronouncements of a long list of the conference participants testify to that fact.
Do you see a political role for future conferences in helping to re-ignite the solidarity movement? What modalities between the complexity of organizing this conference, the need for solidarity, and the political dynamics at play within Cuba need to be analyzed and reinforced, in your opinion?
FG: The last day of the event in the afternoon, when everything seemed to end, the Canadian comrade Rob Lyon raised his left fist and began to sing ‘La Internacional’. For a moment it seemed that no one would follow the idea, but immediately Juan León Ferrara, the last Cuban Trotskyist, continued it, and then we all followed.
In this lively room, the International was heard, the group singing in Iranian, Indian, Turkish, German, English, Spanish, Russian, French, Portuguese: we lived for a few minutes the feelings that a member of the COMINTERN could feel.
That was the best example that the best solidarity networks can come out of that event. It is beautiful to see how, above theoretical and political differences, this can happen. As long as violence does not mediate between differences, we will all win. It is pure dialectic.
From there, a support network has to emerge for young Cubans who are interested in Marxism and, although they have a good bibliography in Cuba, they want and need more.
We Cubans do not need to have Trotskyist parties in our country, we do not need anything at all. Trotsky was an excellent theorist and an excellent revolutionary, but no bigger than Gramsci could be in theory or Fidel leading a revolution.
He, like the ones I just mentioned, are part of the system of ideas we have called Marxism. And that we do need, more and more new Marxist theory. I was ashamed because I did not know who Helmut Dahmer was, Robert Brenner, I did not know about September Group, John Elster, Erik Olin Wright, Gerard Allan Cohen. Now, thanks to the arrival of Brenner, and although I could not sit down with him to speak for a more than a moment, only words crossed in the corridors, and it hurt me very much how the presence of that great intellectual was wasted – as happened with Helmut Dahmer.
Now, thanks to Brenner, we have discovered titles such as Mercaderes and Revolucion, An Introduction to Marx, Classes, The Theory of Karl Marx’s History: A Defense. They were books that we did not even know existed, we had barely heard of analytical Marxism. Thanks to the event we have re-established the necessary contacts with Eric Toussaint and Michael Löwy, we are building links with Tariq Ali. We are trying to contact Slavoj Zizek. Thanks to the event, Alex Callinicos, that great absent theoretician in Cuba, contacted us personally, and thanks to researcher Héctor Puente Sierra, was invited to the event.
The event managed to awaken, among the Cuban students present, a great interest in Trotsky and the new Marxist theory. In Havana there is the student of journalism Lisbeth Moya González, in Santa Clara, with a much more favorable situation to spread the work of Trotsky; there are the compañeras Verde Gil and Ana Isabel, besides the excellent young comrade, student of philology, Yunier Mena Benavides who was an excellent speaker.
They want new books. I ask that you look them up on Facebook and send them literature that is not in digital format. They have created a study group called the Cuban Communist Forum. It is not a political group: it is a circle of study on Marxist theory, because they want to read theoreticians like Daniel Bensaïd, Pierre Broué, Nikos Poulantzas and all the others that I mentioned. Marx and Lenin are not enough, much less Hegel and Feuerbach.
That is the main call I make for the solidarity network to be established: send books.
RL : I know from the reaction of the participants that, with the exception of some of the technical problems, the conference was a success from an academic and, quite frankly, a political viewpoint.
Now that the stress and excitement have worn off a little, what is your analysis? Did you and your co-organizers achieve what you had hoped for? What message would you like to send regarding some of the post-conference commentaries and questions?
FG:I think so. To a large extent we achieved what we thought would be achieved. But [reaching] the Cuban public failed. It was a lack of publicity, a lack of time to advertise correctly. I am consoled that at least the students who were present were activated by the spark of the event. Now in Santa Clara, they ask me every week to bring copies of The Revolution Betrayed. We still have some copies of the ones brought by the comrades of Karl Marx Socialist Studies Center. What also was achieved is that we brought many books to academic institutions such as the very valuable texts by Trotsky, named Latin American Writings, published by the Center for Studies, Research and Publications Leon Trotsky, or Trotsky in the Mirror of History, perhaps by the best researcher of the old Bolshevik in Latin America, Gabriel García. And the idea of the 2nd conference of the International Academic Event Leon Trotsky was born, something unexpected. So far, I have only received congratulations, but I know there were many mistakes, many uncoordinated actions. To those who suffered them, I apologize. Hopefully the next gathering will be better. I hope those who came have understood Cuba.
