Hands Off Venezuela, the Toronto Bolivarian Circle “Louis Riel” and Société Bolivarienne du Québec organised three succesful events in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Here are the reports with pictures. For more news and pictures about events around the world, please visit the international Hands Off Venezuela website at www.handsoffvenezuela.org .
Successful meeting in Toronto looks forward to PSUV victory on 26 September
Hands Off Venezuela and the Toronto Bolivarian Circle “Louis Riel” organized a very successful meeting in defence of the gains of the Venezuelan Revolution, in advance of the critical National Assembly elections on 26th September, as part of an international day of action organized by the international HOV campaign.
Even though there were a number of other political and social events going on in Toronto at the same time, over 30 people turned out at the OISE building, located on the University of Toronto campus. The crowd was mainly made up of young people with very diverse backgrounds, showing the wide interest that exists in ensuring that the Venezuelan Revolution is successful.
We received very warm greetings of support from Marta Prado and Aura Maria Suarez, the Consul-General and Deputy Consul of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Toronto, as well as from Jorge Sorberon, the Consul-General of Cuba in Toronto. All three were extremely thankful for the support of the attendees for attending the event and being such staunch defenders of the revolutionary movements of Latin America. As well, we received greetings from James Cockcroft, a noted author who has just released a book on the Mexican Revolution, who was visiting from Montreal.
The two featured speakers were Maria Paez Victor and Camilo Cahis, both members of HOV and the Bolivarian Circle “Louis Riel.” Maria began her presentation by going over some of the fantastic successes of the Venezuelan Revolution and the difference this has made in the lives of millions of working class and poor people in the country. She further commented on how the international corporate press has, in an incredibly scandalous manner, lied and manipulated the news coming out of Venezuela. Maria read out a few excerpts from recent articles in the Economist magazine and in the Globe and Mail. Both publications lamented the so-called “loss of democracy” in Venezuela, and that Venezuela and Cuba were supposedly countering the spread of openness and accountability being seen in other Latin American countries. The op-ed piece in the Globe and Mail mentioned how there needs to be a greater effort on the part of Latin American governments to combat poverty and inequality—without mentioning that this is exactly what has been done in Venezuela! Instead, the international press prefers to use the same criminal language as the right-wing opposition in Venezuela, such as labelling President Chávez a “mad man.”
Camilo then spoke about the importance of both the Venezuelan Revolution and the National Assembly elections to the global working class movement. In this current period where governments are demanding that workers pay for the crisis of capitalism, Venezuela alone is going against this current. For this reason, it is vitally important for the imperialists to demonize the successes of the revolution, so that it doesn’t become a beacon for workers around the world. The imperialists and their puppet, former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, failed in their efforts to destabilize Venezuela this past summer and thus, see their best chances at destroying the revolution by gaining a majority in the National Assembly elections. Camilo mentioned that it was vital for Hands Off Venezuela to have mobilized this international day of action, to show the Venezuelan masses that they are not alone in their struggle. Furthermore, Camilo urged the attendees to inform their co-workers, classmates, friends, and family members about what was going on in Venezuela, and how a successful socialist revolution in Venezuela could open the door to similar successful revolutions across the world.
Following the presentations, there was a lively question and answer period, including a discussion about the role of foreign diplomacy for Venezuela, especially in terms of relations with Iran. Everyone was quite excited to hear Maria speak about the positive news that appeared to be coming from Venezuela—that the opposition was in disarray and that the PSUV was fighting valiantly in the election campaign. Alex Grant from HOV noted that the fact that there hasn’t been as much anti-Venezuela propaganda in the media may suggest that the opposition will do very badly in the National Assembly elections.
There was an incredible sense of camaraderie among the event attendees, knowing that this event was only one of dozens around the world, held to support the victory of the PSUV in the upcoming elections and held to defend the Venezuelan Revolution. Everyone left feeling determined to do their utmost to spread news about the gains of the revolution, and working at building the workers’ and youth movement at home.
We Support the Bolivarian Revolution! - Vancouver
As part of the International Day of Action to support the Bolivarian revolution in the upcoming parliamentary elections an excellent discussion was organized by Hands Off Venezuela and the Vancouver Bolivarian Society. Held at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, with the support of the UBC Social Justice Center, 10 people gathered to discuss the Venezuelan revolution, its importance to the international struggle for socialism, and the significance of the coming elections.
Initial remarks were given by Mike Palacek, recording secretary for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (Vancouver local) and Western Canadian Co-ordinator of the Hands off Venezuela campaign; and Antonio Ortiz of the Vancouver Bolivarian Society.
