Coral Wynter & Jim McIlroy, Caracas
Maria Rosa Jimenez is a leader of the Frente Francisco de Miranda (FFM), the major organisation mobilising young people in support of Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution. She will shortly be touring Australia to give a firsthand account of the radical changes that are sweeping Venezuela towards President Hugo Chavez's stated goal of 21st century socialism.
Jimenez spoke to Green Left Weekly just before rushing to the airport to travel to Cuba, which plays an important part in training FFM members for their social and political work. The first group of activists has returned after completing basic social work courses in Cuba and the FFM is now preparing to send a second group of 5000 people.
Jiminez told GLW that the FFM's current focus is campaigning for the December presidential election. "At this moment, the election is a stage of the most profound and deep importance for the Bolivarian revolution", she said.
Jiminez described the FFM's role within the election campaign as "to make the people conscious of the politics of the revolution". This is important, she said, because "people must not just vote spontaneously, but must act consciously in order to participate actively in the process of transformation" of society.
"We need to strongly ratify the leadership of Commandante Chavez. Without Chavez, there is no revolutionary process ... It is necessary that these elections are a big victory; that we win the battle, not only to get six million votes, but 10 million and more. This is not simply a slogan or a moral appeal, but a call to battle for the Venezuelan people."
The FFM also carries out "considerable work in the social missions", including in Barrio Adentro (providing free health care to the poor), Mission Vuelvan Caras (providing training for cooperatives), Mission Negra Hipolita (providing basic necessities to the very poor) and education programs. "We contribute strategically to the popular organisations, and we are also working in whatever way we can in the cultural movement and in the battle of ideas."
"We are promoting a debate inside the Frente, as well as inside the communities: What is Bolivarian socialism? The fight against imperialism, the necessity of organising the communities, the importance of the defence of the revolution through the 2006 presidential elections — these are all vital questions."
"Another element of our work is that we are strengthening the organisation of the Frente itself. We used to have 13,000 members in the FFM, but have now increased the size to 16,000 Bolivarian comrades."
Jimenez explained that the FFM is launching a "scientific expedition", that will be a "process of study, of investigation, of discussion to orient the Frente."
The debate about the nature of "Bolivarian socialism" is not just an internal debate among the Frente membership, Jiminez said, "but also needs to be held within the missions, where the people participate, where the work is done".
"We need activities, actions, a synthesis through investigation and study. We want to generate more discussion on the theme of Bolivarian socialism. What is liberalism, neoliberalism, the crisis of ecology, the role of the communications media? How can we fight against imperialism?"
In a message to Australians about the importance of international solidarity with Venezuela, Jimenez said that when discussing the importance of defending the Venezuelan revolution in the international arena, "it is difficult not to sound extreme ... Because now the US and the imperialist [spokespeople] have launched demagogic attacks on the Chavez leadership in the international arena, because Venezuela constitutes the centre of the Bolivarian revolution. It represents the flag of all the people of Latin America who are waking up, throughout the continent. International solidarity with Venezuela is now vital.
"We need the truth about what is happening in Venezuela to be circulated, as an important element of the defence of the revolution, whatever the future scenario. For example, in the cases of Iraq and Iran, many slogans of solidarity have been converted into support action.
"We need solidarity against the politics of the US in all parts of the world. The US is saying Venezuela has been militarised, that we have a dictatorship and all the rest of it. Any way you can [expose these lies] helps protect us against this campaign.
"The best way [to provide solidarity] is to spread this information, just like the actions you are taking already. Because it is not just a matter of defending Venezuela, but a question of saving the human race. The world is in crisis — ecological, political, social and moral — generated by imperialism, sufficiently serious to endanger the whole world. It is a battle that is necessary to save the human species."
[Maria Rosa Jimenez will be speaking at the Resistance national conference in Sydney in July, and touring several cities. See the ad on page 8 or contact your local Resistance branch (details on page 2) for information.]
From Green Left Weekly, June 21 2006.
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