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Solidarity

George W. Bush: Hands Off Venezuela!

 

We, as trade unionists, are making a direct appeal to our brothers and sisters in the United States on behalf of the people of Venezuela.

The recent belligerent statements and attacks on President Chavez coming from the representatives of the Bush Administration pose a direct threat to the working people of Venezuela. Such aggressive noises from the White House are the same kind of language that was used to prepare the ground for US intervention in Vietnam, Cuba, Chile, Iraq and elsewhere.

We therefore appeal to our friends in the American trade union movement to join with us in condemning these provocations and to place the maximum pressure on the Bush Administration to desist from these attacks.

We demand the right of the Venezuelan people to self-determination and no to imperialist interference.

(See also the letter from American workers and trade unionists to the U.S. government.)

See the signatures.


The Hands Off Venezuela Campaign, which is a broad-based campaign, was established to generate awareness about Venezuela within the labour and trade union movement and young people internationally

 

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A sizeable group of British and Latin American youth joined by other campaigners and trade unionists gathered in the Saint George’s Community Circle on April 23rd. The reason was not to celebrate Saint George’s Day but to critically debate the struggles all across the Latin American continent with a special focus in Venezuela. The event organised by this community centre, Hands Off Venezuela Campaign and New Generation ended with a gig that lasted till the small hours. Vegetarian food was served all day by the New Generation supporters at very affordable prices.

The day started with a workshop on the meaning of Bolivarianism and Socialism introduced by Jorge Martin, from the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign. The attendants discussed the real repercussions of both ideologies these days in the ongoing Venezuelan Revolution and what the real meanings of both terms for the Venezuelan masses are. After this interesting discussion the attendants had the chance to hear Colombia Solidarity Campaign activist Andy Higginbottom talking on the war launched by Coca-Cola on the Colombian Trade Union movement. It was hair-raising to hear how the thugs hired by this corporation have assassinated representatives of the workers inside Coca-Cola plants. Andy finished his talk by appealing to people to implement the Killer-Cola Boycott. Before lunch time Jorge Martin reported on the uprising and overthrowing of the Lucio Gutierrez government after he failed to fulfill the hopes of the masses in working and living conditions (see Ecuador: Popular uprising overthrows Lucio Gutierrez).

Around 4pm the school reached its peak with 50 people joining in the discussion conducted by Dave Raby (Institute of Latin American Studies in Liverpool) called “Transforming the Military”. Dave explained how besides the reactionary traditions of the South American military there was a progressive tradition. President Chavez and others organised clandestine military movements to overthrow the corrupt and pro-bosses governments of AD and COPEI (two main parties in Venezuela that alternated in power until they were ousted in 1998). Hugo Chavez himself got inspiration from progressive military movements in Panama and Peru. Next, different examples were given of how the Venezuelan armed forces were being used not for repressive ends, but for social ones. For instance, the Armed Forces are used to build houses and clinics in the shanty towns around Caracas. The debate was very animated and people discussed different issues, amongst them the formation of popular militias and the meaning of "the people in arms".

When the debates finished “Venezuela from Below” was screened while New Generation held salsa lessons. Afterwards, the attendants enjoyed a gig where samba bands, DJs, folk music bands and hip hop crews performed. One of the members of one of the Venezuelan bands that performed in the concert refused to be part of the event on the basis that the School and party were fundraising events to send young people to Caracas. The social polarisation around the Venezuelan revolution goes beyond the Latin American continent, and the repercussion of its victory will also go beyond the limits of Venezuela and Latin America.

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ST GEORGE'S CIRCLE COMMUNITY, HANDS OFF VENEZUELA & NEW GENERATION present the LONDON -> CARACAS day-school & party!


SATURDAY 23rd APRIL from noon till well after midnight at the St George's Circle Community Theatre, 49 Tufnell Park Road N7 (nearest tubes Tufnell Park and Holloway Road).

A day of workshops, films & debates followed by a night of dancing and jamming with Rhythms of Resistance, The Rub, Pok Star, Heroic Doses, Moonstone, DJ Mao Pelos (Candela Sessions) and many more... plus cabaret & comedy, all served up with spicy latin veggie meals and snacks.

A special event to promote a delegation from London to this year's World Festival of Youth & Students, happening in Caracas from August 7th - 15th (www.caracas2005.info) where there will also be the chance to stay and work with the radical communities in Venezuela.

