Tuesday, December 19, 2006

[PICS] Photo Gallery (Sanitarios Maracay)

Dear all,
Click on the pic below for a link to a photo gallery about the visit of the HOV delegation to Sanitarios Maracay on the 1st of December. Enjoy!

More photo galleries coming soon.

All the best!

Espe Espigares (unfortunately, back in London now!)

[VIDEO] Sanitarios Maracay demo

Here´s a new video from the HOV team in Caracas. They covered the demonstration of Sanitarios Maracay workers for nationalisation under workers control on December 14th (see reports by William Sanabria and Rob Sewell).

The delegation had visited Sanitarios before (see the video they produced), a couple of reports of the visit to Sanitarios Maracay by the delegation were published earlier in the blog, by Shane and Rob

for more information on the occupation of Sanitarios Maracay read a statement of the trade union leadership, their decision to form a factory committee, a report of the demo in Maracay, and a report of the mass workers meeting that elected the factory committee.

there is an international appeal for support for their struggle

Will and Mel in Caracas

Thursday, December 14, 2006

[VIDEO] Entrevista con Luis Primo (Interview with Luis Primo)

Una entrevista con Luis Primo de la UNT / FRETECO / CMR. Luis habla sobre las fabricas ocupadas, el control obrero, Sanitarios Maracay, las elecciones del 3 de diciembre, la democracia obrera y la democracia burgesa, la economia, el estado, y el camino a seguir despes de las elecciones.

English transcript / subtitles coming soon!


John P.

Hands Off Venezuela visit to the Cotisa Housing Project

Hands Off Venezuela visit to the Cotisa Housing Project.
Wednesday 13th December 2006

Hands Off Venezuela went to Cotisa, a poor neighbourhood in the hills of Caracas, which was devastated by a flood 23 years ago. The then government of Luis Herrera Campins supplied tiny metal shelters that were supposed to serve as temporary protection for 120 homeless families. Almost three decades later, those families – now extended into two generations – were still living in the squalid makeshift shelters.

old housing

Now, under the new Chavez government, oil money is being used to fund a new housing project that is transforming the living conditions for these families.

New housing

We met Miriam Sanchez, the Project Manager from the Municipal Mayor’s Office, who explained that the 10-month old project truly fosters community participation. The resident families take part in weekly committee meetings, where plans and ideas are discussed and approved. The community itself is hired to build the 2 story, 2 bath, 3 bedroom houses, which creates employment as well.

Miriam Sanchez

We spoke to a Mother with one of her teenaged sons who told us about her experiences.
“I can tell you it's been a marvellous change, because we used to live in tiny trailers. Look how big my son is. It's the first time he has ever lived in a decent home. Here we have space.” She said how she once lived in a nice home but that the family had bad luck and her father died when she was very young. She introduced us to her small grandson and said that he was born in the trailer too but by the time he started walking, he lived in their new spacious home. “It's marvellous. What good work president Chavez has done for poor people. And, we hope things continue moving ahead for us and for others as well.”

Mother with new housing

New housing

We also spoke to Mr Jesus Rengito, who is in charge of security on the new estate.
“If we don't have liberty, we have nothing. We want all the peoples of the world to focus on the reality of our revolution. The revolution is beautiful, but we need to build it. We're building it step by step. We have a guide who is Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, but we have to have the ideas regarding our revolution and to learn what Socialism of the 21st century is, so that it can lead the people who are living in darkness to come out of their backwardness and to take the message to the most remote corners of our country.”


Miriam finished by telling us that in the past ten months, 50 percent of the families had already been re-housed, and resources have been approved to carry out projects in 32 other areas of Caracas next year.


In Britain, the last Tory government sold 1.6 million council houses and flats to tenants at discount prices in what amounted to the biggest privatization of all, raising more than £7bn. Little money found its way back into improving remaining properties. The government was keen to hive off the remaining 3.2 million in England to housing associations and developers.
Under New Labour, 750,000 council homes have now gone to associations and social housing companies. This has led many to believe that council housing in Britain is facing a slow death.

So the messages from the people of Caracas for us to learn from their revolutionary process, are indeed, very appropriate.

Melanie, for the HOV delegation, Caracas

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More on Election Day in Caracas

Election Day in Caracas went by in a whir of activity, reports, discussions, neighborhoods visited, fireworks and rain. Since then, we’ve had a chance to sit back and discuss the day’s events and come to some general conclusions.

One thing I think needs to be highlighted is just how passionate and determined the Bolivarian masses are. Their enthusiasm and energy isn’t the naïve passion of a first revolutionary awakening – it is much more gritty, down to earth, and conscious. It is clear that the revolution has come a long ways since it first really took off way back in 1989. Revolutions are a process, and the extended nature of the Bolivarian Revolution is proof of that. But revolutions cannot last forever – as we have explained time and again, you cannot make half a revolution. Despite the passionate outpouring of support for Chavez in the last few days, it is clear that things have to change drastically – and soon.

Most people are in the holiday mood at the moment - I am told that politics fizzles to nothing in the latter half of December. But come the middle of January, things will start to heat up, and fast.

In the chavista barrio of San Agustin

On election day, the mood in the barrios contrasted like night and day with the mood in the better-off neighborhoods. As can be seen in the videos we uploaded (more video and images to come in the coming days!), the mood was joyous, militant, and determined. The counter-revolution was defeated not only at the polls (in the largest margin of victory for the revolutionary process since it began), but on the streets, which teemed with millions of people celebrating yet ready for action.

A voting line in an opposition neighborhood

The crowds waiting to vote in Sarria, a chavista barrio

When the CNE made the initial announcement, showing that Chavez had an overwhelming lead, the most raw, explosive, I’d say, even primordial celebration broke out. Drenched to the bone with rain and cold, hundreds of thousands jumped up and down, clenched and waved their fists, hugged, kissed, danced, and cried, while fireworks went off above us. The relief, exaltation, and pure joy was something to behold.

We were able to stand just 50 feet from Chavez when he delivered his victory speech (as at a festival rock concert, we slowly winded our way through the crowd until we were just in front of the “Balcony of the Victorious People”). We’ll have some more video up soon which will hopefully give you a feel for how energetic it all was.

The Crowds at Miraflores Before Chavez' Victory Was Announced

You can read the transcript of his speech online, and it is a speech rich with interesting facts, general observations, and loosly-outlined plans, but what you can’t glean from the typed-up version is the reaction of the crowd to Chavez’ words. I’ll highlight just a few points, which I think reflect the mood of the revolutionary masses.

