Hands Off Venezuela and Venezuela Solidarity Campaign protest against Blair’s attacks

Yesterday Hands Off Venezuela and the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign were outside the Venezuelan embassy expressing solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution against Blair’s recent attack in parliament.

Hands off Venezuela (HOV) and Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC) supporters gathered outside the Venezuelan consulate yesterday, February 15th, to express solidarity with the Venezuelan Revolution and to oppose the attacks made on Venezuela by Prime Minister Tony Blair last week in the House of Commons.

The Venezuela solidarity movement found Blair’s remarks about how Chavez should “abide by the rules of the international community” absolutely ridiculous. The British Prime Minister telling the leader of any country that they should abide by the rules of the international community is laughable, especially when, as Chavez himself explained, Blair is the one who flouted international law the most when he sided with Bush to invade Iraq.


Blair’s comments come at a time when Washington is intensifying pressure against Chavez. There is a lot of talk in Washington about Chavez being a "dictator". The truth of the matter is that Venezuela has one of the most democratic constitutions in the world in which article 72 gives the Venezuelan people the right to recall any MP, councillor, civil servant – anybody elected by the people, including the president himself – at the half-way through their term.

The opposition in Venezuela tried to use this clause in the Constitution as a means to overthrow Chavez. However, they were unable to do so as Chavez’s support is enormous. 90% of the eligible population voted in this recall referendum. This level of participation shows that in Venezuela people do not feel that “all politicians are the same”. The people knew what was at stake and they went out to exercise their rights and vote, sometimes waiting in queues at polling station for 10 hours. Chavez received around 63% of the votes in the recall referendum while the opposition received 36%.

This was not by any means the only chance that the Venezuelan people have had to express through electoral means what they think. In the last 7 years Chavez and his policies have been ratified in 11 different electoral processes. Even more important than that is the fact that the Venezuelan Revolution has been tremendously effective in involving people in the everyday aspects of political life.

Now Tony Blair comes along to “show Venezuelans what democracy is all about”. We do not believe that Chavez can learn anything about democracy from Blair. On the other hand we think that Blair could learn a lot about “education, education, education” from Chavez. Since he was elected President in 1998 illiteracy has been completely eradicated from the country. One million children have been brought into the education system, 657 new schools have been created, eight new universities have been established and 36,000 additional teachers have been hired – and these are just some of the advances made in the field of education, not to mention the advances in healthcare and other social programmes!

The ranks of the British labour and trade union movement look on the Chavez government with great sympathy. They instinctively understand what is at stake. This explains why so many trade unions and trade unionists have given their support to our solidarity work. They compare the genuine reforms in education, healthcare, social assistance for the poor, and the nationalisation of several companies, which have been placed under workers’ control, and they compare this to what we have in Britain, i.e. cuts in education, healthcare, and the privatisation of almost everything that could be privatised. They know which side they are on.


At the Consulate the Venezuelan Ambassador to the UK, Alfredo Toro Hardy, welcomed representatives from Hands Off Venezuela and the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign and thanked both campaigns for their support.

Andy Goodall, on behalf of VSC read a letter addressed to the Ambassador and Espe Espigares, on behalf of HOV read a letter addressed to Tony Blair protesting against his declarations.

This letter has already been signed by Jeremy Dear (General Secretary, NUJ), John McDonell MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP and Tony Benn amongst others. We urge all supporters to sign this appeal.

Below is a report from the left-wing daily Morning Star:

Morning Star on Venezuela

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