Farewell postcard from Caracas

Chavez victory opens way for new phase of Venezuelan revolution: a farewell message from Jim McIlroy and Coral Wynter

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.

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Video; Early afternoon in Caracas, Dec 3rd

Video: Great video of a couple of popular barrios and a middle-class supporter of the Venezuelan revolution --shot yesterday, December 3rd ..What joy! >>

Venezuela Viewpoint : Chavez wins!


Direct from Caracas in the midst of the celebrations, Venezuela Viewpoint offers a report from among the fireworks and in the rain as Jim McIlroy and Coral Wynter describe the significance of the victory for the Venezuelan revolution.>>

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Initial comments on Ven elections fron Green Left correspondants

[This has come through from the GLW Caracas bureau -- Jim McIlroy & Coral Wynter]

Here are some rough notes for an early report on the Ven elections. This is being typed on the free internet computer available for media at the CNE Media Centre, at about 9pm our time Sun D3. Please note there is some material avail on the VA site on the the election day process, which is useful and could be incorporated. >>

Our experience is based on that of the AVSN Brigade. We divided into four groups of about 7-8 each (some people have become official observers, but we don`t have any report from them at this stage).

My group went to Barrio Enero 23, where we observed a number of election booths. We were warmly welcomed as overseas observers by the people around, who gave the 10-finger Chavez salute (10 million votes!) The highlight was when we saw Chavez arrive to vote at a Barrio Enero 23 polling booth, in a bright red Volkswagen beetle! He received a huge cheer and chants, and was surrounded by supporters. He gave a brief media conference to the press, and assured
people that the election process in Venezuela was completely open, transparent and democratic. One of the Chavez` election slogans in the closing stages of the campaign was, Por Amor (For Love), and the close bond between the Venezuelan president and his people was obvious at this event, as well as
everywhere we have seen him during the past weeks.

Other groups were hosted by the Commando Miranda team at the suburb of Catia, and Guaicapuro, as well as by the Frente de Francisco Miranda. All groups had an excellent day, and commented on the peaceful and calm atmosphere everywhere, as well as the warmth of the people at the low-income suburbs that we visited -- who welcomed all international observers and media, and were proud of their democratic process. We were also able to enter a number of the polling booths and observe and film the process, which is the most advanced and transparent computerised electoral process in the world (compares very favorably with the shonky systems operating in the US, for example). All votes have a paper slip created at the end, which voters can check for accuracy.
Queues for voting started very early in many areas, from 3am, and long queues gathered by early morning. Some delays were experienced in opening the booths, and the queues continued throughout the day in some places. However, the actual voting process was quite quick, and all the queues had disappeared by late afternoon and most polling booths in Caracas closed by 6pm.

The atmosphere in the early evening has been a big celebration already, with fireworks and loud music in the city streets, and a large crowd already gathering
near Miraflores Palace.
More later,
Jim (and Coral).

Weekly Venezuela News Summary of Nov. 22-Dec. 1, 2006

Venezuelanalysis.com - Audio clips page:Mp3
Weekly Venezuela News Summary of Nov. 22-Dec. 1, 2006
Michael Fox - Venezuelanalysis.com >>

Thursday, Dec. 1, 2006
MP3 format. 8 min, 22 sec, 7.7MB

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