27 May 2006

First year of Venezuela Solidarity

Here is a report on the first year of Venezuela Information Centre in the UK, click on the left to join....don't forget Green Revolution meeting next sunday June 4th, mail me on wallddd@hotmail.com to find out more.

Venezuela is a good example of where we are slowly and not without contradictions growing anther green world


Summary of VIC’s activities in its first year

Today (25 May 2006) marks the first anniversary of the Venezuela Information Centre which was launched at a packed public meeting in London.

VIC was set up in response to the spreading of misinformation about Venezuela. In its first year, VIC has been campaigning to build the widest possible support for progressive change in Venezuela and opposition to US intervention.

VIC’s aims are:
· To support the defence of Venezuelan national sovereignty and the right of the Venezuelan people to determine their own future free from external intervention;
· To oppose US or other foreign interference in Venezuelan internal affairs and any threatened military aggression against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela;
· To campaign for the British government to use its influence to prevent any such intervention or aggression;
· To counteract media misrepresentation and distortion of the situation in Venezuela and:
· To provide accurate and up-to- date information about political developments, trade unions, social movements and political organisations in Venezuela;
· To campaign to win widespread support for these objectives, through activities raising awareness and seeking to ensure a better understanding of the Bolivarian process.

Since May 2005, VIC has undertaken a wide range of activities to develop these aims and to link up with all important constituencies of support for Venezuela, including the labour movement, political representatives, Latin America and Caribbean communities, writers, academics and students, and campaigning bodies and NGOs.

Below is a summary of these.


· MAY 2005:
VIC was launched at a large public meeting, “Venezuela: an example for Latin America”, attended by nearly 300 people. This showed the enormous interest in Venezuela, and the potential for large scale solidarity.

Speakers at the launch event included, Richard Gott, Julia Buxton, Frances O’Grady and Keith Sonnet. The event was sponsored by trade unions (UNISON, TGWU, GMB, RMT, AUT, CWU, FBU, ASLEF and the General Secretaries of NATFHE and NUJ), MPs, NGOs and campaigning organisations, academics and journalists, including Hugh O'Shaughnessy, Tariq Ali, George Monbiot and John Pilger.

· JUNE 2005:
VIC organised the visit of Venezuelan trade unionist Ruben Linares to address the RMT conference, the first ever visit by a member of the UNT's National Co-ordinating Committee to Britian. VIC also facilitated meetings for Ruben with UNISON, FBU, TGWU, NATFHE, the TUC's International Department, the International Transport Federation (ITF) and the Latin American Workers’ Association.

· AUGUST 2005:
VIC organised the launch meeting of Richard Gott’s book Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, which is widely regarded as essential to understanding the process in Venezuela. Two hundred people attended the event, which was also addressed by Tariq Ali, and was held at the Venezuelan Embassy’s Bolivar Hall.

Following the successful World Festival for Youth and Students in Caracas, VIC held a report back meeting with delegates to the Festival. This established relations with executive members of both NUS and the TUC Youth Committee. These have been developed since, with both the NUS and TUC Youth Conference passing policy to support VIC.

VIC worked with trade unionists for the successful adoption of Motion 79 on Venezuela at the TUC 2005 conference.

The motion proposed by NATFHE was was based on the model resolution that VIC had circulated among trade unions. VIC was also pleased to assist John Wilkin, NATFHE's president, in the organisation of his trip to Venezuela which included meetings with the UNT National Co-ordinating Committee and visits to some of the "misiones".

VIC received a letter from Sr. Alfredo Toro Hardy, the Venezuelan Ambassador to London, passing on the gratitude of President Hugo Chavez for our contribution to the adoption of the TUC motion in support of Venezuela.

· NOVEMBER 2005:
Following the TUC resolution, VIC organised the first ever British trade union delegation to Venezuela. This delegation met with President Hugo Chavez as well as the Vice President and the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Participants included Rodney Bickerstaffe, Joni McDougall (GMB), Bob Abberley (UNISON) and Richard O’Brien (AMICUS)

This delegation followed VIC establishing the Trade Union Committee For Venezuela, which met in August September and November to prepare the delegation.

The delegation was reported in the labour movement press and a written report has been published to be distributed at trade union conferences.

· DECEMBER 2005:
Latin America 2005, was a successful day conference event attended by over 300 people and jointly organised by VIC with the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Justice for Colombia and other Latin American solidarity groups.

Key Venezuelan speakers were Carlos Polanco, adviser to the Minister of Higher Education and the Venezuelan ambassador Sr. Alfredo Toro Hardy. Other speakers included Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn MP, and Rod Stoneman, Executive Producer of the film “The Revolution Will not be Televised”.

