Solidarity in action: Venezuela-European event argues for new way

to the European Conference in Solidarity with Venezuela.

VENEZUELAN Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro called on progressives across Europe to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bolivarian revolution and the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution next year as key milestones in Latin America's movement to break free of US-led "neocolonialism and neoliberalism."

Speaking at the second annual European Conference in Solidarity with Venezuela in Paris over the weekend, Mr Maduro added that Venezuela is "calling on all progressive movements around the world" to support the process that has been "launched to change our country." He related President Hugo Chavez's "warmest wishes and thanks" to the growing European solidarity movement with Venezuela.

Over 200 delegates from Venezuela and Europe attended the conference, entitled Venezuela: For an Independent European Policy, co-organised by French organisation Memoires Des Luttes, the Venezuela Information Centre and the British Labour Friends of Venezuela group of MPs.

Mr Maduro also pointed out how the event had particular relevance in light of the global crisis of US-led neoliberalism and Venezuela's progressive alternative, which were related themes addressed throughout the day. Venezuela's ambassador to Britain Samuel Moncada pointed out that the global economic crisis had come as no surprise to Venezuela and other left-wing governments in Latin America who had witnessed first hand the problems of the Washington consensus.

These same governments, until recently derided in dominant north American and European political circles, were now leading the way in showing an alternative to free-market failure across the world. This means a complete reworking of the global financial system, including getting "rid of the useless IMF" and "starting from scratch" by building new bodies such as the Bank of the South.

A number of European participants in the events linked these current events to the need for building constructive relationships with Venezuela at all levels and clearly breaking from the hostile position of the discredited Bush administration. Former Portuguese president and current Honorary President of the Socialist International Mario Soares argued that a new relationship between Europe and progressive governments in Latin America, led by Venezuela as part of the "movement for a better world," was key to creating a new "multipolar worid" as an alternative to the current inequality of the global system.
Stavros Evagreou, a deputy from the governing AKEL party in Cyprus, explained that his recently elected government was in solidarity with Venezuela against US aggression and the "collapsing neoliberal model which is bringing misery across the world."

Spanish Socialist Party MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament Miguel Angel Martinez said that there was need to tackle the "distortion and falsifications" of much of the European media, a point also addressed by British Labour MP Colin Burgon, who note that, despite the "relentless media" hostility, growing sections of the British labour movement were "inspired by event in Venezuela."