Solidarity with the Venezuelan Revolution! Build the HoV Campaign!
off Venezuela Campaign held an excellent meeting at the University of London Union last night. More than 100 people
attended the meeting to hear Ruth Winters (President of the FBU), Jorge Martin
(International Secretary HoV), John McDonnell MP, Anastacio Rodriguez (teacher
and UNT leader), and Jeremy Dear (General Secretary NUJ) who chaired the
meeting, speak on the Venezuelan revolution and the need to continue building international
Winters, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) President, started off by explaining the
FBU’s long tradition of international solidarity, which includes solidarity
campaigns for Cuba, Colombia, Iraq and Palestine. She compared the Colombian
government to the one government in the region that actually governs in favour
of working people – Cuba. To this we can now add Venezuela.
president explained that opposition was growing all across the world to the
imperialist policies of the IMF and the World Bank, and that Chavez, like
Castro, is not afraid to lead this opposition and criticise these policies. We
must never forget that there are powerful vested interests in defeating the
progressive movement in Venezuela. She urged all trade unions to keep
these issues at the forefront, and to fight for truth, especially in the media.
She ended by saying that the National Executive of the FBU had just ratified
its affiliation to the Hands off Venezuela campaign, and that it was necessary
to educate union members about the significance and meaning of what was
happening in Venezuela. She expressed her pride in the
FBU’s role in the Hands off Venezuela Campaign and that the FBU was proud to
assist in building the campaign.
Martin, International Secretary of the Hands off Venezuela Campaign, having
visited Venezuela several times over the last few
years, was able to give a concrete picture to the revolution unfolding there.
He began by explaining why the Hands off Venezuela Camapign believes that a
revolution is taking place in Venezuela. The definition of revolution is
when ordinary working people take their future into their own hands. This could
clearly be seen in the Recall Referendum in August of last year, when 100,000
Electoral Platoons, each with 10 members, were organized to mobilise the
population and to campaign in the referendum. This was an example of the
revolutionary enthusiasm of the Venezuelan people, where 1 million people in a
country of 25 million were organized to mobilise support in elections.
explained the massive influence of the Venezuelan revolution throughout Latin America. A new wave of hope has spread
a result of the Venezuelan revolution. In the past, many left-wing leaders and
governments were elected in Latin America, but if they ever actually tried to
do anything meaningful, they would face a coup, as was the case in Chile in the 1970s. Something similar
happened in Venezuela in 2002, except that the masses
came out to the streets and defeated the coup. This is an enormous inspiration
to people all across Latin America, and shows that it is possible to fight, and to win.
by explaining the importance of Chavez raising the debate on socialism. For the
first time in a long time, since the fall of the Berlin Wall 15 years ago, the
question of socialism has been raised – and not by some small group, but by the
president of a country and the leader of a mass movement. Everywhere across Venezuela, workers and peasants are debating
and discussing how to build socialism in Venezuela.
Dear, NUJ General Secretary and chairman of the meeting, explained that because
of the militant, democratic traditions and methods of the UNT, that the UNT had
now become the largest trade union federation in Venezuela. He also informed the audience that
Orlando Chirino, a UNT leader and the scheduled speaker for the meeting, could
not be there due to a death in his family during the ILO Conference in Geneva. Anastacio Rodriguez, a leader of
the Teacher’s Federation and UNT coordinator, and UNT representative at the ILO
Conference in Geneva, came to speak in his stead.
explained that before Chavez, Venezuela was in a mess. Millions of people
had no chance of ever going to school and getting an education. When the
Venezuelans looked for a model and an example in order to change their system,
they only saw one system capable of creating a mass education system – the
Cuban system. The education and health care misiones in Venezuela have been a success. 1 million
people have participated in literacy programmes, and 1.6 million people have
been able to continue their education and complete high school. With the
introduction of the misiones, 52% of the population are in school. That
is a revolution. The mision barrio adentro (inside the neighbourhood),
the most extensive of Venezuela’s health missions, has provided
some 56 million consultations, providing free healthcare and medicine to
millions of people. That is a revolution.
He ended by
explaining the importance of the UNT. For 50 years, nobody, not even the
government could see the accounts of the old trade union federation, the CTV.
