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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


New Yorkers march for Venezuela’s sovereignty

Activists at a rally on Feb. 23, 2019 in front of Trump Tower in New York protesting U.S. intervention in Venezuela. Over 19 socio-political organizations joined the rally. ANNA CORREA/THE STATESMAN

On Saturday, Feb. 23, which is the one-month anniversary of U.S.-backed intervention in Venezuela, New Yorkers in over 19 socio-political and economic organizations rallied in front of Trump Tower on Wall Street in New York City to protest U.S. intervention in Venezuela and demand for national sovereignty.

The organizations include anti-war and peace organizations, democratic and socialist groups,  pro-immigrant groups, veterans, anarchists and ethnic based groups — African-American, Cuban, Iranian, Serbian, Ecuadorians, Filipino, Honduran, Puerto Rican, Haitian and other Latin American based organizations.

Across the country and around the globe, protestors in about 120 organizations at over 130 marches in 33 countries including Russia, Iran, Korea, Mexico and India, called for a day of international action, demanding hostile actions from the U.S. to be stopped and the return of Venezuelan wealth to its people.

The march protested how businesses in Wall Street see war as a way to make money. Venezuela has the largest oil reserve in the world, even surpassing Saudi Arabia, yet people in the crowd say war is promoted for the United States to take over the oil reserves.

“These kids operate the same way all the time. They don’t change. They come into your country and they try to kill off the people who will not go along because of dominating terroristic tactics,” Kamau Brown, a member of the December 12th Movement, a black human rights organization, said. “They steal your labor and your wealth and your land. Then when you organize a fight back and a take-back of your people and your territory, they say you’re a terrorist. You’re anti-democratic.”

Protesters shouted phrases like “Vive Chavez,” “USA out of Venezuela” and “USA out of Puerto Rico,” “Maduro, amigo, el pueblo está contigo” (Maduro, friend, the country is with you) and “Black Power,” to show the support for former President Nicolás Maduro as speakers said that the sanctions on Venezuela are what’s pushing the country to be in this humanitarian crisis and Maduro did what he could under crippling circumstances. They also said that because Maduro is a socialist, he’s not liked in other countries like the U.S. and that people of color and the indigenous populations have been given more rights under the socialist regimes, including Maduro.

“Puerto Rico should no longer be used as a pawn of the U.S. for intervention in Venezuela. As one of the oldest U.S. colonies, we understand perfectly well the consequences of U.S. intervention, as well as feeble promises of humanitarian aid,” Raphael Agosto-Miranda, a representative for New York Boricua (Puerto Rican) Resistance, said. “These promises of humanitarian aid are nothing more than a trojan horse to access our land and our resources. We know that if the U.S. really cared about humanity, nearly 4,000 Puerto Ricans wouldn’t have died in the aftermath of hurricane Maria. The U.S. only cares about using Puerto Rico to continue to destabilize parts of Latin America.”

For over a decade, under U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, sanctions have been used to enforce policy and order on the Venezuelan government and individuals, according to a 2019 report by the Congressional Research Service. Because of the political and humanitarian crisis occurring in Venezuela, the Trump administration implemented sanctions such as embargos on U.S. exports and imports of oil from Venezuela under the Maduro administration.

The lack of trade, food and medical supplies has put further stress on the country who in 2016 the Independent reported had the world’s worst inflation rate and economic growth, ninth worst unemployment rate and a fairly high infant mortality rate that got 100 times worse in a four-year period.

Maduro, who was also the de-facto dictator of Venezuela, was replaced by a new opposition lawmaker Juan Guaidó, who many claim was virtually an unknown candidate until he took leadership in January of this year as the interim president.

Countries like the U.S. and neighboring Latin American countries recognize Guaidó as the proper leader since many leaders thought Maduro was corrupt, with rigged elections, living lavishly during a food crisis in the country and over 1,000 pieces of evidence showing crimes against humanity.

“What the people of Venezuela have been doing for 20 years now is rebelling against the dictatorship of the rich. They have been telling us around the world that ‘We don’t care. We will not be dictated to by Wall Street. Wall Street will not determine our future. We will do it,’” Larry Holmes, first secretary of the Workers World Party, said. “ They are part of the global struggle. We’re here for Venezuela, but it’s about all poor, working and oppressed people. No matter where they are. No matter what language they speak.”

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