Leading Figures from Britain Celebrate 10th Anniversary of the Defeat of US-backed Coup in Venezuela

As Venezuelans celebrate the 10th anniversary of the defeat of the US backed coup that briefly overthrew the elected Chavez-led government, a broad range of prominent figures in Britain have shown their support for the expansion of democracy and social progress that followed the reversal of the coup and have warned against further US intervention in Venezuela.

By Venezuela Solidarity Campaign UK

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In the UK parliament, 25 Members of Parliament (MPs) from four different parties signed a motion showing solidarity with the government of Hugo Chavez on the 10th anniversary of the brief coup against him of April 2002 (Guardian UK).
In the UK parliament, 25 Members of Parliament (MPs) from four different parties signed a motion showing solidarity with the government of Hugo Chavez on the 10th anniversary of the brief coup against him of April 2002 (Guardian UK).
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In the UK parliament, 25 Members of Parliament (MPs) from four different parties (Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green and Plaid Cymru – the party of Wales) signed a motion put forward by Jeremy Corbyn MP, a member of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign Executive. It notes how during the coup that ousted the elected government led by President Hugo Chavez:

“....a number of people lost their lives and there were many violations of human rights during the three-day coup during which the coup plotters closed down many of the country's democratic institutions”

They noted the defeat of the coup, achieved when the people restored their elected president to power, was a victory for democracy, pointing out that:

“since President Chavez was first elected in 1998 Venezuela has held more sets of elections than in the country's previous 40 years of democracy, all of them free and fair [and] that Hugo Chavez and his coalition of supporters have won all but one of these elections”

The MPs also “congratulate the Venezuelan government on its strong democratic record and strengthening of social progress since the coup, including free healthcare being made available to millions for the first time, the eradication of illiteracy and the halving of extreme poverty”

Jeremy Corbyn MP who launched the Early Day Motion (EDM) in parliament said:

"In heroically defeating the US backed military coup the people of Venezuela not only rescued their democracy. The also opened up the new era of social progress that has swept across Latin America in the last decade.

The last 10 years in Venezuela has seenthe flowering of free healthcare, education and much more available to millions of people for the first time. At a time when these very services are under sustained attack in Europe, Venezuela is a beacon in the world that there is an alternative.

However we need to remian vigilent against ongoing attempts to intervene into oil rich Venezuela to achieve regime change. It is very concerning that US government agencies continue to pour millions of dollars into the US opposition."

Support from Across Society

Further prominent support has come from a range of writers, cultural figures, trade union leaders and additional parliamentarians in a statement initiated by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign and set to be launched shortly, to mark the day the Venezuelan people defeated the coup.

The statement stresses that there is an ongoing threat from the US to the right of the Venezuelan people to determine their own affairs. It states:

“The coup plotters received backing from US government agencies. Since then US government interventions into Venezuela's democracy have continued - mainly through tens of millions of dollars in funding to opposition movements.”

This, it points out, is “to strengthen those backing the free-market policies and multi-nationals' control of Venezuela's huge oil reserves that dominated Venezuela's past” and that it should be forthe Venezuelan people alone to choose their next government, free from any external intervention”.

In addition to the parliamentarians who signed the motion above, the statement attracted support from Ian Lavery MP (Labour); Michael Meacher MP (Labour); Grahame Morris MP (Labour); Jim Sheridan MP (Labour); Angus McNeil MP (SNP); George Galloway MP (Respect) as well as Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen, vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Latin America, meaning that in total elected representatives of six British political parties have shown their support for democracy and social progress in Venezuela this week.

They were joined by poet Linton Kwesi Johnson; film director Ken Loach; filmmaker and journalist John Pilger; writers Owen Jones (Author of Chavs – the demonization of the working class) and Richard Gott. Signatories from the world of music include Jon McClure (Reverend & the Makers) and rapper Lowkey. Prominent academic signatories include Professor Ernesto Laclau (Professor of Political Theory at the University of Essex); Professor Peter Hallward (Professor of Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University London) and Professor Doreen Massey (Faculty of Social Sciences at The Open University, Emeritus Professor (Geography)).

Peace campaigners Bruce Kent (Vice President, Pax Christi) and Lindsey German (Stop the War Coalition Convenor) as well as student leaders Kanja Sesay (NUS Black Students' Officer) and Aaron Kiely (NUS Executive) also gave their backing.

Strong support for Venezuelan came from the British the labour movement including a wide range of trade union leaders including 7 General Secretaries and leading national representatives of Unite and UNISON, two of Europe’s largest two trade unions, as well as from Colin Burgon of Labour Friends of Venezuela.

Dr Francisco Dominguez, a Chilean refugee from Pinochet's dictatorship and Secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, said:

We know what would have happened had the US backed coup against the democratically elected government of Hugo Chavez not been defeated in April 2002.  The blueprint was that of Chile in 1973. As in Chile every democratic feature of society was abolished and a brutal witch-hunt against anybody progressive unleashed. As in Chile they sought to impose the rule of the gun against the people's will and, as in Chile, this had the enthusiastic support of the private media and the United States.

Had the Venezuelan elite succeeded in April 2002, it would have had Chilean-style consequences, with illegal imprisonment, torture, and assassination becoming the norm and today we will be lamenting the loss of life of tens of thousands of Venezuelans.

Today there continues to be interference in Venezuelan affairs from US government agencies. The aim is clear: to install a government that is more suited to US interests in oil-rich Venezuela.

That is why the significant support from a broad range of signatories for this statement against further US intervention is such an important act of solidarity.”

Appendix:

The full list of MPs who have so far signed the parliamentary motion is: David Anderson  MP (Labour Party); Ronnie Campbell MP (Labour Party); Martin Caton MP (Labour Party); Katy Clark MP (Labour Party); Michael Connarty MP (Labour Party); Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour Party); Jon Cruddas MP (Labour Party); Ian Davidson MP (Labour Party); Jim Dobbin MP (Labour Party); Jonathan Edwards MP (Plaid Cymru); Paul Flynn MP (Labour Party); Andrew George MP (Liberal Democrats); Roger Godsiff MP (Labour Party); David Heyes MP (Labour Party); Kelvin Hopkins MP (Labour Party); John Leech MP (Liberal Democrats); Elfyn Llwyd MP (Plaid Cymru); Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party); John McDonnell MP (Labour Party); Alan Meale MP (Labour Party); Ian Mearns MP (Labour Party); Austin Mitchell MP (Labour Party); Bob Russell MP (Liberal Democrats); Jim Sheridan MP (Labour Party); Dennis Skinner MP (Labour Party).

The full motion can be seen: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/2840 

It is expected that further MPs will sign the EDM after the Parliamentary recess.

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