VA.com re-posts this report on Venezuela’s presence at the recent Left Forum conference in New York.
A total of 13 workshops about Venezuela were held during the tenth annual Left Forum, an event in which progressive movements from across the US met between May 30 and June 1 in the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Over six thousand people attended the conference in total.
Intellectuals, activists, progressives, academics and the public at large attended the Left Forum to discuss alternatives to the capitalist crisis, among other things. In that regard, Venezuela was the theme of various panels that discussed fundamental issues such as human rights, freedom of expression, food sovereignty, eco-socialism, and economics and public policy.
Dr. Claudia Salerno, Venezuela’s Vice Minister for North America, was a special guest at the “Venezuela and Corporate Media: National and International Impacts” workshop. She emphasized that the protests the country has witnessed since February were aimed at killing people, subverting policies, as well as occupying and destroying public and private property in order to promote hate and intolerance using the media and social networks.
Salerno, who is also the Presidential Envoy for Climate Change, denounced the fact that over 5 thousand trees were felled to place makeshift barricades as part of the protests, including trees that are endangered. This was done during protests in the states of Aragua, Bolívar, Carabobo, Mérida, Miranda, Táchira and Zulia, as well as the Capital District.
For her part, the Consul General of New York, Carol Delgado, reflected on the messages of hate and intolerance that have been exposed in social networks by Venezuelan opposition groups, and used as an example the death threats to children and families of high government figures.
Policies for the Venezuelan people
In a workshop titled “Reform and Revolution: Building an Economy of Solidarity through Radical Public Policy”, Omar Sierra, Venezuela’s First Consul General in Boston, spoke about the processes of participatory planning and budgeting that are taking place in Venezuela at the local level, as well as how these processes interact with municipal, state and national governments.
Sierra also discussed the achievements and remaining challenges in strengthening communes, and he detailed a case study in the Local Public Planning Council of the Torres municipality in the state of Lara.
Academics and other notable figures also took part in panels to defend the legacy of the revolution, including labor lawyer Daniel Kovalik who discussed his research into the human rights of the working class in Venezuela.
Kovalik stressed that prior to the revolution, lower classes in Venezuela had never had a government that formed policies aimed at meeting the people’s needs. He also emphasized the new rights that Venezuela now guarantees, while noting that these are never mentioned by capitalist human rights organizations.
In terms of the media, Rod Stoneman, a producer of the renowned documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, participated in a workshop called “Human Rights and Freedom of Expression: 15 years of Socialist Government in Venezuela”. Stoneman explained how images had been manipulated to fit the media narrative, a technique that he said is commonly used by corporate media during wars.
Other Left Forum conferences featured the participation of US academic Noam Chomsky, Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy, Canadian journalist and researcher Naomi Klein, American intellectual Cornel West, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro García Linera, Slovakian critic and sociologist Slavoj Zizekel, US journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges, Nigerian environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey and US Reverend Jesse Jackson.