Jorge Martin speaking tour - Toronto and Hamilton

After a five hour drive from Ottawa, the Revolutionary Venezuela speaking tour arrived in Toronto and travelled to Hamilton the day after.

We were now entering day 4 of Jorge Martin's tour across North America where he was scheduled to speak in Toronto in the evening of May 2. The HOV group arrived in Toronto at 4 in the morning after 5-hour drive from Ottawa where we had had a very successful event.

img_0232.jpg The Toronto meeting, which was organised with the help of Fightback, Ryerson Students Union, and the "Louis Riel" Bolivarian Circle, was attended by about 45 people. Notable amongst the audience was the Venezuelan Vice Consul who thanked HOV and others for organizing this tour.

Jorge started his speech by referring to the April 2002 coup which was defeated by the people in less than 48 hours, a movement that has never been seen in the history of Latin America, if not the world. This event was a major turning point for the Bolivarian Revolution as it demonstrated the strength of the Venezuelan people. He then continued to talk about the less known oil sabotage in December 2002 that was carried out by the oligarchy and its lackeys who formed the top management levels of the state-owned oil industry, PDVSA. This economic coup was again defeated by the people when the rank-and-file oil workers with the help of the surrounding communities occupied the oil companies and ran the industry by themselves without the managers. This particular event was very important because it showed that if the workers can run the oil industry, which is very advanced from the technological point of view, then the workers can definitely run the whole of the country's economy themselves.

Jorge also brought up the fact that Chavez has promoted Trotsky's idea of permanent revolution and recommended the study of Trotsky ideas. This particular point generated many questions and comments from the audience on the nature of the Bolivarian Revolution, the influence of the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky in the course of the revolution, and where it should go.

poster2.jpg Jorge stressed that the three main challenges facing the Venezuelan revolution were the question of the state apparatus (still a IV Republic capitalist state blocking the initiatives of the revolution, as shown by the attack on Sanitarios Maracay workers), the question of the economy (still largely in hands of the oligarchy and imperialism which use their control of economic power to sabotage the revolution as seen with the sabotage of the food distribution chain) and the question of revolutionary organisation through the building of the Socialist United Party which has already started.

All in all the event was a success. It raised the very important question of the nature of "Socialism in 21st century".

Workers' occupation in Hamilton

The next destination of the tour was Hamilton, a blue-collar city which is at the centre of the manufacturing industry in Ontario. Here in Hamilton, the question of workers' control and factory occupations raised by the actions of workers in Venezuela has become even more relevant. On the very same day as we were holding our event, the workers of Hamilton Specialty Bar occupied the factory. This was in response to the company's move to end about 500 retirees' medical and dental coverage as of Friday, May 4. The occupation ended the next day with a complete victory as the workers won all their demands. A similar workers' occupation took place in Scarborough, Ontario last month, where the auto part workers occupied the plant for 2 days in response to the factory closure that was taking place.

Here, Jorge again explained the need to learn from the enormous power of workers' control in Venezuela. While he also reminded the 35 strong audience of workers and youth that one of the main problems of the Bolivarian Revolution is that the economy is not yet fully under workers' control. Questions surrounding the economic organization that the Bolivarian Revolution should embrace were discussed. The issue of arming the people in defense of the revolution was also raised during the discussion.

HOV Canada would like to thank the Hamilton Skydragon Centre for organizing the Hamilton event; and the Bolivarian Circle "Louis Riel", Ryerson Students Union and Fightback for organizing the Toronto event.

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