‘It’s incumbent upon all of us to do something’: Venezuela solidarity protest at US consulate in Edinburgh

Protest comes ahead of Glasgow demonstration opposing foreign intervention and Western military aggression against the government of Nicolas Maduro

  • Edinburgh protest follows UK Government recognition of Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela
  • Protests against the Bank of England took place earlier in the day, calling on it to return Venezuelan gold reserves
  • Union-backed solidarity movement stands in contrast with silence from main political parties

THE first demonstration of what organisers hope will be a concerted grassroots Scottish solidarity campaign with Venezuela in opposition to foreign intervention rallied outside of the US consulate in Edinburgh this evening [7 February].

Organised by the Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (SVSC) and the Stop the War Coalition, the protest comes days after the UK Government threw its support behind the self-appointed Venezuelan opposition politician Juan Guaido as the “constitutional interim President of Venezuela, until credible presidential elections can be held.”

UK protests against the growing possibility of Western military intervention in Venezuela, repeatedly mooted by the Trump administration, have grown since Guaido, now recognised as interim president by roughly 40 countries, wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May in January to ask that the Bank of England not return the 31 tons of gold deposited there by the state of Venezuela, in an effort to place economic pressure on the government of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.

READ MORE: Analysis: The world must recognise the Venezuelan coup for what it truly is

Earlier today, demonstrators chanting “No war on Venezuela!” gathered outside of the Bank of England headquarters in London, demanding that the gold – worth approximately £1.3 billion, according to a report from Natixis – be returned to the “Venezuelan people”. Similar protests have sprung up internationally since the latest threat to Maduro’s government began.

The Edinburgh demonstration comes ahead of what organisers hope will be a significant anti-intervention protest in Glasgow on 9 January, spearheaded by the SVSC, which is backed by major trade unions in Scotland, including Unison, Unite, the CWU and branches of the RMT, among others.

Activist and union-led solidarity efforts with Venezuela have thus far stood in contrast with the main political parties of both Scotland and the UK. Despite political attacks on UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s past sympathies with Venezuela’s socialist government, the Labour Party has been divided and reticent on the present crisis, while the SNP backing for the EU’s apparent support for Guiado has led to accusations that the party has betrayed its anti-interventionist record.

READ MORE: Exclusive: Bank of England would be ‘complicit in robbery’ if it hands over Venezuelan gold to coup plotters, MP says

Speaking at the Edinburgh demonstration, SVSC organiser Connor Beaton said: “We need very urgently to show solidarity with Venezuela. Over the last few days, we’ve seen the sheer escalation of the attacks on Venezuela – not only from the US and Donald Trump, but also from our own government here in the UK, and even from political parties like Labour and SNP.

“We’ve had people who are falling for the lies that the mainstream media is putting out about Venezuela, and it’s incumbent upon all of us to do something about that.”

Saturday’s demonstration in Glasgow will call upon the UK Government and all political parties to respect Venezuela’s right to self-determination and freedom from foreign interference, and withdraw support for regime change and punitive sanctions which have taken up to $6 billion from the country’s hyperinflation-battered economy.

READ MORE: Analysis: European governments are in no position to hand out lectures to Venezuela about people power

Commenting ahead of the Glasgow rally, SVSC secretary Keith Stoddart said: “The most important issue in relation to events in Venezuela and the reaction to them by some members of the so-called ‘international community’ is not whether we think President Maduro is good or bad, nor is it about what we think about his policies.

“It’s about the right of nations to plot the course they wish without external interference. It’s not about left or right, it’s about basic democracy.

“Saturday’s demonstration will call on the US, UK, EU and their NATO allies to back off, stop issuing veiled threats about invasion, and cease the blockade preventing access to essential goods, medicines and, in the UK’s case, $1.2 billion in gold reserves which the Bank of England illegally refuses to return to Venezuela.”

Picture: CommonSpace

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