• Chavez opened his speech by saying, “Long Live the Socialist Revolution!” This was met with rapturous applause. He also said that the elections were not an ending point, but a starting point, and this is clearly what the masses expect. When he told the assembled masses that they had not re-elected him, but had in reality re-elected themselves, they responded with an incredible roar. This was truly how the Bolivarian masses saw these elections: as a referendum on the path towards socialism and their own participation in the running of society.

• When Chavez started talking about how Venezuela needs to reach out to its Latin American and Caribbean neighbors, the crowd started chanting “Cuba! Cuba! Cuba!” When he mentioned Brazil and Argentina, they chanted: “Cuba! Cuba! Cuba!” When he finally got to Cuba, dedicating the victory to the anniversary of the Granma landing 50 years ago, and to Fidel Castro, the crowd went wild.

• The hundreds of thousands gathered to hear his speech also responded feverishly to his call to fight bureaucracy and corruption to the death. Much has changed in Venezuela since Chavez first came to power, but much of the corruption and bureaucratic syphilis of the 4th Republic remains and is gaining strength in the new 5th Republic. The masses want decisive action taken against these parasites.

• At one point Chavez said that what the revolution was fighting for was “Equality, equality, equality!” The crowd screamed it’s heart out in approbation. They have clearly voted for a genuine project of socialism, not for cosmetic changes and tinkering with the system. The various misiones have alleviated the worst aspects of decades of neglect, but society is still far from equal, and the majority of Venezuelans are clear that this vast gap between rich and poor must be narrowed quickly.

• When Chavez said a few words reaching out to those that voted against him, the crowd actually booed. In the days since the elections, there has been much talk of reconciliation among the reformist sectors of the bureaucracy, who know the pressure in January will be tremendous. They are already moving to check that pressure and to confuse the movement with dangerous words about “national unity” – i.e. blurring the sharply delineated class lines in Venezuela, and ultimately, subordinating the interests of the working class to the interests of the oligarchy and imperialism. Based on the reaction of the crowd, the Bolivarian masses will fight these kinds of moves tooth and nail.

• The masses’ hatred of imperialism is overwhelming. They are enraged at the actions of imperialism around the world, and in Latin America in particular. How many millions have died as a direct or indirect result? The crowd’s enthusiasm for Chavez’ words about sovereignty and respect for Venezuela reflect the nationalism of a colonial nation, enslaved for centuries by foreign powers, feeling for the first time the potential to really break those chains. At the same time, everyone in the crowd was extremely friendly to me and made it clear that they oppose imperialism, not the working and poor people of the U.S., Canada, Europe, etc.

Outside Miraflores After Chavez' Victory Speech

There are many tasks faced by the revolution come January. For example, what to do about the National Assembly and other similar bodies, which are elected on the old model of bourgeois, representative democracy, as opposed to direct, participatory democracy? Real democracy – workers’ democracy – must be based on universal, direct election of all officials, with the right of immediate recall. These officials must not earn more than the average wage of a skilled worker, and all tasks must be rotated regularly so as to combat bureaucratic routinism, and so that everyone can learn how to run society. Real workers’ democracy would mean the linking up of democratically-elected workers’, peasants’, neighborhood, and soldiers’ assemblies on a local, regional, and national level, in order to democratically plan the running of the economy and society as a whole. The example of Sanitarios Maracay, as the embryo of genuine workers’ democracy, cannot be underestimated. This is just one of the many fundamental problems that must be dealt with decisively in the coming period.

Along with the question of the state (including the question of the military and the arming of the people), there remains the key question of the economy - the economic expropriation of capitalism. The economy is still capitalist. Genuine socialism simply cannot arise out of the current economic set up. My impression is that the imperialists will risk some of their capital by investing in Venezuela, work to buy off even more of the closet escualidos currently parading around as Bolivarians, and try and link prosperity with foreign investment, with the idea that expropriations would mean the end of the boom. In this way they will try to stave off expropriations of the key industries, the banks, the media, and the latifundios, and will also strengthen their control over the state apparatus, an apparatus designed by and for the interests of the capitalist class.

In my opinion, imperialism has clearly decided to take the “Bill Clinton” approach as opposed to the “GW Bush” approach to deal with the “problem” of the Bolivarian Revolution. They cannot make a frontal assault, so they will opt to derail and wear out the revolution over time, waiting until the time is right to pounce. Their quick recognition of Chavez’ victory is only an attempt to “kill the revolution with kindness”, since killing it with open blows has not worked so far. They will sow confusion, discontent, and work to pick off the most advanced sectors one by one.

The masses have waited patiently for fundamental change to come. They have waited until after the referendum, until after the mid-term elections of last year, and now until these Presidential elections. They have had enough of dilly-dallying! A clear example is needed, a clear point of support for Chavez to lean on in his battle against the 5th column that surrounds him and threatens to suck the life out of the revolution. This example can only be found in the labor movement, in the movement of factory occupations and workers’ control, which can and must serve as the lever to push the revolution to the next level.

The revolution’s enemies are powerful, and there is little time left for further mistakes and half measures. By all accounts, a decisive settling of accounts will take place sooner rather than later. The movement still sorely lacks a broad-based and far-sighted revolutionary leadership. But this can be built in the heat of the struggle – people learn quickly in a revolutionary situation – but there is not all the time in the world.

The entire planet must keep its eyes firmly focused on events in Venezuela. What happens in Venezuela in the coming months can change the entire course of human history. I can’t encourage everyone enough to get involved with the International Hands Off Venezuela Campaign. Contact us at www.handsoffvenezuela.org.

Stay tuned for more pics, video, and updates in the coming days!

Friday, December 8, 2006

[VIDEO] Venezuelan Election Report 1, Polling Station Tour

Venezuela recently saw Hugo Chavez re-elected in a landslide victory, with a 62 percent majority. The Hands Off Venezuela delegation tours some of the polling stations to learn more about the electoral process, the technology used, and interviews an international observer from Belgium, who oversaw the historical event.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

HOV delegation in discussion on socialist economy

The international Hands Off Venezuela Delegation to Venezuela that spanned from November 28th to December 5th has officially ended. But, for those staying behind, the work continues of course!

Our media blitz here has been extensive. From a full-page article in one of the main Caracas newspapers “Ultimas Noticias” to interviews and guest appearances broadcast on Venezuela TV, Catia TV, Vive TV and National Assembly TV which aired from within the heart of the Venezuelan Parliament.

