Fifth Annual International Apartheid Week (IAW)

We would like to inform you about an important week of discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict taking place in Toronto March 1-8, 2009. The government of Venezuela led by Hugo Chavez has repeatedly expressed its strong opposition to Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, including by expelling the Israeli ambassador during the recent Israeli assault on Gaza.

While defending the Jewish community in Venezuela against anti-Semitic attacks, the Chavez government also upholds the rights of the Palestinians against the continuing encroachment of Israel on Palestinian land and the Israeli wars carried out to promote this illegal occupation.

Venezuela We Are With You Coalition is very pleased to be an endorser of the Fifth Annual International Israeli Apartheid Week, March 1-8, 2009. (www.

Israeli Apartheid Week 2009: NEW Video Trailer!
Despite the on-going attempts by university administrations to silence and repress Palestine solidarity activism on campuses, Israeli Apartheid Week 2009 promises to be more successful than ever.
Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is taking place in more than 40 cities across the globe (the number of cities is growing daily).

This year, IAW happens in the wake of Israel's brutal military assault on the people of Gaza. In Toronto, the birthplace of IAW, a full week of lectures, films, and actions will make the point that these latest massacres further confirm the true nature of Israeli Apartheid.

The theme for IAW 2009 in Toronto is "Standing United with the People of Gaza", events will take place at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University and York University. IAW 2009 will continue to build and strengthen the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at a global level.

Each evening of IAW 2009 has a specific theme and expert speakers on different topics. Mark your calendars with the different topics for each evening:

ALL EVENING EVENTS BEGIN AT 7 p.m. at Ryerson and the University of Toronto --George Campus -- (
ALL DAY-TIME EVENTS BEGIN AT 12:30pm at York University(

Monday, March 2: Resisting Apartheid: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Our keynote speaker, Omar Barghouti will launch Israeli Apartheid Week 2009Library Building Room: LIB072 Ryerson Univesity 350 Victoria St.

Tuesday, March 3: Education Under Occupation A panel discussion on the challenges faced by students in Palestine and by indigenous students here on Turtle Island as they fight for their right to education while living under occupation. Featuring: Thaer Aliwaiwi, Yafa Jarrar and Karolyn Givogue
Walberg Building, Room 116 University of Toronto 184-200 College StreetHosted by SAIA- UT, a working group of OPIRG - Toronto

Wednesday, March 4: Gaza: Breaking the Siege A panel discussion focused on the recent military assault and on-going Siege on Gaza. Speakers will provide historical background information and commentary on the current situation in Gaza. Featuring: Laila El-Haddad and Jon Elmer Walberg
Building, Room 116 University of Toronto 184-200 College Street
Hosted by SAIA- UT, a working group of OPIRG - Toronto

Thursday, March 5: Globalization, Labour and Poverty in Palestine and First Nations communities in Canada A panel discussion on the economic situation in Palestine and Canada's financial and military ties to Israeli Apartheid. Speakers will also draw links between Apartheid in Israel and the economic exploitation of First Nations communities in Canada. Featuring: Leila Farsakh, Robert Lovelace and David McNally
Koffler Institute Room 108 569 Spadina Avenue
Hosted by SAIA- UT, a working group of OPIRG - Toronto

Friday, March 6: Turtle Island, South Africa to Palestine : The Struggle Continues The final night of Israeli Apartheid Week 2009 will focus on lessons from South African Apartheid and the on-going struggles of the Palestinian people and indigenous people on Turtle Island. Featuring: Mike Krebs and Ronnie Kasrils
Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University -- - TRS1067 575 Bay Street

Saturday, March 7: International Women's Day -
Rally and March Rally: 11 a.m
OISE Auditorium, 252 Bloor St. West March:

Join the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid and allies as we march under the banner "Standing United with the Women of Gaza". Contingent will meet at 12:45pm at the corner of Bloor St. West and Bedford Rd (next to OISE). Look for banners and Palestinian flags!

Full schedule with speakers' biographies is available at
Israeli Apartheid Week Toronto is organized by: Students Against Israeli Apartheid U of T (a working group of OPIRG), Students Against Israeli Apartheid York, and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights Ryerson.

