Solidarity Activities

On Monday April 11 and Tuesday April 12, the Revolutionary Marxist Current (CMR) organized two very successful public meetings at the Bolivarian University. In the first meeting there were five hundred people and in the second over four hundred. The audience consisted mainly of young people, students and Bolivarian activists, but in both meetings there was a fair number of workers and trade unionists.

The subject of the first meeting was “Workers’ Control, Venepal Shows the Way”. The subject of the second meting was “Socialism in the 21st Century”. The speakers on Monday were Jorge Paredes, one of the leaders of the occupied factory Costructor Nacional de Valvulas, Luis Primo, of the regional executive of the UNT in Caracas and Miranda, Ricardo Galindez, a leader of the oil workers’ union in Lara and editor of the Marxist paper, Topo Obrero. The last speaker was Alan Woods, editor of Marxist.com.

CNV workers with Alan Woods
and Pablo Cormenzana (CMR)

The response of the audience was enthusiastic, in both meetings. The speakers emphasised the need for the Bolivarian Revolution to go beyond the limits of capitalism, for the workers to follow the example of Venepal and introduce workers’ control as a step towards nationalisation and a socialist planned economy. This position was warmly applauded by those present, many of whom feel that the revolution has not gone far enough. The argument that it is necessary to combat bureaucracy and introduce control from below got a particularly keen applause.

On Tuesday there were just two speakers. The first was Comandante William Izarra, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. Comrade Izarra has been identified with the left wing of the Bolivarian Movement. In his speech he emphasised that so far the Revolution had carried out reforms but had not brought about a fundamental change. He likened this to pruning a tree and picking the flowers, whereas what was needed was to attack the roots. Socialism, he said, must mean that power must pass to the people.

William Izarra stressed that it was impossible to carry out a revolution while the old state apparatus remained intact, all the old judges, bureaucrats and governors were an obstacle in the road of advance that must be removed. These points were greeted with wild applause and cries of “Power to the People” and “Power to the Workers”. Comrade Izarra expressed his thanks to the Revolutionary Marxist Current for inviting him and expressed the wish for the collaboration of all genuinely revolutionary forces.

Alan Woods speaking, Luis Primo (UNT Caracas)
and Ricardo Galindez (CMR) on platform

The second speaker, Alan Woods, was greeted with warm applause. He is already widely known for his consistent defence of the Revolution and also for his continued advocacy of socialism. Alan welcomed the declarations of Hugo Chavez that capitalism is slavery and that the Bolivarian Revolution must advance to socialism. Alan warned that the counter-revolution was not yet defeated and that it was dangerous to spread illusions.

He pointed out that the motor force of the Revolution was the masses and above all the working class. He stressed that there was no way forward unless the Revolution expropriated the oligarchy and nationalised the land, the banks and the big companies under workers’ control. Those who opposed this on the grounds of so-called realism were really the worst utopians. Unless this step was taken, the correlation of class forces, which was very favourable, would inevitably change. Workers would become disappointed and fall into apathy. At that point the counter-revolution would strike. Either we smash the counter-revolutionaries, or they will smash us, he said.

William Izarra speaking

Alan emphasised that although the Bolivarian Revolution had its own unique personality and specific identity, it had to learn from other revolutions of the past, especially the Russian Revolution. Alan quoted Lenin’s programme of four points and showed that these were absolutely relevant to Venezuela today. The audience was particularly enthusiastic about the demand for the recall of bureaucrats and a limitation on the salaries of all functionaries. When Alan cited Lenin’s demand to arm the people, there were loud chants in favour of a people’s militia. The workers of Venezuela are ready to fight.

After a lively debate in which different views were freely expressed, analysed and criticised, the meeting ended in a mood of euphoria. At the end, comrade Woods appealed to all present to help in the building of a genuine Marxist revolutionary tendency in the Bolivarian Movement, a tendency represented by the Revolutionary Marxist Current. The Current has grown rapidly in size and influence, as the success of these meetings clearly showed. The reason for this success is quite clear. The Marxists are expressing consciously the real aspirations of the workers and the revolutionary people.

Read more ...

On March 17th at M.I.T. in Boston, a crowd of over 300 people gathered for a Venezuelan Cultural Night and to show solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution.The Hands Off Venezuela Campaign had a table at the event, got out information on the Revolutionary process taking place and the upcoming World Festival of Students and Youth to be held in Caracas.

As Martin Pacherco, Venezuelan General Consul in Boston opened the meeting, he welcomed all who wish to attain a understanding between the people of the United States and Venezuela. Other speakers were Caracas Metropolitian Mayor Juan Barrito, Maria Pilar Hernandez; vice minister for North America Affairs and Bernardo Alvarez; Ambassador to the United States.

Jorge Marin from the Martin Luther King Bolivarian Circles thanked the groups, Tech Exchange, International Action Center, the Boston Bus Drivers Union and the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign for their help in building a solidarity movement with the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Now you can listen to the event below: 

The audio recording of the Venezuelan Cultural Night (March 17, 2005) is now available for download.


