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Appeal launched against violent opposition to elected government of Venezuela

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 theVenezuela 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 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.


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 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.


Grahame Morris MP Chair, Labour Friends of Venezuela
Colin Burgon Chair, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
Ken Livingstone
Tariq Ali
Billy Hayes CWU
Peter Hain MP
Professor Doreen Massey
Linton Kwesi Johnson
Sandra White MSP (SNP)
Ken Loach
Professor Julia Buxton
John Pilger journalist & filmmaker
Bruce Kent peace campaigner
Dave Anderson MP Labour
Michael Connarty MP Labour
Richard Gott writer & journalist
Andy De La Tour actor 
Paul Flynn MP Labour
Roger Godsiff MP Labour
Ian Lavery MP Labour
Elfyn Llwyd MP Plaid Cymru
John McDonnell MP Labour
Chris Williamson MP Labour
Mike Wood MP Labour
Baroness Gibson APPG on Latin America
Murad Qureshi London Assembly Member, Labour 
Professor Julia Buxton academic & consultant
Dr Francisco Dominguez Head of Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies, Middlesex University
Tim Potter Barrister & Haldane Society

One Comment

  1. Jose Mata says:

    i invite all the co signers of the above letter to come to Venezuela and live like any other resident of our once nice country, and then and only then, talk and support the actual regime, otherwise please keep your comments to yourself

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