Venezuela is a humanitarian and civil liberties disaster. The repressive regime of Nicolás Maduro has been condemned around the world for its campaign of killings, arrests, and torture with the help of hundreds of Cuban intelligence officers. The free press and any dissent has been brutally destroyed as the nation itself reduced to pre-industrial standards. Beyond Cuba, North Korea, and other authoritarian regimes, Venezuela has few friends . . . . except union teachers from Chicago. The delighted picture above shows the delegation of union teachers who flew to Venezuela in support of one of the most blood-soaked regimes in the world. The picture reportedly shows Richard Berg (Organizer), strike captains Sarah Chambers (Special Education Educator), Valeria Vargas (Math Educator) and Fabiana Casas (English Educator) on Twitter after crowdfunding their trip to Venezuela.
Other Chicago teachers and a great number of Venezuelans both inside and outside of the country have condemned the trip. Yet, the CTU members praised Maduro’s government while meeting with some of the officials who have stripped reporters, lawyers, journalists, and others of their basic human rights. It was a propaganda bonanza for the Maduro regime as the four heralded the progress and struggle of the government.
According to the the Chicago Tribune, the GoFundMe page featured a Chicago Teacher’s Union organizer, Richard Berg, with the title “Send CTU Strikers to Venezuela.” By the way, teachers are striking in Venezuela and have been arrested by the regime. Those teachers have stood up against repression and the denial of free speech and association. These Chicago Teacher’s Union members went to support the regime that is arresting and beating and torturing those teachers.
Notably, while saying that this was not a sponsored trip, CTU President Jesse Sharkey did not object to the crowdfunding effort based on being CTU members. Not only is Berg a CTU organizer but Sarah Chambers is reportedly on the CTU Executive Board. Chambers tied her trip directly to efforts by the local union.
The naiveté of the teachers was breathtaking and reminded many of the propaganda trips behind the Iron Curtain in the Cold War by American communists. Chambers wrote “While staying in #Venezuela, we didn’t see a single homeless person. USA is the richest country in the world; yet, there are homeless people everywhere. Over 17k CPS students are homeless… This is why @CTULocal1 is fighting for fair housing #CTUAgainstVezIntervention.” Really? As we have discussed, Maduro has destroyed one of the strongest economies in South America and United Nations officials are now warning of widespread famine and malnutrition but Chambers did not see a homeless person.
Notably, the CTU has passed a resolution opposing the possible invasion of Venezuela but has not passed a resolution condemning the arrest and torture of teachers and others by the Maduro regime. Of course, it can now receive the first-hand report of Chambers that she did not see a single homeless person on her trip.