Read more ...

Trade unionists and members of public made direct contact with the revolution in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on Wednesday 30th March

Two Venezuelan leaders for La Victoria (one hour west of Caracas) spoke to the group in the first international Internet conference between British activists and Bolivarian revolutionaries in Venezuela.

Over 30 activists from around Britain, some travelling over 80 miles, heard the Venezuelans deliver their message in Spanish through an interpreter prior to watching the film documentary, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised in a cinema in Wolverhampton. Héctor Díaz Piña spoke to the group about the role of the People of Venezuela in defending their national sovereignty. Mr. Piña has a clear understanding of the dynamics and structure of revolution due to his extensive study of revolutions around the world. He was in contact with then Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez while Chavez was in Yare penitentiary and was also in his bodyguard unit in Aragua state. This was during the period when Chavez toured the country from March 1994 forward, developing support all over the country.

Carlos Ojeda provided a vision from the active membership in the trade unions. Carlos described the infrastructure of non-violent revolution and explained why Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias has such massive support by Venezuelan workers. Carlos is a local leader who helps people in communities understand and develop their roles in the Bolivarian revolution.

Using the internet based software Skype, participants were able to listen to and talk with activists in Venezuela and the US. The meeting heard contributions which covered the increasing democratization of the country with massive participation of millions of people determined to make their lives better. The importance of deepening the mass participation in the process, linked with building support for the revolution across South America and worldwide, was recognized and discussed.

Following the meeting, at which people asked questions of both the Venezuelan activists and Les Blough, founder of Axis of Logic in the United States, all participants stayed to see the important film documentary The Revolution will Not Be Televised. For the overwhelming majority, this was the first opportunity they had to witness the historic documentary. The particpant's enthusiastic reception and comments demonstrated proof of peoples interest in the ongoing revolution in Latin America and their anger at the illegal attempts by the US and fascist opposition to bring down the Chavez government.

Those who delivered the discussion and film agreed to hold similar international events in the future. They also recognize that the role of women in the revolution in Venezuela was critical and plan to bring Venezuela's Bolivarian women present in the future. The next session of the increased solidarity work will watch the film, enter the Oil workers, which shows the magnificent role played by women in defeating the bosses lockout.

The potential for using the new technology is increasing daily. With the ever increasing manipulation of the news by the big business media, novel and imaginative use of this technology will assist all workers worldwide in defending themselves and resisting lies and fascism. The next meeting using this technology is scheduled to be held in New Zealand on April 9th. The technology used will enable Venezuelans to speak with any country in the world and, bearing in mind the tough time that Bolivarian Groups are having in Miami, this would be an ideal setting to hold a future Skype conference.

Any groups interested, from any country in the world in setting up an international conference of this nature, should contact the author of this piece.

Andy Goodall
Coordinator Venezuela Solidarity UK
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read more ...

Last night, April 4, a meeting of the Fargo-Moorhead Hands Off Venezuela Campaign was held at the Moorhead Public Library for a showing and discussion of the film “Venezuela Bolivariana".

Read more ...

On Thursday, March 3, over 20 students attended a showing of the documentary, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” at Trent University. It was followed by a discussion on the developments in Venezuela since the coup, including the heroic activities of the Venepal workers. The film demonstrated the commitment to democracy that the Venezuelan Revolution represents and the negative influence the upper classes, of all countries, have ha on human freedom. As well it helped illustrate the need to not only support the Revolution, but to spread it other countries across the globe.

The campus of small Trent University, located in the industrial town of Peterborough, Ontario, has been alive with discussion on Latin America in the last few weeks. Numerous articles have appeared in the student newspaper encompassing issues from Cuban solidarity to the Zapitizta Rebellion. But the most important issue of the day has been Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution. Many students, who previously had lacked any idea of the situation in Venezuela, have begun passionately advocating the Hands Off Venezuela campaign. A recent student newspaper article called for international support for the Venezuelan Revolution. Another referred to Chavez and Venezuela as “an inspiration”. The work of the Hand off Venezuela campaign will continue to work hard in the interests of democracy and solidarity at Trent and increase the Revolutionary movement that has already gained significant support in student politics.

If you are interested in getting involved with the Hands off Venezuela campaign, please contact canada [at] handsoffvenezuela.org.

Read more ...

The combat against militarisation and dismantling of the welfare state as well as strict opposition to the new EU draft constitution were the main topics hammered home at this year’s Easter marches in Germany which are traditionally organised by the peace movement.Venezuela_bei_Ostermarsch_Mainz.jpg

At the regional demo held in Mainz, Hans-Gerd Öfinger of Der Funke and Hands off Venezuela was one of the speakers. He emphasised the fact that while the movement in Germany deplored recent developments and trends in Europe, the revolutionary process in Venezuela points to the way forward.

