Rubén Linares speaking tour big success in Denmark

Rubén Linares, national coordinator of the revolutionary Venezuelan trade union confederation, the UNT, came to Denmark on a speaking tour organised by the Danish Hands Off Venezuela campaign. He was able to speak at the Social Forum, to trade unionists and school students to explain the real situation in Venezuela.

Rubén Linares speaking tour big success in DenmarkLast week, Rubén Linares, national coordinator of the revolutionary Venezuelan trade union confederation, the UNT, came to Denmark on a speaking tour organised by the Danish Hands Off Venezuela campaign. The aim was on the one hand to cut across the falsifications that the established media spreads about Chávez and the Venezuelan government, and on the other hand to hear about the developments of the impressive revolutionary events unfolding in the country.

Over seven days, Rubén spoke at 9 different public meetings, which attracted a total of nearly 400 people all across the country. A part from that, he visited schools across the country, met Danish trade-unionists and was able to participate in the massive demonstrations against the government on the 2nd of October.

At the Danish Social Forum

The Danish Social Forum took place on the weekend of 28-29 September. This year's event was significantly smaller than previous years. Despite this, Hands Off Venezuela managed to organize two important and well-attended meetings with Rubén Linares, who was one of the main guests at the forum.

Rubén Linares speaking tour big success in DenmarkThe first one took place on Friday afternoon where some 35 people gathered in the small Latin America-bar to hear Rubén speak on the developments of the Venezuelan revolution. Here he gave a full explanation of the background to the present situation in the country, the Caracazo uprising of 1989 and the brutal repression following it, the 1992-insurrection of Chávez, his electoral victory in 1998, etc.

The next day Rubén spoke on Latin America in a joint debate together with the Cuban economist José Perez. This meeting was organized jointly by HOV together with other solidarity groups such as Dansk-Cubansk Forening and Internationalt Forum. More than 120 people showed up for this meeting.

At this meeting, Rubén focused his speech on the continental process developing throughout Latin America. He emphasised that one of the key aspects has been the struggle against privatisation, as in the case of Bolivia, for example in Cochabamba. In connection to this, he stressed that he believed that: "Every trade unionist who acts in favour of privatisation, is in fact betraying the working class". He received a powerful ovation for this remark.

Rubén also spoke about the cynical exploitation committed by imperialism in Latin America. When imperialism nowadays attacks Chávez for giving out oil to his friends as "presents", it forgets that multinational companies for decades have had free access to the full exploitation of the natural resources of the country. "Weren't we giving presents out at that time too?" Rubén asked. "Now we are simply using the oil resources in a rational manner, as a means of integration, as a means of giving the poor an opportunity".

In the trade unions

Rubén Linares speaking tour big success in DenmarkOn two occasions Rubén was able to visit Danish trade unions and exchange experience on workers' struggles and the unionisation of workers. The first place was 3F (the union of the unskilled workers in Denmark) in the city of Silkeborg. Here he met with Christian Juhl, the president of the union and a supporter of the left-wing trade union network Fagligt Ansvar.

For Rubén it was a big inspiration to see how the local 3F union was organised and how it plays an important role in securing the right of the workers in terms of security, wage-payments and organisation.

It was especially impressive for him to see the regional school that educates lorry-drivers and transport workers. Rubén remarked that this is one of the main problems in Venezuela; while many bosses impose a 90-hour work week on the lorry-drivers who transport combustibles from one end of the country to another, safety is also an urgent problem facing the workers. Many lorry-drivers do not receive the appropriate education and the risk of accidents is thereby tripled. The capitalists in the transport sector have done absolutely nothing to solve this, on the contrary, they impel youngsters to work as lorry drivers without the necessary education.     

Rubén also was also able to go to the headquarters of the Metal workers' union in Copenhagen. Here he interviewed the leaders of its youth section and was able to exchange experiences on the differences and similarities

In the schools

Rubén Linares speaking tour big success in DenmarkRubén was also invited to speak at meetings with school students. The first of these took place in the secondary school of Silkeborg, where nearly 30 students gathered on their break to hear a short introduction to the Venezuelan revolution and ask Rubén about the role of the youth in the Bolivarian revolution.

The other occasion was in Det Fri Gymnasium on Thursday, October 4th. This is one of the secondary schools in Copenhagen where the students have tended most towards left-wing ideas. Rubén had the possibility to speak for some 40 minutes to their weekly students' assembly with over 130 students present. His speech was greeted with big applause and a number of people asked interesting questions afterwards, about the role of Chávez, the oil in Venezuela, etc. Both teachers and students at this school thanked Rubén warmly for his presence.

At public meetings

Apart from visits to the Social Forum, schools and trade unions, Hands Off Venezuela also organised open public meetings. The first one took place in Aarhus (the second largest city of the country) with some 35 people attending. Although there were a number of supporters of the Venezuelan opposition present at this meeting who made a big deal out of finding any small incident, slander and every excuse possible to discredit the Venezuelan government, Rubén gave an excellent account of the real state of affairs in Venezuela.

Rubén Linares speaking tour big success in DenmarkUnmasking the false intentions of the opposition he showed with facts, figures and arguments how Venezuela's revolutionary process has conquered free health care for the 60% of the population that didn't have access to it before 2003, which has also brought more than 2 million people out of illiteracy.

In Copenhagen two other public meetings where organised. The first one on Wednesday 3 October, was organised by Hands Off Venezuela together with the Café of World-Culture. 35 people turned up to an evening full of discussions and in-depth information about questions such as the PSUV, the history of Venezuela, the agrarian reform, economic sabotage of the bosses, the struggle of the gas workers for nationalisation, etc.

Also, on the last evening of the speaking tour, Thursday 4 of October, the only left wing-daily that remains in Denmark, "Dagbladet Arbejderen" (Daily worker) and its publisher, Kommunistisk Parti, organized a meeting in their premises. With some 30 people present, the theme for this meeting was the question of PSUV and its consequences for the labour movement. 

In this event, Rubén explained how 5.5 million Venezuelans have signed up to join the new party. In the assemblies of the battalions, more than 1.3 million have showed up and the elections of 14,000 representatives (one for each battalion) have now taken place. All this bodes well for the development of the party in a democratic fashion, built from below.

On the streets with the working class and the youth

Rubén Linares speaking tour big success in DenmarkOn Tuesday, 2 October, the Danish trade union movement called for a day of action against the right-wing government. Rubén participated in the big demonstration in Copenhagen where 90,000 gathered in the 2nd biggest demonstration since 1985.

Rubén was impressed to see that the workers and youth of Denmark are willing to defend the welfare rights that they conquered in the past. He especially emphasised the demand of the protestors against cuts to kindergartens showed that this was a struggle for the future.  

All in all, this speaking tour was a great success. Apart from the good turnout at all the meetings, the school assemblies, trade union visits, etc. the activities have served to spread knowledge about the Venezuelan revolution and put the Hands Off Venezuela campaign on the political map in Denmark.

Rubén Linares speaking tour big success in DenmarkIn all his speeches, Rubén put forward a clear revolutionary position, not only defending the Venezuelan revolution and its conquest, but also giving a clear class point of view; explaining the marvellous struggles of the Venezuelan working class at all levels of society.

He ended most of his speeches with a sentence of Che Guevara,  which illustrates very well the desire for a final victory of the exploited masses of Venezuela and Latin America:

"Que lo sepan los nacidos y los que estan por nacer. Que los revolucionarios del mundo nacimos para vencer y  no para ser vencidos"

("All those who have been born, and those who will be born know this - that the revolutionaries of the world, we are born to win, not to be defeated"). 

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