Colin Burgon addresses the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign with Hugo Chavez and Ken Livingstone alongside.
At a packed discussion group meeting on Sunday, Colin Burgon the Labour MP for Elmet gave a talk on the impact of Neo-Liberalism on Venezuela and the socialist response to this under the Presidency of Hugo Chavez. This has led to public ownership in the oil industry, banking, the food industry and elsewhere. With resources being redistributed to the poor. Oil being the keystone to the Venezuelan economy.
Colin extended his analysis to relate to the impact of neo-liberalism on both politics throughout South America and our own experiences of it as initially shaped by Thatcherism.
His talk stimulated a particularly keen discussion which continued when we moved to socialising in the lounge bar of the Dronfield Contact Club. For further details on Colin's analysis see this speech that he made in the Commons in March.
After the first election of Chavez in 1999 a Military Coup temporarily removed him from office in 2002, but within 2 days his supporters re-established him back into the Presidential Palace without a shot being fired. Thanks to the presence of an Irish TV crew the events were filmed and appear on the DVD "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". As Colin said this is highly dramatic, rather as if a film had been made of the storming of the Winter Palace in 1917 which led to the triumph of the Bolsheviks. Copies of the DVD can be obtained from here.
Chavez (left) signing copies of the DVD.
The extent to which Venezuela can be a model for reshaping democratic socialist objectives will depend to a large extent on how democratic its political system, its nationalised industries and the internal arrangements within its major political parties are - especially in the newly established and leading
United Socialist Party of Venezuela. It is a good sign as Colin pointed out that under the Constitution the President can be subject to a recall election by 10% of the voters and that the new Constitution is widely read and studied by Venezuela's working people.