Israeli Apartheid Week Toronto is endorsed by the following organizations:
Canadian Arab Federation Palestine House Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid Caribbean Studies Student Union (UofT) Equity Studies Student Union (UofT) Health Studies Student Union (UofT) CUPE Ontario International Solidarity Committee CUPE Local 3907 CUPE Local 3903

CAW Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy Not In Our Name: Jewish Voices Opposing Zionism Critical Area Studies Collective (UofT)

Centre for Middle Eastern Studies No One Is Illegal Ontario Coalition Against Poverty Always Question (UofT) Canadian Forum for Justice and Peace in Sri Lanka Barrio Nuevo NOCOPS (Newly Organized Coalition Opposing Police in Schools) Women in Solidarity with Palestine Common Cause Faculty for Palestine Palestine House Youth Program Filipino Canadian Youth Alliance-Ontario Toronto Women's Bookstore SPHR National Latin America Solidarity Network, Coalition Venezuela We Are With You (CVEC)

To ENDORSE Israeli Apartheid Week in Toronto, to make a DONATION or GET INVOLVED with the organizing email

Crucial Victory in Venezuela

Dear Friends,

Electoral authorities say 54% of voters approved a constitutional amendment to remove limits on re-election and allow Chavez to stay in office until 2013.

The victory in the referendum vote bolsters support for the socialist party (PSUV), and for measures towards establishing Venezuelan sovereignty and social justice.
"Long live the revolution," shouted Chavez, as he stood on his palace balcony in front of hundreds of thousands of supporters.

Dozens of election observers from international bodies such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States were on hand to verify that the referendum was free and fair.

The following article by Luis Bilbao, written yesterday, dramatically portrays the background to this victory and the alarming threats of violent retaliation against the people's decision by the U.S.-backed right-wing opposition. See utube:
VENEZUELA: Reasons to be on alertLuis Bilbao, February 14, 2009

A string of provocations in the days leading up to the constitutional amendment referendum indicates the employment of a disturbance plan that could well be followed up with destabilizations attempts after the poll.

Amongst many other things – it would be too tedious to enumerate them all - those that stand out are the violent actions of student groups, the circulation of a counterrevolutionary proclamation amongst Armed Forces officers, the self-attack on a synagogue, the announcement of a trip by Lech Walesa (ex-Polish leader, dependent on the Vatican and the CIA) to coincide with the electoral event and the provocation by Spanish deputy Luis Herrero, from the fascist Popular Party, who on arriving in Caracas as an international observer issued harmful declarations, knowing full well that this would be motive for his expulsion by the National Electoral Court.All this has been accompanied by an orchestrated international media campaign that without any reserve or limits in its distortion of the truth, labours at confusing the real meaning of the amendment in order to present it as a step towards the instauration of a dictatorship in Venezuela. As only occurs in exceptional moments of danger for imperialist control, the major US press – especially the Washington Post – has put at stake its credibility, lying and falsifying via editorial notes.

The campaign kicked off after a meeting of leaders of the opposition with US State Department officials, held in Puerto Rico last January 9, where their destabilisation plans were adjusted in the faced off evidence that the Yes vote was gaining support amongst the electorate. Here, the international social-Christian current handed over $3 million to the conspirators, amongst whom were the director of Globovision, Alberto Federico Ravell, and the leader of the party Primera Justicia, Julio Borges.

One by one, these steps aimed at unleashing violence in Venezuela before the elections were discovered and neutralised by the government, including the detection and dismantlement of at least two Colombian paramilitary units contracted by the warmongering wing of the opposition.

Amongst the defensive reactions of the government, what stands out was the capacity to detect and detain various Armed Forces officers involved in an incipient coup plotting conspiracy. And no less resounding was the military response to an operation aimed at publicly involving General Jesus Gonzalez Gonzalez - head of Plan Republica, which is entrusted with ensuring that the electoral event goes ahead - in the coup plotting conspiracy.

