London discusses Venezuelan revolution!

Some 50 activists participated in a very intense day of discussions during the Conference of Hands off Venezuela in London, on May 22. The main guests of the Conference were Katy Jaimes and Elías Chacón, active in the Socialist United Party (PSUV) and the PSUV youth as well as the movement of occupied factories, who had travelled from Venezuela to report on the current situation of the Bolivarian revolution.

Katy Jaimes, a delegate to both the founding congress and the recently finished extraordinary congress of the PSUV, explained how the party’s aim was to be a tool “for the workers and by the workers” in order to fight for socialism. She explained how the party had initially got more than 7 million registered members (in a country of 27 million inhabitants) and how more than 2.5 million of those were participating actively and had voted in the election of the delegates to the party’s congress.Katy Jaimes

She explained the achievements of the revolution in the fields of education, health care, the launching of the Simon Bolivar communications satellite and others, but stressed that the main conquest of the revolution was that “now we have a people which has awoken, has said enough is enough and taken its future into its own hands”. The opposition and the mass media internationally constantly attack Chavez for his role in the Bolivarian revolution, but Katy Jaimes made it clear that the revolutionary movement in Venezuela goes beyond the president and that as a matter of fact it started “in 1989 with a peoples’ uprising against the austerity package of Carlos Andres Perez”, the Caracazo. Following on from this, she reminded the audience of the austerity measures being planned by the new Conservative-Liberal government in Britain and asked them “what are you going to do about it? When are you going to start the British revolution!?”.

Elías Chacón went on to explain the situation of the workers movement, including the mood of enthusiasm of the recent congress of the National Workers’ Union (UNT) which met in December 2009 and April 2010. Elías has been involved in the movement of the occupied factories, which he explained, shows in practice that the “workers can run the factories without bosses, and even improve the quality standards of production”, giving examples from INVEVAL (valve-making factory in Miranda), INAF (plumbing parts) and others.

Chacón also explained how these factories were also facing the sabotage of the bureaucracy. In the case of INAF, for instance, president Chavez had decreed its nationalisation in a public broadcast last November, but this had not yet been implemented. He linked this to the call by president Chavez to do away with the bourgeois state which still exists in Venezuela. Finally, he also stressed that the struggle for socialism has to be international and how in this the role of the solidarity movement is crucial.

We were also pleased to have Venezuelan Ambassador Samuel Moncada speaking in this session, with a presentation dealing with the outrageous campaign of media manipulation against Chavez and the Venezuelan revolution. This included not only the open and blatant lies of Fox News and others, but also the more subtle disinformation of “respectable” outlets like BBC News, he explained.

Ambassador Samuel MoncadaMoncada explained how the United States has a long history of intervention in Latin America and how it is still today, a threat to the Bolivarian Revolution. He went into detail about the US military presence in the region, not only in Colombia, but also in the Dutch islands of Aruba and Curaçao, just off the coast of Venezuela.

A lively question and answer session, showed the interest of the audience in the most recent developments of the revolution, including the question of the ownership of the means of production, the Bolivarian militia, etc.  The morning session finished with a unanimous vote in favour of resolutions about the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution, against the threat of US intervention and in solidarity with the struggle of the occupied factories and demanding their nationalisation (see text of the resolutions).

In the afternoon Conference reopened with a report from Roberto Navarrete, producer of “Inside the Revolution”, who explained the enormous interest there is in India for the Venezuelan Revolution and the call for a V International. The conference continued with a discussion with Alan Woods, editor of www.marxist.com, about Chávez’s call for the formation of a V International. He explained the importance of such a call, “the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that the question of socialism has been put firmly on the table” and argued in favour of such an international, based, as Chavez had explained on the “struggle against capitalism, imperialism and for socialism”. Alan said that in his opinion, these were broad enough points on the basis of which revolutionaries could and should unite their efforts.  He also added that there were forces, “bureaucrats and reformists”, which wanted to prevent it “from coming into being”.

There was a lively discussion on this question, dealing with the question of whether it was possible to separate the struggle against capitalism from the struggle against imperialism, about the question of diplomatic and trade alliances of Venezuela with countries like Iran (“which is not a revolutionary regime, on the contrary, a counter-revolutionary one”, Alan explained), how would this new International look like, whether there was not a danger of it being taken over by bureaucrats from different countries rather than being a genuine revolutionary body, amongst others.Alan Woods

Finally a resolution welcoming Chavez’s call for the V International and instructing the HOV committee to start discussions on this question within the campaign and in the wider labour movement was passed unanimously.

Amancay Colque from the Bolivia Solidarity Campaign reported back from the Peoples’ Earth Summit in Cochabamba. She explained how Bolivian president Evo Morales had made it clear that “if capitalism lives Mother Earth dies”, linking clearly the struggle for the environment with the struggle against capitalism.

Andy Higginbottom from the Colombia Solidarity Campaign reported back from the Enlazando Alternativas counter-summit to the EU – Latin America heads of state summit in Spain which he had attended the previous weekend.  Andy stressed the role that European and particularly British multinationals play in the expoliation of third world countries, the destruction of the environment, attacks on trade union rights, etc. As a case example of this he highlighted the struggle of oil workers and the communities in Casanare, Colombia (http://www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk/campaigns/19-bp/490-bp-in-casanare-workers-back-mobilisation-continues).

The discussion included many issues, including solidarity with the Resistance movement against the coup in Honduras which took place a year ago. Katrina Annis and José Sagaz explained the work of the Coordinadora Latinoamericana, the coalition of solidarity campaigns and Latin American workers’ groups, which HOV is a part of.

HOV conferenceAgain, resolutions were voted on solidarity with Honduras, congratulating John McDonnell’s role in supporting Venezuela and supporting his bid for Labour Party leader, reaffirming the campaign’s work with the Coordinadora, and finally a new Steering Committee of the campaign was elected (see resolutions and list of the Steering Committee members)

It was a very packed day, full of information and discussion and we would like to thank all those who participated and particularly all those who worked hard to make it happen.



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