Solidarity Activities

The Hands Off Venezuela campaign had a good presence in today’s anti-G8 protests in Edinburgh. A couple of London based supporters joined their comrades in Edinburgh to inform the protesters about what is happening in Venezuela. 

“Make poverty history” was the main slogan visible in the Meadows where a wide range of groupings gathered. Primarily the finger was pointed to the terrible plight of African people dying from starvation. Hands Off Venezuela tried to focus on the miserable conditions people in Latin America are forced to live in. At the same time the campaign also tried to bring the message that a real change is possible and that this change is being implemented in Venezuela. Whilst the majority of the population still live in poverty, it is clear that the Bolivarian revolution has shaken the country from top to bottom and has brought about a considerable improvement to the lives of ordinary people. The literacy programs, access to healthcare for poor people, land reforms have all served to tackle poverty in a very rich country where the majority of the people have nevertheless been living in deep poverty for ages.

Our intervention, however, was not merely to cheerlead the formidable achievements that have been made through the revolution. We had very lively debates with interested people discussing the history of the country, the events surrounding the 2002 coup and most importantly, the way forward. What are the lessons to be learnt from the last few years? Since president Hugo Chavez repeatedly stated that capitalism cannot be reformed and that we have to go forward to socialism, this issue proved a very interesting point of debate.

Plenty of our leaflets were distributed, books, pamphlets and DVDs were sold, raising more than 100 pounds in total. An amazing number of people signed the Hands Off Venezuela appeal and expressed their interest to get involved and to stay updated about the Venezuelan revolution.


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One of the international guests at the Annual General Meeting of the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union, was Ruben Dario Linares Silva, national coordinator of the Venezuelan National Workers' Union (UNT) and vice-president of the United Transport Federation in Venezuela. The RMT congress took place in Exeter in South West England from June 26 to Friday July 1.

Ruben Linares

The RMT has been very supportive of the Venezuelan revolution for a number of years and has been closely collaborating with the Hands Off Venezuela campaign. A delegation from the RMT, including general secretary Bob Crow and president Tony Donaghey, was present at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre earlier this year when Chavez made the speech in which he said that the Bolivarian revolution had to go towards socialism. A whole number of RMT branches have also affiliated to the campaign and the union's president spoke at the recent public meeting in London with UNT representative Anastacio Rodriguez.

Speaking to the RMT conference on Monday, June 27, Ruben Linares thanked the RMT for having invited him to attend their conference and explained the basic aims of the Venezuelan Revolution and how they have improved the conditions of working people and trade unionists. He explained how the new Bolivarian constitution had become a weapon of struggle: "Our revolution is armed, it is armed with this constitution," he said, showing the delegates one of the pocket size editions everybody in Venezuela carries. Ruben also described how the policies of Thatcherism, "which started in your country 25 years ago, also hurt our peoples, the policies of privatisation and neoliberalism". The Bolivarian Revolution "has put an end to privatisations, no more privatisations," he emphasised, describing this move as part of a continent-wide rejection of Thatcherism in Latin America, including the uprising in Arequipa, Peru, "which defeated the privatisation of electricity".

Ruben Linares, a very powerful speaker, described how Chavez has said that the only way forward is socialism "and socialism is what we are building in Venezuela, taking into account the local conditions". The mood in the conference was electric as delegates identified with the revolutionary spirit he was bringing from Venezuela. Ruben Linares ended his speech paraphrasing Che Guevara: "Let those who are born know, let those who are yet to be born know, the workers are on struggle, and we were born to be victorious, we were not born to be defeated"! The whole conference exploded in a heartfelt standing ovation.

Three quarters of all delegates signed the Hands Off Venezuela petition, and many took information and leaflets from the campaign and were generally very enthusiastic to get involved. By the end of the day, most delegates were wearing the distinctive Hands Off Venezuela stickers and pledged to take the message back to their branches and regions.

The visit by Ruben Linares, a national coordinator of the UNT, who also met with the TUC International Department, is an important step forward in the struggle to get the UNT recognised by the international trade union movement.

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On the occasion of the National Conference of UNISON (public sector workers union) the Hands Off Venezuela and the Colombia Solidarity Campaign supporters in UNISON organised a meeting on the evening of June 22 to catch the attention of the delegates attending the conference of the biggest trade union in Britain. The appeal of the meeting went beyond the UNISON conference and there were several students from the University of Glasgow, some Labour party members as well as Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) members who were responsible for organising the meeting.

