Venezuelan Solidarity with Palestine: A Conversation with Hindu Anderi

Building a robust Palestine solidarity movement in the face of the Israeli genocide in Gaza.
Hindu Anderi
Hindu Anderi is the coordinator of the Foro Itinerante de Participación Popular and a founder of the Plataforma de Solidaridad con la Causa Palestina. (Venezuelanalysis)

A Lebanese-Venezuelan journalist and longstanding Palestinian solidarity activist, Hindu Anderi is beloved by the Chavista grassroots for her radio programs and for her work with the Foro Itinerante de Participación Popular [Itinerant Forum for Popular Participation], a social justice platform that she has organized for almost twenty years. Anderi is also the promoter of the Plataforma de Solidaridad con la Causa Palestina [Solidarity Platform with the Palestinian Cause], which brings together organizations working to end the Israeli occupation. In this interview, she discusses the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza, Hugo Chávez’s unwavering support for the Palestinian cause, and her own efforts to build a robust solidarity movement against the occupation of Palestine. 

The people of Palestine and Venezuela are both victims of imperialist aggression. The Palestinians face Zionist settler colonialism, whereas Venezuelans grapple with the US-imposed sanctions regime. Although the differences in scale and intensity are important, both populations are undergoing collective punishment. Is this important when rekindling solidarity? 

Let’s begin with one term: humanity. We are all humans and we are part of a common project. That means that we – Venezuelans, Palestinians, and all the working people of the world – cannot be separated or broken apart by the enemies of humanity. 

We live on one planet that is not flat or square but round; we live in an interconnected world, and we are one race. That’s why I often say that what happens to our brothers and sisters here and elsewhere happens to us. 

If we rekindle our humanity, we will not see a conflict, a war, or a genocide that happens thousands of kilometers away as something foreign. If we embrace the common project of humanity, we will not ignore a toxic dump in Africa or a criminal economic siege against Cuba, Venezuela, or Iran. 

Additionally, preserving life on the planet is a common cause: a war or an environmental catastrophe in another continent will not only take the lives of our fellow kin, but it will surely reach our shores in one way or another. 

The principle of solidarity is the cornerstone of humanity. That’s why we, in a country enduring a brutal US blockade, feel solidarity with the people of Palestine. 

We should not be essentialists, but I think that the history of our country left us with a worldview based on solidarity: Venezuelans went to Nicaragua and El Salvador to fight with the revolutionary movements in the 80s there, and we defended Cuba in the worst of the “Special Period,” but if we go further back, Simón Bolívar and his army freed not only Venezuela, but also Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, and Bolivia. 

Venezuela is also a home to millions who had to leave their homeland due to prosecution or economic hardship, from Chileans to Italians, from Germans to Arabs, including a small Palestinian community that made Venezuela their home. 

To come back to your question: Indeed both Palestinians and Venezuelans are undergoing collective punishment with devastating consequences for the people. Millions of Venezuelans have felt the hardship of the US sanctions, while Palestinians are enduring an outright genocide. The aggressions are not on the same level, of course, but we are better prepared to understand the horror of the Zionist war. This should make our solidarity more robust. 

Marches in solidarity with Palestine in Caracas. October and November 2023. (AVN and Alba Ciudad)

As long as the UN exists, we have to struggle so that hegemonic powers don’t silence dissent there. We – the billions who are against the Zionist genocide in Gaza and other imperialist wars – won’t be able to twist the arm of the Security Council and override the veto power of the US, but we must make ourselves heard! 

However, it is clear that the UN is obsolete and must be replaced by an organization where the world’s people [los pueblos] can vote in equal terms. When one state is given veto power, democracy crumbles, as we can see happening with the UN resolution demanding Israel’s immediate ceasefire [Dec. 12], so it is imperative to build a new multilateral space that is truly democratic and bound to the pueblos of the world and not the interests of a few. 

Let’s take the partition of Palestine in 1947 as an example that is quite relevant today. It was the UN General Assembly, where the people of Palestine had no representation, that voted in favor of giving more than 50% of Palestinian land to a Zionist elite. That’s how Israel, the apartheid entity occupying more and more of Palestine every day, came to be recognized. There is no shred of democracy, no shred of justice, and no shred of legitimacy to an institution that did this just two years after its foundation. 

The breakup of Palestine is the original sin of the UN. Israel is an apartheid project and a settler colonialist state that has the UN’s blessing.

Chávez, like you, advocated the dissolution of the UN and he was committed to the Palestinian cause. Could you tell us more about the former president’s solidarity with the people of Palestine?

Chávez possessed immense humanity and was profoundly sensitive. I remember that he once showed a picture of an Afghani man holding his dead children. They had been bombed by the US and he called that action by its name: terrorism. Chávez didn’t mince words.

Chávez displayed a great deal of solidarity with the peoples of the world who endure injustices, and particularly the people of Palestine. He was very brave because he didn’t let himself be controlled by the historical blackmail that equates anti-zionism with antisemitism, holocaust denialism, or Nazism. He understood that it’s the other way around: Israel is actually a fascist entity. 

