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The Guardian: Nine ways you can support Venezuelan human rights protests

Putting pressure on Maduro’s government and businesses that work with it could halt a slide into dictatorship and a brutal crackdown on democracy

If you are shocked by the deaths and imprisonment of protesters, you reject Nicolas Maduro’s attempts to consolidate a dictatorship, and you are not deluded by fantasies about how well the “revolution” would be doing if it wasn’t for the CIA’s telepathic assassination of Hugo Chávez or the economic war waged by the Pentagon, then perhaps you might be wondering if there is anything tangible that you can do for the people of Venezuela.

But here are nine ways you can help pressure Maduro’s government into respecting human rights and democracy.

1. Write to your elected representatives

Demand sanctions against Venezuelan government officials. Not a senseless and cruel embargo like the one imposed by the US on Cuba. I mean individually targeted sanctions to prevent members of Maduro’s government to own assets in – and travel to – the US or Europe. The virulence with which the “chavista” regime has fought against these sanctions only raises the question of why these so-called socialists care so much about owning properties in capitalist countries.

2. Contact your union

If you are part of a workers’ union, demand that your leadership stop supporting Maduro and his allies. The propagandists of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign operate from the London offices of Unite. Other UK unions have hosted events to defend the “revolution”, ignoring the fact that Chávez and Maduro have crushed independent unions, fired and blacklisted workers for their political opinions, and threatened state employees with dismissal if they do not attend pro-government rallies. Help make this stop.

3. Pressure the left

Reach out to Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone and other politicians who have expressed support for Chávez and Maduro in the past. Put pressure on them to do the right thing and demand that the Venezuelan government respect human rights and democracy. Their voices might still carry some weight in Caracas.

4. Boycott

Don’t do business with companies owned by the Venezuelan government. If you are in the US, do not fill up at Citgo. Don’t help pay for the weapons, tear gas and riot gear that the armed forces and police use against peaceful protesters. Write letters to companies. Write to companies that are doing business with the Venezuelan government and demand that they stop supporting a dictatorship. Most of these firms, such as Chevron or BP, are in the oil business so it’s likely their moral compass is not precisely attuned. But still remind them who they are in bed with.

5. Put direct pressure on the Venezuelan government.

Write to their embassies to demand respect for human rights and democracy. Attend rallies near their embassies if possible. But be respectful always. Hate, intolerance, authoritarianism, violence and threats are the hallmarks of Chávez, Maduro and their allies. When you act like them, you become one of them.

6. Stay informed and choose your sources wisely

As in any conflict, one of the first casualties in the Venezuelan crisis has been the truth. Don’t believe everything you see on social media, and check that any story you share comes from a reputable news organisation. There are enough real instances of human rights violations being committed by the Venezuelan armed forces, so there is no need to repost unconfirmed videos or photos.

7. Don’t use the Venezuelan crisis to further your political arguments

There are real people getting killed or starving to death in Venezuela. You disrespect their memories when you use them to explain why the US should never have free healthcare, why the west should allow bankers to disrupt the world’s economy or, from the opposite view, how what’s happening in Venezuela is not “real socialism”.

8. Donate medicines and food to Venezuela

Do an online search for independent organisations that successfully send donations. They know how to avoid getting shipments confiscated by the corrupt military and customs officials.

9. Don’t be afraid to get involved

Standing up to injustice is not interventionism. I am not advocating a military invasion. I am asking you to help put economic and moral pressure on a dictatorship. The situation of Venezuela will ultimately be solved by Venezuelans. But international pressure will help.

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