The Guardian October 1, 2003

The Venezuelan revolution a process that belongs to the world

by Vinnie Molina

In a recent visit to Perth Alvaro Guzman, President of the Bolivarian 
Federation of Students in Venezuela, spoke to the 70 people who attended a 
public meeting organised by the Committees in Solidarity with Latin America 
and the Caribbean (CISLAC). He also addressed another gathering of several 
people last Friday.

With his contribution, Alvaro exposed the role of right-wing groupings 
acting against elected president Hugo Chavez. Particularly instructive was 
his report of the events that led to the defeat of a right-wing military 
coup staged in April. Millions of people took to the streets to defend the 
country's democratic constitution. Those actions gave a voice to all 
sectors of society including those who had been forgotten for too long.

President Chavez has rescued the ideas of American Liberator Simon Bolivar 
who promoted the ideal of a united Latin America (the "big homeland"), 
fought for independence against the colonisers and believed in the freedom 
of individuals and their right to be citizens.

In closed societies  such as those of Latin American  any change in the 
power structure is a revolutionary change. The democratic government is 
struggling to transform Venezuela from a neo-liberal state that has 
condemned the majority of the Venezuelan people to misery into a democratic 
state with social justice.

The rich oil industry is one example of the changes being made. Venezuela 
has the fifth largest oil reserves in the world. These should be capable of 
providing the entire population with better living standards but currently 
produce huge profits for US corporations.

Venezuela is rich in natural resources but the country has to import 80 
percent of its foodstuffs. To help overcome this problem, the Bolivarian 
revolution has given land and credits to the peasantry with the aim of 
reducing the importation of foods by 30 percent in the next 10 years.

Education has been declared a national priority. It is starting to bear 
fruit with more than a million people between the ages of 10 and 65 now 
having been taught how to write and read. This has been achieved with the 
co-operation of Cuba and the aim is to expand this effort to all Latin 
American countries in which a large proportion of the population suffer 
from illiteracy.

Australia was fortunate to have heard from Alvaro Guzman at all. His visit 
was delayed for a week after he was kidnapped and held for two hours by 
right-wingers in Venezuela.

The incident made him to miss his flight to Australia. His tour was the 
first by a delegate from the social movement in Venezuela to an English 
speaking country and it is hoped that an exchange program can be develop 
next year with the assistance of the solidarity movement in Australia.

Next year a series of visits will begin with the arrival of a delegate from 
the Bolivarian Trade Union movement who will report on their efforts to 
build an independent trade union movement in the country.

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