Chavista Chronicles from Caracas with Jesus Rodriguez-Espinoza (Episode 14 – Special Interview “Manitos Children’s Fund”)

Editorial note: For technical issues beyond our control, audio for this special interview is not available. We want to leave the video as a testimony of the nice chat we had and at the end of this piece we are writing the most relevant aspects of our chat. We tried several times to remake the interview but the tight schedule of the delegation didn’t allow it.

In this special episode of Chavista Chronicles from Caracas (recorded on Friday Nov 8th at 4:05 pm), we interviewed Elena Spivak Rodriguez (ESR) from the Alliance for Global Justice and William Camacaro (WC) from the Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle in New York, both working on a new project called the “Manitos Children’s Fund” (manitoschildrensfund.org) aiming to help Venezuelans (especially kids and youth) affected by US unilateral sanctions and at the same time strengthen grassroots communal initiatives helping ordinary Venezuelans on the ground everyday.

The project already counts on the long time experience of the Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ.com) and their work in Nicaragua a few decades back but it is looking to broaden the spectrum of support and solidarity with countries affected by US unilateral coercive measures (commonly called US sanctions) that in the case of Venezuela, according to expert analysis, have already killed 40,000 Venezuelans, directly or indirectly.

The delegation in Venezuela is contacting local authorities and grassroots organizations first hand in order to start delivering solutions as soon as possible to the thousands of Venezuelans affected by US sanctions.
Some highlights from the interview:

  • ESR explained to us that this delegation to Venezuela was set up to interact with key actors on the ground in order to implement this new project proposed by the Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ) to provide relief for needy Venezuelans affected by US sanctions, focusing on children and youth.
  • She also told us that the longstanding experience of the AFGJ with solidarity in Central and South America allows them to feel very confident about the success of this initiative.
  • WC explained that during the visit they have met with different authorities and grassroots organizations like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Communes, Barrio Adentro, along with grassroots organizations like Fundacion Pueblo a Pueblo and organizations in the region of Barlovento in Miranda state.
  • Manitos will work directly with Venezuelan groups to provide materials they require such as food and supplies for growing food, and medications, modeled on our “Let Nicaragua Live” campaign in the 1980s. We raised millions of dollars which were sent to Nicaragua as cash or as products such as oats for the children’s hospital and orphanages.
  • ESR added that their experience is the key for success but she told us that they are looking to strengthen a network of solidarity in the US, Canada and other countries focusing on religious organizations, women groups and unions, taking as a fundational concept that solidarity against sanctions should surpass the political and ideological barrier and should focus on how to help those directly affected by sanctions.
  • WC mentioned that this assistance won’t come only from the US but from different countries like Canada, Nicaragua and even Bolivia where the AFGJ has already establish partnerships.
  • In terms of how they will translate this assistance in real help for Venezuelans in need, ESR told us that they have identified the need in some cases of direct funding, in other cases of medicines, food, tools for farming and seeds. She mentions that while talking with health authorities they identified the need for contraceptives because the rate of teen pregnancy has increased dramatically in Venezuela in recent years due to US sanctions.
  • At the end of our chat we all agree that this project won’t be a traditional one way initiative where help comes from abroad but a two way one in which successful grassroots organizations and communes from Venezuela might be showcased outside Venezuela and their organizational model might be replicated in other countries.
  • The delegation highlighted their openness to build up a wider network of support in the US and Canada and their plans to work in those countries to make that happen and at the same time, invited all organizations and individuals interested in the project to get involved by visiting their website (www.manitoschildrensfund.org) or emailing them at info@manitoschildrensfund.org.

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