This “alternative programme” in Venezuela can be seen in different aspects:

  1. Whereas the German electorate are not even allowed to have a say in a referendum on the new European constitution (“Eat or die” – or rather “Eat and die”), the Bolivarian constitution was elaborated through a process of a broad popular participation and then endorsed in a referendum in 1999.
  2. Whereas the EU draft constitution ratifies the free market, neoliberalism, deregulation and privatisation, the Venezuelan constitution rules that the natural resources must not be privatised. Instead of pouring the yields of the oil industry into private pockets, this money is used for health and education of the poor. Instead of privatising state companies (as European governments do it across the board), the Venezuelan has recently nationalised the Venepal paper factory to save jobs and make sure that production is developed according to the needs of society. This is a clear element of an “alternative programme”.
  3. Whereas Europe has a long and bloody history of militarism and colonialism and this militarism is also enshrined in the new constitution, Venezuela does not even participate in armed military missions under UN command (“blue helmets”) nor does it allow any foreign army bases on Venezuelan soil. Yet imperialists and counter-revolutionaries such as George W. Bush have not given up their intention to bring down the Chávez government or assassinate president Chávez personally. In a recent US TV talk show appeals to assassinate Chávez were repeated. One of the guests in that live TV programme was Félix Rodríguez, a CIA agent who had been directly involved in Che Guevara’s assassination in Bolivia in 1967.

Yet not only politicians in Washington D.C. but also representatives of the European and German ruling class such as the German Christian Democratic “Konrad Adenauer Foundation” and the parliamentary group of the German Free Democrats (Liberals) have confessed to be bitter enemies of the Venezuelan revolution and sympathisers of the counter-revolutionary forces.

Although the Venezuelan revolution has only begun and still has its deficiencies and shortcomings, a fundamental solidarity is required. Hans-Gerd called upon the demonstrators to support the revolutionary process in Venezuela, sign the HOV petition and spread the news wherever possible to break through the barrier of silence and distortion in the German media.

Read more ...

Following the anti-war demonstration this past weekend, over a dozen people showed up at a downtown pub to launch the Hands off Venezuela campaign in Toronto.

Although there were some logistical problems in arranging the event, there was a good turnout of people interested in getting actively involved in co-coordinating the HoV campaign.  Some of the participants did not know much about the events happening in Venezuela but were interested in the fact that Venezuela has been successful in opposing US, European, and Canadian imperialism.
A member of Fightback introduced the Hands off Venezuela campaign, and in particular, highlighted the success of HoV in Europe and Pakistan.  As well, he mentioned the role that HoV played in garnering support for the nationalization of the Venepal paper mill.
An HoV co-coordinating committee was elected and is to meet to plan the first HoV event in Toronto.  Hands off Venezuela aims to build solidarity with the Venezuelan Revolution, and prevent the international isolation of Venezuela by dispelling the lies put out by the bourgeois press.  More importantly, Hands off Venezuela intends to reach out to workers and youth and inform them of what is going on in Venezuela.  There, workers, youth, peasants, and the poor have begun to take control of their lives.  There is no reason why the workers and youth of Canada cannot do the same!
If you are interested in getting involved with the Hands off Venezuela campaign, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in the rest of Canada.

Read more ...

The London Hands off Venezuela campaign held an excellent meeting at the Walkers of Whitehall pub just off Trafalgar Square after the anti-war demonstration on March 19, 2005. Hands off Venezuela had a stall at the demonstration that attracted a lot of attention, where DVDs, pamphlets and leaflets were distributed on the revolutionary events in Venezuela.

There was a bit of a problem with the original venue for the meeting. The pub had double-booked their function room and was packed due to the rugby matches that day. We nearly cancelled the meeting when at the last minute we found the Walkers pub that agreed to allow us to host our meeting from 5:30 until 7:30. Even with the problems and the quick change of venue some 60 people turned up to the pub after the demo for the meeting.

David Raby speaking

Scandalously the meeting was disrupted just five minutes after it began by the Metropolitan Police, who entered the pub and demanded that the meeting be disbanded. The manager of the pub came downstairs to the meeting and informed us that we had to vacate the premises immediately because the police had arrived demanding that we leave. Some members of the Hands off Venezuela campaign asked if we could speak to the police and clarify the issue. The police clearly believed that we were holding some sort of “subversive” meeting planning some sort of violent action. We wanted to clarify that we were holding a peaceful meeting, and that it was our democratic right to do so. When members of the campaign got upstairs to speak to the police, they discovered that they had already left. We explained to the manager of the pub that we were holding a peaceful meeting and that there would be no trouble. He then agreed to allow us to continue our meeting, but that we would have to leave the pub by 7:00. It is an absolute scandal that our meeting was disrupted and truncated by the Metropolitan Police. This issue will be raised with MPs and a formal complaint will be made against the Metropolitan Police.

