Lisa Macdonald

“Nature is our home and is the system of which we form a part, and therefore it has infinite value, but it does not have a price and is not for sale” said a November 3-5 meeting of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) nations of Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua. The meeting rejected the privatisation of nature, in which “nature is seen as ‘capital’ for producing tradable environmental goods and services … and assigned a price so that they can be commercialised with the purpose of obtaining profits”.
One of the most vital features of the Bolivarian revolution underway in Venezuela is the development by workers and their organisations of different forms of workers’ control in their workplaces and communities. The increasing participation and control by workers is taking place at the same time as hundreds of companies have been nationalised.
The contrast is striking. As Australia’s state and federal governments continue their bloody-minded corporatisation and privatisation of our few remaining public assets, the revolutionary government of Venezuela is bringing important industries and sectors into public ownership and control.
Over October 16-17, 120 people participated in lively and informative discussions at the Latin America Solidarity Conference. “Challenging corporate globalisation: people’s power is changing the world” was organised by the Latin America Social Forum. LASF brings together the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN — Australia), Guatemala Human Rights Committee, Ibiray-Fondo Raul Sendic (Uruguay), Honduras’ National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network and Socialist Alliance.
With the symptoms of social and environmental crisis all around us — runaway climate change, Third World poverty, seemingly endless wars — it is sometimes easy to feel discouraged about our ability to change “the way things are”. We can forget that millions of ordinary people have many times over said “enough is enough” and come together to take action to change history.
On June 30, 31 mainly young activists set off from around NSW in an old converted school bus, for the “Indigenous Solidarity Rides” heading to an Aboriginal rights convergence in Alice Springs over July 6-11. At the same time, 25 activists from Brisbane headed to the convergence, also in a bus, as part of the “Justice Ride”.
Humanity is in a race against time to avoid the environmental and social catastrophe caused by climate change. At times, it seems we are losing the race. When we look at the sabotage of international summits by the rich countries, or the false solutions peddled by governments and corporate polluters, the challenge we face can seem overwhelming. But globally, there is a rising people’s movement demanding real action on climate. This movement gives reason for hope and inspiration.
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.
On April 13, people around the world celebrated the eighth anniversary of the Venezuelans’ defeat of a coup against President Hugo Chavez. The US-backed coup, on April 11, 2002, lasted only 48 hours, overturned by a massive mobilisation on the streets of supporters of the radical changes being led by Chavez.
Ferne Edwards, a PhD student at the Australian National University who researches sustainable food movements, cities and climate change, was so inspired by the social changes in Venezuela when she visited there as part of a food sovereignty tour in 2009 that she decided to organise an opportunity for other Australians to visit and see it for themselves.

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