African-American activists Bill Fletcher, president of the TransAfrica Forum, actor Danny Glover, and SEIU union vice president Patricia Ford are heading a delegation on a week-long visit to Venezuela to see results of the peaceful revolutionary process led by President Hugo Chavez.
|Actor Danny Glover and other African-American members of TransAfrica, shake hands with Venezuelan National Assembly Deputy and indigenous rights activist Noheli Pocaterra, during a visit of the TransAfrica delegation to Caracas on January 8, 2004.|
Caracas, Venezuela. Jan 8, 2003. (Venezuelanalysis.com).- One of the most distinguished organizations of African-Americans in the United States, the TransAfrica Forum, has sent a delegation of acclaimed artists, actors, activists and scholars to visit Venezuela for a series of events over the next week.
At a meeting today with the Vice President of Venezuela, José Vicente Rangel, award-winning actor Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple) confirmed that the portrayal of Venezuela in U.S. media is inaccurate and amounts to disinformation. Glover further noted his excitement to be a part of the delegation to Venezuela and exclaimed that he could not miss the opportunity to witness the historical changes in Venezuela through its creation of a nation that seeks inclusion of all of its citizens.
“U.S. government supported coup d’etat in Venezuela”
TransAfrica Forum President Bill Fletcher, also a renowned African-American activist, confirmed that the U.S. government obviously supported the coup in Venezuela in April 2002 and has been consistently hostile towards President Chávez, who was ‘elected with possibly a higher level of democracy than in any other part’ of the hemisphere. Mr. Fletcher has expressed great interest in the political developments in Venezuela during the past few years and has defended the Bolivarian Revolution in several articles published in national newspapers in the U.S., including the Washington Post.
On Thursday, the delegation was accompanied by the Ambassador of Venezuela in Washington, D.C., Bernardo Alvarez, and included, in addition to actor Danny Glover and activist Bill Fletcher, Patricia Ford, the International Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Sylvia Hill, Professor of Criminology and Director of the Department of Urban Studies in Washington, DC, Julianne Malyeaux, Economist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Vice President of TransAfrica Forum, Selena Mendy Singleton, amongst others.
The group of renowned personalities will be present this Friday at the inauguration of the Bolivarian School “Martin Luther King, Jr.” in the coastal town of Naiguata, where large numbers of Venezuelans of African descent live. It will be the first official recognition in Venezuela of the leadership and importance of one of the most important civil rights leaders from the United States. The event will be hosted by Minister of Education, Culture and Sports, Aristobulo Isturiz and the Ambassador of Venezuela in the U.S., Bernardo Alvarez, as well as community members.
The TransAfrica delegation’s presence in Venezuela will also launch the official recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as a national day of celebration in the South American conutry where a high percentage of the population traces their roots to Africa. The holiday has been celebrated in the United States since January 20, 1986, despite significant controversy, and is the only federal holiday commemorating an African American.
On Sunday, the delegation will participate in President Chavez’s weekly radio and television program, Hello Mr. President, to honor this important civil rights leader. During their stay, they will also meet with local community groups, members of the women’s rights movement, government officials, educators and opposition leaders.
The delegation will hold several meetings with government officials and local civil and community groups. Next Monday, they will visit several working class neighborhoods in Caracas and meet with community activists.
The TransAfrica Forum is a major research, educational and organizing institution for the African-American community offering constructive analyses of issues concerning U.S. policy as it affects Africa and the Diaspora in the Caribbean and Latin America. The Forum’s seminars, conferences, community awareness projects and training programs allow them to play a significant role in presenting to the general public alternative perspectives on the economic, political, and moral ramifications of U.S. foreign policy.
(EG) Information from Venpres and Aporrea.org contributed to this article.