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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Venezuela: A Common Brotherhood

Third in a series

Tomas Gorman • 12 May 2005

Wolfgang was an extraordinary name for someone in Caracas, I thought, but he was one of the most extraordinary people I have met here.

Wolfgang is homeless and wanders through the dangerous streets at night looking for things that he may be able to sell or eat in the rubbish that many of the wealthy throw out. My host James introduced me to him one evening on the way home as his mate.

It turned out he was a member of the Venezuelan Communist Party in his younger days and was commissioned by his party to go to engineering school in Holland in the eighties. A familiar tale of a beautiful young woman anchoring his heart in Caracas was told to me as well as tales of harder times that neither his sweetheart nor home survived.

Wolfgang never asked for any money but my conscience felt compelled to offer him some cash to buy himself some food or a beer that evening. He accepted in a dignified manner and thanked me sincerely for it. He shook my hand and thanked me not only for the money, but also for making the leap. I enquired what he meant.

"You made a leap forward," he replied. "Brother, you're a socialist like me and you know that all the people of this world belong to a common brotherhood. We are all the same and should all stand together and look after on another. Some of the people who live around here won't even look at me, and when they do its to tell me to leave their rubbish alone. They won't make a step forward let alone the leap that you have made in stopping here and talking to me for a little while. But you and James are good people and you've been taking little leaps forward all of your life. Keep taking those little leaps forward and when others see you do it they'll get the confidence to make the leaps too."

Wolfgang's street philosophy made a big impact on me. So much, that I gave him my little notebook and pen so that he could write some of his philosophies down and begin his book and spread his word.

His word should not have to travel far to make an impact. During his short time in power President Hugo Chavez has allowed the poor in Venezuela to make huge leaps forward with his social programmes and redistribution of the countries vast oil revenue. Unfortunately, a bureaucratic layer of counter-revolutionaries and parasites remain who are hindering the progress of the people's revolutionary awakening.

The state run television channel is in European terms incredibly radical, with frank analysis on international political affairs and documentaries on the life of Che Guevara etc. It was this channel that I first noticed something within the MVR that I did not like. Advertisements promoting electoral politicians posing with red berets in the presence of Chavez made me suspicious of them. There was something that smacked a little too much of personality cult in all of this...too much wanting to be seen with Chavez and claiming to be the really true Chavistas. One of the Mayors of Caracas, Barreto is someone whom I find a little odious, despite my short stay here.

It appears that Barreto reads the revolutionary process differently from those whom he claims to represent as a "really true" Chavista.

The Juan Alberdi School was annexed by the people of the community when middle class teachers in this working class school walked out during the failed lock-out. The people of Manicomio organised a committee to run the school with every position democratically elected. They worked 15-hour a day in renovating and running the school to provide the children and adults of the area with a decent education. It was a marvellous community effort and perhaps one of the most advanced components of the Bolivarian struggle. Barreto it appeared took a dislike to this community self-sufficiency that threatened the need for the bureaucracy that sustained his employment and raised position in Venezuelan society. He unilaterally sacked the democratically elected directorship of the school and imposed his own people from outside of the schools area with the precondition that the teachers collective be allowed to remain within the school and teach
the children.

In the last few days he has reneged on this agreement. The teachers collective have received four days notice that they are to leave the school. I sat during their meeting and watched them discuss this betrayal and their response to it in their typically democratic fashion. It was a passionate meeting with heated debate and sometimes tears from the majority female teachers. However, these tears were not tears that showed weakness, they only served to portray the deep anger at all of their hard work in the school and the revolution being stripped away from them with not as much as a thank you. I shared their anger.

The move by Barreto is simply to reassert the strength of bureaucracy in the affairs of the people in their own communities. It is a step backwards in the movement for revolutionary progress. False leaders like Barreto exist all over the world and have done so for a long, long time.

Hugo Chavez would be better advised to listen to the words from the people on the streets of Caracas, the working class, for they are the true inheritors and vehicle for the revolution. He should listen to the wise words of Wolfgang and make the leap over this bureaucracy and distance himself from these artificial idols.

The fight for the School Alberdi is not over, however, the greater the oppression the greater the fight. As I write, the teachers collective are at the Mayor's office to make their case to him face to face, whether he likes it or not.

Barreto would also be advised to heed the words of Wolfgang. His parting shot the other night made me laugh and raise my fist to this great man.

"Just because you may be bigger than your neighbour, don't dare try and stamp on him. You may stamp him down again and again... but be careful. The next time you bring your foot down he may be holding up a spear."




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

31 May 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Justice is the Right of All Our Victims
Gemma McCartney

Quis Separabit? The Short Strand/Markets UDA
Anthony McIntyre

Civil Law as an Instrument of Resistance
Peter Mason

A Salute to Comrades
Dolours Price

Behaviour of Young Gets Worse
David Adams

Recognising Similarities, Delivering for the People
Mick Hall

One Republican Party
Dr John Coulter

Venezuela: A Common Brotherhood
Tomas Gorman

May Day versus Loyalty Day
Mary La Rosa

One Eyed Morality
Anthony McIntyre

Lying in Wait for the Dutch Tsunami…After the French Earthquake

Michael Youlton

22 May 2005

How Those In Power Respond
Anthony McIntyre

Seeking Clarity — And Safety
Justice for Jimmy Campaign

Behind the Betrayal
Philip Ferguson

Self-Deception and Distortion
Tomas Maguire

Civil Case/Witch Hunt
N. Corey

No Entry
Anthony McIntyre

The Moral Reason Never to Tell
Dr John Coulter

Venezuela: Beginning to Borrow Some Revolution
Tomas Gorman

Dangerous Drugs
Sean Fleming

Rebel City
Liam O Ruairc



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