(OPE-L) Chavez in Madrid - The working class must be the vanguard of the revolution]

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Tue Nov 23 2004 - 16:03:38 EST

From the "anti-capitalism" yahoo group. Sounds like an exciting meeting!
[Maybe Diego was there?]

In solidarity, Jerry

PS: Hi Martha. It's good to hear from you. Thanks for the message.

Hands Off Venezuela Campaign- http://www.handsoffvenezuela.org
Extraordinary meeting of Chavez with workers in Madrid
"The working class must be the vanguard of the revolution"
By Emilia Lucena, El Militante
It is nearly five o'clock. A shy autumn sun bathes the Prado Avenue  on
our way to the headquarters of the Workers' Commissions (CCOO) in  Madrid.
When we arrive there are already more than 300 people queuing  to get into
the meeting hall. They patiently wait to attend the
meeting with Chavez which is scheduled for 7 pm.
There is chaos. Lope de Vega is a narrow street and more and more  people
arrive to attend the meeting. The hall stewards are
overwhelmed, some of them surprised by the enormous expectation, some  ask
what is the matter with Chavez and some even ask who Chavez is  (one mixes
him up with Andalusia president Chaves). The police
officers cannot understand and do not know what attitude to adopt.  One of
them tries to show that he is in charge, and demonstrates the  usual
arrogant and contemptuous attitude of the police, but nobody  pays any
notice. They are all either sufficiently happy or enthused  with the
perspective of meeting Chavez, and are not prepared to fall  into any
provocations. During the nearly two hour wait, the queue  breaks into
singing and shouting of slogans in defence of the
Venezuelan revolution and its president.
It is nearly 7pm when the doors open, and the human tide is allowed  in,
in groups of five. We must go through a metal detector. It is  just four
days since the State Prosecutor investigating those
involved in the April 11 coup has died, assassinated in a terrorist
attack carried out by the forces of reaction. Nobody complains. We  all
understand the need to take all necessary security measures. We  are aware
that the international counter-revolution has set its
sights on Chavez.
Slowly the meeting hall fills up. There is the shouting of slogans  and
the singing of songs. We are shown a video of the revolution.  Some
singers and musicians go on stage to entertain the people before  Chavez's
arrival. Amongst them are the extraordinary Olga Manzano and  Quintin
Cabrera, but also many others, who do not feature in the
commercial music scene, but want to show their solidarity and
sympathy for the revolution. Of course, [Spanish singer] Alejandro  Sanz,
the gusano who said that Chavez should resign because the
people of Venezuela were against him, and who has now been shut up by  the
results of the recall referendum, is not there.
A terrible moment. It is announced that the president will not come.  It
is half past eight. The audience is stunned. Disillusionment runs  through
all those present, but it is agreed that the meeting will  continue. We
want to show our support for the revolution, but the  mood has changed
from one of enthusiasm to a disheartened one. We  wanted to listen to
Chavez, the leader of the Venezuelan revolution. William Lara, the former
president of the Venezuelan National
Assembly and Member of Parliament, addresses the audience. His speech
does not connect. He says that Venezuela is a paradise for investment
from Spanish businesses. There is a stunned, and a little bit of an  angry
silence. These are the same businesses that exploit us day in  and day
out. These are the same businesses that hire young people and  immigrant
workers as cheap labour without rights, and demand more  flexibility for
wages and working conditions! We know they are not  going to create wealth
in Venezuela, in the same way they do not
create wealth for the people here. William Lara continues with his  speech
and at the end adds, like an afterthought, that this
investment will not have the same exploitive character as in the
past. The question everybody is asking themselves is: does William  Lara
really know what employers are? Does he know that their profits  come from
our exploitation? Does he realize that they will not invest  a single cent
unless they have a firm guarantee that they will
recover their investment tenfold by keeping the majority of the
population in poverty? While Lara speaks a rumour makes the
rounds: "Chavez is coming", first it is just in the front rows, then
moves throughout the hall. Nobody pays much attention to anything  apart
from whether Chavez is coming or not. From the stage nothing is  said
about this, William Lara continues to speak. At the end a
powerful voice from the audience says: "Chavez is coming". There is a
spontaneous ovation. The mood is cheerful again. Now the musicians go  on
stage and we all sing along and clap to the songs. Later we found  out
what had happened. A group of people, led by Manolo Espinar of  the Haydee
Santamaria organisationa and JM Municio from El Militante,  had gone to
the Circulo de Bellas Artes, where Chavez was meeting a  group of
intellectuals and actors, and explained to him that 1500  workers and
youth were waiting for him in the CCOO meeting hall. And  they managed to
bring him along! When Chavez found out that we were  waiting, he did not
hesitate: "I am going over there, even if it is  just to give a 15 minute
greeting". As he himself said later: "thank  you, you have rescued me from
the intellectuals to bring me to the  workers".
The hours go by and he still does not arrive. The banners in the hall
still speak solidarity from the walls. Amongst them is one from El
