“What is happening in Venezuela is a revolution, not a dictatorship,” Pacha Catalina Guzman, an activist with Venezuela’s largest peasant-based organisation, the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ) and the Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current (CRBZ), told a public meeting of more than 40 people on March 29.
The meeting was the last in Guzman’s Australian tour coordinated by Latin America Solidarity Network (LASNET) that took her to Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney.
“People’s revolutions are being demonised around the world,” she said. “I don’t represent the Venezuelan government; I represent the popular organisations. But the Chavista movement supports President Nicolas Maduro in the upcoming [May] presidential elections.”
“My organisation, the FNCEZ is one of the largest in Venezuela. It was born in 2002, as a movement of rural workers, with a current presence in 17 of 23 states in the country.
“We have observed and support the government’s work to benefit the rural population, including support for technical training to attempt to revive the agricultural sector in our country. We also have close links with the Brazilian peasant organisation, the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) and La Via Campesina.
“Venezuela faces a difficult economic situation, worsened by the current US government sanctions on our country. But the international mainstream media misrepresents our situation.
“Venezuelans are very grateful to the government and people of Cuba for their assistance in setting up community health centres, and for their support in developing the agricultural sector in our country.
“We refuse to work with Monsanto and its GMO operations. But despite the boycotts and hoarding by the big companies, the Venezuelan government continues to provide cheap food to all the people of our country.
“The social missions are continuing. And our people have experienced the importance and challenges of self-organisation on a local and communal level.
“The responsibility of our overseas supporters is to help build international solidarity, and to explain the real truth about Venezuela and our Bolivarian Revolution.
“We are very grateful for all your support. And, with the assistance of international solidarity, the Venezuelan people will win," she concluded.
[Jim McIlroy is a national co-convenor of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, one of the groups that helped organise Guzman’s tour.]