“Is Venezuela the new Cuba? The US now has two embargoes in Latin America.”

 

ON Dec 17, 2014 Cubans celebrate the return of the Cuban Five

ON Dec 17, 2014 Cubans celebrate the return of the Cuban Five

by Tanya Cole, Witness for Peace Southwest. Dec 19, 2014

A day after President Obama announces historic steps in normalization of relations with Cuba he signs US sanctions on Venezuela. While many of us celebrate significant movement in US-Cuba relations we still have a very solid economic embargo and travel ban in place with our island neighbor. Now we have expanded our list of sanctioned countries in Latin America to two. While the Venezuela sanctions bill does not include economic sanctions or travel bans yet, its not for lack of trying by the bill’s authors. Not coincidently the same Cuban-American congresspersons that are furious with President Obama for easing relations with Cuba are the same that have been pushing Cuba style sanctions on Venezuela. The House version of the Venezuela sanctions bill authored by extreme reactionary Cuban American Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen has the same name as the Helms Burton Act (a bill passed to punish other countries for doing business with Cuba), with only the name of Cuba replaced by Venezuela: the Venezuelan Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act. It contains three different forms of sanctions, a statement of policy for reducing oil imports from Venezuela and a “strategy” section that recycles various passages from the Helms Burton Act including the demand that Venezuela move “toward a market-oriented economic system based on the right to own and enjoy property” and make “constitutional changes that would ensure regular free and fair elections.”

On Monday Dec 15, Venezuelans march to reject US Intervention.

On Monday Dec 15, Venezuelans march to reject US Intervention.

This past Monday thousands of Venezuelans marched to reject US intervention and to celebrate the 15 year anniversary of the Bolivarian constitution, one of the most progressive in the world which includes reforms like social security benefits for stay at home moms and full recognition of indigenous peoples and afro-descendants.

The passing of US Sanctions on Venezuela at the height of US police brutality protests and CIA torture reports is case in point of US hypocrisy and interventionist policies in Latin America while ignoring glaring human rights abuses at home and among key US allies like Mexico, Honduras and Colombia. The US has funded over a billion dollars in recent years to the Mexican military and police under the guise of the US Drug War and has trained thousands of Mexican security forces at the infamous US Army School of the Americas (long known for its own torture manuals). The case of the 43 missing Mexican students of Ayozinapa killed at the complicity of Mexican security forces and drug cartels is a blatant example of the failed US drug war that has helped fuel gross and massive human rights abuses across Mexico where the impunity rate is 95-98%.

14 years and 7 billion dollars later of US Plan Colombia spending and the training of over 10,000 Colombian military officials has left Colombia with one of the worst human rights records in the hemisphere and an internal refugee crisis only second to Syria. In addition, the US has continued US military and police training and funding of Honduran security forces even after a 2009 coup d’etat unleashed a killing spree of over 300 political activists where Honduran military and police were either complicit, looked the other way or failed to investigate the assassinations. The US has not called for sanctions against Mexico, Honduras or Colombia but has rather continued to fund their militaries and police with billions of US tax payer dollars and even brokered free trade deals with all three nations.

Cuban American -US congresspersons like Senator Menendez and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who have long held the responsibility for the hold up in normalization of US-Cuban relations, have accused Venezuela of cracking down on street protests earlier this year. While US streets are aflame over rampant police brutality and impunity the US might want to actually learn a thing or two from Venezuela’s widespread police reforms enacted since 2009. All Venezuelan security forces are required to receive human rights training and graduate from university level education. Earlier this year right wing violent protests in Venezuela were responsible for the deaths of over 40 people, many of which were pro-government demonstrators, members of the Venezuelan National Guard and innocent bystanders. The President of Venezuela’s National assembly states, “our government responded with restraint, allowing those violent demonstrations to go on for several months. Every effort was made to ensure that only protesters who directly violated laws or placed the lives of others in danger were detained. For example, those responsible for burning public buses with Molotov cocktails, or who set fire to a public university, were rightly arrested and charged — as were 17 state security agents accused of using excessive force against protesters, who are awaiting trial.”

The recent release of the Cuban Five and steps towards normalization of relations between the US and Cuba’s 50+ year stalemate should be an example of why we as US citizens cannot let Venezuela become the United States’ new “Cuba.” The United States is increasingly being shut out of Latin American alliances like the Summit of the Americas, ALBA and CELAC due to its bullying tactics against countries like Cuba and Venezuela. Several Latin American nations agreed to boycott the upcoming 2015 Summit of the Americas if the US continued to block Cuba’s participation. 10 Latin American nations have already rejected the threat of US sanctions on Venezuela.

Venezuela is a strong unifying leader in Latin America and if the United States continues its hostility towards Venezuela, the US itself may find itself blockaded by its closest Southern neighbors.

Witness for Peace Southwest sponsored 3 fact finding delegations to Venezuela in 2014 and works towards a more just and humane US policy towards Latin America.

