Stop Imperialist interference in Venezuela-Without signatures there should be no Referendu
Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution
Hands Off Venezuela Campaign- http://www.handsoffvenezuela.org
Hands Off Venezuela Appeal
Stop imperialist interference in Venezuela - Without signatures there should be no referendum!
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.
This took place at the weekend on May 28th to 30th. The process was fraught with irregularities. Large numbers of forged ID cards were found by the police at different locations. A computer, scanner, printer, repair forms, and forged IDs were found at the local headquarters of the opposition party Accion Democratica in El Valle, Caracas, where people who were being pursued by authorities sought refuge, and 600 ID cards were also found in the Accion Democratica headquarters in the Caracas district of El Paraiso. In these police raids they also found leaflets inciting violence and calling for a repeat of the riots that took place in February (a full account of irregularities can be found in this excellent article by Gregory Wilpert and Martin Sanchez. There were also instances of workers sacked by their bosses for refusing to re-verify their signatures, as was the case at the Coca-Cola plant in Antimano, where 50 workers were threatened with the closure of the plant. The Venezuelan Coca-Cola subsidiary is owned by media magnate and opposition leader Gustavo Cisneros.
In the run up to the reverification process, there was intense pressure from the US administration and the international media on the Venezuelan government. It was made clear that Chavez had to allow a referendum to take place, and that if there was no referendum this was because of his interference, and therefore the "international community" would take decisive action against the Chavez government (diplomatic pressure, economic blockade, OAS Democratic Charter intervention, etc). The implication is clear: "never mind about the signatures, call a referendum or we will blockade and eventually invade Venezuela". So much for democracy!
The pressure has now been stepped up on the government and the National Electoral Council to deliver a decision giving the go ahead to a recall referendum. We must oppose this will all our forces. A recall referendum would most likely give a result in favour of president Hugo Chavez, but that is not the point. The point is that too many concessions have already been made to this anti-democratic opposition. The leaders of the opposition should not be collecting signatures for a recall referendum, they should be on trial and in jail for their part in the military coup of April 2002, the oil coup of December 2002 and the February 2004 riots.
There are those within the Bolivarian movement who argue that a referendum should be called because the opposition would lose it. But this is wrong. In the past, any concessions that have been made to the opposition have been used by the reactionaries to prepare new anti-democratic actions against the democratic will of the majority. At the same time the masses who support and participate in the Bolivarian movement are growing angrier at the fact that no serious action has been taken against the leaders of the opposition. They feel that the opposition leaders should pay for their crimes. We should not forget that in Nicaragua, years of military and economic sabotage had the effect of wearing out the revolutionary spirit of the masses and resulted in an electoral defeat of the Sandinistas, in an election with massive foreign imperialist intervention. At the end of the day, the main point is, if they haven't collected the necessary signatures, they cannot have a recall referendum.
The only way to defend the revolutionary process is to deepen it and take it forward. We must reject any imperialist intervention in Venezuela with all our forces. At a moment when the revolution and its leaders are under extreme pressure from capitalist and imperialist "public opinion", we must counter act this with labour movement and progressive public opinion from all over the world.
We ask all Hands Off Venezuela supporters, trade union and left wing activists to sign this statement and also to mobilise support for the Bolivarian revolution and to oppose imperialist intervention.
Please sign the following statement and send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hands Off Venezuela! No to imperialist intervention! Defend and deepen the Bolivarian Revolution!
Without signatures there must be no referendum!
The process by which the Venezuelan opposition had to re-verify the signatures they had collected to force a presidential recall referendum took place at the weekend, on May 28th to 30th. There were a number of irregularities in the process on the part of the opposition. The police raided a number of offices of the opposition Accion Democratica party where they found forged ID cards, material to make them and leaflets inciting violence. Also there were a number of cases of workers sacked and threatened if they would not re-verify their signatures. This was the case with 50 Coca-Cola workers at the Antimano plant in Caracas. The Venezuelan Coca-Cola subsidiary is owned by media magnate and opposition leader Gustavo Cisneros.
These irregularities come after hundreds of thousands of signatures had been already declared invalid by the National Electoral Commission in February, since they belonged to people who were dead, underage or the ID numbers did not coincide with their names.
The Venezuelan opposition has shown once and again its anti-democratic character. In April 2002 they organised a military coup against the democratically elected government. In December 2002 they appealed for another coup and backed it with a 60 daylong sabotage of the oil industry which caused the country multimillion dollar losses. In February 2004 they organised riots, described by Amnesty International as: "groups of opposition supporters using barricades, stones, Molotov cocktails and firework rockets". More than 80 peasant leaders have been killed in disputes over land reform, and dozens of trade union and peoples' leaders have been attacked and assassinated. The leaders of the opposition should not be allowed to walk free in the streets preparing the overthrow of the democratic president, but should be put on trial and sent to jail for their part in these crimes.
The opposition, the Carter Centre, the Organisation of American States, the world mass media and the US administration are piling up the pressure on the Venezuelan government of president Hugo Chavez Frias to call a recall referendum regardless of whether the necessary signatures have been collected or not. This is a scandal, particularly coming from the Bush administration, which was elected in doubtful circumstances, to say the least, and openly supported the military coup in Venezuela in 2002.
We strongly reject international pressure against a government and a revolution which have substantially improved health and education, have started an ambitious land reform programme and have opposed the privatisation of the countries' natural resources, particularly oil. It is not the time for any concessions to the undemocratic opposition. Those opposition leaders responsible for violent undemocratic actions against the democratically elected government must be put on trial and sent to jail so that they pay for their crimes. We express once again our strongest support for the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.
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