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Venezuelan People are the Stars of the Festival Show

by Stephanie Weiner |
September 1, 2005
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Presentation of banner
Stephanie Weiner presents “Say no to NED” banner to Jacobo Torres de Leon. (Fight Back! News)

Caracas, Venezuela - Gifts were exchanged by the 15,000 delegates throughout the 16th World Youth Festival held here, Aug. 7-15. One of those gifts was more than a store-bought present - it was a banner that came with a promise. U.S. labor activists gave National Union of Workers representative Jacobo Torres the, “Say no to NED” banner that activists marched with outside the AFL-CIO convention in July in Chicago.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a creation of the U.S. government that strives to bring more regions of the world under U.S. domination. NED money has flowed through the AFL-CIO’s ‘Solidarity Center’ into efforts to destabilize Venezuela.

As the banner was handed over, all present vowed to increase the pressure on U.S. union leaders to cut their ties with the National Endowment for Democracy.

U.S. delegates to the festival received Eva Gollinger’s book, The Chavez Code, about the NED tricks and The Keys to a Massacre video. Both help to educate people about how the NED is a political arm of the CIA and the Pentagon’s efforts to undermine Chavez and Venezuela’s national democratic process. U.S. delegates made plans to expose the U.S. ‘assistance’ to Venezuela and to Haiti’s reactionary movements. Plans were made for an anti-NED workshop at the next World Social Forum to be held in Venezuela in January.

Chavez’s many speeches to the festival outlined the incredible victories made in the areas of medical care, housing, literacy and food for the poor in Venezuela. He outlined new initiatives like Telesur, a television channel for all Americas’ independent media access. He compared his trade proposals to Bush’s failed FTAA plans. Chavez spoke about new proposals that would offer oil at discount prices to people’s organizations. He announced that millions were being set aside for a Bolivarian press that will help get the word out as they go on the socialist path. Always he was welcomed with long chanting of, “Ooh aah, Chavez no se va!” or, “Ooh aah, Chavez will not go!”

During the festival, participants celebrated with the thousand-strong Cuban delegation as they received the news about the new trial granted for the five Cuban political prisoners in U.S. jails. All the delegates were inspired by the bravery of the 3000-member Colombian delegation to come to the festival in the face of death threats. For some activists it was the first time to hear firsthand from the Vietnam, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or the Palestinian delegations. Most delegates agreed however, that the stars of the show were the Venezuelan people themselves. In the coming months delegates will report back on their trips to Venezuela’s neighborhoods and countryside to show what standing up to U.S. imperialism and serving the people’s needs looks like up close.