In the face of an escalating international campaign by the right-wing Venezuelan opposition, backed to the hilt by the US, to bring down the left-wing government of President Nicolas Maduro, solidarity activists around the world, including Australia, are stepping up their activities. Supporters of the Venezuelan right-wing opposition are also escalating their efforts aimed at undermining and attacking the solidarity movement.
The solidarity campaign has held a series of public meetings in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and other cities in recent weeks, leading up to the crucial elections for the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela on July 30. The latest stage of the solidarity campaign involves an attempt to reach out to the trade union and broader labour movement to seek support for Venezuela.
A public meeting of solidarity with Venezuela at the offices of the Sydney branch of the Maritime Union of Australia on July 8 attracted about 50 people. The following MUA branch meeting on July 25, after hearing a report on the situation in Venezuela from Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network representative Fred Fuentes, unanimously passed the following motion:
"The MUA Sydney branch resolves:
To pledge our resolute solidarity with the people of Venezuela and their Bolivarian Revolution.
To reject the intervention of the US and other capitalist powers in Venezuela.
To oppose the attacks by violent, fascist gangs of the right-wing opposition in that country.
To call on the Australian labour movement to express solidarity with the Venezuelan people, and against right-wing attacks on Venezuelan democracy.
To call on the government and parliament of Australia to dissociate itself from US intervention in Venezuela's internal affairs, and to express full support for a peaceful resolution of the current crisis in Venezuela.
To support the upcoming action against [US President Donald] Trump's proposed sanctions on Venezuela, this Saturday, July 29, 12 noon, at Sydney Town Hall."
A similar motion was carried unanimously the following day by the Victorian branch of the CFMEU. That motion read:
"This CFMEU Branch Meeting resolves:
To pledge our support with the people of Venezuela and their Bolivarian Revolution Socialist Government.
This meeting notes the Venezuelan government is a democratically elected government and we reject the intervention of the US and other capitalist powers in Venezuela.
We call on the Australian labour movement to express solidarity with workers in Venezuela and against fascist and violent gangs.
We call on the Australian government to dissociate itself with the US intervention and to work towards a peaceful resolution to this crisis in Venezuela."
The rally in Sydney on July 29 was timed to coincide with Labor’s State Conference, with the aim of encouraging expressions of support from union and other delegates to the conference.
Public forums to discuss the crisis in Venezuela were held on July 28 in Geelong, and July 29 in Melbourne.
However, supporters of the right-wing opposition in Australia have also been mobilising. A crowd of up to 100 opponents of the revolution gathered outside an earlier forum in Sydney, unsuccessfully seeking to close it down.
Venezuelan right-wingers also joined in the world-wide "popular consultation" at voting centres in each state of Australia. They have also been active in lobbying Australian politicians, enticing Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson into gullibly backing their cause recently, and helping to provoke right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt into a tirade against former President Hugo Chavez in the Murdoch press in June.
With the success of the Venezuelan vote for a new Constituent Assembly so crucial to the future of the Bolivarian Revolution, and the violent actions of the right-wing opposition increasing, the weekend of July 29–30 is critical, both inside the country and internationally. Now is the time for all progressive forces to unite to defend the Venezuelan revolution.