Andy Higginbottom, Colombia Solidarity Campaign Secretary, opened the meeting. Andy explained the relationship between paramilitaries, government and multinational companies in Colombia who are right behind the onslaught that the social and trade union movement has suffered over 20 years. This repression has worsened since Uribe Velez was elected as president of Colombia in 2003. Andy illustrated the level of collaboration of the Colombian army and the paramilitaries by saying that the same soldiers wear the armbands of the Colombian army and the AUC (the main far right paramilitary group), depending of the actions they are going to execute. He also presented the Coca-Cola boycott as a tactic to denounce the violence that this company is employing against their workers in Colombia.

Ramon Samblas, Hands Off Venezuela spokesperson, followed on by explaining the improvements that the Venezuelan Revolution has brought about. It was really inspiring to hear that four new universities had opened their door with the aim of providing education to these layers in society that had never had this chance before.

“But all of that [the social programmes on housing, education and healthcare] has not been free from harassment and attacks from the US administration and the Venezuelan oligarchy. They can see that their power is slipping through their fingers and they have organised reactionary attempts to defeat this movement,” Ramon said to the audience. He went on explaining the different attacks on the part of US imperialism against Venezuela: coup d’etats, lock-outs, terrorism, diplomatic harassment, amongst other. The HOV activist reported on the experiences of workers’ co-management and finished up his contribution explaining the need for “going all the way through”, completing the process and install socialism in the country. The debate that Hugo Chavez has sparked about the need of the Venezuelan Revolution to follow a socialist path will help for sure.

Rosie Kane, SSP Member of the Scottish Parliament reported on her trip to Cuba where she had the chance to meet Fidel Castro. The MSP was invited to Cuba to attend an international event where people from all over Latin America and beyond denounced the crimes of imperialism. During three days, hundreds of people gave accounts of the abuse and violence they had suffered because of the terrorist methods of US imperialism. All these accounts were broadcast by Cuban TV which reaches the neighbouring islands and some Latin American countries. While in Cuba, Rosie spoke on Western hypocrisy and the need of tackling it together with the system that sustains it, capitalism. In her contribution, she despised British media because of the lack of interest in the struggle of the Cuban people against US imperialism. She illustrated this with an anecdote that happened to her the day after she came back from Cuba. A Guardian journalist phoned her and asked her, “What do you think about the architecture of Scottish Parliament building?” Her answer was “For Christ’s sake, I have met the leader of the Cuban Revolution and you are asking me about the Scottish Parliament Building!” She finished her contribution by saying that we have to support all the revolutionary movements that are taking in Latin America and the groups that are developing solidarity with these movements from Britain.

When the main speaker, Colombian trade unionist Juan Carlos Galvis started his speech there were 80 people packed in the room. Extra chairs had to be brought in to accommodate everybody. Some people had to stay outside because there was not enough space for them all. Juan Carlos spoke on behalf of SINALTRAINAL (Colombian beverages and food workers union) about the actions that the trade union had taken at a worldwide level against the abuse and violence that his trade union had suffered by Coca-Cola. Juan Carlos has been working for this company for 16 years.

He explained how SINALTRAINAL had opened four court cases against this company in the United States with the help of one of the US trade union that organise workers in the food and beverages industry. Horrifying examples were given of the level of violence against them by Coca-Cola altogether with the Colombian paramilitaries. The only “crime” they had committed was to organise workers and stand up for their rights. Amongst the methods used is the hiring of paramilitaries to kidnap, threaten and assassinate his trade union colleagues and the accusations of “rebellion”. In Colombia this is the first step to be accused of colluding with the guerrilla groups to “justify” the assassination of trade union, student or peasant activists. Jorge Humberto Bernal is one of Juan Carlos comrades. He was kidnapped by the paramilitaries in Cucuta. He was abducted, blindfolded and thrown into the back of a van. After he was driven around the city of Cucuta for 45 minutes, he was brought to a room where he was shown pictures of a SINALTRAINAL protest outside Coca-Cola bottling plant. He was told that if SINALTRAINAL carried out more protests, he and his comrades would be killed. Juan Carlos himself had suffered the threats of the paramilitaries.

The Colombian brother also explained the origins of the World campaign against Coke. After the company refused to even respond a document with basic demands to stop the violence against their own workforce SINALTRAINAL decided to launch a worldwide boycott against Coca-Cola in July 2003. After two years, the boycott has supporters in Britain, Ireland, Spain, France, Switzerland, US, Canada, Bolivia, Argentina, Venezuela and many more countries. Juan Carlos finished his speech vowing to fight against multinationals and therefore against capitalist globalisation. His speech was welcome with a standing ovation. Juan Carlos replied saying that the applause must go to all these that have shown solidarity with his Colombian fellow trade unionists.

