A joint rally organised by the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, North London Cuba Solidarity Campaign and Hands Off Venezuela!

US intervention isn't just limited to the Middle East. The ongoing 'hidden war' in Latin America has also reached a critical point. Colombia's long-standing civil conflict is intensifying under the far-right government of Alvaro Uribe. Fuelled by a $2-billion military aid budget from Washington (as part of the genocidal 'Plan Colombia'), targets of the state are more often grass-roots activists like trade unionists and peasant farmworkers than "narco-guerrillas". Now it appears the guns are being trained against its neighbour Venezuela, precipitating a showdown against the left-leaning president Hugo Chávez there.

According to the May 26th Financial Times, Chávez is lobbying the new Spanish government to cancel a contract to supply Colombia with 43 AMX-30 tanks. The FT reports, "Colombian officers say the tanks - if delivered - will be ineffective for their war on guerrillas, and will likely be deployed on Colombia's border with Venezuela, inflaming tensions." Earlier that month, 140 Colombian paramilitaries were arrested in a ranch just outside of Caracas wearing Venezuelan military uniforms, reminiscent of both the Bay of Pigs disaster and the Contras in Nicaragua.

Watching across the Caribbean is Cuba, which for 44 years has suffered attempted invasions, terrorist attacks and a vicious and illegal economic blockade by the US. Along with Europe, the US are openly backing Cuban anti-government mercenaries and increasing spy plane flights close to Cuban airspace, from which they broadcast non-stop propaganda. Since 9-11, the threats towards the island have increased: in 2003, President Bush listed Cuba as a country of "concern" in his war on terror, and his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush stated, "After its success in Iraq, Washington should finish off the regime of Fidel Castro."

Like Iraq, Venezuela has lots of oil. It was the number one supplier to the US before Chávez' election and used to be known as the 'OPEC-buster' because it produced over quota, which drove prices down. Chávez ended this and started offering favourable deals to the poorer Caribbean countries, including Cuba with which he established an 'oil for doctors' barter exchange. He also channelled the massive profits towards public projects such as housing, education and healthcare, which to the oil-addicted Bushites and local elite meant war.

First they tried a conventional coup, kidnapping him for two days in April 2002. That failed when the military rank and file rebelled, the US backed down under international pressure, and hundreds of thousands of supporters (mainly women) fought fascist-controlled police on the streets to demand their president back. Eight months later, a bosses-backed general 'strike' (which hit the national oil industry hardest, costing billions of dollars) crumbled after over two months of popular defiance. Finally, the strategy seems to have shifted to outright military intervention from abroad, in this case, from Colombia. Come to the rally and find out how you can help challenge them.

Thursday 17th June, 7.30pm, Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Upper St, London N1
(nearest tube: Highbury & Islington) Suggested donation 2 (no-one turned away for lack of funds)