Following an international initiative for a global day of action in solidarity with Venezuela, branches of the Revolutionary Communist Group responded with solidarity actions around the country. 19 April 2015 marks the 205th anniversary of the first declaration of Venezuelan independence from Spain in 1810. The global actions coincided with marches and rallies across Venezuela, declaring their defiance against imperialist intervention, the US decree and the latest round of US sanctions.
In Lewisham, anti-austerity and anti-cuts campaigners from South London RCG held a street stall in solidarity with Venezuela.
In Newcastle, RCG campaigners against benefit sanctions and racist benefit controls proudly flew the Venezuelan flag, spreading the word about the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution and demanding its defence.
The Bolivarian revolution holds important lessons for anyone opposing austerity here in Britain. In the 1980s privatisation and austerity were imposed on the Venezuela. Despite massive oil wealth, 70% of Venezuela’s population faced poverty, exploitation and repression, while a small elite, along with western banks and corporations, pilfered the country’s wealth. Health care was a privilege, not a right. In February 1989, Venezuela’s poor majority exploded onto the streets to rebel against price hikes and growing poverty.
Despite brutal repression from the army, this uprising developed into a revolutionary political movement lead by Hugo Chavez, elected as president in 1998. For the first time, Venezuelan oil wealth was used for the people, to provide free health care, education, housing, culture, sport and subsidised food.
While in Britain, social housing, healthcare and benefits are dismantled, in Venezuela the government and local ‘communal councils’ aim to build 3 million new homes by 2019, building a new home every 3 minutes! The drive for profit is replaced with the drive to meet people’s needs. Venezuelan people’s fight against austerity became a movement for socialism.
Manchester RCG campaigners participating in a day of solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners raised the Venezuelan flag - calling on anyone who supports Palestine to now stand in solidarity with Venezuela. The Bolivarian Revolution has consistently and concretely supported the national liberation struggle in Palestine. Hugo Chavez broke diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009 and Venezuela has since sent aid to Gaza, sponsored Palestinian medical students to study in Venezuela and re-housed Palestinian orphans.
Revolutionary Communist Group supporters in Glasgow, Scotland, also marked Palestinian prisoners day with a demonstration in the city centre. Throughout the protest they held up the flag of the Bolivarian revolution, emphasizing Venezuela's key role in challenging the imperialist interests that promote the continuing occupation of Palestine.
Capitalism is in crisis – this means cuts for the poor and bailouts for the rich. Imperialist governments impose privatisation and austerity across Europe and intensify exploitation, war and occupation of oppressed countries in a scramble for resources. Humanity is at a cross roads, the choice is stark – build socialism or face never-ending austerity, racism and war. The Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela demonstrates what can be achieved when people take a stand against austerity and imperialism!
During the 15 years of the Bolivarian Revolution, Venezuela alongside Socialist Cuba has been at the forefront of regional integration, contributing to healthcare, education and mutual development projects across Latin America, opposing neo-liberalism and private profit.
This defiance has brought Venezuela into the cross hairs, today the inspiring achievements of the Venezuelan revolution are threatened by a violent, right-wing opposition backed and directly funded by US and European interests to the tune of $90 million. The right wing opposition have shown that they will stop at nothing in their attempts to topple the Bolivarian Government, from coups and assassinations to economic sabotage and calls for direct US military intervention.
In February 2014, anti government groups set up burning street barricades, launching 2 months of destruction. 43 people were killed, the majority from violence at the barricades where opposition activists set up wires to decapitate motorcyclists and snipers shot at anyone trying to clear away the debris. Despite involvement from opposition politicians and Colombian paramilitaries, the international media presented this street violence as 'peaceful student protest'. Social media circulated hundreds of doctored photos as 'evidence' of repression from Venezuela's police and National Guard, later shown to originate from Egypt, Brazil, Ukraine and beyond.
The Venezuelan Chavista movement organised to defend their gains, taking to the streets in mass shows of political unity, facing down the destabilisation attempt. This February, following new US sanctions imposed by President Obama, the opposition launched a renewed coup attempt – calling for the overthrow of President Maduro. The coup was thwarted, plans to kill marchers celebrating Venezuela's day of youth and bomb Miraflores presidential palace were prevented. But destabilisation tactics, economic sabotage and media manipulation continue today.
Venezuela, alongside socialist Cuba is spearheading a movement for socialism across Latin America, challenging imperialism and neo-liberal exploitation, demanding dignity and human development over profit and private interests.
Venezuela remains a beacon of hope and inspiration for movements across the globe. We must defend it!