Strengthening solidarity with Venezuela and its Bolivarian process, urging British parliamentarians to demand the lifting of economic sanctions and passing a declaration calling for the promotion of peace and the protection of the country’s democratic institutions, formed the basis, among other things, for the issues dealt with and decisions taken at a RED event.
Lectures, workshops, music and designated projects formed part of the second meeting held in London – after a preparatory event held in Bern, the first meeting having been held in Brussels – by the European Network of Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution (RED) which is made up of various social activists and organizations representing them in Europe.
Held on 9 March at the Bolivar Hall, the event was moderated by Katerine Anais (Hands Off Venezuela) and featured panellists Oscar Guardiola-Rivera (Birkbeck University), Jeremy Fox (Open Democracy), David Raby (councillor for the Green Party) and Dave Wiltshire (former secretary for international affairs in the Communication Workers Union).
Guardiola-Rivera said that it was not true that a humanitarian crisis existed in Venezuela and that this was just a current of public opinion that the international press had tried to impose on the world about Venezuela to help the United States and its allies intervene in the country.
The academic added that 15 US senators had written to President Trump asking for him to remove the sanctions. This indicates that, in that country, opinion is divided on how to resolve the conflict with Venezuela.
With this in mind, Guardiola-Rivero suggested that a similar attitude among UK parliamentarians should be promoted and called on those present to write to their representatives in Parliament to demand the lifting of EU sanctions against Venezuela.
For his part, journalist and writer Jeremy Fox spoke in detail about the voting system in Venezuela and how there is a ‘triple control’ that prevents any type of fraudulent activity.
Fox asserted that he was as an observer of the presidential elections in May of last year, along with more than 300 international representatives of organizations such as the African Union, the Caribbean Community and Electoral Experts of the Electoral Council of Latin America, together with former heads of state and activists. He said none of them found evidence of any electoral fraud.
Fox, who is an expert on Latin America, went further by stating that no Venezuelan opposition party has so far contested the presidential elections of 2018: a totally different story from that disseminated by the press on a daily basis.
On the other hand, councillor for the Green Party, David Raby, spoke of the legacy of Hugo Chávez and how his election as president came at a time when everyone considered socialism a relic of the past.
Chávez, asserted Raby, changed our view of socialism in a positive way. And he also pointed out that imperialism threatened the future of humanity.
For his part, David Wiltshire emphasized the connection between the struggle of the working classes in the United Kingdom and the United States against a common enemy: capitalism.
Wiltshire said that we must demand that the working classes in the United Kingdom take robust action to force the Bank of England to return the 1.2 billion pounds (91 tons) in gold that it stole from the Venezuelan people.
Carolina Graterol, (who is the author of this article and was in Venezuela in August of last year) spoke about how Venezuelans lived in conditions similar to refugee camps in the 70s and 80s in places like San Felix in Bolivar state. She also said she saw many examples of solidarity among the population during her trip and was optimistic that the Venezuelan people would prevail against this attack by Trump and his allies.
At the end of the speeches, the delegates of the Solidarity Network (RED) discussed in workshops the objectives that inspired its birth and they also discussed how to coordinate and work alongside a growing number of organizations; and to determine good sources of information and how to use these effectively so that the voice of the government and common Venezuelans is heard in the international community.
One of the objectives fulfilled at the meeting was the participation of a diverse collectively supportive group of British and Latin American organizations representing social activists that exist in the United Kingdom.
As for the declaration agreed upon, it calls for the defence of peace in Venezuela and its democratic institutions, which expressed their sovereign decision on 20 May 2018 in a free and transparent presidential election.
It also expresses its solidarity with the Venezuelan people in defence of their sovereignty and their right to resolve their internal affairs in peace and whilst exercising their right to self-determination. In addition, It categorically contemns foreign interference in the internal affairs of the nation, and in particular declarations inciting violence in the country by the United States of America, the Lima Group and the OAS (by their Secretary General Luis Almagro).
The event ended with a concert including performances of Venezuelan pieces by Great Patriotic Pole (London) activist Teresa Acuña and former solidarity secretary of the UK Venezuelan embassy Marcos García. The group Rompiendo fronteras (“Breaking Borders”) played Latin American pieces and Kurdish opera singer, Aygul Erce, played pieces from different countries with Vedat Kafkazian on the accordion.
(Translated by Nigel Conibear MCIL) – Photos provided by RED.