Kali Akuno, Executive Director of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund. The organization is working to rebuild the Gulf region devastated by Katrina and US Governmental neglect.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos.
Building solidarity between the Bolivarian Revolution and the Katrina Self-Determination and Reconstruction Movement
Thursday, May 24th - Sunday, May 27th
New Orleans, LA
After Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast and uprooted the lives of more than a million, predominantly Black and working class people, Venezuela, under the leadership of President Hugo Chavez, was one of the first nations to offer humanitarian aid to the United States government and all those displaced.
The US government, under the leadership of George W. Bush, rejected Venezuela’s offer and closed a venue of life saving support sorely needed by the Black and working class Survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Why? The answer lies with the racist and imperialist structure and worldview of the US government. It is this structure and worldview that left Black people to die in New Orleans after the great flood and deliberately attacked them, scattered them, and abandoned them without aid or humanitarian protection. It is this same system and worldview that has repeatedly sought to disrupt and undermine the democratic process in Venezuela and threatened to assassinate its President.
Venezuela’s offer of humanitarian aid to the peoples of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is an extension of its own humanitarian social transformation. This social transformation is called the “Bolivarian Revolution” and its fundamental premise is using grassroots participatory democracy to attain human rights and equitable development to challenge and eradicate the legacies of racism, colonialism, and imperialism that have stunted the growth of the Venezuelan people. Although national in its present scope, the Bolivarian Revolution is a continental and international vision inspired by the American revolution, activated by the Haitian revolution, articulated by Simon Bolivar, reignited by the Cuban revolution, and advanced by Hugo Chavez and Bolivarian Circles throughout Venezuela and the world.
Progressive elements within the Katrina Self-Determination and Reconstruction Movement have, from the beginning, been inspired by the solidarity of President Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan people. The Katrina Self-Determination movement has been emboldened by President Chavez’s principled stance on the right of Katrina Survivors to return with justice and human dignity, and his administrations consistent challenging of the US government internationally on the question of its human rights performance and commitments to those internally displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Most encouraging of all has been the Bolivarian movements recognition of the historic struggles of Black, Native and other oppressed peoples within the US and the acknowledgement that the struggles of our respective people’s are one and the same.
Why New Orleans and the Gulf Coast? Why Venezuela? Why Now?
Sixteen months after Hurricane Katrina, the program of ethnic cleansing in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is in full effect as there are still close to 500,000 displaced persons being systematically denied their right of return throughout the Gulf Coast by the programs and policies of the US government.
The strict adherence to free-market, neo-liberal polices to guide and dictate the pace and scope of the regions recovery have been the most devastating and exclusionary. Grassroots forces of resistance, like the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) and Common Ground Relief (CGR), have been working tirelessly to counter this assault through autonomous relief and recovery efforts including free housing gutting and health clinics, social movement initiatives like the Affordable Housing campaign, and human rights initiatives like the International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. However, to beat back the ethnic cleansing assault and win the right of return these forces desperately need national and international support and solidarity.
Venezuela, despite its social advances, is also in desperate need of solidarity. To stop the advance of participatory and economic democracy being developed in Venezuela, the US Government, multinational corporations, and ruling interests continue to threaten President Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution with political and economic sabotage, disruption, and worse. Progressive forces within the US, particularly within the most oppressed sectors, must stand up and stop this threat being committed in their name, as an “injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere”.
Therefore, a call for a “Mutual Aid and International Solidarity Conference” between these two movements couldn’t come at a more critical time.
Inspired by the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution and moved by the ongoing human rights crisis in the Mississippi Gulf Coast, grassroots organizers in the Katrina Self-Determination and Bolivarian Movements throughout the country have agreed to come together to host the “Mutual Aid and International Solidarity Conference” in New Orleans, Louisiana at Dillard University May 24th – 27th, 2007 to share organizing experiences, explore opportunities for mutual aid and assistance, and stand in solidarity with each others democratic struggles for human rights and self-determination.
We call on all progressive forces in the US to join us at the “Mutual Aid and International Solidarity Conference” to build the Katrina Self-Determination and Bolivarian Solidarity Movements and to build person to person, grassroots links between the peoples of Venezuela and the United States.
What You Can Do
You can help this grassroots initiative by making a donation towards its operating expenses, which include venue fee’s, international travel and accommodation, printing, translation, etc. Make all donations out to: People’s Hurricane Relief Fund (earmark Solidarity Conference) Send all donations to: Vanguard Public Foundation 383 Rhode Island Street, Suite 301 San Francisco, CA 94103. To make an online donation visit: http://www.vanguardsf.org/index.php?s=40 (please indicted Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund)
If you or your organization is interested in sponsoring the conference please contact Janvieve Williams at the US Human Rights Network at 404.588.9761 / firstname.lastname@example.org or William Camacaro at 718.510.5523 / email@example.com.
Volunteers are also needed for logistics, outreach, etc. If you are interested in volunteering, contact the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund at 504.301.0215 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
African World Studies Program, Dillard University
Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle –, New York, NY http://nybolivarian.blogspot.com
People’s Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) www.peopleshurricane.org
National Hip Hop Political Convention (NHHPC)
Common Ground Relief (CGR) www.commongroundrelief.org