(April 3, 2019) — A broad coalition representing some 150 organizations mobilized on the weekend of March 30 to demand U.S. Hands Off Venezuela! No to NATO, War and Racism! Initiated by the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), the main demonstration took place in Washington, DC on March 30th, the Saturday before leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were to meet to “celebrate” their 70th anniversary. Other actions and anti-NATO meetings are scheduled to take place leading up to the NATO meeting on Thursday, April 4. April 4th is also the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the anniversary of his famous speech against the Vietnam War that took place at Riverside Church in New York City, exactly 1 year before his assassination. The meeting of the NATO war-makers on this date is an affront to the memory of Dr. King.
Speakers at the DC rally included Ajamu Baraka of the Black Alliance for Peace, Media Benjamin of Code Pink, David Swanson of World Beyond War, Cassia Laham of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), Ann Wright of Veterans for Peace and Code Pink, Loan Tran of the International Action Center, Joe Jamison of the US Peace Council, Rev. Grayland Hagler of Plymouth Cong. United Church of Christ, Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance, Cheri Honkala of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Representatives of the World Peace Council, No to War, No to NATO, Black is Back Coalition, Veterans for Peace as well as from Venezuela, Extinction Rebellion from Wales and others.
A large visible march made its way past crowds of people in downtown Washington, DC and past offices of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of American States and other targets that support US imperialism and the wars at home and abroad.
Several of the speakers had just returned from a very important peace and solidarity tour of Venezuela, which is fighting off the effects of harsh US imposed sanctions, sabotage and war threats. The delegation had the opportunity to meet with Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro who gave his full support to the rally and tweeted pictures of it to his 3.9 million twitter followers.
Maduro had made clear to the delegation just how important a strong US antiwar movement can be in staying the hand of the US and its allies as they try to dominate the world and crush any country that tries to remain independent and use its resources for the good of its own people.
Venezuela will become more and more central to the US and world antiwar movements, and we need to show steadfast solidarity with the people of Venezuela, and other countries who struggle to maintain their sovereignty and to fight against the economic wars and physical threats of the US and its NATO and other allies. The action in DC, Oakland and others that took place in Canada were an important step in that direction.
Hundreds took part in the march and rally and thousands saw us as we marched through Washington, DC but, as usual, the corporate media in the US pretended that the protest did not happen. However we made important media of our own. We were covered by some alternative media such as the Real News Network and RT and millions saw us on social media. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro tweeted picture of the protest to his 3.9 million followers. His tweet can be seen here: https://twitter.com/maduro_en/status/1112513970211094528. Also, Jorge Arreaza, Venezuelan Minister of People’s Power for Foreign Affairs with 1.57 million followers tweeted pictures of the rally that can be found here: https://twitter.com/jaarreaza/status/1112154726206967808.
Telesur, RT and TheRealNews, OrinacoTribune all did great short pieces. RT promised a big story on Saturday night:
Dan Cohen, Max Blumenthal, Carlos Ron, Anya Parampil all sent tweets. https://twitter.com/MaxBlumenthal/status/1112073692878725120
Other stories and tweets are still being sent to us.
Also there was a livesteam on Facebook that was viewed by 5.5 thousand people and shared 28,000 times.
Thanks to the International Action Center for the livestream and compiling the coverage.
No Retreat in the Fight to End Militarism and War
Join the Black Alliance for Peace to Celebrate its 2nd anniversary on Thursday, April 4 at 7 PM at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, 5301 North Capitol St. NE, Washington, DC 20011.
US Peace and Solidarity Delegation Goes to Venezuela
A 13-member peace and solidarity delegation from the United States landed in Caracas, Venezuela on the weekend of March 9 and 10 despite American Airlines, the main US airline that flies to Venezuela, cancelling some flights. The delegation including leaders of antiwar groups from the US and Canada including: Bahman Azad the organizational secretary of the US Peace Council, who was the sponsoring organization for the trip, Gerry Condon, pres. of Veterans for Peace, Sara Flanders, co-coordinator of the International Action Center, Ajamu Baraka, national coordinator of the Black Alliance for Peace, progressive journalist Eva Bartlett, Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), Sarah Martin from Women Against Military Madness, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance, Darien De Lu, President of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-US, Miguel Figueroa, president of the Canadian Peace Congress and Daniel Shea, board of directors, Veterans for peace.
