International & Antiwar News


Originally published in the Summer 2019 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 59, printed August 23. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Summer 2019 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post. For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

A multiracial, multigenerational march weaves its way through the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., to kick off a week of actions demanding “No to NATO, War & Racism!” and “U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!” Photo by Phil Wilayto.

More than 600 people rallied and marched through the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., on March 30 to kick off a week of actions protesting “NATO, War & Racism!” and demanding an end to the U.S. campaign to overthrow the government of oil-rich Venezuela. 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was coming to town on April 4 to celebrate its 70th anniversary. The date also happened to mark the 51st anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a particularly inappropriate time to celebrate militarism. 

NATO is the military alliance that has joined the U.S. in wrecking death and destruction across the Middle East and North Africa. That includes destroying the once prosperous African country of Libya. NATO is now moving into Latin America, recruiting countries that border Venezuela. 

The march and two rallies were initiated by the United National Antiwar Coalition and endorsed by more than two dozen antiwar and social justice organizations. 

Other protests and meetings took place throughout the week, sponsored by a range of organizations, including World Beyond War, Black Alliance for Peace, the U.S. Peace Council and Popular Resistance. 

Two weeks before these actions, a march and rally of about 1,000 people focusing on Venezuela was held in D.C. by the ANSWER Coalition. 

The Virginia Defenders played a leading role in the March 30 actions, including writing the initial Call, proposing the rally speakers (emphasizing youth, women and people of color), arranging for the rally stage and sound and coordinating security, planning the march route and arranging for the march and rally permits.

Why does Washington really hate Venezuela? From the CIA World Factbook, available online: "Social investment in Venezuela during the [Hugo] Chavez administration reduced poverty from nearly 50 percent in 1999 to about 27 percent in 2011, increased school enrollment, substantially decreased infant and child mortality, and improved access to potable water and sanitation through social investment." In Venezuela's Case, "social investment" means using the country's vast oil resources for the benefit of the people instead of bolstering the already obscene profits of U.S. oil companies. This is the real reason for Washington's hostility.

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