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Eyewitness Reports this week in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Venezuela, Honduras and Cuba

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Download event flyers: sf event flyer nov 20, 2014LA event flyer nov 22, 2014

Eyewitness Reports this week in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Venezuela, Honduras and Cuba

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Thursday Nov 20, 2014 730-930pm
518 Valencia St San Francisco, CA

 

diputadas Honduras-military policeSaturday Nov 22, 2014 330-430pm
220 Glendale Blvd Los Angeles, CA

 

In the past year Witness for Peace Southwest has sent 37 delegates on fact finding solidarity delegations to Venezuela and Honduras. Join us to hear this eyewitness testimony as we build solidarity with resistance movements in Honduras challenging US funded repression and as we stand for sovereignty of the Venezuelan people as they face US sanctions. In addition you will learn about travel opportunities to Cuba, Venezuela, and other Latin American countries similarly affected by US policies, in 2015, as we continue the struggle for an end to the US blockade on Cuba and Freedom for the Cuban Five and the sovereignty of all peoples

Venezuela: Three delegations traveled to Venezuela in May, June and July this 2014 in the aftermath of violent opposition led street protests and one year after the passing of Venezuela’s beloved President Hugo Chavez. Delegates learned about the Afro-Venezuelan movement and identity, met with Venezuelan doctors practicing universal healthcare, mingled with Venezuelan students attending free universities, and conversed with campesinos and urban farmers maintaining their country’s food security.

Honduras: WFPSW sent election monitors to Honduras in November of 2013 for Honduras’ historic elections and another delegation in August of 2014 to accompany communities facing violence at the height of the child migration crisis. Delegates heard first hand testimony of the roots of the migration crisis. Delegates will report on the fraud that took place during the elections and the violent repression of Honduras’ new resistance party in the elections aftermath. We will hear delegate reports from the Afro-Honduran, Indigenous and campesino communities fighting for land rights against international mega-projects, oligarchs and drug traffickers.

San Francisco Panelists:

Venezuela Delegates
-Jeanette Charles- May delegation leader and Telesur English writer
-Claudia Chaufan- June delegation co-leader and Associate Professor UCSF
-Tanya Cole- May delegation and Witness for Peace Southwest organizer
-Tim Tendick -July delegation and Travel blogger

Honduras Delegates
-Tanya Cole-Election observer, August delegation and Honduras Solidarity Network member

Cuba
-Malia Everette- Cuba travel coordinator for Altruvistas and WFPSW

Los Angeles Panelists:
-Jeanette Charles- Venezuela delegation leader and Writer for Telesur English
-Rachel Bruhnke- Delegate to Cuba Solar Conference Havana, Cuba
-Tanya Cole- Honduras Delegation Leader

Enjoy music, refreshments and good company!

sponsored by Witness for Peace Southwest.

SF event Endorsed by Altruvistas, Taskforce on the Americas, Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition (BALASC), Honduras Solidarity Network, Alliance for Global Justice.

LA Event Endorsed by the Honduras Solidarity Network and the Alliance for Global Justice.

SF Facebook event

LA Facebook event

More info contact: 805-669-VIVA or southwestwfp@gmail.com. Www.wfpsw.org

http://www.facebook.com/wfpsw


 

Informes de Venezuela, Honduras y Cuba.

Jueves, 20 de noviembre de 2014
7:30pm-9:30pm
518 Valencia St San Francisco, CA

sábado, 22 de noviembre de 2014 3:30pm-5:30pm
Multicultural Artists United (MCAU)
220 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Bajen volantes:

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español LA evento nov 22, 2014

El año pasado Acción Permanente por la Paz Sudoeste ha enviado a 37 delegados en las delegaciones de solidaridad a Venezuela y Honduras. Únase a nosotros para escuchar este testimonio de los delegados como crear solidaridad con los movimientos de resistencia en Honduras y como defendemos la soberanía del pueblo Venezolano. Además usted aprenderá acerca de oportunidades de viajar a Cuba, Venezuela y otros países latinoamericanos, igualmente afectados por las políticas de Estados Unidos.

Venezuela: Tres delegaciones viajaron a Venezuela en mayo, junio y julio este 2014 durante las protestas violentas de la oposicíon y un año después de la muerte de amado presidente Hugo Chávez. Delegados aprendieron acerca del movimiento Afro-venezolano, reunieron con los médicos venezolanos practicando atención médica universal, se mezclaron con los estudiantes venezolanos que asisten a las universidades gratis y conversaron con campesinos y agricultores urbanos que están mantenimiento la seguridad alimentaria de su país.

Honduras: WFPSW envió observadores electorales a Honduras en noviembre de 2013 para que las históricas elecciones de Honduras y una otra delegación en agosto de 2014 para acompañar a las comunidades enfrentando a la violencia del estado y de grandes terratenientes. Delegados escucharon testimonios de las raíces de la crisis de la migración. Los delegados presentará un informe sobre el fraude que llevó a cabo durante las elecciones y la violenta represión de nuevo partido de resistencia Honduras tras las elecciones. Escucharemos delegados con informes de los Afro-Hondureños, las comunidades indígenas y campesinas que luchan por el derecho a la tierra contra la mega-proyectos internacionales, los oligarcas y los traficantes de drogas.

Cuba- informe sobre la protección del medio ambiente y energía en Cuba. También aprendan sobre las oportunidades de viajar a Cuba en 2015.

San Francisco Panelistas:

Delegados de Venezuela
-Jeanette Charles- Líder de la delegación en mayo y escritora de Telesur Inglés
-Claudia Chaufan-co líder de la delegación de junio y profesor asociado de UCSF
-Tanya Cole-delegación en mayo y organizadora de WFPSW
-Tim Tendick-delegación de julio y blogger de viajes

Delegados de Honduras
-Tanya Cole-Observadora electoral en 2013,co-líder de la delegación en agosto y miembro de la Red de solidaridad con Honduras (HSN)

Cuba
-Malia Everette – Directora de Altruvistas y WFPSW y coordinadora de viajes a Cuba y Venezuela

Los Angeles Panelistas confirmadas:
-Jeanette Charles- Líder de delegaciones a Venezuela Y escritora para Telesur Inglés

-Rachel Bruhnke- Delegada a Conferencia de Cuba Solar en Habana

-Tanya Cole- Honduras Delegation Leader

Disfrute de música, refrescos y buena compañía!

