Members of the Australian solidarity brigade in Venezuela released the statement below on October 8.
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“We, members of the Australian solidarity brigade to Venezuela, congratulate socialist President Hugo Chavez on his re-election on October 7”, said Coral Wynter, an organiser of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) 2012 brigade. “We have seen Venezuela's unique participatory democracy system in action, and it works.”
Speaking on behalf of the 18 members of the AVSN brigade, which visited Venezuela from September 27 to October 8, Wynter said: “The victory by President Hugo Chavez yesterday is a triumph for people power and a further step in consolidating Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution. We have seen with our own eyes over the past 12 days that this revolution is transforming Venezuelan society in accordance with President Chavez’s call for socialism of the 21st century.”
The AVSN brigade saw first-hand many key aspects of this revolution. We visited health and education social missions, including the Latin American School of Medicine and the new Bolivarian University system; toured major public housing projects in Caracas, organised under the Grand Mission Vienda program; travelled on Venezuela's new public transport initiatives, including the Caracas to Cua rail line and the Metro cable car linking Caracas to some of its poor barrios on the steep hillsides around the city; visited the National Institute of Hygiene plant, which manufactures vaccines for all the children of Latin America; visited an urban organic garden in central Caracas, one of a network of such communal agricultural developments; and spent a day with members of a Commune in the huge barrio of Petare, which unites 35 communal councils and involves residents in decision-making in their neighbourhoods.
The highlight of the visit was our participation in the massive campaign rally for President Chavez in Caracas on October 4, which involved up to three million people in the streets of Caracas. This followed a visit the previous day to the regional city of Maracay, where we attended another big pro-Chavez rally there, as well as events hosted by the African-descended community in the area.
“These practical initiatives in people power and social development are funded through the Bolivarian government's ownership and control of the country's massive oil wealth through the state company oil PDVSA,” Wynter said.
“What was at stake in this election was whether the Venezuelan revolution, which is fundamentally changing the lives of the people, would be able to continue.
“Right-wing opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski and his Roundtable for Democratic Unity party stand for a return to the neoliberal policies of the Fourth Republic, which would have meant privatising PDVSA, destroying the social missions and communal councils, and launching a counter-revolution on behalf of Venezuela's rich oligarchy, and Western imperialism.
“However, Capriles ran a deceitful campaign, presenting himself as a ‘defender’ of the social missions and hiding his real program of neoliberalism behind smooth phrases about ‘national unity’. This may partly account for the election result being closer than some Chavista supporters had hoped for and expected.
“Contrary to the lies of the conservative Venezuelan and Western mainstream media, Venezuela under President Chavez has probably the most democratic system of government, and the most transparent and credible electoral system, in the world.
“Chavez’ victory, by a margin of 55% to 45%, would be a landslide win in any Western country. We strongly endorse the democratic character of Venezuela’s system, and call on all countries around the world, including Australia, to fully and publicly recognise the legitimacy of the result.
“Australia and many other countries could learn a lot from the Venezuelan example,” Wynter added. “Venezuela is a beacon to the peoples of the world, who are suffering under the neoliberal offensive of the capitalist system globally.
“The advance and consolidation of the Bolivarian Revolution is crucial, not only for Venezuela and the rest of Latin America, but for humanity and the survival of the planet. Viva Chavez! Viva the Bolivarian revolution and the courageous people of Venezuela!”