Dozens of Venezuelans gathered last Saturday in a citizens' assembly across many of Canada's largest cities and demanded, in a public declaration, the restitution of constitutional order in Venezuela and that the sovereignty of their country be respected.
More than 35 Venezuelans gathered at a meeting room in Calgary's downtown public library and discussed the situation in their country via Skype with Venezuelans in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, London, Montreal and Quebec City, as well as the Venezuelan national deputy, Maria Corina Machado.
"Since the 10th of January of 2013, Venezuela has been living under a de facto government that violates the ... national constitution ... and it's a usurpation of the popular vote," said the public statement.
During the assembly in Calgary, it was decided to support the proposal by MP Jim Karyaginnis to discuss the Venezuelan crisis in the Canadian parliament, as well as the diplomatic mission proposal from the Canadian ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) Allan Cullham.
"They must know they are not alone" their effort is very important for us, said Odelys Colmenares.
"Here there is much frustration, much rage, and much concern," said Josue Ramirez, about the state of the Venezuelan community in Calgary.
"But the history of a country is not made in 14 years and it's not permanent, but unless we do something about what they (government party) are doing, nothing is going to change," said Ramirez.
Marielena Nuñez said that Venezuelans in Calgary, despite the fact that many would like to forget the situation in their country, are still very concerned.
"After what happened to us, we want to erase the past, but the past can't be covered with a finger. All of us have a little bit of heart attached to Venezuela because of our families, our friends, and our memories," said Nuñez.
During the meeting, Maria Corina Machado gave her views of the situation in Venezuela and answered questions from the groups in all the cities.
"This is not a classical dictatorship. It is a neo-dictatorship," said Machado. "A regime deeply totalitarian with a democratic facade."
"It is important to expose this regime and show its illegitimacy," said Machado. "They have destroyed our democracy."
"There are some who think that Chavez is an untouchable myth that he can't be criticized.
"We cannot allow Hugo Chavez to become a cult idol. That would be extremely dangerous. We must show to the country who is responsible for the level of horror and pain that Venezuela is living today," said Machado.
She explained that the Venezuelan government uses many different kinds of tools to try to legitimize its totalitarianism.
The principal tool used to justify their illegal actions is the elections.
Other tools, for example, are giving "a pseudo legality" to its abuse by making them seem as "constitutional" regardless if they are "a democratic barbarity," or the use of international players like the approval of other countries and public figures, she said.
The Venezuelan government has been good at "creating its own international support with all the money of the world"; and we don't have that.
"But we have the force of the moral, the truth, the constitution and the international agreements," said Machado.
Machado said the opposition coalition in Venezuela has sent letters to all member states of the OAS.
However, as far as she knows "Canada hasn't made any formal response beyond what we saw during the (OAS) session this week."
"Canada is a key country" to find a solution to this issue, said Machado.
Details of the public statement
The statement calls on the Canadian federal authorities and the international community to pay attention "to the serious situation the Venezuelan democratic institution is living."
They dismissed the Supreme Court of Venezuela as being "unconstitutional" and "under the interest of the government party."
They demanded a medical board be established to certify that president Hugo Chavez is in the physical capacity to assume the presidency, and if not, then for it to call for new elections.
They denounced the "interference" of Cuban authorities in the "internal affairs of Venezuela" and demanded the re-establishment of the sovereignty of their country.
Venezuelans across Canada voiced those demands, taking into consideration that it's been more than a month since president Chavez was admitted for medical treatment in Cuba "without making any public appearance, in video, photographs, or telephonic calls" and that "the official information of his health status is vague and incomplete."
During the notorious absence of Hugo Chavez at his swearing-in ceremony for his new presidential term, the government party "refused to recognize and to declare officially" his temporary absence.
Venezuelan Canadians further charged the constant trips of members of the Venezuelan government party to Cuba is "clear evidence of interference by the Cuban authorities in the internal affairs of Venezuela."
See the full declaration translated to English and the original document in Spanish
Follow Daniel L. Rodriguez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dl_rod