SF Facebook evento

LA Facebook evento
Más info contacto: 805-669-VIVA o southwestwfp@gmail.com. http://Www.wfpsw.org, http://www.Facebook.com/ wfpsw

San Francisco Patrocinado por Witness for Peace Southwest/Acción Permanente por la Paz Sudoeste (WFPSW). Apoyado por Altruvistas, Grupo de trabajo sobre las Américas (MITF), BALASC, Red de Solidaridad con Honduras (HSN, Alianza para la Justicia Global (AFGJ).

Los Angeles Patrocinado por Witness for Peace Southwest/Acción Permanente por la Paz Sudoeste (WFPSW). Apoyado por Red de Solidaridad con Honduras (HSN, Alianza para la Justicia Global (AFGJ).

Venezuela: Witness Participatory Democracy in Action

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Venezuela: Witness Participatory Democracy in Action

November 9th to 17th, 2014

In the past 15 years, the people of Venezuela have participated in 19 free, fair, and democratic elections. After the untimely 2013 passing of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelans elected Nicolas Maduro to replace him and ratified the ruling socialist party in nationwide municipal elections. But Venezuela’s experiment with participatory democracy isn’t just about voting often. This year, with no election in sight, thousands upon thousands of organized communities decided it was time to form Communes, consolidating their grassroots Communal Councils into larger, more complex, democratic spaces. 795 Communes are now registered with the National Government, and the goal is to build 3,000 by 2019. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan opposition openly rejects the growing “Communal State” and blames the Bolivarian Government for inflation, the scarcity of basic goods, and violence. Deadly protests earlier this year demonstrate that a better understanding of Venezuela’s social, economic, and political transformations is urgently needed.

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This trip will familiarize participants with the ways and means of Venezuelan democracy, providing a unique opportunity to witness the coming together of popular public policies and grassroots organization. Delegates will learn about, and visit, a range of social programs known as the Misiones or Missions – the National Government’s way of implementing the universal right to food, housing, health, education, gainful employment, information, and leisure. Participants will also meet with members of the country’s opposition, including students and journalists, allowing for an integral understanding of Venezuela’s ongoing struggle to heal wounds of the past.

GC Seguimos en Resistencia

Cost: $1,150 which includes full program in Venezuela, airport pick up and drop off, in country transportation, bi-lingual trip leaders and interpretation, 2 meals a day, background reading materials, donations to Venezuelan organizations, and lodging. $150 deposit due by October 12th, 2014. Airfare to Caracas NOT INCLUDED.

 

Contact: Witness for Peace Southwest |  tanya@wfpsw.org |  805-669-VIVA | www.wfpsw.org |

URGENT ACTION: Congress on Verge of Passing Sanctions on Venezuela!

2979_10151422864268645_1665835711_nURGENT ACTION: Congress on Verge of Passing Sanctions on Venezuela!

Click HERE to Oppose Sanctions on Venezuela.

The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bill for sanctions against Venezuela on Friday morning, May 9. Only Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Karen Bass (D-CA) spoke out against the bill. HR 4587 entitled the ‘‘Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act’, is sponsored by far-right Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). The bill is expected to be voted on as soon as next week by the whole House in an expedited “suspension of rules” vote that would waive any debate.

Representative John Conyers (D-NY) is authoring a Dear Colleague letter this week that would support the Obama administration’s own opposition to sanctions on Venezuela in order to give the dialogue process a chance. Calling on more engagement with Venezuela rather than confrontational measures.

Help us in contacting your Reps to vote NO on HR4587 and for them to sign Rep. John Conyers’ Dear Colleague letter opposing any sanctions on Venezuela. The Vatican and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) are right now mediating talks between the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro and the democratic opposition. Sanctions at this time would undercut a peaceful solution to Venezuela’s problems and empower the violent opposition which is trying to achieve what they have been unable to achieve democratically in 16 elections since 1999.

This is an urgent situation. We cannot be complacent and assume that our Congressional allies will stop this ridiculous bill from becoming law. Please pass this alert on to your friends and neighbors and contact your Rep. yourself today telling them that you will be watching closely how they vote.

Click HERE to send a letter to your Rep.

Washington DC Switchboard: 1-202-224-3121

All you need to do is leave a message that you want the congressperson to vote No on HR4587 and you want them to support Rep. Conyers letter opposing any kind of sanctions on Venezuela.

If you would like a list of talking points on Venezuela click here.

To send a letter thanking Reps. Meeks and Bass for their vocal opposition to the Venezuela sanctions bill click HERE. Or Call Washington DC Switchboard: 1-202-224-3121

If you need any assistance or have questions contact tanya@wfpsw.org or call 805-669-8482.

