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Caracas, December 13, 2004—Caracas metropolitan police officers say they were ordered to fire at Chavista demonstrators on the day of the coup against President Chavez, on April 11, 2002 at Puente Llaguno. The four officers who testified before the Fourth Court of Aragua coincided in their accusations against the ex-directors of the metropolitan police, Henry Vivas and Lázaro Forero.

The Fourth Court of Aragua is currently investigating the actions of Henry Vivas, the former Caracas Metropolitan Police Commander, and Lázaro Forero, the former Chief of Security for Caracas’ oppositional former Metropolitan Mayor, Alfredo Peña, as well as other police officers during the march that preceded the temporary overthrow of President Hugo Chávez.

The shots that the police fired at pro-Chavez demonstrators that day caused some of these to fire back. Venezuela’s private mass media captured the Chavista gunfire and falsely claimed that these were firing at unarmed opposition demonstrators, not at the metropolitan police, who had started shooting at them first, according to many eyewitnesses. These images of Chavistas shooting were a crucial element in the April 2002 coup attempt, as these were used to justify the coup on the grounds that Chavez had issued an order for his supporters to fire at opposition demonstrators.

A series of radio conversations between police officials presumed to be recorded on April 11, 2002 were turned in to Metropolitan Police Inspector Leonardo Navas from an unidentified source last year. The tapes implicate the commanders of the Metropolitan Police as having given orders to fire on the pro-Chavez demonstrators, which resulted in the deaths of about seven civilians.

In his testimony before the Judge, a metropolitan police officer recounted the events of April 11, 2002, “I heard over the radio when the Superintendent Forero gave the order to fire on the Chavistas.” “I do not know why Superintendents Vivas, Iván Simonovis and Forero did not give the order to break up the march,” testified another of the police officers in front of the judge.

“If superintendent Forero issued the order to drive back the demonstrators in support of the government, why did he not also order us to the same with the opposition?” asked another police officer. All four officers expressed regret for not having stopped the march.

Another of the police officers remembers that the Operations Chief, Emigdio Delgado, ordered the withdrawal of the Metropolitan Police from the center of Caracas due to the magnitude of the events and in order to make room for the National Guard.

“We never tried to deter the march. It never should have been permitted,” said one of the police officers. Later on he added, “The command to try to achieve public order through chemical tactics or negotiation was never given.” His testimony was in direct contradiction to the declarations by Vivas and Forero made last Saturday.

In a statement issued by Navas on November 26, 2004, he said that these tapes prove that, “The actions by Police Inspectors Forero, Vivas, and Delgado, far from restoring public order, they were subverting it instead.”

Vivas and Forero were charged for their alleged participation in the coup d’état by former State Prosecutor Danilo Anderson on November 3, 2004. Anderson was assassinated in a terrorist act slightly over two weeks later.

In the interim, Vivas and Forero sought political asylum in the Embassy of El Salvador in Caracas. After deliberations, the Salvadoran government denied the request. “El Salvador should not interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” said Salvadoran Congressman Miguel Bennett in a statement issued last month.

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If we were to believe the information we get from the mass media internationally, we would get the impression that in Venezuela there has been a general strike for the last one and a half months and that president Chavez is an extremely unpopular and authoritarian ruler who is about to be overthrown in a mass popular revolt. Nothing could be further from the truth. The working class of Venezuela is not taking part in any general strike. What is taking place is a bosses' lock out.In fact, the "national civic strike" called by the opposition on December 2, demanding Chavez's resignation and early elections has been a complete failure since the beginning. When I arrived in Caracas on December 11, the airport was working normally, as well as public transport (buses, coaches and the Caracas Metro), shopping centres, restaurants and bars. The basic industries (iron, steel, aluminium, etc), which are state-owned, were working at 100% capacity because of the decision of the workers and their unions to oppose the 'strike'.

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Alan Woods, editor of Marxist.com, Manzoor Ahmed, the Marxist MP from Pakistan, Miriam Municio, the general secretary of the Spanish Students’ Union, Jordi Rosich of the editorial board of El Militante, and Jorge Martin, the Latin America correspondent of Marxist.com were on the panel. There were more than a hundred people present, and Manzoor and Alan Woods were placed in the front row, in a prominent position immediately opposite the President.

