London: Marxist Student Federation conference says “Hands off Venezuela”

On Saturday, February 16, over 100 students representing Marxist Societies at over 30 universities across Britain met in London for the Marxist Student Federation national conference. One of the points of the agenda was the current ongoing Trump coup in Venezuela.

The MSF conference heard Hands off Venezuela international secretary Jorge Martín, who explained that what we are witnessing is the latest act in a 20 year campaign by Washington to crush the Bolivarian revolution. Jorge denounced the real reasons behind this imperialist aggression, which have nothing to do with “humanitarian aid” nor with any concern for “democracy”. If anyone had any doubt, you just have to see who they have put in charge: Elliot Abrams, who was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal and oversaw the use of death squads and reactionary paramilitary gangs in Central America in the 1980s in defence of US imperialist interests.” Jorge called on all to redouble the efforts to oppose not only US imperialism but also the role of the UK government in Trump’s coup attempt, highlighting the fact that the Bank of England is withholding US$1.2bn in Venezuelan gold, something which he described as “an act of piracy and buccaneering”.

After a short discussion the MSF conference unanimously voted a motion against US imperialism and in solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution:

NO COUP! NO WAR! HANDS OFF VENEZUELA!

The Marxist Student Federation rejects the current attempt by US imperialism to carry out a coup in Venezuela. What we are witnessing is a blatant attempt to remove the Venezuelan government of president Maduro by a coalition of countries, led by Trump. This is the latest episode in a 20-year campaign against the Bolivarian Revolution, a campaign that has involved military coups, paramilitary infiltrations, sanctions, diplomatic pressure, violent rioting and assassination attempts.

At the instruction of the White House and after meetings in Washington, Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself “president in charge” at a street rally in Caracas on 23 January. This declaration has no legitimacy whatsoever, but he was immediately recognised as such by Trump, Bolsonaro, Duque, Macri and Almagro. Others followed, including 19 EU countries. They then called on the Venezuelan Army to declare its loyalty to the new “president”. This was followed by the US imposing sanctions on the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA and seizing its assets in the US, worth US$7bn. An additional US$1.2bn in gold belonging to Venezuela is being withheld by the Bank of England on instructions from the US. The aim is to asphyxiate the Venezuelan economy into submission.

These acts of blatant imperialist aggression are being carried out under the cover of “democracy” and “humanitarian aid”. Let us be clear, imperialism lied about its reasons for invading Iraq (“weapons of mass destruction”), lied about the bombing of Libya and has always attempted to find a justification for imperialist aggression. The US government, which is building a wall to keep migrants out, locks in cages those who manage to get in and separates children from their parents, is clearly not at all worried about the plight of Venezuelan migrants. Trump has appointed Elliot Abrams as the person in charge of overseeing all operations to “restore democracy in Venezuela”. That tells you all you need to know about it. Abrams organised US funding for the counter-revolutionary Contras in Nicaragua and backed the death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980s.

The coup has three main aims. One is to smash the Bolivarian Revolution, an aim which Washington has pursued by different means for 20 years. Secondly, this would allow US imperialism to get control of Venezuela’s oil and mineral wealth. Finally, this would also serve as a lesson to the workers and peasants throughout the continent and particularly as a clear threat to the Cuban Revolution.

If this attempted coup succeeds it will have disastrous consequences for working people in Venezuela and beyond. Guaidó has already announced his programme: the privatisation of nationalised companies (electricity, steel, telecommunications, cement, etc) and the expropriated landed estates; the “opening up” of the oil industry to foreign multinationals on very favourable terms; mass layoffs of public sector workers; the destruction of all social programmes; privatisation of health care and education; a “balanced budget”… This is an open programme of reaction on the social and economic fields.

In order to implement these measures, such a government would have to crush the resistance of workers and peasants by suppressing democratic freedoms, attacking trade union and community organisations and arresting their leaders. Knowing the character of the reactionary opposition mobs and their track record, we could also expect lynch mobs to attack chavista supporters.

All socialists, anti-imperialists and consistent democrats have a duty to oppose this coup with all our might. There is no room for vacillation. It is not possible to adopt a “neither, nor” position in the face of a blatant imperialist aggression.

This situation has been aggravated by the vacillations of Maduro and the PSUV bureaucracy and their constant attempts to seek a compromise with imperialism and the Venezuelan ruling class. The continuation of that policy today would have disastrous consequences.

The coup attempt must be fought by mobilising the revolutionary workers and peasants, and striking blows against imperialism and its local agents: the oligarchy (bankers, capitalists and landowners). The militias should be strengthened, armed and developed in every working-class neighbourhood, factory and peasant community.

Guaidó has openly called for a military coup, has cheered the US seizure of Venezuelan property and is now calling for US military aggression. He is betraying the Venezuelan people. He should be arrested and put on trial, and the coup-plotting National Assembly should be closed down.

Multinational companies from the countries involved in the coup should be expropriated. The properties of those oligarchs involved in the coup should be expropriated. The landed estates should be handed over to the peasants. These properties should be put under workers’ and peasants’ control as the basis for a democratic plan of production to address the present crisis and meet the urgent needs of the Venezuelan masses.

The Marxist Student Federation commits itself to continue and redouble the efforts of the Hands off Venezuela campaign and take it into the labour and youth movement worldwide with all our forces. We call on all left-wing, trade union and youth organisations to join this campaign.

Hands off Venezuela!

No coup, no imperialist war!

Expropriate the imperialists and the oligarchy!

Workers of the world unite!

London, February 16, 2019