An appeal to the revolutionary workers and youth in the Middle East

In November the Arabic language Hands Off Venezuela campaign issued an appeal to workers and youth in the Middle East to support the Venezuelan revolution. Here we provide the English translation of that appeal.

Support the struggle against imperialist domination, support the Venezuelan Revolution, join the international Hands Off Venezuela campaign!

In the last fifteen years US imperialism and its allies have dominated the international scene smashing with their iron heel every single country or people who have stood in their way. The aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq, the constant support granted to the Israeli regional power in its war against the Palestinian people and the aggression against Lebanon, the attempted 2002 coup against president Chavez in Venezuela... these are only the main manifestations of the imperialist policies carried out by the US government and its allies against the peoples of the whole world.

The other powers have been watching the US bullying the rest of the world and their only concern has been to ensure for themselves the highest share of the profits.

The promise of a "New world order", of peace and international cooperation has turned into a nightmare for billions of people and imperialist rule has shown its real face of utter reaction. The "War on terror" is in reality a war for domination and exploitation. The aim of this war is to reaffirm US rule over the rest of the world.

Through international treaties and world institutions such as the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the main world powers have managed to force most of the weaker countries to follow the line of privatisations, cuts in social spending and a general selling off of all natural resources and profitable businesses to foreign capital. These policies have caused a social disaster in one country after another, but huge profits in the pockets of the multinational corporations and of their local servants.

Latin America in turmoil, trouble for US imperialism

But the greedy quest for more and more profits on the part of the imperialist powers has also provoked deep changes in the minds and hearts of millions of people. This has led to consequences the imperialists could not foresee. The downtrodden workers and peasants, the peoples of the world are raising their heads once again.

This process started in Latin America with the 1998 victory of Hugo Chavez in the Venezuelan presidential elections, the 2000 uprising in Ecuador, the Argentinean insurrection of December 2001, the Bolivian 2003 and 2005 insurrectionary movements that finally ended in the outstanding victory in the presidential elections of the peasant leader Evo Morales one year ago.

This powerful movement of the Latin American masses for change was expressed also in the Lula victory in the 2002 Brazilian presidential elections and the victory of the "Frente Amplio" in Uruguay, as well as in important social movements in Peru and Chile. Last, but not less important, has been the magnificent movement of the Mexican masses that erupted this summer in support of the left-wing candidate Lopez Obrador and against blatant electoral fraud organised by Mexican ruling class and US imperialism.

The winds of revolution are blowing in the US's very backyard and are affecting all the countries including the USA themselves, where the biggest movement since the 1930's erupted this year as a reaction of millions of Latin American migrant workers against the inhuman immigration law the government wanted to introduce. Everywhere the masses are struggling and moving forward, learning from their own experiences, striving to find a way out of misery and oppression.

The Venezuelan revolution is at the forefront of this battle and is playing a key role in raising the hopes, the confidence and expectations of the exploited masses everywhere, including Europe and the USA. In spite of the worldwide campaign of slanders and distortions that has been waged against Chavez, Venezuela is showing that another world is possible, that it is possible to challenge the economic and military power of the USA, but it also shows that a revolutionary movement of the mass of the population can change the balance of forces in society and prepare for a decisive change as long as it puts forward an alternative to capitalist exploitation.

Capitalist exploitation or socialism?

Hugo Chavez tried for some years to get a fair deal from the imperialists and the Venezuelan oligarchy, but at the same time, unlike many other "leftists" once they get to the government, he was not prepared to betray the expectations of the masses of the population that lived below the poverty line. He sought a way of carrying out the reforms that were needed to get the mass of the population out of poverty but at the same time to maintain capitalism, but with "a human face".

This has proven to be impossible. The oligarchy and the imperialists could not allow any country to be an exception to the general rule, especially Venezuela, which is the fifth oil producer in the world. Chavez declared in January 2005 that experience has shown that there was no third way possible. It is either capitalism or socialism. Capitalism is bankrupt; all that this system can provide is oppression, poverty and wars. Therefore he raised the socialist perspective for Venezuela, "socialism of the XXI century", based on revolutionary democracy and participation. This turn was greeted with a wave of popular enthusiasm.

Imperialist attempts to smash Venezuelan Revolution were defeated by mass action

Imperialism and the Venezuelan oligarchy have tried to block the revolution with all their power. At first they were confident they would be able to corrupt Chavez, but when they realized they could not achieve this, they organised a coup d'etat on 11 April 2002 leaning on the high command of the army, the corrupt leadership of the CTV (the yellow trade union), Fedecamaras (the bosses' confederation), the Catholic Church hierarchy, all the major mass media outlets and of course the CIA that pulled all the strings. Every reactionary section of Venezuelan society supported the coup.

