Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

The Agricultural Social Production Unit (UPSA) Caquetios, located in Cabudare, in Palavecino municipality, Lara state, is run by the Brazilian Movement of Rural Landless Workers (MST). A campesino organisation, the MST shares similar objectives to those of former president Hugo Chavez and the pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution he led – in particular, land collectivisation as the best way to grow food and put an end to rural inequality.

In 2006, the MST was invited to Venezuela to take over a 40-hectare estate as part of Chavez’s attempt to transform Venezuela’s countryside. Since then, the group has been joined by several Venezuelan farmers, with both groups learning new experiences from each other.

Travelling past El Calvario Park, just a few blocks from the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, we see a familiar image: an outline of late former president Hugo Chavez’s eyes, painted across several stairs.

This image can be seen all over Caracas. The government of President Nicholas Maduro has converted it into a recognisable trademark, much like the iconic image of Che Guevara that is splashed across T-shirts, flags and walls the world over.

It is important to note that while the vitriolic right-wing government opposition is concentrated among the white and economically elite elements of the population, the barrios, shanty towns and rural areas that are home to the poor, Indigenous communities and the Afro-Venezuelans have not erupted into protest for the most part because they support the government. In order to understand the roots of the elite opposition's hate and racism toward Black and Indigenous government supporters, one has to understand the history of the presidency that preceded Maduro's – that of Hugo Chavez.

My Friend Hugo, a moving film tribute to former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made by well-known Hollywood director Oliver Stone, was screened at the Resistance Centre on March 4 to mark the third anniversary of the death of the leader of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela.

The showing was organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) and the Latin American Social Forum (LASF), with the support of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Australia.

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