The Hands Off Venezuela Cinema Series “Venezuela: a Revolution on Film” continues with “No Volverán” (Melanie McDonald & Will Roche, 2007), a documentary shot by Hands Off Venezuela supporters during the Venezuelan presidential campaign on December 2006.

The victory of Hugo Chávez in 2006 was the result of a mass mobilisation that turned the presidential campaign into a political and social battle involving millions of Venezuelans. As a result of this momentum, a new phase of the Venezuelan Revolution opened, and a few days after being re-elected Chávez announced the opening of the debate on socialism.

The documentary explains how the landslide victory was possible and investigates the most important political and social issues at stake. The film-makers also met the international delegation of Hands Off Venezuela members who monitored the elections, and travelled with them to several factories including Sanitarios Maracay, a ceramics factory under workers' control.

This film is a key visual document to understand December 2006, a turning
point in the Venezuelan revolutionary process. The documentary makers will attend the screening and the Q&A session that will follow.





"People´s power", the third part of the the amazing documentary film The battle of Chile opens and gives name to a new series of screenings within the film season Venezuela: a revolution on film. This programme will focus on the creative and organising power of ordinary people .

This 1979 production analises the role that millions of ordinary people played on the revolutionary process that unfolded in Allende´s Chile.

On the filmaker´s own words "On the sidelines of the large-scale occurrences that narrate the previous films, other original phenomena -- sometimes ephemeral, incomplete -- are also taking place and are picked up by the third part. Many sectors of the population and in particular the social layers in support of Allende organize and start up a series of collective actions: communitarian stores, industrial cordons, farmers' committees, etc., with the intention of neutralizing the chaos and overcoming the crisis. These institutions, in the majority spontaneous, represent a ‘state' inside the State. "


SEPTEMBER 8th - 6:45 pm

After the successful screenings of "The Battle of Chile I & II" Venezuela: a revolution on film continues its Revolution and Counter-revolution module with the screening of "The revolution will not be televised"

Donnaha O'brien and Kim Bartley, a couple of independent Irish film-makers, travelled to Venezuela to interview Hugo Chavez, at the time a rising political figure in the continent. 

They are exceptional witness of the ongoing revolutionary processs: the rising political awarness of ordinary people, the deepening political divisions in the country and the plotting of the short-lived coup against Chavez in April 2002, as well as the spontaneous reaction of millions of Venezuelans who, in spite of the repression and media black-out, came on the streets  to demand the return of their president. 

"The revolution will not be televised" is a breathtaking documentary with exclusive footage of what happened inside Miraflores palace in the hours of the coup. It is also an great analysis of the role that the media (national and internatioanl) played on the plotting and execution of the coup. It is both a warning and a comdenation of its power and a celebration of ordinary people's resoluteness.




Between March and September of 1973, the left and right face off in the streets, in the factories, in the courts, in the universities, in parliament, and in the news media. The situation becomes unsustainable. The United States finances the truckers' strike and foments social chaos. Allende tries to reach an agreement with the powers of the Christian Democracy, but fails. The contradictions within the left-wing increase the crisis. The military begins to conspire in Valparaiso.

Following the screening last month of "The insurrection of the bourgeoisie", this second part of the acclaimed documentary film "The battle of Chile" focuses on the last 3 months of Allende's government leading up to the coup and his death in El Palacio de la Moneda.

"The Battle of Chile" by Patricio Guzmán is an overwhelming and admirable documentary of a country thrown into chaos with the inevitability of a Greek tragedy."

Kevin Thomas. Los Angeles Times

"Going further than historical and political analysis, the film is useful for its extraordinary human quality of certain unpublished documents. It's a film that first addresses reflection, but reaches the core of our hearts."

Marcel Martin. Ecran.


“The battle of Chile”, a landmark in the history of cinema, was produced with the help of the Cuban Institute of Cinematography (ICAIC) in the 1970’s; After the coup on September 11, 1973, the rolls shot by Guzman and his team had to be clandestinely taken out of Chile. Guzmán himself was arrested in the autumn of 1973 and spent 15 days in the National Stadium. Fearing for his life, he later fled the country and went into exile. Jorge Muller, one of the film’s cameramen, was disappeared by the military dictatorship in 1974.