Quick Talking Points on Venezuela

 

Brief on Venezuela Protests

This has not been a spontaneous wave of student protests, but a planned campaign organized by radical rightwing opposition leaders including Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado. On January 23, Lopez and Machado launched their “La Salida” (“The Exit”) campaign with a press conference. As shown in this video, they stated that the goal is the ouster of the democratically-elected Maduro government, and the means would be by, as Machado put, “creat[ing] chaos in the streets.” “Let’s ignite the streets,” she said. “Every corner, every market, every school and university.”

The protests seek to accomplish through extra-legal means what the opposition has been unable to accomplish at the ballot box. Reuters reported just after the opposition suffered a clear defeat in municipal elections in December that “Several other opposition leaders have advocated more confrontational tactics, such as street protests, against Maduro.”

Key figures within the opposition have rejected the “Salida” protest campaign, which aims to remove the government via street protests. As the campaign was gearing up, state governor and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles said “I don’t believe in violent removals [of governments] (…) A struggle with violent characteristics that prevents us from finding the path toward achieving the country that we love? There’s no doubt that isn’t our struggle.”

The protests have been violent; it appears that protesters have killed more people than government security forces. Over 10 individuals have reportedly been killed by crashing into barricades, from wires strung across streets by protesters and in some cases from having been shot trying to remove barricades. Ten state security agents have been killed. In some cases, members of Venezuelan security forces have been implicated in killings and abuses and have been subsequently arrested for their involvement.

On February 18th, Leopoldo Lopez was arrested on charges of instigating violence. He remains detained. On March 20th, two mayors – Vicencio Scarano of San Diego – and Daniel Ceballos – mayor of San Cristobal – were arrested and subsequently found guilty of disobeying a High Court order to remove barricades in their jurisdiction, for ceasing to fulfil their mayoral duties, and for instigating violence. Scarano received a jail sentence of 10 months and 15 days and Ceballos received a 12 month sentence.

Some major media headlines reveal the violent nature of the protests and roadblocks, at odds with social media portrayals of “peaceful protests” and congressional statements along such lines:

Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega has recognized that some security forces have engaged in “excesses” but has highlighted judicial actions taken to hold security agents accountable for alleged abuses. On April 11th Luisa Ortega told the press that since the start of the demonstrations, state prosecutors have opened 120 investigations into alleged human rights violations and imprisoned 15 officials in connection with those incidents. 175 individuals were still being detained on April 11th, only 12 of whom were students according to Ortega.

Prominent protest leaders have an anti-democratic and sometimes violent history. Leopoldo Lopez participated in the 2002 coup d’etat that temporarily overthrew the democratically-elected government. As mayor of Chacao at the time, Lopez oversaw the violent arrest of the Interior Minister as he was dragged out of the building where he had taken refuge and beaten by an angry mob. As governor of the now-defunct Federal District of Caracas, now Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma oversaw a violent police crackdown on protests in 1992 in which protesters were killed.1 Maria Corina Machado was among those present at the presidential palace when the 2002 coup regime headed by Pedro Carmona dissolved the congress, the constitution and the Supreme Court.

The Maduro government has repeatedly asked for dialogue since the protests began and has created a National Peace Conference. Maduro invited opposition leaders to the first meeting of the Peace Conference February 24 but opposition leader Henrique Capriles rejected the offer. However, other opposition leaders – like the legislators Leopoldo Pucci and Pedro Pablo Fernandez – attended, as well as business leaders close to the opposition like Jorge Roig, the president of the main business federation, and Lorenzo Mendoza, head of food and beverage giant Empresas Polar. Bloomberg quoted Roig as saying “We have profound differences with your economic system and your political systems but democracy, thank God, lets us evaluate these differences.” On April 8th most of the key leaders of the opposition agreed to initiate talks with the government and, on April 15th a first round of negotiations was held in which both sides agreed to form a truth commission to investigate the deaths that have occurred during the protests.

UNASUR – made up of the 14 governments of South America – has organized a commission of foreign ministers of the region tasked with “accompanying, supporting and advising a broad and constructive political dialogue” in Venezuela. In a March 26 communiqué, the Commission noted the “openness and willingness of [President Maduro] to take on the recommendations made” by the Commission and reaffirmed Unasur’s “support for a broad and respectful dialogue, taking into account the National Peace Conference” and its “condemnation of any attempted rupture of the constitutional order.” Following the mediation of an UNASUR delegation of foreign ministers, opposition leaders agreed to begin a process of dialogue with government officials.

Latin American leaders from across the political spectrum have condemned the violent protests and expressed their solidarity with the Maduro government. The Organization of American States issued a declaration of “Solidarity and Support for Democratic Institutions, Dialogue, and Peace” in Venezuela. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) issued a statement supporting the Venezuelan government’s efforts to foster dialogue and expressing concern over “any threat to the independence and sovereignty of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.” Chilean president Michelle Bachelet has stated that “we will never support a movement that wants to violently overthrow a constitutionally-elected government,” and proclaimed “the Chilean government’s willingness to support & help the Venezuelan people & government.” In a letter to Maduro on the anniversary of Hugo Chavez’s death, former president of Brazil Lula da Silva praised Venezuela’s democratic and economic system and referred to “forces ready to violate the constitutional order” in Venezuela.

The Catholic Church has condemned violence by protesters as well as government security forces.

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Sabino of Caracas stated, “We…reject the deaths caused by roadblocks presumably put in place by protesters and the disproportionate use of force in repressive actions, which has lead [sic] to some deaths and a large number of wounded,” and called for dialogue.

