Report back meeting from RCG Venezuela delegation

Reportback meeting in Newcastle[RCG 06.11.12] Sam McGill, recently returned from Caracas following Chavez's victory in the Presidential elections, set out to show that the alternative to austerity, imperialism and war is being built in Venezuela. Sam began her speech, to a packed room, by quoting Polanco, the Cuban ambassador to Venezuela: ' Venezuela is the frontline of international class struggle'.

She went on to describe the huge successes of the Bolivarian revolution, for example, the 8,380 public health centres and 13,740 integral health and diagnosis centres built by the Bolivarian Republic. The contradictions were also drawn out in the meeting; after looking at the grass roots community health project 'Barrio Adentro', through which over 11 million Venezuelans have received free medical attention, she explained that elite private hospitals run alongside the health projects, part of the wider problem of capitalist structures still in place, supported by an entrenched bourgeoisie. These concrete achievements and problems were powerfully set in the living, dynamic process by recounting conversations with community members, activists, students and workers.

Challenges facing Venezuela were discussed alongside emerging solutions. The meeting looked to the future with explanations of the Programa Patria as a starting point, but also to the hugely significant education, development and activity happening at the grassroots. The meeting got to see the powerful trailer for a full-length documentary, which is currently being produced from footage taken by the delegation. The clip showed the people's elation at Chavez's victory against the imperialist-backed opposition, their commitment to the process and what it means for them and their families. The documentary, showing what the ruling class media fails and refuses to show, is eagerly awaited.

Discussion focused on what is possible; a young woman explained what it meant to her to see socialism being built, and how rare it is to hear what is possible, both from the ruling class media and in our classrooms. The stark comparison with austerity at home was raised by many in the audience; experiences of increasing isolation, the lack of childcare, employment, affordable housing and rising cost of education were brought out. The meeting ended with a crucial call for solidarity with a local anti-racist campaign, resisting deportations, detention and other forms of state racism. The message was clear - to continue to resist in Britain, and take inspiration from those fighting to build socialism.

Viva Venezuela! No to imperialism, racism and austerity!