Chavez was kidnapped from the presidential palace and a new government was set up. On the morning of April 12 the coup apparently had won. Many supporters and leaders of the Bolivarian movement went into hiding or were being arrested. As the reactionaries were gaining confidence they started to move towards more and more repression.

But what happened immediately afterwards has changed the whole position. From the poorest neighbourhoods and shanty towns hundreds of thousands of workers and youth took to the streets, in spite of the curfew imposed by the army. The soldiers were not prepared to fight against their own people. Over a million people besieged the presidential palace and gave the decisive push to the majority of the soldiers and officers who wanted to defend the legitimate government but had been betrayed by their high command. The coup collapsed in less than 36 hours showing the real power of a revolutionary people in struggle.

Again the counterrevolution hit back hard with a bosses' lockout which paralysed most of the private sector and the state oil company, PDVSA, from December 2002 to January 2003. The world press reported that a general strike against a "dictator" was taking place in Venezuela. Once again, this reactionary move was defeated by the workers who managed to take over the factories and reopen most of the economic activities and to restart under workers' management oil production which accounts for 80% of total Venezuelan exports.

In August 2004 the reactionary Venezuelan opposition was massively defeated in the recall referendum against president Chavez that they had campaigned for. Ironically, this right of recall was granted under the Bolivarian Constitution brought in by Chavez himself, the most democratic and advanced constitution in the world, hated by the very reactionary oligarchs who were now using it. Once again the mass mobilization succeeded in blocking this new reactionary manoeuvre.

During the last eight years Chavez has won 11 different elections, but still most of the world media portrays him as a dictator. What strikes anyone who has had the opportunity to visit Venezuela is the widespread popular participation and the most complete freedom to express different ideas within the Bolivarian movement. Hundreds of Bolivarian organisations participate in a continuous mass debate that constantly develops around any important issue.

This barefaced lying on the part of the international media shows simply to what degree the world's mass media industry is corrupt and in the pay of imperialism.

What has been achieved

Why is the vast majority of the Venezuelan population so willing to defend the Bolivarian revolution and Chavez? The answer is simple: to defend what has been achieved by the revolution during these years.

The "Misiones" have managed to tackle some of the more endemic problems of Venezuelan society such as illiteracy. It is thanks to the Mission "Robinson" that Venezuela has been declared free from illiteracy by UNESCO. They have allowed access to further education for most of the youth who were excluded from high school and university studies. Social programmes to develop the living conditions in the poor communities have gone some way to alleviating poverty. The Mission "Barrio Adentro" has provided essential medical care for the whole of Venezuelan society. Thanks to the work of 20,000 Cuban doctors and nurses, millions of people now have access to medical care for the first time in their life.

Laws that protected the communities against multinational plundering of natural resources have been passed. The struggle for the implementation of the Agrarian Reform has been backed by the government and this has led to the first wave of expropriations of latifundia in the last few years. A strong peasant and land workers' movement is pushing for a general expropriation of big landed property. Venezuela is a country where the majority of the land is left uncultivated and 70% to 80% of the total food needs are imported. This struggle is facing the fierce reaction of the landowners who finance paramilitary bands of thugs. More than 150 peasant leaders have been killed in the last few years.

Chavez has managed to break the US economic blockade that was strangling Cuba, providing energy and oil in exchange for the services of doctors and teachers and he is also supporting the Bolivian government's stand for the nationalization of gas and oil resources. He has offered cheap fuel for the heating of poor communities in the USA and Europe and has appealed to the US workers to struggle against imperialism.

All this and a number of other major reforms have been possible only because Chavez was able to gain real control of Venezuela's most important resource, the oil reserves. For the first time in Venezuelan history the revenue produced by the oil industry has been massively used to finance the government's social spending, instead of enriching the oligarchy.

These are some of the reasons why the Venezuelan workers, peasants and youth are determined to fight till the end to defend their revolution.

Workers' control and management

The struggle for workers control and management is rising everywhere. During the reactionary bosses' lockout the workers answered by taking over some of the key economic activities of the country and managed in a few weeks to restore the activities of PDVSA, the state-owned oil company which is at the core of the Venezuelan economy. The prompt reaction on the part of the workers doomed the lockout to failure and saved the revolution from a very dangerous position.

After the defeat of the lockout there was a wave of factory closures. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs. The workers waged long struggles in a number of workplaces against sell-offs and closures, which finally culminated in the first victory when President Chavez finally decreed the nationalisation of Venepal (later known as Invepal), an important paper mill, in January 2005. This was followed by the victory of the workers of CNV (later known as Inveval), who won a hard-fought battle in May 2005 when their factory was nationalised under workers' control and management.

