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.