At this year's International Encuentro (gathering) in Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, Canada's delegation was one of the largest, second only to the delegation from neighbouring Colombia. The Vancouver Internationalist Bolivarian Circle "Bob Everton" teamed up with the Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC) to send a particularly large delegation from British Columbia. On May 26th, Vancouver supporters of the revolution were invited out to hear a report back from the some of the BC delegates. The panel included speakers from the Bolivarian Circle, from the encuentro's organizing committee, and from the Vancouver trade union movement. They showed slides and reported on the workshops that they had attended in different parts of the country. The discussion dealt with participatory democracy, alternative media, the incredible advances that have given millions of people access to education and healthcare, and the inspiring nationalization under workers' control of Venepal and CNV. The call was made for the BC labour movement to recognize and support Venezuela's growing democratic trade union federation, the UNT (National Union of Workers).

Interest in the Bolivarian Revolution is growing in Vancouver, and despite the first beach hot weather of the year, sixty people came out to learn more about the events and discussions taking place in Venezuela. Along with the Bolivarian Circle and Hands Off Venezuela, representatives were present from the preparatory committee for the World Festival of Students and Youth, Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba, and Korean Students Against War. With several educational and solidarity events planned for June, we can expect to reach new layers of Vancouver workers, youth and immigrant communities.

For more information on these and other events, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Two years ago, the United States government organized an unsuccessful military coup against the democratically elected government of Venezuela, headed by President Hugo Chavez. Many US representatives, first and foremost Condoleezza Rice, has called Chavez a "negative force" in the region. Since the attempted coup, the US government has been beating the war drums while making preparations for war against Venezuela.

The underlying motivation of the US government is clear: the Chavez government has been shifting the benefits from the country's oil wealth from the rich giant corporations to the vast majority of the population by providing food, housing, health care and education. Moreover, Hugo Chavez has recently spoken out against US "free market" policies that overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy few. He has nationalized some industries and has declared Venezuela's right to institute democratic socialism to further this development. He also opposes the U.S. war in Iraq. The stakes are high. Therefore, we believe it is vitally necessary for all those in the US and around the world to affirm Venezuela's right to determine its own destiny by joining forces to forge a resistance to the US government's aggressive aims. 

The Hands Off Venezuela Campaign has started meeting in San Francisco to try and raise awareness about the inspiring events in Venezuela and to organize against the threats against them from the US government. A report on recent developments by Sonia Zerpa , a resident of Caracas, Venezuela will be presented at the meeting.

NEXT MEETING: 7pm on Thursday, June 9, at Centro del Pueblo in the auditorium, 474 Valencia St. SF. Call Adam Richmond at 415 864 3537 for more info or to arrange a speaker to talk about the inspiring events in Venezuela and the need to protect it from US attack.

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HOV supporters in Germany have stepped up their activities in recent weeks. The recent appeal to American trade unionists has been translated and distributed at May Day rallies and other events, with many activists signing.

In April, Venezuelan foreign minister Ali Rodriguez met representatives of solidarity groups in Berlin to discuss their work. Local HOV supporter Alex Dirmeier grasped the opportunity by handing over a petition to Ali Rodriguez calling for the nationalisation of the CNV valve factory. The minister gave a friendly and sympathetic response, explaining that the government was considering nationalisation (as it happened a few days later).

In German HOV meetings we attach a lot of importance to the fact that with the case of CNV another important and significant nationalisation has taken place in Venezuela. Whereas in Germany and elsewhere in the world trade unionists are engaged in bitter struggles against many cases of privatisation and have lost most of these struggles, Venezuela shows that a different direction of events is possible. This serves as source of inspiration and encouragement.

In Cologne, where the local HOV group holds regular public meetings, a Venezuelan student involved in the local solidarity work gave an impressive report of her recent stay in Venezuela which included visits to the nationalised Venepal (now: Invepal) factory, a meeting with president Chávez and other important events and interventions by the comrades there.

In recent weeks, important sections of ['solid], the socialist youth organisation close to the PDS, have affiliated to the HOV campaign. This includes above all the federation in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's biggest state, where the regional assembly voted unanimously on the resolution moved by the Cologne branch which had already become an active part of the campaign earlier on.

