Hands Off Venezuela made a very good intervention in May Day. At the beginning of the march in Clerkenwell, a large stall was set up behind a massive HOV banner selling literature and t-shirts. The new HOV magazine was on sale throughout the demonstration. Activists were keen to sell the magazine and trade unionists took orders for their branches. At the rally in Trafalgar Square, the stall was again set up and attracted a lot of interest.
The Hands Off Venezuela meeting following the May Day march and rally in London was very successful. Over 100 people filled a church hall to hear Jorge Martin, the international secretary of HOV, speak about the Bolivarian Revolution and the struggle for workers’ control. Rob Sewell of the national steering committee introduced the meeting and welcomed everyone on international labour day. In his speech, Jorge Martin explained how the working class had become involved in the Revolution after the April 2002 coup and the bosses’ lockout. In particular, the sabotage of the oil industry, the biggest industry in Venezuela, had forced the workers to take over PDVSA and run it for themselves. For some 67 days the oil industry was run without bosses and under workers’ control. This provided a great example to other workers who had occupied their workplaces. New examples were given of workers’ control in Venepal, Alcasa, Inveval, and elsewhere.
A lively discussion took place with questions and contributions from the floor. Dozens of people signed to get involved in the HOV campaign and many were keen to participate in the welcoming rallies for President Chavez planned for later this month. The collection raised £80 towards the costs of the meeting.