Militante and the Sindicato de Estudiantes (Spanish Students Union)  which
reads: "Venepal: nationalization under workers control".
Nobody leaves. Now and then the news is confirmed: despite the delay,
Chavez is coming. We are waiting. Messages of support are read to the
meeting. At the beginning two were read from the Alliance of Anti-
imperialist Intellectuals and another one from Culture against War.  Then
they read the one from the Sindicato de Estudiantes, which was
interrupted by ovations twice. Then, in between the songs, others are
read: from the Communist Party, the Red Current, El Militante, the
international Hands Off Venezuela Campaign ... We sing some songs and
then The Internationale. The whole room has raised fists as the
Internationale comes out of our throats like the shout of
revolutionary struggle, solidarity and proletarian internationalism.  At
last, at 10:30 pm, after waiting for more than 5 hours, Chavez  arrives!
The enthusiasm is overwhelming. There is a standing ovation  and raised
fists as we greet him.
He is standing on stage. He is obviously tired but also moved by the
greeting and the enthusiasm overfilling the hall. He apologises for  the
delay, and starts by reciting a poem by [Spanish revolutionary  poet]
Garcia Lorca.
He begins to address the crowd. He talks about the revolution, the
oppressed, the oligarchy and imperialism that organized the coup in  April
2002, how he thought he was going to be shot dead, and how the  soldiers,
arms in hand, avoided it. "There, facing the death squad, I  though of Che
(...) how men die". He explains how thousands and
thousands of workers, the poor, surrounded the Miraflores Palace
defending the revolution. "They tried once and failed, and if they  tried
again they would fail again, because in Venezuela the arms are  in the
hands of the soldiers, who are part of the people". He
mentions the coup against Allende: "the Chilean revolution failed  because
it was a peaceful and unarmed revolution. The Bolivarian
revolution is peaceful... but armed". We understand very well what he  is
talking about. We also know about our own past. The audience
begins to shout, fists raised again, "the people, armed, will never  be
smashed" ("el pueblo armado, jamás será aplastado").
Now he talks about the money from [state oil company] PDVSA, which is
being used for social programs, and he mentions Cuba and the Cuban
doctors. There is another standing ovation and shouts of "Chavez,  Fidel y
el Che".
He mentions the shipyard workers [fighting for months against the  closure
of the shipyards]. The whole audience shouts, "The shipyards  will not be
closed down!" He talks about the democratic revolution in  Venezuela, of
how the people support the revolution. He talks of the  peoples of Latin
America. "If Bolivar lived today, he would be a
socialist". He also mentions Marx. Incidentally, on his way in, he
stopped to browse at the bookstall of El Militante. He spoke to the
comrades. When he saw Alan Woods' books he said: "Oh, Alan Woods. He  is a
friend of mine". We want to give him the books he has chosen as  a
present, amongst them several by Alan Woods, Ted Grant and Trotsky,  but
he insists he wants to pay for them. At the end he accepts Alan  Woods'
"Bolshevism, the road to revolution" as a gift.
He now talks about the workers and the need for unity. "There is a
socialist international and a Christian Democratic international. Why
can't we form a democratic and revolutionary international? Unite all  the
oppressed peoples, the workers, the indigenous peoples ...".
There is another standing ovation. He develops the idea: "the working
class must be the vanguard of the revolution (...) It should not only
concern itself with immediate or wage demands, which are necessary  and
must be fought for, but it must also look beyond, to the
transformation of society as a whole". The enthusiasm is
overwhelming. "Long live the working class", and "the working class  has
no borders" are slogans which become alive and are shouted by the  whole
audience as one.
During the speech, standing up, he has been given cups of coffee
which he drank. It has been a very packed day. He was at the
Complutense University, where the students also received him with
enthusiasm, surpassing all expectations. He met with Zapatero, with
artists and intellectuals in the Circulo de Bellas Artes, and then at
10:30 pm he met with the workers... The best part of it, he snubbed a
meeting with big business. Today the media complain and say this is  not
acceptable because he snubbed a meeting with 200 "business
leaders". Today, workers understand more who Chavez is and the
support he receives from Venezuelan workers.
It is past 11:30 and finally he says goodbye. As he leaves the hall,  as
when he came in, there is a standing ovation. We are all
shouting, "the revolution forward, forward, and those who do not like  it,
will have to stand it" ("La revolución p'alante, p'alante y al  que no le
guste que se joda y que se aguante".)
As always, everywhere he goes, this enthusiasm is also expressed in  the
desire to get close to him, to greet him personally. Despite the
bodyguards and the security measures, when he comes out he is
surrounded by a sea of hands showing their solidarity and support for  the
Venezuelan revolution. He is extremely polite, tactful and
educated, and in an impossible attempt, he tries to greet and talk to  all
those who come close to him. He understands that this show of  solidarity
reflects the desire of workers to show, through him, to  the workers and
the oppressed in Venezuela, the hopes that their
revolution has raised amongst workers and youth around the world.
Madrid, 23-11-04

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