Socialist Alliance member and Latin American solidarity activist Jim McIlroy addressed a forum organised by the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) at the Brisbane Activist Centre on May 21. McIlroy and solidarity activist Coral Wynter had recently returned to Australia after six months visiting Venezuela, Cuba and Central America.
McIlroy and Wynter recounted their experience of being in the audience for Alo Presidente, a TV show hosted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The show was held at a rural farm near the western city of Barinas.
McIlroy, Wynter and Australian filmmakers Katrina Channells and Nikolas Lachajczak were observers of the program. The edition of Alo Presidente marked the restoration of an idle farm to grow rice and maize as part of Venezuela's drive for national food security.
During the show, Wynter outlined solidarity work carried out by AVSN, including solidarity brigades to Venezuela to see the reality of the Bolivarian revolution.
During the April AVSN brigade, participants went to the city of Valencia to visit the "Rebirth of the South Commune" — a pilot project for the latest expansion of popular democracy at the neighbourhood level.
McIlroy also related his and Wynter's experiences in El Salvador, where they were international observers during the presidential elections in March. The left-wing FMLN won the presidency for the first time after 20 years of extreme right-wing government by the ARENA party.
Channells spoke about her impressions of the Venezuela and about the film her and Lachajczak are making about the Bolivarian revolution.