Venezuelans speak on people's power

Issue 

The "people's power speaking tour" of two Venezuelan revolutionaries began with a forum in the Geelong Trades Hall on August 31.

Daniel Sanchez, a leader of the Rebirth of the South Commune in the city of Valencia, and Yoly Fernandez, a community organiser in Venezuela's subsidised food program, Mission Mercal, are being toured by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network

Sanchez told the 25-strong Geelong audience that after President Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999, the idea of communal councils as a base to build a democratic socialist political system developed. Since a new law encouraging communal councils was passed in 2006, 30,000 communal councils have formed.

In Brisbane's Queensland Council of Unions auditorium, 40 people joined Indigenous leader Sam Watson to welcome the two Venezuelan activists on September 4.

"We welcome you as brother and sister and extend our solidarity to your struggle as I know you do to ours", Watson said. Before the Venezuelans spoke, the crowd joined in singing rousing revolutionary songs with local Guatemalan activist Leonor Orellana.

Fernandez spoke inspiringly of the gains for women in Venezuela. Before the revolution, the greatest illiteracy rates were among women and only 4 to 5% of women had the opportunity to take part in politics.

Inspired by Chavez's call of "Yes I can!" from the Mission Robinson campaign, women have been given the opportunity to have an equal say in politics, illiteracy has been eradicated and the opportunity to take on further education has opened up for women.

Fernandez said "our president has declared himself a feminist and supports all developments for women".

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