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The emphasis on the abstention figure to delegitimise the parliamentary elections and the new National Assembly is a political ploy to discredit the CNE and the elected representatives of the Venezuelans, and destabilize the country. This has been going on since December 10th 2001, when the first general strike was called.

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At the recent national conference of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign held in London the Preparatory Committee issued a statement calling on workers, trade unionists, students and youth to actively take part in solidarity activities with the Venezuelan Revolution.

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Following some major successes in both Alberta and Ontario (including the recent endorsement by Canada’s largest regional trade union federation, the Ontario Federation of Labour), Hands Off Venezuela has begun making inroads in the British Columbia Labour Movement.

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On Thursday 8 a group of trade unionists, activists and some students gathered at the John Hewitt pub in central Belfast. After a short introduction by Tomás Gorman and Ramon Samblas from the Hands Off Venezuela campaign, the film “Venezuela Bolivariana, the people&struggle in the fourth world war” was shown.

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Ruben Linares, UNT National Coordinator member, held an interview with Hassan Juma, president of the South Oil Basra Union, in London, on Tuesday 6th of December. Both trade unionists shared their experiences in their particular fights against US imperialism.

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Ruben Linares of the National Coordinating Committee of the Venezuelan UNT visited Britain for a week, hosted by the Hands Off Venezuela campaign. The visit was part of the successful national conference of HOV, which he addressed. Ruben stands on the left of the union and was extremely pleased by the visit, which allowed him to meet with a large number of trade unionists, including representatives of the TUC. He addressed the National Executives of the rail union, the RMT, and the fire-fighters union, the FBU. He spoke to members of the international department of the TUC and also met Brendan Barber, its General Secretary and also addressed a meeting of Members of Parliament at the House of Commons, sponsored by John McDonnell MP.

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According to preliminary results released a few hours after voting centers closed, pro-Chavez parties won all seats in the National Assembly and Chavez's own MVR party won 114 out of the 167 seats. Opposition leaders argued that low turnout made the new National Assembly illegitimate.

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The people of Venezuela have gone to the polls 11 times in seven years. Almost a superfluity of democracy, some might think, and signs of electoral fatigue could be detected in Sunday's elections for the National Assembly when only 30% of the electorate bothered to vote. The rest perceived the result as a foregone conclusion since in earlier elections President Hugo Chávez, or the candidates he backed, had stacked up substantial majorities. Sunday's poll followed the trend, and the Chávez list wiped the board.

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For the fourth time, Venezuela’s opposition parties are undergoing a bizarre process implosion. One can only hope that this presumably last error (because they will be practically gone after that) will mean the rebirth of a responsible and constitutional opposition in Venezuela.

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