Caracas, February 6th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Over the past week, social organizations, political leaders, and individuals in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Western Hemisphere held events to celebrate the anniversary of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, marked by President Hugo Chavez’s first oath of office in 1999.
The events included marches, speeches, music and dance performances, and educational seminars. Telesur estimated that the events took place in 45 countries, while Venezuelan government officials put the number around 70 countries.
Participants in the gatherings emphasized Venezuela’s empowerment of people through participatory democracy, its focus on social well-being before profit, and the construction of an alternative to the economic policies that brought the current world crisis. They also celebrated Venezuela’s achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in education, as well as the drastic reduction of poverty and wealth inequality during the Chavez presidency.
The largest gatherings were held in Venezuela’s neighboring countries. Bolivian President Evo Morales, a close ally of Chavez, was a special guest at an event in La Paz. “The best way to pay homage to 12 years of revolution in Venezuela is for more and more countries to join in the struggle,” Morales told hundreds of supporters following a series of folk music and dance acts.
An estimated 500 Colombians from 40 different political organizations that included indigenous, labor, and human rights activists held a folk music concert and signed the “Bogotá Declaration” in support of the Bolivarian Revolution. Colombian opposition Senator Piedad Córdoba, who is a major proponent of a humanitarian peace accord between the government and the FARC insurgents, gave the keynote address.
“President Chavez has taken a large series of initiatives, not only Telesur or UNASUR [the Union of South American Nations], but also the capacity to unite the region and form the greater Latin American nation,” Córdoba said.
At an event in El Salvador, a local mayor named Carlos Ruiz thanked Venezuela for its acts of international solidarity that have brought tangible benefits to the Central American country’s poor. “Through the Miracle Mission, Venezuela has restored the eyesight of hundreds of Salvadorans who have been able to see the light of liberty once again,” said Ruiz, referring to a program that provides free eye surgery.
Dominican activists spoke of Venezuela’s leading role in forming the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and Petrocaribe, multinational integration organizations based on the values of solidarity, cooperation, and promoting the social well-being.
Similar gatherings were held in Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, Dominica, Nicaragua, Surinam, Belize, and others. Beyond Latin America, events took place in countries as diverse as Turkey, Syria, Iran, Canada, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, and Norway.
Spanish activist Ana Montero told reporters that Venezuela has “given the tools to the people so that they can govern themselves, something that has been lost here in Europe.”
A special dual anniversary event was held in Angola, which commemorated the beginning of its own fight against Portuguese colonialism on February 4, 1961 – the same date that Chavez led a military rebellion against the Venezuelan government in 1992. The Angolan Writers Union invited Jesus Chucho García, a leader of the Afro-Venezuelan community, to be a special guest and speaker.
Social movement leaders also organized events in the United States. In Washington, D.C., approximately 150 people converged to hear Venezuelan Embassy officials speak about the Venezuela political process, followed by statements of solidarity from leaders of student, labor, religious, and advocacy groups.
The US-based International Action Center released a statement that said, “While we observe the horrendous progress that the United States has made in its thirst for profit and world domination, the Venezuelan people have seen the development of their infrastructure, commerce, educational system, and an increase in their quality of life.”
Venezuelan officials said they greatly appreciated the acts of solidarity. “The presence of social movements supporting Venezuela is of historic dimensions, and this drives us to continue moving forward,” Rodrigo Cabezas, a Venezuelan representative in the Latin American Parliament, told the state television station.
Carlos Escarrá, one of the authors of Venezuela’s progressive 1999 constitution, was a guest at a large march and rally in Havana, Cuba. “Beyond what the [US] empire wants, Cuba and Venezuela will always stay united for freedom in Latin America,” Escarrá told a crowd of supporters.
At a rally in Caracas, President Chavez said the beginning of the Bolivarian Revolution marked ‘before’ and ‘after’ periods in Venezuelan history: “A ‘before’ of misery, injustice, and poverty; and an ‘after’ of social vindication, humanism, and dignity, which is now.”