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:

México: La campaña Manos Fuera de Venezuela avanza

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.

EDM 854

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.”

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Hands off Venezuela – Easter Marches in Germany

The traditional Easter Marches of the peace movement took place over the past week in Germany. Demonstrators met and called for the withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan, for Germany’s exit from NATO, and against the Agenda 2010. There were 12 speakers at the demonstration in Wiesbaden, one of which was Hans-Gerd Öffinger, vice regional Chairman of the trade union Ver.di, and editor of the Marxist journal Der Dunke who spoke on the situation in Venezuela.

The German Marxists of Der Funke participated in the events in Wiesbaden and Frankfurt with a bookstall selling Marxist literature and collecting signatures for the Hands off Venezuela Campaign.

Hans-Gerd Öffinger spoke at the demonstration in Wiesbaden about US imperialism in Iraq and how the Bush administration is following the dictates of the oil industry. A lot of his speech was devoted to the situation in Venezuela, one of the world’s major exporters of oil, and consequently an important country for the interests of US imperialism. US imperialism has interfered directly in Iraq and they have also been interfering in a more indirect manner in Venezuela and have thus far been involved in organizing two attempted coup d’etats against President Chavez. This explains the assertions from the Bush administration that President Hugo Chavez supports guerillas and terrorists in Colombia and explains the interference of US imperialism in the country as a possible excuse for further intervention. The assertion that Chavez supports terrorists is a complete lie and fabrication – like the fairy tale of the danger of the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

The working class must struggle against imperialism everywhere. The methods of imperialism can also be seen in Germany. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s Agenda 2010 can be seen as “declaration of war against the German people” and must fought against, as we must struggle against imperialism in Iraq and Venezuela. Policies like the Agenda 2010 show that the foreign policy is the continuation of the policy at home.

Hans-Gerd Öffinger’s speech was well received and found an echo in the press, getting mention in the largest local paper. This is not an accident but reflects the growing mood of anger among the working class and youth against imperialism the world over.

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Successful Hands Off Venezuela meetings in France

Two successful Hands Off Venezuela meetings were organised this week in France by the Marxist journal La Riposte, which has been supporting the campaign since the very beginning.

Meeting in Paris

The first meeting took place on Tuesday, November 2nd in the headquarters of the French Communist Party 10th District in Paris. Some 56 people packed the meeting room, to the point where some had to sit in the staircase. Jorge Martin from the Hands Off Venezuela campaign explained the situation in Venezuela after the defeat of the reactionary opposition in the recent regional and council elections and the August 15th recall referendum. These two electoral defeats, he explained, clearly destroyed the myth propagated by the opposition and repeated by the international media, that Chavez was widely unpopular and that the majority of the people were against him. The balance of forces was now even more favourable to the revolution and this should be used to complete the revolution by putting the economy firmly in the hands of working people. Martin explained how Chavez had explicitly said that “within the framework of capitalism the problems of poverty, inequality and oppression cannot be solved”.

A lively debate followed Jorge’s introduction. A veteran comrade from the Nanterre section of the PCF spoke. He had been to Venezuela recently and explained his experiences, including giving revolutionary solidarity greetings to a rally of poor peasants fighting for land reform and the extremely enthusiastic response he got from them. Other comrades spoke, including a leading CGT trade unionist from the Paris building workers union, and a number of comrades from Latin America who were also present. Also amongst the audience were a number of Arab intellectuals and journalists covering the meeting for some of the Arab media (including one of the most important Arab language newspapers, Al Quds).

The meeting in Toulouse took place on Thursday, November 4th, at the University of Toulouse-Mirail. Nearly 120 people participated in this excellent meeting which was the third successful meeting organised by La Riposte at this university campus in the last year. Again, Jorge Martin, after explaining the current situation in Venezuela, described some of the debates that are taking place within the revolutionary movement and which are vital for the victorious completion of the Bolivarian revolution. These are mainly centred on the question of how to fight against bureaucrats and careerists within the movement itself and how to deal with the question of the economy.

Meeting in Toulouse-Mirail

In the debate, one Venezuelan person argued that the movement led by Chavez was not a genuine revolution since the most important leaders of the left in the 60s and 70s were now with the opposition, and that it was a Manichaeist view to argue that in Venezuela the struggle was between Chavez and the poor on one side and the oligarchy on the other. Jorge replied that those historical leaders of the left who were now in the opposition (Petkoff, Marti, Melo and others) had in fact betrayed everything they had claimed to be fighting for in their revolutionary years. In fact Petkoff had already been a Minister in the Caldera government in the 1990s when he was in charge of privatisations. Jorge added that this was not a new phenomenon and that we had also seen the main guerrilla commander of El Salvador’s FMLN turn into an adviser to Uribe’s right wing pro-imperialist government in Colombia. He explained how despite the betrayal of many of the leaders of the Left, the overwhelming majority of the revolutionary rank and file activists from the past were now active in the Bolivarian revolution. As for the charge of Manichaeism, Jorge explained how the facts show that in the poor working class areas of Caracas, support for Chavez in elections stands at 70 to 80%, while in the rich and middle class areas of the East of Caracas support for the opposition was also 70 to 80%, thus clearly showing the class divisions between Bolivarians and oppositionists.

Amongst the audience there were a number of Venezuelans and students from other Latin American countries. Also present were some CGT trade unionists from the aerospace industry around Toulouse who had come to listen to the meeting. One of the main points of the meetings was the appeal to organise some concrete and long lasting solidarity work with the Venezuelan revolution. At the end of the meeting a group of Venezuelan and French comrades agreed to set up the Toulouse Bolivarian Circle to continue with this work. It was agreed that one of the tasks of the Bolivarian Circle would be to raise the issue of recognition for the new Venezuelan trade union, UNT, within the CGT metal workers federation, which the aerospace trade unionists present belong to.

November 5, 2004

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Recent HOV Activities in Germany

Support the Workers´ Movement in Venezuela

Supporters of Hands off Venezuela and "Der Funke" have stepped up their activites in solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution in the last few days.

In Nürnberg, we had a stall at a left wing book fair last weekend and collected signatures for the Venepal workers there. A discussion meeting was held on Saturday night to inform about the background of recent events in Venezuela and tell the audience about the need to support workers´ struggles as a driving force in the process. In his introduction, Hans-Gerd Öfinger outlined the development of the new militant union federation UNT and appealed to trade unionists present to build direct links with the UNT on all levels and fight for the recognition of the UNT as the sole legitimate representation of the Venezuelan labour movement.

He also stressed the need to support the occupation of the Venepal factory and the call for nationalisation under workers´ control. A successful struggle of the Venepal workers could be a breakthrough for the whole labour movement and the overall revolutionary process. Anybody who wishes to carry out solidarity work with the revolution should recognise the importance of the organised labour movement in this context.

Trade unionists present agreed to raise the question of the UNT in their local organisations, putting pressure upon the German union apparatus to fully support this new militant union.

A few days later, the petition for the Venepal workers was signed at a meeting of the media and paper workers´ section in ver.di (Germany´s biggest union) in the Hessen region. The signatures include shop stewards from paper and packageing factories as well as full time union employees.

Last Tuesday, comrades in Frankfurt organised a successful HOV solidarity meeting at the local university of applied sciences. 38 students came along to watch the legendary documentary film on the 2002 coup and a slide show by an HOV activist who had recently visited Venezuela. The Venepal petition was signed and 20 Euros were collected for the Venepal funds.

By our correspondent


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Solidarity Messages
Here you can find various messages of solidarity.

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