When the meeting got back under way David Raby (Institute of Latin American Studies, Liverpool) spoke about the significance of the Venezuelan revolution in Latin America and around the world. He pointed out that many on the left had failed to recognise that there was a revolution taking place in Venezuela because it did not fit into any historic mould, but now that Chavez had spoken about the necessity of socialism as the way forward for the revolution, many had woken up to the reality of the Bolivarian movement. He explained that what was taking place in Venezuela was a genuine revolution because of the participation of the masses in the political and economic life of the country and because the masses had taken their own destinies into their hands. This was seen in the recall referendum in August of last year with the organisation of the Electoral Battle Units (UBEs) where one million people were mobilised for the election. He mentioned that Allende in Chile didn’t even have that kind of support for his electoral success and never had a clear majority, unlike Chavez who has won nine elections with a clear majority. Another one of the major failings in Chile was that Allende was unable (or didn't really try) to transform the Armed Forces, whereas Chavez did and this was crucial. Chavez was able to generate a revolutionary movement within the military which transformed their consciousness and led to the majority of them (including some high-ranking officers) accepting their role as "the people in uniform". He spoke of the dangers facing the revolution and the threats of imperialism, and agreed with President Chavez that the only way forward for the revolution was socialism. He pointed out that the nationalisations taking place and Chavez’s willingness to mobilise the masses would go a long way in defending the revolution, pointing out that this is one of the failures of previous movements in Chile and Nicaragua.

His other key point was that the Left needs to learn from this experience that the revolutionary vanguard cannot be decreed or proclaimed by a group of well-intentioned people who adopt Marxist ideology and organise a party, if that party is not recognised by the masses; and that the vanguard may appear in very unexpected forms, which is what occurred with Chavez and the MBR-200.

Ramon Samblas, Secretary of the British Hands off Venezuela Campaign then spoke on the achievements of the revolution in Venezuela. He explained the importance of the victory of the masses against the attempted coup in April 2002, and the victory over the bosses in the oil lockout of 2002/2003. He mentioned the importance of the new social programs for literacy and healthcare, and explained the struggle of the peasants for land reform. He explained that perhaps one of the most important developments in the revolution was the nationalisation of Venepal under workers’ control. He finished by saying that the Venezuelan revolution would have major implications for the whole world, and in particular for Cuba and that one of the most important things we could do in the UK would be to join the Hands off Venezuela campaign and take part in defending the Venezuelan revolution.

Intervention from the audience

Heiko Koo, a Hands off Venezuela activist who has recently been to Venezuela, spoke about the politicisation of the masses. He explained that while people in the UK and most other Western countries were talking about football, the masses in Venezuela were talking about politics. He explained that when walking down the street or when in bars and cafes one can hear people speaking about events in Venezuela and around the world, about the law, and about history. This was because the masses had been awakened to struggle and the masses have understood the importance of these things to their daily lives. He explained that one good example of this was the field of mass communications, where everywhere there are local, independent radio and television stations being opened under the control of the masses and the communities they are based in. He pointed out that nearly everybody has potential access to the media, including school children who are involved in making a weekly educational programme on state television! He contrasted this with the situation in the UK, where technology should allow nearly everyone access to the media, yet in London, there is only one station where people can have some limited access. Heiko then said that this broad access to the media in Venezuela has improved people’s understanding of history. Documentaries on the history of struggle in Cuba, Chile, and Nicaragua are regularly shown on television. This has led to widespread debate in the Bolivarian movement because people can see the parallels between events in Venezuela today and events in past. Heiko then connected the struggle in Venezuela and the anti-war movement by explaining that all anti-imperialist struggles must be seen as part of the wider struggle against imperialism itself. He explained that it was vitally important to be involved in the anti-war movement and against imperialist aggression in Iraq, but that similar things were being planned for Venezuela. He added that the US and the Venezuelan oligarchy had organised the coup in April 2002 in order to secure Venezuelan oil before the Iraq war and to stop the spreading of the revolution. None of the arguments used as excuses for the invasion of Iraq could be used in Venezuela because in Venezuela there is no dictator or any WMD. Chavez has been elected or won elections 9 times since 1998, and Venezuela is the most democratic country on earth, where not only do the masses have the right to recall any elected official but also the right to recall the President. He explained that there were plans by the US to assassinate Chavez and plans to provoke conflict between Colombia and Venezuela.

After the speakers there was a lively debate and discussion. Many people commented on the rottenness of the Blair government and the need to reclaim the Labour Party. Others spoke on the hypocrisy of imperialism and the lies being spread around the globe about the situation in Iraq and Venezuela and the necessity of defeating imperialism and capitalism both at home and abroad. There were several contributions on the importance of Chavez’s announcement on the necessity of socialism, saying that this was the only way forward, and was an inspiring step for the masses of Latin America and the whole world.


Read more ...