We arrived in the middle of a 3-day electrical blackout, which was clearly orchestrated by the US to cause frustration and problems for the Venezuelan people in the hope they will turn against their government. The American Airlines cancellations were another example of this. We, along with the Venezuelans and other travelers had to scramble for other fights and some of the members of the delegation had to stay almost a week extra before they could find a flight back.
The electrical blackouts were more than just an inconvenience for the Venezuelan people. Water pumps did not work, and people had to carry water in buckets to get to where it was needed.
Many people in Caracas live in high-rise apartments that are constructed to provide housing for all and take millions out of abject poverty and insanitary living. Two-and-a half-million such units have been constructed since 2016 and they expect to have 3 million by the end of this year. But with the electricity going down, elevators did not work, and people could not get water. ATM machines and the free subway system did not work. Yet, we saw and heard of no rioting and witnessed communities come together and cooperate to make sure that all had what was needed.
The US claimed that the electrical crisis was due to inefficiency and lack of maintenance of the electrical system, but even if the system was faulty, they could not have fixed it because the US imposed sanctions would not allow them to buy parts for the electrical system.
People understood that this was an attack from the US and not the fault of their government. When our delegation had the opportunity to meet with President Maduro, he explained that there was some sabotage from within the country, but the main problem came from computer viruses that were introduced into their system from Huston and Chicago.
Two days later the electricity was completely restored. Many of us attended a huge pro-Maduro demonstration that filled one of the large boulevards for as far as the eye could see. People came out to defend the Bolivarian revolution and to stand up to the bully from the North. While we were in the country, the opposition leader Juan Guaido tried to hold two rallies, neither materialized.
Rather than undercutting the people’s support for Maduro, it appeared that it undercut support for the opposition. Guaido may have contributed to this also by publicly calling for a US invasion of Venezuela while we were there and by the fiasco on the Columbian border on February 23 when he tried to force “humanitarian aid” into the country without the legitimate government’s approval and calling for the members of the military to desert, which also did not happen.
The delegation to Venezuela clearly saw how the narrative from the US had nothing to do with the reality in the country. The US narrative claimed that the people of Venezuela were starving, that there was chaos in the streets, that Maduro is a hated and corrupt dictator and the country was falling apart due to the inefficiencies of “socialism.” The reality is that there was no chaos, no looting during the blackout, the people seemed well dressed and well fed, they receive free medical care, free college education, free food is given to all who need it, urban agriculture is wide-speed provided 25% of the needed food for the whole country.
Transportation is free and in communities across the country there are community councils and communes and other forms of what they call People’s Power to insure direct as well as representative democracy and to help people around the economic obstacles the US is using to destroy their country.
Sanctions are hurting. Medicine is kept out of the country, which should be considered a war crime. Hundreds of billions of dollars of Venezuelan assets are frozen in foreign banks. Trade, even of their oil, is made almost impossible especially with the countries going along with the sanctions. This is causing high inflation and people are deprived of many goods, but the government strives to ensure that all have the necessities. We in the US should see these sanctions as war crimes and must organize to fight against them.
The US wants Venezuelan oil, which now is nationalized for the benefit of Venezuelan people. The US wants to destroy any example of independence from the dictates of Washington and Wall Street and are willing to impose great hardship and even death on the people of Venezuela in the hope that they will rebel against Maduro. If they don’t rebel, the US is prepared to use ‘ military intervention to impose it’s will on Venezuela as they have done in so many other countries around the world.
The delegation had the opportunity to have a 90 meeting and conversation with President Maduro. He showed us tweets from Marco Rubio and Abrams. One showed Gadhafi dead in the street ,and another implied that Maduro could live, if he gave up power. He told us of their findings on the attacks on the electrical grid and he gave support to the demonstration that we were building for March 30 in Washington, DC. He let us know how important he felt the antiwar movement could be. We must now build the mass antiwar movement that the people of Venezuela and many other countries are depending on to avoid the bloodshed, forcible regime change and chaos upon which vulture capitalism feeds.
For more detailed information of the trip please see the UNAC Blog at https://unac.notowar.net/.