Petition on Venezuela Referendum of August 15, 2004


If We Were Venezuelan, We Would Vote for Hugo Chávez


We, the signers of this manifesto, wish to express our solidarity with the struggle that, alongside President Hugo Chávez, the majority of the Venezuelan people are waging in defense of their right to freely determine their future.

At the same time, we wish to denounce the disinformation campaign that is being orchestrated by the major media and that attempts to characterize as a tyrant a president [President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela] who has consistently respected the rule of law and the country’s constitution.

In the democratic elections of December 1998, and all of the elections that have taken place in Venezuela since then, Hugo Chávez has won landslide victories. In accordance with the promises made during his campaign, he is in the process of carrying out fundamental political, economic, and social reforms in a country that, for decades, was subjected to the dictates of an oligarchical minority. As a result of this program of reforms, he has been targeted by Venezuelan and international corporations and financial institutions, and the media organizations that defend their interests.

Hugo Chávez has become the defender of his country’s poor majority and has dedicated himself to promoting the principles of Venezuela’s new constitution, adopted by popular referendum in 1999, following a process of vast democratic participation. This extraordinarily progressive constitution contains a provision that allows for a referendum to recall any elected official, halfway through his or her term in office. As a result of this provision, on August 15 of this year, a popular referendum will determine whether Hugo Chávez will remain president of Venezuela until the end of his five-year mandate.

This sort of constitutional mechanism is unique in Latin America and perhaps in the rest of the world as well. How many heads of state would have the courage to put their popularity to the test before finishing their term?

Hugo Chávez has demonstrated this courage and has thus given a democratic lesson to the sectors of the Venezuelan opposition that have, in the past, resorted to coup d’etats, economic sabotage, lies, and managerial lockouts in attempts to undermine the country’s constitutional order. They are now obliged to act within a legal framework that they had previously chosen to disregard.

We are certain that, on August 15, the Venezuelan people will celebrate a new victory that will allow them to continue building a freer and fairer society, the country that Simon Bolivar dreamt of.

This is why we reaffirm that:

IF WE WERE VENEZUELAN, WE WOULD VOTE FOR HUGO CHÁVEZ ON AUGUST 15.

1.      Tariq Ali ( Pakistan-Great Britain): Writer

2.      Perry Anderson (Great Britain): Historian

3.      Tony Benn (Great Britain): Politician

4.      Robin Blackburn (Great Britain): Historian

5.      Victoria Brittain (Great Britain): Journalist

6.      Atlio Boron (Argentina): Economist

7.      Chico Buarque (Brazil): Musician

8.      José Bove (France): Former spokesman for the farmers’ organization la Confédération Paysanne, member of the international farmers’ organization Via Campesina

9.      Bernard Cassen: Founder of ATTAC

10.  Luciana Castellina (Italy): Journalist

11.  Manu Chao (Spain-France): Musician

12.  Jean Pierre Chévènement (France): Politician

13.  Alex Cox (Great Britain): Film Maker

14.  Celso Furtado (Brazil): Economist

15.  Eduardo Galeano (Uruguay): Writer

16.  George Galloway (Great Britain): Politician

17.  Richard Gott (Great Britain): Historian

18.  Eric Hobsbawm (Great Britain): Historian

19.  Mike Hodges (Great Britain): Film Maker

20.  François Houtart (Belgium): Centre Tricontinentale

21.  Ken Livingstone Great Britain): Mayor of London

22.  Fernando Morais (Brazil): Writer

23.  Sami Nair (France): Sociologist

24.  Oscar Niemeyer (Brazil): Architect

25.  Adolfo Pérez Esquível (Argentina): Nobel Peace Prize

26.  James Petras (USA): Sociologist

27.  John Pilger (Australia): Journalist

28.  Harold Pinter (Great Britain): Playwright

29.  Ignacio Ramonet (France): Writer

30.  Emir Sader (Brazil): Sociologist

31.  João Pedro Stedile (Brazil): Landless Peasant Leader

32.  Rudy Wurtlizer (USA): Script Writer

33.  Walter Lippmann (USA): Writer

34.  Barbara Collins (USA): Interested citizen

35.  Fred Feldman (USA): Drill-press operator