After our first appearance on a current affairs show on Vive, we were asked back to speak as part of a discussion group on the program ‘Y eso con que se come?’. Recorded just two days after Chavez said “61% of people didn’t vote for me, they voted for socialism” in his victory re-election speech, the show was on the subject of the economy – but not just the general economy – the socialist economy. The host asked Espe Espigares about what she thought about all of the social changes taking place in Venezuela and who she thought was benefiting. She responded by saying how important the misiones are, but that she thought a lot more still needed to be done. She pointed out that Chavez has now clearly called for socialism of the 21st Century but that socialism is not about handing out a few crumbs to the people. Its about taking over the commanding heights of the economy. She quoted Chavez who had just two nights before said, “There is nothing to fear about socialism.” to a sea of thousands of cheering Bolivarian all dressed in red.

The host then asked John Peterson from the US delegation what his opinion was about the subject of workers control. He responded by pointing out that it was about nationalization with democratic workers control because workers aren´t interested in defending their work places and factories if they were owned by the boss whose interests are completely at odds with those of the workers. Campesinos won’t defend the land if it is owned by the big landowners and landlords. He used the example of Sanitarios Maracay, a factory occupied and run by the workers as a small scale illustration of how the economy should be run in a socialist state. Assemblies of workers, campesinos, popular and local assemblies organized nationally to run the

Our message of solidarity and support of the Bolivarian Revolution aired on radio as well with long interviews on National Radio and community stations like Radio Negro Primero. We were even stopped on the streets several times by well-wishers and people who had recognized us from the television. Two different people also said that Chavez said in a press conference that he had heard that there was a Hands Off Venezuela delegation here and would like to meet us.

So, our message was put out there loud and clear - we want Venezuelans who are making progressive change in their society to know that there is world-wide interest in events happening here and that there is an international will to guard and to learn from the process taking place in Venezuela and to take it back to Europe and North America!


Tuesday, December 5, 2006

[VIDEO] Sanitarios Maracay under workers' control

Hands Off Venezuela tours Sanitarios Maracay, a factory in Venezuela under workers control, to learn more about the revolutionary process taking place there, and to offer solidarity to the workers.

an impressive video which gives a taste of workers' democracy in action and how this is linked to the Bolivarian revolution:

a couple of reports of the visit to Sanitarios Maracay by the delegation were published earlier in the blog, by Shane and Rob

for more information on the occupation of Sanitarios Maracay read a statement of the trade union leadership, their decission to form a factory committee, a report of the demo in Maracay, and a report of the mass workers meeting that elected the factory committee.

there is an international appeal for support for their struggle

[VIDEO] "Long live socialist revolution" Chavez celebrates election victory

With a shout of "Long live socialist revolution, long live the people, long live Bolivar" Chávez celebrated the peoples' victory in the presidential election on December 3rd and addressed the masses from the "People's Balcony" of the Miraflores presidential palace.

We have two videos of the rally (only in Spanish), the short version:

and the full 59 minute version (also only in Spanish):

[VIDEO] December 3rd election presidential election

Hands Off Venezuela visits Chavista and opposition Neighbourhoods in Caracas, Venezuela, to interview the people, and to learn more about the Electoral process taking place during the December 3rd Election Day.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

[VIDEO, AUDIO and PICS] Early Afternoon in Caracas

I would have posted this earlier, but me and 3 others from the delegation have been out in the pouring rain about 20 yards from Chavez' victory speech!

Video of that to come soon.

Here's one hastily put together of footage taken earlier this afternoon.

I'll write a few lines tomorrow on the elections, but I think the main mood is relief that it has all come off so well, combined with continued vigilance and joyous celebration. More soon...

And here is some audio:

the Bolivarian wake up call at Bolivar Square:

powered by ODEO

and here are some more that we are still trying to stream:

- [En Español] entrevista a Jose Antonio, activista revolucionario de Catia
- interview with Alf, an HOV activist from Sweden in Caracas
- [En Español] entrevista con Maria de los Ángeles, activista de Manos Fuera de Venezuela

Listen also to the report from the Venezuela Solidarity delegation from Australia:

powered by ODEO

We have had to upload some of the pics on the Hands Off Venezuela site because of technical problems with blogger

election day for HOV delegation

Today was the day that the delegation was building and waiting for. We got up very early in the morning because we had an interview in Vive TV (that went very well!) but we hardly sleep at all. At 3 in the morning the "cornets" start giving out the wake up call all around Caracas calling people to vote. After ViveTV we run to get into the mini bus that we had hired and we started the tour to the polling stations.

We had as a base "Radio Libre Negro Primero". There we meet with a team that was organising and participating in the report of the elections and they took us to several neighbourhoods. We started visiting Sarria, a extremely Chavista neighbourhood. The welcome was impressive. As soon as we arrived people started Chanting "Uh, ah, Chavez no se va", "son diez millones!". We got a few interviews to record the mood (coming soon on line!) and we set off for our next visit. We went to Las Palmas, Av. Andres Bello and Av. Mexico. These areas where either half and half or with a majority for the opposition. You could see the difference miles away. We interviewed some people, but we didn't get much. So different from the supporters of the revolution... you can't stop them talking, they have always so many things to say... about Chavez, about the revolution, about how their lives have changed, about the need to advance towards socialism, about the local school, about how much they hate Rosales...

After that, a few of us went back to the hotel to start working on the footage and others went to the tour the "23 de Enero", a 110% Chavista neighbourhood. The atmosphere here was excellent. We were welcomed, they offer us food and drink and we celebrated together the imminent victory of Chavez.

We ended the day at Miraflores, in a huge party, listening to the speach of the president. Hopefully we will have a clip soon because the ones that stayed at the hotel recorded the tele. Just to give you a taste, he said that 60% of Venezuela had voted for Socialism, that now we had to build socialism of the 21st centuary and that nobody should be scared of socialism!

It was a great day, the atmosfear in Caracas is jubilous, a great party. Fire works, music in the streets, committis of cars and bikes bipping hors... it is really amazing. We hope that it won´t be any trouble but people are also vigilant. The people that stayed at the hotel to work on the video wanted to meet the other delegates at Miraflores but we turned back because we were scared. People told us "not to go out, go back home, today Venezuela has got a new presiden, Rosales" and stuff like that. May be we were over cautious, but it looked scary, plus it was pooring rain, so we chickened out and went back to the hotel!

As I said, a great day with thousand of anecdotes and experiences to talk about.

Soon you will have som more with pictures and video!

All the best!

Chavez wins! “Forward to socialism!

