Chicago City Wire

Chicago City Wire

Friday, April 3, 2020

Chicago Teachers Union president Sharkey in hot water as some of his “useful idiots” visit and embrace impoverished, socialist Venezuela


By W.J. Kennedy | Jul 30, 2019

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey during a press conference in June |

A recent pilgrimage to socialist Venezuela by a contingent of Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) extremists has some of the rank-and-file union members who stayed behind calling for the ouster of CTU President Jesse Sharkey, himself a card-carrying socialist.

A source within the CTU told Chicago City Wire that the trip “to learn what they could from Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution” and find out the truth behind the “imperialist policies of the USA” was not approved by rank-and-file members of the union. Yet, it’s coming across on social media and Venezuelan state TV as a union sanctioned trip.

“Sharkey claims the teachers went ‘on vacation as individuals,’” the source wrote in an email. “This is patently untrue, as they raised money in our union's name, blogged in our name, met with Maduro's government [Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro] in CTU's name, and spoke with media in our name.”

Chambers homeless tweet

“They are Maduro’s useful idiots,” the source added. “Many members are talking of either leaving the union or recalling Jesse Sharkey. This amidst contract negotiations. They have no one but themselves to blame.”

CTU did not respond to a request from Chicago City Wire for comment.

CTU delegates met with the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Communes, Ministry of Education, Adult Education Teachers, and students, as well as on-the-ground activists, praising the Maduro regime the entire time, according to a July 23 recounting of the trip published in FightBack!News.

Posts from the teachers, which our source said read like “love letters to Maduro,” can be found on

While the teachers admitted to some “issues” in Venezuela (its economic situation is unthinkably bad, says Bloomberg), they blamed U.S. and European sanctions.

The union has not returned calls  or emails from Ana Gil-Garcia, Ed.D., on the faculty at Northeastern Illinois University’s College of Education, and Founder of the Illinois Venezuelan Alliance, who’s wondering how the visiting teachers got their visas (all the Venezuelan consulates in the U.S. are closed), and how restrictive their travel was while there. She also told Chicago City Wire that she wants to warn CTU of the consequences of backing a regime that over 50 other countries have severed ties with over its brutal treatment of its citizens.

“Five million people have left the country,” Gil-Garcia said. “You can’t buy anything because the money is so worthless, so people use it to make purses and other things they can use.”

Gil-Garcia, who has taught Chicago teachers, said she’s finishing a letter to send to the union voicing her concerns since she is getting no response via email or phone.

“The union has to explain to its membership its radical position on Venezuela,” she said.

A member of the delegation, Sarah Chambers, CTU Executive Board Member, posted on Twitter that the delegation hadn’t seen a single homeless person during their trip.

Wirepoints reports that Chambers  was fired by her school district in 2017 for a long list of infractions. Chambers claimed, however, her firing was in retaliation for other matters; CTU got her reinstated.

Sharkey’s problems run deeper than just the controversy over the Venezuelan trip.

“…over forty schools remain disenfranchised and have no voice in CTU’s House of Delegates,” our source said. “When we bring this up, they ‘blame and shame’ teachers for not being more involved, instead of working to find out why teachers at those south side schools have no delegate.

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