Caracas will play host to one of the most important international gatherings of left parties in years, when delegates from across the world meet for the First International Meeting of Left Parties over October 7-9.
The meeting has been called by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), a mass revolutionary party headed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The gathering was agreed upon at the recent Sao Paulo Forum (FSP) held in Mexico City over August 20-22. There, the PSUV delegation presented the proposal to organise an international meeting of left parties.
The FSP was first established in 1990 at the initiative of the Workers' Party (PT) of Brazil. At the time, the PT had a good reputation on the international left. It was forged out of the workers' struggles against the Brazilian dictatorship and had developed into a mass workers' party that spoke of the need to break with capitalism.
Since then, the FSP has evolved in a reformist direction, although several important revolutionary parties such as the Cuban Communist Party continue to be involved.
Some of the member parties — like the PT — are now in government in Latin America and are carrying out policies they once strongly denounced.
The new call by the PSUV for an international gathering of left parties comes in a different context.
In August 2007, Chavez said it was necessary to "convoke a meeting of left parties of Latin America and organise a type of international, an organisation of parties and movements of the left in Latin American and the Caribbean".
He added that "there is a resurgence of the consciousness of the peoples; the movements, leaders and leaderships of this new left, of this new project, this need to continue to grow".
There is a revival of socialist ideas that, at least in Venezuela, has become embodied in the actions of millions who are fighting to create "socialism of the 21st century".
Millions more people worldwide look to Venezuela as proof that revolutionary change is possible. The challenge is to see how this force can be organised, in each country and internationally, into a powerful force capable of defeating capitalism.