New Yorkers rally against Trump’s Venezuela coup
Venezuela solidarity activists rallied in New York to oppose the U.S.-backed coup now underway in that country. Here, children walk next to a mural that depicts the surrender of a U.S. soldier, in CaracasFriday, Feb.1 | Rodrigo Abd / AP

NEW YORK—Two actions were held here last weekend in opposition to Trump’s efforts to overthrow the democratically-elected government of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela. Several groups came together Saturday, January 26 in Union Square and on 38th Street and Lexington, opposite the Cuban mission to the United Nations.

“My family is from Peru—Andean people, of Native and African descent, so, one of the first people that are always attacked by these right-wing governments in Latin America and in the United States,” Kayla Kireeva, an organizer of the event at Union Square, told WBAI Radio. Kireeva is a young worker with two jobs, and a student at LaGuardia Community College. “We are people that are living in the United States because of the results of U.S. intervention in…our home countries,” Kireeva said.

“They cannot stand that [the Bolivarian Revolution] gave the poor people visibility … decent homes, apartments, medicine, food” in Venezuela, another organizer, Sonya Fayallo, told WBAI. Fayallo grew up in Venezuela. “You can say right now that the country’s going hungry, but do not forget that the blockades and the sanctions [have been going on] for a long time.”

Fayallo did not just blame the U.S. for the problems in Venezuela; she also pointed the finger at the big capitalists in Venezuela. “There is food, but it’s expensive because the speculators have really done a good job in there, and of course it’s supported by the opposition. 80 percent of the industries are owned by the people that opposed Chávez, and now they oppose Maduro.”

Venezuela is still fighting to free itself from elite, mainly white, inheritors of the old plantation system that still control much of the country’s food system.

Ike Nahem of the New York-New Jersey Cuba Sí Coalition, led an action of 100 people on the Upper East Side, where a few blocks away, the Trump administration was trying to promote the coup in a special session of the United Nations Security Council. “They just appointed Elliot Abrams as their point person,” he said. “Some of you that are as old as me will remember fighting [to stop] the Contra War against Nicaragua.”

Abrams was convicted of perjury in the 1980s for withholding information about the Iran-Contra scheme, a proxy war fought by the Reagan administration against the leftist Nicaraguan government. The U.S. funded the right-wing Contra rebels, in part by smuggling arms through Iran. Abrams served in various capacities in both the Reagan and G.W. Bush administrations.

One of the speakers made occasion to poke fun at the ludicrousness of Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and others in league with U.S. imperialists in recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the “legitimate” president of Venezuela, simply because he declared himself to be so.

“I want to make a very important announcement,” a Veterans for Peace activist named Georgia called out. “I want you all to know that I have appointed myself the Mayor of New York, and furthermore, I already have been recognized by several of my neighbors.”

Humor aside, the international situation facing Venezuela is rapidly deteriorating. European banks have refused to allow the elected government to withdraw its own gold, and U.S. banks handed Venezuela’s U.S.-based public holdings over to Guaidó on Tuesday.

Pat Fry from Committees of Correspondence for Socialism and Democracy made a recommendation for practical action. “Call your member of Congress and urge them to sign on to the dear colleague letter that is being circulated in Congress by representative Ro Khanna. … I’m calling my representative telling her she needs to sign on. No intervention in the affairs of another country!”

Other members of Congress who have opposed U.S. intervention in Venezuela include New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“The imperialist system is a threat to all of the issues that we face,” Cameron Orr, a representative of the Communist Party USA stated. “We spend almost a trillion dollars every year on war, and they say they can’t fund healthcare. Many people in the U.S. are concerned about the environment,” he said, “but don’t know that the U.S. war machine is the number one consumer of fossil fuels in the world” and “the biggest polluter” because “our media is controlled by the corporations.”

Orr encouraged the attendees to be a part of “mass struggles for the [immediate] issues that people are facing in their lives” and “make the connections” between the struggles for social needs at home and the “fight against imperialism.”

Some speakers highlighted the new role Mexico is now playing in the region. “We all appreciate the fact that the new Mexican government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has stood up, almost alone in Latin America, to the Yankee aggression that’s being organized as we speak,” Nahem said.

Carol Widom, a founding organizer of the Committee in Solidarity with the Students and Teachers of Puerto Rico, made comparisons of U.S. policy in Venezuela, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. “Puerto Rico and Cuba, we are two wings of the same bird,” she said. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the Committee worked with the Teachers’ Federation of Puerto Rico to coordinate the collection of school supplies for Puerto Rican students. “The policies that are genocidal toward Cuba and Venezuela are the same that we are fighting against in Puerto Rico.”

Concluding the rally, Nahem also invited all the participants to a celebration in New York City at the People’s Forum to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolution.

The event will take place at 320 West 37th Street in Manhattan on Friday, February 8, at 6pm. Ambassador Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo, who is leaving her post as Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations to become Cuba’s Deputy Foreign Minister, will be attending as a special guest.



Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.