Caracas, July 14, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – A group of twenty US social justice activists visited Venezuela last week as part of a delegation in solidarity with the South American nation following escalating US aggression in past months.
Organized by the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the Marin Task Force on the Americas (TFA), School of the Americas Watch, and Alliance for Global Justice, the delegation comes in direct response to the Obama administration’s executive order this past March branding Venezuela a “national security threat” and imposing a further round of sanctions against top officials.
"When the US sanctions happened, we knew we had to come here and in any way possibly show our solidarity with the Venezuelan people and the Venezuelan government and to say to people, 'our government's policies do not represent us,'" explained TFA director Dale Sorensen, who has coordinated solidarity delegations to Venezuela since 2004.
Arriving in Caracas on July 5th in order to join Venezuelans in commemorating their independence and sovereignty, delegates met with a plethora of diverse organizations over the course of their week-long stay, including grassroots movements, political parties, as well as government officials.
With the December 6 parliamentary elections fast approaching, the group had the opportunity to sit down with Tibisay Lucena, president of Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE), which has been celebrated internationally for its fairness and rigor.
"The democratic processes that we've been able to observe as an organization and in our individual capacities have been inspirational model that even former United States president [Jimmy Carter] has said the world should follow," affirmed NLG president-elect Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, who has traveled to Venezuela several times as an electoral observer.
Nonetheless, the delegates arrived in the midst of new efforts on the part of the Venezuelan opposition to delegitimize the country's electoral process, pinning recognition of the December 6 outcome on the presence of Organization of American States (OAS) and EU observers.
For Bannan, this call for observation by "political bodies" such as the OAS and the EU in lieu of the CELAC or UNASUR represents a "political request that has nothing to do with a sense of trust or distrust in the electoral system," especially given that the OAS has been widely criticized for its pro-US bias in judging election outcomes.
While most of the group returned to the US this past weekend, for many delegates, the work is ongoing.
According to Judy Somberg, co-chair of the NLG task force on the Americas, delegates have a responsibility to "go back and educate people in the US who have very little access to good press and widely available information about what's going on in Venezuela" as well as to continue to build people-to-people solidarity with Venezuelans.
These solidarity efforts are not only indispensable in supporting the Bolivarian Revolution, but also play a crucial role inside the US, serving to "increase people's understanding of our economic and social human rights and how nonexistent they are in the United States," says Susan Scott, former head of the NLG International Committee.
In Venezuela, she went on to note, even the most marginalized have access to economic and social rights that people in the US lack.
Overall, delegates remarked that their experience in Venezuela clashed sharply with the near apocalyptic image projected by much of the international corporate media.
"Despite the constant onslaught of negative media that portray Venezuela as a closed, state dictatorship defined by scarcity, repression, and extreme insecurity, that has not all been our experience, quite the opposite, and I think that there are a lot of people who are interested in coming to see for themselves the alternative reality that is this country," concluded Bannan.