This Saturday, all those interested in the inspiring social changes taking place in Venezuela under the government of President Hugo Chavez will be able to hear first-hand accounts from key Venezuelan speakers at the national conference Venezuela: Democracy and Social Progress, at London’s City Hall.
With just weeks to the Venezuelan presidential elections on December 3, this will be a unique opportunity in Britain to get an up-to-the minute reports on developments n Venezuela, where it is expected that Hugo Chavez will be re-elected in the face of hostility from the Bush administration.
Augusto Montiel, an MP from the Movement for the Fifth Republic (MVR) party led by Hugo Chavez and also a member of the Permanent Committee of Foreign Affairs in the Venezuelan National Assembly, will be joined by Diluvina Cabello MP, Juana Garcia of the Venezuelan women’s organization INAMUJER, and Abraham Aparicio, a leader from the Bolivarian Federation of Students.
Participants in the conference will have the opportunity to talk directly with these representatives in a special ‘question and answer’ plenary, as well as during an evening reception addressed by Tony Benn.
The opportunity to hear voices direct from Venezuela is particularly important in light of the role played by the Venezuelan media, which is mostly owned by opponents of Chavez and regularly produces lies and distortions, spread internationally, to try to undermine his government.
This media war against Chavez will be one of a series of workshops at the conference that will deepen understanding of the transformation taking place in Venezuela. Gregory Wilpert, a writer based in Venezuela and director of www.venezuelanaylsis.com, will explore the links between the anti-Chavez media and the pro-US opposition. He will be joined by Rod Stoneman, executive producer of the inspiring film that captures the failed military coup against Chavez in 2002,The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.
In spite of such attempts to overthrow his government, President Chavez’s support remains strong and Chavez and his supporters have won ten national elections since he was first elected President in 1998. This combination of democracy alongside social progress will be one theme in the opening plenary to be addressed by Venezuelan guest speakers alongside Ken Livingstone, writer Richard Gott, Venezuela expert Julia Buxton and Amicus General Secretary Derek Simpson. Bernard Cassen, General Director of Le Monde Diplomatique, will also address the conference.
President Chavez’s extraordinary levels of popularity are due to the fact that his government is transforming the lives of the poor majority. In doing so, Venezuela has seen spectacular social change throughout society. Other workshops at the conference will hear in detail about developments in education, health, culture, the role of trade unions, Venezuela’s economy, and Venezuela’s international policies.
Leading Venezuelan women’s right campaigners will look at how women’s poverty and exclusion is being overcome and the central role that women have played in building this social change. This will be a key theme throughout the conference, and specifically addressed in the workshop “Women’s Revolution in Venezuela.”
With Hugo Chavez being the first President to reflect Venezuela’s black, mixed race and indigenous majority, a workshop will also look at specific measures being undertaken to address the historic oppression of these communities.
The significance of President Chavez’s government stretches well beyond Venezuela. By providing progressive international leadership to those who have argued that there is no alternative to neo-liberalism, millions across the globe have declared their support for Chavez. Jeremy Corbyn MP, anti-war activist Cllr Salma Yaqoob and Latin-American expert Francisco Dominguez will address the international significance, with regional attempts to counter US domination through Latin American co-operation and integration a key theme.
The visit of President Chavez to London earlier this year inspired tens of thousands who are looking to build a better world. With an increased interest in Latin America evident in Britain, this conference and the chance to listen to first-hand testimonies of the Venezuelan process is not to be missed.Venezuela: Democracy and Social Progress, Saturday 28 October, 10.00am-5.00pm City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London, SE1. Nearest tube: London Bridge. To register for the Conference, please e-mail [email protected] or call 0207 250 0132. More details from www.vicuk.org