Venezuela

Caracas will play host to one of the most important international gatherings of left parties in years, when delegates from across the world meet for the First International Meeting of Left Parties over October 7-9.

The ninth Australian solidarity brigade to Venezuela, sponsored by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN), visited Venezuela from April 16 to 24. Participants saw first-hand the reality of the Bolivarian revolution, led by socialist president Hugo Chavez.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez released a statement congratulating US president-elect Barack Obama, declaring that, “We are convinced that the time has come to establish new relations between our two countries and in our region, based on the principles of respect for sovereignty, equality and true co-operation”, according to a November 6 Ultimas Noticias article.

On September 18, Human Rights Watch released a report titled “Venezuela: Rights Suffer Under Chavez”. The report contains biases and inaccuracies, and wrongly purports that human rights guarantees are lacking or not properly enforced in Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced plans to nationalise one of the countries largest banks, the Bank of Venezuela, according to a July21 Xinhua.com report.

“We are the sons and daughters of Bolivarian socialism and we want to defend it”, explained Eduardo Churrio, speaking to Green Left Weekly.

“As a product of four weeks of meetings between the different currents in the National Union of Workers (UNT), together with important union federations, we have democratically decided, in consultation with the grassroots, that [on September 19-21] we will hold a national congress.

Venezuela’s environment ministry has proclaimed sweeping restrictions on mining in the Imataca Forest, in Venezuela’s south-east, according to a June 27 Venezuelanalysis.com article. Despite this, negotiations over mining permits continue with affected companies.

This year’s May Day solidarity brigade to Venezuela, the seventh brigade from Australia to be organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN), had 12 participants representing various unions. One of those was Chris Spindler, an organiser for the Victorian Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).

Spindler was sent on the brigade as an official AMWU representative, to report back on how the Bolivarian revolution being led by President Hugo Chavez’s government was improving the lives of workers and the poor. On June 11, the Victorian AMWU voted to affiliate to the AVSN and to send a message of solidarity and congratulations to the workers of the giant steel plant Sidor — which was nationalised in April following a long struggle by its workforce.

Green Left Weekly’s Trent Hawkins spoke to Spindler about the his impressions of the revolution.

Fred Fuentes, who has spent a year working in Venezuela, will be a special guest speaker at the Resistance National Conference in Sydney, June 27-29. Green Left Weekly’s Trent Hawkins caught up with Fuentes just before he left Caracas for Australia.

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