The resolution confirms that HOV is the most profound and internationally based solidarity campaign defending the process of the Bolivarian Revolution. ['solid] will try to organize various events to campaign in favour of the Venezuelan comrades. ['solid] truly believes that the Hands Off Venezuela campaign offers a specific socialist perspective and is a viable perspective for defending the revolutionary process, reports Timothi Maywood from Cologne who is a spokesman of ['solid] in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Of course, ['solid] will work closely together with comrades from other Hands Off Venezuela comitees as well as with the official comitees preparing for the "16th World Festival of Youth and Students". ['solid]-North Rhine-Westphalia promised to donate 150 Euro for the international solidarity fund in order to help comrades from Namibia to take part in the Festival. Several comrades of us will also take part this August and prepare discussions on the "possibilities and perspectives of nationalization" and on "youth resistance against the nazis".

['solid] will now focus on creating HoV-comitees in different areas all over North Rhine-Westphalia with the help of its local branches and try to establish relations to the trade union and labour movement. We believe that the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign can be the making for socialist ideas among workers and youth and can serve a strong internationalist class position within the German labour movement.

On May 19, Hans-Gerd Öfinger was invited to the town of Celle (Lower Saxony) to speak on the development in Venezuela and the HOV campaign in Germany. Over 40 persons, local left wing activists from different backgrounds and youth, attended the meeting and - according to the comrade who had initiated the event - were impressed with the revolutionary process as well as the analysis and non-sectarian approach to the Bolivarian movement put forward in the lead-off.
Hans-Gerd emphasised the need for the German trade unions organised in the DGB to break all links with the Venezuelan CTV (which is still a section of the ICFTU) and accept the UNT as the only legitimate workers' union federation in the country. DGB chairman Michael Sommer (who is a leading figure in the ICFTU) had recently made a tour to Latin America and reported on his political talks in the DGB website. However, there is silence about what Michael Sommer did in Caracas and whom he met there. "I have tried to get an answer to my question for a week, but unfortunately nobody in the DGB headquarters has been able to tell me what Michael Sommer did in Caracas", Hans-Gerd criticised.

With the election campaign starting in Germany, HOV will also explain the scandalous role played by German politicians in relation to Venezuela. Whereas the Social Democrats keep fiddling around with the Venezuelan opposition party AD, a liberal MP named Karl Addicks recently denounced President Chávez as a "dangerous agitator" who was about to lead the country into chaos and civil war. The world had to prepare for a big bushfire in Latin America, Addicks warned. This shows the frame of mind of leading bourgeois politicians in Germany who might take over government in the country if the social democrats lose in the forthcoming elections.

So whatever happens there will be a lot to do for HOV in Germany. We are planning interventions in open air events and a continuation of our discussion meetings and film shows.

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These are the signatures from American trade unionists and workers to the appeal to the U.S. government to stay out of Venezuela.

