Sarah Martin is a member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!
World Anti-Imperialist Congress
Hundreds of delegates arrived in Caracas from around the world, January 21 2020, the eve of the World Anti-Imperialist Congress. The Congress is being held January 22-24 in Caracas and is hosted by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Venezuela's governing party, which has been under sharp attack by U.S. imperialism.
The congress is bringing together a broad range of anti-imperialist organizations, movements and governments from around 100 countries. At the congress they will exchange views and experiences and will strategize about strengthening the struggle against U.S. imperialism, to create a more peaceful world where countries' national sovereignty is respected.
At the opening reception of the congress tonight, delegates were warmly welcomed by members and leaders of Venezuela's Bolivarian revolutionary movement.
The Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack! delegation Jim Byrne, Sarah Martin and Brad Sigal talked with local and national Venezuelan socialist leaders from the PSUV. This included conducting an in-depth interview with Gladys Requena, the vice president of Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly, and the vice president of the Women's Commission of the PSUV. In addition, the FRSO delegation met anti-imperialist delegates from a range of Latin American countries. As the congress gets underway, they hope to continue to learn from inspiring anti-imperialist movements in Venezuela and around the world and bring that information back to the U.S. where the corporate media generally ignores or demonizes any movement or government that resists U.S. imperialism.
Leaders of the anti-war movement in the United States arrived in Caracas on March 9 and 10 to find out firsthand the truth of how the government and population are responding to the U.S.-led attacks on Venezuela. They will use this truth to build solidarity with the worldwide efforts to stop the covert U.S. war, economic sabotage and propaganda assault on Venezuela.
As they landed in Caracas, the delegates, like the Venezuelan people, were faced with a power outage caused by sabotage of the electrical grid. This interfered with transportation and communications for them, too, even though their hotel had its own power generator.
Everyone in the group had planned to arrive on March 9, but some airlines insisted that the travelers have visas just to fly to Venezuela. Since the break in U.S.-Venezuelan relations, no visas are being issued in the U.S., but most of the delegation members were able to fly anyway, based on letters from their Venezuelan hosts.
Saturday, March 9, sharing the same flight into Caracas were Bahman Azad, the organizational secretary of the U.S. Peace Council, the organization sponsoring the delegation; Gerry Condon, president of Veterans for Peace; Sara Flounders, co-coordinator of the International Action Center; Ajamu Baraka, national coordinator of the Black Alliance for Peace; progressive journalist Eva Bartlett; and Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition.
Arriving later that day and Sunday to complete the delegation were Sarah Martin from Women Against Military Madness; Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance; Darien De Lu, president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-U.S.; Miguel Figueroa, president of the Canadian Peace Congress; and Daniel Shea, board of directors, Veterans For Peace.
The delegation met over the next few days with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, who discussed with them the historic struggle between the U.S. and Venezuela over who will control the great oil and gold resources of this South American nation. The fact that Washington is now acting so openly against the Venezuelan government exposes to people all over the world the real face of U.S. imperialism.
Arreaza made it clear that the Bolivarian government attaches great importance to the potential response of the people in the U.S. He said you must be in the front lines, that you are the first victims of imperialism and that the most fundamental change will happen inside the United States.
This underscores the importance of the demonstration that the members of the delegation and their organizations are building for March 30 in Washington, D.C. UNAC originally called this event to protest the upcoming 70th anniversary of NATO, set to be celebrated there by the Western warmakers on April 4. But after the U.S. moves against the government in Caracas, the coalition refocused the March 30 action more urgently on opposing U.S. intervention in Venezuela. Many organizations now support this protest.
Solidarity groups in Venezuela are also paying attention to the U.S. movement. The Committee of International Solidarity (COSI) met the delegates as they arrived at the airport and have helped explain what is happening on the ground in their country.
In addition to our meetings with Arreaza, the North American delegates held discussions with organizers from COSI, including its president, Carolus Wimmer; Carlos Ron, the vice minister of foreign affairs for North America, who had been stationed in New York for some time; and Pasqualina Curcio, an economist at the Central University of Venezuela.
