Despite a winter storm that descended on Washington, DC, on Sunday, dozens of community members came to the Venezuelan Embassy’s Bolivarian Hall to attend a special forum to mark the “Day of Love and Loyalty to Hugo Chávez and the Homeland.” This forum, held on the one year anniversary of the late President Chávez’s last historic speech, was also an opportunity to watch coverage of the municipal elections in Venezuela, which by all accounts unfolded peacefully and with the participatory fervor that has characterized the democratic process under the Bolivarian Revolution.
Speaking at the event was Venezuela’s first female vice president, Adina Bastidas, who now represents her country before the Inter-American Development Bank. She recalled the movement to create a new system of government based on people’s power that led to Chávez’s first electoral victory in 1998, the popular debates that informed the new Constitution of 1999, and the many achievements of Chávez’s government in terms of reducing poverty and undoing historic forms of social exclusion.
The achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution have been confirmed by international organizations such as the United Nations, whose Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean just reported that Venezuela had the largest reduction in poverty of any country in the region in 2012.
Venezuela’s social policies were also praised by another panelist at Sunday’s forum, James Early of the Smithsonian Institution, who fondly recalled meeting President Chávez. He described his experiences traveling to Venezuela to act as an official international electoral accompanier for the presidential election of October of 2012, when President Chávez earned his last democratic victory.
Early urged the audience to share their knowledge of Venezuela to help offset a tide of misinformation in the media, and to join him in engaging in acts of solidarity with the Venezuelan people.
“Acts of solidarity need to be revived in this country around Venezuela because it is the axis of a new democratic practice and discourse,” he said.
The event was moderated by Larry Rubin of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters. Others present included philosophy Professor Frederick Mills of Bowie State University, Banbose Shango of the National Network on Cuba, representatives of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, and members of the FMLN of El Salvador. They recalled President Chávez’s enduring influence in the region and in the work and ideals of members of social movements around the globe.
Events were also held in honor of the “Day of Love and Loyalty to Hugo Chávez and the Homeland” in various other countries including Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, England, Germany, Italy, Nicaragua, Portugal, Russia, and Serbia.
Attendees also enjoyed live news updates on the municipal elections as the night progressed.
Click here for information on the results of the voting.
Press – Venezuelan Embassy to the US / December 9, 2013