"Socialism will save Venezuela; socialism will save the world", Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on May 10 during his weekly TV program Alo Presidente.
Chavez was answering a question put to him live on air by Coral Wynter, a member of the Australian Socialist Alliance and the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN).
Wynter, along with myself and two other Australians, had, with the assistance of the Venezuelan embassy in Australia, been invited onto the program, held that week in rural Barinas state.
Wynter and myself have been Venezuela correspondents for Green Left Weekly over the past six months.
Wynter asked Chavez: "Could you explain why 'socialism of the 21st century' is important and relevant to people of the developed countries, like Australia?"
Chavez answered: "The Bolivarian revolution is an important support for the salvation of humanity, and also the salvation of nature.
"Both entities are closely related, human and nature, because humans are part of nature and nature is part of humanity.
"Therefore, for the developed world, as you may call it, this current level of development of the countries of the North, of Australia, of Europe, must be made sustainable. Therefore, socialism is [necessary for] the salvation of the entire world."
Wynter had explained that she and myself had lived in Caracas for a year during 2006, and had later written a book, entitled Voices from Venezuela: Behind the Bolivarian Revolution, based on hundreds of interviews with grassroots Venezuelans.
She said it aimed to "reveal the truth about Venezuela, in English, for the English-speaking world, to help break through the curtain of lies and distortions" in the mainstream media in Australia and elsewhere.
She also explained that we had helped organise two solidarity brigades over the past six months, sponsored by AVSN, to "bring Australian people here to see with their own eyes the truth about the Bolivarian revolution".
Wynter presented Chavez with a copy of the book.
Chavez replied: "Thank you for your presence in Venezuela, for your feelings, for your work in spreading the truth about the revolution.
"A thousand thanks for coming here, living in this country, speaking to people, and explaining the reality of Venezuela."