The meeting of the Hands off Venezuela campaign held in the offices of the AT&GWU in Dublin was the biggest meeting on Latin America ever hosted there. These were the words of the brothers and sisters of LASC (Latin American Solidarity Centre). 115 people attended the meeting to hear Ricardo Galindez speak.

Richard Gott, former Latin American correspondent for The Guardian, was present at the meeting and explained the events that have unfolded since the very first electoral victory of Hugo Chavez. He pointed out that even then a strategy to oust him was being prepared. The British journalist said he had been to Venezuela and that he had witnessed the development of the social programmes known as “misiones”, and explained how beneficial they were for the ordinary working people.

Mick McCaughan, the author of The Battle for Venezuela, was also at the meeting. He briefly spoke about the position of the Venezuelan revolutionary process in the context of the general struggle taking place across the whole of Latin America, where important struggles and movements have been developing in countries like Bolivia, Peru and Argentina amongst others.

Ricardo Galindez explained just how important the revolution in Venezuela is. The ability of the Venezuelan masses to mobilise and organise themselves has been demonstrated through the formation of the Bolivarian Circles, UBEs (Electoral Battle Units), the social programmes, and the creation of new trade unions and the UNT itself. What this shows is that the revolutionary process is on the ascent.

Galindez stressed the need to develop solidarity with the revolution because international solidarity can be a powerful weapon in the struggle against US imperialism and the transnational corporations that are attempting to isolate the revolution.

He also explained that the leadership of Hugo Chavez has been evolving. Chavez began his presidency on the basis of democratic demands and by standing against “neo-liberal capitalism”, and has now moved to an anti-imperialist position. He recently pointed out that the root cause of the problems of the Venezuelan people was capitalism, and that the only solution to these problems was the establishment of a socialist society – a genuine socialist society.

An anti-globalisation activist also took the platform and gave a first hand report of her experiences at the World Social Forum where Chavez met with activists and trade unionists from all over the world.

The interest in what is happening in Venezuela was so big that even after the meeting was officially over the discussion continued. At the end of the meeting a number of those present came up to the speakers to carry on the debate. They asked further questions about the revolutionary process in Venezuela and wanted to know a lot more about what is really happening.

This short trip to Ireland showed that the Irish workers have a keen interest in what is happening in Venezuela. Links with important trade unions were forged and the ground has been laid for future solidarity activities in Ireland.

Read more ...

Ricardo Galindez’s trip to Ireland over the weekend was a big success. Ricardo was a delegate to the founding conference of the Venezuelan UNT, a union that was built in opposition to the completely bureaucratised CTV that has gone over to the reactionary oligarchy in Venezuela. He is currently an official of the union and trade union adviser. The trip was part of Galindez’s speaking tour to build international solidarity with the Venezuelan Revolution.

During his 36 hour-long visit comrade Galindez met with some Latin American Solidarity Centre (LASC) activists, who organised the Dublin part of Ricardo’s tour.

On the evening of February 5, Galindez, along with LASC and Hands Off Venezuela activists, visited Jack O’Connor, President of the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU). During the two-hour meeting with O’Connor Galindez outlined the current situation in Venezuela. He analysed the revolutionary process and the situation the Venezuelan labour movement is facing. He explained that the workers are leaving the empty shell of the discredited CTV in droves and are moving into the UNT.

The CTV was closely associated with the bosses who were behind the 2002 coup attempt to overthrow Chavez. It is openly supporting the forces of imperialism rather than the interests of the Venezuelan workers. On this basis Ricardo explained the importance of recognising the UNT as the legitimate Trade Union Confederation in Venezuela.

O’Connor was also invited to visit Venezuela together with other trade union leaders so that they could see for themselves what is really happening in the country and see first hand the massive campaign of slander and lies which is being mounted against the Venezuelan revolution and the democratic and anti-capitalist movement represented by the UNT.

O’Connor was also asked to invite Venezuelan trade unionists to address the leaders and the rank and file of the Irish trade union movement. The two trade unionists expressed the importance and necessity of developing solidarity with Venezuela and weakening the positions of US imperialism and the transnational corporations that are seek to destroy the revolution. They also expressed the importance of strengthening workers’ struggles in different countries in order to defeat the common enemy.

O’Connor praised Galindez’s visit and promised to address the different bodies of the union with regards to Venezuela and analyse what exactly the SIPTU could do to defend trade union rights. He expressed his full support for the Venezuelan people and the referendum victory on August 15, 2004.

Read more ...

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would like to take the opportunity you have offered to me to speak on the historic developments in my country, which are today the most dynamic on the Latin American continent.

The Venezuelan people have stood up against a past of miseries and humiliations. We have said, “Enough is enough” and have started to lay down the basis of a new country. This is why the old national oligarchy, financed by dollars from the CIA and the Pentagon and supported by the mere puppets like the Colombian government or Blair in United Kingdom, have united in a “holy crusade” to rescue the “holy land”.

