Venezuela Solidarity Network
Venezuela Solidarity Network was founded in Washington DC, March 4-6 2006, when over 500 students, trade unionists and solidarity activists gathered , for the National Venezuela Solidarity Conference. They founded the Venezuela Solidarity Network and united the forces struggling against U.S. intervention in Venezuela. The conference was a huge success. Attendees gathered in support of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, lead by President Hugo Chavez.
Conference speakers included Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez Herrera and Venezuelan lawyer Jose Perierra, involved in the extradition case of the anti-Cuban terrorist Posada. Evening performances of poetry and music from Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia were popular.
The conference workshops were diverse: “What are the Bolivarian Circles and how to form one in your area,” with Jorge Marin, Coordinator of Bolivarian Circle of Boston; “Plan Colombia and its effects on Venezuela and the region,” with Meredith Aby and Tom Burke of the Colombia Action Network, Gerardo Cajamarca of the SINALTRAINAL union in Colombia and Berta Ceci of International Action Center.
There was also a workshop on “Solidarity actions in high schools and colleges,” with Kati Ketz and Eric Gardener of the Socialist Unity League, a student group at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and Sonja Swanson of the Bolivarian Youth in Miami. Others workshops were held on Haiti, the Venezuelan cooperative movement, and the Venezuelan constitution.
Pieter Wessels from Socialist Unity League in Asheville, North Carolina commented, “It’s great to see so many people from so many different groups come here and put aside their ideological differences, however important those differences may be, in order to stand here this weekend, right here in D.C., the political heart of imperialism, to say that we are with Venezuela. We are with Chavez. We are against U.S. intervention in Venezuela on the part of capitalists’ interests. That hurts all of us, both here and in Venezuela. We uphold Venezuela’s right to self-determination and we won’t stand for any further interference in Venezuela’s affairs. This is what solidarity means. This is what it is all about.”
According to Kati Ketz March 1, 2010 Students across the country are mobilizing for a nationwide protest against tuition and fee hikes and in support of staff and faculty facing pay cuts and layoffs. Tens of thousands of students and workers across California participated in demonstrations and building takeovers in November. They were protesting the University of California Regents proposal to increase already skyrocketing tuitions. These protests are inspiring students across the country to take action to demand that universities chop from the top and stop balancing their budgets on the backs of students and workers.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is organizing a speakout to demand a tuition freeze and demanding the chancellor and high-level administrators take at least a 5% pay cut. Jacob Flom from SDS at the UWM says, “SDS helped put together a strong coalition of 20 organizations, including faculty and graduate student unions, to demand more accountability and to stop cuts that affect students and staff. We have been talking to students and getting petitions signed, talking to classes and professors, doing banner drops and blanketing the campus in fliers.”
Tracy Molm from University of Minnesota SDS said, “SDS is organizing students to participate in what is going to be a large rally and march for education rights. We are demanding smaller class sizes and no tuition hikes, as well as no forced furlough days for both staff and faculty. The students on campus are energized and ready to fight back against the cuts.”
At the University of North Carolina-Asheville, SDSers are trying to raise awareness about education rights struggles throughout the country, both past and present. Rachel McLarty of UNCA SDS says, “We’re showing the movie Walkout [a movie about the 1968 East Los Angeles high school walkouts] during the week of March 4. We are also bringing UCLA [University of California-Los Angeles] SDS activist Charla Schlueter to campus later in March to speak about the current situation in California, including the March 4 protests. We are trying to raise awareness around education rights on campus and are standing in solidarity with students across the country fighting back.”