[Marxism] Broad meeting of Toronto left forms united group to defend Venezuela

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Mar 28 21:21:57 MST 2005


The following letter was sent by John Riddell.  I was at this meeting
and I have to admit I was impressed by the cooperative spirit of the
gathering and the lack of factionalism. As you will note, the coalition
has the perspective of reaching out beyond the left.  I think the idea
of similar broad formations should be considered in other cities.  I
think it shows that the revolutionary process in Venezuela is beginning
to have a broad positive effect on the US left.
Fred Feldman
 




Forty-five people representing 24 organizations met today to found a 
coalition in solidarity with Venezuela. The coalition is planning a
public 
meeting April 13, anniversary of the overthrow of the right-wing coup 
against the Bolivarians.

The meeting was called by one of the two Bolivarian circles in Toronto. 
This group has been visible at Venezuela meetings for some time but have

never successfully reached out except to a limited extent in the Latin 
American community. In calling this meeting, they were following the
lead 
of the recently formed "Venezuela Nous Sommes avec Toi" coalition in 
Montreal. They circulated a translation of the Montreal statement of 
purpose, and three Montreal compeneros came down to initiate and lead
the 
meeting. (The Montrealers of course have French not English as their
second 
language, so the Toronto meeting was conducted about 50-50 in English
and 
Spanish.)

The Montreal coalition distributed a effective leaflet at the Montreal 
anti-war demonstration opposing the occupation of Iraq and U.S. 
intervention against Cuba and Venezuela--and announcing their three
events 
during the week of April 13. The leaflet was signed by about 25 groups,
all 
of which have a Latin American focus except for the UFP and CP. It is 
significant that, as so often, Quebec is taking the lead here. Their 
contact address: coalicionvenezuela at gmail.com.

Those in attendance in Toronto included (1) Latin American solidarity 
activists organized around Venezuela, Uruguay, Guatemala, Cuba,
etc.--about 
20. (2) IS, SP, SV, SAction, SAlternative, CL--about a dozen in all. (3)

CPers from Canada and Latin America--about 6. (4) Fightback/Hands Off 
Venezuela--four (of whom one said he was also from the IS).

The main political issue was the coalition's basis of agreement. The 
statement submitted by the Bolivarians as "background" implies (but does

not state) political identification with the Bolivarian government. But 
they did not argue this view in the meeting. The Hands Off Venezuela 
companeros pressed for a full and explicit identification with the 
Bolivarian movement. Everyone else who spoke argued for commitment to 
defend Venezuelan self-determination and oppose foreign intervention as
the 
basis of agreement. (Phil C. and others specified that defense of
Venezuela 
means telling the truth about the struggle there and giving a platform
to 
the Venezuelan fighters.) The CPers supported this position with an
added 
twist: they strongly opposed any talk of Canadian complicity, since they

see Canada, like Venezuela, as struggling for sovereignty against the
U.S.

Hands Off Venezuela did not convince anyone. They are an outgrowth of
the 
international Alan Woods tendency, which has been closely identified
with 
defense of Venezuela and the Bolivarians. They are organized in Canada
as 
"Fightback." It was the first time I had seen them in Toronto. Hands Off

Venezuela has just been formed here--apparently in unilateral
fashion--as a 
branch of their worldwide solidarity organization.

The Communist League was represented by Carlos Cornejo, who played a 
positive but secondary role in the meeting and left early.

The meeting was notable for the close working agreement that emerged
among 
forces previously quite divided on Venezuela, notably Carlos T., Ernie
T., 
and Jess M. of SP; Paul K. of IS; Phil C.; and Barry W. of Socialist 
Action. Fred F., Suzanne, and I fell in step with them. Paul is on the 
committee of three that will write the coalition's statement of purpose.

The meeting today testifies to the attractive power of the Venezuelan 
revolution, and the impact it is having among organized socialists.

For further information on the coalition, write Nicolas Lopez at 
bolivarian_circle at yahoo.com

John





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