The Guardian Publishes Letter from Prominent Figures from Across British Society on Venezuela

The British daily newspaper The Guardian has today published a statement signed by a range of figures from across British society (see full text and list of signatories below) initiated by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign deploring “the wave of violence from minority and extremist sections of Venezuela’s opposition.”

Commenting on the continuing destabilization efforts of anti-democratic elements of the right-wing opposition, the statement notes that the “wave of violence” was unleashed as a consequence of the proclaimed objective of the “recently launched campaign by Venezuela’s extreme right for the La Salida (‘The Ousting’) of the government of President Maduro before his constitutional mandate ends in 2019.” It concludes by “supporting the Government’s call for peace and dialogue to resolve  differences” which has been echoed by UNASUR (the Union of South American Nations.)

Prominent signatories include Grahame Morris MP of Labour Friends of Venezuela; Colin Burgon, VSC Chair; former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, former Minister Peter Hain MP, a wide range of prominent figures in the academic and cultural sectors including filmmaker John Pilger, musician Dave Lee, poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and writer Tariq Ali; and numerous Trade Union leaders, alongside student leaders, peace campaigners, community representatives and an array of others from across society.

In the political field, further members of Parliament Dave Anderson, Michael Connarty, Paul Flynn, Roger Godsiff, Ian Lavery, Elfyn Llwyd, John McDonnell, Chris Williamson and Mike Wood added their support, alongside Baroness Anne Gibson (Vice-chair, All-Party Parliamentary British-Latin America Group,) London Assembly member Murad Qureshi plus Members of the Scottish Parliament Elaine Smith and Sandra White.

An impressive selection of further supporters in the trade union and labour movement include the general secretaries Billy Hayes (CWU,) Bob Crow (RMT,) Manuel Cortes (TSSA,) Mick Whelan (ASLEF,) Doug Nicholls (General Federation of Trade Unions) and John Smith (Musicians’ Union & President of the International Federation Musicians) plus Unite the Union Assistant General Secretary Tony Burke.

Other people to add their support from across British society include director Ken Loach, actor Andy De La Tour, Professor Bill Bowring, Director of the LLM/MA in Human Rights at the School of Law of Birkbeck University, progressive barristers Liz Davies and Tim Potter of the Haldane Society, plus a range of academic and writers including Richard Gott, Professor Ernesto Laclau, Professor Doreen Massey, Dr. Julia Buxton and Dr. Francisco Dominguez.

Prominent campaigners for peace and social justice include Bruce Kent, Zita Holbourne (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts,) Salma Yaqoob, Kate Hudson (General Secretary of CND,) Lindsey German (Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition,) student leader Aaron Kiely (NUS Black Students’ Officer) and many others.

STATEMENT AND SIGNATORIES:

We deplore the wave of violence from minority and extremist sections of Venezuela’s opposition, that left 3 dead, 60 injured and saw physical assaults on government institutions including shots and Molotov cocktails attacks on the state TV channel and a state governor’s residency.
We note that this followed a recently launched campaign by Venezuela’s extreme right for the La Salida (The Ousting) of the government of President Maduro before his constitutional mandate ends in 2019.
La Salida is led by extremists politicians Leopoldo Lopez and María Corina Machado who were both implicated in the 2002 coup in Venezuela, with Lopez claiming that it will only “be over when we manage to remove those who govern us,” an irresponsible attitude that can only lead to inflame the situation further.
We note that this is not the first time that the sections of the opposition have sought to oust the elected government by unconstitutional means having lost at the ballot box. Most infamously there was the military coup in 2002 but also includes an oil lock-out designed to wreck the economy, economic sabotage and refusal to recognise electoral results declared free and fair.
These unconstitutional attempts have intensified in the aftermath of the death of President Chavez and include the violence unleashed in 2013 in the aftermath of the Presidential election that left 12 people dead.
We further note that Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has expelled three US consular officials from the country, accusing them of meeting people involved in anti- government protests.
We believe that whilst people in Venezuela have the right to protest – and that the Venezuelan constitution guarantees these and other democratic rights – this must be done peacefully. There is no justification for violent opposition to the elected government in Venezuela.
We support the Government’s call for peace and dialogue to resolve differences rather than violence and welcome the huge rally it organized for Peace and Life. We also oppose any external intervention in Venezuela.
We strongly support the statement of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) that violence to seek to overthrow the elected, constitutional government is unacceptable. We join them in both condemning the wave of violence unleashed as a consequence of the proclaimed objective of “the ousting” of the elected government and in supporting calls for dialogue and peace.

