On Jan. 25, two days after the little-known and U.S.-groomed opposition politician Juan Guaidó fraudulently declared himself president of Venezuela, 200 people rallied and marched in San Francisco’s Mission district in support of the democratically elected government of President Nicolás Maduro, and against the U.S.-orchestrated coup d’etat and ongoing economic war on the people of Venezuela.
The demonstration was called by the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition. Endorsing organizations included BAYAN-NorCal, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, the Green Party, the Task Force on the Americas, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador-Bay Area, the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, the Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Gloria La Riva of the Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee stated:
“We are with the Venezuelan people, and we understand that we must defend the government of President Nicolás Maduro. There’s not a third road, there’s not a middle ground. It’s either you’re for the U.S. and its plans, or you’re for the president and the government no matter what issues they have, no matter what contradictions. It’s a war.”
Confronting media lies and U.S. war propaganda
Carolina Morales, an LGBTQ and immigrant rights activist from Venezuela, called out the hypocrisy of the U.S. government and the imperial myth that Latin America is its “backyard.”
“In San Francisco, I work at City Hall, and every week when I leave work I see people looking through the trash and getting food. I see people living on the sidewalk. I know that we have students in our schools in the Mission that don’t eat, sometimes just eat once a day. Do you think that’s okay? No. We have teachers who also sometimes can’t eat enough, they can’t even live in this city to teach our kids. Is that okay? No. And do you see our country’s president worried about that? No. Instead they’re worried about Venezuela. … We should not be putting our hands on Venezuela, on Latin America, on Central America. That’s not our place. Let’s have some humility. The United States needs to learn some humility.”
Sharif Zakout of AROC connected the U.S. campaign against Venezuela to that of Palestine:
“As Palestinians fighting for self-determination, we understand how the media skews our people’s struggles, justifying the warped reasons for the U.S. intervening in our lands, and intervening in Venezuela will be no different. … And despite what you believe of the Venezuelan government, the U.S. has no right to undermine a people’s democratic process. As folks living in the belly of the beast, it is our responsibility to be the ulcer, to support people all over the world, calling out and disrupting U.S. fascism.”
Mazda Majidi, with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, countered the mantra of the U.S. “bringing freedom and democracy” to Venezuela:
“So Trump and Pence are at the forefront of defending democracy? Obviously not. … They support the rule of oligarchy, they support the rule of imperialism. Anytime the people make any gains it’s a danger for them. … For that reason, the benefits that the people of Venezuela have received, the housing they have received, the health care they have received, the medical care thanks to Cuban doctors and their solidarity, all of these are dangers to imperialism. As far as they’re concerned, people should go compete in the market for housing. … Look at what’s happening in San Francisco, the market is determining whether or not people can live somewhere or they have to live on the streets.”
Hands off Venezuela
A march down Mission Street followed the rally, led by chants of “What do we want? U.S. out!” “Venezuela sí! Yankee no!” and “Why does Washington spread the lies? Venezuela’s oil is nationalized!”
There is no power vacuum in Venezuela. Internationally monitored and democratic elections took place in Venezuela in May 2018 based on a concession to the opposition for early elections, where President Nicolás Maduro was overwhelmingly re-elected to a new six-year term with over six million votes.
In a recent appeal to the people of the U.S., President Maduro explained:
“We have our own problems, as any other country, and we will solve them by ourselves. Our people deserve respect. In our country there is the largest certified oil reserve in the world, and the eyes of those who lead the empire in the United States want to put their hands on it as they did in Iraq and Libya. That wealth belongs to us. We are now certifying the world’s first gold reserve, we have the fourth largest gas reserve in the world. We are a country of great resources both natural and energetic. This is the truth and this explains the constant attack against Venezuela.”
U.S. hands off Venezuela!