Progressives build support for Venezuela
Published Mar 10, 2006 11:49 PM
From March 3-6
representatives of the progressive movement inside the United States met here in
a National Conference in Solidarity with Venezuela. Its aim was to increase
support for the Venezuelan Revolution and prevent further aggression from the
U.S. government against that Latin American republic.
WW photos: Malcolm Cummins
The conference took
place at George Washington University, just a few blocks from the U.S. State
Department, where many anti-Venezuelan projects originate. Over 400 people
attended, representing dozens of organizations.
Participants discussed and
supported a proposed May 20 March on Washington to Stop U.S. Intervention
against Vene zuela and Cuba. Organizations and individuals can get more
information about the march by sending e-mails to [email protected].
Participants also read and discussed a resolution establishing a National
Net work of Solidarity with Venezuela and a calendar of grassroots Venezuela
solidarity actions. Anti-war actions already plan ned for March 18-20, the third
anniversary of the U.S. war against Iraq, were included in the calendar and
groups were encouraged to have Venezuela contingents in the demonstrations.
A special resolution was also passed denouncing the U.S.’s Plan
Representatives of the governments of both Venezuela and Cuba
who spoke at the conference showed the strong connection between these two
countries. Through their examples of generosity and dignity they are now the
hope of millions, not only in Latin America but throughout the world.
presence of many students and youth, not only from Washington but from as far
away as Canada and Florida, showed the Bolivarian Revolution’s appeal.
Young activists mixed with seasoned organizers who have been in the anti-war and
Latin America solidarity movements for decades. Organizers also came from
community-based, religious and labor groups. African Americans and Latin@s had a
strong presence throughout the conference.
Many organizations endorsed
the conference, including the Alliance for Global Justice, All-African
People’s Revolu tion ary Party, Bolivarian Circles, the National Network
on Cuba, CISPES, FMLN-MD, Latin American Solidarity Coali tion, Nica ra gua
Network, the People’s Hurri cane Relief Fund, Ocean Press, National Law
yers Guild, Global Exchange, Global Women’s Strike, Iran ian Cultural
Associ ation, Inter national Action Center and several student groups. A full
list of sponsors can be found at www. lasolidarity.org
Unite in solidarity
An evening of music and poetry on Friday night, March 3,
opened the events. The next morning, Chuck Kaufman, a main organizer of the
conference from the Nicaragua Network, welcomed the attendees, stressing that
the gathering brought together a united group in solidarity with
Attendees took part in three panels and 40 workshops throughout
the weekend. Workshops linked solidarity with Vene zuela to events in the U.S.
Topics like “The Aid Offered by Venezuela and Cuba to Katrina
Victims” and “Venezuela Comes to the Aid of the North American
Public” helped put this vision in perspective.
The Katrina workshop
included Kali Akuno, National Outreach Coordinator of the People’s
Hurricane Relief Fund and Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Lour des Madriz, Consul
General of Venezuela in New Orleans; and Joaquin Gutierrez, Second Secretary of
the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C.; it was chaired by Ignacio
Meneses of the U.S./ Cuba Labor Exchange.
Madriz described the help
Venezuela offered to Katrina survivors in the aftermath of the storm, including
fuel, interpreters, monetary assistance and more.
background on the medical aid offered by Cuba, which the Bush admin istration
rejected. He said that though Cuba early on offered to send a team of doctors,
the Cuban government held off making a public announcement or releasing a photo
of the 1,500-plus doctors waiting with bags packed until other countries asked
why they had not made an offer to assist, since they sent doctors everywhere
Madriz noted that one of the first doctors from the U.S. to
graduate from medical school in Havana was from New Orleans, and did return to
Akuno gave background on the struggle in New Orleans, how little
has been done by the U.S. government, how bad conditions remain six months after
the storm, especially in Mississippi, Southern Loui siana and the rural areas
outside New Orleans, where towns were literally wiped off the map. Most of these
areas have received no help at all. Mobile homes intended for these areas still
sit in Arkansas and Texas.
Akuno explained that in the tourist area around
New Orleans’s French Quarter, some hotels are built on top of
levees—that’s how wide they were. But in the Ninth Ward and areas
with a predominantly African American population, some levees were only two feet
wide. He also reported on how both FEMA and the Red Cross divided people in
shelters into three groups—Black, white and immigrant. If the immigrants
could not provide documentation, the INS was on hand to deport
U.S. attempts at subversion
People also discussed the
Venezuelan Revolution, its advancement and constitution, and its regional and
international relations, including the Bolivarian Alter native for the Americas
(ALBA). Several workshops discussed Washing ton’s aggres sion against
Venezuela, particularly through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and
USAID, including the reactionary role of the AFL-CIO in the April 2002 coup that
tried to overthrow President Hugo Chávez Frías and in the
destabilization campaign later.
Several workshops discussed different
ways of building solidarity. Others were about Latin America and the Caribbean,
including Colombia, Cuba and Haiti.
The conference packet contained a
resolution submitted by progressive elected officials to the Michigan State
Legislature that expresses solidarity with Venezuela and demands that terrorist
Posada Carriles, now in the U.S., be extradited to Venezuela.
many speakers were Rev. Roy Bourgeois of the School of the Americas Watch and
Bill Fletcher, director of the Trans-Africa Forum.
During a cultural and
political event held at All Souls Church on March 4, Vene zuelan Ambassador
Bernardo Alvarez spoke eloquently about how aid from Cuba is proving essential
in eradicating illiteracy in Venezuela and in the success of its health
Cuban Ambassador Dagoberto Rodrguez spoke in turn of how
Venezuela has made economic cooperation possible through ALBA, the Latin
American alternative to U.S.-sponsored “free trade” agree ments.
Jorge Marin from the Martin Luther King Bolivarian Circle of Boston and Berta
Joubert-Ceci from the Inter national Action Center co-chaired the
This very successful conference follows previous events in
solidarity with Vene zuela: the Evening in Solidarity with Boli varian Venezuela
held last November in New York City’s Town Hall and in Los Angeles the
Feb. 17-19 organizing conference in New York of the Bolivarian Circles in the
Betsey Piette, Cheryl LaBash and Steven Ceci contributed to this
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