Successful Hands off Venezuela meeting in Germany distorted by Bavarian Broadcasting

„Hands off the Revolution in Venezuela“ was the title of a public meeting in the city of Wiesbaden organised by the local neighbourhood branch of DIE LINKE (Left Party) Wiesbaden-Westend, Hands off Venezuela (HOV) in Germany and Der Funke editorial board on March 28, 2014. The speakers invited were Jimmy Chediak, Venezuelan Consul General in Frankfurt, and Hans-Gerd Öfinger from HOV in Germany.

HOV 2The meeting was called at a short notice to inform the public about the recent right wing offensive in Venezuela. Just a few weeks before a delegation had paid a visit to the Consulate in Frankfurt to express solidarity with the gains of the Bolivarian revolution and concern about the violence and acts of sabotage aimed at destabilising and shipwrecking the revolution. We were and are conscious of the fact that most media in Germany and Europe are distorting the present situation in Venezuela and therefore posed ourselves the target to inform about real facts. The presence of over 60 people including a number of Venezuelan nationals living in the region demonstrated the enormous interest in the developments in Venezuela.

The meeting started with the presentation of the documentary film „From Bolívar to Chávez“ which served as a short and concise history lesson and outlined important stages of 200 years of struggle against imperialism and capitalism in Latin America, above all in Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, Panama, Chile, Peru, Columbia and Venezuela. This was a good basis to discuss the reactionary role of imperialism and the local oligarchies up to the present day and explain that the Venzuelan oligarchy hand in hand with the ruling class in North America will do everything they can to strangle the revolutionary process in the country and re-conquer full control.

Jimmy Chediak described the past 15 years since the beginning of the Bolivarian Revolution and reminded of the attempted coup in 2002 and the attempted sabotage and lock-out in 2002/03. He pointed to recent attempts by opposition forces to sabotage power supplies and build barricades in the streets to block the transportation of elementary goods. Ordinary people had been shot while trying to remove these barricades. He went on to say that the oil revenues are being used to the benefit of ordinary people. Illiteracy has been abolished, medical care has been established and 750.000 houses have been built for the poor.

The discussion was free and fair. A handful of supporters of the Venezuelan right wing opposition had the opportunity to explain their point of view, too. Jimmy and Hans-Gerd as well as some left wing Venezuelans present in the audience patiently answered all the questions raised and brought forward clear arguments against right wing accusations and prejudices.

HOV 1Hans-Gerd Öfinger underlined that revolutionaries should never rely on deals with the oligarchy and not put any faith in their promises and pledges. „They do not want to improve the lot of workers and the poor but just defend their profits, power and privileges. The revolution cannot stop half way. The gains achieved can be lost rapidly unless the oligarchy is expropriated and disempowered“, he pointed out. He urged the audience to step up the solidarity work to defend the gains of the revolution. A solidarity resolution has been passed by the Wiesbaden federation of DIE LINKE and will be tabled at the forthcoming national party congress in May. HOV Germany will continue to organise meetings and other activities.

The meeting was also attended by a TV camera team from the Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Broadcasting, BR) in Munich which is a controlled by the rigth wing CSU, chancellor Merkel`s sister party. Yet the report in the BR TV programm kontrovers broadcast just a few days later was full of distortions about the situation in Venezuela and about what really happpened at the Wiesbaden meeting. The main slant of the 5 minutes report was obviously to discredit DIE LINKE altogether as blind fans of an „undemocratic“ and blood thirsty „regime“ in Caracas. The report went so far as to claim that the organisers had „expelled“ three Venezuelan middle class ladies from the meeting since they expressed support for the right wing opposition. Yet nothing is further from the truth than this accusation. In fact the ladies were allowed to express their views which were answered properly. They stood up while the meeting was still going on and rushed to the camera team waiting in a corner in the back of the hall to make statements which were propably pre-fabricated and amply given space in the report. After the official end of the meeting, Hans-Gerd Öfinger was also interview by the BR camera team for about 10 minutes and answered all sorts of political points converning Venezuela and the solidarity work. Yet not one second of his sober political statements was broadcast in the BR programme.

HOV 3We are not going to be disconcerted by suchlike tricks and maneuvres. We will fight back and use the coverage in the BR to explain the truth. We will also remind people in Bavaria and the rest of the country of the fact that former CSU leader Franz Josef Strauss 40 years ago praised the Pinochet regime for having restored order in Chile after the bloody coup in 1973.

The meeting was successful altogether. Some young Venezuelans from the PSUV youth in Germany also came in and explicitly thanked Hands off Venezuela in Germany for the energetic solidarity work. On the basis of this meeting already we have received invitations to speak on Venezuela in different corners of the country.

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