Mike spoke about the nature of the coming elections as a snapshot within a revolutionary process; rather like looking at a single frame in a film. This perspective connected with Antonio’s observation that the loss of a revolutionary majority of 2/3 would provide fertile ground for the counter- revolution to sabotage the fundamental gains of the revolution. The danger of media distortion by corporate, bourgeois, media sources has an effect on the consciousness of the masses who are fed scare stories about socialism. Mike pointed out that the revolution has persisted for 10 years and both made the observation that fundamentally the revolution has yet to conquer power by replacing the capitalist state.
These remarks laid the foundation for a lively discussion about the nature of a mixed economy, drawing on observations of transitional types of economies in China and Cuba for illustration. It was generally agreed that capitalism provides no solution for the fundamental problems facing under developed nations, and that furthermore it was capitalism itself as a system of crisis which prevented the further development of the productive forces on an international scale.
The gains of the Venezuelan revolution are an inspiration to progressive forces around the world. Antonio juxtaposed Venezuela, a comparatively under developed country, next to Canada, and drew a decisive line between the kind of society being built by the revolution and that which capitalism can provide for even in places like Canada. In Venezuela dramatic gains are being made in poverty reduction, education and health care; whereas in Canada these same historic gains of reformism are now being stripped away.
Antonio pointed out the critically decisive importance of the elections of 26 September in the future course of the revolution, and the necessity of a parliamentary majority to continue the revolutionary process really initiated as far back as the Caracazo in 1989. The danger of counter revolution lurks both in plain sight and in the shadows; and will not hesitate to strike when it sees the opportunity. Mike pointed out the military option was likely off the table for the counter revolution, and that a parliamentary coup such as was seen with the ouster of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras is a more likely option. Antonio also expanded upon this describing the coup as legitimized in the eyes of the world due to the recognition of the Lobo regime, and in the event of a loss of the revolutionary majority in the National Assembly on September 26 ripe conditions for a similar action by the counter- revolutionary forces in Venezuela could develop, particularly in the absence of an international response to defend the revolution.
The importance of International solidarity and the victory of socialism in the Bolivarian revolution were the conclusions of the discussion. The importance of the revolution to the cause of labour cannot be overstated and the elections of the 26 will have international implications. The gathered participants came away with a deepened understanding of the current situation in Venezuela, its importance, and a commitment to continue building for socialism and in defence of the revolution; on the campus, and in the workplaces, unions and political parties where workers and their families turn to defend their cause.
Montreal in Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution
On Sunday September 19th, "La Société Bolivarienne du Québec/Hands Off Venezuela (SBQ/HOV) held a discussion about the up coming Venezuelan elections on September 26th. This was part of an international day of action organized by the international HOV campaign. Close to 20 people turned out for the discussion that was held at the Bolivarian Cultural centre in downtown Montreal.
The event was introduced by HOV/SBQ president Stéphanie Vaudry, who welcomed everyone to the discussion and stressed the importance of the elections and the event as a part of the international day of action. She then introduced the Cónsul General of Montreal, Lesbia Margarita Morales Castillo who explained the importance of these elections and that it was not just important for Venezuela but for the entire world because it is an international movement.
After the consul spoke, Isa Al-Jaza’iri from HOV/SBQ introduced an in depth discussion about the dangers facing the Venezuelan revolution. He covered the hypocritical destabilization campaign organized by the imperialists and their local office boys in Venezuela. He also talked about how the danger was not just electoral. With US military bases being constructed in a number of countries in Latin America and the latest provocations involving Columbia, the threat of military intervention and very real.
He stressed the negative, demoralizing effects that a victory for the right wing in Venezuela could have for the entire continent and the movement for the whole world. With a victory for the oligarchy in Venezuela, the rightwing will become strengthened all over the world. He then moved on to talk about what was the way forward. He stressed again that this was an international movement. It is important for the workers and youth of every country to unite together to struggle against their imperialists to stop imperialist war and to end the raping and pillaging of Latin America for resources and cheap labour. He stressed the importance of taking the main levers of the economy out of the hands of the capitalists and running the economy democratically.
After the presentation, the discussion started. A number of people intervened about the military bases, nationalization of industry, the media campaign against the revolution about cuba and the movement in the whole continent. The dangers of bureaucracy were talked about at length. It was stressed that a victory for the PSUV was absolutely necessary but that bureaucracy within the bolivarian movement was causing major problems and strangling the revolution. One participant was excited that the group had organized the discussion and proposed that we organize more discussion on many different topics pertaining to the revolution in Latin America. It was announced that the group would be holding a social to watch the election results come in and have drinks and food. If you are interested in attending, email HOV/SBQ at