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Venezuela’s President Maduro speaks to the 25th Sao Paulo Forum

By Tom Burke

Tom Burke, FRSO Organizational Secretary with Alfredo Valdivieso

Caracas, Venezuela – The closing event of the 25th Foro de Sao Paulo (Sal Paulo Forum) on July 28 began with a speech by Monica Valente, the Executive Secretary of the Foro de Sao Paulo and the International Secretary of the Workers Party of Brazil. The next speaker was Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, leading up to a spirited speech by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The event honored the 65th birthday of President Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013. The speakers referenced his ideas and leadership in making the Bolivarian revolution possible. During a video display of the life of Hugo Chavez, women and men in the crowd were openly weeping while others simultaneously cheered.

Delegations to the Foro de Sao Paulo committed in the final declaration to act together in solidarity with Venezuela, Latin America and other countries of the world against U.S. aggression. Among the 1200 audience members were Foro de Sao Paulo members and leaders of socialist, communist and revolutionary parties from every Latin American country, most of Central America and the Caribbean, as well as Mexico.

Delegations from other countries included the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ambassador to Venezuela, Palestinians from various groups, the grandson of Nelson Mandela from South Africa, representatives of movements and left parties of Europe including the Basque Country and Ireland, as well as Canadian international solidarity activists and, from the U.S., the Venezuelan Embassy protectors, and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization delegation.

After President Maduro took the stage, smiling, waving and pumping his fist in the air, the crowd chanted, “Alerta! Alerta! Alerta que camina, la espada de Bolivar por America Latina! (Alert! Alert, Alert! Bolivar's sword is marching through Latin America!)”

Upon finishing greetings and saluting all the participants, Maduro praised the Puerto Rican independence movement, saying “Adelante Puerto Rico! Que viva Puerto Rico libre!” (Forward Puerto Rico! Long live free Puerto Rico!”

President Maduro then spoke about Colombia saying, “We are waiting here for Ivan Marquez and Jesus Santrich of the FARC. They are welcome here in Venezuela, at the Foro de Sao Paulo, or whenever they want to come, because they are the leaders of the peace in Colombia.” The two FARC leaders are being threatened with prosecutions by the Colombian government, despite the peace process, and are now on the run, rumored to be in the mountains.

The audience rose in a standing ovation. Maduro explained how, despite signing a peace accord, the leaders of unions, peasant groups, and FARC members continue being killed by the death squads of the Colombian government. He then called to and waved at a woman waving a FARC flag, ex-political prisoner Liliana Obando.

President Maduro then spoke of an international campaign targeting him that is “brutal, manipulating, lying, and opposed to our political process.” He joked about those attacking him, by labeling him a ‘dictator.’

Maduro said, “This does not offend me. For sure, we are now considering the dictatorship of the proletariat, the dictatorship of the proletariat of Karl Marx...the dictatorship of the anti-imperialist workers.”

President Maduro finished by saluting the Foro of Sao Paolo. He called for the unity between the movements and parties of Latin America. He praised the important leadership and vision of President Chavez, the falsely imprisoned President Lula of Brazil, and Cuba’s Fidel Castro. Lula and Castro were the original founders of the Foro de Sao Paulo.

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