Curcio discussed the U.S. role in creating the “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela. These include shortages of basic necessities: toilet paper, corn, milk, coffee and vital medicines. To counter these shortages, the Bolivarian government established a distribution network to serve 6 million families by importing food, medicine and hygiene products.
The current U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil, the blocking of its banking services and the edicts that prevent the government from using its gold reserves all restrict the ability of the Venezuelan government to satisfy basic needs.
On top of this, the U.S. has handed $11 billion worth of assets of Venezuela’s national oil company, CITGO, directly to Juan Guaidó, a virtually unknown right-wing politician until U.S. Vice President Mike Pence suggested on Jan. 23 that Guaidó nominate himself to be “interim president.”
Foreign Minister Arreaza was recently in negotiations with Elliott Abrams, who just this January was appointed Special Representative for Venezuela by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Abrams had organized bloody right-wing coups in Central America in the 1980s for the Reagan administration and was also a key architect of the Iraq War.
Arreaza characterized Abrams as “frank” when he told the Venezuelan that “all options are on the table” — a threat of military intervention aimed at splitting the Venezuelan military.
When Arreaza then reminded Abrams that “The coup has failed,” the U.S. organizer of counterrevolutions shrugged and said, “This is a long-term project.”
Arreaza explained to the anti-war delegation that in countering the shutdown of its electrical power, Venezuela had to deal with an attack on the brain of its electrical system. “The enemy knows the weakness of the system,” he said. “The U.S. knows what Venezuela could not buy or replace. Knows what we have. This is cyber terrorism!”
Abrams also told Arreaza that to get peace, Venezuela must do as Nicaragua did in 1990, that is, hold a new election that the European Union would set up — and that would open the door to the right-wing.
Arreaza explained to the antiwar group that Venezuela has a broad system of social protection that began under Hugo Chavez and was even further expanded after Maduro became president. “That’s why,” he said, “four days without power in several major cities did not lead to chaos,” as it would have in most of the world. The imperialists wanted an image of people looting food markets, but that failed.
Russia, China and Turkey are helping Venezuela, said Arreaza. “We need the solidarity of the whole world, though. Terrorist brigades are being armed against us.”
The demonstration supporting Guaidó on the day the delegation arrived was smaller than its organizers had projected. While Maduro may have the support of half the population, his opposition is divided into many forces. And most of them oppose U.S. military intervention.
Eastern Caracas, an upper- and middle-class area, is a base of the opposition to the Maduro government. Western Caracas is working class and Black, with a lot of support for the government. Lombardo reports that the west side used to be a real shanty town, but the Bolivarian Revolution put resources into this community and now the people live in nice apartment buildings.
Guaidó’s forces, reports Flounders, were described as racist, sort of the KKK of Venezuela. Nine of the people burnt to death by the counterrevolutionary opposition in 2017 were Black Venezuelans.
Even by Sunday, March 10, the delegation already had a lot of media requests for interviews. They plan a press conference at the United Nations in New York City on Monday, March 18 at 11 a.m., as well as a public webinar reportback.
In February 2009 Israeli security forces refused entry to three U.S. activists attempting to visit the Palestinian Territories. One of them, Karen Sullivan, "is being sent home on a flight tonight, and two others, Sarah Martin and Katrina Plotz have refused to leave, and are being taken into custody. They are being treated as criminals, while their only goal was to learn about the reality of life for the Palestinian people".
“Minnesotans For Peace”
A group of at least 18 Minnesotans are expected to set off July 21, 2010, for the “National Peace Conference” in Albany NY
Many of the Minnesotans traveling to Albany were involved earlier this year in repeated efforts in both Minnesota and in Washington DC requesting Minnesota Senators Klobuchar and Franken to explain their positions as well as contacts with other Minnesota congresspersons requesting they vote against the supplemental war funding and to seek withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan and Iraq .
