Manu Chao, the popular singer, has sent the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign a longtext (in Spanish) in solidarity with the venezuelan people and calling for amassive participation in the referendum and to vote to defend the Bolivarian revolution.

We are publishing two articles that appeared in the Pakistani daily paper, The Jang, written by the well known Pakistani journalist and TV director Munnoo Bhai and one of the most widely read columnists in Pakistan. They would have reached between 20-25 million people in Pakistan and around the world. The Daily Jang is the largest circulation paper in Pakistan. Munnoo Bhai wrote his first column in a daily newspaper on June 1, 1954. The second article is thus his golden jublee column written on the 50th anniversary of his column writing. There has been a tremendous response and Munnoo Bhai has received hundreds of phone calls supporting the position he has taken on Venezuela.

Dear brothers and sisters,

The revolutionary process which is taking place in Venezuela is again under strong pressure from the reactionary opposition and imperialism. In December the opposition collected signatures in order to force a recall referendum. This is a democratic tool which was included in the new Bolivarian constitution which was discussed and approved in a referendum in 1999. The opposition claimed to have collected 3.6 million signatures (well over the 2.4 million needed). But when it came to deliver them to the National Electoral Commission, after much delay, they could only hand in 3.4 million. Of these, the National Electoral Commission, after careful scrutiny declared that some 800,000 of these were not valid (ID numbers did not coincide with names, and corresponded to people who were dead, or under-age, etc). Another 700,000 were declared doubtful and were sent to a re-verification process in which citizens would have the right to ratify or deny whether they had signed. When this decision was announced, and accepted by Organisation of American States and Carter Centre observers, the opposition refused to accept it and organised street riots and road blockades, using Molotov cocktails and assault rifles. When their terrorist tactics failed, they then recognised the decision and decided to participate in the reverification process.

The "Hands off Venezuela" Italy campaign, after a very good start in Milan, on Friday, April 30, went to Pavia. There we had a meeting with 20 people organised by the Marxist magazine FalceMartello.

On May 1, taking advantage of the International Day of the Working Class, Hands Off Venezuela Campaign held a public meeting after the May Day Demonstration in Central London. Alan Woods, editor of Marxist.com, eyewittness of the Venezuelan Revolution and one of the speakers of II International Solidarity Gathering in Venezuela gave us a really inspiring talk on what the real current situation is in that country.

This article was first published in the Pakistani daily, Dawn Metropolitan (Friday, April 23, 2004) under the title “Pakistan can learn from Venezuelan experience: MNA”. It is a report of a press conference held by Pakistani Marxist MP Manzoor Ahmed on his recent visit to Venezuela for the Second International Conference in Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution. We are publishing it to make it available to a wider international readership. (April 23, 2004)