Venezuelans to feature at Latin America solidarity conference

Two Venezuelan revolutionaries — Daniel Sanchez and Heryck Rangel — will be guest speakers at the national Latin America Solidarity Conference 2009 to be held in Melbourne on August 28-29.

Sanchez is a leader in Venezuela's "people's power" movement through the Rebirth of the South Commune in Valencia. He is a passionate advocate of Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution and the participatory democracy that is developing within it.

He is also a local councillor for South Valencia and an activist in the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) led by President Hugo Chavez.

Rangel, a student leader, radio broadcaster and activist in the PSUV Youth, is also the national coordinator of the Venezuelan Eco-citizens Movement.

The Latin America Solidarity Conference, which was initiated by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN), is being organised and sponsored by a range of solidarity organisations around Australia. These include the FMLN (Australia), the Centre for Latin American Studies and Solidarity, Peace and Justice for Colombia, the Communist Party of Chile (Australia), the Guatemalan Human Rights Committee, Australian Solidarity with Latin America, Australia-Cuba Friendship Society committees, the Socialist Alliance, the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Communist Party of Australia.

Other special guests at the conference include National Revolutionary Unity member of the Guatemalan parliament Walter Rolando Felix Lopez. Lopez has been a political activist since the 1970s, including as a guerrilla fighter during Guatemala's civil war.

The general secretary of the United Workers Federation of Chile, Jaime Gajardo, will also address the conference. Gajardo is a long-time leader of Chile's teachers' union and a member of the Communist Party of Chile.

Jesus Gonzalez, a founding member of the United Workers Federation of Colombia who was forced into exile in Australia because of his political activities, including documenting the assassination of trade union leaders in Colombia, will also attend.

At a time when major cracks are appearing in the global capitalist system, this conference aims to provide a forum for people to learn more about, learn from and build solidarity with the tide of rebellions and revolutions across Latin America that are forcing those cracks open and giving hope to oppressed people around the world.

The conference, to be held at Victorian Trades Hall, opens on August 28 with an evening forum titled "People's power is changing the world: revolution, reconstruction and socialism in Latin America".

The next day, panel presentations on "Obama's foreign policy: militarisation, blockade and trade agreements"; "Latin America as alternative: new models of economic, social and political power" and "Their struggle is our struggle: strengthening solidarity", will be held along with by workshops on specific struggles and issues.

On August 30, the AVSN will hold its annual National Consultation to plan future Venezuela solidarity activities in Australia. Everyone interested is welcome to attend the consultation, which will include more detailed presentations by Sanchez and Rangel on the advances and challenges facing the Bolivarian revolution.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit www.solidarityconference2009.org or phone 0413 031 108.

[Lisa Macdonald is a national co-coordinator of the AVSN. Visit www.venezuelasolidarity.org.]

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