Yesterday I ended up at a meeting of deputies from the Venezuelan National Assembly who were discussing the possibility of Latin American integration along the lines of a Bolivarian alternative to the neoliberal Free Trade Area of the Americas-style economic integration. The event also focused on the efficability of the Latin American Parliment, a supranational organization devoted to the Bolivarian integration of the region, including the oft ostracized Cuba. This wasnt some boring CSPAN South America style get together folks. Instead of a slew of disconnected politicians speaking at length in the abstract, the meeting allowed for audience members to give their input by making proposals, asking questions, outright debating the deputies or just sharing their thoughts in general. There was actually legitemate dialogue occuring between the people and the deputies who discussed and argued at length about the nature of Bolivarianism in Venezuela and its potential in the rest of Latin America. The deputies actually listened to what the people were saying and responded to their words in what seemed to be a truely heartfelt and honest manner. It was truely an amazing thing to witness.
And get this. A crippled Colmbo-Venezolano man was appointed to the Latin American Parliment by popular demand after giving and amazing speach! He basicaly said "I am communist. I was born into the communist party. And I will die a communist. Look at me. I have become disabled, but once I was a professor of philosophy here in Caracas and also in Colombia. I spoke multiple languages and lived in Russia. But now I have become debilitated by epilepsy and other accidents and cannot work or teach." Now he`s getting teary and I start to get that tingly thing happening in my nose. He continues "The government takes care of me so I can live with dignity. Everybody in Venezuela and Colombia deserve thise treatment and care. No, all of Latin America and the entire hemisphere must have these opportunities. All the world and its people deserve the treatment and care that I have recieved. That is communism. That is Bolivarianism!" By this point a couple of droplets have formed in my eyes. Then a little later he was offered an honorary position on the Parliment. That´s participatory democracy.
More was said about the prospect for integration. But the bus is leaving now so I am out.