This Sunday, Venezuelans will vote on whether to keep their controversial president, Hugo Chávez. Elected with a promise to redistribute Venezuela's enormous oil wealth (before Chávez it was the number one supplier to the US) this referendum will be a chance to find out if he still has the support of the people. Having failed to oust him with a traditional (US backed)coup in 2002, and a general "strike" (bosses lock-out) the following Christmas, the opposition's referendum might actually end up strengthening his legitimacy.
This week, groups in London held a week of solidarity with the Venezuelan people and their right to self-determination without US interference. Daily events (see programme) took place at the rampART creative centre in Whitechapel, starting on Monday 9th with the opening of a "Latinamerican Liberation" exhibition. The main event is a picket of the US Embassy on the day of the referendum, Sunday 15th, from 2pm; meet beforehand in Hyde Park near Speakers' Corner for a 'Bolivarian picnic'.
New topic created: See Venezuela 2004 for all related posts.
UPDATED PROGRAMME OF EVENTS
Opening of Latinamerican Liberation exhibition at the RampART Creative Centre, Whitechapel.
6pm artists speak about their visions of a peaceful Latin America, followed by open discussion on the Bolivarian Movement in Venezuela, served up with Caracas-style veggie-hotdogs.
Cuba & Venezuela: two countries the US thinks have "gone bad". Rock Around the Blockade host a day of joint-solidarity at the rampART.
2pm films: "Comandante" (Oliver Stone, 2003) plus rare footage of the Cuban revolution.
5pm discussion & debate on how Cuba & Venezuela have liberated themselves from US imperialism, and about the strengths & weaknesses of "democratic revolution".
8pm mixing it into a social evening with authentic food and drink, plus live jamming with Paradox, the Rub and drummers from Rhythms of Resistance. "It's not my revolution if I can't dance to it!"
2pm-10pm Exhibition open at rampART all day, chilled-out reading room.
7pm-9.30pm "Creating a Caring Economy"@ the London School of Economics, with women from the Bolivarian Circle of the Global Women's Strike.
Venezuela has prioritised women and the poor with new banks, and is trading oil for doctors with Cuba and food with Argentina. Cuba's state run economy protects the vulnerable and promotes equality. Haiti has an economy the US is proud of: sweatshops and death-squads. Hear from speakers on all three countries.
This event takes place in room S75, St Clements building, LSE, Aldwych (Holborn tube).
2pm-10pm exhibition open all day, screenings in cinema room.
Networking evening for the emerging "Pachamerican" solidarity movement. Activists, campaigns and institutions come together for a joint-perspective on the regional issues of war and neo-imperialism (and Washington's attempts to "Africanise" Latin America).
7pm starting off with a report back from Colombia Solidarity Campaign on the flashpoint region of Arauca, the river border between Venezuela and Colombia. This area is known as the "laboratory of war" and with good reason; it is where the seeds of wider conflict are currently being sown.
"Media-Coup" in Venezuela, front-line in the war of ideas. 2pm-10pm documentary and shorts screenings, including the seminal "Bolivarian Venezuela: the people and their struggle in the Fourth World War".
Debriefing from Tariq Ali, just back from Venezuela, and round-table with indymedia and the NUJ on the battle between community and corporate media world-wide, from 7pm.
Why is the news from Venezuela the opposite of what's really happening there? How did the internet, email & text messaging prove vital to defeating the 2-day coup in 2002 against Chávez? What language can the solidarity movement use to counter the right-wing propaganda, and what are they planning next?
Proper Propaganda @ the European Creative Forum. 1pm-1am, Project 142, 142 Lea Bridge Rd, E5.
Prop-making for Sunday's demo: banners and puppets, screen-printing stickers & posters, software skill-sharing and more. Case-study: "Boycott Coca-Killa" campaign with the International Caravan who've just returned from Colombia, where Coke hires right-wing death-squads to assassinate trade unionists.
Get your message across ethically with No Sweat and Funky Gandhi printing T-shirts on demand. Premiere of new GWS documentary on the oil workers of Venezuela.
Day of Referendum
Worldwide US Embassy picket to tell Washington: Keep your hands off Venezuela! In London, we shall be ranting and raving from 1pm at Speakers' Corner (come early for a picnic in Hyde Park) then 2pm we take our message to the embassy in Grosvenor Sq. Speeches and an open mic, followed by the presentation of a letter from victims of US imperialism in Latin America.
6pm exhibition closing party at the RampART with plenty of good food, music & information. Plus what to do next, after the result...
Venue for the week unless specified: the rampART Creative Centre, 15-17 Rampart St, E1 (off Commercial Rd, nearest tubes Whitechapel & Aldgate East, buses 15, 25, 67, 100, 115, 205, 254).
All events are free.