At the same time as intelligence organisations have laboured with an efficiency and speed not seen in previous occasions, the principal force aimed at neutralising this escalation been the mass mobilisations that have been carried out in the function of a precise plan of action designed by Hugo Chavez – and, in fact for the first time, scrupulously controlled in its execution by the president himself, as if it were a military operation – in order to accomplish the task of clarification for the public in the lead up to electoral contest. That is why the youth identified with the revolution came out onto the streets to neutralise the attempt to make students appear as a compact mass force of opposition and paralyse potential adherents to these counterrevolutionary groups, who saw their actions and mobilisations reduced to a pathetic expression of isolation. Parallel to this, hundreds of thousands of “patrulleros” came out to explain to the population the significance of the vote.
Never before had this happened on such a scale. In the elections for governors and mayors last November, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela demonstrated its potential and was the artifice of the large electoral advance that was registered on that opportunity. But now its role has been qualitatively superior: it acted as a genuine instrument of masses mobilised by a leadership united behind a revolutionary and socialist objective.

PSUV: a combat party
The meaning of the eventual positive result in favour of the constitutional amendment, added with the revelation of this new phenomenon of the PSUV as a combat party, has exacerbated the belligerence of the opposition.

With the possibility that Chavez could be a candidate in the next elections in 2012, any perspective of an opposition electoral victory in the presidential dispute would be closed off completely. At the same time, the possibility that opposition groups could tempt certain wavering groupings within the PSUV to convert the struggle over candidates into a factor of division and debilitation would also be blocked off.US strategists know the significance of what this will mean, not only for Venezuela but for all Latin America. That is why they have manufactured this crescendo in counterrevolutionary activity and essentially campaigned not around the issue of the referendum, but instead limited themselves to denouncing a ridiculous and unsustainable danger of dictatorship based on the figure of Hugo Chavez.

That is why it is logical to think that the last step of this escalation will be the rejection of the Yes victory, which all the polls as showing as the likely result, including those paid for by opposition leaders.

Although the final result is in the hands of the men and women who will or will not turn up to cast their vote, everything seems to indicate that the never before seen effort of revolutionary propaganda carried out by the PSUV – and the inordinate effort of Chavez himself – will result in a massive turnout of the poor to participate in the electoral event. If this is verified, the Yes triumph will be overwhelming, including in proportions superior to those seen in the historic 2006 elections, when Chavez was re-elected on a campaign which raised this socialist proposal as the key slogan.Faced with such a perspective, it is not only the imperialist chiefs that are trembling. Concern also blights the centrist governments who sense the dynamic that will be triggered off in the entire region by a fourteenth electoral victory of the Bolivarian revolution.

So, we can expect a desperate intervention by imperialism’s strategists, stunned by the potent combination of the world capitalist crisis and the programmatic, organisational and political affirmation of a revolutionary socialist response. And the same goes in regards to expecting a pulling back by South American semi-allies, that in the midst of these tremors are wagering their survival on an agreement in response to the crisis that imperialism hopes to seal at the G-20 meeting in London next April 2.

Therefore, we must be on alert regarding events on February 15. If the United States succeeds in imposing a situation of violence in the face of a Yes victory, the conflict in Venezuela will extend itself like a trail of gun power across the region. What is impossible to expect from fearful governments - mass mobilisations at the continental scale in defence of the free expression of the Venezuelan majority - is left in the hands of those millions who see in the revolutionary government of Venezuela a lighthouse to orientate Latin American and the Caribbean in a moment of extreme crisis on the world scale.

[Translated by Federico Fuentes]
[Luis Bilbao is a central participant in the construction of the mass United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and in the formation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). He will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, to be held in Sydney, Australia, on April 10-12, 2009, organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Green Left Weekly.]

Important Vote For Chavez's Extention of Terms of Office

By Diana Raby
University of Liverpool (UK)

Next Sunday, 15 February, Venezuelans vote in a referendum on a proposed Constitutional Amendment that will allow for any candidate to stand for the Presidency, or indeed for any elective office, without restriction on the number of terms they may serve. Only the people's vote will decide whether they are elected and how many terms they serve.

In other words, if President Hugo Chávez, who is already serving his second term under the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, wishes to stand for a third term, he may do so. Equally, the opposition mayor of Greater Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, may stand three or four times if he wants (and if the people vote for him).This is no different from the practice here in the UK, where Margaret Thatcher won four elections for the Conservatives (although we did not have the privilege of voting for her personally as Prime Minister), and Tony Blair won three times for Labour. It is of course different from the situation in the US, where some sixty years ago a limit of two consecutive terms was introduced for the presidency.