Workers of the Constructora Nacional de Valvulas (National Manufacturer of Valves) Los Teques, Miranda State, in Venezuela, have not received their salaries for two years and three months. After having come into conflict with Andrés Sosa Pietri (the owner of the factory), one of the industrialists that was involved in the April 2002 coup, the factory was closed. After the nationalisation of Venepal, these workers, who had already occupied the Constructora Nacional de Valvulas for several months a year ago, have occupied it again and are demanding that it also be nationalised.

The Revolutionary Marxist Current in Los Teques has promoted a Support Committee for the workers of the Constructora Nacional de Valvulas and we are calling upon all unions nationally and internationally to send economic aid to the following account 0039-01-0100309746 Banco Industrial de Venezuela under the name of Jorge Paredes y Rosalio Castro for the Resistance Fund, and solidarity resolutions to his email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., to the President This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and the Ministry of Labour This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Model Resolution:

Given the situation faced by the workers of the Constructora Nacional de Valvulas (CNV) in Los Teques (Miranda State), who have not received their salaries for two years and three months after having confronted the coup-involved industrialist Andrés Sosa Pietri, and considering that they are now occupying the factory and demanding its reopening under workers’ control, we assert the following:

1. We entirely support the struggle of the workers of the Constructora Nacional de Valvulas and put ourselves at the disposal of the Action Committee to organize solidarity with their struggle in our workplaces, neighborhoods, etc

2. We call upon the Bolivarian Government to act on this as soon as possible and, as was done in the case of Venepal – which was also abandoned by its owner – to nationalise the Constructora Nacional de Valvulas.

3. We believe that the nationalisation under workers’ control of the Constructora Nacional de Valvulas will not only allow to defend jobs but will also generate more employment in the area and ensure the production of valves for the State Oil Company PDVSA, given that the Constructora Nacional de Valvulas is the only enterprise that manufactures such valves in Venezuela.

4. While this is in process, we ask the authorities of the Work Ministry of Labour and the Presidency to subsidise the workers. At the same time we call upon all unions belonging to the UNT (National Union of Workers) and all social organizations that support the Bolivarian revolutionary process to organize active financial solidarity with this struggle and collect funds to help the brave resistance of these workers.


Read more ...

On 22 February 2005, this website published a letter issued by the UNT (see below) referring to an attack of FEDECAMARAS, the employers’ association of Venezuela that has joined forces with the opposition Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV) to present a Complaint to the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association alleging that the Venezuelan government has violated Trade Union freedoms and the right to strike.

The UNT has asked for messages of support by adding your signature to their letter of complaint (find below the letter referred to). Please read this letter, as it is quite self-explanatory. As you will see, the meeting they refer to started yesterday, March 8, and will continue until March 24, so we all have to act quickly. Trade union activists and socialists the world over should give all the support they can to the UNT as the genuine expression of the organised Venezuelan labour movement. Remember that the CTV leaders actually backed the April 2002 coup against Chavez!

We invite all our supporters to take up this issue inside their trade unions and mass left parties, and try to get official backing from local, regional and national trade union bodies. We invite you to mention in your letters that you are responding to this appeal of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign.

Please send your solidarity letters by e-mail to the following addresses:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (UNT) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Stalin Perez)

with a copy to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Open Letter to the Workers’ Group of the ILO


By the national coordinators of the UNT
Tuesday, 22 February 2005

We, the undersigned leaders of the National Union of Workers of Venezuela (UNT), issue this appeal to the trade unions around the world that are represented in the Workers’ Group of the International Labor Organization (ILO), as well as to all our sisters and brothers who are championing the trade union battles in defense of workers’ rights.

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

We in Venezuela have been part of the effort by the working class to create a trade union federation that is built from the bottom up by the rank and file and that is rooted in the principles of class independence, trade union democracy and full autonomy in relation to the State and all political parties. This effort – which in April 2003 brought unionists from different sectors and trade union currents together to create the UNT – is part and parcel of the struggle of our people in defense of their national sovereignty.

Today, the UNT represents the majority of the organized workforce in Venezuela. Its creation in 2003 has given a huge impetus to the drive to organize trade unions across our country. The rate of trade union affiliation has increased from 11% in 2001 to 23% in 2004. The UNT also has been present in the last two International Labor Conferences of the ILO in June 2003 and June 2004.

But these recent years also have seen FEDECAMARAS, the employers’ association of Venezuela, join forces with the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV) to present a Complaint to the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association alleging that the Venezuelan government has violated Trade Union Freedoms and the Right to Strike.

The joint Complaint by FEDECAMARAS and the CTV is highly unusual, as trade unions are generally the ones filing ILO Complaints against the employers and seeking support from the ILO Workers’ Group against all violations of trade union rights, including the right to strike. It is unprecedented, as well, on account of the convergence of interests between FEDECAMARAS and the CTV.

