Three hundred people attend “Hands Off Venezuela!” seminar at European Social Forum

On May 7, the Greek Hands Off Venezuela! committee, together with the German group Network Cuba and the Marxist journal Marxistiki Foni, organised an important seminar on the Bolivarian Revolution. Close to 300 people turned up making the event an important step in strengthening solidarity work in Greece.

On Friday, May 7, the Greek Hands Off Venezuela! committee, together with the German group Network Cuba and the Marxist journal Marxistiki Foni, organised an important seminar on the “Bolivarian Revolution and Socialism of 21st Century” at the 4th European Social Forum in Athens.

The 300-capacity hall where the seminar was held was almost full, mostly young people. This big attendance reflects the big interest that exists among the youth and the workers of Europe in the Bolivarian Revolution. Also it reflects the excellent work of the Greek HOV committee and of the supporters of Marxistiki Foni who had organised a special coordination meeting to prepare the seminar and in the week prior to the event they had given out thousands of leaflets all over Athens announcing the seminar. 

“Hands Off Venezuela!” seminar at European Social Forum

The first speaker of the seminar was Victor Chirinos, the Vice president of the Venezuelan parliament. He gave an historical overview of the Bolivarian Revolution, emphasising to the conquests of the revolution.

After Chirinos, Kiomara Tortoza, a cadre of the solidarity group Salon protagoniko explained the role of imperialism in the attempt to undermine the Bolivarian Revolution.

The third speaker was Carlos Oliva, a Cuban cadre of ALBA, who emphasized the role of Cuba as a point of reference in the progressive developments all over Latin America.

The next speaker was the intellectual and advisor to Chavez, Heinz Dietrich who support his theories on “socialism of the 21st century”, but by trying to convince the audience that the main point of the movement in Latin America is the conquest of a welfare state like this the one that exists in Europe!

“Hands Off Venezuela!” seminar at European Social Forum

The representative of Marxistiki Foni and of the Greek Hands off Venezuela! Committee, Stamatis Karayannopoulos opposed the reformist theories of Dietrich by quoting and defending the words of Hugo Chavez who had officially stated one year ago that there is no place for a “humanitarian” capitalism and that socialism is the only solution for the masses in Latin America. “We must defend the big conquests of the Bolivarian Revolution, but is not in the interests of the revolution to transform the faults and weakness of the revolution into a model for the people of the world. The best support for the Bolivarian Revolution is to understand that to support the task of the completion of the revolution needs moving to the socialist tasks and the fight to internationalise the socialist revolutionary process all over Latin America and all over the world”. These were the words of Stamatis Karayannopoulos who received a big applause from the audience, but also provoked ironic smiles on the part of Dietrich and a few noisy supporters of his opinions in the audience.

Also, a very important contribution in the discussion was offered by the coordinator of the student section of Hands Off Venezuela! in Greece, Panagiotis Kolovos. He explained the vital role of the labour movement in the revolution by reporting on many examples of factories that have been taken over and are developing under workers’ control, proving the possibilities of the workers to run the whole economy. It was unfortunate that the few supporters (2 or 3) of Dietrich’s opinions constantly interrupted the young speaker, helped by the chair of the seminar Kristine Karch from Network Cuba, who, under the pressure of an overwhelming majority of the audience, finally let the member of HOV speak and explain his opinions.

After the speakers from the panel there was an interesting discussion in the seminar. Evi Tounda, a student supporter of Marxistiki Foni explained the role of the international HOV campaign all over the world by reporting the many successful actions of the campaign.

There was a very good intervention by Amilkar Figueroa, an old cadre of the Venezualan socialist movement, who spoke with enthusiasm about the discussion that has opened up on socialism in Venezuela and about the revolutionary fervour that is gripping the masses in Venezuela.

At the end of the seminar dozens of people left their addresses and phone numbers expressing their wish to participate actively in the HOV campaign and they also bought HOV material.

The seminar was yet another successful event organized by the HOV campaign, proving that this campaign is the most creative and enthusiastic solidarity campaign in defence of the Bolivarian revolution all over the world.

May 8, 2006

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