The below article is a statement from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network released on November 28.
In the aftermath of the November 23 regional elections, Venezuela's
right-wing opposition has launched, in the states it won, an all-out
assault on grassroots community organisations.
President Hugo Chavez and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela
(PSUV) won a clear mandate in the elections for the project to build
socialism of the 21st century: the PSUV won 17 states with 5,730,774
votes nationwide, compared to the opposition's 3,948,912 votes. The
opposition's vote was concentrated in key strategic areas, giving them
the governorships of five states and the mayor of Greater Caracas.
In the days following the elections, grassroots activists in
Caracas, Miranda and Tachira have reported that the public community
health clinics (part of Barrio Adentro, the free universal healthcare
program), communal councils and other centres where social programs
operate are being shut down or attacked by opposition party, despite
the public assurances of at least one right-wing govenor-elect that the
legal frameworks would be respected.
Venezuelan radio station YKVE Mundial reported on November 25 that
"people sent by the new authorities of the governorship of Miranda
arrived in the early hours of the morning in Baruta, to an Integral
Diagnostic Centre [public health clinics], where they shut down a House
of Popular Power" where the local grassroots communal councils operate.
Cleira Ruiz, local coordinator of Mission Ribas in Mariche, reported
that people from the far-right Justice First party harassed the centre,
and tried to remove the people inside and take the keys.
Gerson Rivas, a representative of Fundacommunal (communal bank) in
the municipality of Guaicaipuro in the state of Miranda, reported that
Cuban doctors were being intimidated by Justice First supporters, who
were threatening to kick them out of the Barrio Adentro modules.
William Castillo, vice-president of Venezolana de Televisión,
reported that groups have also tried to attack the Caracas office of
alternative television channel Avila TV.
More disturbingly, three activists in Venezuela's national trade
union peak body, the UNT, were brutally murdered two days after the
From the state of Tachira, won by the right wing, Ana Rivero
reported to YVKE Mundial that, although the new governor, Cesar Perez,
had not yet assumed his position, "functionaries" had ordered
coordinators of the missions to leave the state schools where the
missions operate, and that this order is being applied across the whole
state. She said that classes in Mission Ribas in the school Timoteo
Chacón de Santa Ana, in the municipality of Cordoba, where she studies,
have been suspended until they can find another location.
María Malpica, the PSUV mayor-elect in Colon municipality in Zulia,
reported that riots were being promoted by the opposition with the aim
of preventing her from taking office, and that eight people were
injured in the clashes.
YKVE Mundial reported that street battles broke out in Los Teques,
the capital of Miranda, on November 26. Carmen Bermúdez, who witnessed
the incident, told YKVE Mundial that the violence erupted when
right-wing governor-elect Capriles Radonski arrived in Plaza Bolivar in
Los Teques accompanied by men on motorbikes and police from the
municipalities of Rosales and Carrizal. The police and Capriles'
private thugs violently attacked people congregated in the plaza for
the inauguration of the new PSUV mayor of Los Teques, Alirio Mendoza.
As well, workers in the Integral Diagnostic Centre in Los Dos
Caminos in Sucre municipality reported on November 27 that members of
Justice First have threatened to burn down the building and are
circulating a petition to remove the Cuban doctors. Similar incidents
have been reported in Carabobo. In the state of Barinas, which was won
by the PSUV, opposition groups have launched violent attacks, refusing
to accept the outcome of the vote.
In 2002 the Venezuelan opposition, backed by the United States,
launched a military coup against the democratically elected Chavez
government. However, the coup was defeated within 48 hours by a mass
uprising of workers and the poor, together with rank-and-file soldiers.
In Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution, major social gains for the
poor and working people have been won by the grassroots movements
together with the pro-people polices promoted by Chavez. Extensive
education programs have eradicated illiteracy and the introduction of
universal healthcare has meant that many poor Venezuelans have been
able to visit a doctor for the first time. Under wealth redistribution
policies factories have been nationalised and put under workers'
control, and unused land has been distributed to peasants.
The US government has given millions of dollars to Venezuela's
opposition groups in an effort to roll back the democratic revolution
in Venezuela. These latest attacks are part of a broader strategy to
get rid of Chavez and reassert imperialist control of the nation.
Responding to the opposition attacks, Jesse Chacon, the PSUV
candidate for Sucre, told VTV on November 25 that, "Any attempt to roll
back what the people have conquered is going to generate conflict,
because the people are organised … The people will not allow it!" In a
televised speech on November 27, Chavez also responded, stating that
the national government and the armed forces, together with the people,
would act to defend the missions and social services.
The minister for justice has also made public statements to clarify
the obligations and role within the state of the governors-elect,
including that they must not abuse the power invested in them. El
Aissami specifically reminded the newest governors-elect of the
importance of not abusing police powers.
The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network stands in solidarity
with President Chavez and the grassroots Bolivarian movement against
the right wing's latest attacks. We call for the democratic process in
Venezuela to be respected by the new oppostion governors, and for an
end to all United States interference in Venezuela's sovereign affairs.
Stop the opposition attacks in Venezuela!
Stop US intervention in Venezuela!
* * *
The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network AVSN has brought
together a range of existing organisations and supportive individuals
now campaigning to demand US hands off Venezuela and to break down the
mass media's silence and lies in regard to the Bolivarian Revolution.
The Network was formed at the Second National Australian Conference in
Solidarity with Latin America in 2004.
The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network is an organisation of
volunteers. The success of our activities in support of the Venezuelan
people depends on the energy and commitment of people around Australia.
If you have some time, skills and/or enthusiasm to offer the AVSN,
please get in touch with us. Help with everything from fundraising, to
letter-writing, phone calls and computer work, to Spanish-English
translations – and lots of other things – is always greatly
AVSN has three main aims:
1. Support communities and organisations participating in the
fundamental social transformation now underway in the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela.
2. Campaign against the US led aggression against the Chavez government and people's of Venezuela.
3. Demand that the Australian government condemn the U.S intervention in Venezuela's sovereign affairs.
The Network coordinates activities in four main areas:
1. INFORMATION CAMPAIGNS to inform trade unions, student and
community organisations and the Australian public in general of the
struggles of Venezuela's people.
2. AID PROJECTS that assist local communities in Venezuela.
3. BRIGADES, EXCHANGES & TOURS to promote the interchange of
experiences between Australian and Venezuelan communities in struggle.
4. ACTIONS & PROTESTS in support of Venezuela's people and against foreign aggression.