Venezuela Has a Free and Dynamic Exchange of Ideas - by Eva Golinger

 


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Last week a delegation of US educators from the Mayor’s Office in Oakland, California, visited Venezuela to exchange ideas and experiences with public education institutions and to gain a better understanding of the various levels and forms of public education in Venezuela. We spoke with delegation leader Roy Wilson from the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center in Oakland.

What did you find most interesting in Venezuela?

The methodology of formal learning impressed all of us. At all educational levels, and especially within the missions dedicated to education, the method of inclusion impressed us. There is an inclusion of formerly excluded sectors of society. The poor, low-income workers, Afro-Venezuelans and the Indigenous communities have actively and massively integrated into formal learning structures. And within the schools and missions students are integrated into the learning process at all levels. They participate in curriculum decisions, teaching, and in administration of the educational institution.

Also, the content of the curriculum at all levels aims at assisting the individual in becoming a well-rounded, conscious and participatory citizen; one that engages life from his/her nobler self, capable of sympathy, social affection and solidarity. The educational process thus permits group development, neighborhood development and the development of a nation of citizens who participate in their own lives and in guiding or directing their government toward more inclusion, peace and even a stronger democracy.

In the US, most media portray President Chavez as a dictator, did you find Venezuela to be a dictatorship?

No. When defining dictatorship we think one of the primary characteristics is the suppression of ideas, especially ideas contrary to those of the government. This definition includes censorship and the banning of newspapers or magazines and other forms of expression. We can see clearly that a free and dynamic exchange of ideas and ideologies is present among the people, in the schools and within other social entities such as unions and faith based organizations. We even saw billboards along the highways expressing what we would call “attacks” against the government.

What most impacted you in the communities and schools you visited?

We are very impressed at the community spirit and happiness of the people. Much of the work in the missions, for example, takes place in the evenings after work. Many of the instructors and most of the students work regular jobs during the day. That is, most of the instructors are volunteers. Among the students and instructors exists a very high level of community spirit, cooperation and mutual respect. This attitude brings everyone together. It draws together in the same class room those who are excelling and those still getting their bearings in the learning process creating a moving and inspiring aura of community cohesion and fraternity.

Do you think what’s happening in Venezuela could inspire people in the US to make political changes?

We think that many aspects of Venezuela’s revolutionary process hold the potential to inspire us in the United States. Realistically, the process of connecting to those aspects is difficult from a pragmatic sense. First, it is difficult to visualize Venezuela accurately because, in the US, the picture of Venezuela put forth by all the major media, the government and many universities and colleges portrays Venezuela as an oppressive, brutal dictatorship. These are lies. So we, citizens of the United States have the hard task of providing an honest and accurate photo of the government and people of Venezuela. We think that is a practical task that will take hard work, sacrifice and what Dr. King calls, the development of “otherinterestedness”.

Secondly, many of the major changes in Venezuela society, such as those dramatic changes of inclusion and democracy within the educational system, requires great changes in both the conduct and consciousness of many US citizens and organizations.

In other words, Venezuela offers much to learn and inspires us immensely, and this learning and inspiration helps visualize changes in our society that require dedicated individuals capable of sustained, disciplined work to organize and educate tens of thousands.

The governments of the US and Venezuelan are not on very good terms. Right now, Venezuela perceives US military buildup in the region and certain statements coming out of the White House and State Dept as threatening. Do you think that the people of the US can change this, if so, how?

Yes. As we suggested, this will require education, organization and mobilization. It is obvious that the people of the United States have not successfully organized to end our nation’s current aggression toward many countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, for example). There is, perhaps, a difference with the aggression against Venezuela.

For one thing, a great and growing force of democracy and solidarity exists between key governments in Latin America and among the people of all of Latin America. Secondly, the political power and role of the Latino community in the United States is growing rapidly. Some even suggest that the Latino community might be the base of a reconstructed Civil and Human Rights movement in the United States, and the Latin community is already much more aware and organized about the rights of Latinos, about immigration rights and the right to sovereignty.

There is no guarantee about much in today’s complex world, but it seems like a good possibility that the people of the United States, who are gaining consciousness due to increased expectations from ourselves and our government regarding jobs, justice and environmental sustainability, can impact US aggression against Venezuela.

Tramslated by magbana from Correo del Orinoco International, August 13th 2010

Link to source: http://hcvanalysis.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/golinger-venezuela-has-a-free-and-dynamic-exchange-of-ideas/

August 16, 2010

I love this article.

I am thinking we Americans have a lot to learn from our Latino brother and sisters.  The surprises we stumble on when we are willing and ready to learn.  There is so much media propaganda and debris to sort through.  I think this is the first story I have seen that is written by an American, or at least is about a story about Americans who are discovering that Venezuela is not a dictatorship.  Yes, I have known that many Latin American countries are organizing more effectively in their democracies.  And I have been aware of the changes that Chavez has made.  And I see him vilified unjustly in American media.  Yet, reading an article like this, it shapes the wrongness of American MSM and misguided politicians in their judgement.  This is a wonderful article.

Ah, if only we too were a democracy.

"Also, the content of the curriculum at all levels aims at assisting the individual in becoming a well-rounded, conscious and participatory citizen; one that engages life from his/her nobler self, capable of sympathy, social affection and solidarity. The educational process thus permits group development, neighborhood development and the development of a nation of citizens who participate in their own lives and in guiding or directing their government toward more inclusion, peace and even a stronger democracy."

What do our schools teach? Competitiveness, materialism, consumerism, the pursuit of the almighty dollar, greed, and divisiveness. 

Americans actually fear democracy, because they are afraid that their neighbors might get more power. In truth the rich have all the power now, and in a more democratic form of government, most Americans would have nothing to fear. Ah, but if the wealthy lost their billions, who would the average American have to idolize, venerate, vote for, and dream of becoming? Our whole damned country has Stockholm syndrome--we love our captors even as they hold us hostage to their murderous whims.

Are Americans gaining consciousness? I don't agree. Most, when they think about jobs, justice, and environmental sustainability, assume that it is the job of the corporate-owned politicians to control such things. Write a letter to the oligarchy, sign a petition to the oligarchy, carry a sign and get arrested protesting in front of an oligarch's office--never will Americans realize that the oligarchy acts only in its own interests, not in theirs. But the oligarchs let people vote for them--doesn't that mean that we're a democracy? No, it doesn't, any more than the fact that they allow us to pay taxes to them. Neither voting for them, nor petitioning them, nor paying taxes to them gives us any control over what they do. In a democracy, it is the people who have power, not a a wealthy elite. Venezuela is a democracy and the USA is not.

This nearly brings me to tears...

Tears of joy for the people of Venezuela. I am reminded of the simplicity that works happiness and the love of community that has long been abandoned for slavery in our country.

 

Circle

Sun is setting
grey and purple clouds
set aflame
yellow burns into deeper
and deeper shades of red...
until shadow begins
Early souls sit in circle
eyes fixed upon a single ember
Smiles cross dusty faces,
easing tired hearts
Young and old ....day is done
Life now begins in tales,
as creation listens to the love
of the children of light
Words gather and warm
the circle into a nearly vocal
chant of worship,
while ageless dances
are performed in spirit
The circle swirls
into the night




SMPH

 

I still care... I still want to build humanity... I want happiness for all people!

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