But why is there such a fuss about this proposal in Venezuela? Once again, as so many times before in the last ten years, the media are full of stories about Chávez' dictatorial tendencies or being President for life, and the opposition goes on about "the principle of alternation [alternabilidad]". But they know perfectly well that Chávez will only be re-elected in 2012 if the people vote for him in elections which have been certified time and again as impeccably free and honest, and that the possibility of mid-term recall still exists and will be maintained. And alternation, as the experience here in the UK and in so many "advanced democracies" shows, is all too often a neat device to prevent any real change while giving the appearance of choice with a superficial change of personnel.

The real problem is – and everyone knows this, they just don't want to discuss it – that Chávez represents the continuation of the Bolivarian project, a popular revolution which has transformed Venezuela and inspired similar transformations in several other Latin American countries. And that against Chávez, the opposition will again lose, and lose badly as they have done before.

Hugo Chávez is the people's candidate, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be. No, he is not a dictator, and of course he is not infallible. He himself has often recognised his failings. But he has demonstrated time and again his commitment to serving the people – the poor, the workers, the excluded – of Venezuela, and they have reaffirmed their confidence in him. If he were to go – and thank God, this is not the case – it is to be hoped that the people would find, indeed create (as they did with Chávez) another leader or leaders. But why substitute a leader of proven ability, indeed one who has grown in stature and maturity with every new stage of the revolutionary process?

In these circumstances, those who talk about "Chavismo without Chávez" are either naïve or ill-intentioned. What is at stake in Venezuela is a fundamental clash of class interests, although one which is being played out as far as possible in peaceful and democratic fashion. The campaign for the Constitutional Amendment to abolish term limits is simply the latest battleground in this contest, and as such, a victory for the "Yes" camp on Sunday 15 February is crucial – and let's hope the victory is a decisive one!

Guaranteeing Food Sovereignty For Nations of ALBA

ALBA Trade Bloc Forms Joint Food Company at Summit in Venezuela James Suggett
Mérida, February 3rd 2009-- Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, Honduras, and Dominica created a joint food production company and laid out plans to guarantee food security in the Caribbean, Central, and South American regions during an extraordinary summit of the regional trade bloc known as the ALBA in Caracas on Monday.

“We are going to create a supranational company, like a transnational company, but in this case with the concept of a great nation, to produce food with the goal of guaranteeing food sovereignty to our people,” declared Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who co-created the ALBA group in 2005 with his ally, the former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro.

ALBA stands for “Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas” and is named after the South American independence hero Simón Bolívar, who aspired to unite all of South America into one nation. ALBA nations forge mutually agreeable “people’s trade agreements” that are meant to be free of the coercion and one-sidedness of freed trade deals promoted by the United States.

In Chávez’s words Monday, “ALBA is the expression of a new geo-political space… the sunrise of a new era in which Venezuela is no longer solitary.”

The new ALBA company will receive an initial investment of $49 million drawn from the $100 million food security fund that ALBA member nations created during the height of the world food crisis last April.

As an investment plan, the ALBA nations signed agreements to form mixed enterprises that will promote technological cooperation and training, invest in rural infrastructure, and integrate regional food distribution.Member nations also decided Monday to place the food security fund under the management of the ALBA Bank, which is now headed up by Venezuela’s former ambassador to the U.S., Bernardo Álvarez.

Over the long term, ALBA nations committed to further integrate ALBA with PETROCARIBE, a group of seventeen Caribbean and Central American countries that receive preferential financing on Venezuelan oil and fertilizer in exchange for goods and services.

Several PETROCARIBE nations have already started a special Caribbean food production fund in the ALBA Bank and constituted mixed enterprises with the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA to jointly extract oil from Venezuela’s Orinoco oil belt.

Another ongoing ALBA project is the establishment of a common currency and unified compensation measurements for trade among member countries. Last December, each ALBA nation agreed to form a committee to advance a specific aspect of this effort, according to announcements by Venezuelan Finance Minister Alí Rodríguez.

Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, and Rafael Correa of Ecuador attended the ALBA summit Monday, along with Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and Cuban Vice President José Ramón Machado Ventura. Morales praised Venezuela’s and Cuba’s efforts to provide assistance to poor Latin American nations, noting that hundreds of thousands of Bolivians have received free eye surgery and learned to read through Venezuelan and Cuban solidarity programs.

