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On Thursday 10 January the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign held a packed meeting in the Bolivar Hall in response to the right-wing in Venezuela stepping up their destabilisation efforts

Ambassador Samuel Moncada opened the meeting by unpacking the legal aspects of what’s currently happening. Hugo Chávez was re-elected President of Venezuela On 7th October 2012, after a landslide victory winning 55% of the vote. He is currently, under the unanimous authorisation of the National Council, in Cuba receiving treatment for cancer. Yesterday he was supposed to be re-sworn in as President but the Supreme Court of Venezuela has ruled, in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution, that this oath of office could be taken at a later date. The opposition in the run up has been trying to force a re-election, and the news in the West is lapping this up.

Tariq Ali was the next speaker and he explained the political context. Venezuela is held under a microscope by the West because its successes present a threat; the people have repeatedly rejected neoliberal capitalism and shown another way. This is the reason for the enduring smear campaign against Chávez, funded by the oligarchy in Venezuela and by the US.

As the next speaker Jeremy Corbyn MP explained, the opposition hate it that those in the slums have an equal vote, that wealth is being redistributed and that the Bolivarian program is investing in the poor, in education, in music, culture and in the indigenous movements.

The resounding theme from the meeting is that we can learn from the progress being made in Venezuela and in Latin America more broadly. We must bear in mind that this was the continent which served as the laboratory for neoliberalism and later a proving ground for the tactics to fight it; a fight in which Hugo Chávez remains a leading figure. And this is precisely why Chávez is hated by the powerful. It’s been proven again and again that the opposition in Venezuela – regardless of dirty tactics and foreign funding - cannot win democratically. The next threat will be if Chávez cannot recover from his illness. This is when the movement must move past its central figure and keep moving forward. The fact they’ve fought off the opposition time and again is testament it can be done.

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