Tag Archives: imperialism

Speech to the rally convened by the Greater Toronto Kurdish House, October 13

[Metnin Türkçe çevirisi aşağıdadır.]

Demonstrations took place around the world on Saturday, October 12, and in Toronto on October 13, to protest the invasion of northern Syria by Turkey, its bombing and its brutal ground assault on the Kurdish people.

Speech to the rally convened by the Greater Toronto Kurdish House, October 13, across from the U.S. Consulate on University Avenue in Toronto

Sisters and brothers, comrades and friends, Biji Rojava! Biji Rojava! (Long live Rojava!)

My name is Barry Weisleder, federal secretary of Socialist Action. Thank you for the opportunity to join you in demanding: Turkey Out of Syria! Hands Off Rojava! Self-Determination for the Kurdish People!

When Donald Trump gave Recep Erdogan the green light to bomb and invade Rojava it was another in a long series of betrayals of the Kurdish people by imperialism. The super-rich Masters of the Universe believe that they have the right to manipulate, even to destroy anyone who stands in their path to profit from the plunder of the world’s resources.

To this, workers around the world say NO! No to ethnic cleansing. No to demographic engineering. No to murder and mayhem in norther Syria, where close to one million Kurds live.

Continue reading Speech to the rally convened by the Greater Toronto Kurdish House, October 13

‘Progressive’ Trudeau government attacks Venezuela

by John Clarke

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.

Canadian Imperialism

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.

John Clarke is a writer and leading organizer for the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).

Canada, Hands Off Venezuela!

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!

No Sanctions! Imperialist Hands Off Venezuela!

Protest in Toronto against the U.S. Attack on Syria

On what seemed like the first mild, sunny day in Toronto in months, about two hundred people gathered across the street from the U.S. Consulate on April 22 to protest the recent missile attack on Syria by the United States, Britain and France. The protesters, including over a hundred refugees waving Syrian flags and carrying placards with the slogan “Hands Off Syria”, disputed the claim by Washington, Ottawa and allied forces that the government in Damascus rained chemical weapons on its own people.  Speakers at the Toronto rally noted that the missile strike against Syria took place just hours before international inspectors were to enter Douma to investigate whether poison gas was employed, and if so, by whom.

Organizers of the rally, primarily the Communist Party of Canada, the Canadian Peace Congress and associated groups, limited speaking rights to their political friends.  Thus, Socialist Action, which days earlier endorsed the Sunday protest, and which anchored a similar rally at the U.S. Consulate eight days before, held an impromptu speak out at the conclusion of the CP-backed event.

Socialist Action speakers emphasized the criminal role of the Canadian state in imperialist military interventions in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Libya. It condemned Justin Trudeau’s decision to maintain the stationing of Canadian troops to back the right wing regime in Ukraine and police to occupy Haiti, selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, and now sending war helicopters and soldiers to Mali.

Through the SA megaphone campaigners spoke for boycott of apartheid Israel, and for international human rights.  The crowd chanted at the finale “Canada Out of NATO, NATO out of the Middle East”, “Imperialist Hands Off Syria” and “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Trudeau, Trump have got to go.”

The SA statement and leaflet for the event can be found here.

Why so much ado about ‘The Interview’?

by Barry Weisleder

Hollywood, Wall Street, and the White House are celebrating the release, albeit delayed and via the internet and small cinemas, of the third-rate comedy “The Interview.” The film is about a plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea.  Pyongyang took exception to the idea, and threatened to retaliate, which set off a spate of verbal and cyber warfare. Continue reading Why so much ado about ‘The Interview’?