Such a Complaint can be understood only in the context of the unfolding political situation in Venezuela, in which FEDECAMARAS and the top leadership of the CTV participated directly in the attempted military coup of April 2002, together with the opposition political parties and with the encouragement of the U.S. Embassy. The coup – which established a government” headed by Pedro Carmona, then president of FEDECAMARAS – was foiled after just two days by the mass mobilizations of the Venezuelan workers and people.

Later, in December 2002 and January 2003, FEDECAMARAS – together with the same leaders of the CTV – organized an employer lockout/work stoppage that was political in nature and that sought to bring down the government through the sabotage of the country’s main source of income: the oil industry. In both the attempted coup and the bosses’ lockout/work stoppage, the CTV leadership took actions that were repudiated by the overwhelming majority of the workers of Venezuela.

At no time, in fact, were the workers consulted by the CTV leadership about the work stoppage in the oil industry. Quite the contrary, upon learning of this action by the CTV leadership, the workers mobilized massively to occupy the oil rigs and refineries to ensure the resumption of oil production.

These undeniable facts were reported in detail by 35 leaders of the UNT to the Contact Mission of the ILO that traveled to Venezuela in October 2004.

It is not new, nor is it unexpected, that employers should resort to lockouts against the workers to promote their interests. Many of you undoubtedly have witnessed such bosses’ lockouts in your countries. It is less frequent for the employers to resort to military coups, but, alas, such actions are not unprecedented. But isn’t it an insult to our intelligence to try to have us believe that employer lockouts and military coups can somehow be aimed at defending democracy and trade union rights? Do they think we’re fools who cannot see through their hypocrisy?

In June 2004, FEDECAMARAS – with the full support of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and representatives from bosses’ organizations in 22 countries, including the United States, all of them notorious for their anti-union activities – invoked Article 26 of the ILO Constitution and proposed that a Commission of Inquiry be established in relation to alleged violations of Trade Union Freedoms in Venezuela.

The March 8-24, 2005 meeting of the Governing Body of the ILO is scheduled to take a vote on this request by FEDECAMARAS. It is worth noting that while this baseless Complaint against the Venezuelan government moves through the ILO system, the government of Colombia has not been subjected to any sanctions or pressures by the ILO – even when the ILO itself registered at the beginning of 2004 that 186 trade unionists had been assassinated for their union activity in that country, a number that now surpasses the 200 mark.

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

The Venezuelan government today has wide popular support to advance its Agrarian Reform program and, with the aim of guaranteeing jobs and wages, to take over factories abandoned or bankrupted by their employers. Yet at this very moment, incidents are being staged to create a diplomatic conflict between Venezuela and Colombia. More ominous still, U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have issued public warnings against the alleged “negative” and “destabilizing” role of Venezuela in the region.

Anyone familiar with the international policies implemented by the Bush administration in the recent period can understand full well that these are not simply words; they are a direct threat to Venezuela. Bush and Rice invoke the concept of “democracy” – but if one looks at what is going on in Iraq today, one can see what they mean by “democracy.”

Is it possible not to see a link between these political developments and the stance taken by FEDECAMARAS at the ILO?

Regardless of what one’s opinions may be about the Venezuelan government and its policies, it’s a fact that it’s a government that received the support of more than 60% of the people in the August 15, 2004 recall referendum, thereby dealing a blow to the effort by FEDECAMARAS and the top officials of the CTV to oust the Chávez government. The election results were ratified, in fact, by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Carter Center, two bodies that cannot be accused of harboring any sympathies for the Venezuelan government.

It is also an undeniable fact that the partisans of the current Venezuelan government obtained the overwhelming support of the people in the state and regional elections held in October 2004.

From our vantage point as the UNT, genuine democracy means respecting the sovereign will of people to determine their own fate. And we wish to reiterate this point: Venezuela’s right to self-determination must be respected and upheld independent of whatever one may think about the current government of Venezuela. It is not up to the U.S. government to decide in the place of the Venezuelan people what is “positive” or “negative” for Venezuela.

It is totally understandable that the representatives of the employers in the ILO should form a common front with FEDECAMARAS in support of this Complaint. Likewise, it is not surprising that governments, particularly that of Bush in the United States, should follow suit. But in no way can the representatives of the workers’ organizations in the ILO support this attack upon our sovereignty and our independent trade union organizations.

Is it not obvious that allowing the Commission of Inquiry to be approved – as FEDECAMARAS demands – would, in fact, be tantamount to trampling upon our trade union freedoms and the very sovereignty of our country? Only we, the workers of Venezuela, can and must decide what kind of trade union organizations we should build, in the framework of the principles of Trade Union Freedom.

We issue this urgent appeal to all trade union organizations the world over. We call upon one and all to reject the proposal by FEDECAMARAS and its cohorts to sanction Venezuela and to conduct an ILO Commission of Inquiry. Such an action is not called for, nor does it correspond to the real situation of trade union freedoms in Venezuela, which is a country that has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

For our part, as trade union officers who are committed to the rank and file, we have nothing to hide. That is why we are appending to this Open Letter a Memorandum that responds to the specific charges contained in the Complaint filed by FEDECAMARAS and the CTV.

