Jim McIlroy

An emergency speak-out: "Hands off Venezuela" was called by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) at Sydney Town Hall on April 19. Almost 100 people attended the rally, plus a small counter-protest of about a dozen Venezuelan supporters of the right-wing opposition. The rally called for "an immediate end to the opposition-initiated violence [in Venezuela], and to demand that the US and Australian governments come out and recognise [Nicolas Maduro] as Venezuela's head of state."
The SEARCH foundation held a conference called “Secure Jobs in a Green Future: Australian Left Renewal Conference”, on April 6-7. It featured international guest Costas Isychos, a member of the Greek left party SYRIZA and head of the party’s external and defence policy.
Compulsory income management of disadvantaged welfare recipients was slammed by speakers at a forum at the Bankstown Arts Centre on April 11. The forum, organised by the Say No to Government Income Management: Not in Bankstown, Not Anywhere campaign coalition, attracted about 40 people to hear representatives from unions and Aboriginal, migrant and youth groups call for a campaign to stop the extension of income management from July 1 this year.
More than 200 people attended the "Todos Somos Chavez — We Are All Chavez" memorial meeting at the Addison Community Centre on March 16. The event was one of several memorials held around Australia to honour the life and political struggles of Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez. Organised by the We Are All Chavez Committee, and supported by the Embassy of Venezuela in Australia, the event featured a night of toasts, music and videos in memory of Chavez.
About 40 people attended public forum titled "Agent Orange campaign — experiences from Vietnam and Australia," on March 4. The forum was organised by Agent Orange Justice and heard from a delegation of speakers from the Vietnam Association for the Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), and representatives from several Australia-based groups carrying out support work for Vietnamese victims of US chemical warfare during the Vietnam war.
Venezuelan ambassador to Australia Nelson Davila introduced the film El Caracazo: A day that shook a country at a public screening on February 27. The event was hosted by the Venezuelan embassy and the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN).
Protesters gathered outside the Federal Court building on February 19 to oppose moves by Coca-Cola Amatil to overturn recently passed Northern Territory “cash-for-containers” laws. The laws are similar to bottle and plastic container return laws that have operated in South Australia for more than 30 years. Today, 80% of bottles in SA are recycled, more than double the rate of other states. Demonstrators displayed a large banner exposing the role of the company, owners of Mount Franklin, Fanta and Coke products, in destroying wildlife and the environment.
Several hundred people attended a night of solidarity with Cuba at the Uruguayan Club in western Sydney on February 9. The event, organised by the Committee in Solidarity with Cuba, Western Sydney, raised funds to help pay for repairs to the widespread damage caused to homes and infrastructure by cyclone Sandy last year. It featured entertainment by a variety of cultural groups from the Latin American community.
More than 40 people came to hear Miguel Angel Nunez, a co-founder of IPIAT (the Institute for Production and Research in Tropical Agriculture) in Venezuela and a former coordinator of the Latin American Agroecological Movement at a public forum in Sydney on January 30. The speaker was welcomed by Miriam Navarro, representing the Venezuelan embassy in Australia. The forum was organised by the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network and supported by the embassy and the Latin American Social Forum.
In a show of force, about 10,000 supporters of the Frente Guasu attended a rally addressed by the party’s leader, ex-president of Paraguay Fernando Lugo, in the regional city of Coronel Ovideo on October 25. Lugo was deposed in June in a parliamentary coup. Lugo's removal was organised by right-wing forces opposed to progressive changes that threatening to challenge the interests of the traditional oligarchy and US imperialism.
As the final weeks of the Venezuelan presidential election campaign unfold, an intense battle of ideas is under way. The poll on October 7 is looming as one of the most important elections in the country´s history.
“My plan is to demolish the ultra-right so that a true opposition arises, because I am ready to work with them,” Venezuelan socialist President Hugo Chavez told a mass rally of supporters of his re-election campaign in the Caracas neighbourhood of Charallave on September 9.
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