"Brilliant, fantastic, inspiring … Never shaken so many hands in one day", commented Pat Rogers, a Brisbane staff member of the Electrical Trades Union, after experiencing the May Day march of more than 1 million workers in Caracas during the Australian trade union solidarity brigade to Venezuela in April-May last year. People in Australia will have the opportunity to join a May Day brigade to Venezuela again this year, from April 30 to May 9, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN).
Like last year, participants in the 2007 May Day brigade will meet with unions and workers' organisations, visit factories under cogestion (workers' co-management), educational bodies, missions (social projects) and other groups involved in the Bolivarian revolution that is transforming the Venezuelan social system in the direction of "socialism of the 21st century".
At the end of last year, another group of 36 people from Australia, New Zealand and Europe participated in a presidential election brigade to Venezuela, from November 25 to December 6. More than 120 people have joined one of the five AVSN-sponsored brigades in the last two years.
Participants in the brigade last December were able to observe the crucial Venezuelan presidential election, which resulted in the return, with 63% of the vote, of socialist president Hugo Chavez. The brigadistas had the unique experience of joining some 2.5 million Venezuelans at Chavez's final election rally in Caracas on November 26.
The packed brigade itinerary included visits to the Bolivarian University, the Catia endogenous zone (incorporating workers' cooperatives), the historic Barrio January 23 and community television station Catia TV, all in Caracas. It also included meetings with the Civic-Military Bolivarian Front, the national women's organisation INAMUJER, the revolutionary youth organisation Frente Francisco de Miranda, and a parliamentary leader of the Communist Party of Venezuela.
The brigade separated into two groups to visit the regional towns of Coro and Barquisimeto, to meet with representatives of communal councils, education and health missions and agricultural cooperatives. They also had discussions with prominent commentators on the Bolivarian revolutionary process.
These kinds of exciting events will be part of the agenda for the May Day brigade this year. The deadline for registering for the May Day brigade is February 28.