The Latin American Council of Churches, a regional ecumenical organization whose members include 175 Latin American churches in every country in the region, issued a statement on February 28th that stated: “We have seen in the protests in this month of February in Venezuela, directed by the opposition, that their own leaders have confessed the aim of “regime change”. The Venezuelan Constitution offers the possibility of a revocative referendum half way through the term of a presidency, and in that legal and democratic way a government can be changed. However, the recent opposition protests (…) have demonstrated the impatient claims of the opposition, that don’t want to wait to move forward legally (…) The protests are legitimate in their call for greater security, against shortages and inflation, but the demand for a “regime change” does not match the democratic will of the majority of the Venezuelan people expressed in the last elections in 2013.”

The protesters do not have broad support, but are mainly comprised of upper- and middle-class Venezuelans. Media reports have noted that the road blockades have mainly been in wealthier areas, and that the protesters have failed to broaden their movement to lower-income sectors of the population.

Recent elections and opinion polls both show the Maduro government with strong majority support. Political parties aligned with the Maduro government won municipal elections in December with a 10-point margin of victory over the opposition. Prior to these elections, the opposition had framed them as a referendum on Maduro’s government, a line which was picked up in the international media.

A poll conducted in early March by polling firm Pronóstico, and described on March 16th in Venezuela’s largest-circulation newspaper, Últimas Noticias, shows that a strong majority of the 2,400 people surveyed in Caracas and Carabobo – 64% — oppose the current protests. They also show that if presidential elections were to be held now, Maduro would receive more votes than all the leading opposition figures combined.

The U.S. administration has adopted positions that clash with those of nearly all the governments of the region. Declarations from the State Department and the White House have portrayed the protests as peaceful and democratic and placed all the blame for the recent violence on the Venezuelan government. Secretary of State John Kerry has stated that President Maduro is waging a “terror campaign” against the Venezuelan people and said that sanctions against Venezuelan officials are being considered. Only the U.S., Canada and the rightwing government of Panama refused to sign on to the OAS declaration of “solidarity and support” of Venezuela’s democratic institutions.

In the U.S. Congress, sanctions legislation was introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL) in the House and Senator Bob Menendez (D-FL) in the Senate on March 13th. The Menendez bill – The Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act – “requires President Obama to impose sanctions on persons that have been involved in serious human rights violations against peaceful demonstrators and others in Venezuela or that have directed or ordered the arrest or prosecution of a person due to their legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or assembly.” It also “authorizes $15 million in new funding in the FY2015 budget to defend human rights, support democratic civil society organizations, assist independent media, and strengthen good governance and the rule of law in the face of the massive violence and repression”, according to the Menendez press release.

The Ros Lehtinen bill has the same name as the Helms Burton Act, with the name of Cuba replaced by Venezuela: the Venezuelan Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act. It contains three different forms of sanctions, a statement of policy for reducing oil imports from Venezuela and a “strategy” section that recycles various passages from the Helms Burton Act including the demand that Venezuela move “toward a market-oriented economic system based on the right to own and enjoy property” and make “constitutional changes that would ensure regular free and fair elections.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has also said that sanctions against Venezuela could be an “important tool.” President Pepe Mujica of Uruguay recently spoke out against this threat: “when the entire world asks the U.S. to shelve its economic blockade policy against Cuba, voices emerge from within that government threatening sanctions against Venezuela. Are the lessons of history never learned? (…) the first thing that Venezuela and all of Latin America need is to be respected.”

1 Agence France Presse, “Caracas governor should resign after police violence: human rights leader.” June 26, 1992

 

Upcoming Venezuela Delegations May, June and July 2014

Witness for Peace Southwest and Chiapas Support Committee presents:

Venezuela Delegation celebrating Afro-Venezuelan History Month

May 20–29, 2014

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Venezuela is at the forefront of revolutionary movements in the Americas. Along with worker´s rights, May also celebrates Afro-Venezuelan history month and is full of events marking the significant political, cultural and social contributions of the African Diaspora and the specific struggles of afro-descendents in Venezuela. This delegation comes one year after the passing of revolutionary leader and former President Hugo Chávez. More than ever the Venezuelan people and countries across the Americas continue to support the Bolivarian and socialist project that he and the people championed. And more recently, this delegation comes as an act of resistance and solidarity following the right wing opposition´s violent attempts to overthrow the democratically elected Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro and garner international support for foreign, namely US, intervention. Please join us for what promises to be a remarkable time to celebrate Venezuela’s revolutionary spirit, past and present.

Themes: African Diaspora, Current political relationship with African nations, African Descent in the Americas, Cumbes/Comunes, Black organizing exchanges, US policy towards Venezuela, Venezuela’s involvement in political and economic alternatives like ALBA and CELAC and learn about government social programs in education, health and worker cooperatives. Geographical regions: Caracas, Barlovento e Higuerota, Edo. Miranda, Coro, Falcón, Edo. Yaracuy.

Dates: May 17 to May 26

May 25 is the Day of the Marronage, Día de cimarronaje

The term marronage, maroon when referencing an individual, historically speaks to to African resistance to slavery in the America. Enslaved Africans and their descendants escaped slavery to create autonomous communities and cultures in regions away from plantations in forests, jungles, mountaintops and valleys across the corners of the American continent. Often times they also organized with the indigenous first nation peoples of their region and collaboratively led rebellions and offenses against European colonizers, settlers in the Americas and their empires. In Venezuela prior to the independence movement led by Simón Bolívar, rebellions led by Negro Miguel, José Leonardo Chirinos and Guaicaipuro made great strides to challenge colonial empire. In contemporary Venezuelan vernacular, the term cimarronear or cimarroneando, is commonly used in Afro-Venezuelan communities to reference someone who organizes in the name of revolution.

