"The Venezuelan revolution is slowly going forward, despite problems. President Hugo Chavez hasn't stopped for a minute in pushing the process ahead, in the face of serious challenges", Coral Wynter, co-leader of the Australian May Day 2008 solidarity brigade to Venezuela, told a meeting of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network on May 26.
Wynter was presenting an eyewitness account of the AVSN-sponsored brigade, which involved 12 activists visiting Venezuela between April 28 and May 7.
Six Australian unions were represented: the Electrical Trade Union; the Maritime Union of Australia; the Community and Public Sector Union; the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union; the National Tertiary Education Union and Australian Education Union.
The brigade concentrated on meeting equivalent trade union delegates, and industrial workplaces, as well as covering grassroots community groups, women's organisations, Indigenous representatives and community radio stations. The highlight was the half-million strong march of workers on May 1 — May Day — which is a public holiday throughout Venezuela.
Wynter showed photos of thousands of May Day marchers with red T-shirts, representing the numerous unions and popular organisations supporting the Bolivarian revolution. She also "introduced" us to various Venezuelan unionists and community activists the brigadistas had met during their exposure tour. The Australian brigade's banner, made hastily in Caracas, proclaiming solidarity with the Venezuelan struggle was warmly received by the crowd.
Wynter and brigade co-organiser John Cleary were able to address the huge assembly of workers from the official platform, and they were greeted with loud cheers. The Australian brigadistas were interviewed on the Latin American TV station Telesur, VTV (Channel 8, the Venezuelan government channel), as well as various radio stations.
[To get in touch with the AVSN or inquire about the next brigade on November 20-30 this year, visit http://www.venezuelasolidarity.org/.]