|The First Ideological Congress of the Bolivarian Circles was a success according to its organizers.|
On December 17th 2001 the civil organizations know as Bolivarian Circles became a legally recognized entity in Venezuela. Their two-year anniversary was marked this week by the First Ideological Congress of the Bolivarian Circles. The Congress was the culmination of months of regional conferences throughout the country.
Working groups addressed issues such as: tension between the old and new political culture; ideological and legal base of the Circles; the role and mission of the Circles; integration of Latin America and the Caribbean; international solidarity; organizational structure; unity among all social and political movements aligned with the Bolivarian Process; and the Circle’s agenda for 2004.
The congress was held at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV), one of several new universities dedicated to making higher education accessible to those traditionally excluded from such privileges. The congress opened Monday with a visit from Vice President Jose Vincente Rangel, who delivered a fiery speech that kept the crowd on their feet. At times the crowd’s enthusiasm overtook the Vice President’s speech and left him patiently awaiting a break in the chants and songs. Each time he regained control of their attention, his words would again spark cheering and song. He spoke of the importance of a community based Revolution and the impossibility of returning to a country ruled by a minority class.
|National coordinator of the Bolivarian Circles Rodrigo Chaves adresses members.|
The national and regional coordinators along with Circle representatives from every corner of the country spent Tuesday hammering out the Circle’s uniform position on the above topics. It was a long a grueling process which resulted in several documents and declarations that are to be distributed publicly as well as posted on the Circle’s new official web page www.circluosbolivarianos.org
Wednesday afternoon everyone piled onto busses and crossed town singing the national anthem and chanting Chavista slogans out the windows, to the amusement of pedestrians, on route to the closing ceremony. Under a friendly cloud spotted sky, the crowd chanted and sang. Several people informally addressed the crowd including representatives from Bolivarian Circles of the USA and a children’s choir from a Bolivarian School sang the Circle’s new official hymn. The festive mood escalated with the afro-Caribbean rhythms of the Venezuelan musical group Madera while the national coordination team took their seats on stage.
When President Hugo Chavez arrived, he was immediately swarmed by cameras and reporters. The audience clamored to personally greet him and characteristically he slowly made his way on stage stopping to shake hands along the way. Upon reaching stage he picked up a percussion instrument and joined the band while the Honor Guard scurried around to asking people to take their seats.
Once the chanting died down, Chavez was formally greeted by the national coordinator of the Bolivarian Circles Rodrigo Chaves and presented a BC team jacket. Rodrigo took the podium to chants of RODRIGO! RODRIGO! as President Chavez sat to listen to the results and declarations of the congress. He was then presented with a full cop of all the results from each working group. Flanking the President were key members of the national coordination team, including Soraya Ojedes, Ulises Castro, Ernesto Garcia, Allen McCool, and Robert Jimenez.
|President Hugo Chavez electrified the audience at the First Ideological Congress of the Bolivarian Circles.|
President Chavez addressed his loyal supporters in a familiar informal tone for about an hour, while his public relations team cruised the crowd collecting personal notes to pass on to the President. Chavez congratulated the organization that has grown 100-fold since the April coup attempt. He joked about the recall referendum being requested by the opposition as it has become evident that the opposition does not have enough support to succeed. Chavez encouraged international Circle building and paid homage to Venezuela’s independence hero and liberator Simon Bolivar on the anniversary of his physical death.
Rodrigo Chaves declared the agreement to hold regional conferences annually and national congresses, such as this, biannually. International conferences are also scheduled in the coming months in Germany and the USA. In the words of its organizers, and judging by the reaction of the participants, this First Ideological Conference was a complete success overall.
In spite of the dirty campaign by Venezuelan opposition and corporate media to label them as “paid and armed pro-Chavez militias”, the Bolivarian Circles continue demonstrating their commitment to helping make into reality the principles of participatory democracy stated in the Constitution.
Dawn Gable & Isaac Gellis are members of the Bolivarian Circle Cyber-Solidarity USA