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"Mayoral elections will be held across Venezuela this Sunday.
"These are the first elections following the violence and destabilisation unleashed in April by sections of the Venezuela's right-wing opposition in response to Nicolas Maduro being elected President.
"This was an attempt by the right-wing opposition to unseat Maduro even before he was sworn into office. They immediately alleged fraud despite providing no evidence and having themselves signed off a dozen audits prior to the election.
"They continued to make these baseless allegations even after a 100 per cent recount - that they had demanded - confirmed the results and after governments across Latin America and in Britain, France, Spain and others in Europe recognised the results.
"Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, emboldened by a US refusal to acknowledge the election results, used claims of fraud as a pretext to encourage opposition supporters to 'vent their anger.'
"A wave of opposition political violence followed, leading to the deaths of 11 innocent people and dozens of injuries as well as petrol bombings and arson of government funded health centres, National Electoral Council buildings and headquarters of parties supporting Maduro (pictured).
"Today destabilisation attempts are ongoing. There is growing concern at the use of sabotage to exploit and create difficulties in the economy and damage key infrastructure.
"This has worrying echoes of former US president Richard Nixon's strategy to 'make the economy scream,' initially used to try to overthrow the progressive government of Salvador Allende in Chile in the 1970s.
"The aim of this destabilisation is regime change to replace the legitimate, elected Maduro government. In that context, we are especially alarmed by the recent statement by 45 Venezuelan retired military officers, including a dozen generals and admirals, and a former defence minister supporting a military intervention to replace the Maduro government.
"The elections in December should be another opportunity for Venezuelans to express themselves at the ballot box as they have done in 17 elections, all confirmed as free and fair, since Hugo Chavez opened up a new political era in Venezuela in 1999.
"But there are fears that sections of the US-backed opposition are already planning to use these elections as a focal point for further destabilisation.
"We deplore the use of violence and other anti-democratic means to target and overthrow legitimate governments, elected in free and fair elections.
"We believe that respect for democracy requires accepting the outcome of legitimate elections even when you lose.
"We urge vigilance at this time against those who seek to abuse Venezuela's democracy for their own ends."
This extended statement, published exclusively in today's Morning Star, was initiated by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.
Initial signatories included Grahame Morris MP of Labour Friends of Venezuela, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign chairman Colin Burgon and TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady.
In the political field further signatories include MPs Dave Anderson, Michael Connarty, Frank Doran, Paul Farrelly, Hywel Francis, George Galloway, Fabian Hamilton, Ian Lavery, John McDonnell, Linda Riordan, Jim Sheridan, Chris Williamson and Mike Wood, alongside Baroness Margaret Prosser plus Elaine Smith MSP.
An impressive array of further supporters in the trade union and labour movement include the general secretaries Len McCluskey of Unite, Billy Hayes of the CWU, Steve Murphy of Ucatt, Bob Crow of RMT, Manuel Cortes of the TSSA, Doug Nicholls from the General Federation of Trade Unions and John Smith of the Musicians' Union and president of the International Federation Musicians, plus Unison assistant general secretary Roger Mckenzie.
Other prominent people to add their support from across British society include filmmakers John Pilger and Ken Loach, actor Andy De La Tour, lawyer Louise Christian of Christian Khan, plus a range of academic and writers including Professor Ernesto Laclau, Professor Doreen Massey and Dr Francisco Dominguez.
Prominent campaigners for peace and social justice include Bruce Kent, Zita Holbourne from Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, Salma Yaqoob, Liberation general secretary Maggie Bowden, Stop the War coalition convenor Lindsey German, student leaders Aaron Kiely (NUS Black Students' Officer) and Matt Stanley (NUS executive) plus Bob Oram, chairman of the Morning Star management committee.
You can view a fuller list at www.venezuelasolidarity.co.uk. To find out about the latest developments in Latin America come to the Latin America 2013 conference this Saturday at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B from 9.30am. Register online at www.latinamericaconference.org.uk
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