In the course of the week, Alan had spoken at packed meetings of workers, trade unionists and activists of the Bolivarian Movement and was received enthusiastically. In addition, he was received by President Chavez for a private audience that lasted well over an hour – a most unusual occurrence. We will carry further information about this next week but for now we will concentrate on the Alo Presidente programme.


Alo Presidente - April 18, 2004

The latest edition of “Alo Presidente” was broadcast in Caracas on Sunday 18 of April 2004 in the Salon Ayucucho of the Palace of Miraflores. President Chavez began by recalling the revolutionary traditions of the Venezuelan people. Citing the heroic period of the struggle for Independence, he quoted a phrase well known to the readers of Marxist.com: “He who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it.” He got the phrase from Alan Woods’ book Bolshevism – the Road to Revolution, a fact that was confirmed when he turned to the editor of Marxist.com in front of the TV cameras and said: “Alan, I am reading your book.”

He urged the people of Venezuela to derive strength and inspiration from their revolutionary past. “Let us work together,” he said, “let us work hard, all together, to defeat the threats that come from all sides […] to conquer what is our own, nationally and throughout Latin America […] to construct a new economic system that goes beyond savage capitalism, an economic model that satisfies the needs of the majority, an economy at the service of man, and not man at the service of the economy, a social economy. […] Let us continue working for a new society that includes everybody and excludes nobody: a society of equals, with liberty and equality, because we have always said that liberty without equality is meaningless, it is worthless.”

Today the Venezuelan Revolution is threatened by internal and external enemies. The constant conspiracies of the Venezuelan oligarchy are backed, encouraged, financed and organised by Washington. Thus, the question of international solidarity with the Venezuelan Revolution is a matter of life and death. Hugo Chavez emphasised this when he greeted the large numbers of international delegates present in the studio, who had participated in the II World Rally in Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution.

During the programme Chavez talked a lot about capitalism, the working class and internationalism. He also said, "this revolution unless it is also about social and economic change cannot win." This is no accident. It reflects the growing polarization to the right and left and the fact that the most advanced elements are looking for a way out. They want to carry the revolution through to the end and finish the power of the oligarchy once and for all. And they are very open to the ideas of Marxism.

It is clear that the Venezuelan revolution is advancing and is approaching a critical point. Not long ago, Chavez made a speech in which he said: “Every fisherman, student, every member of the people, must learn how to use a rifle.” This idea was repeated in the course of the programme, when Chavez was asked for help by a group of agricultural workers who have occupied some abandoned land. He told them, "You have to take power there" and he added "we will help you get electricity and water and machinery" and "you must arm yourselves to defend the place… we will give you arms permits and we will send some soldiers to help defend you."

It is in this atmosphere that our ideas are getting a wide echo among the masses. Our ideas correspond to the needs of the masses at this precise moment in time. Thus our ideas are connecting with the revolutionary aspirations of the masses. In the programme, President Chavez introduced the editor of Marxist.com with these words:

“Also here is Alan Woods, a writer and intellectual from Great Britain, although he prefers us to say Wales. He has presented us with some books, and one of them I presented here a few weeks ago, called Reason in Revolt – and a very good book it is.”

Just before the programme they showed an interview with Alan Woods and half way through the programme was interrupted to show a video about the solidarity meeting in which the editor of Marxist.com was again shown explaining that the main role in defeating the coup was the direct intervention of the masses. In the course of the programme, Hugo Chavez mentioned Alan at least three times. He said he is reading Bolshevism - the Road to Revolution and he again mentioned Reason in Revolt, which he warmly recommended. President Chavez has given his personal support to the publishing of the Venezuelan edition of Reason in Revolt.

Comrades Miriam and Manzoor spoke in the course of the programme, as the following extracts show:

President Chavez: “We also have with us Miriam Municio of the Spanish students union. Miriam, how are you? Are you from Madrid?

Miriam Municio: “I am.”

