World Festival of Youth and Students challenges U.S. imperialism

By Julie Fry
Caracas, Venezuela

The 16th World Festival of Youth and Students, held this year in Caracas, Venezuela, officially ends tomorrow —Aug. 15—after a week of demonstrations, seminars and various festivities. The conference was hugely successful, drawing more than 15,000 participants from over 40 different countries.

The largest delegations, apart from the huge group of Venezuelans, were the Colombians and Brazilians. Their delegations combined accounted for more than 5,000 of the Festival’s participants. Countries such as Angola, Syria, Palestine, Vietnam and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) also sent significant delegations.

Throughout the week, delegations from all over the world expressed their solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela.

The thousands of Venezuelan delegates and volunteers who were responsible for the tremendous success of the Festival offered countless insights into the developing society in Venezuela.

International delegates toured neighborhoods here in Caracas and went on trips to the various provinces. During these tours, local Venezuelan citizens explained some of the many new social programs that have been instituted during the revolution.

They explained and showed some of the progress that has been made in their own communities in matters such as education and literacy, medical care and housing.

The Festival also gave participants the opportunity to meet and learn from delegations from other countries.

U.S.-Cuban delegations meet

One of the most significant of these meetings took place between the large Cuban delegation—which included more than 1,500 people—and the U.S. delegation.

The meeting took place Aug. 12, only a few days after both delegations received news that the Cuban Five imprisoned in the U.S. will receive a new trial outside of Miami. [See related article, page 8]

The meeting was an opportunity for both delegations to exchange information about the Five and to explore what could be done to build more solidarity and ultimately free these Cuban heroes.

The esteemed panel at the meeting included Aleida Guevara—eldest daughter of revolutionary leader Che Guevara. Two of the Cuban Five’s children took part in the panel—Tony Guerrero, eldest son of Antonio Guerrero; and Irma González, the elder daughter of René González.

The two U.S. panelists were Bonnie Massey, a leader of the Venceremos Brigade, and FIST leader LeiLani Dowell, who also works with the National Committee to Free the Five.

All of the panelists stressed the importance of escalating the struggle to free the Five at this critical time.

The final major political event of the Festival is the two-day-long anti-imperialist tribunal Aug. 13-14. There, representatives from countries that have been victims of U.S. imperialism are presenting testimony and evidence of the crimes committed against their people by the U.S. government.

Representatives from Colombia, Haiti, Cuba, Vietnam, Korea, Palestine and many other countries are speaking about the atrocities that have been perpetrated and continue to be carried out by the Pentagon and the CIA.

Fernando Suarez del Solar, father of the first GI killed in Iraq, testified about how the U.S.-imperialist-led war in Iraq has affected his family.

LeiLani Dowell was invited to speak as the representative of youth in the U.S. She testified on Aug. 13 on the effect of imperialism on youth in the U.S., particularly on youth of color.

She presented evidence on the racist and anti-poor tactics of military recruiters and on how youth in the U.S. are made to bear the brunt of the U.S. government’s illegal wars.

When Dowell said that youth in the U.S. look to Cuba and Venezuela as positive examples and that we need to build revolution in the United States, she received thunderous applause.

The highlight of the tribunal was the testimony of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez at its closing on Aug. 14. He presented evidence of the role of the U.S. government in trying to destroy the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

Chávez explained how the CIA had orchestrated the April 2002 coup against him and that the U.S. government was responsible for threats to his life.

But he affirmed that there was no way for the U.S. to stop the Bolivarian Revolution from moving forward.

FIST sent a sizable delegation to the Festival. Look for more detailed reports from FIST members on the various significant activities during the Festival in upcoming editions of Workers World and visit www.workers.org.

Fry is a national leader of the youth group FIST—Fight Imperialism, Stand Together.


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