On Saturday afternoon (07/10/2017) I attended the “Unreported Venezuela” meeting at Neuadd Goffa hall in Penparcau, Aberystwyth.
A packed hall awaited speeches by Chris Williamson (MP for Derby North) and Calvin Tucker, a reporter for the Morning Star; a paper once considered a staple of Labour party activists long before socialism was taken out of the Labour party constitution under Tony Blair when clause IV was removed.
As I sat waiting for the speeches to start, music from the 20’s and 30’s was just about audible over the discussion of the audience; an audience that was, majoritively if not entirely, made up of supporters of the Labour Party.
Whilst waiting, many where given a free copy of “Introduction to Chile” a publication which depicts a history of Chile up against powerful western corporations protected by countries like the USA and UK, willing to do anything to subjugate self-determination in the interests of profit, a theme very much part of the alternative narrative offered about Venezuela at the meeting.
The first speech was by Chris Williamson MP, at times a passionate speech by a man that lost his seat by 41 votes in 2015 to the Conservatives only to win it back in the 2017 election on a strong Corbyn ticket. (Image below: Chris William MP)
Chris and Calvin both described how Corbyn’s enemies are “waging a proxy war” against him through his apparent support for the Venezuelan government and its Bavarian revolution, indeed, Corbyn once described the charismatic former premier of Venezuala, Hugo Chavez as “an inspiration to all of us fighting back against austerity and neo-liberal economics in Europe” Chris said he felt the British public had suffered the “imposition of neo-liberalism through Margeret Thatcher”
Its important to note that when Corbyn was asked to condemn the current leader of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, who is accused by some of locking up opposition figures and violating human rights, he refused and said he felt the Venezuelan government where making “effective and serious attempts” to fight inequality and instead urged “dialogue and a process” to improve the situation, a situation which Chris feels has calmed down considerably in recent times.
Chris went on to describe what he felt has improved in Venezuela, including; investment in public services, an increase in life expectancy, children in school on average four years longer, lower infant mortality rates, the irradiation of illiteracy in 2005 and high investment in housing. Calvin spoke of the “high expansion of higher education” and communal councils which empower people to take responsibility and be politically active.
For Chris, Venezuela is suffering from “economic sabotage” orchestrated by those unhappy with the policies of the Venezuelan government since Hugo Chavez became President in January 2000. On several occasions both Chris and Calvin spoke about a media silence on what they believe is really going on in Venezuela.Chris ended his speech with “I say solidarity with Venezuela”, “Viva la Venezuela” to a rapturous applause.
Calvin Tucker, who is best known for his articles in the Morning star, like Chris Williamson, was not without charisma. His parents live in Newcastle Elywn and his sister, Dinah Mullholland, stood for MP in the last general election. He is well known for his coverage of Latin American politics and foresaw the 2002 coup attempt that is vividly documented in the film “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
Calvin spoke of a “disinformation campaign (continuing) unabated” as part of an “unrelenting propaganda” campaign aimed at the “destabilisation” of the left leaning Venezuelan government, with an opposition heavily funded by the US State Department. Calvin spoke about how he believes it is the more wealthy parts of society that are demonstrating (many of whom benefited far more from the Venezuelan state oil company when it was operating like a private company before Chavez came to power) (Image below Calvin Tucker)
Both speakers spoke about how, despite private media companies in Venezuela openly opposing the government there (including suggesting the assassination of the current President) Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution he brought with him are something people can believe in and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn (who equally wants to roll back neo-liberal policies) would do well to observe the lessons learnt in Venezuela.
First speech by Chris Williamson MP starts at about 11:45 mins into the recording.
Author Bobby Kelly – Radio Bronglais