By Suzanne Weiss, tour organiser
March 2, 2010 – Four days into their eight-city tour of Canada, Kiraz Janicke and Federico Fuentes are encountering broad interest in the Venezuelan revolution and deep concern regarding the threats it now faces from the US and Canadian governments. To date, they have given ten presentations and a radio interview, in three cities.
Janicke and Fuentes are activists living in Venezuela and writers for Venezuelanalysis.com. To hear what they’ve been telling Canadian audiences, check out the video of their major Toronto presentation at http://links.org.au/node/1533. Or read Fuentes’s February 21 article, “Venezuela’s Revolution Faces Crucial Battles” at http://www.greenleft.org.au/2010/827/42532.
The high-point of the tour so far was the Toronto all-day teach-in Saturday, February 27, on “Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution – The Second Decade". It was attended by more than 100 supporters of the Venezuelan revolution, including activists in every wing of the Latin American solidarity movement. The teach-in was the first event ever held in Toronto built jointly by all of the city’s Venezuela solidarity groups.
Participants represented a broad range of experiences and viewpoints, and debates were lively, open and unrestrained. Yet all those present were joined by a common commitment to defend the Venezuelan people and their revolution, and exchanges between different viewpoints took place without friction or polemic.
Maria Paez Victor, giving the keynote address, provided a sweeping survey of the struggles of the Venezuelan people for freedom and justice. Participants took part in ten panels on topics including US plans for renewed hegemony, building people-to-people solidarity, women and the Venezuelan revolution, and alternative media in Venezuela and Canada. The closing plenary discussed steps to build Venezuelan solidarity in Canada.
Other speakers were Nicolas Lopez and Pablo Vivanco of Barrio Nuevo; Alissa Trotz, director of Caribbean studies, University of Toronto; Rose Noyola of the Canadian Salvadorian Association Network; Greg Albo, Dept. of Political Science, York University; BC Holmes, Toronto Haiti Action Committee; Camilo Cahis of Hands Off Venezuela/Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle; Paul Kellogg of the Venezuela We Are With You Coalition; nchamah miller of Latin@s Canada; Juan Valencia of Toronto Bolivia Solidarity; and special guests Kiraz Janicke and Federico Fuentes.
Tour ranges far and wide
The teach-in was the final event of three days of Venezuelan solidarity activities in Toronto. On Thursday, Fuentes addressed a solidarity demonstration with Venezuela called by the Latin American Solidarity Network–Toronto outside the Venezuelan consulate. (It was Federico’s first experience of sub-zero weather – in a challenging Canadian winter gale.) The following day, Fuentes and Janicke took part in a free-wheeling seminar among 40 political science specialists at York University. They also spoke at a city-wide forum that evening, entitled “Profile of a People’s Movement”, to an audience of 60.
On Sunday, they led a discussion on lessons of socialist reconstruction in Australia, hosted by Socialist Project.
Yesterday, Kiraz took the train to Kingston, where she spoke on “Indigenous Resistance in Venezuela and Bolivia” to a meeting at the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre. The meeting was hosted by Prof. Bob Lovelace, widely respected for his prominent role in the resistance by Indigenous people against uranium mining. Federico addressed a city-wide meeting in support of Venezuela organized in Ottawa by Socialist Project.
Today, Kiraz is off to the University of Waterloo, where she will speak to a student-organised meeting on Venezuela’s friendship with the Palestinian people. The meeting is part of Israeli Apartheid Week, organised in more than 40 cities worldwide. Her tour also includes further meetings in Toronto, Montreal and with the Algonquin indigenous nation in Ardoch, Ontario.
Federico will address three university meetings in Ottawa today, before heading west to engagements in Vancouver and Victoria.
The February 27 teach-in was organised and sponsored by:
* Ontario Public Interest Research Group—Toronto
* Centre for Social Justice
* Barrio Nuevo
* Hands Off Venezuela/Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle
* Latin America Solidarity Netowrk—Toronto
* Latin@s Canada
* Socialist Project
* Toronto Bolivia Solidarity
* Toronto Haiti Action Committee
* Venezuela We Are With You Coalition/Coalición Venezuela Estamos Contigo
The Janicke-Fuentes tour is organised by Toronto’s Centre for Social Justice, Socialist Project and the Venezuela We Are With You Coalition. Funds have been pledged by tour supporters across the country to cover all tour costs.