National Solidarity Conference on Venezuela
You are invited!
National Solidarity Conference on Venezuela
March 4-6, 2006
Washington DC (location TBA)
Chavez supporters outside the Presidential palace after his victory in the recall referendum was announced, Aug 2004. Credit: Venpres
Chavez supporters outside the Presidential palace after his victory in the recall referendum was announced, Aug 2004 Credit: Venpres
We call on all people who support a better world, to join together in a National Solidarity Conference on Venezuela
Since the democratic election of President Hugo Chavez in 1998 and the subsequent popular approval of a new constitution which allows Venezuela's oil wealth to be used for the well-being of all its citizens, the US government has intervened materially and verbally to reinstate the pre-Chavez regime. Under this previous system of corruption and neo-liberal economic models, Venezuela saw the ranks of its poor explode from 30% poverty to 80% in the decade preceding this vote.
Despite eight internationally-observed elections in six years, high presidential approval ratings, and a population which more than any other nation in Latin America considers its country to be "totally democratic" (Latinobarometro), US President George Bush and spokespersons in his administration have labeled Venezuela a "rogue state" and the Pentagon has recently been shown to have plans for a potential military invasion.
The US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its core organizations, as well as the US Agency for International Development (USAID), have funneled millions of dollars, including through the AFL-CIO, to the political opposition and corrupt trade unions which launched a coup in April 2002 that failed after millions of Venezuelans poured into the streets demanding the return of their elected government, and an oil "coup" defeated when workers took over Venezuela's oil industry and reinstated production.
Organizations representing the political opposition, funded by the US government, then employed economic sabotage to paralyze the oil industry and a recall election to remove President Chavez from office. Both failed in the face of overwhelming support of the people for democratically elected President Chavez and their Bolivarian Revolution.
After another clear victory at the polls in the presidential referendum of August 2004 some opposition leaders feel that the only recourse left is the assassination of President Chavez; a call echoed by right-wing fundamentalist preacher Pat Robertson who himself has close ties to the Bush administration.
Despite all of these assaults from Venezuelan economic and political elites and from the US government, grassroots support for the government they elected has grown steadily stronger, as people who have had no access to power have been increasingly active on their own behalf, defeating coups and creating a caring economy based on cooperatives rather than competition.
The vast oil profits are being diverted from the pockets of a few to programs to benefit the poor, starting with Indigenous people and people of African descent, and the country as a whole.
The Venezuelan government has established "missions" in the areas of food distribution, health, education, job training, land reform and culture to improve the quality of life for the majority living in poverty. Women who are 70% of those with least, have been the majority of the beneficiaries as well as of those running the missions. Twenty thousand Cuban doctors have dramatically raised access to healthcare in poor neighborhoods and villages throughout the country. After the most successful literacy campaign ever launched in Latin America, Venezuela was recently declared by UNESCO to be a country free of illiteracy. 600 new schools have been built and over one million more children are in school. Hundreds of thousands of acres of unused land have been titled to cooperatives of landless farmers. President Chavez and grassroots Venezuelans are tackling corruption and bureaucracy in government, trade unions, political parties.
On the international scene President Chavez revived the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) during his first year as president. He has also proposed a fair trade model called ALBA (Alternativa Bolivariana para America Latina y el Caribe) to promote unity and economic collaboration between Latin American, Caribbean and other countries of the South and eradicate poverty, as an alternative to the US's free trade models such as NAFTA and CAFTA which enrich a few while impoverishing the many and devastating ecosystems. Despite the hostility of the US government, the Venezuelan government through its oil subsidiary CITGO is providing low-cost heating oil to low-income people in the US and has offered free eye surgery to those who need it. President Chavez has also been outspoken against the war in Iraq and global warming, urging a change in political and economic priorities to save the planet.
At any point in history when governments favoring the poor have risen to power in Latin America and the Caribbean such as Chile, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and now Venezuela, they have been met by the US government with hostility, economic strangulation, and political and military intervention, including invasion such as in Panama and Grenada. We call on all people who support a better world, to join together in a National Solidarity Conference on Venezuela to learn from grassroots Venezuelans and each other to benefit all our communities, and to plan together how we can oppose any form of US government intervention which would destroy a revolution on which we all depend.
Partial list of groups who have agreed to help organize, plan & execute the organizing conference:
Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, Transafrica Forum, SOA Watch, PanAfrican Roots, Latin America Solidarity Coalition, Nicaragua Network, Hands Off Venezuela, Bolivarian Circles in the US and Canada, Global Women's Strike, INTERCONNECT, Global Exchange, Southwest Voters Project, Ecumenical Project in Central America (EPICA), Ctte in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), International Action Center, National Network on Cuba, US/Cuba Labor Exchange, Methodist Federation for Social Action and many local groups & coalitions such as Marin (CA) Interfaith Task Force on Central America, Turnwinds (Tuscon, AZ), Committee for Indigenous Solidarity-DC Zapatistas, Code Pink-DC, Bend-Condega Friendship Project (OR) & local coalitions in Chicago & NYC.
President Chavez giving land titles and farm machinery to farmers in the southern state of Apure. President Chavez giving land titles and farm machinery to farmers in the southern state of Apure. Photo credit: Venpres
In addition to coming we welcome workshop proposals. The main work of the conference will be done in break-out workshops designed to learn more about the current situation in Venezuela and to propose initiatives of solidarity with the people of Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution. Please submit workshop proposals to James Jordan, Workshop Committee no later than Jan 15, 2006. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
$25 registration fee, $10 low-income or student. No one will be turned away for inability to pay. Early registration is recommended to ensure housing and adequate facilities. Send the application below and check or money order to:
Alliance for Global Justice 1247 E St., SE Washington, DC 20003
Memo line: "Venezuela Conference"
Participation will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Information call 202-544-9355 email email@example.com
Do you need
___ subsidized food?
___ help w/ transport?
Do you plan to submit a workshop proposal? If so, on what topic?
Are you or your group able to make a tax deductible donation to help fund the conference? If so, make your check or money order out to: Alliance for Global Justice and write "Venezuela Conference" in the memo line. Send application, $10-$25 registration fee (if you can) and any donations to:
Alliance for Global Justice
1247 E St., SE
Washington, DC 20003
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