Dear friends and comrades,
We write this farewell message to you on December 8, the last day of our year-long adventure in Venezuela. We are about to head off home to Australia, via Europe, having participated in the highly successful Presidential Solidarity Brigade, sponsored by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, and having observed the magnificent election victory of President Hugo Chavez on December 3.
Despite a ferocious campaign of lies and distortions by the right-wing mainstream media here, Chavez gained around 63 per cent of the vote, to conservative opposition leader Manuel Rosales´ 37 per cent. Chavez won every state, including Rosales´ home state of Zulia, where he is the current governor. This will no doubt hamper any attempt by the US-backed opposition to push for the secession of oil-rich Zulia from Venezuela.
Chavez declared in his first post-election media conference that the campaign to build Socialism of the 21st Century would now accelerate, that the struggle against corruption and bureacracy would step up, and that the process of developing real participatory democracy in Venezuela would now deepen. He also said that he was determined to follow this path, and that he wouldn´t be deterred from this aim by any intervention (from the United States government).
The discussion has now begun here on the way forward toward the next stage of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, and the further strengthening of the process of economic and political integration of Latin America -- with the aim of creating a powerful counterforce to the might of US imperialism to the north. The year 2007 promises to represent an exciting new phase in the Venezuelan revolution.
The AVSN Solidarity Brigade, made of up 37 people, mainly from Australia, but also from New Zealand, Germany, England and Scotland, had an inspiring and educational time, watching and participating in the build-up to the election. The brigade, which ran from November 25 to December 6, experienced a full itinerary of activities, including particular highlights: joining the massive rally of some 2.5 million which closed the Chavez campaign on November 26, and observing the election day itself.
The brigadistas also heard talks about the history, gains and future of the Bolivarian revolution; the Bolivarian University; the Civic-Military Alliance; the work of the National Institute of Women (INAMUJER); the perspectives of the Communist Party of Venezuela; and the Frente Francisco de Miranda youth organisation. We visited the Catia Endogenous Development Zone; the famous Barrio January 23; and the community station, Catia TV.
The brigade also divided into two groups for several days, travelling to the regional cities of Coro and Barquisimeto to visit occupied factories under worker-government co-management, co-operatives, communal councils and Missions. Altogether, the brigadistas were enthusiastic to see the gains made by the Venezuelan people through the Bolivarian revolution, and are determined to take the message back to their home countries and build the solidarity movements there.
We ourselves are taking a five-week trip home to Australia, visiting Spain, England, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Hong Kong and India, on the way. We arrive back in Brisbane on January 15, and are expecting quite a culture shock when we return.
Overall, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to be in Venezuela to observe and be part of this people power revolution, as it continues to move forward, in the face of many problems and challenges, toward Socialism of the 21st Century. We are keen to pass on our experiences to people back home when we return, and to stress the crucial importance of Venezuela in world politics today.
We have enjoyed being the Caracas Bureau of Green Left Weekly this year, and writing about our experiences for an Australian and international audience. We hope to be able to continue this work to build the solidarity movement with Venezuela and Latin America back in Australia in the coming year.Best wishes and holiday greetings to all,
Jim McIlroy and Coral Wynter.
Filed in: venezuela