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Report to UNISON on Solidarity Delegation to Venezuela August 2009 (pdf)




Venezuela: Another View

Letter to Scotsman newspaper 11 March 2010

In your vitriolic attacks on Venezuela, you seem incapable of accepting that another world is possible.

On the tenth anniversary of the revolution last year, I was able to visit Venezuela with a group of trade unionists from across the UK. Our objective was to see for ourselves what the “peaceful and democratic social revolution” promised by Chavez had delivered.

Returning to work and the trade union office after the visit, colleagues were curious and inquisitive.

How safe did we feel?

How often were you stopped by police?

How free were you to move about?

Was the army on the streets?

The demonstrations?

The state media control?

The daily broadcasts by the authoritarian Chavez?

Were we able to eat properly?

Frankly, I was astonished. I had visited a different country.

But these questions came from seasoned trade unionists and senior activists in political parties. Dependent on our open media for information.

In such a vast country of intense urban, vast rural and dense forest areas, with a myriad of westernised and indigenous populations, the great regret is that time confined us to the Central North region, to greater Caracas and Miranda, with both the urban sprawl and density, and the urban and semi-rural impoverished Barrios.

We were welcomed wherever we travelled. We witnessed the sense of pride, commitment and achievement, in the programme of social change.

Addressing the various social needs and problems identified by your articles is at the heart of the Bolivarian Revolution.

They don’t ignore or hide them.

In key areas such as addressing child poverty, reducing low incomes, providing access to decent services, creating quality employment, are we in the “developed world” making progress ? What more do we need to do to meet our goals?

During our visit, Venezuela reported that it had met its UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) six years early, highlighting the achievements under Chavez. Extreme poverty down from 29.8 % to 9.4%. An increase of 47.5% of women in education. Healthcare has reached the poorest sections of society for the first time. An increase from 68% in 1990 to 92% of people with access to safe drinking water.

Venezuela has a government which is implementing policies which tackle social exclusion and deprivation. The Venezuelan Government is consciously implementing socialist policies and calls these changes a revolution.

Much still to be done to attack the decades of neglect and abuse of the oil wealth.

There is much to be proud of.

Mike Kirby
UNISON Scotland