Latin America Solidarity Coalition of Western Massachusetts

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The Resistance Center hosts the web page of the The Venezuela Solidarity Coalition of Western Massachusetts. We stand in solidarity with the group, but otherwise have no role in its organization.

Latin America Solidarity Coalition of Western Massachusetts

A car rally and calling our representatives
When: Monday, April 20 @ 11:30 AM
Where: Meeting place @ Sheldon Field, Northampton

Route of car convoy: From Sheldon Field to Bridge St, to Strong Ave, to Pleasant St (slowing down next to McGovern office), to Main St, to City Hall, to Crafts Ave, to Old St, to Hampton Ave back to McGovern office. From there if time allows, we can do another circle.

What do we call for?
Immediate End to the US sanctions on Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and North Korea.
• Allow Cuban medical staff and medicine to enter our country to help fight the Coronavirus pandemic and save lives
• End the efforts to terrorize the Venezuelan people to force them to revolt against their government which has not and will not work because the majority of the Venezuelan people support their Bolivarian revolution
• rescind the ludicrous accusation by the US government that the president of Venezuela is involved in drug trafficking and save the $15,000,000 of public money promised as a reward for the arrest of President Maduro, to spend on ventilators.
• End the blockade of Gaza, the largest open air prison in the world, and renew US support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in occupied Gaza and the West Bank.
• At this time of global health crisis, we call for cooperation among nations not domination
• US resume funding the World Health Organization
• Bailout People and small business Not Corporations
• Invest in People not in Wars and Militarism
Signs:
People can make signs on 8 ½ by 11 paper and tape the sign on the car windows or combine two pages per sign. Of course, larger signs are good to use.
Signs should be related to the demands above.
Phone calls from our cars to our Massachusetts representatives in Washington
From 11:30 to 12 we will make phone calls from our cars to our Massachusetts representatives in Washington to publicly denounce US sanctions and call for the immediate end of sanctions during this pandemic.
That means placing calls to:
Senator Warren – Washington: 202-224-4543 – Boston: 617-565-3170
Senator Markey – Washington: 202-224-2742 – Boston: 617-565-8519
Congressman James P. McGovern – (202) 224-3121 – Northampton: 413-341-8700
Congressman Richard E. Neal: (202) 224-3121 – Springfield – 413- 785-0325
COVID-19 and U.S. Sanctions
Script for calling legislators: Monday, April 20
(Feel free to modify this script to your liking. It’s best if not everyone uses the same exact words.)
Hi, my name is [ NAME ] and I’m calling from [ TOWN ]. I’m extremely worried about the impact of U.S. sanctions on the ability of Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, and other countries to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining sanctions, especially under the circumstances, is criminal and immoral – as well as counterproductive if we hope to limit the global spread of the virus.
U.S. sanctions cripple the ability of vulnerable countries to save patients’ lives. All sanctions must be ended immediately so that all countries can import the medicines, equipment, and food they need to prevent mass death.
I’m asking ______ to do 3 things:
1. Issue immediate statements via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram condemning the sanctions against all these countries. Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative Ilhan Omar, and others have recently issued statements condemning the Iran sanctions.
2. Sign on to Rep. Omar’s “Congressional Oversight of Sanctions Act” – H.R. 5879.
3. Initiate Congressional hearings on the impacts of sanctions by the first week of April.
Can I count on ______ to do these 3 things?
(If applicable): When can I expect a reply from ______?

Additional background for callers (FYI):
How do sanctions affect these countries’ response to COVID-19? In two major ways: 1) Sanctions legally prevent imports. While they sometimes contain vague exceptions for food and medicine imports, foreign banks and exporters tend to over-comply with sanctions so as to avoid legal risk. 2) Sanctions block countries like Venezuela, Iran, and Cuba from exporting goods and accessing credit, and thus deprive them of the money needed to import life-saving essentials (think lab tests, respirators, masks, antiviral drugs, etc.). This means that even if sanctioned countries are legally permitted to import food, medicine, and medical equipment, the lack of export revenue deprives them of money to do so. For both these reasons, the “exception for food and medicine” is a lie.
How is the U.S. responding to the COVID-19 crisis in these countries? It’s rejecting their desperate pleas and tightening the screws. On Tuesday, March 17, the International Monetary Fund (which is dominated by the U.S.) rejected a request from President Nicolás Maduro for an emergency $5 billion loan to help Venezuela fight the virus.
What about Cuba? Cuba’s healthcare system is far better prepared than the U.S. system to deal with the virus. The island has a robust community-based health system that provides free, universal care. Its biotech industry is also among the best in the world. In the early 1980s Cuban doctors pioneered the development of a crucial antiviral drug, Interferon Alpha 2B, that can apparently be used against COVID-19, and Cuba has a large stock of the drug that it plans to use. Cuba is also sending medical personnel overseas to help treat patients. However, the U.S. embargo has put great strain on the Cuban healthcare and agricultural systems, and the current global crisis and recession will increase that strain. A potential food crisis is looming, due in part to Trump’s escalation of the embargo. The COVID-19 crisis and impending global recession will surely exacerbate the situation.

A Webinar:

Venezuela Update: Regime Change Efforts in the time of Corovavirus

April 23 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Join us for a conversation with Hector Figarella, a Venezuelan-American social justice activist and a medical first responder from Greenfield, Massachusetts. Hector will lead the webinar and provide an update on Venezuela, including their fight against the Coronavirus, the recent escalation of military pressure by the US, the so called “transition” plan of the US government to remove President Maduro, and the indictment of president Maduro, a 15 million dollar bounty for alleged narco-trafficking. 