A lively debate developed with some UNISON delegates asking other UNISON delegates to support the Hands Off Venezuela motion due to be debated at the Conference the very next day. Others asked for practical ways to implement the boycott and the question what to do to stop imperialist intervention against Cuba and Venezuela was raised. There were also people from the audience that highlighted the revolutionary movements in Bolivia and Ecuador. Above all, there was a feeling in the audience to go out and build solidarity with the movements that will expel imperialism from the continent and build a socialist society.

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The Hands off Venezuela campaign was established in Austria following the international appeal made in December 2002. We started our work with the distribution of the international appeal and the collection of signatures in defence of the Venezuelan revolution. 

The main force behind the campaign at this time was Der Funke. From the very beginning we directed the campaign towards the labour movement, in particular towards the Young Socialists (YS) and shop stewards. We have used conferences, district meetings and branches to move resolutions, distribute leaflets and hold public discussions in order to spread awareness of the developments in Venezuela and in the labour movement. At the last national conference of the YS in October 2004 HoV supporters submitted a resolution calling for the expulsion of counterrevolutionary organisations from the IUSY (the International Union of Socialist Youth). This resolution created a heated debate and received the support of many delegates.

In January 2004 the campaign organised a speaking tour with Hermann Albrecht, a trade union activist from Venezuela. During the recall referendum we showed our support for the revolutionary process by holding a rally in front of the Venezuelan embassy in Vienna and explained our perspectives for the Venezuelan revolution: “Hands off Venezuela – forward to socialism”. Just two months later the campaign, which had in the meantime established a close relationship with the Bolivarian Circle of Vienna, successfully thwarted an esqualido (a term used to describe the opposition in Venezuela) meeting by picketing the venue. The notorious ProVeO (Pro Venezuela Organization) tried to use the prestigious “Latin American Institute” to promote their anti-democratic positions in Austria. This was the first and last public meeting of the so-called “opposition” to be held in Austria, and was a big success for the international campaign.

At the Austrian Social Forum (ASF) in Linz in June 2004, the HoV campaign held a joint meeting together with the Communist Party of Austria. Despite the fact that Oskar Lafontaine was speaking at the same time, more than 40 people came to the meeting, making it one of the biggest single-issue meetings at the forum. The campaign then also took part in the organisation of the World Youth Festival to be held this August in Venezuela.


Through all these activities and through the inspiring example of the Venezuelan Revolution itself, we were able to build and involve other political forces in the campaign. A meeting was held last weekend with several people representing different organisations, currents and campaigns in order to discuss the perspectives of the revolution in Latin America and the basis for a joint effort to spread awareness of what is happening in Venezuela.

Several organizations were represented including: the YS Vienna and several district organisations of the YS, the youth organisation of the Trade Union of Private Employees, the Austrian-Cuban Friendship-Association, Energy for Cuba, the Bolivarian Circle and the Marxist tendency Der Funke. Jorge Martin, international secretary of the Hands off Venezuela campaign, was the special guest and gave those present an insight into the history, development, principles, and successes of the campaign.

Despite differing angles, stresses and perspectives, all participants agreed on the basic idea of establishing a campaign to defend the Venezuelan and Cuban revolutions.

The meeting passed a joint resolution. The campaign agreed on three main objectives for the work of the campaign in Austria:

a) To struggle against imperialist manoeuvres and aggression against the Venezuelan and Cuban Revolutions.

b) The establishment of direct contact and links between the Austrian and Venezuelan trade union movements in order to facilitate the work in favour of the recognition of the UNT in the Austrian and international labour movement.

c) To participate, on the principles of anti-imperialism and working-class solidarity, in the alternative summit to be held parallel to the summit of European Union and Latin American heads of state in Vienna in May 2006.

Sandra Stern (GPA-youth and President of the Austrian Preperation Comitee for the WFYS in Caracas), Martin Konecny (YS Vienna), Carlos Troger (Bolivarian Circle Vienna), Emanuel Tomaselli (Der Funke) at the podium

The next step for the campaign will be to establish a jointly managed www.haendewegvonvenezuela.org website which should be online sometime in July. All the organisations, currents and campaigns that agree to the basic resolution of the campaign will have access to the website to publish material on Venezuela and Cuba. There will also be discussion forums on the website. A special section will also be maintained in order to keep a close eye on corporate media reports on Venezuela.

Although all the ideas could not be discussed in depth at the plenary discussion due to a lack of time, all participants felt that the most difficult first step had been taken and that many more things would be undertaken by the “Hands off Venezuela” campaign in Austria. 

Workshop discussing the set-up of the campaign

As a final remark we would like to highlight a contribution made by a shop steward who was present at the meeting. Just a few weeks ago a delegate to the national conference of the ÖGJ (Trade Union Youth of Austria) raised the example of Venepal, the CNV and workers’ control of industry in Venezuela in general in the debate about the nationalisation of key industries. These examples helped the young trade unionists to sharpen their position on this vital issue. The ÖGJ now demands the complete nationalisation of Austrian industry under workers’ control.