Always remember that the best way to help is to protect ourselves from all incomprehension, all misunderstandings. As Silvio Rodríguez already said in a beautiful song: “A friend is the one who protects you”.
Note: The above interview is provided courtesy of Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste in the Canadian state.
 PSP (Popular Socialist Party): acronym adopted by the communist party founded in 1925 ascribed to the Communist International. Not to be confused with the current Communist Party of Cuba founded in 1965 as a result of the merger of the July 26 Movement, the March 13 Revolutionary Directorate and the aforementioned Popular Socialist Party.
 Cuban intellectual He founded and directed the journal Critical Thinking of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Havana during the decade of the sixties. From there he spread the theory of a revolutionary Marxism opposed to Soviet manuals. In this magazine he published, among others, Michael Löwy and Ernest Mandel. It gave direct support to the national liberation movements of Latin America. In the decade of the nineties he founded the Antonio Gramsci Chair. From 2011 until his death in June 2017, he directed the Juan Marinello Cuban Cultural Research Institute.
of the decade of the thirties of the last century. He fought against the dictatorship of General Machado, overthrowing him and forming part of the government that would be established in September 1933. He served as prime minister, being the president the reformist Ramón Grau San Martín. Overthrown by the head of the army in a coup d’etat, he passed to the political opposition returning to the armed route. He fell in combat, accompanied by the Venezuelan internationalist fighter Carlos Aponte in 1938, on May 8.
Anyone who still entertains any illusions in the ‘progressive’ nature of the Trudeau Government of Canada, would have been shocked to witness the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, assembling a collection of regional representatives of the Washington Consensus in Ottawa, on February 4, to further the coup plot against Venezuela. The so called Lima Group that she brought together dutifully issued a statement calling for the “national armed forces of Venezuela to demonstrate their loyalty to the interim president in his constitutional functions as their commander in chief.”
Despite the progressive pretensions of the Liberal Government in Ottawa and the ill-deserved reputation that Canada has for ‘peacekeeping’ and for being a moderating influence in international affairs, the present course under Trudeau and Freeland is quite consistent with the country’s role as the other G7 power in North America, a global exploiter in its own right.
In truth, when Freeland adopts the tone of U.S. Manifest Destiny and speaks of Latin America and the Caribbean as Canada’s “neighbourhood” she is only being a little more public than others might be about a perspective that dominates the thinking and behaviour of Canadian government and Big Business. The rapacity of Canadian mining operations in Latin America is without rival. The promotion of business interests has led to major Canadian involvement in the suppression of democratic rights and the imposition and preservation of compliant right-wing regimes. Canada was heavily involved in the 2004 coup that overthrew the democratically elected Aristide Government in Haiti and the horrors that followed this. A similar pattern exists with regard to the suppression of democracy in Honduras. Canadian Government leaders express fake outrage over the supposed denial of democratic rights in Venezuela even as they maintain a stony silence on continuing repression in Honduras.
When it comes to Venezuela, the official line of the Canadian Government is that efforts to destabilize the Government of that country only began with Maduro’s call for a Constituent Assembly in July 2017. This, however, is a complete falsehood as an article by Yves Engler amply demonstrates. Links to right-wing opposition forces go back to at least 2005 and “Canada is the third most important provider of democracy assistance,” as support for those working to return Venezuela to a place within the Washington Consensus is ironically described. However, during the past eighteen months, the orchestrated economic problems in Venezuela, the belligerence of the Trump Administration and the right-wing tide in much of the region have created a much greater resolve in Canadian ruling circles to intensify the attack on the Maduro Government and to try to open the country to unbridled plunder and exploitation.
Canada Takes Leading Attack Role
When Washington’s carefully groomed and well trained puppet, Juan Guaido, staked his claim to the role of ‘interim president’, the Trudeau Liberals in Ottawa were as ready as the Trump Administration in Washington to play their part. Canadian diplomats worked to unify the opposition forces, to line up as much international backing for their appointed stooge and leading Canadian politicians did all they could to present Guaido’s blatant violation of the Venezuelan Constitution as a legitimate quest for the ‘restoration of democracy.’
