A major trade union initiative in solidarity with Venezuela has been launched by the Hands Off Venezuela campaign. Coinciding with the celebration of International Workers' day, Hands Off Venezuela is promoting an "Open letter to US trade unionists". The appeal comes after the recent belligerent statements and attacks on President Chavez on the part of the representatives of the Bush Administration, which, according to Jorge Martin, HOV international secretary, "pose a direct threat to the working people of Venezuela".

The aim of this campaign is to raise awareness within the labour movement in the United States about what is really happening in Venezuela and particularly about the threat posed by the aggressive stance of the US administration. "Such aggressive statements from the White House are of the same kind of language that was used to prepare the ground for US intervention in Vietnam, Cuba, Chile, Iraq and elsewhere," said Jorge. "The democratically elected government of Hugo Chavez has been accused of everything, from linking up with North Korea, supplying arms to the Colombian FARC guerrillas and funding the ‘subversive’ MAS in Bolivia, to forming an axis of evil with Cuba's Castro, starting an arms race in Latin America, and harbouring Al-Qaeda terrorists" he added, "but there is not a single shred of evidence for any of these accusations".

For this reason the campaign will be participating in May Day marches in more than 20 countries in three continents to highlight the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and collecting signatures of trade union activists and leaders for the "Open Letter to US trade unionists".

"We think that the only force that can stop intervention against Venezuela is the US labour movement, together with the youth, students and intellectuals and artists," Jorge explained. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has always stressed that the Bolivarian movement has nothing against the people of the US, only against the aggressive policies pursued by the Bush administration.

The Hands Off Venezuela campaign, active in more than 30 countries around the world, has been campaigning to defend the Venezuelan revolution for more than two and a half years. The campaign has been publicly backed by President Chavez, and more recently by Adan Chavez, the Venezuelan ambassador to Cuba who said, "I recognise the invaluable work of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign. I appeal to you to go forward, be sure that this work will give important fruits in the end".

Orlando Chirinos, national coordinator of the UNT (National Workers Union) in Venezuela recognised the campaign as "an extraordinary initiative. It is the only significant campaign that is taking place internationally." In an interview with Alan Woods, who was in Venezuela attending the 3rd World Gathering in Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, he said that he "considers the links between the UNT and the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign as very important". The campaign has been fighting to get recognition for the newly created UNT within the trade union movement in Europe.

It was in discussions with leading figures in the Bolivarian movement and the Venezuelan trade unions during Alan Woods’ visit, that the idea of the campaign was raised. "Revolutionary activists in Venezuela are very keen to reach ordinary working people in the US so that they can break the campaign of lies and propaganda of the mass media about what is really going on in Venezuela," said Alan Woods. The struggle in Venezuela is, amongst other things, against privatisation and for free health care and education for all. The labour movement in the United States surely can relate to these issues.

Hands Off Venezuela has also given material and moral support to the struggle of the workers in the occupied factories in Venezuela, particularly the Venepal paper mill and the valve making CNV factory. These companies were closed down by their owners as part of the campaign of sabotage against the democratically elected government of Hugo Chavez. The workers decided to occupy them, and after a long struggle the companies were expropriated and are now run under joint management of the state and the workers. At a meeting to discuss the role of the workers in the economy, which took place at the Caracas Central University (UCV), representatives of the workers in both factories thanked the Hands Off Venezuela campaign for the role played by international solidarity in their victories.

You can participate in the campaign by downloading the information leaflet and the petition and using it in your area, trade union branch or university.

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George W. Bush: Hands Off Venezuela!


We, as trade unionists, are making a direct appeal to our brothers and sisters in the United States on behalf of the people of Venezuela.

The recent belligerent statements and attacks on President Chavez coming from the representatives of the Bush Administration pose a direct threat to the working people of Venezuela. Such aggressive noises from the White House are the same kind of language that was used to prepare the ground for US intervention in Vietnam, Cuba, Chile, Iraq and elsewhere.

