First national meeting of Hands Off Venezuela - Sweden

On Saturday the 10th of November, more than 50 people met in Gothenburg in first national meeting of Hands off Venezuela - Sweden.
 Ambassador Horacio Arteaga

On Saturday the 10th of November, Hands off Venezuela Sweden had its first national meeting. During the year the campaign has started to develop into a national campaign. The reason for this meeting was to gather those that are already active or want to become active in the campaign and other people in Sweden that are active in the solidarity movement for Venezuela and to make the campaign to function more effectively. One of the reasons for the meeting was to work as a stepping-stone towards a bigger conference next year were more people from the Swedish labour movement can participate.

During the day more than 50 people from 4 different cities attended the meeting and more arrived for the fundraising party for the Venezuelan Revolutionary Front of Occupied Factories (FRETECO) in the evening. Several visitors commented that a large part of the audience were youth.

That this was an important meeting could be seen in the guests that decided to participate. Among the delegates were Francisco Contreras, from the national leadership of the Left Party and Jose "Cheo" Sanchez, leading representative for Resolver (Venezuelan solidarity network) which has played an import part in the solidarity movement for Venezuela in Sweden. We want to express our special gratitude to the Venezuelan Ambassador in Sweden, Horacio Arteaga. As soon as he heard about the event he decided to participate. He travelled over the day from Stockholm to Gothenburg (478 kilometres) to talk about the proposed constitutional reform and to express his gratitude to the work that the Hands Off Venezuela campaign has done.

 HOV internationals ecretary Jorge Martín

Ylva Vinberg, branch secretary of Young Left Angered opened the meeting and spoke about how the revolution in Venezuela has meant the return of socialism. It is important for us in Sweden were socialism and revolution have been off the agenda in the labour movement for a long time.

After that Jorge Martin, the international secretary of the HOV campaign, made a speech to explain what is happening in Venezuela today. He said that is important to have a solidarity campaign to counter the lies from the mainstream media. For example now you can read that opposition students have been attacked by armed chavistas. The reality is that opposition students have attacked students that support the revolution. This shows the "democratic" character of the opposition, whose leaders all supported the coup in 2002. A crushing of the revolution would be a bloody affair similar to what happened in Chile 1973.

oligarchy who uses them to sabotage the revolution. The people have started to organise in a revolutionary way in community councils (consejos comunales), workers council in the factories and in the new party PSUV (Venezuela's United Socialist Party) with more than 5 million having registered to join. The solution is to put the state and the economy under the democratic control of the people and to bring the revolution to its goal - a socialist Venezuela. The meeting continued with discussions and questions.

Jorge Martin explained that he believes that the main challenges for the revolution in the fields of the state, the economy and the revolutionary organisation. The old bourgeois state is still intact and all the time tries to sabotage and put a brake on the revolution. Key parts of the economy are still in the hands of the old

deltagarna.jpg After a lunch break there were three commissions - the role of women in the revolution, the new constitution and the new party PSUV. After the discussion there was a short report from each commission. Martin Lööf spoke about how the new party is born out of struggle and that there is a need for an organisation the can be a tool for the revolution. Erik Andersson spoke about the constitution, earlier there has been a contradiction between the development of the revolution and the old constitution but now with the new proposal the is an attempt to solve this contradiction.

Catherine Holt spoke about how women play an important role in the revolution. One of the reasons why women in Venezuela are enthusiastic about the revolutions is because of the gains that have been made, that you cannot find in any other Latin American country except Cuba. But there are still many problems, at a grassroots level women are a majority but you need an active struggle on behalf of the women so that this will be reflected in the leadership of the movement.

After this Egil Karlow spoke about the future for the HOV campaign and the political significance of our work. The struggle in Venezuela is an inspiration to us in Sweden, if its possible to have a 36-hour working week in relatively poor country as Venezuela why should it not be possible to have 30 hours in Sweden. After the discussion there was a vote for the proposals. Some of the resolutions that were passed were -

  • Next year HOV will organize a conference together with organisations in the labour movement and other solidarity movements.
  • To build up the campaign and the interest for the conference we shall organise a speaking tour with someone from Venezuela (preferably someone from Inveval).
  • Each HOV-group should have meetings and activity on the day of the referendum for the new constitution, the 2th of December.

larsohlys.jpgThe meeting ended with an enthusiastic singing of the international. 

In the evening there was a fundraising party for FRETECO. The troubadour Johan Andersson warmed up the audience before the main act, the socialist dance band Lazze Ohlys who played there own songs as well as radical classics as Bella Ciao and Warsawjanka. We want to give special gratitude to the band that not only played but also donated several of their records to the HOV-campaign.

The great enthusiasm of the meeting can be seen in the financial results. After all expenses had been paid for we had collected over 2000 Swedish crowns (215 Euros) and sold HOV-material for over 1000 (107 Euros), which can be used to produce more material. Hands off Venezuela wants to express you gratitude to all delegates and all those who made the meeting possible.

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