35 years ago, on September 11, 1973, the Chilean army overthrew the democratic government of Salvador Allende.

The bombing of the Presidential Palace ended the Chilean experiment to socialism, where “for first time in the history of the revolutionary processes, the path towards social change had been opened via elections, through a pacific via. An event unique in history, the first of its type”, as Fidel Castro remarked in his speech at the National Stadium in Santiago in 1971.

However, this final coup was only a last resort solution to smash a mass revolutionary movement that was threatening the foundations of capitalism and bourgeois society in Chile and beyond.

In 1964 the CIA had already massively intervened in Chile to prevent Allende’s victory in the presidential elections by hugely funding the Christian Democratic Party candidate, Eduadro Frei, and extensively using the media in an unprecedented anti-communist “scarce” campaign that warned about the “dire” consequences of Allende’s victory.

The propaganda operation was fundamentally developed through “assets” in the media, who would “wrote articles or editorials favourable to U.S, interests in the world, suppressed news items harmful to the United States and authored articles critical of Chilean leftists”, as the Church report on the CIA covert operations in Chile concluded.

The CIA effort was successful. Frei won a clear majority, and the campaign continued at a low level during “normal” times and, then cranked up to meet particular aims, as in the congressional elections of 1969 or the presidential campaign of 1970, although this time unsuccessfully.

In 1970, Allende won by a small margin the presidential elections; as no candidate had received a majority
of the popular vote, a joint session of its Congress would have to decide between the first- and second-place finishers on October 24, 1970.

On September 15, President Nixon informed CIA Director Richard Helms that an Allende regime in Chile was not acceptable and instructed the CIA to organise a military coup in Chile to prevent Allende's accession to the Presidency.

The reactionary character of the Chilean military officers was no secret to anyone. Already on July 19, 1964, the Chilean Defense Council met Alessandri, back then president of the republic, to propose a coup in case Allende won the elections schedule later in that year.

In October 22, René Schneider, the Chilean Army Chief of Staff was killed in an kidnapping attempt, which should have been a first step for a coup to prevent Allende’s becoming president.

Schenider was the leader of the constitutionalist officers within the army, who advocated the non intervention of the army in political matters as long as “the president did not step out of his constitutional powers”. Having the coup failed and with the country shocked by Schneider’s death, Allende finally received the vote of the majority of the Congress and became president of Chile.

The Popular Unity programme proposed the nationalisation of Chile’s natural resources, agrarian reform, income redistribution and social expending; and Allende did not waste time to implement it; on December 21, 1970, he proposed a constitutional amendment establishing state control of the large mines industries and authorising expropriation of the foreign companies working on them.

The Chilean bourgeoisie had lost control over the head of the State. The president of the Republic, as would happened with Chávez one generation later, did no respond to the interest of its national oligarchy and American imperialism.

However, the Chilean bourgeoisie, as it happens still now in Venezuela, wielded considerable institutional power, as in the judiciary, and above all, they still had the economic power in their hands.

“Make the economy scream”, Nixon instructed.

The United States immediately cut off all credit lines with Chile and used their position of strength in multinational financial organisation to stifle the Chilean economy.

U.S. bilateral aid, $35 million in 1969, was $1.5 million in 1971. U.S. Export-Import Bank credits, which had totalled $234 million in 1967 and $29 million in 1969, dropped to zero in 1971. Loans from the multilateral Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), in which the U.S. held what amounted to a veto, had totalled $46 million in 1970; they fell to $2 million in 1972. Similarly, the World Bank made no new loans to Chile between 1970 and 1973[i].

Internally, Allende faced strikes in some important copper mines, the main source of revenue and hard currency for the State, encouraged and funded by the US government. Bosses lockouts, walkouts by the professional middle and upper classes, affluent student strikes and acts of terrorism were a means of creating instability and chaos to provoke military intervention, similarly as it happened in Venezuela 30 years later.

