We are asking all who support Venezuela to oppose the following ignorant and offensive statement by Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis:

Karygiannis writes the following on his website:

“Liberal Critic for Multiculturalism Jim Karygiannis M.P. Scarborough-Agincourt made the following statement calling on the Conservative government to support the Venezuelan Diaspora in Canada efforts of returning true Democracy in Venezuela.

“The people of Venezuela are suffering daily at the hands of the Hugo Chávez government, as the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate. We should maintain solidarity with the Venezuelan people and we must do what we can to help alleviate their suffering.”–http://www.jimkarygiannis.net/petition_and_action_requests/venezuelan_-_canadian_community_democratic_efforts

We are not sure what “true Democracy” Karygiannis is referring to. Perhaps he means the opposition that supported the 2002 coup against a democratically elected government. Perhaps he means the elites who ran the country for 40 years when human rights were violated with impunity and the international community paid no heed to disappearances, torture, murders, CIA-led secret police, and the slaughter of 3,000 people by state forces on the streets of Caracas in 1989.

We are not sure what he means by “suffering”. Perhaps he is referring to the fact that Venezuela has:

– Eliminated illiteracy, as recognized by UNESCO
– Reduced poverty by half and extreme poverty by 70%
– Given access to healthcare to millions for the first time
– Doubled college enrolment
– Quadrupled the number of people receiving old age pensions

It is not surprising that the Chavez government was recently re-elected with 55% of the vote, in an election with 81% turnout. Former US president Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Center has monitored all the elections in the country, has recently declared, “I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”

We suspect that the real suffering that Karygiannis and the Liberal Party of Canada are concerned with is that of North American and European oil multinationals who are no longer able to exploit Latin American resources with impunity due to the democratic uprising of the people of the region. Instead, governments like that of Venezuela are “wasting” their natural wealth to fund healthcare, education, and other policies that aid the people.

The Venezuelan people need no lessons on democracy from Karygiannis, who sits in a parliament that was twice shut down by the representative of an unelected hereditary monarch, and where barely 6 in 10 bother to cast a ballot.

Hands Off Venezuela calls on Jim Karygiannis and the Liberal Party of Canada to withdraw this offensive and ignorant petition and issue an apology to the Venezuelan people, both those inside and outside Canada, and to the Venezuelan government.

We encourage people to send letters of protest to:

Jim Karygiannis

And to the Leader of the Liberal Party, as well as the contenders for the Liberals’ leadership:

Bob Rae

Justin Trudeau

Marc Garneau

George Takach

Martin Cauchon

CC The Official Opposition New Democrats:


Please also forward all correspondence to: