"March of the Red Carnations" Commemorates Living Legacy of Ali Primera 30 Years After His Death

Thousands took part in the March of the Red Carnations this Sunday in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the death of legendary Venezuelan folksinger and revolutionary icon, Ali Primera, known as "the People's Singer." 

By Lucas Koerner

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The March of the Red Carnations began in Paraguana 30 years ago at the burial of Ali Primera (VTV)
The March of the Red Carnations began in Paraguana 30 years ago at the burial of Ali Primera (VTV)
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Caracas, February 23, 2015 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Thousands took part in the March of the Red Carnations this Sunday in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the death of legendary Venezuelan folksinger and revolutionary icon Ali Primera, known as "the People's Singer." 

The march, which is staged annually by artists and revolutionaries from throughout the country, began at the house of the late artist in the Paraguana Peninsula located in Falcon State and concluded at the 21st row of the Punto Fijo Cemetery in Santa Elena where his physical remains were laid to rest on February 16, 1985. The thousands of red-clad participants could be seen clutching scarlett carnations, representing for Ali a symbol of solidarity, which they laid beside his grave in an act of living remembrance. 

"There is no activity that has do with Ali that isn't identified with joy, with the spirit of the people to keep fighting," affirmed Joel Linares, General Coordinator of Research, Education, and Action for Mision Cultura of the Ministry of Culture. 

"Although there was institutional support [from the government], in reality it was a march of the people, it wasn't a march of the government nor of the state, but rather a march that is born directly from the desire of the people to put Ali in the place that he belongs." 

"To Speak of Ali is to Speak of the Struggle that Never Ceases" 

Culture Minister Reinaldo Iturriza was present among the legions assembled to pay tribute to the revolutionary militant and folksinger. 

Citing the words of President Nicolas Maduro, he stated, "before Comandante Chavez, there are only two  figures in the 20th Century who knew how to speak to the soul of the Venezuelan people, the first was Andrés Eloy Blanco and the other was undoubtedly Ali Primera." 

Born "Ely Rafael", the sixth son of a poor fisherman, on October 31, 1941, Ali was a lifelong Communist militant who always put his artistic word and deed wholly at the service of the struggles of the oppressed and exploited of the world. 

In the wake of the political and military defeats of the Venezuelan Left and the consolidation of a pacted pseudo-democracy in the seventies and eighties, Ali emerged as the standard bearer of a generation of revolutionary artists who "utilized the weapon of song, poetry, plastics, theater in order to carry forward Leftist thought, generating a process of cultural hegemony that was maintained by progressive, Leftist, and socialist thinking until the arrival of Comandante Chavez," Linares told Venezuelanalysis.

Artists like Ali achieved this end precisely by "maintaining in the memory and imagination of the Venezuelan people the necessity of constructing a more just society." 

For National Assembly deputy Dario Vivas, also present at yesterday's march, "the People's Singer" had a direct and lasting influence on Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, who "revived the cultural essence expressed by Ali, a song of struggle, a song of revolution, of commitment,...a song to defeat capitalism and construct socialism." 

On Saturday, the National Assembly held a special session dedicated to the legacy of Ali Primera in the house of his widow Sol Musset, who was herself recognized with the Order Ali Primera awarded by the government.

In a statement, the national parliament declared that the work of Ali "succeeded in interpreting and putting to song the highest values of historical, anti-imperialist conviction of the Venezuelan people, as well as being an expression of solidarity and defense of the struggle of the Latin American and Caribbean peoples and the rest of the world." 

"To speak of Ali is to speak of the struggle that never ceases, the struggle of the invisible, the oppressed, and those excluded for so many years. To speak of Ali is to speak precisely of joy and tenderness without ceasing to raise the fist against the injustice and impunity of the system. To speak of Ali today is to raise the banner of freedom, of solidarity, of collective construction with the peoples of the world," declared Linares.

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