Some 230 people attending the Green Left Weekly annual dinner in the Marrickville Town Hall on September were the first to hear the news that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has decided visit Australia.
In his greetings to the event, Venezuela's charge d'affaires in Australia, Nelson Davila, told a jubilant audience: "I would like to announce tonight that we have received instructions from the President of the Republic to provide details about the status of the invitation for President Chavez to come to Australia.
"Following his television program on Sunday, September 23, the president advised me that he will accept the invitation to visit Australia in the coming year."
Davila added that President Chavez also referred to the invitation to visit Australia that GLW correspondent Coral Wynter made during an interview she had with Chavez in Miraflores Palace in 2006.
Davila praised GLW as a "voice of rebellion at an important moment when all [the] rebellious of the world need to unite".
Praise for GLW also came from another guest speaker at the dinner, international filmmaker and journalist John Pilger, who came to thank some of the activists who built the Stop Bush protest during the recent Sydney APEC Summit. "You people stood up to the worst kind of power", Pilger told the audience. "We often think of the worst kind of power as something we see in other countries. But the worst kind of power was expressed recently at APEC. The day I arrived in Sydney was the last day of what was effectively martial law in the city I grew up in ...
"But the people who stood up to this virtual martial law, imposed upon us, were you people. In London, it was great to see Alex Bainbridge, who is now an international star, on the news. People were shaking their heads and asking: What the hell is going on in Sydney? They built a fence through the city, you can't go through the city, you cannot get to the Opera House but there were people who were protesting and resisting this. And resisting this bravely ...
"On that fake public holiday, people should have gone to work. They should have ignored it and followed you people who stood up to the Scipiones and others who wear the uniforms of authority but have no moral authority whatsoever."
There were also speeches by Graham Brown, a retired coalminer and climate-change activist, and Bainbridge, who is also a Socialist Alliance candidate for the Senate.