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Chávez in London
The Venezuelan president's 'vision of socialism'
VISITS BY presidents to other countries are usually met with protests or indifference, but the visit by Hugo Chávez to London on Sunday was met by hundreds of people ready to welcome him to the city and eager to listen to what he had to say.
The late change of venue meant that many people were turned away at the door, although there was still room for at least 100 more people inside.
Chávez, having a reputation for his long speeches, spoke for around four hours. He appeared on stage alongside New Labour London mayor, Ken Livingstone, several members of his own government and various people associated with Venezuela support campaigns.
His speech covered a lot of ground - from his take on socialism, to historic Bolivarian revolutionaries, capitalism, imperialism and the threat to Iran.
Chávez thanked Ken Livingstone personally for his support and spoke of the 'two centuries of understanding between Britain and Venezuela'. He also thanked the British parliament and spoke of him and Ken having similar visions!
At various points in the speech, he returned to the topic of the 'Venezuelan revolution'. Chávez said that socialism was the only way forward, that we needed a socialism for humanity, that we should not see socialism purely as an economic system ('as in Russia'), but as a social system too.
There is no doubt that Chávez is a charismatic leader, he has done a lot for ordinary Venezuelans to improve their working conditions. He is recognised as one of the most prominent leaders to stand up to US Imperialism.
But where does he see the Venezuela revolution going? Chávez says that he and Ken will not be around to see the fruition of their efforts. In other words, he does not believe that a socialist revolution will be completed in Venezuela - at least not in his lifetime.
As socialists, we know that it will be the working class in Venezuela who will ultimately decide this - not just president Chávez - and definitely not Ken Livingstone!
See also: Appeal: Solidarity with Venezuelan workers
In The Socialist 18 May 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Campaign for a New Workers Party
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis