We are very delighted to publish this
report on Jorge Martin's speaking tour in Ireland. The author is a
young Republican Socialist based in Belfast with a long experience in
anti-imperialist solidarity such as the "Boycott Coca-Cola" campaign
and the movement against the imperialist war on Iraq.
"How many people are you expecting to attend this evening?" Jorge enquires of me over a cup of coffee in Belfast’s An Culturlann
and to be honest, I wasn’t sure how to answer his question. Despite a
flurry of promotional activity during the previous week, it was
difficult to predict how many people would break a growing pattern of
political apathy in West Belfast and actually bother to turn up to the
To compound my concerns, I had just
heard that Sinn Fein had organised a protest to highlight what they see
as a "Crisis of Democracy" meaning a lot of their activists would miss
the film and the debate that I hoped would follow. I cursed the irony
of this eventuality.
As the political pressure
was heaping upon them, Provisional Sinn Fein planned a protest against
an attack on the bourgeois democratic system that the "Venezuela Bolivariana, people & struggle in the fourth World War" film so clearly illustrates as corrupt and undemocratic. Alas, I thought, it was an opportunity missed.
ten to seven, there was only myself, Jorge and another guy who had
volunteered to take some photos and I had secretly resigned myself to
the event’s failure. Then as luck would have it, a small group of
people arrived at the theatre looking a little lost and after some
investigating downstairs, I had found a large group of people looking
for the room in which the event was taking place. After directing the
crowd upstairs, I was bouyed to see more and more people arriving until
there was a crowd of around 45 people sitting in the row of the small
arena, a handsome number at an event of this kind.
promotional activity had paid off, it seems. During the week running up
to the event, myself and some kind volunteers had spent a couple of
days plastering up around 200 posters around the working class areas of
West Belfast. A fortune was spent on text messages, emails were sent to
thousands of recipients and every newspaper with a wide readership had
been hit with a torrent of daily press releases on the event.
Jorge arrived in Belfast, he didn’t really have much time to “enjoy”
the cold weather as he was giving an interview on a Belfast community
radio show as well as an interview to a journalist who writes for the Andersonstown News
(a tabloid sensationalist type local paper but with a wide readership
none the less). Now he had settled down to give a good sized and well
represented audience an introduction to the film.
feelings in the arena were tangible during the emotive scenes in the
film. The audience were noticebaly moved by the scenes of the
Venezuelan people showing the power of collective action in the face of
often brutal repression and the applause at the end indicated how well
the film’s contents were recieved.
potential debate however was somewhat unfulfilled. The large numbers
attending perhaps intimidated some audience members from enquiring on
the subject. Jorge however gave a clear and lengthy summary of some of
the more up to date events in the revolution as well as elaboration on
some of the important points in the film and as is generally the case
in these matters, futher debate carried on in the pub long after the
Next stop Derry, and after meeting
some comrades, Jorge and myself set off for BBC Radio Foyle where Jorge
was afforded a brief interview with the afternoon talk show DJ Mark
Patterson where the night event was plugged and the revolution was
given a brief summary.
The Derry event was held
in Sandino’s Bar which is seen as a bar visited by progressive and
leftwing people as evidenced by the name. Despite a lower turnout than
the Belfast event (some 20-25 people), the film sparked a greater
degree of debate. The audience contained a good representation of the
city’s left wing, including the SWP, SEA as well as the IRSP and some
People’s Democracy members.
The scenes of state
violence used to quell the Caracas riots in 1989 mirrored that of the
scenes of Derry’s Bloody Sunday and this was picked up by the audience
who then drew further parallelles between the Venezuelan Bolivarian
process and the Irish class struggle.
and last event took place in Strabane, a large border town some 20
miles from Derry, but due to unforeseen difficulties, the venue of
the event had to be changed, but the local IRSP comrades gently
provided their offices to host the meeting. The audience was made up of
young Socialist comrades who despite their young age, took to the
film’s message of the collective power of the people. Some debate took
place after the event and I was heartened to see some of the young
comrades avail themselves of some of the literature provided by Jorge
The speaker made an important point in
his address at the Belfast event. "The Venezuelan Revolution is having
a positive effect in Cuba in that it is giving renewed heart and
encouragement after forty plus years of isolation." During a time when
radical politics is on the decline here in Ireland it has also given me
and others like me hope that there is still a place and role for a
true democracy of the people.
Revolution of the people’s conscienceness is today’s reference to all
progressive people’s struggles throughout the world and I hope to use
it as such when I debate with other brothers and sisters about the
future direction of the class struggle in Ireland. I also hope some of
the others who watched the film during Jorge’s short visit do the same.
Just for that reason, Jorge's visit has been extremely useful and I
look forward to working with him and the Hands Off Venezuela comrades
in the future.