We have taken the first few steps, headed by the government of President Chavez, and we conquered a consciousness of political dignity and also healthcare and education services, things that in the past only existed in our dreams. Although this is little compared to what we deserve and what we can achieve, the oligarchy believes that we do not deserve these things. This is why the oligarchy, with the help of their great economic power and the intrusive dollars of US imperialism, have organised coup d’etats, marches, economic sabotage and propaganda campaigns to manipulate the situation.

However, all this power has not been enough to stop us. We have defeated them in every battle, and have consolidated our victories by taking measures to strengthen state control over our main industry. We have organised popular battalions through the Bolivarian Circles and UBEs (Electoral Battle Units). The working class itself has built its own organisations like the National Union of Workers (UNT), which has become the main trade union federation of our country.

In our thirst for justice we demanded the nationalisation of certain companies. As a result of this struggle the Chavez government has heard our demands and has nationalised the Venepal group and granted resources to run the company under the co-management of the workers and the state. This means that the doors are opened to the rescue of thousands of workplaces ignored by “Golpista” bosses.

We are here today not only to tell you about the results of our efforts but also to recognise that those results would not have been possible without the participation and militant solidarity of thousands of workers, intellectuals, members of parliament from many countries, students, democratic activists and revolutionary militants from all over the world.

We are here today and tomorrow we will be in other cities in Ireland and the UK in order to let you know that the days ahead are going to be even more difficult. The assassination of more than one hundred brothers and sisters, amongst them the prosecutor Danilo Anderson, and the provocation known as the “Granda Case” launched by US imperialism through the puppet Alvaro Uribe Vélez, clearly show this. It is very important that the militant solidarity with our revolutionary process is strengthened. President Hugo Chavez has described this process as a revolutionary, anti-imperialist process which is against capitalism. He has also recently said that the only way out of the crisis created by capitalism is socialism - true socialism. Socialism is the system where the workers have power and decisions made at all levels are the result of a democratic discussion of the oppressed and exploited people through their grassroots organizations. The leadership of these organizations would not be privileged and would be democratically elected. The people who elected them would be able to recall them at any time. These leaders would live as the workers live, ensuring that they always think as working people.

Comrades, the Venezuelan Revolution is a living process that requires your conscious solidarity. To give your solidarity is like planting the tree of life which tomorrow will bear fruit. This fruit can be used to carry out your own future revolution, the terms of which will be decided by the workers and the people of your country. This will be a struggle against an enemy already weakened by our victory.

I invite you to strengthen the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign by spreading the branches across the United Kingdom and Ireland and bring the campaign firmly into the consciousness of those that live here.

Ricardo Galíndez

Read more ...

Ricardo Galindez’s tour of Britain kicked off with a big success yesterday. Over 80 people filled the Grand Committee Rooms in the British House of Commons to hear the Venezuelan trade union leader outline the latest developments in the Bolivarian Revolution.

The meeting was sponsored by John McDonnell MP, the honorary President of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign and chaired by Jeremy Dear, the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists.

John Mc Donnell

John McDonnell opened the meeting by explaining the vital importance of the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign in raising the issue of the Venezuelan revolution throughout the labour movement. In particular, in this general election year, it was essential to put pressure on Labour MPs and through them on the Labour government. “In the past we supported the cause of revolutions that had been crushed by imperialism, now we have a chance of supporting a revolution in the making”, he said.

Ricardo Galindez spoke of his experiences in the fast moving events of the Venezuelan Revolution. He explained the masses, aroused by the election of Hugo Chavez, had faced up to every challenge, including the recent Referendum, to deal a blow to the counter-revolution and the rule of the oligarchy. “On the day of the Referendum, the Opposition suffered a serious blow”, he said. “It was produced by the strength of the masses and introduced profound demoralisation into the ranks of the Opposition. They disappeared from the streets.” However, Ricardo warned that the counter-revolution would never give up. “They continue to conspire and plot. They keep factories closed.” They were behind the recent assassination of the prosecutor investigating the coup organisers.

Ricardo then explained that the recent kidnapping of the FARC representative in Caracas by Colombian special forces in alliance with some Venezuelan military officials was a provocation, behind which lies the hand of Washington.

Ricardo Galindez

He went on to explain that the UNT was a growing force. The working class has put its stamp on the revolution and the nationalisation of Venepal was a “turning-point”, so he said. Ricardo welcomed the comments of President Chavez in explaining that the Bolivarian revolution could not remain within the confines of capitalism. Only by taking the socialist road and nationalising the banks, finance houses and major companies can we succeed. He warned, however, that the revolution is not complete. To avoid defeat it must go forward and break the power of the oligarchy by nationalising their property and placing it under workers’ control.

