We need to talk about Venezuela

Haligonians gather in protest of the ongoing crisis.

click to enlarge Camila Salcedo is a community organizer and interdisciplinary artist who focuses on themes surrounding Latinx identity. She also works for the student union of NSCAD University as the VP internal. - LEMEEZE DAVIDS
Lemeeze Davids
Camila Salcedo is a community organizer and interdisciplinary artist who focuses on themes surrounding Latinx identity. She also works for the student union of NSCAD University as the VP internal.

On Saturday, May 20, Canadians and Venezuelan-Canadians gathered at Grand Parade in solidarity with Venezuelans fighting against president Nicolas Maduro. I organized this gathering in response to the countless protests happening in Venezuela over the past 53 days. They started in March, when president Nicolas Maduro dissolved the opposition-led National Assembly. This means that there is currently no rule of law in Venezuela.

Many people in Canadian cities have been responding to these issues. Community-led events have been happening all across Canada in cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, in support of the people living in Venezuela’s state of crisis.

This was the first gathering in Halifax this year. The aim is to show the current reality of the country: Food shortages, economic inflation, high murder rate, the recent anti-democratic policies and the current government’s violence against protesters. At least 47 people have been killed and 750 injured in Venezuela in the past month, largely due to riot police violence.

At the gathering at Grand Parade, we held many posters and flags, in silence and mourning. We also received words of support from the Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia as well as Nova Scotia Public Interest Group. The names of all the deceased protesters were read, along with their ages to commemorate their lives lost. We proceeded to walk along Barrington Street and Spring Garden Road toward Victoria Park, handing out brochures urging people to get informed.

It is really important for Canadians, and Haligonians, to speak about these issues. Many of the people who have died in the Venezuelan protests have largely been youth and students. Halifax is a place where young people often exercise the right to protest without the fear of being physically and violently attacked by the forces that are supposed to protect us.

It is completely unjust and it is a human rights violation for a government to enforce physical force against its citizens. Individuals in a democracy have every right to demonstrate their opinions without fearing the end of their own lives in torture.

As a left-wing individual, it’s often difficult to explain to people how the supposed “socialist” party in Venezuela is in fact far from its name. The people in government power are the ones who have the most wealth in the entire country, mostly with oil and drug money. This narco state is corrupt and anti-democratic and is not helping our people get fed, nor fixing the economic inflation.

There are many things Canadians can do to help, such as sign petitions which urge the Canadian government to take action against this issue, they can also donate to many crowd-funding sites which are helping to provide medical support, media attention, and help to protesters.

The issues facing Venezuelans are issues of human rights and this is why we need to talk about it. Journalists are currently undergoing immense repression in Venezuela, so spreading the real and factual information coming from the protesters should be a priority for people all over the world.


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