President Chavez: How are things? What do you think of the change of government over there?

Miriam Municio: “Very good, of course. This was the biggest mobilisation of the workers and youth against the reactionary government of Aznar, which wanted to reconquer Latin America – and it was this that led to the change of government. That shows that the movement is not only in Latin America and Venezuela. I would first like to send greetings from the revolutionary youth of Spain, represented by the Marxist tendency El Militante and the Spanish Students Union that I represent here. We send militant revolutionary greetings to this revolution. Know that the workers and youth of Spain need to know all that is going on here and we will do all in our power to answer the lies and distortions of the bourgeois mass media. [...] We will tell them how the workers have occupied the factories and are organising workers’ control and that things are changing substantially.

“We are an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and revolutionary organization. We represent young workers and the children of workers, not the children of the rich. In Spain as in Venezuela there are rich and poor. And of course we have much more in common with the Venezuelan people than we have with vultures like Aznar, or businessmen like Botin and the others. [...]

“I would like to tell you, President Chavez, that if we were able to mobilise hundreds of thousands, bringing the youth of Spain onto the streets against the reactionary government of Aznar, who wanted to end public education, public health, the rights of the workers, enormously increasing casual labour, and against the invasion of Iraq, we will also commit ourselves to mobilise the youth against the aggression of US imperialism against Venezuela.”

Applause

Presidente Chávez: “Many thanks, Miriam. Miriam is a young revolutionary fighter from that Spain we love.

Later in the programme he enthusiastically greeted Zapatero’s announcement of the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq, at which point the whole audience stood up and applauded loudly.

Turning to Manzoor Ahmed, who he introduced as the editor of The Struggle, a member of the Pakistan National Assembly and president of the Hands off Venezuela campaign in Pakistan. Manzoor mentioned the list of over 50 signatures of Pakistani members of parliament he had delivered to Chavez and the latter replied:

“I had the honour to receive that letter – I don’t know whether the lads have got it to hand – but it is a very substantial group of leaders and parliamentarians who are supporting the people of Venezuela, and I thank them very much.”

Manzoor: “Yes, this campaign has passed beyond the borders of Pakistan and has now been spread to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and in all the South East of Asia we will be holding demonstrations of solidarity […] The question is why do the workers of such far-flung places send these messages? It is because the workers of the world have understood that this revolution does not belong solely to the people of Venezuela. It is a revolution that inspires revolutionaries all over the world. The people of Pakistan and all South Asia understand that this revolution is also their revolution.”

Later on, the president made an explicit reference to the Hands off Venezuela campaign. “We need a lot of struggle and a lot of consciousness. That is why the kind of meeting we are having here in Caracas is so important for the future of America and the future of the whole world, and when I speak of America, I am also speaking of course of the people of the United States of North America, and the people of Canada, who are also people of the Americas, of the continent, and are our brothers. We send them all our best regards, our hope for a world of equality and justice.”

Turning to the TV cameras Chavez held up the original signatures of the 52 Pakistani MPs on camera and everybody could see the heading Hands off Venezuela campaign. Then clearly and slowly he read out the address of the website:

“Well, we have also had some visitors from the United States, and they are here with us. I have here a document and I would like to show it to you: the Hands off Venezuela campaign. Here it is, signed by a whole group – these are the original signatures. They are not fakes! [a reference to the signatures of the opposition in the recent referendum campaign] Don’t remind me of that business. I don’t even want to hear about it! But these are not the signatures of dead people. They are originals not fakes. They are all members of parliament from Pakistan and mass leaders of hundreds of thousands of people.

“These are fighters – Marxists and non-Marxists – but all are revolutionaries. The campaign is co-ordinated and led by the web page: www.marxist.com. That is the website through which this Hands off Venezuela campaign is being advanced. Hands off Venezuela! Many thanks to all you fighters of the world who are backing this campaign for the freedom not only of Venezuela but of the whole world.”

We can see from this incident alone that the work of the Marxist tendency in Venezuela is attracting a lot of attention. Comrade Alan Woods has been interviewed on several TV and radio stations, and we are getting coverage in all the main web sites in Venezuela. Two examples are the following.

