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Danny Cavanagh: The people of Venezuela have a right to determine their own economic and political future

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – I attended and spoke at the rally No War on Venezuela! on Saturday, February 23 at the invitation of the organizers, the Alliance for Venezuela Halifax and The Halifax Peace Council. It was a small but mighty crowd and they had many great speakers on the situation.

I am writing this because what is happening in Venezuela is one of those issues many of us know is important, but that we seldom join in to support the small groups that work hard to raise the issues.

The issues are larger than just what’s happening in Venezuela though, and after hearing others speak it prompted me to reflect and therefore touch base with you all. I am sorry this is a bit long, but it is important. It is also important that as a Federation we try and do more than issue a statement, but that we try and be more involved in these issues and support the struggles.

The overarching message on Saturday was around the recognition of the full right of self-determination for the Venezuelan people, and to denounce the ongoing coup attempt in Venezuela by the Canadian and United States governments.

In reflection, we see many small organizations provincially taking on these fights and at the end of the day, their fights, are in fact, our fights. As one of the speakers alluded to – whether it’s the struggles on Wet’suet’en territory or in Venezuela, both are opposed to Canadian imperialism. Both groups similarly demonstrate that alternatives to imperialism and colonialism are possible.

I am just trying to ensure that our members understand that although sometimes things seem so very far away, the same people in our capitalist regime and our political leaders do little to oppose these actions in other countries and in fact fund, support and are players on many fronts. They sit back and watch the exploitation of resources while bulldozing over people for themselves and/or their friends, so capitalists gain more power and wealth both here at home and abroad.

The struggle of oppressed peoples in many communities over time has made some positive strides. When we look at the many struggles here in Nova Scotia and abroad, we have a long history. A history where many suffered immensely because of political decisions, handing capitalists greater power and more profit. We know that environmental racism happens when we have government policymakers who develop and implement poor environmental policy such as toxic waste disposal sites, pollution, and urban decay in areas with a significant ethnic or racialized population.

We see that here at Boat Harbour today and in our history in Africville in NS.  Sadly, we know many aboriginal communities lack clean potable water, lack proper housing and face many other issues. We see the ongoing dispute today at Alton Gas. My point is that our governments at all levels have been complicit in all of these atrocities at home and abroad – past or present.

It’s difficult to educate members that our Canadian government along with the United States is leading the imperialist aggression in Venezuela with the aim of overthrowing the country’s democratically-elected president, Nicholás Maduro.

My message at the rally was essentially that we acknowledge that the Venezuelan people should choose their own president, that it’s not up to Justin Trudeau or Donald Trump. That we encourage our members not to believe the lies and misinformation about this situation in Venezuela. That the president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, appointed himself as “president in charge” while Nicholas Maduro was elected by a big majority in a presidential election, not just in one election, but in two elections.

That we stand shoulder to shoulder with them, that we stand in solidarity with them against blatant attempts by anyone who supports the overturning of a democratically-elected government. The people of Venezuela elected Nicholas Maduro as the president through an internationally observed electoral process. That the people of Venezuela have the right to determine their own economic and political future. That Canada along with the international community must bring a focus of conciliation and intervention to bring about peace, not war. That we cannot be silent in the face of the latest U.S. aggression against the Venezuelan people with the continued threats of military violence. That we know Venezuela would be a tremendous opportunity to gain more profits for Wall Street, so the interference by outside governments must stop.

Let’s also remember that tremendous gains have been made in Venezuela in the fight against racism, sexism, homophobia and economic inequality. Their gains on those are part of the global struggle waged by workers and the oppressed against the wealthiest and most powerful capitalists on the planet.

Thanks for reading this and let’s make a commitment to work harder to educate our members and support these struggles because in our Trade Union Movement we know an injury to one is, in fact, an injury to us all, no matter where you live.  

Danny Cavanagh is president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour

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