On November 8, 2005 a remarkable event took place at New Yorks's Town Hall: An evening in solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, so far the biggest and most important gathering of this kind. It was organized by the Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle of New York and the International Action Center and endorsed by prominent persons as Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky and many groups, the Hands off Venezuela Campaign among them. The importance of the event was underlined by the fact that there was a lot of media present, ranging from the New York Times to alternative media and the Latinamerican TV station Telesur.
Hugo Chavez is aware that it is crucial for the Bolivarian Revolution to get support from the people of the United States, to defend Venezuela and to form a real unity of the Americas. After Hurricane Katrina, he provided relief assistance to the victims of the disaster through CITGO, the U.S. subsidiary of the Venezuelan state-owned company PDVSA. When he visited Harlem and the Bronx in September, he met with community groups and trade union leaders to explain his views of "Socialism of the 21st century" that is being build in Venezuela. He offered help for U.S. schools, nursing homes, hospitals and poor communities, providing cheap home heating oil, starting with Chicago. Interviews with Hugo Chavez on "Democracy Now!" and ABC's "Nightline" with Ted Koppel enabled him to correct the picture usually drawn by U.S. media. His efforts brought him big respect in the U.S., especially among African Americans.
The aim of the event at Town Hall was to foster the bonds between the U.S. and Venezuela. Many speakers from different groups showed the broad basis of the solidarity movement in winning support from the Puerto Rican, Dominican, Haitian and Colombian community and groups in solidarity with Cuba.
Among the speakers were former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, trade unionists Chris Silvera and Roger Toussaint, Reverend Lucius Walker, who praised the "axis of good", and Padre Luis Barrios who called Chavez the "prophet of socialism of the 21st century" and many representatives of the Bolivarian Movement in Venezuela.
William Camacaro from the Bolivarian Circle Alberto Lovera emphasized the goal of forming a union with the people from the U.S. To take concrete steps in this direction, he announced that a National Solidarity Network in the U.S. would be created at the beginning of next year.
Venezuela's assistance after Hurricane Katrina was highly appreciated by Curtis Mohammed of the People's Relief Fund of New Orleans, who stressed the demand of the right of return for poor Katrina survivors. A recorded message from Mumia Abu Jamal, prisoner on death row was played, who mentioned that Chavez sent oil and help to the people of New Orleans in contrast to George Bush who sent the National Guard to protect private property and who was willing to let thousands of poor black people die.
Ben Dupuy and Marlene Jean Noel of Haiti refer to the parallels with Haiti, when the freely elected president Aristide was overthrown by the U.S., a precedent for what the U.S. is planning in Venezuela.
The founders of www.aporrea.org, Gonzalo Gomez and Martin Sanchez, pointed out the importance of alternative and community media, that the media should be owned by the people and not by capital. Referring to the occupied factories, Martin Sanchez states that the aim of the Bolivarian Movement is not to fix capitalism but to proceed to socialism.
Many speakers talked about the necessity to fight unemployment, bad working conditions, poverty and racism in the U.S. and to introduce the Solidarity Campaign to the working class and poor people in the U.S. Venezuela is the example that another world is possible and that there is an alternative. But without the people of the U.S., it is not possible to build that better world. This evening was also meant as a message to George Bush: That the American people are standing in solidarity with the Bolivarian process and would not tolerate a U.S. intervention.
Miguel Hernandez of the Central University of Venezuela sent greetings from the UNT and concluded that socialism is the only way forward for Venezuela, with the means of production in the hands of the people, a process spreading across its borders to become an international revolution.
At the end, Bolivarian spirit was brought to New York, when the audience started shouting together: "Chavez, Amigo! Nueva York esta contigo!"