A delegation from ML Today (www.mltoday.com) left Venezuela last Saturday, July 28th, after spending a week in Caracas taking a first-hand look at the reality of Venezuela within the framework of the Sao Paulo Forum that invited them via the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV).
Walter Tillow, a longstanding activist based in Louisville, Kentucky, was part of the delegation. He traveled to Venezuela along with Joseph Jamison, a member of the United States Peace Council based in New York City.
The Orinoco Tribune took advantage of their presence in Venezuela and interviewed them in order to get their impressions of Venezuela, of the Sao Paulo Forum, and to learn more of their work. We present the interviews below:
Walter Tillow highlighted how distorted the image of Venezuela is in the US. He was impressed with not being able to see homeless people in Caracas so often seen on streets in the US. The image of crisis and starvation portrayed by mainstream media contrasted dramatically with what he did see: Venezuelans well dressed and clean, not the image of destitution that circulates in the US.
When talking about Marxism-Leninism Today (MLToday.com), he mentioned that this initiative started after a group of US Marxists left the CPUSA because of its reformist electoral positions. The website has a section on theory. It reprints the Marxist classics but also stresses anti-imperialist solidarity (with emphasis on Venezuela, Iran, Colombia, Cuba , Syria, and others), anti-racism, equality, worker rights, and commentary on US politics.
When asked about the Sao Paulo Forum he said that he was no great fan of these big gatherings, but the forum presented an opportunity for networking with important Latin American mass leaders. He said that for ML Today, the most important part was the interaction with the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV) and the Sao Paulo forum was collateral to that interchange.
For his part, Joseph Jamison highlighted the work he does within the United States Peace Council in New York City. He mentioned that the hotel he stayed in was the same hotel used for most delegates in attendance at the Non Aligned Movement’s Chancellors’ meeting, an opportunity to see them in action. He also talked about the electric power blackout that they witnessed and that in his opinion, was caused by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack as part of multi- faceted US aggression against the Venezuelan people. He expressed how worried he was, not in terms of his personal safety, but in terms of the effects of the blackout on ordinary Venezuelans — in relation to water and health services and all the disruption it caused to working Venezuelans.
Jamison mentioned that the first day of the Sao Paulo forum for them was somewhat chaotic in terms of lack of organization but recognized that while he was following it on Telesur, it seemed to him that not everything was disorganized. He also mentioned how important the forum was for the Peace Council in terms of networking with progressive movements from all over Latin America and other parts of the world.
Going back to the US Peace Council work, he mentioned the delegations to Venezuela that this important US organization has organized in recent months, and its support for the Embassy Protection Collective, formed in Washington DC a few months ago to defend the Venezuelan Embassy in the US capital. He remembered an episode during those days when one of their leaders, Jerry Condon, was bitten by right wing Venezuelans and attacked by the police while trying to bring food to members of the collective.
Jamison mentioned that the US Peace Council is helping to build a demonstration in New York City for September to take advantage of the UN General Assembly and raise awareness about the lawlessness of US foreign policy. Also the USPC and others are trying to help the situation of four leading members of the Collective, the ones that remained in the Embassy until the last day, who have been overwhelmed with legal actions and fines. He added that the US Peace Council has a wide diversity of activities because of the nature of US imperialism and its war policy.
He finished saying how good it was to breathe the anti-imperialist spirit of Caracas and the Sao Paulo Forum. He stated that it was inspiring for them, especially coming from the US, where even talking about imperialism is often considered a taboo. He also praised the work of Orinoco Tribune and how important it is to the presentation of information about progressive Venezuela in English.
The Orinoco Tribune was delighted to attend these activities with the Venezuelan Communist Party and spend some time in good political debate with our Marxist friends from the United States.
It is important to thank the Venezuelan Communist Party for allowing the coverage of one of the meetings and facilitating the space for interviews. The last one was recorded in a meeting room facilitated for us by the Secretary General, Oscar Figuera, and he explained that the painting (featured image) of Lenin in the background was from one of the greatest Venezuelan muralists, Gabriel Bracho.