On Tuesday, March 23, supporters of the Hands off Venezuela (HOV) campaign visited Venezuelan embassies around the world. They expressed their solidarity with the Bolivarian revolutionary process and also their concern at US imperialism’s interference in Venezuelan internal affairs. They condemned US manoeuvres to back the right-wing “opposition” in its attempts to remove the democratically elected President and government of the country.
In Austria some 30 people attended the picket at the embassy. Given the heavy rainstorm this was quite a good turnout. There were trade unionists, Young Socialists (Youth of the SPÖ), supporters of Der Funke, who are coordinating the HOV in Austria, as well as activists from Cuban and other Latin American solidarity committees. The gathering shouted anti-imperialist slogans and held placards that expressed their opposition to US interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela. They explained that the US government, after its support for the Carmona coup in April 2002, has no moral authority to give lessons on democracy to the Venezuelan government and people. They presented a copy of the appeal and our statement to a representative of the embassy (the Encargada de Negocios) and they received a very friendly welcome. You can see photos of the events here.
The Austrian Marxists of “Der Funke” eagerly took up the appeal of the “Hands off Venezuela” campaign right from when it was launched and started to organise a series of activities in solidarity with the movement of our brothers and sisters in Venezuela. They sent us the following report.
“During the bosses lockout in 2002/2003 in Venezuela (the so-called oil workers’ strike) we moved a resolution at the national congress of the Socialist Youth, condemning this counterrevolutionary act and calling for international solidarity. The more then 200 delegates at the congress unanimously voted in favour of the resolution. Ever since then the revolutionary process in Venezuela has regularly been covered in our publications.
In January of this year we finally succeeded in organising a speaking-tour with Herman Albrecht of the “Corriente Marxista Revolucionaria”. At seven meetings in five cities Herman explained the situation of the movement especially highlighting the occupied factories.
Taking up the “Hands off Venezuela” appeal of the “In Defence of Marxism” website we launched the initiative in branches, meetings or conferences of working-class organisations - in the Socialist Youth, Trade Unions and Social Democratic Party. So we are making sure that the call to stop imperialist intervention is widely heard in the movement. Many ordinary workers and youth, but also shop stewards and high-ranking party and TU officials, decided so to help the campaign by signing the appeal. In several organisations comrades called for more information, so we are going to organise discussions, film nights etc., on the situation in Venezuela.
As part of this ongoing campaign comrades from various YS and TU branches in Vienna gathered at the embassy of the Bolivarian Republic to loudly express their protest against imperialist manoeuvres and to show their solidarity with the revolutionary movement. Miriam Garcia de Perez, Deputy Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic, joined the gathering for a moment, stating that the government is willing to take up the fight for its national sovereignty and expressed her gratitude for this international campaign. Her “tropical greetings” went especially to the 30 people in Vienna who despite an icy winter rain showed up to the gathering and stayed for more then one hour on the street in front of the embassy.
History shows that without a conscious Marxist leadership the revolution will fail, as our enemies are prepared to use any mistake of the movement to regain control over the situation. As conscious internationalists and revolutionaries we are well aware that the further deepening of the revolution in Venezuela would become an example for the working-class on a worldwide level. As Gustavo Adolfo Marquez Marin, the Ambassador of Venezuela in Austria put it: “Our country is in the eye of the hurricane.” All decent humans want to see an end to this hurricane of misery, wars and barbarism on a worldwide scale. Let us start from Venezuela!” - Editorial Board Der Funke, March 25 2004
In Italy a delegation from HOV, coordinated by FalceMartello visited the Venezuelan Consulate in Milan. The Consul (Antonieta Arcaya Smith) is very much in support of Chavez. She expressed her interest in the "Hands off Venezuela" campaign, especially after they mentioned the fact that last Sunday Chavez dedicated 20 minutes in his Alo Presidente TV programme explaining what the campaign was about and who was organising it. They asked for her support for the campaign, and particularly for a speaking tour they are planning at the end of April. She said there would be no problem in advertising our meeting through the consulate. In the conversation they had with the Consul she expressed great satisfaction at receiving such acts of solidarity. In the next few days our comrades will go to the embassy in Rome and to the consulate in Naples. They are also in touch with Bolivarian circles in Florence and Rome. They are very keen to organise something with us. This is all part of the build up for their solidarity campaign which will consist of a speaking tour at the end of April and all the comrades are very enthusiastic.
