Dozens of Ukrainian and Venezuelan natives draped with their native flags gathered outside Faneuil Hall Sunday rallying for the end to military occupation, corruption, and violence in their homelands.
Both Ukraine and Venezuela have been the recent settings of violent antigovernment protests that have drawn global attention. In Boston, nearly 100 people, many natives of both nations, stood united in a shared interest to stop the bloodshed.
“The main issue here, in both nations, is injustice,” said Luis Delias, a 26-year-old Venezuelan native who lives in Boston’s Back Bay. “That’s what makes it so universal and what’s uniting Venezuelans and Ukrainians. We just want justice and accountability.”
Chanting echoed between Boston City Hall and Faneuil Hall as protesters demanded “Human rights!” and “No more murders!” Most of them were dressed in the colors of the Venezuelan or Ukrainian flags; one woman drew peace signs on the palm of her gloves, extending her hands in front of her for most of the rally.
The emotionally charged crowd formed a circle outside Faneuil Hall, the Boston landmark, where patriots once gave speeches advocating independence from Great Britain, and took turns sharing concerns about the state of their own native lands.
Delias encouraged Ukrainians and Venezuelans to take the opportunity to learn about each other’s struggles and exchange possible resolutions. Using a megaphone, the Berklee College of Music student advocated putting pressure on the Venezuelan government by using social media to raise awareness. Others urged the crowd to reach out to US public officials to get involved in both countries.
“Do this for the people we love that are far away,” Delias said. “Remind them that they are not alone, that we are supporting them here.”
‘Common evil unites people. Just like snowstorms bring people together here, this evil has brought us together.’
Many Ukrainians held signs comparing Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, and strongly urged for US intervention.
Yuliya Ladygina, a professor of Slavic literature and Russian language at Williams College and a postdoctoral student at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, said that the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces should not only concern citizens there, but the whole world.
In 1994, when Ukraine was forced to destroy its nuclear weapons, the United States and the United Kingdom agreed to protect the territorial integrity of the Ukraine. Those countries need to follow through with their promise, said Ladygina.
“Sanctions are No. 1,” she said, “And putting the hard line on Russia.”
Many Venezuelans also shared stories of terror befalling families and friends.
Delias said friends back home in the capitol of Caracas have sent him videos of protesters shot in the eyes with tear gas. Boston University senior Ignacio Rodriguez, 22, said the government hauled away his 19-year-old cousin Marco to jail, where he has been tortured, according to his family members.
“They [the military] would douse the protesters with gasoline, and say they would light them on fire,” Rodriguez said, adding that he felt connected to the cause back home. “All these people who died were students my age. This could just have easily been me.”
Pilar Avellaneda, 64, choked back a sob as she shared her concerns in Spanish for her two daughters, nieces, and nephews who have been actively protesting in Venezuela.
Avellaneda has been in Massachusetts visiting her son, Natick resident Wally Casanova, but worries constantly about her family back home, especially as Casanova said two of his cousins served two days in jail for publicly protesting.
“She feels good because of the protesting there, because it’s happening and at least we are being heard,” Casanova said, paraphrasing his mother’s words as she buried her head in her hands. “But she’s very afraid to go back. She’s afraid of what she’s going to find.”
The turmoil in each nation has brought people of two very different cultures together for a common cause, according to Marina Novikova, a Ukrainian software engineer who lives in Melrose.
“Common evil unites people,” she said. “Just like snowstorms bring people together here, this evil has brought us together.”
globe.com. Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@