Statement In Support Of The Right Of The Venezuelan People Alone To Chose Their Next Government

11On the day that Venezuelans go to the polls to elect their new President, the Independent on Sunday has published an edited version of a VSC-initiated statement in solidarity with Venezuela.

The statement has been signed by over 150 prominent figures including numerous MPs and other elected representatives from four parties including former minister Peter Hain, Diane Abbott and Chris Williamson; members of the House of Lords including Baroness Gibson of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Latin America; national representatives of 18 trade unions, such as TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady and recently re-elected Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey; legal figures such as Louise Christian and Imran Khan; an impressive array of academics and writers such as Ernesto Laclau; plus numerous cultural figures including filmmaker John Pilger and poet Linton Kwesi Johnson; plus a wide range of others including representatives of community organisations, student leaders, peace campaigners, solidarity groups and others.

Noting “concerns have been expressed that given the likelihood of a victory for Nicolas Maduro, some sections of the right-wing opposition movements may not recognise the outcome of the forthcoming election, instead engaging in boycott or non-recognition of the results in an orchestrated attempt to discredit the outcome and to isolate Venezuela internationally,” the statement concludes that “it is for the Venezuelan people alone to choose their next government, free from any external intervention and that governments around the world should respect the official results.”

The statement and a selection of signatories can be found below:

STATEMENT: RESPECT THE WILL OF THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE AT TODAY’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

“On 14 April, following the sad death of Hugo Chavez from cancer, Venezuelans will be voting to elect their next President.This will be Venezuela’s 17th national electoral process since 1998, when Hugo Chavez was first elected to the presidency. That is more elections than were held in the previous 40 years in Venezuela and more elections than nearly any other country in the world in that period.
All have been certified as free and fair by respected international bodies with former US President, Jimmy Carter, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on democracy promotion, last year stating that “of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”
In these elections, time and time again the majority of Venezuelans cast their vote for Hugo Chavez and his coalition of supporters, who won all but one of these contests. Most recently President Chavez was re-elected last October in a landslide victory with a record 8.6 million votes whilst last December pro-Chavez candidates won in 20 of 23 governorship elections and 22 out of 23 local legislative assemblies.
This expansion of democratic participation, and the regular endorsement of the Chavez government’s policies, was closely linked to the transformation of the living standards of the majority of Venezuelans through social programmes that have delivered free healthcare for millions, eradicated illiteracy and lifted millions out of poverty.
At April’s election, seven candidates will stand for the Presidency with the front runners being Nicolas Maduro, a Vice President under Hugo Chavez, and Henrique Capriles Radonski, the candidate of the right-wing M.U.D coalition who stood and lost at last year’s Presidential election.
We believe it is for the Venezuelan people alone to decide their next president. Yet in the past Venezuela has been subject to external intervention in its politics seeking to overturn and undermine the democratic will. The US backed coup in April 2002 that temporarily ousted the Hugo Chávez government and closed down all democratic institutions was followed by millions of dollars of US government funding to Venezuela’s right-wing opposition movements allocated through the National Endowment for Democracy, International Republican Institute and USAID.
Concerns have been expressed that given the likelihood of a victory for Nicolas Maduro, some sections of the right-wing opposition movements may not recognise the outcome of the forthcoming election, instead engaging in boycott or non-recognition of the results in an orchestrated attempt to discredit the outcome and to isolate Venezuela internationally.
We, the undersigned, believe it is for the Venezuelan people alone to choose their next government, free from any external intervention and that governments around the world should respect the official results.”

Yours,

Colin Burgon, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
Grahame Morris MP, Labour Friends of Venezuela
Dr. Francisco Dominguez, Head of Latin American Studies, Middlesex University

Diane Abbott MP (Labour)
Dave Anderson MP (Labour)
Ian Davidson MP (Labour & Co-operative)
Paul Flynn MP (Labour)
Mary Glindon MP (Labour)
Peter Hain MP (Labour)
Ian Lavery MP (Labour)
Andy Love MP (Labour)
Linda Riordan MP (Labour)
Chris Williamson MP (Labour)
Mike Weir MP (SNP)
George Galloway MP (Respect)
Baroness Anne Gibson, Vice-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Latin America
Lord Alan Haworth
Lord Nic Rea
Elaine Smith MSP (Labour)
Jenny Jones, London Assembly Member (Green Party)

Frances O’Grady TUC General Secretary
Len McCluskey Unite the UNION General Secretary
Billy Hayes CWU General Secretary
Steve Murphy UCATT General Secretary
Bob Crow RMT General Secretary
John Smith Musicians’ Union General Secretary
Manuel Cortes TSSA General Secretary
Gerry Morrisey BECTU General Secretary
Ronnie Draper Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union General Secretary
Mick Whelan ASLEF General Secretary
Doug Nicholls General Federation of Trade Unions General Secretary
Hugh Scullion CSEU General Secretary
Bob Abberley UNISON Assistant General Secretary
Roger McKenzie UNISON Assistant General Secretary
Kevin Courtney NUT Deputy General Secretary
Hugh Lanning PCS Deputy General Secretary
Bert Schouwenburg GMB International Officer
Terry Hoad UCU Immediate Past President

