We met with Camilla Fabri Saab, the wife of Venezuelan Alex Saab, who defied the U.S. blockade on Venezuela to secure life-sustaining goods that were prohibited. Saab has been illegally kidnapped, extradited, imprisoned, and tortured…

“International Cultural Fair of Friendship Between Venezuela and Iran”
Los Caobos Park in Caracas, Venezuela. Photo: Drake Meyers

Eye Witness: the U.S. Hybrid War on Venezuela

by Andrew Josefchak and Drake Myers
Women Against Military Madness Newsletter  V0l. 41  Num. 2

Andrew Josefchak and Drake Myers joined delegation of the  Alliance for Global Justice to Venezuela in March of 2023, and provide an update on the situation in Venezuela.

We saw the enormous strength of will of the Venezuelan people who have come together to claw back a sense of normalcy under the U.S.-led blockade. Aiding them in this effort is the Socialist Unity Party of Venezuela (PSUV) government, which is people-oriented and supports the efforts of the citizens, empowering them to control their factories, agricultural land, and even zoos and casinos. The government provides healthcare, food, and housing, and subsidizes gas and other goods.

Still, people are struggling immensely. Many have lost loved ones to starvation and lack of medical care. This is due to restrictions placed on material that can be brought into Venezuela due to the U.S.-led hybrid war, characterized by extreme “sanctions” (more accurately called a blockade). The war on Venezuela now employs the use of lawfare as well, as in the case of the kidnapped diplomat Alex Saab, who traveled all over the world to secure food, medicine, and fuel for Venezuelans suffering from US-inflicted deprivation and death.

The days of the U.S. recognizing the U.S.-backed Juan Guaidó as “president of Venezuela” are over, as it has become impossible to pretend he ever held any power. But reports of a Biden-Maduro detente have been greatly exaggerated. The Biden regime still doesn’t recognize democraticallyelected Nicolás Maduro as president. However, Latin America has had another, smaller Pink Tide with Gustavo Petro in Colombia and Lula de Silva back in Brazil. The future is bright, despite U.S warmongering.

CLAP, Carnet de la Patria, and VenApp

The Venezuela government addresses food shortages imposed by the blockade with monthly boxes of food, provided by Local Committees for Supply and Production (CLAP), to as many as 85 percent of Venezuelan households. A new app called VenApp allows people to report power outages, water issues, or other municipal problems in their neighborhoods; it has resolved over a million of these reports in the last eight months.

Another significant government program is the Carnet de la Patria, identification cards that centralize economic planning and give access to about $300 per household per month in subsidies. The program estimates the needs of the people, i.e., how many births to expect, or how many people have chronic illnesses, to better meet those needs. One socialist leader we met with held up his card and proudly said, “This is how we made it through the pandemic!”

Food Sovereignty

Venezuela was particularly hard-hit by sanctions because before former President Chávez, oil companies controlled Venezuela’s development, and it was cheaper to import food than to invest in agriculture. So despite the fact that Venezuela has an incredible climate for agriculture and very fertile soil, for the last hundred years very little was actually grown there. In the last couple of years, the country has seen vast improvements in food sovereignty: Venezuela now produces 94 percent of its own food after having to import 80 percent for the last 100 years.

Reclaimed by the People

The government has encouraged workers to take over factories and agricultural land that have been abandoned by companies that have pulled out of the country. We met with the MujeresConuqueras (Women Small Farmers) of Valencia, a feminist farmers’ organization that has taken charge of agricultural land. In the commune where the MujeresConuqueras organizes, agriculture has been so thoroughly integrated with industry that the majority of the food consumed there is planted, picked, packed, processed, and delivered all within the community, and all of this is controlled and planned by the workers themselves.

The farmers told us that when there are disagreements about how operations should be run, they call a meeting and discuss until an agreement is reached, making the working lives of the people who live in the commune far more democratic than anything we’ve experienced in the U.S. Similarly, fisherpeople who previously had been dependent on big companies who controlled the refrigerated transport equipment necessary to take fish to market now have direct access to this equipment, giving them control over their own work.


In our 10 days in Venezuela we saw only one person sleeping on the streets. The government has so far built 4.4 million housing units providing free or low-cost homeownership. Chavista Dozthor Zurlent visited Minneapolis in November and told us: “We as Venezuelans don’t have to pay taxes on the property of our houses. No one can take your house away from you. Housing is a human right in Venezuela.” (Chavistas were original supporters of the reforms in Venezuela initiated with Chavez.)


While the West tries to crush Venezuela, the country has deepened its solidarity with other targets of U.S. imperialism. We saw how China supports the Caracas arts scene and visited an Iranian international friendship fair. On the national scale Russia, China, and Belarus have taken up building contracts for housing developments and India, Iran, and China have purchased the country’s crude oil exports. Venezuelan murals also showed powerful solidarity with Palestine, Cuba, and even the fight for Justice for George Floyd.


