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 a 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/.