New York — Shouting, “Venezuela is not a threat! Repeal the decree now!” activists rallied in Times Square on April 15 to demand that President Barack Obama keep U.S. hands off the Bolivarian revolution.
The protest was part of the “International Days of Solidarity with Venezuela” called in response to Obama’s declaration that Venezuela is a threat to U.S. security. In the U.S., in addition to New York City, demonstrations were held in Milwaukee, Buffalo, San Francisco and Detroit from April 11 through 19.
On March 5, Obama had issued an executive order calling Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” and announcing that the U.S. would be levying sanctions on Venezuela under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Speakers at the rally noted the absurdity of this statement and pointed to the real threats people in this country face: police brutality, unemployment, low wages, poverty, and the lack of housing and education. They also noted the support that Venezuela has given to poor and working people in the U.S., including providing heating oil to people in the South Bronx and New England.
The U.S. demonstrators added their voices to the millions around the world speaking out in support of Venezuela. One speaker reported that Venezuela has collected 13 million signatures from people around the world calling on Obama to retract the executive order, which these millions consider a prelude to invasion.
On April 1, there was a “United Nations Day of Solidarity with Venezuela,” during which leaders from numerous countries condemned the U.S. decree and declared their solidarity with Cuba.
And at the “Seventh Summit of the Americas” in Panama on April 10 and 11, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa criticized the U.S.’s hostility to Venezuela and voiced support for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
The U.S. government has been working to overturn the revolutionary progress in Venezuela ever since the election of President Hugo Chávez in 1998, when the new government began to improve dramatically the standard of living for the poorest people. Now President Maduro is carrying on this legacy, with the support of political and mass organizations in Venezuela.
In New York, people marched from Times Square to the statue of Simón Bolívar at 59th Street and 6th Avenue at the foot of Central Park. Bolívar, “the Liberator,” led the struggle that won independence for Bolivia, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela from Spain in the early 19th century.
In Buffalo, protesters gathered near Buffalo State College. Several people passing by stopped to express their appreciation for the rally and cars going by signaled their support.
The National Call for Solidarity was endorsed by the International Action Center, the Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle, the Alliance for Global Justice, the United National Anti-War Coalition, Honduras USA Resistencia, and the May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights.
In Milwaukee the protest on April 19 was sponsored by the Milwaukee Anti-War Committee and supported by numerous labor-community organizations, including the Latin American Solidarity Committee, Fight Imperialism Stand Together, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement and Workers World Party.