In the United States the Venezuelan Deputy Consul General in San Francisco, Jose Egidio Rodriguez met with one of the coordinators of the HOV, for a meeting. Our statements on Venezuela, solidarity signatures and a copy of the US Socialist Appeal were handed to him. The discussion centred on the international HOV solidarity with the Revolution. He expressed our support for the right of the Venezuelan people to defend themselves against US intervention. The conversations also covered such issues as the trade unions in the USA, the events in Spain, Healthcare, our tendency's (In Defence of Marxism) history, the Socialist Parties, the Communist Parties, the upcoming election for President, and even a brief chat about baseball! The Deputy Consul General thanked us for our support. Supporters of the HOV in other parts of the USA are considering visiting their local Venezuelan Consulates/Embassies.
Across the Ocean from San Francisco, in Australia, supporters of the HOV visited the Venezuelan Embassy in Canberra and were received very cordially by the Ambassador who was very supportive of any effort to build a solidarity campaign.
In Mexico the supporters of the Militante journal, together with CEDEP (Committees in Defence of State Education) and CoTDeSi (Workers’ Committee in Defence of the Trade Union) went to the Venezuelan Embassy to express their solidarity with the Venezuelan workers and with the revolutionary process. They expressed their concern at US interference in the process and condemned US imperialism’s manoeuvres in backing attempts to undermine the authority of the CEN (National Electoral Council) in Venezuela. The comrades read out the statements of Militante, Cedep and Cotdesi. A delegation was received by the comrade Ambassador, Lino Martínez Salazar, a man with a long history of struggle in defence of workers’ rights in Venezuela. A resolution calling on US imperialism to keep its hands off Venezuela, signed by 354 youth, lecturers and workers, in various colleges and unions was handed to the Ambassador. Another resolution voted by 140 rank and file activists of the PRD at a conference held on March 21-22 was also handed in. A copy of the Mexican edition of Alan Woods’ book, Bolsehvism, the road to revolution, was given to the Ambassador. The event was rounded off with the chanting of several anti-imperialist slogans and the singing of the Internationale. For a more complete account of the event see the report at:
where you will also find photos of the events.
In Belgium the ‘Hands off Venezuela’ campaign has been contacted by Venezuelans in the Netherlands. They have a website dedicated to defending the Bolivarian Revolution in the Netherlands, on which they publish material from In Defence of Marxism in Dutch. They are very grateful for our support for the revolutionary process in Venezuela. The supporters of Vonk, who are coordinating the HOV in Belgium, will be talking to the Venezuelan Ambassador tomorrow.
In Britain, the following day, on Wednesday March 24, a meeting was held in the House of Commons to speak out against the smoke screen that the mass media has created to obscure the issue of the Venezuelan revolution. The meeting, organised by left Labour MP John McDonnell – who is a supporter of the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign – was used to publicise and explain the Early Day Motion (EDM 854) being introduced into Parliament.
That this House condemns the interference of the United States of America in the internal democratic affairs of the Republic of Venezuela and in particular its covert attempts to secure the removal of President Chavez, whose government has used the country's considerable oil reserves to launch a programme to tackle poverty, including specific measures targeted at women, such as the constitutional recognition of unwaged housework as economically productive, entitling housewives to social security benefits, the prioritisation of single mothers and indigenous people for land distribution, the guaranteeing of food for pregnant women and nursing mothers, and the significant increase in access to education and decent housing for the poor.
An Early Day Motion is a motion with no fixed date for debate. In reality, it is a device used to draw attention to a particular issue and to elicit support by inviting other MPs to add their signatures to it. Most are never actually debated. So far 20 MPs have added their names to this motion. EDM 854 puts a heavy emphasis on the position of women in Venezuela – which is indeed a very important question – at least partly because it was originally put forward by a group called Global Women’s strike.
Pablo Sanchez addressed the meeting on behalf of the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign. The audience consisting of around 30 people showed a great deal of interest in developing a campaign in Britain to support the revolutionary movement in Venezuela.
Alan Simpson MP (Labour), Secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs agreed to sponsor the campaign and to canvass for further support in Parliament. This is an important step in building support in the British labour movement for the revolutionary process in Venezuela and against the intrigues of US imperialism.
In a further development, this weekend the national conference of the National Union of Journalists – whose General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, is a sponsor of the campaign – will discuss a motion to support the new Venezuelan trade union, the UNT.
Also, the AMICUS London General Industries Sector Conference 2004 passed a resolution presented by Espe Espigares, a delegate from Branch 974, condemning US interference in Venezuela. The text of the resolution reads as follows:
“This conference deplores the intents of the United States to intervene in the internal life of Venezuela. Two attempts have been made to overthrow the democratically elected government of Hugo Chavez and behind these attempts has been the hand of the CIA. Conference pledges its support to the revolutionary movement of the Venezuelan people in their struggle for socialist equality and justice. Furthermore, Conference pledges support to the 'Hands off Venezuela' campaign which seeks to promote the awareness of what is happening in Venezuela.”