Then the CTV assisted in the coup. He explained that the workers had broken the
control of the bureaucracy, and that they now controlled their own union.
different people attended the meeting, who after the main speeches participated
in a lively discussion. There were members of UNISON, the RMT, AMICUS, the FBU,
the NUJ, and several other unions as well as members of many different
Higginbottom of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign (CSC) spoke about some of the
developments in Colombia, and the importance of the
Venezuelan revolution to the Colombia people. He explained the importance
of building the boycott Coca-Cola campaign, and the BP (British Petroleum)
campaign for all of Latin America. He ended by saying that if Gordon Brown and Bob Geldof were serious
about solving the Third World debt crisis they had to do something serious about UK corporations who operate in these
countries, rather than simply shed crocodile tears.
Colque of the Bolivia Solidarity Campaign explained that Bolivia was
the poorest country in Latin America. George W. Bush and Condoleezza
Rice have blamed Chavez and the Venezuelan government for recent events
in Bolivia. This is simply not true, and the
events have nothing to do with Venezuela, but everything to do with BP,
Esso, and Exxon. She pointed out that the struggle in Bolivia is the
same struggle that is being
fought here. She asked the audience to imagine the struggle for the
nationalisation of the railways. The trade unionists present at the
were asked to sign a petition of support for the Bolivian workers and
Lula and Kirchner have sent advisors to Bolivia to support the Bolivian
bourgeoisie, hence it is extremely important that trade unionists and
from around the world support trade unionists and workers in Bolivia,
who are fighting for their rights
and their future.
President Tony Donaghey, expressed solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution and
his pride in the RMT’s affiliation to the campaign. The Venezuelan revolution
stands as an example to all people struggling for social reforms and their
rights, including here in the UK. The UK is supposed to be the fourth
richest country in earth, yet what do we see here? More cuts, privatisation,
and poverty. The reforms in Venezuela, are an example of what many people
need here in the UK. Many people were pleased at the
achievements of the UNT, its independence and its accountability, adding that
they wished something similar could be established here. Others explained that
the best way to build solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution was to build
the class struggle here in the UK, because the more we attack and
weaken the ruling class here, the less able they will be to attack Venezuela.
McDonnell, honorary president of the HoV campaign, explained that the
Venezuelan revolution, and the drive to create a truly democratic society, was
an inspiration to the entire world.
explained that we have the straightforward task of building the campaign in a
broad, non-sectarian way. Solidarity campaigns have always been infiltrated in
the past, in order that these campaigns and movements can be split and
necessary to bring different groups together, because in the past, as Jeremy
Corbyn MP pointed out at a previous meeting, for example around the events in Chile, we always mobilised after the events,
after a coup for example. Now we have the opportunity to campaign beforehand,
to protect the revolution, and to mobilise against the counter-revolution. He
explained that although we all come from different political backgrounds and
organisations, that the HoV campaign is an excellent way to come together and
build solidarity. It is necessary to transmit the success of the campaign down
to individual unions, branches, and political organisations and get them to
affiliate to the campaign. It will also be necessary to transmit this success
upwards, and get the TUC to commit to solidarity and to affiliate to the
mentioned the importance of putting pressure on the Labour government. The
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (or as McDonnell described it, the Outreach
Centre for the CIA) has made no comment on Venezuela in anyway. It is obvious that all
ministers in the FCO have been warned off from saying anything on Venezuela. It is necessary to press the
government and all ministers for their opinion on Venezuela, and to explain to them the
democratic system there and the significance of events.
He ended by
saying that new words, such as “globalisation” etc. have disappeared, and that
people have reverted to using “imperialism” and “exploitation”. Our analysis
has won, and we must explain and go back to these straightforward categories.
We must sustain the revolution against imperialist aggression. We must build
solidarity, and build the campaign. McDonnell then thanked the campaign for
providing the ideas and the organization, and for pushing the movement forward.
collection was raised for the Hands off Venezuela campaign. At the end of the
meeting, many of the participants went to the campus pub to continue to
discussions informally. Everyone left the meeting enthused and determined to
build the campaign, and to build solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution.