Daniel Gasparri, the head of Venezuela’s mission in Australia, said the country remains under attack from the United States.
In a video message to a public forum on April 21 organised by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC), he said the US and its European allies are imposing what they call “sanctions” but which are really “unilateral coercive measures”.
Apart from the economic blockade, Venezuela is also dealing with armed attacks from Colombia. VSC member Joe Montero told the meeting that because of these paramilitary incursions, the Venezuelan government has given people guns and training to defend themselves. More than three million people have joined the Bolivarian militia — citizens who have volunteered to help in the defence of Venezuela against US-backed aggression
Yonaton Vargas, a member of the Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current, spoke by video link from Venezuela, saying the country faces “constant aggression from the Colombian oligarchy and US imperialism”. He said US troops are stationed at seven bases in Colombia, as well as bases in Curacao and Aruba, the Dutch-ruled islands off Venezuela’s coast. Vargas said that citizen’s assemblies are helping people organise against the provocations.
Francisco Dominguez, national secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign in Britain, who joined the forum from London, described the US blockade as a “crime against humanity”. He said the US has confiscated nearly US$40 billion worth of Venezuelan assets. Britain and other European countries have done likewise.
The sanctions prevent Venezuela from receiving crucial chemicals needed to convert crude oil into petrol. He said despite this, President Nicolas Maduro has not been overthrown, as the US hoped, and it has coped with the COVID-19 pandemic better than its neighbours.
There have only been 1800 deaths from COVID-19 in Venezuela, compared with more than 350,000 in Brazil, he said. Venezuela has also sent oxygen to Brazil.
Helen Whooley, also from VSC, said the group’s plans include raising funds for a childcare centre in Venezuela and to campaign for Australian government recognition of the Maduro government. Currently, Australia recognises the self-proclaimed “president” Juan Guaido. VSC is planning a delegation to visit Venezuela next year.
Maritime Union of Australia member Kevin Bracken reported on solidarity motions passed by the MUA and the International Transport Workers Federation. Len Cooper spoke on behalf of the International League of People’s Struggle. Video messages were received from MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin and activists in Indonesia, Hong Kong and the Philippines.