Well the final tallies are still not in, but it is clear that Chavez is the winner. Some of the delegation is in the pouring rain right now watching the victory speech of Chavez, other have returned to report or to get other work done, or simply to rest after an incredibly busy week.

the opposition today made no attempt to disrupt the election, but as has been reported they have made plans to assault the people once more, possibly in the coming days (the 5th perhaps).

The most advanced layers of the Venezuelan workers, students and poor are prepared to change society. The opposition is very weak but still holds great power over society.

As Chavez said “we will have a socialist economy” in his speech tonight, this task of creating the basis of socialism must begin immediately. the factories, the land and the mass means of communication must be made for all, not as a means of profit for a few, and a few intollerant to even observing the most basic democracy. what good is the preservation of the rights of people who respect nothing but their own right to rule and exploit?

The power and spirit of the people of Venezuela is at a burning high, this mood is in harmony with the pressing tasks at hand. The huge margin of victory for Chavez is a confirmation to proceed.

At every mention of the word “socialism” said by Chavez in his victory speech it was met with a tremendous roar of enthusiasm. This is not simply a light minded gesture on part of the people, rather the impulse to be taken. The economic levers of society need to be in the hands of the people not the capitalists, bankers and landlords.

The workers collectively have made the vast wealth of the country, if this wealth is not taken from the capitalist oligarchy this wealth will only be used as a weapon against the very same working class and poor in tragic proportion. Nationalization is not undemocratic, just the opposite it is very democratic, and in fact it is the only way to preserve democracy, with out these measures being carried out the threat of counter revolution will be ever present, waiting to pounce.

The people, the workers and poor, are the truest and most honest people, the voted for Chavez seeking modest changes, but to get these modest changes found they must in fact move the earth to win. It would be premature to say the revolution is headed for defeat at this point, quite the contrary the spirit to go forward is red hot right now, “rojo rojito!” this mood must not langish in vain, a abandoned factory can be reconditioned but a wasted revolutionary moment is lost forever. The people of Venezuela are worth ever "infringment" of the "rights" of the oligarchs and capitalists.

The great people are ready, they have voted their will, now they must carry it out. democracy is not just words on paper but the actualy living relationships of people and the means to create and develop society. The poeple know this and embody this in the life of their struggle. This delegation visit has shown this in the most face to face ways.

The brave revolutionaries in the barrios like “San Augustine” or “the 23 of January” have know far too many martyrs already, not another drop of blood from the workers need be shed in vain, victory, real and lasting victory is in sight: the time to advance is now!

In solidarity

Shane Jones from “rojo rojito” Caracas!

Chavez is well ahead

Reports are now coming in from Venezuela and the international press showing that Chavez is well ahead in the election results. Reuters has said that he is on his way to a landslide victory.

With 78% of the votes counted Chavez is ahead with 61% of the vote while Rosales has 38%.

Reuters also reported that angry supporters of Rosales at his campaign headquarters were chanting "into the streets, into the strees", showing that the counter-revolutionary opposition may be up to something and planning to protest the results.

Teodoro Petkoff, a main figure in the opposition, has said that the voting was carried out in a "satisfactory" manner and the Organisation of American States has praised the "massive and peaceful" vote.

Despite the transparency, legitimacy, and peaceful elections the opposition may still attempt to declare fraud in an attempt to create instablity and chaos. As we approach the hour of the final results of the election, all revolutionaries, in Venezuela and around the world, must remain vigilant and prepared to mobilise to counter any manoeuvres of the opposition.

HOV in the mass media

The international HOV delegation has been busy since arriving in Venezuela. Reports have been sent detailing the coverage the HOV delegation has been given in the press, which you can find in the IMT site.

We have also received reports on a public HOV meeting which took place on Friday, December 1, in Caracas. Details of the meeting can be found also on the IMT site.

We can also see that the HOV campaign is having an impact around the world. There was a demonstration held in Karachi, Pakistan on December 1 in solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution. A report of the event can be found here.

In Spain, members of Manos Fuera de Venezuela visited the consulate and handed over a list of signatures of trade unionists, as well as student and left-wing groups. The report can be found here in Spanish: here.

We also have a video of Ruben Linares, one of the leaders of the UNT, sending his greetings to Hands off Venezuela, ahead of a big celebration meeting scheduled in Belgium. The video, in Spanish, can be found here..

Things are moving fast on the ground. We have heard of more stories of the opposition trying to claim that there has been fraud in the elections. We will continue to update the blog throughout the night and the following day.

Opposition claims irregularities in Venezuelan elections - Vigilance needed!

The electoral centres are being closed at this moment. Both the CNE
(Venezuelan electoral commission, in charge of the electoral process) and spokesmen of the FAN (the armed forces) have stated that everything is going normally and that the procedure is guaranteeing that voting is secret and free.

However, the counter-revolutionary opposition has not wasting its time to begin their dirty campaign of spreading doubts and misinformation about the electoral process. Opposition candidate Manuel Rosales, after voting in his home region Zulia, stated that there were problems with the machines used for the elections, saying that some persons have experienced that their ballot was blank when they had actually voted for him, etc.

He said that a research by his campaign had proved that such problems were much more frequent in the areas were Rosales holds majority than in the Chavista dominated ones. According to him 36% of the places where such irregularities apparently are taking place are the areas were the opposition candidate is likely to win, while 20% of the areas where there is a close race between the candidates and only 5% in the areas were Chavez is favourite.

Rosales added that he didn’t want to “believe that this was the result of any manipulation or part of an organized strategy”, but that the CNE should do extra work to ensure that the process is clean. The same attitude was adopted by the leading figure in the opposition Leopoldo Lòpez, wholaunched an aggressive appeal to the supporters of the opposition to “stay alert” and follow the counting of the votes.

It is quite clear that at least some sectors within the ranks of the counter-revolution are thinking about launching some kind of campaign to delegitimize the elections. They know that Chávez will win and they are desperately trying to start questioning the results.

Some sources indicate that the victory of Chávez might even be bigger than expected. In the biggest region of the country, Bolívar, official CNE sources say that participation have been as high as 70%. This is a clear indication that the opposition has very sound reasons for being worried.

The Venezuelan revolutionary news-site Aporrea has reported that on Friday the 1st of December, big reserves of T-shirts with the word “Fraud” were found together with leaflets denouncing electoral fraud and calling for a demonstration against the fraud for December the 5th. The same source reported that the leading oppositionist, Rafael Poleo, who some days ago revealed on the TV channel Globovision, that the opposition leader should conduct a “Orange revolution” like in Ukraine, to get rid of Chavez, left the country to go to Miami on Friday with a return ticket for Caracas on the 10th of December. He left together with Radames Muñoz, an ex-army man who is also the former minister of defence in the government of Carlos Andrés Perez (the government that conducted the Caracazo massacre of 1989).