We invite trade unions from all around the world to come to Venezuela to see for yourselves the reality of our country, where even the CTV – which participated directly in the attempted coup of April 2002 and the lockout/work stoppage of December 2002-January 2003, enjoys full trade union freedoms.

We also invite representatives of the international trade union movement to attend the upcoming National Congress of the UNT. This will permit you to learn firsthand from the workers about the real situation of the trade unions in Venezuela.

To conclude, we call upon all trade union organizations and officers to reject the provocation by FEDECAMARAS and its allies to establish an ILO Commission of Inquiry for Venezuela. We call upon you to add your names in support of this Open Letter to the ILO Workers’ Group.

- In defense of the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people!

- In defense of true Trade Union Freedoms!

In solidarity,

signed by following National Coordinators of the UNT:

Orlando Chirino, Marcela Máspero, Stalin Pérez Borges and Rubén Linares

Read more ...

Join us in helping to launch the international Hands off Venezuela campaign in Toronto!hov_canada2.gif

Saturday, 19 March @ 4:00pm
O'Grady's Tap and Grill (upstairs)
171 College St. (just west of University Ave.)
For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Help us support Venezuela's revolution against intervention by American or Canadian Imperialism. The Venezuelan people, led by the government of Hugo Chávez, have embarked on reforms in education, health care, and land redistribution in favour of the poor. In return, the Venezuelan oligarchy, supported and financed by the US, have organized coups, economic sabotage, and provocations to keep power with the rich. However, at every turn the Venezuelan workers and peasants have moved forward. Peasants are redistributing the 80% of land owned by only 5% of landowners. Workers are forcing nationalization under workers' control of corporations such as the
Venepal paper plant. And, Hugo Chávez has said that capitalism must be transcended by democratic socialism.

Please come if you want to learn more. We will be electing a Toronto co-ordinating committee to plan events in support of Venezuela. The Venezuelan people need international solidarity and our action now can make all the difference. JOIN US!!

Read more ...

The British Midlands TUC has agreed a motion at their 2005 AGM expressing full support for the Venezuelan independent trade unions – the National Union of Workers of Venezuela (UNT).

The motion was moved by the West Midlands County Association of Trade Union Councils (CATUC) by Steve Hart. The motion was seconded by Nick Kelleher on behalf of UNISON West Midlands Region, who gave a powerful speech in support of the motion which included recognition of:

• The Fascist opposition determined to undermine democracy

• The UNT has the majority of trade unionists in Venezuela

• The UNT supports the use of 10,000s of Cuban doctors who are providing a free healthcare system paid for by progressive taxation.

• Their support of the most democratic Constitution in the world supported by national Referendum

• Most workers have joined democratic trade unions in the UNT

• 10’000s of Cuban doctors provide a national healthcare system free at the point of use - in exchange for oil.

• A land reform programme is giving land to millions

• Illiteracy has been eliminated


The Midlands TUC agreed to:

• Express its solidarity to the trade unionists of the UNT.

• Support the Venezuelan people in their effort to extend social and economic freedom

• Support and promote Solidarity campaigns within Britain that support the popular reforms.

• Encourage solidarity activities to be co-ordinated via venezuelasolidarity.org.uk

Andy Goodall, Venezuelasolidarity.org.uk co-ordinator said “This important decision is the first of what we expect will be many acts of solidarity by the British trade Union Movement. This is particularly important at this time with the UNT asking for international solidarity. This is necessary regarding the upcoming vote at the ILO on an employers request for an investigation. This has got to be exposed by the ILO for what it is – a desperate attempt by billionaire businesses to undermine the democratic revolution happening in Venezuela”.

In June 2004, FEDECAMARAS (the employers' association of Venezuela) – with the full support of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and representatives from bosses' organizations in 22 countries, including the United States, all of them notorious for their anti-union activities – invoked Article 26 of the ILO Constitution and proposed that a Commission of Inquiry be established in relation to alleged violations of Trade Union Freedoms in Venezuela.

The March 8-24, 2005 meeting of the Governing Body of the ILO is scheduled to take a vote on this request by FEDECAMARAS

Nick Kelleher, Wolverhampton Trade Union Council. Stated “ We hope that this can be taken up at a national trade union level and that all trade union branches take every opportunity to express support for the campaign to build solidarity with Venezuelan workers”.

Read more ...

Coinciding with the anniversary of the February 27, 1989 uprising in Venezuela, La Riposte organised a very successful speaking tour in France with Jorge Martin of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign. The activities were organised together with the Bolivarian Circles of Paris and Toulouse and in Portes-lès-Valence by the local section of the Communist Party.

