Thursday, November 30, 2006

Day 3 (and a surprise request...)

Hello again to all. Well Thursday is with us, and day 3 of the international Hands Off Venezuela delegation to Caracas.

After a well deserved restful morning the three international groups headed to West Caracas to visit what is known as a nucleus of endogenous development. This is a community development on the site on an old petrol filling station that had been abandoned for 12 years. Roughly two years ago the site was adopted by the community and since then has undergone a massive transformation. This transformation is both physical and moral.

This flagship endogenous development centre has taken the name from ´Fabrico Ojeda´, who was a revolutionary fighter, and the people told us how proud they were to be carrying his name. One of the comments that stood out to us the most and showed the importance of what we are doing here came from one of the workers in the level 2 health clinic, based on site. Level 2 means that the clinic offers more than just basic primary health care. This dentistry practitioner stated how a lot of people, even in this country (Venezuela) don´t come here and therefore do not know what is really going on at this level. All the workers were enthused to see us and were proud to show us around.

There was a massive building program underway in order to further expand the projects already undertaken, but regardless of that, there was already so much happening and well under way. The list of projects included a shoe making co-operative, a farming co-op, a construction co-op, a textile co-op, the ´Mothers of the Barrios´ Misión, Barrio Adentro, work with handicapped people, sporting groups, a construction school and a baseball school for young people. All this as well as a Mercal store, where people from the community are able to buy food and basic supplies as newly affordable prices.

It is known that construction is one of the fastest growing industries in Venezuela today, so the impact of all of these projects is important, but the construction school is just another example of giving the people the skills that are vitally needed in the here and now.

This whole trip is our opportunity to listen to the people of Venezuela tell us their thoughts, views and ambitions. Our translator was stopped at one point by a group of workers who simply wanted to express to us and make sure that we knew that they fully supported President Chavez, and would be voting for him on Sunday. Another stated “Thanks to Chavez we now see things in a new way. We realise we have rights. Rights that were taken away from us in the past, and now we are reclaiming them again.” All were confident of a victory for Chavez saying “it´s clear he is going to win because he has shown us his love for the people.” We were then personally invited to spend Monday with them to celebrate the victory of President Chavez, and the parties lined up are going to be big!!

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, a number of our delegation had split to attend a film screening and discusión about the lies and basis of the illegal war in Iraq. This was held at the Celarg Fundacion of Latin American Studies, Romulo Gallegos. The film was titled El Fantasma De La Libertad (The Phantom of Liberty) and was made by Liliana Blazer and Lucia Lamanna. This Venezuelan made film detailed the anti-war campaign in the US as well as Venezuela and included the specific war crimes commited via the use of white phospherous and depleted uranium. At the discusión H.O.V were invited to speak along with the leaders of solidarity groups for Iraq and Palestine based in Venezuela. The film makers first talked about the making of the film before introducing Shaun and Shelia from the British delegation, who went on to explain about the Hands Off Venezuela campaign, why we are present here in Venezuela today and to draw the Stark paralells between the miss-use of the media in the build up to the occupation of Iraq and the current inaccurate media climate towards Venezuela.

It was also made clear during the general discusión that Hands Off Venezuela were immensly welcome in the country and the people were massivly enthused by the support given by the campaign and especiallyduring the interviews on both national and community television that have been seen by many all over the country. The main message from this meeting to Hands Off Venezuela from individuals was that they thought they were alone in defending their revolution. They are now clear that this is not the case at all. Many thanks were expressed to the campaign for all the efforts given.

The evening had arrived and some of the delegation joined a closing election rally in a middle-class district of Caracas, celebrating Chavismo and their support for the President. This was in an area not always supportive of Chavez, but whom had seen the progress the country has made under Chavez´ leadership and were now strong backers of the President.

And we thought that that would be it for another packed day defending the Bolivarian Revolution. That was untill a certain Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias stepped it up during a nationally televised press conference, and upon hearing that Hands Off Venezuela were in the country giving international support at this time, expressed his wish to meet with the delegation. We have not personally been able to keep a track of all the media over here for obvious reasons, but no matter. This news was passed on to us from a number of people whom we had made contact with and had seen Chavez say this on TV themselves.

We are awaiting your call, Señor Presidente.

Untill tomorrow, adios!!

Matt (for the HOV British delegation - using Espe´s login)


Anonymous said...

It is always enlightening to be reminded again about the real progress that this Bolivarian Revolution has given to the people. Let us make sure that this revolution is completed and that it becomes permanent revolution; and that can only comes through each one of us organizing a revolutionary condition in his/her own country.

I'd like to thank all the HOV delegation for sacrificing their time and money to go to Venezuela for show of solidarity, and for spreading the revolution throughout the world.


Liam said...

Reading this is the next best thing to being there.