Cost: The price of the 10-day delegation is approx $900 USD. This delegation fee covers all set-up, preparation, 2 meals a day, lodging, interpreters, and transportation within Venezuela. The fee also covers extensive reading and activist tools both before and after the delegation. Airfare to Caracas is not included. Deadline: Application with a non-refundable deposit of $150 due by April 28, 2014. Partial scholarships are available. For a scholarship application and fundraising assistance email tanya@wfpsw.org.

About our Trip Leaders in Venezuela:

Jeanette Charles is a grassroots educator, writer and youth organizer from Los Angeles, California. Member of the Chiapas Support Committee and board member for Witness for Peace Southwest. Jeanette has spent considerable time in and across the continental Americas with Afro and indigenous communities as well as popular media collectives. Jeanette is currently located in Caracas, Venezuela and recently became a writer for Telesur-English.

Tanya Cole is Director of Witness for Peace Southwest an organization dedicated to advocating for a more just and humane US Foreign policy towards Latin America. Tanya has led over 2 dozen delegations to 6 countries in Latin America including Venezuela.

For more info and an application Contact: Tanya Cole, Witness for Peace Southwest 805-669-VIVA or tanya@wfpsw.org or Jeanette Charles jcharles913@gmail.com.

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Summer Study Delegation to Venezuela . You are invited!

 

Health, Social Policy, and Poder Popular in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

June 22-July 1, 2014

 

The UN declaration of human rights articulates a right to health that is inseparable from rights to other basic human needs, such as food, housing, education, gainful employment, social security when an individual is unable to work, political participation, and leisure. The premise is that the promotion and protection of health requires living conditions that assure human dignity. At the turn of the 21st century several governments in Latin America assumed the responsibility to guarantee a life of dignity for all their citizens. One such country was Venezuela under the revolutionary leadership of the late Commander Hugo Chavez Frias. The challenge required a commitment to appropriate the power of the state to turn it into an instrument of the power of the people, i.e., the Poder Popular suppressed in Venezuela despite decades of liberal democracy which granted a right to vote yet in practice suppressed the voice and actual political, economic, cultural and social participation of the majority of Venezuelans in their own society.

 

Since 1999, the voice, and concomitantly the power of the Venezuelan people have found new and powerful ways of expression through a revolutionary Constitution and an increasing number of people-centered social, economic, and public health policies. This trip will familiarize participants with these policies by bringing to life the historical development of the struggle of the Venezuelan people for a life of dignity. We will learn about, and visit a range of programs that are the expression of the ‘Misiones’ or Missions. The Missions are the Bolivarian Government’s way to implement a universal right to food, housing, health, education, gainful employment, information, and leisure. Our focus will be health, and we will spend a fair amount of time learning about Barrio Adentro, the Mission born from a cooperative agreement between the Venezuelan and Cuban governments to bring health services to every corner of the country. But because health is inseparable from other basic human needs, we will also visit and learn about Mercal (producer-to-consumer distribution cooperatives), Mision AgroVenezuela (resource development for food sovereignty), Mision Vivienda (building of dignified housing), Mision Vacaciones (guaranteed leisure for children), and many other Missions that underpin Venezuela’s contribution to a life of health and dignity.

 

This delegation is sponsored by the human rights organization Witness for Peace Southwest. Our hosts will be doctors and nurses at primary care centers, community clinics and hospitals, peasants (‘campesinos’) at agro-ecological cooperatives, workers at workers-run factories, agricultural engineers, educators and government officials.

 

Dates: June 22nd (arrival date) to July 1st (departure date)

Cost: $900 which include full program in Venezuela, airport pick up and drop off, in country transportation, bi-lingual trip leaders and interpretation, 1-2 meals a day, background reading materials, donations to Venezuelan organizations, and lodging. Airfare to Caracas is not included. $150 deposit due by May 20, 2014.

 

For further information contact: Claudia Chaufan, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Sociology-University of California San Francisco, Claudia.Chaufan@UCSF.edu . Also Tanya Cole-Witness for Peace Southwest, tanya@wfpsw.org or 805-669-VIVA. www.wfpsw.org, www.facebook.com/wfpsw

 


 

Participatory Democracy in Venezuela: Celebrating the Anniversary and Spirit of Simon Bolivar.

July 19-27, 2014

 An Altruvistas and Witness for Peace Southwest Delegation

CHAVEZ-supporters-_2504378kWe read about Venezuela in the news but the media most often provides a distorted and biased perspective on this country that is at the forefront of revolutionary movements in the Americas. Come to Venezuela and see the reality first-hand. This is a historic time to bear witness to the dramatic changes taking place in our hemisphere. Please join us for what promises to be a remarkable time to celebrate Venezuela’s revolutionary spirit, past and present.

This delegation offers opportunities to:

  • Understand U.S. policies toward Venezuela and their potential impact on the people of Venezuela.

  • Gain insight into innovative social programs of the Chavez and Maduro governments such as health care, education and cooperatives.

  • Celebrate with millions of Venezuelans the birth of Simon Bolivar, known as the Liberator of South America on July 24th.