We therefore appeal to our friends in the American trade union movement to join with us in condemning these provocations and to place the maximum pressure on the Bush Administration to desist from these attacks.

We demand the right of the Venezuelan people to self-determination and no to imperialist interference.

(See also the letter from American workers and trade unionists to the U.S. government.)

See the signatures.

The Hands Off Venezuela Campaign, which is a broad-based campaign, was established to generate awareness about Venezuela within the labour and trade union movement and young people internationally


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A sizeable group of British and Latin American youth joined by other campaigners and trade unionists gathered in the Saint George’s Community Circle on April 23rd. The reason was not to celebrate Saint George’s Day but to critically debate the struggles all across the Latin American continent with a special focus in Venezuela. The event organised by this community centre, Hands Off Venezuela Campaign and New Generation ended with a gig that lasted till the small hours. Vegetarian food was served all day by the New Generation supporters at very affordable prices.

The day started with a workshop on the meaning of Bolivarianism and Socialism introduced by Jorge Martin, from the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign. The attendants discussed the real repercussions of both ideologies these days in the ongoing Venezuelan Revolution and what the real meanings of both terms for the Venezuelan masses are. After this interesting discussion the attendants had the chance to hear Colombia Solidarity Campaign activist Andy Higginbottom talking on the war launched by Coca-Cola on the Colombian Trade Union movement. It was hair-raising to hear how the thugs hired by this corporation have assassinated representatives of the workers inside Coca-Cola plants. Andy finished his talk by appealing to people to implement the Killer-Cola Boycott. Before lunch time Jorge Martin reported on the uprising and overthrowing of the Lucio Gutierrez government after he failed to fulfill the hopes of the masses in working and living conditions (see Ecuador: Popular uprising overthrows Lucio Gutierrez).

Around 4pm the school reached its peak with 50 people joining in the discussion conducted by Dave Raby (Institute of Latin American Studies in Liverpool) called “Transforming the Military”. Dave explained how besides the reactionary traditions of the South American military there was a progressive tradition. President Chavez and others organised clandestine military movements to overthrow the corrupt and pro-bosses governments of AD and COPEI (two main parties in Venezuela that alternated in power until they were ousted in 1998). Hugo Chavez himself got inspiration from progressive military movements in Panama and Peru. Next, different examples were given of how the Venezuelan armed forces were being used not for repressive ends, but for social ones. For instance, the Armed Forces are used to build houses and clinics in the shanty towns around Caracas. The debate was very animated and people discussed different issues, amongst them the formation of popular militias and the meaning of "the people in arms".

When the debates finished “Venezuela from Below” was screened while New Generation held salsa lessons. Afterwards, the attendants enjoyed a gig where samba bands, DJs, folk music bands and hip hop crews performed. One of the members of one of the Venezuelan bands that performed in the concert refused to be part of the event on the basis that the School and party were fundraising events to send young people to Caracas. The social polarisation around the Venezuelan revolution goes beyond the Latin American continent, and the repercussion of its victory will also go beyond the limits of Venezuela and Latin America.

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SATURDAY 23rd APRIL from noon till well after midnight at the St George's Circle Community Theatre, 49 Tufnell Park Road N7 (nearest tubes Tufnell Park and Holloway Road).

A day of workshops, films & debates followed by a night of dancing and jamming with Rhythms of Resistance, The Rub, Pok Star, Heroic Doses, Moonstone, DJ Mao Pelos (Candela Sessions) and many more... plus cabaret & comedy, all served up with spicy latin veggie meals and snacks.

A special event to promote a delegation from London to this year's World Festival of Youth & Students, happening in Caracas from August 7th - 15th (www.caracas2005.info) where there will also be the chance to stay and work with the radical communities in Venezuela.

See also our flyer and our program with an overview of the different workshops.



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Solidarity Messages
Here you can find various messages of solidarity.

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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