The first meeting was in Paris on March 1st, and took place in the headquarters of the Communist Party of the 10th District, and was hov_france1.JPGchaired by Daniel Yegres, president of the Paris Bolivarian Circle. The meeting room was completely packed with about 60 people present despite the very cold weather. This is the 3rd time meetings on the Bolivarian Revolution have been organised in these premises, so quite a lot of the people present were already acquainted with the events. Nevertheless, the recent turn in the Venezuelan revolution in which Chavez has openly raised the need to go beyond capitalism and move in the direction of socialism made it a particularly enthusiastic gathering. There were a number of comrades from the local Communist Party section in audience, including the branch secretary Jean-Pierre Leroux, who is an enthusiastic supporter of the campaign. The collection raised around 120 euro, and 40 copies of different pamphlets on the Venezuelan revolution produced by La Riposte were sold.

The next meeting took place on Thursday, March 3rd at the University of Toulouse (Le Mirail) and was organised jointly with the local Bolivarian Circle, which was established after the previous meeting of the campaign there in November. The meeting was chaired by Christophe Cambefort, a member of the Tolouse Bolivarian Circle and the secretary of the local Young Communist branch. More than 130 people filled the amphitheatre and again were very interested to hear about the latest developments in Venezuela, including the nationalisation of Venepal under workers’ control, the speeding up of the land reform, the question of socialism raised by Chavez and the renewed campaign of Washington against the Bolivarian revolution. There were many questions dealing with a wide range of issues, including the relationship between Venezuela and Cuba, the actions of the Colombian government, land reform, the Bolivarian University, the World Festival of Youth and Students in Caracas this coming August, etc. A collection was held at the end, and as in Paris, quite a lot of pamphlets on Venezuela (including one on Chavez’s speech at Porto Alegre by Alan Woods, and on the nationalisation of Venepal) were sold. A follow up meeting of the Bolivarian Circle has already been planned in order to continue the campaign. mirailtoulouse.jpg

Finally, the meeting organised in Portes-lès-Valence by the local Communist Party section and chaired by its secretary Pierre Trapier, was particularly interesting. More than 30 people turned up at the George Brassens municipal meeting hall, including a number of PCF members and CGT trade unionists. For most of them this was the first time they had heard about the Venezuelan Revolution, and they were particularly interested to hear Jorge Martin explain the unfolding of the Bolivarian movement since its origins, which can be traced back the brutal suppression of the February 27th, 1989 uprising. Just about all the people present signed up to get involved in the Hands Offhov_france3.jpg Venezuela Campaign, and the idea of creating a local Bolivarian Circle was enthusiastically taken up. This work will be coordinated by Maxence Fay, a young member of the PCF in the area and supporter of La Riposte. In the course of the debate, a CGT member raised the question about the need to campaign within the trade union movement in France in order to gain recognition for the recently created UNT trade union confederation in Venezuela. We particularly would like to thank the PCF members in Portes-lès-Valence for the extremely warm, friendly and hospitable way in which they received us.

Read more ...

More Articles ...

  1. Recent HOV activities in Germany
  2. The 16th WFSY - An Historic Event in the Making
  3. Philippines-Venezuela Solidarity Launched
  4. Date Changes for the World Festival of Students and Youth in Caracas
  5. Venezuelan ambassador to London speaking in Parliament
  6. Jorge Martin speaks in the Six Counties - another stone laid in the building of Hands Off Venezuela
  7. Revolution today, capitalism, crisis and resistance in Venezuela
  8. Dublin Hands Off Venezuela meeting – Biggest ever held at AT&GWU offices
  9. UNT activist meets Irish trade union leaders
  10. Letter from Ricardo Galindez: Join the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign!
  11. Ricardo Galindez speaking tour kicks off with big success in British House of Commons:"We Will Win!"
  12. Venezuelan trade unionist Ricardo Galindez comes to Britain and Ireland!
  13. Appeal for the 16th World Festival of Students and Youth in Caracas, August 5-13th, 2005
  14. Oscar Negrin speaking tour a step forward for Hands Off Venezuela in the British trade unions
  15. HOV Events in St. Louis
  16. Hear Oscar Negrin from Caracas, Venezuela
  17. World Festival of Youth and Students in Venezuela Aug. 5-13th
  18. Planning Meeting for the WFSY - Saturday, December 4th, in New York at BMCC
  19. Danilo Anderson vigil in London
  20. Public Showing of "The Bolivarian Revolution - ENTER THE OIL WORKERS" in R.I.
  21. Extraordinary meeting of Chavez with workers in Madrid
  23. ESF meeting on the trade union situation in Venezuela and Colombia
  24. ESF meeting on Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution
  25. British MPs condemn murder of Venezuelan prosecutor Danilo Anderson
  26. March 23,
  27. Venezuela Solidarity Actions during Easter Marches in Germany
  28. Successful Hands Off Venezuela meetings in France
  29. Recent HOV Activities in Germany

Join / affiliate to the campaign!

Make a donation!

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