  • Meet with labor organizers, scholars, professionals, business people, representatives of the media and activists to understand the economic, social and political issues confronting Venezuelan society.

  • Learn about Venezuela’s involvement regional alternatives models like ALBA and CELAC.

  • Travel outside of the capital to learn about rural and afro-indigenous communities.

Cost: $1700. This delegation fee covers all set-up, preparation, 2 meals a day, 3-Star Hotel, interpreters, and transportation within Venezuela. The fee also covers extensive reading and activist tools both before and after the delegation. Airfare to Caracas is not included. Deadline: Application with a non-refundable deposit of $150 due by June 19, 2014. Limited space available–Apply early!

 Contact: Tanya Cole, Witness for Peace Southwest 805-669-VIVA or tanya@wfpsw.org or Malia Everette at 415-735-5407 or Malia@altruvistas.com

To learn more about socially responsible travel opportunities around the world go to www.altruvistas.com

 For a scholarship application and fundraising assistance email tanya@wfpsw.org.

 

Webinar: Understanding Venezuela

Wednesday March 19th- 530pm PST/730pm CT/830pm EST

Click Here to Register for this Webinar

CHAVEZ-supporters-_2504378kVenezuela is at the forefront of revolutionary movements in the Americas. This webinar comes one year after the passing of revolutionary leader and former President Hugo Chávez. More than ever the Venezuelan people and countries across the Americas continue to support the Bolivarian and socialist project that he and the people championed. And more recently, this informative webinar comes as an act of resistance and solidarity following the right wing opposition´s violent attempts to overthrow the democratically elected Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro and garner international support for foreign, namely US, intervention. This webinar will be an on the ground live report by Caracas based Jeanette Charles, board member of Witness for Peace Southwest and newly appointed correspondent for Telesur-English. Information will be provided on how to join a WFPSW fact finding delegation to Venezuela in May and July of this year. Also we will discuss what we can do here at home in the U.S to stand in solidarity with the Bolivarian process and prevent US interference and US Media misrepresentation of the Venezuelan democratic process.

Presenter: Jeanette Charles is a grassroots educator, writer and youth organizer from Los Angeles, California. Member of the Chiapas Support Committee and board member for Witness for Peace Southwest. Jeanette has spent considerable time in and across the continental Americas with Afro and indigenous communities as well as popular media collectives. Jeanette is currently located in Caracas, Venezuela and recently became a correspondent for Telesur-English. Jeanette will lead the May WFPSW delegation to Venezuela.

Facilitator- Tanya Cole is Director of Witness for Peace Southwest based in the states of California, Arizona and New Mexico. WFPSW will be hosting 2 upcoming delegations to Venezuela in May and July.

May Delegation to Venezuela celebrating Afro-Venezuela History Month- May 17-26, 2014 ( $900)
July Delegation to Venezuela celebrating the birth of Simon Bolivar- July 19-27th, 2014 (price TBD)

Click Here to Register for this Webinar

For more information contact southwestwfp@gmail.com or call 805-669-VIVA.

Webinar-“Understanding Venezuela”

 Wed March 19, 2014 5:30pm PST/ 730pm CT/ 830pm EST

Call and Log in Details

Below are the conference details.

The conference has audio and visual options available.

1. For audio every participant must takes these steps:

From your phone call the conference call number: 1-646-307-1300 (East Coast)
You will be asked to enter an access code. Enter the code : 630087 followed by the # sign. You will now enter the conference. You will hear an announcement that the call is being recorded. (we hope to have a recording available for participants after the call)
All participants will be muted except for the organizers. To un-mute yourself in order to comment or ask a question press *6 on your phone.

2. Visual option available which includes a photos, visual reports and live chat room. (phone and internet required)

To access the visual conference guide click on the link below:

http://www.freeconference.com/DesktopConnect.aspx?E=c2280e302e6f8ab267bccdd48931704a&B=13979374&AC=1

You will enter a website where the organizers will be guiding you through photos and written reports while you listen on the phone conference audio line. You can ask questions via chat and use the “Raise Your Hand” feature to let organizers know you have a question or comment.

Afterwards we will have the materials and a recording of the call available for participants. The recommended registration fee is $10 but no one is turned away for lack of funds. Payment can be made online or by check here: https://wfpsw.org/donate-today/

A packet of materials with background articles on Venezuela is available. Thank you for joining us!

The Venezuelan People Defend their Revolution from the Opposition´s Coup Attempts

The Venezuelan People Defend their Revolution from the Opposition´s Coup Attempts

by Jeanette Charles

VZ petrol worker march feb 18

17 February 2014 – Caracas, Venezuela – In February, the Venezuelan people celebrate a rebellious and revolutionary history. February marks the 1992 attempted government takeover organized by military and civil society under the leadership of Hugo Rafael Chavéz Frías, inspired by the Caracazo, the 1989 neoliberal economic crisis that drove the Venezuelan poor into extreme poverty and where the military repressed, disappeared and assassinated thousands.

This year, Venezuela honors the bicentennial of the youth movement, a trajectory of independence, communist and ultimately anti-imperialist revolutionary movements. However, the right wing opposition in Venezuela has terrorized the people with an onslaught of violence and threats to topple the democratically elected and self-declared Chavista working class government under President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

Late Sunday evening, President Maduro along with National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello and foreign relations minister Elias Jaua, recounted the last few days of destruction, international media manipulation and violence against the Venezuelan people led by opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Henrique Capriles Radonski, both involved in the 2002 coup attempt against then President Hugo Chávez. President Maduro emphasized, “We are facing crazy people without moral or ethical limits…the people of Chavez have risen up and have decided to be free,” reiterating that Venezuela does not take orders from anyone except the Venezuelan people and is not a US colony, following comments from US State Department official Alexander Lee.