This graphically shows that the revolution in Venezuela and Latin America is an inspiration to the most advanced layers of the working class in Europe. The experience of our comrades in Venezuela will help to sharpen their ideas, methods and programmes in order to fight capitalism in imperialist countries.

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The month of May and the first couple weeks of June have seen the Canadian Hands Off Venezuela campaign firmly establish itself in the province of Alberta’s capital, Edmonton, a healthy-sized city of around 1 million people. The combination of encouraging union support and impressive initial public event turn-outs shows promise not only for the growth of the campaign in Edmonton, but in the spreading of the campaign to the province’s other major city—Calgary.

Back in April, members of the Canadian Marxist Journal, Fightback, the New Democratic Youth of Alberta, the Alberta Federation of Labour Youth Committee and the Edmonton Chilean community met to discuss promoting the Bolivarian movement as well as officially getting the HoV campaign started in Edmonton. The first event planned was the June 4th free screening of the documentary “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” at the Edmonton Art Gallery movie theatre. The main purpose of this event was not to launch the HoV in Edmonton but to educate and inspire people about the Venezuelan revolution, in preparation for the campaign launch the following Saturday.


Before the film began, the 74 people in attendance heard Miriam Martin, one of HoV Canada’s organizers, speak on the history and current political situation in Venezuela. During the film the audience was very vocal of their disgust towards the perspective put forward by Venezuela’s private media, which is notorious for its extreme and sensationalist anti-Chavez position. What drew an even more angered response from the crowd was any instance in the film when a representative of the CIA was shown expressing their “concern with President Chavez’s interpretation of democracy”. The end of the film was met with a very enthusiastic applause which segued nicely into a lively discussion that included topics ranging from the character of taxation in Venezuela, to the benefits of workers’ control of production to what we can do here in Alberta to raise awareness.

Miriam Martin

On the following Saturday, June 11th, sixteen of the more dedicated individuals who had attended the screening came to the HoV Edmonton Kick-Off meeting held at the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 30 hall, to participate in the formulation of the Edmonton campaign and once again hear Miriam Martin speak. This time Miriam focused more on the latest developments in Bolivia and their relation to Venezuela as well as how the struggle in Venezuela was coming into direct conflict with American imperialism. After her lead-off, discussion, both political and organizational, helped shape the character of the campaign in Edmonton, giving special attention to work amongst youth and organized labour.

Plans were set out by the group to act upon a resolution passed in May 2005 by the Alberta Federation of Labour, a union network with over 30 union affiliates, representing over 125,000 workers in the province. The resolution called for the support of the progressive reforms being put forward by Chavez, the denunciation of foreign aggression against Venezuela, and for solidarity to be established between the labour movement here and the Bolivarian movement in Venezuela. The feeling was that this resolution would be the perfect pressure mechanism to encourage the AFL to take that extra step in endorsing the HoV on top of encouraging the AFL’s affiliates to endorse the campaign themselves. Presentation meetings are already being set up with many major unions to achieve these ends.

Roland Schmidt

One of the most exiting opportunities is the potential for the Edmonton group to help bring over one of HoV’s main international organizers via a University of Alberta program called the “Revolutionary Speakers’ Series”.  In the past this series has brought over people like Ralph Nader and Michael Moore.  Although not exactly “revolutionary”, this does exemplify the ability of the series to bring in influential individuals.

The freshly formed organizational committee has already set their meeting for the upcoming Friday, June 17, to iron out a division of labour for the organizers and plans for a screening of the other acclaimed documentary on Venezuela entitled “Venezuela Bolivariana”. Also, some of the organizers will be going down to Calgary shortly to meet with interested parties there in hopes of setting up a Calgary branch.

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Build Solidarity with the Venezuelan Revolution! Build the HoV Campaign!

The Hands off Venezuela Campaign held an excellent meeting at the University of London Union last night. More than 100 people attended the meeting to hear Ruth Winters (President of the FBU), Jorge Martin (International Secretary HoV), John McDonnell MP, Anastacio Rodriguez (teacher and UNT leader), and Jeremy Dear (General Secretary NUJ) who chaired the meeting, speak on the Venezuelan revolution and the need to continue building international solidarity.


Ruth Winters, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) President, started off by explaining the FBU’s long tradition of international solidarity, which includes solidarity campaigns for Cuba, Colombia, Iraq and Palestine. She compared the Colombian government to the one government in the region that actually governs in favour of working people – Cuba. To this we can now add Venezuela.

