On Friday afternoons the corner of Sunset and Echo Park is usually the site of the weekly Echo Park peace vigil (now in its 12th year). This week, however, special emphasis was placed on U.S. meddling in Venezuela and Ukraine. This author counted 25 people (though I left early). Flyers were handed out to the fairly heavy foot traffic. As has been the pattern lately at community demonstrations, a police car was present. (A demonstration against U.S.-backed instability in Venezuela has also been held in San Francisco: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/03/11/18752417.php
“There are many different organizations here that are upset about the many U.S. interventions from Syria to Venezuela to Iraq to Afghanistan,” said John Parker of the International Action Center (http://www.iacenter.org/
) and one of this event's organizers. “And here again in the Ukraine, we're going to have an intervention that is not in the interest of working people here or over there.
“It's especially disturbing that they've spent five billion dollars—and they're going to spend more—on these Nazis. A third of the [Ukrainian] government is taken over by the Svoboda party, which is a Nazi party, a white supremacist party. They've got the confederate flag hanging up in Kiev.
“So why is the U.S. spending all of this money? Because by any means necessary they want the banks to be able to come in and take over the industry, to change the laws like they changed the free trade laws. Right now this so-called new elected government that took over in the Ukraine has said the IMF can come in, they can do their austerity programs like in Greece and Spain.
“The people in the Ukraine are seeing this, and obviously a lot of them don't like it. You don't see that here in the U.S. press, but there are a lot of demonstrations going on—one, because they don't want their country being taken over by western banks, and the other because they don't want their country taken over by Nazis, which they fought in World War II.”
As for Venezuela, he noted that here in the U.S. “people are confused. They think, 'Oh, [they're] demonstrating against the government, so the government must be bad.' But people have to understand this government. the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, is a revolution for the poor and working people. When Chavez stood up at the United Nations and said, 'I smell the sulfur [of] Bush,' that should tell them what side they're on.
“[Venezuela's Bolivarian government] provided an opportunity for all the countries of Latin America to not have to depend on the IMF and the World Bank. They have their own agreement called ALBA. So all the exploitation by the World Bank and IMF is impossible in Latin America the way it used to be. This means billions and billions of dollars that U.S. financial interests are losing. So nobody should be fooled here, especially left forces. History shows you what the U.S. is about--they're not about democracy, they're about profits by any means.”
In regards for Venezuela's protesters, “These aren't folks who are trying to push for democracy, these are folks who are trying to push for the 1%. They're making it sound as if there's all this repression against these protesters, but actually the violence is coming from these protesters. And I think they feel empowered because they're also getting a lot of money from the U.S. . . . They also have links to fascist groups in Colombia. . . . Venezuela's crime is they nationalized their oil [industry], and they're using that money for the poor. They ended illiteracy in about one year, gas prices are about 12 cents a gallon right now—the money's being used for the poor, and the 1% doesn't like that.
“For the working and poor people here, it's not in our interest as well, so we have to stand up for the Venezuelan people as well.”