We were able to visit one of the health fairs that serve the poorest sectors of Venezuelan society, people who were previously deprived of these services before Chávez’s 1998 Bolivarian revolution. Part of Plan Búho, mobile dentist’s offices gave people dental checkups: teeth-cleaning, treatments, medical checkups, and oral surgeries completely free of charge.These mobile units can take around 120 appointments a day and drive to different neighborhoods four days a week.

People at the fair were also able to talk to paralegals for free consultations, receive free over-the-counter medicines and birth control, and get vaccinations. While people waited in line for services, their kids played on bouncy castles and blow-up slides and got their faces painted. Specialty items requested by community members were being handed out: new wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, diapers, and packs with pillows, diapers, wipes, powdered milk and other stuff – all packed inside a cradle/bathtub. We even saw people getting haircuts!

Free Alex Saab! 

We met with Camilla Fabri Saab, the wife of Venezuelan Alex Saab, who defied the U.S. blockade on Venezuela to secure life-sustaining goods that were prohibited. Saab has been illegally kidnapped, extradited, imprisoned, and tortured for 1,000 days now. He’s currently being held in a Miami prison, unable to see his wife and young children. Saab is a diabetic cancer survivor and has been denied access to medical treatment for the entire duration of his imprisonment. Camilla shared extremely alarming information about Alex’s health. Four weeks ago, he began vomiting blood. His cell is kept so cold that his skin appears green. He is missing teeth due to beatings. Even more disgustingly, prison officials have diagnosed Saab with PTSD (from the torture they themselves inflicted) in order to justify drugging him to the point where he at times can’t even speak.

It was clear to us from many conversations we had with Venezuelans that Alex Saab is considered a national hero in Venezuela, and that international solidarity activists should follow and support the Free Alex Saab Movement and take up Saab’s freedom as the primary demand of their Venezuela solidarity work. The case is similar to the fights for other political prisoners: Leonard Peltier, Julian Assange, or Mumia Abu-Jamal.


For those who live in the Twin Cities, postcards are available at 4200 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis to send solidarity messages to Alex Saab. Stay tuned for actions to support this fight.


Chile Is Having a Constitution Do-Over, but the Ghost of Pinochet Remains   

byMichael Livingston   Vol. 41 No. 1   Spring I 2023
Women Against Military Madness Newsletter

An example of arpillera, textile art creations of widows and mothers bereaved in Pinochet’s reign of terror “in the hope that what happened to Chileans between 1972 and 1990 is never forgottena.”   – “Stitching Truth: Women’s Protest Art in Pinochet’s Chile.”   tinyurl.com/4ywmupmr

Chile will get a second chance at a new constitution. On January 11, the Chamber of Deputies voted to initiate a new process. The Chilean Senate had voted to initiate the new process on January 3. The vote comes after continued social unrest and the record low approval ratings of leftist President Gabriel Boric following the rejection of the first constitution by 62percent of the electorate in the September 22 referendum. This rejected constitution, in turn, was written in response to the October 2019 social explosion against inequality.

This process will be very different from the first go-around. The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate will each select twelve “experts.” These 24 experts, named the Commission of Experts, will draw up the first draft of the constitution. They start work on March 6 and have 3 months to complete the draft.

On Sunday May 7, voters will go to the polls to elect the Constitutional Council. Voting is mandatory and there is a gender parity requirement. Some seats are reserved for the indigenous peoples of Chile. The Constitutional Council will write a new constitution based on the draft created by the “experts.” Contradictions will be worked out by a joint committee of experts and members of the Constitutional Council. The final draft must be completed by November 7 and submitted to a mandatory popular referendum on December 17.

The root cause of Chile’s social problems remains the neoliberal model of capitalism imposed under U.S.- backed dictator Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). Pinochet came to power in a U.S.- engineered coup against the democratically-elected socialist president Salvador Allende. Carried out by the CIA and the Chilean military, the coup destroyed the progressive social and economic measures of the Allende government and replaced them with a made-in-the-U.S. economic model designed by Milton Friedman and his Chicago Boys. This model privatized education and healthcare,destroyed the Chilean social security system and replaced it with private plans, crushed worker rights and environmental protections, and privatized natural resources (except copper, which subsidized the Chilean armed forces). This model was built into the Chilean constitution and governmental structures during the transition to democracy in 1990 and is still defended by the conservative political parties and elites. It has resulted in massive social inequality in a relatively advanced country. While Chile can expect a constitution better than the Pinochet-era document, the probability of radical change, given a process dominated by the existing political parties, including the conservative parties, is nil.

Michael Livingston is a longtimepeace and antiwar activist. He has lived andworked in Honduras, Chile, and Spain. A professor of psychology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, he is currently directing a study abroad program in Seville, Spain.

Independent media is essential in these Rise Up Times. Your support makes Rise Up Times, Media for Justice and Peace possible. Please donate today.

Subscribe to Rise Up Times today. Donations of every amount are welcome.

Raised fist and pen power


Leave a Reply

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Subscribe via email
Enter your email address to follow Rise Up Times and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,899 other followers


VIDEO: Militarism, Climate Chaos, and the Environment