The FBU president explained that opposition was growing all across the world to the imperialist policies of the IMF and the World Bank, and that Chavez, like Castro, is not afraid to lead this opposition and criticise these policies. We must never forget that there are powerful vested interests in defeating the progressive movement in Venezuela. She urged all trade unions to keep these issues at the forefront, and to fight for truth, especially in the media. She ended by saying that the National Executive of the FBU had just ratified its affiliation to the Hands off Venezuela campaign, and that it was necessary to educate union members about the significance and meaning of what was happening in Venezuela. She expressed her pride in the FBU’s role in the Hands off Venezuela Campaign and that the FBU was proud to assist in building the campaign.


Jorge Martin, International Secretary of the Hands off Venezuela Campaign, having visited Venezuela several times over the last few years, was able to give a concrete picture to the revolution unfolding there. He began by explaining why the Hands off Venezuela Camapign believes that a revolution is taking place in Venezuela. The definition of revolution is when ordinary working people take their future into their own hands. This could clearly be seen in the Recall Referendum in August of last year, when 100,000 Electoral Platoons, each with 10 members, were organized to mobilise the population and to campaign in the referendum. This was an example of the revolutionary enthusiasm of the Venezuelan people, where 1 million people in a country of 25 million were organized to mobilise support in elections.

Jorge also explained the massive influence of the Venezuelan revolution throughout Latin America. A new wave of hope has spread across Latin America as a result of the Venezuelan revolution. In the past, many left-wing leaders and governments were elected in Latin America, but if they ever actually tried to do anything meaningful, they would face a coup, as was the case in Chile in the 1970s. Something similar happened in Venezuela in 2002, except that the masses came out to the streets and defeated the coup. This is an enormous inspiration to people all across Latin America, and shows that it is possible to fight, and to win.

Jorge ended by explaining the importance of Chavez raising the debate on socialism. For the first time in a long time, since the fall of the Berlin Wall 15 years ago, the question of socialism has been raised – and not by some small group, but by the president of a country and the leader of a mass movement. Everywhere across Venezuela, workers and peasants are debating and discussing how to build socialism in Venezuela.


Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary and chairman of the meeting, explained that because of the militant, democratic traditions and methods of the UNT, that the UNT had now become the largest trade union federation in Venezuela. He also informed the audience that Orlando Chirino, a UNT leader and the scheduled speaker for the meeting, could not be there due to a death in his family during the ILO Conference in Geneva. Anastacio Rodriguez, a leader of the Teacher’s Federation and UNT coordinator, and UNT representative at the ILO Conference in Geneva, came to speak in his stead.

Anastacio explained that before Chavez, Venezuela was in a mess. Millions of people had no chance of ever going to school and getting an education. When the Venezuelans looked for a model and an example in order to change their system, they only saw one system capable of creating a mass education system – the Cuban system. The education and health care misiones in Venezuela have been a success. 1 million people have participated in literacy programmes, and 1.6 million people have been able to continue their education and complete high school. With the introduction of the misiones, 52% of the population are in school. That is a revolution. The mision barrio adentro (inside the neighbourhood), the most extensive of Venezuela’s health missions, has provided some 56 million consultations, providing free healthcare and medicine to millions of people. That is a revolution.


He ended by explaining the importance of the UNT. For 50 years, nobody, not even the government could see the accounts of the old trade union federation, the CTV. Then the CTV assisted in the coup. He explained that the workers had broken the control of the bureaucracy, and that they now controlled their own union.

Many different people attended the meeting, who after the main speeches participated in a lively discussion. There were members of UNISON, the RMT, AMICUS, the FBU, the NUJ, and several other unions as well as members of many different solidarity campaigns.

Andy Higginbottom of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign (CSC) spoke about some of the developments in Colombia, and the importance of the Venezuelan revolution to the Colombia people. He explained the importance of building the boycott Coca-Cola campaign, and the BP (British Petroleum) campaign for all of Latin America. He ended by saying that if Gordon Brown and Bob Geldof were serious about solving the Third World debt crisis they had to do something serious about UK corporations who operate in these countries, rather than simply shed crocodile tears.

Amancay Colque of the Bolivia Solidarity Campaign explained that Bolivia was the poorest country in Latin America. George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice have blamed Chavez and the Venezuelan government for recent events in Bolivia. This is simply not true, and the events have nothing to do with Venezuela, but everything to do with BP, Esso, and Exxon. She pointed out that the struggle in Bolivia is the same struggle that is being fought here. She asked the audience to imagine the struggle for the nationalisation of the railways. The trade unionists present at the meeting were asked to sign a petition of support for the Bolivian workers and peasants. Lula and Kirchner have sent advisors to Bolivia to support the Bolivian bourgeoisie, hence it is extremely important that trade unionists and workers from around the world support trade unionists and workers in Bolivia, who are fighting for their rights and their future.

