London Protesters Demand an End to US Coups

Venezuela Analysis | Scores of solidarity campaigners picketed the US embassy in London on Wednesday night before a huge rally at the National Union of Journalists head office to demand an end to US interference in Latin America.

Responding to ongoing coup attempts in Bolivia and Venezuela, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said that it was ironic that he was protesting outside the US embassy when its government had nationalised more of its economy in the last few days than Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had in the last decade.

“The US is standing up for privilege, for the interest of the few against the interest of the many and will go to any length to achieve it,” he stormed.

“It will go to the lengths that it did in Chile and will drown the revolution in blood if it gets the opportunity,” referring to the CIA-orchestrated coup against Salvadore Allende 35 years ago.

“But there is one big difference — we are prepared, we have learned the lessons and we are already organised.”

The 100-strong crowd chanted “No More Coups” and waved colourful solidarity banners as embassy workers left for the day.

Dozens of people made speeches in English and Spanish, with some making the point that, in the dying days of US President Bush’s regime, many people thought that he would attack Iran — yet it was clear that Latin America was the real target.

Loud cheers went up whenever speakers brought up the expulsion the US ambassador in Bolivia because of his links to coup-plotters and Venezuela doing the same in solidarity, with cries of “Yankee go home” filling Grosvenor Square.

At the NUJ headquarters, Bolivian ambassador Maria Beatriz Souviron explained how the traditional political system in Bolivia had been swept away with the election of Evo Morales.

“He has given people hope for the first time. There has not just been a change in who controls the state, but also a change in culture in a country that has been racist for so long.”

Bolivia Solidarity Campaign organiser Amancay Colque, who helped organise the actions with Hands Off Venezuela, brought harrowing news from the northern state of Pando, where the far-right governor threatened to split from Bolivia and had paid mercenaries to machine-gun rural workers loyal to Morales.

She explained how the elite was fuelling racism to try to divide Bolivians and that, in the right’s eastern stronghold of Santa Cruz, it was now impossible for an Aymara or Quechua indigenous Bolivian to walk down the street without being attacked.

John McDonnell MP pointed out that “what is happening is not a personal attack on Morales or Chavez but an attack on the seeds of socialism that they are spreading.

“What the US is terrified of is the prospect that socialism will catch light all across the Americas, so of course it has to go on the attack. But it is exactly for this moment that solidarity campaigns exist.”

Venezuelan charge d’affaires Felix Plasencia said that he was “honoured to stand with Bolivia as all Latin America struggles for dignity, sovereignty and independence. We have finally thrown off the US Monroe Doctrine that treated us as their ‘backyard’ for 200 years.

“The aim now is to extend this people’s power throughout Latin America and the solidarity shown to Bolivia as it fights back against counter-revolutionaries is a significant step in uniting our countries,” he added to great applause.