60 people gathered in Toronto on 18th April 2009 to celebrate the merger of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign and the Bolivarian Circle “Louis Riel” (CBLR). The event hosted a discussion about the current economic crisis and how the Venezuelan Revolution is providing an alternative.

Ricardo Astudillo - Alex Grant - Maria Paez Victor - Mirna Quero de Peña, the Venezuelan consul-general in Toronto - Camilo Cahis
From left to right: Ricardo Astudillo – Alex Grant – Maria Paez Victor – Mirna Quero de Peña, the Venezuelan consul-general in Toronto – Camilo Cahis

This was a historic meeting that was attended by Mirna Quero de Peña, the Venezuelan consul-general in Toronto, as well as by a number of Quebec activists representing HOV/Bolivarian Society of Quebec (SBQ). The union between HOV and the Bolivarian Circle came after years of close work and collaboration by the two groups. Considering the close political activity and agreement between us, it only seemed natural to unite the work and strengthen the Venezuela solidarity movement in Toronto.

The meeting began with warm greetings from the office of the Consul-General of Venezuela. José Antonio Rodríguez de la Sierra, Attaché in charge of the Venezuelan embassy, also sent a message, “A thousand congratulations for such a fortunate and solidarity idea of unifying forces, congratulations which I extend to both organizations wishing you many more successes!” He added later, “You have given a great example to other groups who often fall into divisions and personalized rifts.”

Greetings were also sent in by representatives of the Somalian community in Toronto, who have been paying attention to the Venezuelan Revolution with great interest. In addition there were many greetings from Venezuela We Are With You, the Latin American Network, the Toronto Forum on Cuba, Barrio Nuevo Canada, amongst others.

Alex Grant spoke first about the failure of capitalism in the recent period and how people in Canada can learn and become inspired by the revolutionary movement in Venezuela and Latin America. Maria Paez Victor then described the gains of the Venezuelan Revolution and how Venezuela has been able to mostly escape the economic crisis that has gripped the entire capitalist world. Finally, Ricardo Astudillo of HOV/SBQ recounted the history of the SBQ and its merger with the Hands Off Venezuela campaign in Montreal last October. HOV/SBQ has been successful with building cultural and political links with youth, students and Indigenous communities from Canada and Latin America.

The union between HOV and the Bolivarian Circle and SBQ in Toronto and Montreal, respectively, will only serve to strengthen the links that are being built between Venezuelan and Canadian activists and trade unionists. In the present period of economic crisis, there have been recent accounts of workers occupying their factories from Caracas, Chicago and even in Windsor. The lessons of Latin America could have a great affect on the workers’ movement in Canada and provide a valuable set of tools for workers looking to fight back and win.

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