Comrade Galindez ended his speech with the words: “We shall win. We have got to win. We WILL win!”

The next speaker was the Venezuelan Ambassador to London, Alfredo Toro Hardy. He explained that President Chavez was well aware of the fine work of the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign in Britain. “In fact, I spoke to President Chavez a few days ago and he was keen to make a short stop-over visit to Britain to meet with you”, stated Mr Hardy to rapturous applause.

The Venezuelan Ambassador
Alfredo Toro Hardy

The Ambassador outlined the policies of the Chavez government and the grave difficulties Venezuela faced from the aggressive stance of the United States. Hugo Chavez had won 8 different electoral processes in addition to his presidential election in 1998, and yet the hostile media are calling him a dictator!

The model of free-market capitalism that the United States is attempting to impose on Latin America has been a disaster, he said. Latin American indicators are worse in the 1990s than in the 1970s. “The model advocated by President Chavez is rational”, he explained. He ended his speech with the appeal: “We need your help.”

Manzoor Ahmed

Comrade Manzoor, member of the Pakistani Parliament, and who met President Chavez in Venezuela last year, also addressed the meeting. In his contribution, he drew comparisons between the Bolivarian Revolution and the revolution in Pakistan in 1969. In Pakistan, the revolution under the leadership of Bhutto, went half way, and resulted in the counter-revolution being able to muster its forces and overthrow Bhutto in a military coup. The conclusion he drew was that it is necessary to carry through the socialist revolution to the very end. There was no other road, stated Manzoor.

A lively period of questions and discussion followed from the floor. A collection was also held which raised an excellent £150 for the funds of the campaign. After a brief reply from the Ambassador and Ricardo, Jeremy Dear summed up the meeting and appealed for the Campaign to be raised in every corner of the labour movement. He also expressed his deep appreciation to John McDonnell for his help, which was also heartily appreciated by thunderous applause from the audience.

Once again, the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign has held a successful meeting in the House of Commons. The task now is to take the Campaign to every trade union branch, every trades council, every shop stewards’ meeting and every student union, to build it into a mass movement in defence of the Venezuelan Revolution.

Read more ...

The supporters of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign are going to start the New Year in the same way as they finished 2004 – by raising the profile of the Venezuelan Revolution. In December 2004 Hands Off Venezuela supporters in London organised a speaking tour for Oscar Negrin, who is the head teacher of a school in Caracas occupied by the pupils and the community as a response to the bosses’ lockout of December 2002.Ricardo Galindez

In February Hands Off Venezuela supporters are hosting the Venezuelan trade unionist and Marxist, Ricardo Galindez. This comrade, originally from Barquisimeto, has been the editor of the socialist journal El Topo Obrero for more than 20 years. He has participated in the revolutionary process since the very beginning. His involvement in left-wing politics cost him the hatred of the bosses in the state of Lara and a bullet in his chest that almost killed him. That was not the only time that the bosses’ thugs picked on him. He was also on the front line during the creation of the UNT. From the very first moment he pushed for resolutions outlining the anti-capitalist nature and militant approach of the new Venezuelan trade union. In February labour movement activists and youth in London, Cambridge and Dublin will have the chance to hear a first hand report of what is going on in Venezuela at the moment. Hands Off Venezuela is aiming to extend solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution across the left. Galindez is going to meet students, trade union activists, progressive MPs and anti-war activists during the 10 days he will be spending in Britain and Ireland.

This is a very interesting moment for the Venezuelan Revolution. On the one hand occupied factories like Venepal are raising the question "who runs the country?" and demonstrating to everybody that bosses are not necessary to run society. Galindez is a leading figure in the solidarity committee with the Venepal workers. On the other hand, Chavez is accelerating the process of land reform. This process of speeding up the land reform has been stirred up by the intervention at “El Charcote”. This is a cattle ranch owned by the British company Vestey Group Ltd. This intervention is the first in a chain of 15 landed estate interventions in the state of Cojedes alone. This measure attacks the interests of the Venezuelan oligarchy, which has continually plotted against the Venezuelan Revolution head on. All of us will have the chance to discuss all these issues with Ricardo Galindez, and find out what more can be done to support the Venezuelan revolution.

Do not miss Ricardo Galindez speaking in Parliament!

Wednesday 2nd February, 7.30 pm
Grand Committee room, House of Commons
(St. Stephen's entrance).
Nearest tube station: Westminster.
Other speakers: John McDonnell MP and Mick Rix
Chair: Jeremy Dear

Check www.handsoffvenezuela.org (right column) to find out details of other meetings in London, Cambridge and Dublin.

Read more ...


Solidarity Messages
Here you can find various messages of solidarity.

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