About 50 people gathered on July 8 at the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) offices in Sydney to celebrate Venezuela’s Independence Day and express support for the Venezuelan people and their government.
It followed a reception of more than 100 guests organised by the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Canberra on July 5, marking the 206th anniversary of Venezuela’s Independence Day.
The Sydney meeting was sponsored by the MUA Sydney Branch, the Latin American Social Forum (LASF), the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) and the Venezuelan Embassy.
A wide range of speakers including politicians, academics and representatives from trade unions, solidarity organisations and political parties addressed the event.
MUA Sydney branch deputy secretary Paul Keating stressed his union’s history of supporting progressive international struggles and invited solidarity activists to visit the waterfront to speak to workers about the situation.
Assistant branch secretary Joe Deakin added: “This union is internationalist to its bootstraps. The MUA will be with the heroic comrades of Venezuela all the way.”
Macquarie University professor Rodrigo Acuna provided an update on the current crisis in Venezuela, explaining that the right-wing forces were using “a similar playbook to Chile in 1973 which led to the military coup carried out by General Augusto Pinochet, including economic boycotts, transport strikes and violence”.
Alfonse De Gill, a Venezuelan living in Australia emphasised that the current struggle against the US empire was a continuation of the fight for independence waged more than 200 years ago by liberation fighter Simon Bolivar.
NSW Labor MP Paul Lynch (pictured) also drew parallels with the independence struggles led by Bolivar in the early 19th century and said “anyone with a progressive view today is beholden to show solidarity with Venezuela”.
Greetings were also presented by representatives from AVSN, LASF, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front Committee in Sydney, Communist League and Sydney University professor Tim Anderson, among others.
[Published in the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network July 2017 special liftout.]