Caracas, December 1, 2004—Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will inaugurate the “Worldwide Gathering of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity,” tonight night at 7pm in the Teresa Carreño Opera house in Caracas. This historic event is the first of its kind in Venezuela.
In the gathering, which convenes today, December 1, and will conclude the 7th of December, Venezuela proposes to bring together 400 intellectuals and artists from over 50 countries who support equality, dignity and freedom and who are committed to proposing an alternative to neoliberalism and a uni-polar world. Its objective is to achieve a dialogue about important topics that pertain to the world today as well as to reflect and design policy proposals and development projects for Third World countries.
Among the participants are the Pakistani writer Tariq Ali, the U.S poet Amiri Baraka, the British historian Robin Blackburn, the South African activist Dennis Brutus, Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal, the Spanish musician Manu Chao, the director of Attac Europe Bernard Cassen, the Brazilian economist Teotonio Dos Santos, U.S. economist James Galbraith, Argentinian poet Adolfo Perez Esquivel, U.S. novelist Alice Walker, among many others.
“It is imperative that intellectuals and artists develop a state of consciousness through their activities in the areas of thought, reflection and creation,” explained Farruco Sesto, the Venezuelan Minister of Culture, noting that, “In spite of the scientific and technological advances made, we live in a harsh world in which poverty and war continue. However, the people are continuing to develop a consciousness that a better world is possible…This inspires intellectuals, artists…they are going to meet in Caracas in order to convey the message that the world we live in is in danger and it is necessary to change this dangerous course that it is on”.
Sesto added that the participants of the event have accepted coming to Venezuela in a show of support for the Bolivarian Revolution. “In some ways they have sympathy for the paths that the people have undertaken, towards peace and towards the creation of a more just, honorable and egalitarian society.”
The discussion tables will convene Thursday, December 2 and will tackle themes such as the economic crisis, the external debt, political alternatives to neoliberalism, the fight against imperialism, regional integration, the environment, natural resources, the solidarity economy, unity in diversity, sovereignty, defense of consciousness, memory and peace, and the right to information.
On the 3rd of December, the participants will have the opportunity to see how the Venezuelan social missions are progressing. The following day they will continue working in discussion tables and participate in a workshop with President Chávez.
It is anticipated that the proposals of the gathering will be presented on the 5th of December, after which the closing ceremony will be held. According to the Minister of Culture, it is expected that Adolfo Pérez Esquivel will publicly read the declaration. The event will close with a concert including prominent performers such as Pablo Milanés, Isabel Parra, Lilia Vera, Cecila Todd, and Francisco Pacheco in the Teresa Carreño.
The majority of the participants will spend the 6th and the 7th of December traveling through Venezuela, meeting with workers, students, and organizations and participating in forums and talks.
For Sesto, it is important that the intellectuals and artists also direct their work to creating a state of consciousness. “We hope that the intellectuals and artists that are coming to Venezuela stay in contact. We are not trying to organize them. What we are trying to do is create an international bond, housed in Venezuela.
Sesto hopes that this will facilitate the exchange of information and encourage future reunions between countries with similar ideals.
In the words of Sesto, “There is no possibility of solving the evil in the world, of confronting the grave problems of humanity, conceiving that these changes are only material in nature. These profound transformations must also be carried out in a spiritual arena. This is a problem which transcends ideologies; it is a problem pertaining to the state of consciousness of the people, of nations, of the ethnicities, and of all the communities of the world.”
For more information on the event, see the conference's website at: www.caracas2004.org