The most important role of Canada, however, lies in the fact that it’s track record of exploitation and domination in Latin America, while considerable in its own right, is not as massive or infamous as the conduct of U.S. imperialism in its self declared ‘backyard.’ The Canadian Government was, therefore, less compromised and better placed to co-ordinate the key role of compliant, right-wing regional regimes. The Lima Group was formed in 2017, with Canada playing a leading role and the U.S. staying out of the affair. It brought together the governments of those Latin American and Caribbean countries that were ready to openly attack Venezuela to an extent that the Organization of American States (OAS) could not be won over to. Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland has played a tireless role in trying to recruit new members to her nasty little club.
When Freeland assembled the representatives of the governments of Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia in Ottawa on February 4, she worked to craft an artful final statement that would avoid any call for direct military intervention from outside Venezuela while working to strengthen internal opposition and maximize the possibility of the military changing sides. As stated at the outset, a direct call to the military was featured in the statement. News reports show how this is now being followed with a strategy designed to draw sections of the Army into conflict with the Maduro Government. Two days after the Lima Group meeting, a provocative ‘humanitarian aid convoy’ approached the Columbian-Venezuelan border where it was blocked by troops. “The main goal now is to look to break the military – and the humanitarian aid is basically the Trojan horse to try to do that,” observed one commentator, aware of the effort to generate tensions between Maduro and the military leadership.
Regime Change Plan Proceeds
As the unholy alliance of imperialist powers and compliant regimes deepens the attack on Venezuela, the Trudeau Government can be expected to play a leading and despicable role in the affair. Within Canada, there is opposition. Some elected members of the social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP) have expressed a level of criticism of the Liberal Government’s conduct. The top leadership of the Party, however, has played a sad role. As I write this, the NDP Foreign Affairs Critic, Hélène Laverdière, has openly supported Washington’s puppet president and claimed she speaks for the parliamentary party. NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, continues to take the less than impressive public position that he doesn’t know who the rightful President of Venezuela is. Trade union support for the people of Venezuela and their struggle in the face of threat is significant in Canada and the media is furiously attacking trade unions that show such support. There have been protests in solidarity with Venezuela and the meeting of the Lima Group itself in Ottawa was directly confronted by protesters.
Chrystia Freeland and the Trudeau Liberal Government are part of a systematic effort to ensure that the same agenda of austerity, privatization and environmental despoliation that has made gains in other Latin American countries is imposed without pity on Venezuela. Yet, resistance to the role of super exploited powerlessness has a long history south of the Rio Grande. Masses of people in Venezuela know that the ‘democracy’ the Trump Administration wants for them is too horrible to submit to. They know that the battle cry for freedom and democracy in their part of the world is ‘Yankee Go Home!’ They are also learning to their cost that the Ugly Canadian needs to be driven off at the same time.
This article first published on the Counterfire website.
On February 23rd, 2019, Socialist Action’s members joined over 200 other activists and concerned citizens in a show of unity outside of the CBC headquarters in Toronto. This was part of an international day of solidarity with over 130 other actions across the world organized under the demand “No War on Venezuela”.
The Toronto event, proposed by Socialist Action, was endorsed by a number of organizations including Venezuela Solidarity, Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network, NDP Socialist Caucus, the Toronto Association for Peace and Solidarity, the Communist Party of Canada, the Hugo Chavez Front, the Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle and many others. All of these organizations had speakers who consistently criticized the CBC for its disgustingly biased coverage on Venezuela.
It is impossible for us to remain silent in the face of the latest aggression against the Venezuelan people organized and supported by the governments of Canada and the United States. All of those in attendance were united in opposition to any foreign interference in a sovereign and democratic country.
It was just over one month ago when the governments of Canada and United
States gave their acknowledgement to Juan Guaido, the self-declared President
of Venezuela. This is a man who the majority of Venezuelans had never even
heard of until Donald Trump announced that he was recognizing him as the
President. Canada soon followed suit. The situation is so absurd that it would
be laughable if the stakes were not so high.
This is all part of package of Canadian and US sanctions, increasing
financial and material support for the opposition forces, and endorsing the
continued hording of products, including food and medicine, by the Venezuelan
capitalist thugs. These are shocking violations of international law, national
sovereignty, and the charters of both the United Nations’ and Organization of
American States. The situation today remains critical and risks further
escalation as the Western imperialist vultures circle above threatening
Yet Canada’s own public broadcaster, the CBC, as well as the rest of the capitalist-run corporate media, are overwhelmingly pushing support for a regime change all in the name of “helping the poor” and “averting a humanitarian crisis”. We know this is a lie and we were able to call out the falsehoods. By bringing our protest to the front door of the CBC, we continued to expose the lies behind the propaganda that is pushing for a US- and Canada-sponsored coup in Venezuela. We wanted to ensure that the voices of the majority of Venezuelans who oppose such foreign interventions were heard loud and clear.
