A letter to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen regarding: Venezuela and the Canadian Left

A Venezuelan citizen living in Canada corrects lies in Ottawa Citizen published on March 25, 2014: Venezuela and the Canadian Left

As a Venezuelan who recently returned from visiting family and friends in Venezuela, I’m taken aback by the extent to which this article doesn’t reflect the reality in Venezuela. In most of the country, people are going about their business with absolute normalcy. In almost all of Caracas you don’t see protests. This is with the exception of the affluent neighbourhoods in the east of the City where violent protestors only make things difficult for people living in those areas.

Hence, I was bewildered as to why I couldn’t take Air Canada to come back home from Caracas, but I could if I were travelling back from Cairo or Kiev.

Beyond the articles’ misrepresentation of the reality in Venezuela, I think it also misrepresents the Venezuelan solidarity groups in which I participate. Our chapters in 5 cities across Canada have been raising awareness about the violent actions of the political and street opposition in Venezuela; which has already claimed 31 lives on top of the hundreds injured.

How would Canada react if protestors started burning government buildings, community medical centres, public transit and primary schools? What would happen in this country if protestors killed 6 police officers? What sympathy would there be for rioters who attack and shoot at neighbours trying to clear the streets so they can go about their business?

This is what the ‘peaceful protestors’ have been up to.

More so, what would happen if Justin Trudeau or Peggy Nash were not only calling for the government to “exit,” but were also encouraging the types of actions described above, including participating in demonstrations with faces covered, as the opposition politicians in Venezuela have? Seeing as it is now ILLEGAL in Canada to participate in a demonstration with your face covered, and that union leaders here can be jailed and fined for calling wild-cat strikes, it is unlikely that politicians would be shown the leniency they have been afforded in Venezuela.

But the worst of the articles’ misrepresentations is what we stand FOR.

We support the investments that have made education accessible to all (effectively eradicating illiteracy as confirmed by UNESCO) and increasing the total number of students in postsecondary by over 1 800 000 in 10 years. We support the dedication to universal, public healthcare – like we enjoy here in Canada – including the creation of over 7000 community based, health clinics serving populations which never before had access to health services.

We support the many social achievements, which also extend into the political realm, where everyday people can now speak with their own voice through the hundreds of community radio and TV stations and we support the the tens of thousands of community councils that now enable people to decide for themselves what happens in their neighbourhoods.

Perhaps more important to the current situation: we support the will of the Venezuelan people. In the last 15 years, they have gone to the polls 19 times, twice in the last year, and have given their support to the Bolivarian process in 18 of those elections.

You can disregard the perspective of a couple hundred people in Canada I suppose, but hopefully you can respect the choice of millions of Venezuelans.

Nicolas Lopez
Member of the HCPDF