Venezuela Solidarity Campaign AGM

The VSC AGM took place on line on October 8th. Here is my welcoming speech as Chair of VSC.

Welcome all to this 2022 Annual General Meeting and its pleasure to be the opening speaker for the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign at this event today.

We are holding this event at a critical stage for Latin America and Venezuela, with developments in Brazil in particular on everyone’s mind.

We all hope that Lula wins the second round ballot for the sake of the Brazilian people and progressives worldwide.

In terms of today’s agenda, it’s been seven years or so since the United States first imposed sanctions on Venezuela, absurdly declaring Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”.  

Under Trump those sanctions – which are illegal under international law – were ratcheted up to become a blockade of the sort that Cuba has endured for decades.

The impact has been devastating. A UN report last year described how these sanctions have completely debilitated the Venezuelan economy, massively degrading peoples’ living standards.

On top of that, Venezuela has had to deal with the pandemic while the US sanctions have severely restricted its ability to buy the full range of necessary medical supplies.

If sanctions like these are inhumane all the time, during the years of the pandemic the have been nothing short of criminal.

But while Venezuela is emerging from the pandemic with signs of economic recovery, US sanctions are still a major concern. 

There was perhaps a sliver of hope that when Biden took office there might be some relaxation of the blockade. But Biden dashed that hope initially by renewing the declaration of a state of national emergency regarding Venezuela. Whilst some minor relaxations have taken place, the bulk of these illegal sanctions remain in place.

In the VSC we are clear that dialogue and peace are the way forward, not sanctions and aggression.

Here in the UK we also need to keep talking about the ownership of Venezuela’s gold, held by the Bank of England, that rightfully belongs to the Bank of Venezuela and the Venezuelan people.

This is still an issue that VSC needs to keep campaigning on.

To conclude, the overarching issue that we need to carry on campaigning on is the sanctions imposed by the US, with support from the British government, Canada and the EU.

This means raising it in our union branches and regional bodies and other organisations. Those comrades who are on line should raise the question of affiliation of their union, their region and branch to build solidarity with the Venezuelan people.

We need to continue seeking support for our petition and explain why sanctions are unjust, illegal and so harmful to the Venezuelan people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable

Our solidarity is an important source of strength and comfort to the Venezuelan people – thanks to everyone for attending today.

Solidarity, Viva Venezuela, Viva Lula.

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