Venezuelan trade unionist and community educator Alexis Adarfio Marin visited Australia last month, informing many audiences of the radical changes being carried out by Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution.
Adarfio was a guest of the Search Foundation, which hosted a range of international guest speakers at its Australian Left Renewal Conference in Sydney over May 29-30.
Adarfio, a member of the Worker Control Collective, a bloc of unionists from 11 basic industries, is a leader in Venezuela’s movement to develop state-owned, socialist industries. He took part in the drafting of the Socialist Guyana Plan to transform Venezuela’s basic industries into less energy-intensive, worker-controlled enterprises directed towards meeting domestic needs rather than export.
Adarfio is also a promoter with the Moral y Luces program in Venezuela. Named after independence hero Simon Bolivar's famous statement that “morality and enlightenment are our primary necessities”, the program aims to raise consciousness and promote public discussion about the new socialist values Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution is seeking to develop.
In Melbourne, Adarfio addressed a public forum on May 27, organised by the Search Foundation and the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN). He was joined on the platform by Victor Jose from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and Kevin Bracken, Victorian state secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, both of whom recently took part in the AVSN May Day solidarity brigade to Venezuela.
At an AMWU training meeting in Melbourne, Adarfio told 70 union organisers and staff about the steps being taken towards workers’ control in the heavy industrial area of Bolivar state. The movement for workers’ control began with experiments in co-gestion (worker-government co-management) in different factories, he said.
This was carried out in the context of many workers’ campaigns to “recover industries privatised under the previous governments of the oligarchy in the 1990s”.
In Melbourne, Adarfio also addressed the Victorian Trades Hall executive and met activists from the Latrobe Valley to discuss cooperation on their project to establish a worker-run social enterprise to produce solar-powered hot water systems.
In Brisbane, Adarfio told a forum on June 1 organised by the Search Foundation and supported by the AVSN and AMWU: “The revolutionary government in Venezuela is in the process of creating solutions to the crisis of capitalism in our country, including in the areas of health, environment, food security and technological sovereignty.
“Our revolutionary government has made tremendous gains. We now have a university inside the steel industry. I am both a teacher and a student within that process.
“Ten years ago, around 85% of the population was in extreme poverty. This has been radically reduced. But still much more is needed.”
He described how the workers in Bolivar state have for the past year been developing a plan for workers’ control. He explained that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has insisted all projects have an environmental impact statement conducted by the workers themselves. “It is a big cultural change”, Adarfio said.
Appealing to Australian trade unions to support the revolutionary workers of Venezuela, Adarfio said: “The movement has gathered tremendous momentum, but now the multinational corporations and the oligarchy are opposing the workers’ control movement.”
Stressing the need for exchanges between people around the world to learn from and support each others’ struggles, he said: “We ask for your moral support. We ask for assistance with technical support. We need an exchange of information and experiences. We ask you to visit us, and stay with us for a while.”
While visiting Brisbane, Adarfio also addressed an emergency rally to protest against the Israeli attack on the Gaza peace flotilla. He told the crowd about Venezuela’s strong solidarity with the Palestinian people and the Chavez government’s support for ending the blockade of Gaza.
[For more information about Venezuela solidarity activities in Australia, including upcoming solidarity brigades to Venezuela, visit venezuelasolidarity.org.]