Jenny Peshut, AFSCME Local 82 and Industrial Workers of the World [IWW] Lucy Parsons Bolivarian Circle
Brad Sigal, AFSCME Local 3800, Treasurer
Jeff Pilacinski, IWW, AFSCME
Richard Mellor, AFSCME, Retired rank and file member and official
Nick Neumann, IWW
Michael Eisenscher, American Federation of Teachers Local 1603
Bill Onasch, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1287, Retired Vice-President
Brandon Lovejoy, Inland Boatman's Union & Sailors Union of the Pacific
Michael Hureaux Perez, National Education Association, Seattle, Proxy Building Representative
Teresa Gutierrez, Committee in Defense of Immigrants/IAC
Joe Piette, National Association of Letter Carriers
Bryan G. Pfeifer, Graduate Employee Organization-UAW Local 2322
Sako Sefiani, American Federation of Teachers Local 1521(AFL/CIO), Professor
John Reimann, Carpenters Union Local 713 (expelled member), former Recording Secretary
Bob McCubbin, California Teachers Association
Albert Grigorian, Teamsters, Inventory controller
J. Wade Hannon, TRADE College professor, North Dakota Public Employees Association, AFT Local 4660,AFL-CIO, Member, Board of Directors & Chapter 42 President
Lewis Lubka, Retired College professor, North Dakota Higher Education Association, NEA, Retired
Mike McCallister, National Writers Union/United Auto Workers Local 1981, former Membership/Organizing Director, At-Large Unit
Steve Gillis, USWA Local 8751, President, Boston School Bus Union
Allyson Kennis, National Education Association, IEA local 143
Jerry Silberman, Penna. Association of Staff Nurses
Anthony Budak, IUE-CWA Local 717, Local Executive Board 15 years, Local and National Bargaining Committee 4 years, now retired
Lewis Lubka, Retired National Education Association
Cathleen A. Higgins, member of MOSES
Corrado Cotumaccio, Staff Employees Union, Local 509, Strategic Campaign Research
Russell Ford, UFCW Local 655, Fenton Mo
Jon Flanders, past President International Association of Machinists , Local 1145
Gabriel Camacho, Massachusetts, UNITE-HERE Local 66; Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Mass. State Chapter President
Mr. B. Kelly, New Milford, NEA-Danbury, Educator
David Walters, Pacifica, IBEW 1245, shop steward
Jonathan Nack, Oakland, CA, IWW
Fred Hirsch, San Jose, California, Plumbers & Fitters Local 393, Vice President
Andy Griggs, Los Angeles, United Teachers Los Angeles, AFT 1021, Chair, Human Rights Committee
Thomas Stadelmann, Plymouth, Educator MTA
Sheila Collins, New Rochelle, NY, American Federation of Teachers, Professor
Jim Jordan, Trumbull Co. Vienna, NEA
stanley Aronowitz, New York City, American Federation of Teachers, Professional Staff Congress, University wide officer, member of the executive council
Guerry Hoddersen, Seattle, Political Staff Workers Union Local #1
Will Johnston, Tulsa, Transportation Workers Union local 514
Glenn Burleigh, St. Louis, MO, CWA, Organizer
Ann E. MacKinnon, Lee, N.H., American Postal Workers Union, Postal Clerk
Martha Bushnell, Boulder, CO USA, self employed, Home Maker
Jack Radey, Eugene, Oregon, Associate Producer
Jeremy Prickett, Oakland, IAM Local 389, former elected trustee
Matthew K. Owen, San Bernardino, CA, ACORN
Paula Sirola, Los Angeles, SAGE-UAW

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Jaime Solares, the main leader of the Bolivian Workers’ Union (COB), the country’s trade union confederation, together with Bolivia’s most important trade union and social movement leaders have signed the "Open Letter to US trade unionists".

The Open Letter, launched by the Hands Off Venezuela campaign, draws attention to the belligerent statements of the Bush administration against Venezuela and warns that this is the kind of language that in the past has been used to prepare for war and intervention. The Open Letter therefore calls on trade unionists in the US to put pressure on Washington to prevent any further US interference in Venezuela.

Among the Bolivian leaders signing the appeal are Miguel Zubieta, the main leader of the Bolivian Miners’ Trade Union Federation (FSMTB); Angel Durand, leader of the Landless Peasants Movement (MST); Felipe Quispe "El Mallku", leader of the Pachacutik Indian Movement (MIP) and one of the country’s most respected Indian leaders; Abel Mamani, the leader of the El Alto Neighbourhood Juntas Federation, which played a key role in the mobilisations which brought down the Sanchez Lozada government in October 2003; and Carlos Luna, the leader of the El Alto State University Students Centre (UPEA). Also signing the appeal are three of the country’s most well known political prisoners: the Colombian peasant leader Pacho Cortés, who has already spent two years in jail wrongly accused of "narco-terrorism"; Gabriel Pinto, leader of the MST who has already been in jail for nearly a year, accused of having participated in the Ayo-Ayo uprising; and Marcelino Jancko, a founding member of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), leader of the Chaparé peasants and jailed since April 2003 on trumped up charges of "carrying explosives". The Peruvian militant Cesar Zelada, coordinator of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign in Perú, who also spent three months in jail in Bolivia on trumped up charges of "carrying explosives" also signs the appeal.

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