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      Voices of Venezuelan Revolutionary Youth!
      Speech by student leader Diego Gonzalo, at the Bolivarian University of
      Venezuela during the International Che Guevara Volunteer Youth Brigade to Venezuela

      Transcription by Anna Laura Torres & Translation by Azza Rojbi

      My name is Diego Gonzalo, president of the Venezuelan Federation of Middle School Students and national coordinator of the Bolivarian Student Organization. I want to start with sharing with you my story, how I got here, how I came to take on this important challenge that the Bolivarian revolution has given to me.

      I am here today, it is thanks to the democratic process. A democratic process that is only done in a revolution, which is made by working and believing and having faith in oneself. I came from below, the same as several leaders who also come from below. I continue to be humble and to remember where I came from. That's the idea of any leader, to have humility. And well, here I am.

      When Comandante Chavez came to power he said, "No, let's change this let's make sure everyone has the right to study, that everyone can go to school, go to college, that everyone can go to school and study." And that is one of the rights that Comandante Chavez has left us with. This right is thanks to Comandante Chavez’ push for the National Constituent Assembly in 1999.

      We students have been given duties, the duty to stand up for our revolution; to stand up and say I am a student and I want to defend my Bolivarian revolution. I want to go out and say, "I am a revolutionary; I follow the ideals of Simon Bolivar and Comandante Hugo Chavez." In previous years, before Comandante Chavez, you did not have the right to defend your rights as a student on camera. They stoned you; they persecuted you. Today, thanks to the Bolivarian revolution, we have that right. We have the right to go out on the streets and defend our rights as a student and defend our ideals.

      Also, what about democracy? The United States says that here in Venezuela there is no democracy. How much more democracy can we students and the Venezuelan people show? They say that President Nicolás Maduro is not a president. The people decided on May 20 that the President was going to be Nicolás Maduro Moros and now he is in the presidency governing for that same Venezuelan people.

      Compañeros, have you ever heard of a place with six levels of elections? First, there are elections in the classroom as Natalia was explaining. Then we go for elections within the school. After school we go to elections at the municipal level. After the municipality, we have elections at the state level. After the state, there are elections for who will represent the State in the National Congress.

      What more democracy does the United States want us to demonstrate? We students we have a right to vote, we have a right to go out and defend our rights as students. Forgive my repetition, but completely humble and full of revolutionary work we are going to build the homeland.

      Since Comandante Chavez came, much has changed. Before, if you were going to an educational institution and your shoes were broken, they would not let you in. Before to study you had to be rich, you had to have money. Then Comandante Chavez came, and President Nicolas Maduro continues. Now, President Nicolas Maduro’s plan provides school bags, like each of you has, for all students. This is a bag made only by the revolution in our homeland.

      I congratulate all of you for coming here and for struggling for this revolution. Understand the realities of Venezuela. Here in Venezuela, as a student, a young man, despite the difficulties, despite everything that is happening, if we are fighting, I will have a smile on my face. Let this be one of the impressions that you take with you. We will not remove the smile off our faces; no one will take the smile off our face because we are happy here in Venezuela. There are difficulties, yes, but gradually we will resolve these difficulties.

      We are not going to believe in any U.S. government that wants to control our lands. Here, the Venezuelan people rule. We will not allow anyone to come and say that they want to govern in our country. Our country is free and independent, Simón Bolívar ratified it that way. Our countries of Latin America are independent. Peoples are independent. Continents are independent, and that is what people stand for. That is what our revolution stands for. That's why we are here as leaders and young people to defend our land and country.

      We will continue to work for the revolution.

      We, students, are here to defend our country, to defend our ideals, the legacy of Simon Bolivar and Comandante Commander Chavez and today the ideals given to us by President Nicolas Maduro. And so, brothers and sisters, I invite you to follow this Bolivarian revolution because this revolution is here to stay. This revolution is not going to change just because someone orders it to change. This revolution is here to stay because people believe in this revolution and firmly say that it will continue.

      Thank you, compañeros, for coming here to see the realities of Venezuela. See that Venezuela suffers because we do suffer. But know that Venezuela is going to change. Understand that this revolution is going to address all our problems thanks to our young leaders. What country allows more participation of young people? In what country are young people choosing their own leaders in a democratic process? What country allows young people to go out and defend their rights with their compañeros? What young person?

      We are going out on the streets to defend the revolution, to defend our rights. Let's make our countries independent, free and sovereign. Thank you.

      Long live Chávez! Long live the Bolivarian homeland! Long live Fidel Castro! Long live Che Guevara! Long live the homelands!

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