RMT President Tony Donaghey, expressed solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution and his pride in the RMT’s affiliation to the campaign. The Venezuelan revolution stands as an example to all people struggling for social reforms and their rights, including here in the UK. The UK is supposed to be the fourth richest country in earth, yet what do we see here? More cuts, privatisation, and poverty. The reforms in Venezuela, are an example of what many people need here in the UK. Many people were pleased at the achievements of the UNT, its independence and its accountability, adding that they wished something similar could be established here. Others explained that the best way to build solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution was to build the class struggle here in the UK, because the more we attack and weaken the ruling class here, the less able they will be to attack Venezuela.


John McDonnell, honorary president of the HoV campaign, explained that the Venezuelan revolution, and the drive to create a truly democratic society, was an inspiration to the entire world.

He explained that we have the straightforward task of building the campaign in a broad, non-sectarian way. Solidarity campaigns have always been infiltrated in the past, in order that these campaigns and movements can be split and derailed.

It is necessary to bring different groups together, because in the past, as Jeremy Corbyn MP pointed out at a previous meeting, for example around the events in Chile, we always mobilised after the events, after a coup for example. Now we have the opportunity to campaign beforehand, to protect the revolution, and to mobilise against the counter-revolution. He explained that although we all come from different political backgrounds and organisations, that the HoV campaign is an excellent way to come together and build solidarity. It is necessary to transmit the success of the campaign down to individual unions, branches, and political organisations and get them to affiliate to the campaign. It will also be necessary to transmit this success upwards, and get the TUC to commit to solidarity and to affiliate to the campaign.

He mentioned the importance of putting pressure on the Labour government. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (or as McDonnell described it, the Outreach Centre for the CIA) has made no comment on Venezuela in anyway. It is obvious that all ministers in the FCO have been warned off from saying anything on Venezuela. It is necessary to press the government and all ministers for their opinion on Venezuela, and to explain to them the democratic system there and the significance of events.

He ended by saying that new words, such as “globalisation” etc. have disappeared, and that people have reverted to using “imperialism” and “exploitation”. Our analysis has won, and we must explain and go back to these straightforward categories. We must sustain the revolution against imperialist aggression. We must build solidarity, and build the campaign. McDonnell then thanked the campaign for providing the ideas and the organization, and for pushing the movement forward.

A £180 collection was raised for the Hands off Venezuela campaign. At the end of the meeting, many of the participants went to the campus pub to continue to discussions informally. Everyone left the meeting enthused and determined to build the campaign, and to build solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution.


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A group of about 40 activists protested outside the US embassy in London on Monday, June 13, demanding that Washington accepts the extradition request for Posada Carriles to Venezuela.  Cuban-Venezuelan Luis Posada is wanted for blowing up an airliner in 1976, killing 73 people. He was arrested last month in the US, which is refusing to hand him over to Venezuela, where he escaped from jail. His partner in crime, Orlando Bosch, was given a presidential pardon by Bush the Elder and now lives in Miami, where they have named a street after him.
The protest picket, called jointly by Hands Off Venezuela, the Bolivian Solidarity Campaign and the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, also highlighted the hypocrisy of the US administration when it comes to dealing with "terrorists". In Colombia this year a total of seven US soldiers (including a colonel) have been arrested for, between them, selling ammunition to right-wing paramilitaries and attempting to smuggle cocaine into the US. Before the Colombian judiciary could blink, they were whisked out of the country to prevent further embarrassment and have not yet been charged with any crime.

Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada used to be President of Bolivia, before he ordered the massacre of peaceful protesters in 2003 and fled to Miami to escape the furious backlash. Bolivians want him tried for crimes against humanity, but that doesn't seem likely while he's protected by the US government, who immediately granted him political asylum.

The picket had been organised to coincide with an immigration hearing in El Paso, Texas, to decide Posada's fate. The case has become a major headache for George Bush, as Posada is hailed as a hero amongst the rich right-wing Castro-hating Miami Cubans who form a key component of his (and especially his brother's) base of support. However, refusal to extradite Posada will clearly make a mockery of the whole "War on Terror".

Luis Posada protest London 

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Protest Outside the US Embassy (Grosvenor Sq, London) Monday 13th June 4-7pm


"America has a message for the nations of the world: If you harbor terrorists, you are terrorists. If you train or arm a terrorist, you are a terrorist. If you feed a terrorist or fund a terrorist, you're a terrorist, and you will be held accountable." George W. Bush, 21st November 2001

Cuban-Venezuelan Luis Posada is wanted for blowing up an airliner in 1976, killing 73 people. He was arrested last month in the US, which is refusing to hand him over to Venezuela, where he escaped from jail. His partner in crime, Orlando Bosch, was given a presidential pardon by Bush the Elder and now lives in Miami, where they have named a street after him.

