Caracas, Venezuela, March 9, 2006—Protest-ready Venezuelans took to the streets yesterday in support of International Women’s Day and to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The march began at 9am, as people in red shirts gather in Chacaito, dancing and chanting against the war and lasted throughout the afternoon when activists reached the US embassy in Caracas.
Their goal was to present the embassy with a statement against the war. According to a Ministry of Communications press release, more than 2 million signatures, which will be kept in the Family, Woman, and Youth Commission until the war is over, have been collected supporting the statement. No signatures were presented at the march, though
The document against the war was produced on behalf of Venezuela’s 167 National Assembly Members, according to the statement. National Assembly Deputy and President of its Domestic Policy Commission Cilia Flores spoke of her support of the petition. “Today…we, the Venezuelan women, have taken the initiative to raise our voices in protest. We are rejecting the war against Iraq, that, more than being a war, is a bloody invasion…This is the reason that brings us to approve an agreement in the heart of the national assembly,” she said.
Others at the march were equally vehement in their opposition to the war. The theme, “I will not raise my child to kill yours,” was visible throughout.
"We want [the Bush administration] to realize the mistake [it’s] making," state television worker Yeyinol Sifontes, told Reuters. "I wouldn’t want my children to go to battle just for some economic benefits."
Lilian Cova echoed Sifontes’ sentiments. "What Bush wants is oil and that’s why he invaded Iraq. We don’t want any more war for oil—not in Iraq or anywhere in the world,” she told the AP.
Ambassador William Brownfield was not present to accept the statement. Instead, embassy spokeswoman Salome Hernandez received the document, and, according to the AP, gave protesters packets of information about Iraq, including a photo of Chavez with Saddam Hussein from 2000.
[No mention was made if the photograph of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Hussein in 1983, the same year the Iraqi government massacred members of the Kurdish Barzani tribe, was included.]