Inspiration from Venezuela \'brigadistas\'

Issue 

Three of the five Sydney residents who joined a May Day solidarity brigade to Venezuela reported back on their observations and experiences of the Bolivarian revolution to a meeting of 35 people on June 24.

Three of the five Sydney residents who joined a May Day solidarity brigade to Venezuela reported back on their observations and experiences of the Bolivarian revolution to a meeting of 35 people on June 24.

Margaret Allum explained that the brigade of 12 Australians, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN), was very warmly received by the many organisations and people they met in Venezuela. She described the massive "sea of red" at the May Day rally in Caracas, which the brigadistas joined with a large Australian solidarity banner.

She also reported on the inspiring discussions with the workers at SIDOR, Venezuela's largest steelmaking company, which was nationalised on April 9 after a long struggle by workers.

A major focus of the brigade — which included members of the Electrical Trades Union, NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF), Community and Public Sector Union, Maritime Union of Australia and the National Tertiary Education Union — was to learn about workers' rights and workers' control in Venezuela.

NSWTF member Phil Bradley described the revolution's remarkable achievements in the area of education, contrasting this with the massive de-funding of public education in NSW and nationally, and the erosion of Australian teachers' working conditions.

Will Silk discussed the Venezuelan revolution's commitment to participatory democracy, fostered through the social missions, the communal councils and experiments in endogenous development. He stressed the global significance of the Venezuelans' attempts to create a new form of socialism — a socialism of the 21st century — and the many challenges still to be overcome if the revolution is to succeed.

The brigadistas welcome invitations to speak about their experiences to any organisation interested in hearing more. They can be contacted at . The AVSN's next brigade to Venezuela will be held on November 20-30. For more information, visit .