In Colombia this year a total of seven US soldiers (including a colonel) have been arrested for, between them, selling ammunition to right-wing paramilitaries and attempting to smuggle cocaine into the US. Before the Colombian judiciary could blink, they were whisked out of the country to prevent further embarrassment and have not yet been charged with any crime.

Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada used to be President of Bolivia, before he ordered the massacre of peaceful protesters in 2003 and fled to Miami to escape the furious backlash. Bolivians want him tried for crimes against humanity, but that doesn't seem likely while he's protected by the US government, who immediately granted him political asylum.

Notice a pattern?

The problem for Bush is that these cases all reveal the ugly underside of US foreign policy in Latin America. Declassified FBI documents prove Posada was a CIA agent (specialising in explosives) while also freelancing for the Las Vegas mafia. After escaping Venezuelan jail in 1985 he worked for Oliver North supplying arms to the US-backed Contras in their war against the left-wing Sandinista government in Nicaragua. His terrorist career continues in Cuba (where he had been a policeman under the Batista dictatorship) with a string of hotel bombings during an international youth festival in 1997, resulting in several injuries and the death of an Italian tourist. In an interview with the New York Times the following year Posada practically boasted about this terrorism. He was part of the infamous Operation Condor, which co-ordinated right-wing military dicatorships in the region for the US government, and has tried to assassinate Castro at least twice: once in Caracas in 1971 (while head of DISIP, the Venezuelan political police) and again in 2000 in Panama, where he served four years in jail before being pardoned by the outgoing president (who now lives in Florida).

On Monday 13th June, there will be an immigration hearing in El Paso, Texas, to decide Posada's fate. The case has become a major headache for George Bush, as Posada is hailed as a hero amongst the rich right-wing Castro-hating Miami Cubans who form a key component of his (and especially his brother's) base of support. However, refusal to extradite Posada will clearly make a mockery of the whole "War on Terror". Posada is a 77-year-old man who has lead a lifetime of terrorism directed against progressive movements in Latin America. The embarrassing fact that this terror was in line with US foreign policy and supported by the US government doesn't make harbouring him any less hypocritical. Join the international outrage over these double-standards and protest outside the US embassy in London on this day from 4pm to 7pm. Music, food and an open-mic, with speakers from Hands Off Venezuela, Bolivia Solidarity Campaign, Colombia Solidarity Campaign and others. Pass it on!



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On his way back from the International Labour Organisation Conference, Orlando Chirino, National Coordinator of Venezuela's National Workers Union (UNT) will be speaking at a meeting in London.

The UNT was founded in August 2003 as the response of democratic trade unionists in Venezuela to the fact that the unelected and illegitimate leadership of the CTV had supported and participated in the military coup in April 2002 and the bosses lock out in December 2002.

The UNT has now became the main trade union organisation in Venezuela and is actively participating in the struggle for workers' control and co-management that is taking place in state owned companies like Alcasa and Cadafe and recently nationalised ones like Venepal and CNV.

With decades of experience in the trade union movement, especially in the hard struggles of the textile workers, Chirino became one of the main trade union leaders in the industrial state of Carabobo, participated in the formation of more than 80 different unions and was a member of the regional trade union centre Fetracarabobo. He played a key role in the struggle against the coup in April 2002, and the bosses lock out of December 2002. He lead the foundation of the UNT in his capacity as a leader of the Bolivarian Workers' Force.

Other speakers at the meeting will be:

- Ruth Winters (President, FBU)
- John McDonnel, MP
- Jeremy Dear (General Secretary, NUJ)
- Bob Crow (General Secretary, RMT - invited)

With growing interest in the British trade union movement about the situation of the trade unions in Venezuela this is a unique chance to come and discuss.

June 15th
University of London Union
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HY
(nearest tube stations: Russel Sq, Goodge St, Warren St)
see map

Sponsored by: NUJ Central London, Colombia Solidarity Campaign, John McDonnel MP, Jeremy Dear (Gen. Sec NUJ), Latin American Bureau, Ealing Trades Council, Paul Mackney (Gen. Sec. NATFHE), Labour Left Briefing, and others. 


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San Francisco Bay Hands Off Venezuela held its first meeting in the Bay Area on May 19 at the New College of California. Twenty-seven activists from around the Bay discussed the need to mobilize against the U.S. government's attempts to destabilize and topple the popular democratic government in Venezuela. This meeting was organized as a broad-based, democratically structured, united front coalition on the basis of defending Venezuela's right to self-determination. However, in the process of mobilizing people around this principle, we want to take every opportunity to educate the American public about the revolutionary process unfolding in Venezuela. Those attending this meeting were individuals who came from a wide range of socialist groups in the Bay Area, including Socialist Action, International Socialist Organization, the Workers International League, Socialist Viewpoint, Socialist Organizer, Labor's Militant Voice, and Workers Action, as well as individuals who were not affiliated with any organization. John Peterson from the National HOV campaign was also present. We hope to reach out to many more groups and independents for our future meetings.

