Successful Hands off Venezuela Conference 2018

HOVconference330 trade union, Labour Party and solidarity delegates and activists participated in the Hands Off Venezuela Conference in London on 8 December. The conference was also the English language premier of Marcha (“March”): the new Terra TV documentary on the peasant march to Caracas in July this year. The delegates passed a strongly worded resolution rejecting imperialist aggression against the Venezuelan Revolution.

The conference started with a screening of the documentary. It depicted the 21-day trek by land reform activists and peasants, who covered over 400 km by foot to reach the capital. The march was to protest sicariato (the killing of peasant activists by hired guns of the landowners) and the eviction of peasant communities from land plots, given to them under the Chavez-initiated agrarian reform. The documentary follows the peasants as they make their way to Caracas, and are finally received by president Maduro in a meeting broadcast live on national TV. It also explains how, in the aftermath of the march, many of the promises made to them were broken.

HOVconferencescreeningThe film was followed by a lively discussion about the current situation of the Bolivarian Revolution. The documentary has been produced by Terra TV, a new project that aims to provide peasant activists with a platform to broadcast their views and struggles. You can contribute to the project by making a donation here (scroll down for English version). If you would like to organise a screening of the film please get in touch: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The documentary and discussion were followed by a break in which participants were offered cachapas, empanadas and coffee, which had been prepared by comrades Amancay and Carolina, and all of which were delicious!

The meeting resumed with Jorge Martin, the secretary of the campaign, giving an overview of the Bolivarian Revolution since Chávez was elected 20 years ago in 1998. Jorge explained the gains and conquests in the revolution (in education, healthcare, housing, poverty reduction, etc) as well as the political evolution of president Chávez from someone who talked about a “third way” to an open advocate of socialism.

Jorge also explained the constant imperialist aggression the revolution has suffered, from the April 2002 coup, to the oil sabotage of December 2002, the multiple guarimbas (violent street riots), coup plots, assassination attempts, diplomatic pressure and economic sabotage. All of this has been instigated by the Venezuelan oligarchy and imperialism, chiefly in the US but also Spain and the EU.

Finally, Jorge explained the current economic crisis facing Venezuela, the reasons for it and its impact on the mass of working people, peasants and the poor. He said that the revolution could only be saved by completing it along the lines that Chavez advocated in his last speeches; with the “pulverisation of the bourgeois state” and a socialist economy.

Amongst those present was Venezuelan Ambassador to the UK, Rocío Maneiro, who also addressed the conference. She explained the urgent need to oppose sanctions against Venezuela and explained the impact these are having. She also commended the discussion at the HOV conference “for dealing with the real problems facing the revolution”.

HOVconference2Attending the conference were delegates from the NUJ, UCU, PCS, the Coventry Trades Council; in addition to comrades from Paraguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil and many other countries. There was a fruitful discussion about the challenges facing the Bolivarian Revolution in which all agreed that our first duty is to fight against sanctions, coup plotting and any form of imperialist aggression.

The conference passed a unanimous resolution (see full text here) along these lines, which included special reference to the scandalous behaviour of the Bank of England, which is currently withholding 14 tonnes of gold belonging to Venezuela, worth 431 million pounds. Banking institution Euroclear was also condemned for refusing to clear $1.2bn which Venezuela had sent in order to pay for the import of medicines and food.

The conference also approved the campaigns’ accounts and elected a new committee to coordinate its activities in the next period.

The HOV conference also passed a motion welcoming the formation of the European Network in Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and decided to affiliate to and participate in it. 

As the conference came to an end, comrades joined the Movement of Ecuadorians in the UK at their social in nearby SOAS.


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