While in Caracas, Venezuela for the Sao Paulo Forum at the end of July 2019, Fire This Time organizer Tamara Hansen was invited to visit the city with Jimmy Gudiño, an elected Councillor for the Municipal Council of the Libertador Municipality of Caracas with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV ). Jimmy and his wife, Yahidy took Tamara to visit the parishes of Antímano and El Junquito. This was a part of Jimmy’s regular daily work, but Tamara was lucky that she was invited along to gain some insight into the communities that elected Jimmy and how he connects with his constituents. One of the first stops was a construction site in Antímano where, for nearly three years, a community of about 90 families has been working on building an apartment complex. They have worked with engineers and professionals to learn the trades, cleared the land, and are now working to lay the concrete for the second floor of their complex which will house 92 apartments. They will have a garden for food, some livestock, and community meeting spaces. Having neighbours take on building their own homes has been an important part of the success of the “Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela” or the housing mission.
The workers explained to Tamara that the government was previously paying private companies and their construction crews to build the housing. However, due to economic sabotage by wealthy company owners, this was leading to inefficiencies and corruption. Today this specific project of the “Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela” is asking people to take on the responsibility to learn and build their own homes. This approach has reduced government expenses and increased the feelings of community and ownership over the housing projects. At this site 60% of the workers were women. The pride in their work and achievements was evident, they wanted visitors to see every aspect of what they were doing from cutting rebar, to their pigs, to the architectural plans.
After the tour, Tamara sat down with councillor Jimmy Gudiño for an interview. To read more about Fire This Time’s experiences in Venezuela, and for some of our other interviews see Fire This Time Volume 13 Issue 10 (October 2019), Issue 9 (September 2019) and Issue 8 (August 2019).
Fire This Time: Thank you for being here with Fire This Time Newspaper from Canada. Can you introduce yourself and say a little about the work you do?
Jimmy Gudiño: Thank you, Tamara. My name is Jimmy Gudiño, municipal councillor of Caracas and coordinator of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV ) of the Antímano parish, in Caracas, the most Chavista parish in Caracas. We are working directly in the communities, talking with people about the situation we are living in, about the economic, commercial, and financial blockade we are facing, and we are organizing in resistance, to fully defeat this economic war against our country and to show to the world how we are fighting back in Venezuela. We are fighting at all levels: in social organizations; in the parties of the Revolution, in the PSUV; in our communal councils that work on the social level; in our CLAPs [Local Supply and Production Committees] that work in the resistance by distributing and producing the food that our people require; and in our UPDI [Popular Units of Internal Defense] that work for the defence of our territories. We are willing to defend the revolution in every scenario – in each alley and in each street. Within our communal councils and our communes, we are raising the thoughts, ideas, and words of our commander Hugo Chávez when he said “communes or nothing” to try to reach a communal state
FTT: We now know that sanctions and the blockade against Venezuela - not only from the United States but also Canada and Europe - have an impact on Venezuela. Can you tell us a little about the impact on the daily life of Venezuelans?
JG: In Venezuela, we believe that they are not simply sanctions. We believe these are measures that violate our human rights.
The United States and its lackeys, some countries of the European Union and other countries that follow the Pentagon call them “sanctions”. We totally deny them because these countries are not the police of the world, nor are they the tribunal of the world.
The U.S. and its allies continue talking about sanctions, but basically, it is a violation of the human rights of our people. They blocked us from accessing a number of our financial resources. International institutions, such as the Bank of England, refuse to return Venezuela its gold as we requested. They are simply part of a blockade against our country. They do not allow us to acquire the basic goods we need, meaning they do not allow Venezuela to have the resources to buy medicine, they do not allow Venezuela to have the resources to buy food.
However, we have a president who, together with the government, has been resisting with the people. This resistance has allowed us to build strategies against this blockade, for example through “Carnet de la Patria” [a benefit card available to all Venezuelans that provides access to government bonuses and subsidies], and through the CLAP boxes and bags of food, and through the increase of some wages, and through the creation of publicly funded cafeterias. These advances have allowed our people to continue in resistance against the so-called sanctions, which are not sanctions but are measures that violate our human rights. For this reason, from here in Venezuela, from the Popular Power, we tell the peoples of the world, we tell the people of Canada that we are in resistance and that we are not going to give up fighting for our Bolivarian Revolution under any circumstance. We will defend our territory and revolution against those measures, that are taking the shape of an economic, commercial and financial blockade, and we will win!The blockade harms our communities directly and it harms the entire Venezuelan population. They talk about humanitarian aid. With what morals do they dare to talk about humanitarian aid? We tell them ‘if you want to talk about humanitarian aid, why don’t you remove the economic, commercial and financial blockade against us? Return the money that international banks such as Citibank and the Bank of England stole from us?’
FTT: How do you think the solidarity movement of North America, Europe and around the world can support the people of Venezuela and work towards ending the blockade?
JG: As Che Guevara would say, “solidarity is the warmth of the people” and as Comandante Chávez taught us, we raise the struggle of social movements internationally. We remember that Chavez, on the international question, sought to unify governments and peoples in the quest to achieve a multipolar world against a unipolar world only directed by the Pentagon. That is why we tell the people and the social movements in Canada, the United States and the world that we are people in resistance fighting for our sovereignty and for a better world for all. We also make a call to the world to condemn the measures that the United States and its lackeys are taking with the economic, commercial and financial blockade against our country. Those measures violate our human rights and need to end.
FTT: Thank you very much.
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