Whether this is indeed preparations for a possible new insurgence of the opposition is hard to tell, and will probably only be decided by Imperialism and the Oligarchy in the last moments. What is clear however is, that these are very serious signs and should be a warning to all activists in the revolutionary movement. The opposition is up to something…

The revolutionary forces are mobilizing and remain vigiliant if the counter-revolution raises its ugly head. Hundreds of “situational centres” throughout Venezuela have been prepared to follow the events and call for mass action if necessary. Important left-wing organizations in the Bolivarian movement have formed a pact called “Oligarcas Temblad!” (Oligarchs tremble!). In this alliance is represented, among others, the National Peasant Front Ezequiel Zamora (FNCEZ), the Venezuela Popular Unity (UPV), the Alexis Vive Collective, the Simon Bolivar Coordination Committee, the Revolutionary Front of Occupied Factories, FRETECO, and the Revolutionary Marxist Current.

This will be an important tool to respond to any manoeuvre of the opposition. Both inside and outside Venezuela, revolutionaries should be on their guard, following the events hour by hour and mobilize for demonstrations in support of Chavez's victory tomorrow, Monday. Only by the mobilization of the masses in the streets can the plans of the counter-revolution be stopped.

By Patrick Larsen

Caracas, 5pm (Venezuelan time)

The 3rd alive! Election Day 2006 Venezuela

Our wake up time of 5am was cut short by the horns and music, which started around 3am, we could here shouts from the streets in this early hour of “Viva Chavez!” these were then followed by another “Viva Chavez!”. Some polling places had lines as early as 2:30 am, and most started to fill by 3-4 am.

We had a TV interview scheduled at Vive TV, which was cut a bit short because of the constant updates about the election that were being run. However the delegates who were interviewed got to speak about the campaign and the situation in Venezuela enough to once again spread the messages of the international Hands Off Venezuela campaign.

We had to quickly rush from the station to the meet up point where the rest of the delegation was waiting for our bus (the driver was busy still in a long voting line). We accidentally found our selves at the site of the 2002 coup’s bloody landmark, Llaguno Bridge. Since this had happened more or less accidentally it took us by surprise. Once we knew where we were it was very apparent how those brave people on the day of the massacre must have felt. The videos available of that tragic event don’t reveal just how venerable those people on the bridge were that day. The bridge is quite small and from a sniper’s bullets there is no cover.
We grouped together with the other delegates and drove to Negro Primero Radio Libre, the community radio station we made plans with to observe and report about the elections. Indymedia Portland was also working from the Negro Primero “command center”.
We arrived at the first polling station to witness the process and to speak with the people there. At the Freddy Bernal Alcade there were hundreds of people waiting to vote, the people who had already voted were celebrating, cheering and singing. People dressed in red, with beanie caps reading “10 million!” in a repeated pattern rallied and filled the street.
When some of the children were asked if they knew who their parents were voting for, they could tell you the reasons, they knew, even as children of ages 8, 9 and 10 years old knew of the concrete improvements in their lives made by the revolution.
As we rode to the next polling place we caught a radio program that was talking about our delegation, we have caused a bit of buzz!

The next polling station, at the College of Consolation, was in polar contrast to the first, as it was in an upper class area. Well dress, or shall I say expensively dressed, people adorned with gold and expensive brand name sun glasses lined the side walk. The mood was quiet dull, no cheering, no singing, no hopefully joy only a desire to return to the past. The street was lined with new cars and SUVs as well under a string of Rosales campaign signs. The people we spoke to seemed to all carry one thought “we think if Chavez loses he will refuse to step down” (as I type this Chavez is leading with 66%). This idea, that Chavez is unwilling to observe democratic methods is the classic line of the opposition media. However from what we observed no repression on part of the Chavez government had taken place.

In the next polling area, “San Jose De Tarbes” , even with mixed socio-economic layers, the situation reveled more support for Chavez. The first people we spoke with, who would have by appearance seemed to be against Chavez, were in overwhelming support of the president. They said “we have a good president here, let people know!” one 60 something Chavez support told us, showing his purple pinky finger, indicating him as having voted. He added “you have to be careful, however those people” referring to the opposition, “want to kill, they are mad” then with a smile to reassure us he said “they are pissed they have to pay for their gas! They aren’t used to having to pay bills!”. As well some of the people here remembered us from the TV interviews we have given.

We ran into an Australian delegation and spoke for a while exchanging tips on places to visit. We suggested to them to visit Sanitarios Maracay, the occupied factory run under workers democratic control. They told us how on their first day they visited a opposition strong hold and were immediately asked “how much is Chavez paying you to be here?”. At this time we were at the Experimental School of Venezuela, this was the only site with short lines, partly we think because of its location being in the center of the business area we few live, and people lining up early to vote.

Our last (for now) polling visit, was the historically important Barrio “San Augustine”, the home of the famous “UH AH CHAVEZ WILL NOT GO!” and the home of the heroic people, some of the first to respond to the attack of the 2002 coup. Immediately, with out a drop of hesitation the people of the barrio met us with the warmest, friendliest greetings, joyous signing and dancing, old and young alike, all the same. A swarming street party at the base of the hillside neighborhood. As one confidant voter told us “we party because we know Chavez has already one!”. one man, a big worker, who spoke good English took some of us as new friends and brought us deeper into the celebration, offering us with honest good nature, beer and soda (we took the soda, being in a important political situation). He was incredibly excited and wanted to translate to us. He asked me “where are you from?” to which I answered “the US” with no pause he let out a proud burst “I love your people!” but he added after a reflection “I love your people, it is true, a good people, like us, but I don’t like your government, I love the people you see, but I don’t like the government, I don’t like Bush”. soon we were surrounded, and shown the warmest reception, perhaps the warmest of our lives. The strong and callused hands and joy full faces of the workers here did not need be jotted down by pen, rather they are the permanent living memories of a revolutionary people, in the flesh in blood of a liberated human spirit! Memories never to be lost!

Everything must be done to defend and advance this revolution!

More to come!

In solidarity
Shane Jones from Caracas December 3rd 2006

Text messages by the opposition

Report just in: the opposition is sending text messages saying that they are winning, and they are celebrating in the East of Caracas (an opposition stronghold). They avoid using the media as they can be shut down if they pre-empt the official accouncement of the CNE.