Hector Figarella

To sign up go to:

https://masspeaceaction.org/event/venezuela-update-regime-change-efforts-in-the-time-of-corovavirus/

Past Events

Greenfield Rally (July 12, 2019)

As part of a national movement, hundreds of local residents gathered outside the Franklin County House of Correction’s gates on Friday, July 12 , calling for an end to the war of terror on immigrants and refugees , including  raids to arrest people, separating families, detaining  children and adults in camps and for the abolishment of the Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.).

The Greenfield rally was organized in part by the Pioneer Valley Workers Center and held in conjunction with the advocacy group Lights for Liberty’s nationwide call to action. Elsewhere, more than 500 groups held similar events on Friday including rallies in Homestead, FL and El Paso, TX, according to a press statement from the center. The nationwide events were organized “to call for an end to the inhumane conditions faced by immigrants at camps and detention centers across the U.S.”

Activists from the Venezuela Solidarity Coalition of Western Massachusetts participated in the rally displaying signs calling for US Hands off Venezuela, No Sanctions, No war in Iran & Venezuela, and Invest in Kids.

4th of July Peace Actions (July 6th, 2019)

No War in Iran & Venezuela: Invest in Kids not Bombs: End Sanctions

On Saturday, July 6, 2019, activists braved 95 degrees temperature and high humidity and held coordinated peace actions on the I-91 overpasses in Hatfield, Bernardston and Brattleboro with banners declaring No War in Iran & Venezuela, Invest in Kids not Bombs, End Sanctions.

The purpose of the actions was to raise consciousness about the issues of wars including sanctions, militarism, peace and US national priorities.

The actions were coordinated by the Venezuela Solidarity Coalition and included our sisters and brothers from Brattleboro Solidarity with the assistance of the summer interns at the The Resistance Center.

Hatfield, MA

Bernardson, MA

Brattleboro, VT

Report-Back from Venezuela (May 19th, 2019)

Lee Schlenker (who went to Venezuela March 28 to April 7) and Priscilla Lynch (and others) who went to the Washington D.C.’s Venezuelan Embassy to protect it.

Rallies in Sunderland and Coolidge Bridge (May 1st, 2019)

A Forum Opposing US Intervention in Venezuela (March 20, 2019)

As Venezuela confronts a grave economic crisis, the Trump administration has responded by imposing harsh sanctions, threatening war, and supporting a right-wing coup attempt. In response, the local Western Mass Venezuela Solidarity Coalition, in conjunction with several UMass departments and other co-sponsors (see below), held a forum entitled “Target: Venezuela” featuring local Venezuelan social justice organizer Hector Figarella and economist Mark Weisbrot. The speakers discussed the roots of the Venezuelan crisis, the impacts of U.S. intervention, and how we can influence U.S. government policy.

Héctor Figarella is a Venezuelan American activist and EMT. He started organizing around food justice issues while working at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and continued his work in Holyoke, MA through efforts to connect community gardens to schools. He has taught bilingual Worker Rights Trainings at the Pioneer Valley Workers Center and has done environmental justice work with Neighbor to Neighbor around the now closed coal plant in Holyoke. Héctor is on the Board of Directors for the Markham-Nathan Fund for Social Justice and is a member of the Venezuela Solidarity Coalition.

Mark Weisbrot is Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington,D.C. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. He is author of the book Failed: What the “Experts” Got Wrong About the Global Economy (Oxford University Press, 2015), co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: The Phony Crisis (University of Chicago Press, 2000), and has written numerous research papers on economic policy. His opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and almost every major U.S. newspaper, as well as in Brazil’s largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo. He appears regularly on national and local television and radio programs. He is also president of Just Foreign Policy. This event is sponsored by the Association of Latin American and Caribbean Students, the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies, the Political Economy Research Institute, Social Thought and Political Economy, the Venezuela Solidarity Coalition, and the departments of Afro-American Studies, Communications, History, Philosophy, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

The Crisis in Venezuela and the Role of the US (March 5th, 2019)

Featuring: Hector Figarella and Vijay Prashad

Democracy or oil? The role of US sanctions in the economic crisis? Who has the right to choose a President? How can we counter Washington’s disinformation?

Co-Sponsored by:

Climate Action Now | The Resistance Center | Two Degrees Northampton | Western MA CODEPINK | Western MA Green Rainbow Party | Traprock Center

Resources

  • Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela

April 2019, Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs

http://cepr.net/publications/reports/economic-sanctions-as-collective-punishment-the-case-of-venezuela

  • Eyewitness Report: Venezuela Up Close 

By Pat Fry, May 14, 2019. Portside

https://portside.org/2019-05-16/eyewitness-report-venezuela-close

  • Eyewitness in Venezuela: a 14-year Perspective by PETER LACKOWSKI, May 17, 2019. CounterPunch
  • May 7, 2019, CounterPunch. Audio interview

Mark Weisbrot comes on the show discuss his recent study co-authored with Jeffrey Sachs entitled Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela which details the real-world consequences of the US sanctions. Mark explains some of the data and methodology behind the study, and what the results reveal about the nature of the crisis. From there, Eric and Mark discuss some of the motivations behind Trump, Bolton & Co.’s actions, and how Venezuela is paying a price for a cynical political game. Is war on the table? What’s next? Listen to CounterPunch Radio this week to hear Mark Weisbrot’s take.

https://store.counterpunch.org/mark-weisbrot-episode-128/