In June 2005, President Chavez presented a list of 800 companies that had been closed. He also presented a list of a further 1147 factories and companies that were not producing at full capacity due to sabotage on the part of the bosses. He invited the workers to take over these firms and to run them, promising that the government would support them. Over the course of the last year a number of other companies have been expropriated and put under different forms of workers' management. A movement for workers' control developed in important state owned companies such as ALCASA, an aluminium smelter, and CADAFE, an electricity company.

This movement was faced with resistance from the state bureaucracy and the reformist wing of the Bolivarian movement and failed to spread and become more generalised, as the situation really requires. But this is also teaching some lessons to the workers about the role they should play as an organised force to push forward the revolution. This experience led to the birth of FRETECO, the Revolutionary Front of Workers in Occupied Companies which has the aim of generalising the process of expropriating the oligarchy and taking over the commanding heights of the economy under workers' control and management as a means of give a decisive push in the direction of socialism.

What are the aims of international Hands Off Venezuela campaign?

Hands Off Venezuela was launched after the 2002 attempted coup, with the aims of supporting the Bolivarian Revolution against imperialist interference. Our first task is to build direct links between the mass working class organisations all over the world and the Bolivarian Revolution, to fight the avalanche of slanders and lies that the CNN and other international media companies are spreading about the real character of the revolutionary movement in Venezuela and in the whole of Latin America. Direct links and direct knowledge of the real processes developing in Latin America are the best antidotes to the poisonous campaign being carried out by the big media.

We believe that in all countries the example of the Venezuelan struggle shows a way forward for the revolutionary youth and the workers in their daily struggle for emancipation. It shows that a socialist perspective for the struggle of the peoples of the world is not only possible but is necessary and that this struggle unites all the workers and oppressed peoples against capitalism and imperialist oppression. The Venezuelan revolution demonstrates the power of the working masses once they move and also the limits of imperialist power.

Why we are appealing to the revolutionary workers and youth of the Middle East to join and build Hands Off Venezuela

The Latin American revolution opens up a perspective for the struggles of the peoples of the whole of the Middle East. If it left isolated, the magnificent struggle of the peoples of the Middle Eastern countries is not enough to defeat imperialist oppression. What is needed is an international perspective.

The workers and youth and the all the peoples of Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq are paying a bitter price for imperialist oppression. Sectarianism and ethnic and religious clashes are promoted by imperialist rulers according to the old and well-know method of "divide and rule". Who really gains from a war of workers against workers? Sectarianism only plays into the hands of the oppressor. Imperialism can be defeated only through mass revolutionary action and unity.

The wealth and natural resources of the Middle East should be used for the benefit of the peoples, not to enrich the few. The Venezuelan Revolution demonstrates that this is not only possible but it is also necessary. Only the corruption of the ruling classes and imperialist oppression prevents this from becoming a reality. A victory in Venezuela would inspire and strengthen the workers struggling in all parts of the world. A defeat would on the contrary strengthen the oppressors.

The December presidential elections: a turning point

Chavez's recent speech at the United Nations General Assembly was an open denunciation of the crimes of imperialism. The conflict over the choice of the Latin American temporary representative in the Security Council (Venezuela against the US-backed Guatemala) reflects the bitterness of the struggle.

The December presidential elections are an important turning point in the development of the Venezuelan Revolution. They reflect the struggle between the Venezuelan workers and peasants and the oligarchy and imperialism. The oligarchy and imperialism are doing everything in their power to bring about the defeat of Chavez.

The counterrevolutionary forces have already started a campaign to discredit the elections. They will use all the means at their disposal to undermine them: bribery, corruption, slander and lies and all kinds of sabotage. According to all the surveys, Oppositionist candidate Rosales has no chance of winning with normal means, but it is likely that they will try to use the electoral campaign to plot something that would discredit the outcome of the elections. They will have at their disposal considerable resources: the wealth of the oligarchy, the technology of the CIA, the backing of the US embassy, the yellow press and the rest of the prostituted media.

On the other side we have the revolutionary spirit, courage and dedication of millions of Venezuelan workers, peasants and urban poor, the revolutionary youth, the revolutionary sections of the army and the progressive artists and intelligentsia - in short, all the live forces of Venezuelan society, backed by the exploited masses of Latin America and the working class of the entire world.

The workers and peasants are fighting to transform society. Great advances have been made, but the final goal has not been reached. The power of the oligarchy has not yet been broken. As long as this is the case, the revolution cannot be irreversible and will be constantly under threat.

  • An injury to the Venezuelan revolution is an injury to all!
  • Support the struggle against capitalist oppression and imperialist rule!
  • Fight the slander campaign of the big media!
  • Join Hands Off Venezuela!
  • Build the campaign in every country!

Join / affiliate to the campaign!

Make a donation!

Hands Off Venezuela's financial resources are limited so we rely on our supporters around the world.  Please make a donation of any size towards building the campaign