Members of the Ukrainian and Venezuelan communities in Vancouver held a joint rally Wednesday in support of peace and freedom in their home countries.
About 30 people, many of them recent immigrants, gathered in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery around 4:30 p.m. PT to draw attention to the growing crises in their home countries.
Wednesday marked the one year anniversary of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's death. Since then, the country has experienced economic turmoil — marked by rising crime, food scarcity, and inflation — and daily anti-government protests.
More than 10,000 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean, meanwhile, Ukraine has been in political upheaval and under threat by Russian military forces mobilizing in Crimea.
Wednesday's joint Venezuela-Ukraine rally in Vancouver was a show of solidarity meant to symbolize that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Jean Carlos Torres Mujica is a student who immigrated to Canada from Venezuela three years ago. He says violent protests and a scarcity of basic goods back home have him worrying about the family he left behind.
"Students have been imprisoned by just showing their right to protest peacefully. There's a lack of basic needs: milk, toilet paper, chicken ... corn flour. That's just the smidge of it," he said.
"If you care about freedom of speech, if you care about human rights, if you care about life, please just share this."
Ruslan Tracz has family in Ukraine, and says daily life there is marred by fear.
"There's a fear of the unknown. There's a fear of what Russia may do. There's a fear of the current administration not knowing what exactly will be next," he said.
The protesters — divided by customs, distance and language — are calling on international governments to restore peace, democracy and freedom in both countries.