More as we learn it!

Early Afternoon in Caracas

Since we left earlier today, we have seen and done a lot. Espe was interviewed for "Radio Libre Negro Primero", as was I once again, and I also spoke to "Radio Comunitario Barrio Sendero de Antimano". But the best discussions were with people in the poorest barrios. More on that in a

[We're having proplems getting images uploaded - stay tuned!]

We heard from someone that there are roughly 16 million eligible voters and that participation will be high. The long lines in all areas - from the poorest barrios to the escualido neighborhoods - confirm this. Despite all the tension in the air in the last few days, it has been an incredibly open, transparent, and peaceful process - there have been no reports of major incidents that we know of.

Faced with certain defeat, it seems Rosales' strategy may be to claim that in those areas inclined to vote for him, there are irregularities. Opposition folks have tred to rile up lines by saying that the lines are being held up on purpose, that there are blank ballots, etc. Some people have reported that the lines in opposition areas don't seem to be as long as they were during the 2004 recall referendum. And nonetheless, there are reports on some websites saying that Rosales is winning (although it is illegal to pre-empt the announcement of the National Electoral Council - CNE). They are already denouncing it as a fraud, and some people reported that the shirts with "Fraud!" on them are bein distributed. All has gone relatively well so far, but we'll see what happens once the official announcement is made...

The difference between the popular barrios (like Sarria and San Agustin) and the more middle class neighborhoods is really astonishing. Not only in the quality and upkeep of the buildings, roads, and other infrastructure, but in the energy and ethusiasm for the revolution. There are plenty of pro-Chavez voters in middle class areas (like Candelaria), and a handful of anti-Chavez folks in the poorer areas, but the absolutely organic, electric joy of the poor who are already celebrating what they know to be their resounding victory. Generally speaking, there seems to be an inverse proportion between the level of poverty and enthusiasm for the revolution. The revolutionary fervor that pours out of the poorest areas has to be lived to understand. Once it was clear we were supporters of the revolution, we were received with open arms, cheers, music, dancing, and endless discussions, stories, introductions, photos, etc.

Contrast this to the story we heard about a Globovision (opposition TV station) that attempted to film in a poor neighborhood - they were driven out with stones and almost had their cameras taken from them!)

We'll be heading out again soon to tpopular neighborhoods to report more later tonight...

Photos and video to follow...

Interview with Humberto Lopez (Sanitarios de Maracay)

Late Morning in Caracas

As we walk the streets of downtown Caracas, there are huge lines everywhere - by all accounts, participation is high. People have been lining up since 2:30 am in some areas. People from all walks of life are in line to vote - abstention is likely to be low. The streets are largely abandoned, little traffic is circulating, and the soldiers from the National Guard are posted at strategic locations. They seem relaxed but vigilant.

After an early morning interview on ViveTV, we made our way back to plaza Venezuela, passing the famous Llaguno Bridge on the way. There is now a sculpture there to commemorate the victims of April 11, 2002.

While waiting we did some interviews which should be online soon. We also made a recording of the trumpet calls to action that were heard since 3 am. The one we recorded was at Plaza Bolivar.

John Peterson from the U.S. was interviewed live on two important community radion stations, Radio Libre Negro Primero and Radio Libre Ezequiel Zamora.

We're off to visit the barrios now, we'll be reporting back soon...

Caracas, 5:58 am

The horns, music, fireworks, and even motorcycle caravans blasting the trumpet call to arms have continued intermittently for the past 3 hours. Polling booths open soon, we're heading out to report on them and will update the blog throughout the day as often as possible. We have a broad network of community media and political organizations working on exchanging information in order to get it out to the broadest national ad international audience possible. We should have a flood of information on this blog within a few hours!

Until soon!

John P.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Towards the 10 Million Votes - A First Report

It's just after 3 am in Caracas. Moments ago, the "get out the vote" festivities began in the militant 23 de Enero barrio and spread to the rest of chavista Caracas. Fireworks can be heard everywhere, along with the baying of all the neighborhood dogs. Cars honking their horns and fitted with loudspeakers speed by, blaring the military trumpet call to reveille, the call to wake up, the call to arms that typifies the chavista mobilization to vote. Campaign speeches of Chavez, declaring "for unity towards the 10 million votes" can be heard as well. You can also hear the comandante singing "Oligarchs Tremble" and others are playing "Bella Ciao". It's going to be a long and exciting day!

PS - Last night, we were in effect refused service at a fairly nice cafe in a mixed area of Caracas. The waiters glared at us with hostility and simply didn't attend to us. We ended up getting up, ordering directly from the deli counter, and leaving. Due to the broad media coverage, we have been approached on the streets by many people congratulating us. It seems the other side has been watching as well. Here's the page of Ultimas Noticias in which Espe and Shaun from the UK, and myself were interviewed - the most widely read paper in Venezuela! [we'll translate it and get a transcript soon]

Sanitarios Maracay Revolutionary spearhead!


today was a very important day for our delegation, as we got to visit the factory of Sanitarios Maracay, which is occupied and run democratically under workers control.

There is much to report about this, my report can not capture all the aspects and details we were witness to, however I will try to present the general picture of the situation in the factory.

As well there should be video coming online at some point (it may be a short while since we are all very busy preparing for the election, and video work requires quite a lot of work and time. The results will be well worth it, as the footage is the real documentation of a living breathing revolutionary process that could change history)

Sanitarios Maracay, is about an hours drive from Caracas, so to be on time we had to mobilize quite early in the morning. This was made a bit more difficult by the fact that the opposition had been shooting off fireworks and fire crackers starting late the night before and early into the morning (5:30-6am). While there are many Venezuelans using fireworks during normal hours for the Christmas season, which is a very big holiday here. The people we spoke to in the morning said that the fireworks in the early morning were not normal, as well this same tactic was used during the days preceding the referendum. the opposition is completely unwilling to observe democratic methods, the have constantly resorted to dirty tricks. Whether caring out a joint US government coup or pathetically shooting off fire crackers so to steal a night’s rest, these people are intolerant of the will of the people. The best thing that the revolution can do at this point is to take away the social power the opposition, the capitalists hold!

After a drive through the truly beautiful Venezuelan landscape, we arrived at one of many industrial centers in Maracay. The road into the industrial park is met with banners with slogans dealing with workers control “control obrero”, and some spray painting by the workers on some of the walls reading: Workers Turf!

