The founding conference of Hands off Venezuela Finland

After two years of preparatory work the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign has now been set up officially in Finland, where already there is great interest in what is happening in Venezuela.

The advances of the Bolivarian revolution are increasingly capturing the attention of activists all over the world and Finland is definitely no exception to that rule. Last weekend, fittingly on Che Guevara's 80th birthday, we witnessed the founding conference of Hands off Venezuela Finland.

HOV Finland Around 30 people attended in a very small office in central Helsinki courtesy of Performers and Artists for Nuclear Disarmament (PAND) at what was a combined founding conference and a birthday party for Che Guevara. Worth noting is that the event was attended by the Cuban ambassador to Finland who spoke about the importance of Che Guevara's internationalist outlook and that the defence of the Cuban revolution and the progress of the Bolivarian revolution go hand in hand.

Hands off Venezuela Finland actually started two years ago as a discussion group on Yahoo. After slowly attracting more attention the discussion group felt it was time to transform itself into an open campaigning organisation. The meeting raised the necessary 60 euros that is the fee for formally registering an organisation in Finland.

The last two years have not simply been about discussions on the internet. During 2007 some activities were already reported on this website, such as a seminar at the Helsinki Social Forum and later Helsinki was the last stop for Gema Belandria's Scandinavian speaking tour. However, the step to formally establish an open campaign organisation comes from a desire for more activities that meet the public eye.

HOV Finland Invited speakers were also Patrik Olofsson from HoV-Sweden who gave a quick overview of the work of the HoV campaign internationally and the history and lessons of the campaign work in Sweden.

The political youth organisations on the left have greatly welcomed our campaign. We have had some difficulties in establishing the campaign in the trade unions, but with speakers' tours like the one with Antonio Betancourt from Inveval, we will get the key for opening many doors to the trade unions at local level.

After the formalities of the conference had ended, the meeting swiftly converted into a lively social event. Many revolutionary songs, both Finnish and Latin American, where sung during the night. The celebration of HoV-Finland and Che Guevara's birthday went on into the early morning.

Jorge Martin's greetings to HoV-Finland

Dear comrades and friends,

I would like to send revolutionary Bolivarian greetings to the founding conference of Hands Off Venezuela Finland.

HOV Finland Recently we have seen an escalation of US aggression against the Venezuelan revolution, the re-forming of the IV Fleet, violation of Venezuelan air-space, the increased propaganda campaign around the so-called "Reyes laptop" which allegedly "proves" Venezuela's links with the FARC, the attempt to include Venezuela in the list of countries who "harbour and sponsor" terrorists... These are all clear signs that the Venezuelan revolution is still in danger and we must redouble our efforts to defend it.

Defending and supporting the Venezuelan revolution is not something we do just out of solidarity. The struggle of Venezuelan workers and peasants is also relevant to us. The struggle for free education, free health care for all, against imperialism, for workers' rights and workers' control, against privatisation, these are all issues that affect us directly. The Bolivarian revolution is also a source of inspiration because it has once again put the issue of socialism on the agenda. For all these reasons, the best way to defend the Venezuelan revolution and the growing revolutionary wave which is sweeping across Latin America is to prepare the conditions for revolutionary change in our own countries.

We wish you every success in your conference.

Viva la revolucion bolivariana!
Viva la revolucion socialista!
Jorge Martin
International Secretary Hands Off Venezuela campaign


HOV Finland

HOV Finland
Rauni Salminen, founder of Hands off Venezuela Finland, also an excellent singer of political songs

HOV Finland
Cuban ambassador Sergio Gonzalez

HOV Finland
Patrik Olofsson from HoV-Sweden gave a quick overview of the work of the HoV internationally and the history and lessons of the campaign work in Sweden.

HOV Finland
Matti Laitinen reading out the statues of HoV-Finland

HOV Finland
Rauni Salminen, founder of HoV-Finland

HOV Finland
Overview of the meeting

HOV Finland
Many revolutionary songs, both Finnish and Latin American, were sung during the night.

HOV Finland
The bookstall

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