Following a very spirited rally, those gathered then marched through
Toronto’s financial district demanding that the natural resources of the people
of Venezuela remain theirs. Canadian mining in Latin America has pushed Ottawa
towards a much more aggressive position in the region. As was pointed out by a
number of speakers, stealing oil and other resources is the primary reason for
the coup attempt. It has absolutely nothing to do with the so-called “promotion
of democracy” and easing of a phony “humanitarian” crisis.
We know the truth and we will not be sold a false bill of goods from the Canadian government and its cowardly propaganda arm, the CBC. Shame on the CBC and shame on the Canadian government!
Respect Venezuelan sovereignty and self-determination! CBC, stop telling lies! Hands Off Venezuela!
February 23, 2019 – Socialist Action speech by Mitchell Shore at CBC
Sisters and brothers, comrades and friends, my name is Mitchell
Shore and I am very pleased to speak to you today on behalf of
This is a historic moment for the people of Venezuela and the international working class. The threat of imperialist aggression is blatant.
The US and Canadian economic and political war is the primary cause of the so-called “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela. But the CBC hides the truth from the general public.
The CBC refuses to report that imperialist powers have seized the assets of Venezuela, frozen its credit, stolen over one billion dollars in gold, imposed a trade embargo, and that Venezuelan capitalists are hoarding goods.
This is how a democratic country is strangled by the Western vultures who want to go back in time to resume their plunder of Venezuela’s resources.
There is no reason for Maduro to “dialogue” with the US-funded reactionary opposition, led by a puppet who never even ran for president. And we need to remind NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh that Venezuela already has a democratically elected President. His name is Nicolas Maduro.
Now I don’t have to remind you, here today, about the violent history of US intervention in Latin America: Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the list goes on and on and on….
And now, Ottawa wants to get into the game, leading the charge for regime change.
Every single time the West gets involved in Latin America they leave a bloody path of destruction in their wake. And you’d have to be a fool to believe it will be any different this time around.
The aim is simple: to overthrow Nicolas Maduro and any remnants of the Bolivarian Revolution.
What brings us here today is that the CBC is acting as the de facto propaganda arm of Trudeau’s imperial ambitions – which is why we must bring it under workers’ control.
For years, the CBC has spread rabidly biased lies about the situation in Venezuela. They deny the realities on the
ground: they throw softball questions to the right wingers, they provide unlimited air time for the opposition, and yet they refuse to
interview government officials and its supporters. This is the
shameful story of the CBC’s coverage.
The most vocal
siren of the Trudeau government is Chrystia Freeland. She states, and the CBC obediently reports, that Canada needs
“to help the poor people of Venezuela.”
Well I say to her: don’t you worry about the poor, the Black and Indigenous people of Venezuela. They are engaged in a project to eradicate centuries of white supremacy and apartheid conditions. This is the reality on the ground.
And despite the many troubles rooted in oil dependency and corruption, Venezuela today demonstrates more democracy than the 14 countries of the Lima Group combined.
The failure of the government to break the stranglehold of foreign and domestic capital, to effect a socialist transformation, is a matter solely for the people of Venezuela to resolve.
The bottom line is that we as progressive voices must oppose any outside interference in Venezuela – whether from Canada, the US, or anywhere else. They have absolutely no right to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign country.
Whatever one thinks about the Maduro government, the one thing which unites most Canadians is a rejection of any attempt to overthrow the Venezuelan government.
If we don’t speak up, and challenge the dominant narrative fed to us by the CBC, there will be serious consequences for those working-class Venezuelans who continue to fight for self-determination and social justice in their country.
This is why we call for an end to the sanctions, an end to Canada’s participation in the Lima Group, and an end to the coup.
We stand with the
people of Venezuela, and we support their efforts to complete their revolution. And we loudly tell the imperialist vultures to Go Home!
Socialist Action categorically rejects the coup crudely attempted by the U.S. government against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Washington blatantly violates the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people. In a democratic and transparent election, in the presence of international observers, Venezuelans legitimately elected Nicolás Maduro Moros as their President in May 2018.
On January 22, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence issued a recorded message that was broadcast by 2,527 media outlets for three days, in coordination with the shadowy Organization of American States (OAS), calling for subversion of Maduro’s government.