However, in addition to telling truth to power, Chávez was also a listener and a doer. In 2009, when the state of Israel was engaged in Operation Cast Lead, which killed some 1500 Palestinians, there was a self-organized grassroots march in Caracas demanding that Venezuela break diplomatic relations with Israel. Chávez listened to us and did it! Chávez also recognized Palestine, sent a Venezuelan ambassador there, and a Palestinian embassy was set up in Caracas. 

But Chávez also promoted policies of solidarity, such as bringing Palestinian kids to study medicine in the Latin American School of Medicine [ELAM] and sending aid to Palestine. Venezuela became an example for Arab countries and a beacon for the continent, with countries such as Bolivia and Ecuador taking similar steps by recalling their ambassadors in Israel.

Left: Hugo Chávez with a keffiyeh (AP). Top: A Chávez mural in solidarity with Palestine (Diario Vea). Bottom: Chávez was considered an ally by Palestinians (BBC).

The most concrete expressions of solidarity with Palestine have come from the Global South. For example, South Africa has initiated legal proceedings, backed by the Venezuelan government and others, against Israel for committing genocide against Palestinians. Also, the Yemeni Ansar Allah movement is intercepting ships en route to Israel in the Red Sea. Are we witnessing the resurgence of a more effective solidarity movement from the Global South? 

Chávez would often say that another world is possible if it is socialist. Some question this premise; they say that socialism collapsed, that it was a failure. I would ask them two questions. First, has capitalism, which is a death machine and is destroying the planet, been really successful for the majority? Second, have we seen a socialist system installed at a global scale, just like capitalism was implemented worldwide? 

Chávez understood also that countries cannot thrive and build a socialist alternative in isolation. That’s why he built bridges with the countries of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. In the tradition of Chávez, the Bolivarian government is doing the right thing: backing South Africa’s case for the application of the “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” before the International Court of Justice [ICJ]. We may be under siege, but we won’t shut up!

In the global struggle against the genocide, South Africa is in the vanguard, and we support them. 

We have seen important marches in support of the people of Palestine in the Global North. In fact, there’s much talk about a global shift in the correlation of forces vis-a-vis Zionism. Do you think that’s true?

Indeed, the genocide is so visible now, so public, that we are witnessing a global seachange. In Europe and, even more impressively, in the US, where more than 50% of the people want a ceasefire and up to 250,000 people marched in the streets of Washington DC demanding an end to the massacre.

This change is occurring faster than we expected. Chávez said that when a real change occurs in the US, the global situation will also change. We, the people of the Global South, know that a good destiny for humanity must be led by people and not by corporate interests. The people of the Global North are joining us, and that’s a turning point for humanity.

You recently attended the International Conference on Palestine in Tehran [Dec. 23]. There, you talked about building a new communication model where people, and not the states and corporations, would be center stage. Can you tell us more?

The US corporate communication model, which is imperialist and capitalist, defines itself as “neutral” and “objective,” but what does that mean? If it means only that a photographer will go document the death of a Palestinian child step by step, that is not good for us. In the face of a brutal occupation war, the photographer or the news anchor cannot be neutral. 

Every human being – and by extension, every journalist – has a perspective. We each have our culture, religion, and history. That means that objectivity is a fallacy. 

Then, there is another related problem. To maintain its so-called neutrality in the face of genocide, the corporate media weaves its discourse with lies and euphemisms. That’s why people in the Gaza Strip are not killed by the IDF but just “die,” and that is why the so-called conflict began on October 7 and not 75 years ago with the Nakba. If they recognized these truths, they would also have to recognize that Israel is a terrorist regime that kills Palestinian children by the thousands. 

We need a global communication network that will call things by their names and side with the oppressed. How to do that? I don’t know. I don’t have a method, but a new model has to emerge, and we have to build it collectively. 

Can you talk about your work with the Plataforma de Solidaridad con la Causa Palestina [Solidarity Platform with the Palestinian Cause]?

I am the coordinator of the Foro Itinerante, which is an organization that has been focusing on the Palestinian struggle for almost 20 years. 

In April 2023 we made a call to national organizations to work together in solidarity with Palestine. Dozens of organizations joined, and we formed the Plataforma de Solidaridad con la Causa Palestina. Tragically, a few months later, the genocide in Gaza began, so we have been hard at work organizing marches, talks, and workshops to raise awareness of the history of the 75-year-old Israeli occupation of Palestine. 

We are now working on organizing a global action that we are calling the “Virtual Caravan from Latin America to Gaza” in March.

That global action will begin on March 1 and will end on March 30, which is the Land Day commemoration for Palestinians. We envision the “caravan” as follows: on day one, we will hold press conferences and events in Caracas and some other cities in the continent, the next day we will do the same in another set of cities around the world, and little by little we will get closer to Palestine. On March 29, we hope to organize an event in Gaza, and then, on the 30th, we will mobilize globally in a march denouncing the settler-colonial regime of Israel, which is terrorist and implemented an apartheid system against the people of Palestine 75 years ago.

The genocide must stop immediately! Israel is the occupier! Justice must be done!