Good turn-out at November 25 launch of the “Hands off Venezuela” campaign in Athens

The supporters of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign in Greece have been working to build up the campaign within the Greek labour movement and youth. The official launch of the campaign on November 25 in the headquarters of the GSEE, the main trade union federation was a successful start.

On Friday, November 25, the first public meeting of the Greek “Hands Off Venezuela” campaign was held in the centre of Athens, in the main hall of the Greek Workers’ Confederation (GSEE). This meeting was the culmination of the systematic activity of the campaign’s supporters in Greece during the last few months. The lead for the creation of the campaign was given by the Marxist Tendency in Greece and its paper, “Marxistiki Foni” (the “Marxist Voice”).


Previous important steps in the activity of the campaign were the Communist Youth (KNE) festival, the festival of the Synaspismos Youth and the big workers’ rally of PAME (Communist Party wing in the trade unions). In these events the comrades of the Greek committee of the HOV campaign collected hundreds of signatures and contacted dozens of labour movement and youth activists who wanted to actively take part in the campaign.

More than 70 people took part to the gathering and the audience consisted of activists of all ages. The presence of the youth was particularly intense, mostly from the Universities where the campaign has taken its first steps. Among those who took part in the meeting were left-wing members of PASOK, members of Synaspismos, representatives from DIKKI, trade unionists from PAME and other left-wing organisations, members of the SYNASPISMOS youth, of the DIKTYO (the university students linked to the SYNASPISMOS) and small delegations from organisations that take participate in SYRIZA (the wider front around the Synaspismos) and the Social Forum.

Of particular importance was the presence of Dimitris Livieratos, a veteran fighter of revolutionary Marxism in Greece and a writer of political and historical books. He is also the translator and editor of the publications of many of Trotsky’s works in Greek. Theodoros Thomadakis was also present.

Greetings were also sent by the coordinator of the international campaign, Alan Woods and Jorge Martin, international secretary of the HOV campaign.

The first part of the meeting started with a discussion on the revolutionary developments in Venezuela and their importance. The representative of the Greek committee of “Hands off Venezuela” campaign, Stamatis Karagiannopoulos, opened the discussion. He gave a historical overview, in which he explained how things had led to the Bolivarian Revolution. Moreover, he also underlined the class and political characteristics of the policies of Hugo Chavez.

His speech mainly concentrated on the active role of the working class in the revolutionary process, and he insisted on the conclusions that one can draw from this experience about the creative role of the workers. The examples of companies nationalised under workers’ control, such as INVEPAL, ALCASA and CNV are the best proof of this fact.

Finally he stressed that the victory of the revolution will only come about with the passing of power to the democratic organs of the proletariat and with the socialist planning of the economy. This would be only the first step in the victory of the socialist revolution in the whole of Latin America. He ended his speech by saying, “In fighting against the provocations of imperialism, the Bolivarian revolution has only one loyal ally: the world working class and youth. Let’s take the Campaign into the trade unions and among the youth with greater determination!”

The next speaker was Maria Ines Fonseca, from the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Athens. After thanking the Greek Committee of the Campaign for the invitation and after congratulating its members for their support and active solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, she outlined the basic the policies of Hugo Chavez, focusing on the famous “misiones”, social projects, which are the cornerstones of government policy in defending the poor layers of the people.

The third and last of the speakers from the platform was George Karatsioubanis, a member of the Central Committee of the Synaspismos youth, who had recently visited Venezuela. He spoke about his impressions of the Bolivarian Revolution and he stated that Chavez’s Venezuela can become today the model of socialism with democracy and freedom, restoring the “honour” of socialism from the illiberal “socialist” models of Eastern Europe and North Korea. Moreover he gave a living picture of the revolution and he tried to transmit the mood that prevailed at the recent World Youth and Student Festival that took place in Caracas this summer.


The discussion then proceeded from the floor with the interventions of G. Adamidis, who also recently visited Venezuela attending the same festival and G. Chatziantoniou, a left-wing activist and member of the “old PASOK”, who spoke with enthusiasm about the Bolivarian revolution and laid stress on the historical ties that connect Greece with the Latin American revolution. Theodoros Thomadakis also took the microphone at the end and spoke about the need for a counteroffensive on the part of the working class movement in order to repel imperialist and capitalist aggression.

After the discussion the “The revolution will not be televised” was screened. The film held the full attention of the audience throughout its screening. It shows in a very vivid manner the mobilisation of the people, which brought Chavez back to power after the April 2002 “one-day coup d’etat”. It demonstrates clearly how impotent even the best-organised conspiracy of the CIA and reaction can be in the face of the dynamics of a revolution.

The smiles of those watching, the optimism and militant enthusiasm carved on their faces were the best proof of the success of this event. This mood was reflected in the fact that the material produced by the Greek Committee of the Campaign and “Marxistiki Foni” was snapped up, and a lot of people asked how they could get copies of the DVD.

The success of this first gathering of “Hands off Venezuela!” in Greece gives us further motivation to continue in an even more systematic manner the solidarity work of the campaign within the Greek labour movement and among the youth.

After November 25 the cry of “Hands off Venezuela” is being heard even louder among the workers and youth of Greece.

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