- John Braun - AlliantAction and Twin Cities Peace Campaign
- Kim Doss-Smith – Women Against Military Madness
- Marie Braun - Women Against Military Madness and Twin Cities Peace Campaign
- Pat Cretilli - Women Against Military Madness
- Paul Bauer - Women Against Military Madness
- Ward Brennan - Veterans for Peace
- Maxine McNamara - Women Against Military Madness
- Polly Mann - Women Against Military Madness
- Meredith Aby - AntiWar Committee
- Sarah Martin - Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!
- Alan Dale - Iraq Peace Action Coalition
- Kristin Dooley - Mayday Books and Women Against Military Madness
- Joe Callahan - Cuba Committee
- Coleen Rowley- Burnsville and Eagan Peace Vigils
- Marcial Castro – Cuba Committee and Hands Off Honduras
- Jack Rossbach – Minnesota Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions
- Dehlia Jurek --Peace in Action of Taylor Falls
- Debbie Wilken --the Minnesota Peace Project.
A showdown is in the making between the government and three Twin Cities anti-war activists targeted by the FBI. Tracy Molm, Anh Pham and Sarah Martin have received word from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that that they will be called to appear in front of a Chicago Grand Jury.
The three were among those targeted when the FBI raided their homes on Sept. 24 and handed out subpoenas to 14 activists in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan to testify before a federal grand jury. All of them submitted legal documents invoking their Fifth Amendment rights and did not appear before the Grand Jury. Now, Molm, Pham and Martin are being told that they will nevertheless have to appear in front of the Grand Jury.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met in New York , September 21, 2010, with 100 leaders and representatives of anti-war, labor, alternative media and Iranian and Palestinian solidarity organizations. Among the participants were Sarah Martin, Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!, Margaret Sarfehjooy, board member of the Minneapolis-based Women Against Military Madness, former attorney general Ramsey Clark, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Sara Flounders from the International Action Center, Brian Becker of the ANSWER coalition, Ramona Africa of the Free Mumia Coalition and Amiri Baraka, poet and activist.
Sarah Martin joined WAMM in 1983. Her first action was a day-long session about opposing nuclear weapons and empowerment. As an action that day, balloons with messages were released into the air. Sarah notes that WAMM has always understood the connections of militarism to systems of oppression. Over the years WAMM supported and took action around the Hormel strike, Native American fishing rights, and the Nurses strike, to name a few. More recently, after being among the first to come forward in 2010 to stand with them, WAMM has sustained support of antiwar activists in the Twin Cities targeted for dissent by the FBI. And, of course, WAMM continues to oppose military madness in all its forms.
In 2011, Sarah Martin, was co-chair of Women Against Military Madness. Tracy Molm and Anh Pham have worked with WAMM in the Iraq Peace Action Coalition and other coalitions to organize non-violent anti-war educational events and protests, including at the Republican National Convention, speaking out against the atrocities of war and injustice.
About 100 Minnesotans journeyed to Chicago the weekend of May 12 – 13, 2012 to participate with 20,000 others in protesting the meeting of NATO nations. Sarah Martin, Laura Ross, Sue Ann Martinson and Kim DeFranco were part of the Minnesota contingent.
In 2016 Sarah Martin was a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!
Solidarity and Fightback Conference
290 anti-imperialist activists from 120 organizations and 21 countries attended the Solidarity and Fightback Conference sponsored by the International League for People’s Struggle - International Women’s Alliance Solidarity in Toronto August 4 - 7 2017. The conference theme was “Building Resistance to US-led War, Militarism and Neofascism.”
A sizable number of participants were young, energetic Filipinos from the anti-imperialist organizations Gabriela and Akbayan.
The conference was opened by a video messages of greetings and support from Jose Maria Sison, chairman of the International League for People’s Struggle (ILPS) and Leila Khaled, Palestinian liberation icon and member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Panels featuring leaders of struggles against U.S. imperialism from the Philippines, Middle East, Congo, Mexico, Pakistan and across the world described the struggles in their countries and their movements’ resistance to it.
Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report spoke at length about the Black liberation struggle. She talked about the importance of the campaigns for community control of police in Chicago and Saint Petersburg, Florida.
