Australia: Hands Off Venezuela Campaign pickets US Consulate in Sydney

The Hands Off Venezuela Campaign reports from Sydney (Australia) that their picket of the US Consulate in the heart of Sydney's CBD drew 40 people distributing thousands of leaflets to people going home after work last Friday.

Green New South Wales (NSW) State Senator Lee Rhiannon spoke, drawing a link between Venezuelan Solidarity and the so-called USA-Australia Free Trade agreement. Construction union CFMEU leader Brian Parker spoke of the importance of the social programs in Venezuela and the need for the US to leave Venezuelans alone to build their own future.

An evening party was attended by about 100 ... Warren Smith of the Maritime Union of Australia gave a rousing speech talking of the importance of international solidarity. He spoke of the help that international workers gave the MUA in their bitter fight with Patrick's when the Howard's government conspired with employers to break a militant trade union. He also spoke about the proud history maritime and seafarer workers have internationally in the fight against fascism and reaction internationally.

Other speakers included a Torres Strate Islander who spoke of his peoples' connection to the land ... something that indigenous Latin Americans well understand given the concentration of land ownership by the wealthy elites. A Colombian activist called for the Venezuelan revolution to be spread to other countries in Latin America.

The Hands Off Venezuela Campaign committee met young Venezuelans at the party ... one was put in touch by a friend who heard about the event in Canada ... evidence of the power of the Internet when it is put to use by progressive groups.

The meeting raised almost A$600 towards a campaign to bring a rank and file UNT unionist from Venezuela to speak to Australian workers, trade unionists and movement activists.

Next week, the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign has meetings with local trade unions, aimed at collecting funds from the labor movement. Organizers want to raise funds by talking directly to rank and file trade unionists at workplace meetings saying it is better to raise a dollar at a time from individual workers than just picking up an anonymous check from union headquarters.

Plans are also afoot to arrange a concert on September 11 to recall the CIA Pinochet backed coup in Chile 1973.