On the Aporrea web site you will see: http://www.aporrea.org/dameverbo.php?docid=15858 where there is a report in Spanish and photographs of Alan speaking (See English translation in yesterday’s website.) This is only one of a series of rank and file meetings that the editor of Marxist.com has addressed during the course of the last week.

http://www.aporrea.org/dameverbo.php?docid=15833

This is a small report of Alo Presidente on April 18th, where they only mention by name one of the guests and that is Alan Woods!

Another widely read English language Venezuelan news site (www.vheadline.com) has published the El Topo Obrero interview with Alan Woods, which you can see at: http://www.vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=17757.

This means millions of people in Venezuela have now heard of our tendency and have heard our ideas. Immediately after this we put up a clear link in Spanish at the top of the In Defence of Marxism web site home page to the Hands off Venezuela campaign and the Revolutionary Marxist Current in Venezuela. There is no doubt that many people in Venezuela will be looking up our web site after this TV show and we have already received phone calls from people – including important trade union leaders of the oil workers, congratulating us on our intervention.

Everywhere the revolutionary message of Marxism is getting an enthusiastic response, and we will be publishing further details and photos next week. We appeal to our readers and friends to discuss the developments in Venezuela and raise this question in the workers’ movement internationally. The recent comments in the Colombian senate indicate that the threat of foreign intervention is very real. The voice of the world working class movement must be heard loud and clear: Hands off Venezuela! Carry the Revolution out to the end!

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Manzoor Ahmed speaking at the main meeting

Amongst the international visitors present there were a few representatives of the international Marxist tendency, Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, Manzoor Ahmed, the Pakistani Marxist MP, and Miriam Municio, general secretary of the Spanish Students Union. All these comrades explained clearly in a number of public meetings, TV and radio interviews and in discussions with revolutionary activists, that the only way forward for the Venezuela revolution is to advance towards socialism. This would be the best way to deepen and defend the revolutionary process, which the country is going through. The comrades argued for the need to nationalise the banks and monopoly companies under workers control, the need to put the oil company and other state owned companies under workers' control and management, and the need to form workers and peoples' militias in order to defend the revolution against the attacks of the oligarchy and a possible intervention by imperialism.

These ideas were extremely well received by the hundreds of revolutionary activists who listened to them. In a sense it was as if this was exactly what they wanted to hear but, until now, no one had openly defended these ideas in front of an audience like that.

On Wednesday, April 14th, Alan Woods spoke in one of the panels of the meeting together with well known left wing MP Luís Tascón and William Izarra. One hundred people gathered to hear the debate. Alan's intervention was enthusiastically received by the audience.

That same night Manzoor Ahmed was scheduled to speak at one of the main discussions together with Rodolfo Sanz (the main ideologist of the PPT), Heinz Dieterich and others. Manzoor's intervention (straight after a 33 hour journey from Pakistan) electrified the audience. He centred his speech on the lessons of the Pakistani revolution in 1968/69, and how the Pakistan People's Party was founded at that time on the basis of an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal and anti-capitalist programme. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto came to power as a result of that revolution and he introduced a programme of wide ranging reforms. But, Manzoor warned, because he did not carry out the revolution to the end, finally Martial Law was imposed and Bhutto himself was hanged by the Army. He read from a letter that Bhutto wrote from jail in which he explained how his fate was to a large extent his own fault for having tried to reconcile between irreconcilable class interests and how he was sure of the ultimate victory of the proletariat. The lessons for the revolution in Venezuela were clear for all to see. He finished his speech by saying, "Long live the Venezuelan Socialist Revolution! Long live the World Proletarian Revolution!" which was received with a standing ovation by the whole audience.