One of the more significant recent developments in Venezuela has been the creation of a massive new labor movement, the National Workers Union (UNT), that has replaced the former U.S. funded, pro-employer union federation. The initial project of SF Bay HOV, unanimously adopted at this meeting, will be to bring a prominent leader of the UNT to the San Francisco Bay Area so that people here can begin to learn about the exciting developments in Venezuela. This will mark a tremendous step forward for the U.S. HOV campaign as a whole. We'll have more details on this important visit soon. We also discussed organizing  other events such as video showings and lectures that would serve to lead up to the tour of the UNT representative.

The next general meeting of SF Bay HOV will be 7:00 PM, Thursday, June 9, in the Centro del Pueblo auditorium, 474 Valencia Street (at 16th Street). For more information call Adam Richmond, 415-864-3537 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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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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More Articles ...

  1. To the U.S. Government: Hands Off Venezuela! Signatures
  2. Bolivian trade union and social movement leaders support open letter to US trade unionists
  3. One of the largest European trade unions supports Venezuela
  4. Hands Off Venezuela Auction 2005
  5. HOV at the Winnipeg Social Forum
  6. Hands off Venezuela campaign launched in Vancouver!
  7. Open letter to US trade unionists - Signatures
  8. Venezuela trade union solidarity appeal launched for May Day
  9. Open letter to US trade unionists
  10. London -> Caracas School: culture, food, music and... revolutionary politics
  11. LONDON -> CARACAS day-school & party!
  12. Hands Off Venezuela launched in Waterloo, Ontario
  13. Alan Woods and William Izarra stress need to leave reformism behind and build Socialism of 21C
  14. Enthusiastic response for Marxist ideas: Successful public meetings in Caracas
  15. March 17th Venezuelan Cultural Night at MIT in Boston
  16. The Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and British Workers Make Contact!
  17. Fargo-Moorhead WFSY LOC Launched
  18. Hands off Venezuela campaign launched at Trent University, Canada
  19. German Easter Marches: Revolution in Venezuela presented as an
  20. Successful Launch of Hands Off Venezuela in Toronto
  21. Successful Hands off Venezuela meeting after anti-war demo
  22. Support the Workers of the CNV in Venezuela
  23. Urgent: support needed for the Venezuelan UNT!
  24. Toronto Launch Meeting for HoV Campaign
  25. British Midlands Regional TUC Supports UNT
  26. Hands Off Venezuela meetings in Paris, Toulouse and Portes-l
  27. Recent HOV activities in Germany
  28. The 16th WFSY - An Historic Event in the Making
  29. Philippines-Venezuela Solidarity Launched
  30. Date Changes for the World Festival of Students and Youth in Caracas
  31. Venezuelan ambassador to London speaking in Parliament
  32. Jorge Martin speaks in the Six Counties - another stone laid in the building of Hands Off Venezuela
  33. Revolution today, capitalism, crisis and resistance in Venezuela
  34. Dublin Hands Off Venezuela meeting – Biggest ever held at AT&GWU offices
  35. UNT activist meets Irish trade union leaders
  36. Letter from Ricardo Galindez: Join the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign!
  37. Ricardo Galindez speaking tour kicks off with big success in British House of Commons:"We Will Win!"
  38. Venezuelan trade unionist Ricardo Galindez comes to Britain and Ireland!
  39. Appeal for the 16th World Festival of Students and Youth in Caracas, August 5-13th, 2005
  40. Oscar Negrin speaking tour a step forward for Hands Off Venezuela in the British trade unions
  41. HOV Events in St. Louis
  42. Hear Oscar Negrin from Caracas, Venezuela
  43. World Festival of Youth and Students in Venezuela Aug. 5-13th
  44. Planning Meeting for the WFSY - Saturday, December 4th, in New York at BMCC
  45. Danilo Anderson vigil in London
  46. Public Showing of "The Bolivarian Revolution - ENTER THE OIL WORKERS" in R.I.
  47. Extraordinary meeting of Chavez with workers in Madrid
  49. ESF meeting on the trade union situation in Venezuela and Colombia
  50. ESF meeting on Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution
  51. British MPs condemn murder of Venezuelan prosecutor Danilo Anderson
  52. March 23,
  53. Venezuela Solidarity Actions during Easter Marches in Germany
  54. Successful Hands Off Venezuela meetings in France
  55. Recent HOV Activities in Germany

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