In September, I spent two weeks on a solidarity brigade in Venezuela. The brigade participants were able to witness the September 26 National Assembly elections and get a first hand view of the revolutionary changes taking place across the country.
The brigade was organised by the Australian Venezuelan Solidarity Network (AVSN), and included political activists and enthusiasts from Ausstralia, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Britan, Canada and the United States.
I would thoroughly suggest this experience to anyone interested in the Venezuelan revolution.
Brigade participants were able to visit poor neighbourhoods, clinics, government offices, news stations, women’s groups, land councils, factory committees, communal gardens — any group contributing to the process of extending and strengthening popular democracy in Venezuela.
In each case, the people we talked to all said the same thing: what they have achieved up until now is not socialism, they have not reached a point where political, social and economic decision making rests firmly in the communal hands of the majority.
How the people view themselves and the movement generally is a measured progression towards that popular control and democratic inclusion.
People reflected on the quality of life experienced by most Venezuelans ten years ago and compared it to today. They reflected on nature of that change for the better and see a revolution still in its first stages, but that is none the less real.
Workers’ committees in factories do not as of yet have full control of their workplaces, but they are much stronger positions today to prepare for a transition of power, believing in their own strength while being politically supported by the government and community at large.
In the elections, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV — the party led by revolutionary President Hugo Chavez) won yet another general election, winning almost 60% of all seats.
This fell short of the two-thirds majority target set by the PSUV, but nonetheless expresses continued popular support for the government and its initiatives taking the country further down the revolutionary road.
What happens from now is up the movement of the difference forces. In Venezuela, as in the rest of the world nothing is certain. But is definitely an interesting time to be political.
[Chris Jenkins is a member of the Australian socialist youth organisation Resistance. For more information on the AVSN, or details of future brigades, visit www.venezuelasolidarity.org .]