The workers immediately received us and had us quickly exit the bus and enter the grounds of the factory. We were brought into the mess hall and given a briefing of the plan for the tour.

The tour of the rather large facilities, which is encompassed in four separate building divided by intersecting streets, lasted slightly longer than two hours, and was quiet thorough, we thank the workers for their time and efforts in educating us on the process involved in the factory.

The first stop of the tour was very telling of the weight of the situation. This was the beginning of the production process: the raw materials needed to produce the ceramics made there.

The were about 15 or so various powers needed in the production of the ceramics depending on the use of the material. The supplies of the most universal powers were all nearing exhaustion, these are the powders needed to produce any product. As well several other powders that are required in all products were running very low, the workers, however improvised with some materials which could up until a certain point be reused. Unfired pieces that fail to meet quality standards are broken up and put back into the supply of raw material. “When the boss left” we were told, “he left us like this” by the worker giving the tour as he pointed to a nearly empty powder stall. The problem of raw materials in exacerbated since some of the more important powders come from Spain, and the suppliers have so far not been willing to send any more, most likely as a means to end the self run production of the workers. While new suppliers are being sought out there is a pressing need for the factory to be nationalized and keep in good repair and stocked up on all the necessary materials for production.

The worker showing us the factory then brought us to the Silica powder stall, he explained that this power was a carcinogen, and eight to ten years of unprotected exposure can cause cancer. Before the workers formed a union about two years ago (UNT affiliated) the boss had no safety masks for the workers, and the workers were left to the dangers of the carcinogens. Once the union formed the a health committee was set up and at once made demands for more health and safety materials. The workers however had to constantly push for all these necessary items.

In a bit of cleaver working class humor, the kindness of the bosses was on display for all to see. a bit of the old conditions were purposely left untouched, the only drinking facility in the powder storage, chemical testing and mixing building was one small water cooler (that was in disrepair) top off by only one cup ( in the same area as the silica powder!) meant to be used by all 800 workers!

Despite the cruel and inhuman treatment of the workers by the boss, the workers spared no effort to make us feel comfortable and safe at the factory. Several times I saw workers move chains and hooks that we could of run into, and in a huge display of their generosity, the workers, who are on a food rationing system, shared their lunch time meal with us, taking only half a portion of food! The generosity of the workers contrasts heavily with the “generosity” of the bosses!

To this most kind and warm offering of a basic need, one that the workers are running low on and a local food drive has been set up, the International HOV delegates all made a donation to the worker’s fighting fund that provides food for them and their families. We raised over 400,000 Bolivars.

In addition to the workers fighting for their own safety, the expressed their concerns for the local community which is effected by the dust from the factory. the workers plan to research a method of filtering the factory so no dust get blown into the surrounding areas, which house other working facilities and one kindergarten.

We continued to tour the entire process, the molding room, the machine shop, the plaster cast room, the plaster mixers, the chemical testing, the waster filtration system, the design room, areas for processing raw materials, and the giant building filling kiln/oven where the workers gave us a brief lesson in dialectics! They explained the process of heating and cooling, which involves a intentional gradual drop in temperature, which if not used “would cause the material to sharply change, causing a break”.

We saw the entire process of producing sanitary items, toilets, sinks etc, all of which are much needed in this country were millions of people still lack basic housing essentials. This factory provides a use full item that raises the living conditions of real people. I don’t think I need to sell anyone on the need of good working pluming! But this is a great example of the different interests present in society. The workers by occupying the factory are not only saving their jobs and lively hoods of their families, but the living conditions of millions of people. The hostel in which I am lodging in has a sink of the same design which I saw at the factory yesterday. The workers are more than justified in their demand that the factory be nationalized.

We were very fortunate to be able to address the workers of the factory and express of solidarity with them at the end of the trip. Several international HOV delegates involved in workers struggles in their respective countries, got to speak to a general gathering of the hundreds of workers present that day.

The speeches of these delegates should be available soon, hopefully in video format.

I could report more but it is now late and we must wake up early for the election, which will be of a huge importance.

More to come….

In Solidarity

Shane Jones from Caracas

day 5 of the delegation!

Hi all, today we "didn't do much".

By this we mean that we didn't do any particular visit, we dicided to cancel a couple of things to finish some of the jobs that we have left half done and plan for tomorrow, the big day.

Some of us, Espe and John got interviewed at Canal Sur on how the world sees Venezuela. We hope to get foottage of all this, but there's lots, so it will be difficult to collect it all, but we will try.

Tomorrow is Shaun's turn for Canal Sur and some of us will go to Vive tv, very early to participate in a open forum.

Anyway, the visit yesterday at Maracay was a very important thing for the delegation. We have been talking about it all day. All day, we have been working on a short documentary about it, that it will be on line soon. We have looked over over the footage and we are just amazed about the great speaches and the enthusiasm of the workers. It is a relly good example for the Venezuelan revolution and it I feel that it was a great privilege for us to be there. They have occupied the factory since November the 14th but the struggle goes further back. I haven't got the link handy, but it is worth it to read and support the struggle. They are the first factory that has started production without waiting for nationalization or any help. We did a collection for them and we raised 410.00 bolivars, but you will see the video soon! I better go so we can carry on working and finish it, so we can see it and we can also give it to all the media that we find in the next few days.

All the best!


Day 4 of delegation (heading out of Caracas to workers struggle)

Sorry for this post being so delayed but we don’t seem to have a spare second at the moment!

The fourth day of the delegation and we are feeling really positive about all the progress the delegation has made with many national television interviews and many contacts made with community groups and alternative media. The rumor over Chavez’s interest in meeting us is still running but I think how will have to ask nicely as we will too busy to meet him on our packed schedule!

After a bus trip fill of panoramic views through the lush green hillsides and roaming mountains and then industrialized plains in which we saw some brand new blocks of newly built homes that are a product of Mission Habitat, we reached the occupied De Sanitarios Maracay ceramics factory where they produce toilets and sinks. The boss of the factory had threatened to close it a couple of times earlier this month so the 800 workers took over the running of the factory. After a really warm welcome from the workers including coffee we were given a tour of the factories facilities. We saw how the raw materials were processed, how the paste produced is treated and tested for the perfect consistency, how the toilets and sinks were designed and moulded, how they were fired in the massive oven and finally how they were coloured and finished for distribution. The massive problem for the workers is that they have only 40% capacity as they are running out of raw materials as they have to rely on supplies from outside Venezuela and that is extremely hard to gain those supplies because of the owners’ actions .They also suffer from health and safety procedural problems such as working in really poisonous conditions without adequate protection with silicon producing cancers in workers after long exposure to the substance. Also the owner only left them with one water distributor and one cup when he left. These problems stem from the owners greed in driving for profit and not wanting to invest in national materials and invest enough money into providing good health safety mechanisms and standards for the workers.

