July 5 marked 196 years since Venezuela declared its independence following a long struggle led by the country's Indigenous people and a black slave revolt. To mark Independence Day, the embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela hosted a public conference in Sydney on July 7.
The event, attended by more than 150 people, was addressed by a range of speakers who explained various aspects of the revolution currently underway in Venezuela.
Venezuela's charge d'affaires in Australia, Nelson Davila, outlined the Venezuelan people's centuries of struggle for independence and self-determination, explaining how the guiding principles and aspirations of the current Bolivarian revolution are rooted in that history.
Tim Anderson, a solidarity activist and lecturer at Sydney University, described how the revolution, led by the government of President Hugo Chavez, is establishing participatory democracy and transforming the economy and society into one that serves the majority of people, not a tiny Venezuelan elite or the multinational corporations.
Peter Ross from the Spanish and Latin American studies department at the University of NSW spoke about Latin America's "left turn" over the last decade, and the role of the Venezuelan revolution in that process. Anthea Jones from the Australian National University and the University of Canberra, and a guest researcher at the Bolivarian University in Caracas, spoke about how Venezuela's democracy stands up to mainstream criteria of governance.
Addressing imperialism's latest attempt to undermine the revolution, Green Left Weekly's Stuart Munckton explained how the"crisis" over the non-renewal of RCTV's broadcasting concession was manufactured by anti-Chavez forces internally and internationally.
A broad panel of speakers presented greetings to the conference, including representatives of the Democratic Socialist Perspective, the Socialist Alliance, the International Socialist Organisation, the Socialist Party, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, the Communist Party of Lebanon, Socialist Worker New Zealand, the National Student League for Democracy in Indonesia and members of Sydney's Indigenous community.
A power-point presentation by Jim McIlroy from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, based on his year in Venezuela in 2006, generated a lot of discussion and was followed by a session focusing on building solidarity in Australia with the Venezuelan revolution. The importance of countering the corporate media lies and informing people in Australia about the huge gains of the revolution for ordinary people was stressed, and everyone was encouraged to participate in the AVSN's main solidarity projects this year, including the Latin America and Asia Pacific International Solidarity Forum in Melbourne on October 11-14 and the Australian brigade to Venezuela in November-December. For more information, visit http://www.venezuelasolidarity.org.