Nerissa Allegretti, of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, said, “I had the opportunity to join the workshop on Militarism and Counterinsurgency and listened to speakers Sarah Martin, Bill Dores, Rania Masri, Potri Ranka Manis and Padi Rex. It gave me a sharp picture of how counterinsurgency has consistently been a tool of maintaining imperialism in many forms; FBI raids and targeting of anti-war activists, using religion to divide the people, criminalization of liberation movements, and rape and kidnapping.”
A march to the U.S. consulate was held on August 6, the anniversary of the day the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Marchers chanted in Spanish, French, Tagalog and English. The march then went to and joined the public commemoration of that horrific war crime.
The last day of the conference, Wilmer Barrientos, the ambassador of Venezuela to Canada spoke. He debunked the widespread misinformation on the current political unrest in his country that is being propagated by Western media.
He went on to say, “What about Iraq, Syria and Libya? They [the U.S.] said, ‘Let’s liberate them.’ But do they live better than before? Many live on less than $1 a day. They want to impose this same intervention on Venezuela because we are a sovereign country that decides where our natural resources go.”
On January 16 2019, about 40 Minneapolis people heard from local organizers who travelled to Ireland for the First International Conference Against U.S./NATO Foreign Military Bases, which took place November 16-18, 2018. Nearly 300 participants from over 35 countries attended the conference, calling for the closure of the nearly 1000 U.S./NATO military bases throughout the world.
The official communiqué adopted by participants at the conference stated: “NATO states’ military bases are the military expression of imperialist intervention in the lives of sovereign countries on behalf of the dominant, financial, political, and military interests, for the control of energy resources, transport roads, markets and spheres of influence, in clear violation of international law and the United Nations Charter.”
The all-woman Minnesota delegation to the conference included Sarah Martin, Carol Walker, and Sue Ann Martinson, all of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), as well as Rhea Smykalski of the Anti-War Committee.
Special attention was called to the Guantanamo Bay U.S. base in Cuba; U.S. bases in Okinawa, Japan and in South Korea; the U.S. base at Ramstein, Germany; bases in Serbia; old and new U.S./NATO bases in Greece and Cyprus; the establishment of the new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) with its military bases in Africa; the numerous NATO bases in Italy and Scandinavia; the Shannon airport in Ireland, which is used as a military base by U.S. and NATO; and the newly established bases by the United States, France and their allies on and around Syrian soil.
“The selection of Dublin and Liberty Hall for the conference was historically important and inspiring,” reported Sarah Martin of WAMM. “In their heroic liberation struggle against the English, the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin was pivotal. At that time, from Liberty Hall, the headquarters of the resistance, James Connolly issued a proclamation calling for the overthrow of the British occupation and an Ireland based on democracy, equality and neutrality.”
“However, the Irish government has betrayed this principle of neutrality,” Martin continued. “Beginning in 2003, Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland became a forward base for the war on Iraq as a transit point for soldiers and weapons. To this day, hundreds of U.S. soldiers pass through the airport every day - 6000 in 2017. Thanks to Wikileaks, the full extent of this shameful betrayal is known, including the use of the airport in renditions.”
Carol Walker of WAMM characterized the spread of U.S./NATO bases across the world as a continuation of U.S. policies since its westward expansion in the 19th century. “Ninety military bases, or forts, were used by the U.S. government to pursue domination and conquest of indigenous people,” she said. “So, we are on stolen land, as is all of the United States. And all these forts were very much ‘abroad’ at the time.”
Other attendees of the Dublin conference included Dr. Aleide Guevara, member of the Cuban National Assembly and daughter of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara; Aengus O Snodaigh, member of the Irish legislature and Sinn Fein defense spokesperson; Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize recipient; and Ajamu Baraka of the Black Alliance for Peace and 2016 Green Party candidate for vice president of the United States. The conference declared its support for the global mass mobilizations against NATO’s 70th anniversary summit set to take place on April 4 in Washington, D.C.
Joe Iosbaker June 8 2019·
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