On Wednesday, during the National Youth March, opposition students marched to Parque Carabobo in the Capital of Caracas carrying with them molotov bombs, hardware tools and weapons. They took to the Public Prosecutor’s headquarters and set cars on fire as well as attacked the building threatening the lives of people nearby and workers at this public institution. On Wednesday, three were left dead in the capital including one police officer, a pedestrian and a militant organizer, Juan Montoya “Juancho”, from the barrio of 23 de enero on the capital’s west side, overwhelmingly organized working class and poor. Across the country there have been attacks against known socialist programs and Venezuelan government institutions.

(For more information: http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/politica/%E2%80%9Cjuancho%E2%80%9D-montoya-militante-23-enero-asesinado-este-miercoles-era-un-activo-luchador-por-paz-fotos-y-video/ , http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10345, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es4i37ODi6s)

Since Wednesday, the Venezuelan people continue to mobilize resisting the opposition’s violence. This Saturday was the Peace and Justice March and National Youth March concentrated in Caracas. Music and political chants dominated the city where families, communities and their movements continued to march in the name of their revolutionary spirit in spite of the week’s violence.

There is currently a warrant for the arrest and capture of Leopoldo López. President Maduro has expelled three more US diplomats. They are claimed to have participated in opposition meetings in support of a coup d’etat. They have also been seen at several private universities in Venezuela offering youth visas to the United States. (For more information: http://www.ciudadccs.info/?p=534169)

At the close of January, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC in Spanish) met for their second gathering in La Habana, Cuba. The CELAC is the Latin American and Caribbean union, political, social, economic and cultural initiative to integrate the Americas without the participation of the United States and Canada. This year’s gathering ended with a declaration proclaiming the region free of military intervention in the name of peace and respectful diplomatic relations. The CELAC also opposed the US embargo to Cuba and included a provision to discuss further involvement of Puerto Rico, current US colony, potentially leading to a decolonization process as proposed by the Puerto Rican liberation movements. (To read Spanish version of declaration download here: http://celac.cubaminrex.cu/es/articulos/declaracion-final-de-la-ii-cumbre-de-la-celac)

In light of the right wing violence in Venezuela many nations across the world have declared their solidarity including Ecuador, the Association of Caribbean States and Argentina among others. There is a national march in the name of peace and in defense of the revolution on Tuesday February 18th. The opposition has also called for a mobilization however their march is not authorized.

                                      -Jeanette Charles is from Los Angeles, CA currently residing in Venezuela. Jeanette is a board member of Witness for Peace Southwest and member of the Chiapas Support Committee.

 For more news in English and Spanish:

http://venezuelanalysis.com/

laradiodelsur.com/‎

www.telesurtv.net/

Image

Members of the new Harbor Chapter of Witness for Peace Southwest, defending the sovereignty of Venezuela in front of the Pacific Heights Air Force Base in San Pedro. The group calls for an end to US intervention in Latin America, and for a foreign policy based on cooperation and respect, not on aggression and militarism.

Venezuela: International Day of Action April 11, 2013

Thursday April 11th marks the 11 year anniversary of the attempted coup against elected President Hugo Chavez. Two Days later on April 13th, 2002 in a historic moment for Latin America he returned to his office reversing the coup.

Since first coming into office in 1999 President Chavez had gone through numerous highly observed elections in which he was re-elected by an overwhelming majority of the popular vote. He recently was re-elected for President in October 2012. A controversial figure for some and a beloved President and leader for millions of Venezuelans, President Hugo Chavez succumbed to cancer last month.

New elections are taking place this Sunday April 14th in Venezuela where President Chavez’s sucessor Nicolas Maduro is expected to win. We know of the over decade long hostilities of the United States in trying to intervene in the democractic process in Venezuela and to undermine the alternative economic and political models that challenge US hegemony in the region.

This Thursday April 11th is an International Day of Action in solidarity with the Venezuelan People. As US Citizens we call for NO Intervention in Venezuela, Respect for Election Results, and an End to funding of Opposition groups.

Call the State Department’s Venezuela Desk at 202-647-4216 or email mcnamarajt@state.gov.

Call the White House comment Line: 202-456-1111

For congress contact the ranking members of the Foriegn Operations Sub-Committee and ask them to cut all US funding of opposition groups in Venezuela from the 2014 federal budget.

Republican Chair Kay Granger (TX) (202) 225-5071
Democract ranking member Nita Lowey (NY) 202-225-6506

There will be events happening nationwide this week. For California events see below. 

California Events:

April 14th Chiapas Support Committee (5-C) teach-in @*2-4 pm
Dolores Huerta Room, Pitzer, Claremont Colleges. VENEZUELA
Youth collectives… elections Jeanette Charles, & Youth skyped from
Venezuela.

April 14th Bus from LA to SF: Venezuelan consulate

Global Womens Strike Sunday 14 April, 3:30- 6pm
At the Eastside Café, 5469 Huntington Drive N (corner of Maycrest LA 90032)  Light refreshment.  Let us know by Thursday April 11 if you will need childcare.
Contact: la@allwomencount.net, 323-276-9833