On Friday Alan Woods spoke at a meeting called by TRABUCO, a Bolivarian organisation set up by workers of the Ministry of Science and Technology, in front of an audience of 100 people. Again when he spoke of the need to arm the workers and the people and to nationalise the economy, the audience broke into applause. On Saturday Alan spoke in the revolutionary neighbourhood of El Valle in a meeting called by the Revolutionary Marxist Current (El Topo Obrero – El Militante) which had the support of the local revolutionary radio station Ali Primera. The subject was the role of the Marxists in the revolutionary process, 40 people gathered and there was a lively debate. In the afternoon Alan had been invited to speak at a meeting of community leaders from the working class and poor neighbourhoods in Caracas, in the presidential Palace. The subject of the meeting was "The role of the party in the Revolution" and more than 70 activists turned up.


Alan Woods discussing with oil workers' leaders

On Monday 19th Alan Woods spoke at a meeting in Barquisimeto, Lara, again on the subject of the role of the Marxists in the revolution. Despite being a national holiday (Independence Day), 80 trade union and neighbourhood activists and leaders gathered in the headquarters of the Social Security Workers Union to hear the speech and the debate.

Miriam Municio also spoke at a number of meetings for youth and student activists in Yaracuy, Barquisimeto, the Pedagogic University in Caracas, the Venezuela Central University and the Bolivarian University, amongst others.

The general feature of all the meetings was the extreme interest in the ideas of Marxism. The comrades from the Revolutionary Marxist Current had organised bookstalls at all meetings and dozens of names were collected of people interested in knowing more about Marxism and becoming active. This is really striking since no other organisation, apart from the CMR, is putting forward the perspective of socialism as the only way forward for the revolution in Venezuela. However it was abundantly clear that this was precisely what many had been waiting to hear, and that the revolutionary situation the country is going through means that these ideas coincide with the practical experience of the advanced layers of worker activists who are groping towards them.

The task of uniting these activists into a national Marxist cadre organisation which could give the process a conscious leadership which would guarantee victory is urgent and necessary. These meetings and discussions proved that the ground is extremely fertile.

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World Forum of Intellectuals and Artists in Venezuela Ends with Pledge of Permanent Anti-Globalization Office in Venezuela

By: Robin Nieto - Venezuelanalysis.com

Caracas, December 6, 2004--The World Forum of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity closed yesterday with words from Argentine Nobel peace prize laureate, Adolfo Perez Esquivel and President Hugo Chavez and a concert that included Cuban music legend, Pablo Milanes.

President Chavez pledged to provide an office and resources in Venezuela to initiate a "network of networks" of social organizations and institutions around the world working to build alternative models of development in the face in globalization.

Chavez made the announcement at last night's event, which took place in downtown Caracas, was free of charge, and attended by the approximately 350 intellectuals and artists, Venezuelan government cabinet members, and over two thousand spectators.

Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Nobel peace prize winner for his work in raising the issue of human rights violations in Latin America, read the final conclusions of the forum, entitled "The Caracas Declaration." The declaration outlines the need to build a front of global resistance against the project of domination that today is imposed by the current government of the United States of America and global organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"Let's get to work intensely," Chavez said. "Let's put the ideas concluded at this forum to work, let's make it a reality."

The office for the network of networks is be started in 2005 in Venezuela that will connect the five continents of the world, America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania, and will include the widest possible participation. "Let' s take this network everywhere we go, in the valleys, the mountains, the barrios, the workplace, the study halls, the military barracks and extend this network across the planet Earth," said Chavez.

Chavez noted the need to study the original principles of socialism as well as its errors. The President of the one of the world's largest exporters of oil referred to the importance of early 20th Century Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky's ideas, embodied in "The Permanent Revolution" and how it explains that there are no national solutions to global problems, referring to the need for a global effort to deal with today's challenges.

Chavez warmly greeted the families of "the Cuban Five," referring to five Cuban men imprisoned in the United States, accused of espionage for their role in participating in anti-terrorism monitoring of extreme right-wing groups in Miami. The five are currently serving life sentences in the U.S. and families are touring the country as part of an international campaign to free their relatives (www.freethefive.org).

President Chavez also announced the inauguration today of the Bolivarian Peoples Congress, which coincides with Chavez's first electoral victory of December 6, 1998, when he won the presidency of Venezuela. "This was the day that opened this path, thanks to the consciousness of the people," Chavez said.

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