Venezuelan Embassy Holds Day of Solidarity with Victims of Violent Protests
United by history, “Venezuela’s success is shared by all of the Americas and Caribbean”
In commemoration of the one year anniversary of the tragic events Venezuela experienced as of February 12, 2014, citizens, students, intellectuals, grassroots organizations and social movements in Washington, DC, went to Bolivarian Hall, the cultural space of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, to reject violence and share of message of peace as part of an international day of solidarity with victims of guarimbas (violent protests) and the ongoing coup.
The evening began with a screening of “What is really happening in Venezuela”, a documentary about last February’s protests that exposes the truth of those events. The film explains that a plan called la salida (the exit) and a strategy of escalated violence led to the deaths of 43 Venezuelans, including 33 civilians and 10 members of police or military forces, as well as 878 inured.
Following the film the audience participated in a Skype conversation with Nairobi Olivera de Pinto, the wife of Julio González Pinto, a Venezuelan district attorney, who died after losing control of his vehicle while attempting to dodge a barricade set up by protestors to block the street. He had been on call in order to protect the victims of the protests.
Mrs. Olivera stressed that “on that day my dreams were crushed. I did not have the strength to tell my children that their father had died until days later, and I am telling my story because I want the entire world to know that there are many victims like me and many people who suffered from the commotion our country lived through in 2014, all due to an irresponsible call [to take to the streets].”
She explained that she is part of the Committee of Victims of Violent Protest and the Ongoing Coup, which was established in November 2014 due to the efforts of a group of mothers whose children were threatened in April 2014 at a nursery school in the Ministry of People’s Power for Housing and Habitat.
Representatives from Multilateral Organizations
Among the audience were Carmen Velásquez de Visbal, Ambassador and Alternate Representative of the Mission of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the Organization of American States (OAS), Denis Moncada Colindres, Ambassador of the Republic of Nicaragua to the OAS, and Jorge Miranda, Ambassador of the Republic of Panama to the OAS.
Ambassador Moncada said the event recalls a situation of violence generated by Venezuela’s domestic opposition , and he lamented the loss of so many Venezuela, killed unjustly for being patriotic, Bolivarian and admiring Hugo Chávez. The Ambassador characterized former President Chávez as a hero of the Americas, a man who was a political, ethical, humanist giant who will be remembered by Latin Americans and beyond.
Panama’s OAS Ambassador, Jorge Miranda, was grateful for the invitation to an event that shed light on what happened a year ago and affirmed his government’s willingness to learn firsthand about events in the hemisphere on the basis of friendship with all the peoples of the Americas, while hoping that Venezuela finds spaces for dialogue and peace.
Solidarity with Venezuela
Nairobi Olivera’s heartfelt words were met with an ovation from the audience, who expressed words of encouragement and solidarity. Lorenzo Villaroel said “please accept a warm greeting from Bolivia and its government, wishing you success with the Committee. We are with you and with all the Venezuelan people.”
Bowie State University philosophy professor Frederick B. Mills explained that chavismo has been tested through elections where it has won the majority, and the opposition, which he characterized as “de-nationalized”, has become desperate from being unable to win through democratic means and has chosen to create violent protests. “Where did María Corina Machado have meetings? She went to Europe and Spain to meet with right-wingers to try to foment an intervention against Venezuela. What did they do? They attacked the symbols of chavismo, which means public services, health [and] transportation,” Mills said.
Another audience member, Graciela González, told Mrs. Olivera de Pinto that she feels “solidarity with her, because in El Salvador we lived through a similar situation. To our Venezuelan friends we say that we support you, we admire your bravery and we ask you to push forward to that all of this things that happened are punished.” Her remarks spurred the audience to shout Viva Venezuela! (long live Venezuela).
This display of emotion ran throughout the question and answer period, where citizens from diverse Latin American countries, such as the Republic of Ecuador, the Republic of Nicaragua, the Republic of El Salvador, the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Panama, the United States of Mexico, the Plurinational State of Bolivia and the United States of America joined together to express a message of encouragement, solidarity and unity.
Richard Moore, an audience member from Mexico, said: “We cannot forget out history. Venezuela is not just Venezuela, there are many dignified peoples, Bolivia, Ecuador, and bodies such as CELAC [the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States] and ALBA [Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America], there are many peoples who resist and that is a commitment—a duty—we have. Those of us here know that our duty is to defend the peoples who have chosen to be free. As our Hugo Chávez said, we are decided on being free and those are praiseworthy words…. Long live Venezuela!”
One of the final comments came from Byron Arango, who, on behalf of the Colombian people, said he is “very grateful to Hugo Chávez for that spirit, for that struggle, for his desires for peace. In my country there was a left wing party that lost over 3,000 members who were assassinated one by one, a regrettable fact. I know that many of my compatriots are with this revolutionary process and we suffer these events just as you did. We are all hopeful that your process will get stronger, because your victory will be our [victory].”
Press – Venezuelan Embassy in the US / February 13, 2015