After the tour the workers very kindly gave up part of their lunch rations to our delegation in which we enjoyed sat in a big canteen with revolutionary chavista songs blasting from a hi-fi! Then we were invited to a workers assembly where John and Shane from the American part of our delegation told the workers how inspiring their struggle was and that workers around the world were in support of their fight for workers control and for the continued fight against the bosses. Espe from the British delegation told the workers about our campaign and how we trying to spread the word of the Bolivarian revolution across the world countering the corporate media lies, she also told the workers that if we get the chance to meet the President we will tell him of their struggle and how he should help them nationalise the factory. There was loud applause and big cheers from all the workers as they appreciated our sentiments and also told us about the need for help in nationalizing the factory so as to stop the capacity shortages and to provide the workers with renewed confidence to take the fight forward with the financial help of the government.

After the inspiration of the trip we were in readiness for the Venezuelan HOV public meeting in Edificio San Martin. The meeting was packed with over 40 people also thanks to getting it advertised on national radio earlier in the day. The meeting had many speakers from Venezuelan students and workers, Luis Primo of the UNT, Venezuelan British and American HOV members and members of the Revolutionary Marxist Current. The many threads of argument and comment included that imperialism wasn’t going to accept the revolution in Venezuela so there must be organized plan and actions to defend it not just for the elections but for deepening the revolution after the elections. Also that the communities, unions and workers were ready to defend their revolution in their factories and workplaces on election Day and in the future too. Further that the sabotage by the far right and the capitalists needed to be strongly countered and that the many positive and socialist aspects of Chavez’s government of Venezuela at the moment are defended.

To do all this many speakers talked about joining HOV in Venezuela. It was also said the message from British and American and other international workers, trade unionists and students was of full support for the revolutionary process and that the branches of HOV in those countries will be doing their best to protect the revolution. Finally there was the comment that this is not just a campaign to protect Venezuela but to protect the whole of the South American and North American people from imperialism.

Some of the delegation were interviewed by Vive TV at the meeting too with them getting to say to who they were, where they were from and why they supported the revolution. All in all a really productive, enlightening and really inspiring day in the midst of the revolution.

Adios amigos

Rob (for the HOV british delegation – using Espe´s log in)

Friday, December 1, 2006

coop visit


(per the normal busy schedule and spotty Internet service, this report is a day late)

Hey all!,

Well after two very busy and productive days, which were also very hectic, we had a free morning to catch up a bit and get done some necessary errands and other small tasks, as well to make our plans for the next few days.

Around 1pm we made our way through a busy open market and in a very pro-revolution area to the coop Nucleo de Desarrollo Endogeno Fabricio Ojeda, where we were given a guided tour of the various cooperatives.

The site of the coops was once an abandoned filling station and remained as such for twelve years, after the changes introduced by Chavez, the land was taken over by the community and collectively they decided what to do with it. The community collectively makes many social decisions in assemblies here as well.

Since then there have opened up several autonomous cooperatives, the first was a textile coop but soon it was followed by a coop that made shoes, and by an agricultural coop. there is also a construction coop and construction trade school on the site. There is a youth sports coop, and a discount transport ticket center for students that gives prices 70% less than normal. In addition to the various coops there is a state medical center.

The tour of the shoe coop, which only opened a year ago with a state loan using the Micro-credit system has paid of its debt. The coop uses all-Venezuelan materials, such as rubber and leather. The coop has managed to get many large order contracts (10,000 pairs ordered by Cuba) which has helped to reduce over production thus far to non-existence levels, and in general production is very efficient in its use of materials. The shoes produced here are made to last and to be made from inexpensive quality materials. (the styles varied, but all came in black leather)

We spoke to several of the women workers who were working in the quality control department who said “ten million votes for Chavez and long live the world revolution!”

As well many of the workers from all the various coops were not at the facilities today, as half were out working on the election campaign. And many of the workers who were on the “work shift” still at the facilities were wearing Chavez t-shirts and one women worker had a card-board cut out of Chavez’s face at her work bench.

The textile coop was a sea of red! “Rojo Rojito” or as we were told, meaning red all the way through referencing the honest revolutionary spirit of the people as apposed to the phony “red” of the people who act as a break on the revolution. The textile coop had special machinery set up for disabled people who otherwise may not be able to find work, as well there are no old age limitations.

The medical facility was very clean and up to date, it was air conditioned (which is like gold here in a Caracas summer!), and right next door is being build a integrated diagnostics center, which would greatly expand the health services available for the community. As we entered the health center there were only a few people waiting around 3pm, as the doctors told us the busiest time is the morning, the few people waiting were watching a presidential address Chavez was giving on TV. The medical center treats mainly routine ailments but also provides gynecology services and dental care. One dentist told us before the new system of community health centers, dental care was only affordable for the rich, and this left the poor with bad teeth and little work for the dentists, now she said; the poor can have good teeth and the dentists can have regular employment.

We had a pleasant lunch in the agricultural coop, which had a few acres of land to grow food on for the community, which is severed regularly.

One point I would like to make:

While the coop system we visited boosts some very egalitarian aspects (equal pay, community control, worker assemblies plans of production etc) taken as a whole the coop system are not the way forward for the revolution, rather they are only a positive (and in this case very positive) augmentation on the prevailing conditions (a huge informal economy depended on bigger capitalists, terrible work conditions, no community/ worker input etc), also a major point in the coop movement is to produce items that otherwise would be available only by purchasing them from outside the country using oil money. the problem is however that even the most positive augmentation is not a radical change. The coop movement while reducing the dependency on foreign markets, does not actually break the hand of the foreign and native market and the social class that lives by rule of the market: the capitalists. Rather only by expropriating the means of production from the capitalists and running them under democratic workers control can the threat of a counter revolution be put down. The point is not to recreate capitalism based on the barrios but to take the wealth (in the form of necessary industry, needed to keep society functioning) from the 5% on the top and allow all workers, poor and peasants to run production. As long as 5% controls 80% of the wealth of society there is a threat of reaction.

Hopefully tomorrow one if not many delegates can report on the trip to the occupied factory run under workers control we took today, which is the most important part of the struggle currently and show the way forward that is the way to secure and to finish the revolution! (12-1-2006)

In solidarity

Shane Jones from Caracas