Yours,

Grahame Morris Member of Parliament, Chair, Labour Friends of Venezuela
Colin Burgon, Chair, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London
Dave Anderson, Member of Parliament, Labour
Michael Connarty, Member of Parliament, Labour
Paul Flynn, Member of Parliament, Labour
Roger Godsiff, Member of Parliament, Labour
Peter Hain, Member of Parliament, Labour
Ian Lavery, Member of Parliament, Labour
Elfyn Llwyd, Member of Parliament, Plaid Cymru
John McDonnell, Member of Parliament, Labour
Chris Williamson, Member of Parliament, Labour
Mike Wood, Member of Parliament, Labour
Elaine Smith, Member of the Scottish Parliament, Labour
Sandra White, Member of the Scottish Parliament, Scottish National Party
Murad Qureshi, London Assembly Member, Labour
Baroness Anne Gibson, Vice-chair, All-Party Parliamentary British-Latin America Group
Tariq Ali, writer & filmmaker
Richard Gott, writer & journalist
Andy De La Tour, actor
Linton Kwesi Johnson, Poet
Dave Lee, musician (daveleehorn.com)
Ken Loach, Film Director
Susie Meszaros, music professor, Royal College of Music & a member of the quartet Chilingiria
John Pilger, journalist & filmmaker
 
Professor Julia Buxton, academic & consultant
Dr. Francisco Dominguez Head of Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies, Middlesex University
Ernesto Laclau, writer
Professor Doreen Massey
Istvan Meszaros, Emeritus Professor at the University of Sussex
Bruce Kent, peace campaigner
Professor Bill Bowring, School of Law, Birkbeck University, Director of the LLM/MA in Human Rights
Liz Davies, Barrister & Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Tim Potter, Barrister & Haldane Society
Manuel Cortes, General Secretary, TSSA (Transport Salaried Staffs Association)
Bob Crow, General Secretary, RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers)
Billy Hayes, General Secretary, Communication Workers’ Union
Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions
Johh Smith, General Secretary, Musicians Union & President, International Federation Musicians (FIM)
Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF (Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen)
Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary, Unite the Union & Venezuela Solidarity Campaign Vice-Chair
Tony Woodhouse, Chair, EC, Unite the Union
Bill Adams, Regional Secretary, Yorkshire & Humber Trade Union Congress
Richard Bagley, Editor, ‘Morning Star’
Andy Bain, National Treasurer, TSSA (Transport Salaried Staffs Association)
Lee Brown, researcher
Stephen Brown, Musicians Union, Midlands Regional Organiser
Richard Burgon, Labour Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, East Leeds constituency
Michael Burke, economist
Stephen Cavalier, Chief Executive, Thompsons Solictiors
Professor Mike Cole, Centre for Educational Development and Research, Bishop Grosseteste University
Luke Daniels, President, Caribbean Labour Solidarity
Dr. Michael Derham, Programme Leader for Spanish Studies, Senior Lecturer in Spanish, Northumbia University, Newcastle (UNN)
Simon Dubbins, Director of Research & International, Unite the Union
Siobhan Endean, National Officer for Equalities, Unite the Union
Jennie Formby, Political Director, Unite the Union / Labour Party National Executive Committee member
John Fray, President, General Federation of Trade Unions
Lindsey German, Convenor, Stop the War Coalition
John Gledhill, Max Gluckman Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester
Moz Greenshields, Former NEC member, UNISON trade union
Dr. Peter Hallward, Professor of Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University London
John Haylett, Political Editor, Morning Star
Dr. Julie Hearn, Department of Politics, Philosophy & Religion, Lancaster University
Terry Hoad, Past President, UCU (University & College Union)
Ian Hodson, President, BFAWU (Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union)
Zita Holbourne, National Co-Chair, BARAC UK, PCS NEC, Poet& Artist
Kate Hudson, General Secretary, CND
Joy Johnson
Jim Kennedy, UCATT (UCATT Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technician) & National Executive Committee member, Labour Party
Aaron Kiely, National Union of Students, Black Students’ Officer
Mariela Kohon, Director, Justice for Colombia
Gerry Looker, UNISON East Midlands Regional Officer
Dr Steve Ludlam, Senior Lecturer, Department of Politics, University of Sheffield
Dominic MacAskill, Head of Local Government, UNISON Wales
Simon Macfarlane, UNISON Scotland Regional Officer
Carl Maden, NEC member, Communication Workers’ Union
Cllr Vince Maple, Labour Party Councillor & Leader, Medway Labour Group
Hazel Marsh, Lecturer in Spanish, School of Language & Communication studies, University of East Anglia
Martin Mayer, Unite the Union Executive council member for passenger transport & Labour Party NEC member
Phil McGarry, Political Officer, RMT Scotland & Scotland VSC Chair
Dr Bevis Miller, University of Bristol
Rob Miller, Director, Cuba Solidarity Campaign
Dr. Thomas Muhr, University of Bristol
Pablo Navarrete, filmmaker
Dr. Diana Raby, University of Liverpool
Bernard Regan, Chair, International Committee SERTUC (South East Region Trade Union Congress)
Louise Richards, Trade Union & Communications Co-ordinator, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group (NSCAG)
Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB union
Jackie Simpkins, Trades Union Officer, War on Want
Matt Stanley, National Union of Students NEC
Enrico Tortolano, Researcher & Latin American correspondent, ‘Tribune’
Howard Turner, EC Member, Unite the Union
Jose Vallejo Villa, Latin American workers uniting & Unite the Union London & Eastern Region
Jeni Vine, filmmaker
Derek Wall, International Co-ordinator, Green Party of England and Wales
Adrian Weir, Assistant Chief of Staff, Unite the Union
Alan Whitaker, Past President, UCU
Salma Yaqoob
Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group (NSCAG)
Matt Willgress, National Co-ordinator, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign

and over thirty others.