Tony Burke UNITE Assistant General Secretary
Frank Ward TSSA Assistant General Secretary
Luke Crawley BECTU Assistant General Secretary
Heather Wakefield UNISON National Secretary for Local Government
Tony Woodhouse. Chair Unite Executive Council
Ian Hodson Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union National President
Denis Doody UCATT Executive Council member
Moz Greenshields UNISON NEC member
Neil License PCS NEC member
Max Watson UNISON NEC member (personal capacity)
Bill Adams, Regional Secretary, Yorkshire & the Humber TUC
John Cafferty UNISON Yorkshire & Humberside Regional secretary
Laurence Faircloth Unite Regional Secretary, South West Region
Glyn Hawker UNISON Regional Secretary, Eastern
Peter Kavanagh Unite London & Eastern Region Regional Secretary
Mike Kirby UNISON Regional Secretary, Scotland
Kevan Nelson UNISON Regional Secretary,North West
Linda Perks UNISON Regional Secretary UNISON Greater London
Andy Richards Unite, Regional Secretary, Wales
John Rowse Unite Regional Secretary South East Region, Bernard Regan, SERTUC (International)

Linton Kwesi Johnson, Poet
Prof Ernesto Laclau
Ken Loach, Film Director
John Pilger, Film-maker & writer
Lowkey, Poet and rapper
Louise Christian, Senior Consultant, Christian Khan
Professor Keith Ewing, Kings College London, Professor of Public Law
Imran Khan, Imran Khan & Partners
Tim Potter,Barrister, Haldane Society & editor of Socialist Lawyer
Pav Akhtar, UK Black Pride Director
Richard Bagley, Morning Star, Editor
Rodney Bickerstaffe
Michael Burke, Economist
Stephen Cavalier, Thompson’s Solicitors, Chief Executive
David Cromwell, Media Lens, Co-Editor
Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition Convenor
Zita Holbourne. BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts)
Kate Hudson, CND Chair
Jim Kennedy, Labour Party NEC member
Bruce Kent, CND/ Pax christi, Vice-president/peace campaigner
Aaron Kiely, National Union of Students Black students’ Officer
Tim Lezard, Union News, Co-editor
Mike Marqusee, Writer
Martin Mayer, Labour Party NEC
Phil McGarry, RMT Scotland & Scottish VSC
Karen Mitchell, RMT Legal Officer & VSC Vice-Chair
Susanna Mitchell, Friends of le Monde Diplomatique
Pablo Navarette, Film-maker & writer
Bob Oram, Chair of the Morning Star Management Committee
Ann Pettifor, Fellow of the New Economics Foundation,
John Rees, writer
Christine Shawcroft, Labour Party NEC
Callum Simpson, Movimientos
Cat Smith, Next Generation Labour
Matt Stanley, NUS NEC
Barbara Switzer, President, National Association of Women
Mario Tasama, Carnaval del Pueblo
Enrico Tortolano, Tribune Latin America Correspondent
Salma Yaqoob

Dr Hakim Adi, University of Chichester, Lecturer
Dr John Callow, writer & historian
Professor Mike Cole, Bishop Grosseteste University, Emeritus Research Professor in Education and Equality
Dr Michael Derham, Northumbria University, Programme Leader Spanish and Latin American Studies
Dr Mark Dineen, University of Southampton, Lecturer in Latin American Cultural Studies
Professor John Gledhill, University of Manchester, Professor of Social Anthropology
Professor Peter Hallward, Kingston University, Professor of Modern European Philosophy,
Dr Julie Hearn, Lancaster University, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations
Dr Conrad James, University of Birmingham, Lecturer in Hispanic Studies
Dr Peter Lambert, University of Bath, Senior Lectuer in Spanish & Latin American Studies
Dr Geraldine Lievesley, Manchester Metropolitan University, Senior Lecturer in Politics
Dr Steve Ludlam, University of Sheffield
Alpesh Maisuria, Anglia Ruskin University, Senior Lecturer
Hazel Marsh, University of East Anglia Lecturer
Professor Susan Michie, UCL Professor of Health Psychology
Dr Sara Motta, University of Nottingham, Lecturer / Co-director of The Centre for the Study of Global and Social Justice
Dr Kaveh Moussavi, Oxford University, Associate Research Fellow
Dr Thomas Muhr, University of Bristol, Visiting Fellow
Dr Diane Raby, Liverpool University, Honorary Senior Research Fellow & Teaching Assistant
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics, Professor
Professor Vincenzo Ruggiero, Middlesex University
Dr Lee Salter, UWE, Senior Lecturer in Journalism

Luke Daniels, President, Caribbean Labour Solidarity
Rob Miller, Cuba Solidarity Campaign Director
Christine Oddy, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Chair
Matthew Willgress, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign National Co-ordinator

And over 30 others from regional and local trade unions plus campaigning, political, solidarity and community organisations.

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