Before the eyes of the world, and in the most grotesque manner, they presented their new puppet for the occasion, Juan Guaidó. Guaido is a man who never ran for president and represents a small party in the National Assembly. The Assembly is a body that is guilty of not cleaning up election irregularities that occurred in three southern districts in the 2015 election.
The naming of Guaido as President, out of thin air, would be laughable if the situation was not so serious, threatening the stability of the hemisphere. So, Guaido is recognized by a couple dozen countries, and Nicolas Maduro is recognized by nearly one hundred.
The clear aim of imperialism is to overthrow Maduro – as it has been trying to do by credit strangulation, by trade embargo, and perhaps now by military intervention. Prominent in the chorus of external anti-democratic demagogues demanding the ouster of Maduro is the Justin Trudeau Liberal government in Ottawa, whose most vocal siren is Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Socialist Action Canada had a representative present at the January 10 inauguration of President Nicolas Maduro for a second term in office. Participants in the gathering at the Supreme Court building in the capital, ranging from Presidents and foreign ministers, to grassroots activists, came from over 90 countries.
At a mammoth rally, before thousands of troops, held later that day at the Military Academy in Caracas, the generals and commanders of all branches of the Venezuelan armed forces vocally pledged their loyalty to Maduro for the six years of his new term of office.
At several meetings with ministers of the government and with PSUV top officials, we expressed our solidarity with the principle of self-determination and our indignation at the bullying threats from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, from Freeland, the European Union, and the neo-colonial satellite regimes of the South. Ottawa’s stated ‘non-recognition’ of Venezuela’s President, who was re-elected with over 68 per cent of the votes cast, is tantamount, in the sphere of diplomacy, to an act of war. Such a provocation by Trudeau/Freeland is particularly obnoxious coming in the same week that RCMP violently arrested 18 Indigenous people, members of the Unist’ot’en and Gidimt’en clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, blocking a road to pipeline construction on unceded traditional land in British Columbia. The shameless hypocrisy of a regime that claims to be democratic, pro-reconciliation, even feminist, seems to know no bounds.
Despite many troubles historically rooted in oil income dependency and corruption, Venezuela today demonstrates more democracy than the Lima Group of 14 countries combined. The failure of the PSUV government to break the stranglehold of foreign and domestic capital, to effect a socialist transformation, is a matter solely for the people of that country to resolve.
Concerning Venezuela, Trudeau and Freeland do not speak for the working class and ordinary people of Canada. On all matters, the Liberal government and the Tory opposition are the voice of big business, and are the allies of imperialism that yearns to regain control of Venezuela’s rich natural resources, which include an abundance of valuable minerals and pristine waters. You don’t hear them complain about electoral fraud in Honduras, Guatemala or Brazil, where it actually occurred in recent years. You don’t see them set a deadline for democratic elections in Saudi Arabia, Haiti or Ukraine.
In the face of rising tensions, and growing social crises demonstrated by lengthy, massive strikes (e.g. in Costa Rica) and by huge caravans of economic and climate refugees desperately seeking an exit from super-exploited Central America and Mexico, we demand that Ottawa and Washington acknowledge the real issues, renounce bullying, intimidation tactics, and economic blockade, and stop all threats of military aggression against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
We urge the labour movement in Canada, and its political arm, the New Democratic Party, to take the lead in campaigning that all states respect the indivisible sovereignty of Venezuela. Niki Ashton and Svend Robinson set the tone that forced federal leader Jagmeet Singh to go beyond his initial vacuous enunciation.
If there is a break in diplomatic relations between Canada and Venezuela, which must be opposed with all our might, and which would be the bitter fruit of imperialist aggression, it will be necessary to take creative steps to foster people-to-people direct relations. Consideration should be given to establishing a bottom-up Peoples’ Diplomacy. In the event that Venezuelan state officials are expelled and barred from entry to Canada, this could take the form of Popular Embassies, to be established in both countries, staffed by civilians. They could be tasked with fostering cultural, educational and political exchanges, and with conducting campaigns of mutual solidarity for social justice. This would be an expression of a grassroots Anti-Imperialist United Front, targeting the enemies of peace, freedom and national self-determination.
In the meantime, Socialist Action appeals to all progressive, democratic and working class organizations, and individuals, to step up efforts to protest the belligerent actions of Ottawa and its co-conspirators in the Lima Group and in the Organization of American States, and to confront the ignorant bias of the commercial mass media. La lucha sigue!
Respect the Sovereignty of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the authority of its re-elected President Nicolas Maduro!