VIC helped organise two events at the House of Commons to develop parliamentary work: a report back on the trade union delegation to Venezuela and a briefing meeting for the All Parliamentary Group on Latin America with Julia Buxton and George Philip. These was followed by a number of initiatives taken by MPs including the EDM signed by 118 MPs, which we have lobbied MPs to support.

A delegation of 18 people was also taken to the World Social Forum in Caracas in January. As well as involvement in the Forum, delegates had the chance to visit the Missions, and some delegates met with the Culture and Information Ministries and the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. VIC, with Grupo Sur (Belgium), OSPAAAL (Spain) and France-Amerique Latine (France) held a successful seminar at the Forum entitled: "Latin-America - Europe: Two Continents United Against Neo-liberal Globalisation and Imperialism."

· FEBRUARY 2006:
VIC organised the visit of leading trade unionist Jacobo Torres, International Secretary of the Bolivarian Workers Force (FBT), the largest grouping within the UNT. Jacobo addressed the European Conference on Cuba and Latin America at the GLA, held meetings with Steve Wharton, AUT President and Colin Burgon MP and was received at a reception held at Unison.

Jacobo addressed a VIC public meeting in Manchester attended by 80 people as well as meeting with Unison North West Regional Secretary, the Lord Mayor of Manchester and Manchester University Student Union. In London he met with the TUC, Southwark NUT and students at the London School of Economics. He also addressed a meeting at Unison.

· MAY 2006:
Supporting the successful visit of President Hugo Chavez to London. VIC liaised with the Venezuelan Embassy and the Office of the Mayor Of London - which hosted the visit - to do all we could to contribute to its success.

We organised welcoming presences at each of President Chavez’s engagements, produced supportive materials around the visit, liaised with the media and refuted media lies, and developed links with the African Caribbean and Latin American communities to engage them in the visit.

In addition to these events, VIC has held a commemorative event to mark the fourth anniversary of the defeat of the coup d’etat; addressed the Green Party annual conference; has spoken at numerous public meetings; co-organised two fundraising events at Bolivar Hall with Venezuelan musicians; participated in the trade union conferences which have so far taken place this year - with the NUS, NUT, and AUT all passing policy in support of Venezuela; regularly posted materials on the website for supporters and circulated briefings and updates; set up local groups; challenged biased media reporting on Venezuela – including with the recent anti-Chavez piece on Channel 4 news- and written articles for the progressive press.

25 May 2006

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

LINK TV (DIRECTV ch. 375, Dish Network ch. 9410), available to 27 million American homes, will air a four-hour special that takes viewers to Panama, Colombia and Venezuela to examine the rising tide of Anti-American sentiment and the region’s most vocal and visible symbol: Hugo Chavez on Sunday, June 18, Wednesday, June 21 and Saturday, July 8 at 5 p.m. PST and 8 p.m. EST.

Link TV’s special “U.S. Empire: Case Studies in Latin America” features an exclusive investigative report from journalist Greg Palast on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — known for tipping the balance of power in his hemisphere and wielding billions in Venezuelan petrol dollars. Palast, who has been hailed as “the most important investigative reporter of our time” by Britain’s Tribune Magazine and is celebrated for his BBC exposé on the purge of black voters during the presidential election of 2000, delivers another uncompromising look inside American politics with the premiere of “Finding Bolivar’s Heir.” The report offers a never-before-seen interview with Chavez, insight into Chavez’s relationship with the U.S. as well as Chavez’s plans for Venezuela, and raw footage from the slums of Caracas.

The special also features a broadcast of “The Panama Deception,” an Academy Award-winning critique of the U.S. invasion of Panama. The film, which The New York Times called “an answer to the official United States government line about the 1989 invasion of Panama,” documents the untold story of the U.S. invasion of Panama: the events which led to it, the enormity of the death and destruction and the devastating aftermath. Hosted by Link TV political correspondent Mark Hertsgaard and featuring special guest entertainer and social activist Harry Belafonte, the special offers a startling look into one of the nation’s most critiqued military actions and the mainstream perceptions of Latin America.

Link TV will also preview “Plan Colombia: Cashing-In on the Drug War Failure,” a documentary detailing 20 bloody years of the U.S. “War on Drugs” in Colombia. The film, which is produced by Los Angeles-based husband-and-wife team Gerard Ungerman and Audrey Brohy, investigates how the U.S. State Department shifted its priorities in Colombia from “counter-narcotics” to “counter-insurgency” and explores what is left of the alleged anti-drug purpose of the U.S. Plan Colombia.

Why should you care about U.S. relations with Latin America? Tune in to Link TV’s revealing special U.S. Empire: Case Studies in Latin America to find out.

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