Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Chicago Teachers Union Delegation Goes to Venezuela to Support Maduro

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Is this a case of “red privilege?”

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) traveled to Venezuela this month to show their support for the socialist regime of Nicolás Maduro.

All four members of the delegation belong to the left-wing #RedforEd movement, which is mobilizing teachers and teachers unions in battleground states in preparation for the 2020 U.S. presidential election. 

The four-person delegation to Venezuela consisted of Richard Berg, a former Teamsters Union official and current CTU employee; V Voeta Vargas; Sarah Chambers; and Fabiana Mariel. Chambers and Mariel are both strike captains for the CTU. 

Fight!BackNews, a Minneapolis-based outlet that aims to “build the people’s struggle” by providing “coverage and analysis of some of the key battles facing working and low-income people,” reported on the CTU Venezuela trip.

The next day, Berg confirmed on Twitter that he was a member of the delegation.

Chambers, a CTU “E-Board member,” confirmed her participation with a tweet that showed her on a stage with Nelson Mandela’s grandson, who was also in Venezuela showing support for Maduro.

According to Fight!BackNews, the Chicagoans were ostensibly in the South American country to “learn what they could from Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, exchange views on effective education and to show solidarity with the students, teachers and social movements of Venezuela.”

The trip followed a recent resolution by the CTU Executive Board and House of Delegates that calls for an end to U.S. intervention in Venezuela.

The resolution claims that “the current Trump administration … has recently made menacing pronouncements against the sovereign state of Venezuela by discrediting the result of the May 20, 2018, Venezuelan presidential election of Nicolas Maduro, and have backed the self-declared ‘Presidency’ of Juan Guaido, President of the National Assembly of Venezuela.”

The CTU resolution also affirms opposition to any military intervention in Venezuela and advocates for the suspension of sanctions against Venezuela.

Chambers praised Maduro’s handling of the country amid hyperinflation, power outages, and widespread shortages of basic necessities such as toiletries.

“Through major economic hardships, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro never closed a single public school or a single health clinic,” Chambers stated. She contrasted his presidential performance with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who “closed 50 public schools and several mental health clinics in a single year.”

Berg told the pro-Maduro Orinoco Tribune:

“We are interested in show [sic] solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and the Venezuelan people and at the same time we want to interact with Venezuelan labor union leaders with focus on teacher unions to learn from them how they have counter [sic] US sanctions and to inform them about our recent victories in the US, like the recent strike CTU organized in Chicago.”

In June, the four members of the CTU delegation used a Facebook page entitled “Hands Off Venezuela!” to promote a GoFundMe campaign for the purpose of raising funds for the trip.

The CTU members wrote in a post: “We are taking a social justice teacher delegation to Venezuela to support the Venezuelan people against the USA invasion, coups and blockades! We are doing all the fundraising ourselves. Due to Trump blocking all direct USA flights, the flights sky rocketed to $1000 per person.”

Chambers organized the GoFundMe, which raised $2,000 — $1,000 short of its $3,000 goal.

#RedforEd, founded in Arizona, is known for its red-clad demonstrators. In April, the #RedforEd gained national support for an Arizona teachers strike, culminating in a rally attended by 75,000 people — the largest teachers march in the state’s history.

The movement has gone on to organize similar strikes in states such as California and Colorado, in each case promoting a platform of higher pay for teachers, lowering of accountability practices for schools, and opposition to public-school alternatives.

CTU solidified its support for #RedfoEd in an October press release, which lamented that the wages of Chicago teachers are “well below teachers in the nation’s most militant and underfunded #RedForEd states.”

The ties between CTU and #RedforEd are close. One #RedforEd leader, Rebecca Garelli, was a CTU member and union activist in Chicago before she moved to Arizona.

Noah Karvelis, an Arizona hip-hop teacher who is involved with the moment, made waves with social-media posts that included saying “teaching is political” and advocating that teachers study the book A Pedagogy of Anticapitalist Antiracism: Whiteness, Neoliberalism, and Resistance in Education.

The clear agenda leaves no doubt why this growing movement uses red as its color of choice.

 Photo: AP Images

Luis Miguel is a marketer and writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on FacebookTwitterBitchute, and at

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