We received two more reports from the World Social Forum in Caracas.
Today the International Hands Off Venezuela campaign held its open meeting. A room filled with over 100 people listened to speakers from the campaign including UK organizer Rob Sewell and Canadian organizer Mike Palecek who detailed their work within their respective trade union movements. Sewell talked about the campaign’s resolution proposed to the national Trade Union Congress, which represents over 9 million workers, during that congress before the vote on the HOV resolution the chair told the congress "what we need in Britain is more Bolivarianism!". That vote passed in the TUC unanimously. Sewell also spoke of the need to carry forward and spread the revolution to all of Latin America and the world and of the great example Venezuela is serving as by bringing socialism back into the forefront of political discussion. Sewell´s speech received several ovations from the crowd and the HOV activists there gained a great deal of new contacts from all over the world.
Outside the HOV event the Venezuelan Revolutionary Marxist Current had a bookstall selling their material, which got a tremendous response from the forum participants. At several points there was a line up simply to see what was on sale at the table. Venezuelan locals in particular seem to be striving for knowledge about socialism and Marxist theory, and there is no shortage of discussions on the subject around the forum.
The trade union forum is also taking place as part of the WSF. Today delegates from Venezuela and several other Latin American countries challenged their northern counter-parts to work towards genuine socialism, emphasizing the need to look back at history and see that capitalism provides only band-aid solutions. Said one Caribbean unionist, “A labour movement without a historical perspective, is like a boat without a rudder.”
Julian Benson Hands Off Venezuela Ontario (Canada)
Revolutionary Greetings from Venezuela,
Last night was the opening ceremony of the World Social Forum. A large parade group gathered at the south gate of the University as crews rushed around the route to (in typical Venezuelan fashion) cut the lawns, clean up garbage, re-tile a boulevard, and even build the stage at the last possible hour. Despite the rush, everything went off without a hitch. There was live music all night from a giant stage overlooking Los Proceres, the famous Caracas rally location. In the parade were delegations representing dozens of countries all over the world, from Sweden to Japan. There were over 50,000 people in the parade, but it appeared tiny in the massive Los Proceres. It is difficult to imagine the Chavista demonstrations of two million plus which not only packed the square, but flowed into surrounding streets.
If there's one thing the Chavistas know how to do, it's putting on a rally. The most massive speakers I've ever seen are common, and a huge stage, as grand as any music festival can be erected in a day. The military is very efficient at herding the gathered crowds, and it's comforting to know that for once, the instruments of the state stand shoulder to shoulder with the revolutionary masses.
Walking through this part of the city, I gained a new and even more profound appreciation for how beautiful Caracas must have been before falling into neglect and disrepair. There are richly tiled boulevards everywhere, filled with monuments and sculptures. Large trees line the streets, hanging down over narrow roads. Everything is built in a grand manner, to give an impression not unlike the great cities of Europe. I will have to come back and visit again after the revolution advances to see the city returned to its full splendor, as labour once again is directed towards great projects instead of day to day survival.
Early this afternoon, Hands Off Venezuela, led by the British delegation, held a forum about their international solidarity work with the Bolivarian Revolution. It took place at the Grande Salon in the Hilton Caracas, and was well attended by activists from across the globe, filling the conference hall to near capacity. Speakers including London HOV activist Rob Sewell took the stage and gave reports on their successes and future aspirations for the revolution both here in Venezuela as well as around the world. As the speeches went on, excitement about HOV's solidarity work filled the hall, and most who were present in the room signed up to keep in touch with the HOV section in each of their countries.
In Solidarity with all those willing to struggle for freedom world-wide,