We publish the following statement which was issued by the British Hands Off Venezuela Steering Committee at the HoV National Conference on December 3.
The Venezuelan Revolution has made great strides forward in the recent period. Once again, the new elections taking place will demonstrate overwhelming support for Hugo ChÃ¡vez and the progressive policies being pursued by his government. Up until now, President ChÃ¡vez has passed the electoral test eight times in six years, a record unparalleled in Latin America. So much for the propaganda of the opposition and their imperialist allies that the President is a “dictator”, “undemocratic”, and so forth!
These popular policies have not only included the Missions, which have transformed the lives of millions in the realms of education, healthcare, and other matters, but have promoted land reform, the expropriation of factories, as well as democratic workers’ control and management.
The Revolution has brought millions of Venezuelans to their feet for the first time. It has politicised them and aroused their expectations of a new life. This has gone hand in hand with ChÃ¡vez’s denunciation of capitalism and his strong support for socialism not only in Venezuela, but also throughout the world.
The discredited opposition has tried everything to overthrow President ChÃ¡vez: a coup d’état in April 2002, a bosses’ lockout of December 2002 and early 2003, and the recall referendum campaign of August 2004. Each of these attempts of counter-revolution had the backing of the local oligarchy and behind them, United States imperialism. These attempts were smashed by the marvellous spontaneous movement of the Venezuelan masses, which has thrown the opposition into complete disarray.
However, the very successes of the Revolution have made the counter-revolution extremely desperate. The views of Pat Robertson, who has promoted the idea of the assassination of Chavez, are not accidental. They reflect the views of sections of the Venezuelan opposition and also the Bush administration.
The imperialist powers, starting with the United States, will never be reconciled to the Venezuelan Revolution, in the same way as they can never be reconciled to the Cuban Revolution. They represent symbols of resistance and advance for the downtrodden masses of Latin America.
The Bush administration is attempting to isolate Venezuela, while ChÃ¡vez is correctly trying to break this isolation. Their continual attacks on ChÃ¡vez and his government are an attempt to intimidate and harass the Venezuelan Revolution, hoping to prepare the climate for its overthrow. The US economic and military assistance for the Colombian regime of Alvaro Uribe under ‘Plan Colombia’ is nothing more than an attempt to use Colombia as a staging post for counter-revolution within Latin America. If the USA cannot directly intervene militarily in Venezuela, as they have their hands full in Iraq, Bush may attempt to push Colombia (armed by the US) into a war with Venezuela.
We are fully conscious that the Revolution is under threat. The crushing of the Venezuelan Revolution would mean a devastating blow to the progressive forces throughout Latin America and internationally. It would have extremely serious consequences for the Cuban Revolution.
Under these circumstances, the survival of the Revolution is a life or death question. In Britain, we pledge to do our utmost to rally all progressive opinion in defence of the Venezuelan Revolution and against its enemies. Above all, we will help to rally the labour and trade union movement to actively assist in this defence, starting with the recognition of the UNT as the legitimate voice of the Venezuelan working class.
Ever since its foundation in 2002, the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign, despite its meagre resources, fought to break the media blackout around Venezuela. It has raised the question of the Venezuelan Revolution in the trade union movement, at branch, district, regional and national level. Through its sterling work over these years, HOV succeeded in getting support for Venezuela on the agenda of the TUC last September. Historically, the TUC unanimously supported the resolution submitted by NATFHE. This was the first time that a national trade union federation in the Western Hemisphere endorsed the revolution in Venezuela. This was a tremendous success for which HOV can be truly proud, and was thanked publicly by Hugo ChÃ¡vez. We now call upon the TUC to honour its pledge to “build and work with trade union endorsed organisations in the UK working to provide solidarity to Venezuela.” (Motion 79)
This conference is not the end, but simply the beginning of taking the message of the Venezuelan Revolution into every corner of the trade union movement, into every school, college, and university. We must seek affiliations from all progressive bodies to the HOV campaign. Every trade unionist attending this conference must pledge themselves to submit a model resolution to their branch to go to next year’s trade union conference. Every student must commit themselves to go back to their school or college to set up a HOV society. Everyone attending this conference must pledge themselves to return to their town or community to establish a HOV committee so that this vital work can be put on an organised footing.
We are enormously inspired by the example of the Venezuelan Revolution. We recognise that the fight for emancipation in Venezuela is our fight. We call on all progressive people – trade unionists and workers, youth and students, intellectuals and artists - to join with us in this great cause.
We, delegates to this national conference of Hands Off Venezuela in London, salute the Venezuelan Revolution and send our warmest greetings to President Hugo ChÃ¡vez and the revolutionary people of Venezuela.
John McDonnell MP