"To provoke military action” – said a US embassy in Caracas cable on April 6, 2002 - the plotters may try to exploit unrest stemming from opposition demonstrations slated for later this month or on-going strikes at the state-owned oil company PDVSA"[ii]; or more graphically, as the Spanish ambassador wrote to the Aznar’s government, “The opposition strategy aiming at overthrowing Chavez through Army pressure is working out. CTV (union confederation) and bosses federation used the strikes at PDVSA to mobilise the people from Caracas, who put the necessary deaths to provoke a military intervention, only force in this country, given the weakness of the opposition political parties, able to an end to the government of president Chávez”[iii].

If Allende faced the opposition of the Chilean bourgeoisie and American imperialism, as Chavez does now, his support amongst the workers, peasants and progressive elements of the middle class grew ever stronger, as it did the workers’ and ordinary people’s capacity to organise and defend their will; neighbourhoods organised committees to secure food distribution and fight speculation; workers occupied factories to secure production and fight economic sabotage; transport of public and supplies was improvised and organised by workers and neighbourhoods organisations in order to defeat bosses strikes on those sectors, etc.

In the March 4, 1973, congressional elections, Allende’s Popular Unity coalition got greatest victory ever, getting 43.7% of the vote. For the ruling class it become clear that playing by their own rules, those of a bourgeois republic, they could never regain control of the State and plans were sped up for a military coup.

On July 26, truck owners throughout Chile went on “strike”. On August 2, owners of taxis and buses go too on “strike”. On August 20, the US government approves the use of $1 million dollars to support opposition political parties and private sector organizations. On August 24, General Pinochet Ugarte is named Army Commander, after General Carlos Prats resignation.
On August 27 Chile's shop owners call another anti-government strike. On August 4, hundred of thousands of workers and ordinary people marched in Santiago to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of Allende’s victory, some demanding arms to defend the revolution from the impending coup. That same day, The Confederation of Professional Employees begins an indefinite works stopagge.

Allende, caught up in his dual character of president of a bourgeois republic and leader of a revolutionary mass movement facing the tasks of a socialist revolution, was unable to prevent the final blow on September 11, 1973.

The Chilean bourgeoisie was happy to make away with the “liberty” that the “Marxist” Allende was “threatening” and, rejoicing in the knowledge that their narrow economic interests and privileges were to be secured by the generals’ guns, welcomed a military dictatorship that killed, tortured and disappeared thousands of leftwing workers, peasants, students, teachers, artists and professionals.

The Chilean experience offers invaluable lessons. There should not be any illusions about what the fate of the Venezuelan people would be if the old oligarchy is brought back to power; there should not be any doubt that the only way they can seize power is through violent and unconstitutional means.

[i] Date taken from the Church Report “Covert Action in Chile 1963-1973”. Accessible online at the US State Department website.
[ii] Cable from the US Embassy to Caracas. Accessible online at
[iii] Cable from the Spanish ambassador to Caracas, Mr Viturro. Quoted by the Spanish minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr Moratinos Cuayube, at the International Affairs Commission of the Spanish parliament, December 1, 2004.


On September 11, 1973, the Chilean army led by its recently appointed chief of staff, Augusto Pinochet, overthrew, with the active support of its national bourgeoisie and the government of the United States, the democratic government of Salvador Allende.

The bombing of the Presidential Palace, La Casa de la Moneda, ended the Chilean experiment to socialism, where “for first time in the history of the revolutionary processes, the path towards social change had been opened via elections, through a pacific via. An event unique in history, the first of its type”, as Fidel Castro remarked in his speech at the National Stadium in Santiago during his three week visit to Chile in 1971.

In "The insurrection of the bourgeoisie", the first part of the legendary documentary film "The battle of Chile", Patricio Guzmán captures and analyses with surgeon’s precision the dynamics of the revolutionary process that brought Allende to the presidency, his relationship with the Chilean masses of workers and poor peasants, and the destabilising actions of the Chilean counter-revolutionary forces aided by the helping hand of the US administration in the events that led the failed attempted coup of June 29th.

“I would declare “The battle of Chile” a film of “democratic interest”; its screening should be compulsory in schools”. Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Mundo Obrero.

"Great films rarely arrive as unheralded as The Battle of Chile." – Pauline Kael, The New Yorker

"The major political film of our times - a magnificent achievement." – Tom Allen, Village Voice