See also our flyer and our program with an overview of the different workshops.

www.handsoffvenezuela.org
www.nuevageneracion.org.uk

www.circlecommunity.org.uk

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On April 4th the Kitchener-Waterloo region saw it’s first Hands Off Venezuela event. This is just one of a series of launch meetings occurring across Canada. The movie The Revolution Will Not Be Televised was shown in the University of Waterloo Student Life Center. Despite the upcoming exam-week and problems getting posters up on campus, 40 people came to the event. A variety of people showed up including professors, graduate students, students, and even members of the Venezuelan Opposition!

revolution2.jpg

The event started off with a short introduction to capitalist developments in Latin America by guest speaker Alex Grant (of HOV-Toronto and Fightback). After the movie Alex spoke about the events in Venezuela after the 2002 coup with an emphasis on the 2004 referendum, the nationalization of Venepal under workers' control, the demoralization of the opposition, and Chavez’s recent turn to genuine democratic socialism.

The most successful aspect of the event, however, was the lively discussion afterwards. Everyone in the crowd seemed eager to either ask questions or freely comment. The members of the opposition attempted to provide their critiques of the Bolivarian revolution (anywhere from corruption in the referendum to complaints of violations against private property), which were met with much opposition from the crowd.  At one point an opposition supporter, wearing a bright pink sorority sweater and sitting in the centre of the room, tried to assert that the military coup in 2002 was actually not a coup but some other “thing”.  She also disagreed that the opposition is demoralized and asserted that they will come back – at which point Alex Grant agreed with them saying, “Yes, the opposition will come back if the revolution is unable to continue to improve the standard of living for Venezuelan workers and poor.  If they come back they will have their revenge on the people like Pinochet’s bloodbath in Chile. That is why the Venezuelan workers must expropriate the oligarchy to stop their ability to wage economic terrorism.”

In a surprising twist, and without the guiding hand of its socialist organizers, the discussion naturally veered to a debate on Marxism, socialism, and revolution. This shows that even Canadians are aware of the great tasks ahead for the Bolivarian Revolution and what lessons Venezuela holds for Canadian workers and youth. Overall the event was a great success and plans are being made for future events at Waterloo.

Contact info: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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"We will never complete the revolution as long as private property is upheld"

From the Venezuelan Bolivarian University Press

Caracas, April 12, 2005. "If we continue to work under the thesis of reformism, it will be very difficult to create the revolutionary consciousness needed for the period of change we are living through, and we would be wasting all the effort carried out by our President Hugo Chavez Frias". This is what William Izarra, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for Asia and the Pacific, said during an event under the title "Socialism of the 21st Century". He was accompanied by Alan Woods, a British intellectual of the Revolutionary Marxist Current, Dr Orietta Caponi, Rector of the Venezuelan Bolivarian University, and the Secretary General Elizabeth Alves. The meeting was held in the Simon Bolivar hall of our studies house.

Izarra explained that we have entered a new stage of the process. This situation implies ideological definitions in order to take the right path between the two possibilities: reform or revolution. Reform implies the continuity of the political model of representative democracy and to continue to exercise a command model based on the fascination of power.

On the other hand there is revolution, a political model based on direct democracy, which means above all, to transform power into a tool of the people. It means transferring decision making to organised communities. "It is to rule on the basis of the right of the people to participate, to give constitutional consistency to the sovereign acts of the national collective" said Comandante Izarra.

Alan Woods, strengthening what had been said by Izarra, pointed out that the reformist behaviour is simply the expression of counter-revolution. "This is why I say, and I insist on this, that many times a victory can be turned into a defeat if there isn't a leadership which is consistent and coherent with this period".

The British intellectual recounted the epic intervention of the Venezuelan people during the coup d'etat on April 11, 2002, explaining how that popular uprising had no parallels anywhere in the world, and was unprecedented in any country of Latin America.

Woods explained that Venezuela is living through a revolution which has only gone half way, because as long as the oligarchy exists with its economic power intact we cannot speak of a revolution as such, "unfortunately, as long as private property is upheld, we will never have a complete revolution".

The Marxist leader ended by saying that Venezuela is at the crossroads: either we achieve the most important political and social victory in our contemporary history or we will suffer the most crushing of defeats, "either we defeat the counter-revolution, or it will defeat us".

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