Before heading off in a caravan with the ALBA country leaders to participate in street marches to celebrate the tenth anniversary of his inauguration as president of Venezuela, Chávez announced that there is a potential new member of ALBA. “President Fernando Lugo [of Paraguay] called me this morning to request that he be included in the next ALBA meetings,” he said.

In addition to leading the ALBA and PETROCARIBE initiatives, Venezuela appears to be on the verge of earning the approval of Brazil’s congress for membership in the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR). Venezuela is also an outspoken promoter of the Union of Southern Nations (UNASUR), a political alliance that focuses on resolving political and military disputes and does not include the U.S.

Venezuela- Against Anti Semitism

Robbery, Not Anti-Semitism, Motive for Attack on Venezuelan Synagogue
February 10th 2009
by James Suggett

Mérida, February 10th 2009 -- Following a weeklong investigation of the burglary and vandalizing of a prominent Caracas synagogue, Venezuelan authorities have arrested eleven suspects, including a rabbi’s bodyguard who planned the crime, and a security guard who assisted the break in, Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister Tarek El-Aissami announced Monday.

The attack on the synagogue occurred in the early morning of January 31st. Burglars tampered with security cameras, stole property, defaced sacred items including the Torah, and spray-painted the walls with anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli phrases.

A confession by security guard Víctor Escalona revealed that a personal struggle over money was the motive of the crime. Edgar Cordero, a Caracas police officer and bodyguard of Rabbi Isaac Cohen had been denied a loan by the rabbi, so he planned to rob money from the synagogue’s coffers, and approached Escalona for assistance, according to investigators from the from Venezuela’s national Criminal, Penal, and Scientific Investigations Unit (CICPC).El Aissami said anti-Semitism was not the motive, but rather a tactic used for two purposes, “First, to weaken the investigation, and second, to direct the blame toward the national government.”

El Aissami also detailed other evidence gathered during the investigation that implicated the security guard Escalona. “We observe that the fence was cut from the inside out and there is no evidence that would demonstrate that it was climbed or broken into from the outside,” said the minister, pointing to photos of the scene of the crime.

“Another thing we found was that the security guard [Escalona] declared he had been tied up and did not see anything, but we discovered that at one o’clock in the morning he sent a text message to the rabbi’s bodyguard [Cordero],” and had been separated from other security guards who were tied up, El-Aissami reported.

Escalona’s testimony led CICPC authorities to arrest a total of six metropolitan police officers, four civilians, and an investigator from the CICPC homicide department who were involved in the burglary, according to El-Aissami.

The minister said the investigation has not concluded, and that arrest warrants have been issued for four more suspects who, according to fingerprints and footprints scanned by CICPC forensic experts, are suspected to have painted the anti-Semitic phrases on the walls of the synagogue. The results of the investigation so far negate accusations by government adversaries and opposition-aligned private media over the past week that the government inspired the attack, said El-Aissami.

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) congratulated the CICPC investigators Monday and denounced the private media and opposition leaders for using the synagogue attack as an electoral strategy against a proposed constitutional amendment that Venezuelans will vote on February 15th.

“We want to endorse these actions by the police, which have permitted the detention of the alleged culprits of this vandalism that the Bolivarian Revolution rejected from the beginning,” said PSUV leader Vanessa Davies in a televised address. “We want to condemn these parts of the opposition that immediately blamed the National Government.”

“They said that in Venezuela there was a government that persecuted citizens for their political or religious position,” Davies continued. “The Bolivarian revolution has demonstrated that in this country nobody is persecuted for their religious position. It would be wrong for the revolutionaries, who have been rounded up and persecuted in the past… to be the people who round up and persecute.”

Government officials, including President Hugo Chávez, have repeatedly condemned the synagogue attack and met with leaders of the Venezuelan Jewish community to express their rejection of the attack and to discuss how to improve relations.

Last Friday, Foreign Relations Minister Nicolás Maduro met with the general secretary of the World Jewish Congress, Michael Schneider, and the president of the Latin American Jewish Congress, Jack Terpins.

In an interview with the private television channel Venevisión on Monday, Chávez said the result of the investigation is “a message to the Jewish family, which lives with us and is part of the great Venezuelan family… the Chávez government is not anti-Semitic.” The president also expressed his regret that corrupt Caracas police had been involved in the attack on the synagogue.