On the weekend 19-21 June, IIRE hosted the Europe-wide Meeting on Solidarity with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Over 120 people, representing diplomatic missions, Bolivarian Circles and other solidarity organisations from a wide array of traditions, attended the three-day event which was co-sponsored by the Bolivarian Circle of The Netherlands and the Venezuelan Embassy at The Hague.
Outcomes of this historical meeting were the definition of methodologies and practices for a “Diplomacy of the Peoples” and political education for solidarity activists in Europe.
"With a change in the balance of powers throughout the last 20 years, the right turn of social democracy, and now the deep crisis of the capitalist system itself, the left is faced with a number of challenges. Here the process of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela sets a unique example, that inspires socialist activists throughout the world."
During the opening plenary session on Friday, IIRE Executive Co-Director Bertil Videt addressed the crowd with inspiring words of friendship, following a speech by the Venezuelan Ambassador to The Netherlands, Augustin Pérez Celis, who praised the Institute for its service to social activists and its solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution. Together with three representatives of the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pérez Celis stressed the need for political education in their country as well as for the solidarity movements across Europe. IIRE was identified as an important and strategically located progressive institution, a natural place to hold some educational sessions for Bolivarian and left activists in Europe.
On the second day of the meeting, PSUV representative Fernando Soto spoke on The Socialist Transformation of the Venezuelan State. Defining 21st Century Socialism, Soto drew upon the texts of Lenin, Trotsky, Mariategui, Simon Bolívar, Simon Rodriguez and a number of contemporary theologians of liberation. He also emphasised the indigenous element of the Bolivarian process, that which distinguishes Venezuelan socialism from Euro-centric paradigms. Soto ended his talk exhorting participants to take on the double challenge: "The challenge for solidarity activists is to study our process, but also for thinkers of socialism, to start, also in Europe, a process of construction of 21st Century socialism. It can not be constructed in one country alone."
During the rest of the weekend, the solidarity activists worked in focus groups and participated in debates, developing the methodology that will be used in future sessions of political education and coordination of the solidarity networks. IIRE co-directors Bertil Videt and Antonio Carmona Báez spoke with PSUV representatives who where interested in our research programmes, educational sessions and in collaborating with our Fellows. The hard working staff at IIRE were flattered by the incessant compliments from the Meeting’s participants.