Indigenous women activists protest Lima Group’s meeting in Canada

The protest by the Women’s Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu was among a series of demonstrations held during the meeting of the Lima Group, a platform of conservative Latin American governments, which sought to legitimize the coup attempt by Juan Guaido against Nicolas Maduro

February 05, 2019 by Muhammed Shabeer
The activists interrupted a press briefing of the representatives of the Lima Group.

Women protesters interrupted the Lima Group’s press conference in Ottawa on Monday, with the slogan of “Hands off Venezuela”. The protesters denounced the Lima Group’s gathering in Canada to support the illegitimate presidency of Juan Guaidó in Venezuela. Protesters also displayed a banner at the meeting which read ‘Canada and Organisation of American States (OAS)’, Stop the Plunder, Out of Venezuela. The Lima Group is a platform of conservative governments in Latin America which have been in the forefront of executing US-led regime change operations in Venezuela. The Lima Group meeting decided to include the illegitimate government of Juan Guaidó in the platform as Venezuela’s representative.

The activists are from the Women’s Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu. In a Facebook post, they said, “We interrupted the Lima Group talk at Old City Hall, Ottawa, Canada, in solidarity with the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela against international intervention. We, as the Indigenous peoples of Abya Yala, are in solidarity with the Revolutionary Bolivarian process and its government for self-determination.”

Protesters turned up at Canadian foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland’s briefing. Her only response was that “In Canada, everybody has the freedom to express their views.” Meanwhile, reports emerged of media organizations, such as Telesur and Sputnik, being denied permission by the Canadian government to report the Lima Group meeting.

On February 4, various political parties and activist groups, including the Communist Party of Canada and the Venezuela Solidarity Committee, held demonstrations in various parts of Canada including the prime minister’s office in Ottawa, Radio Canada’s office in Montreal, Chrystia Freeland’s office in Toronto, the Art gallery at Vancouver, Liberal MP Bob Bratina’s office in Hamilton etc. The protesters pledged their support to Maduro and the Venezuelan people and denounced the attempted coup in Venezuela. They also condemned the Lima Group meeting and the Canadian government’s participation in this imperialist plot.

A section within the New Democratic Party (NDP) had voiced their concern regarding Canada’s role in the imperialist intervention in Venezuela.

According to a report in rabble.ca, NDP leader Jessa Mclean said that “by first recognizing Guaidó as the new president, and then demanding ‘free and fair’ elections take place with an arbitrary deadline, Canada is illegally interfering with the democratic rights of all Venezuelans.”

Earlier, on January 26, various groups, including the Communist party of Canada, Socialist Action Canada, Toronto Association for Peace and Solidarity, Canadian Peace Congress, Hugo Chavez Front, Latin America and Caribbean Solidarity Network, Young Communist League etc. jointly organized a rally in Toronto, denouncing the coup attempt.

The Communist Party of Canada said that “the Trump & Trudeau governments have announced that they are recognizing a self-appointed opposition leader as President of Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro was elected President of Venezuela last year in free and fair elections.  This is an ongoing coup plot with serious consequences for peace and sovereignty around the world and deadly consequences for Venezuelans and their fight for self-determination and social justice in that country”.

In their statement, the Young Communist League of Canada (YCL-LJC) also condemned the coup d’etat attempt against Venezuela perpetrated by the US, Canada, the European Union and reactionary governments in South America.

“More particularly, we condemn the role that Canada has been playing in demonizing Venezuela and its government for years. In fact, Canada has been doing much more than “simply” recognizing Juan Guaidó as the “interim” President of Venezuela. For years, Canada has been playing a forefront role in helping destabilize the country both materially and logistically. Such actions include financial sanctions against the government, the support of an ‘in exile’ Supreme Court since 2016. Even two weeks before Guaidó’s self proclamation as president, Freeland had a bi-lateral meeting with him,”  YCL pointed out in their statement.

The meeting of the Lima Group was held in Canada to mount pressure on Nicolas Maduro to give in to the coup attempt. The .Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau also addressed the meeting and pledged $53M to help Venezuelan refugees through ‘trusted partners’ in the region.

The Lima Group concluded its meeting with a 17-point declaration that included an appeal to the Venezuelan armed forces to demonstrate their loyalty to the interim president (Guaidó) as their commander-in-chief. Guaidó addressed the conference via videolink on Monday and applauded Canada and the Lima Group for their support, while seeking intense diplomatic efforts to oust Nicolas Maduro from power. Mexico, which is a member of the group, under the government of the left-leaning Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, abstained from signing the joint statement to ‘legitimize’ Juan Guaidó and the National Assembly of Venezuela. Mexico, Uruguay and Bolivia are among the countries which have called for a negotiated solution instead of further belligerent measures.

The Lima Group was formed with US blessings in 2017 as a counter to the left-wing platforms in the region, such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in Latin America.

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