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.
This note is to inform you that, unfortunately, the “From New Orleans to Caracas: Mutual Aid and International Solidarity Conference” scheduled for this coming weekend, has been cancelled (we are in ongoing discussions with various Venezuelan forces about a possible postponement, however a number of questions need to be answered in consideration of that option).
I sincerely apologize to all of you who made sacrifices of time and resources to attend, present, participate, etc., especially those outside of the Gulf Coast region who were planning to attend. I wish we were able to communicate much sooner and more effectively this decision. But, unfortunately, a number of developments occurred beyond our control that inhibited our ability to do so. The core conveners of the conference are still in the process of doing an assessment of what happened and why to answer everyone’s questions honestly and accountably, however this is what we know at present:
1. A large number of the invited Venezuelan delegation was denied travel visas to the US, almost all within the last 2 weeks.
2. Several key members of the invited Venezuelan delegation, including members of the Embassy, were recalled last Friday to support a major initiative in Venezuela being planned on the 27th of May to confront a mounting crisis to the Bolivarian movement being posed by RCTV and reactionary forces inside Venezuela and internationally. For more information on this issue see http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=2301, http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news.php?newsno=2299 or http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6679243.stm for a more conservative take.
Both of these factors, but particularly the latter, were critical to the decision to cancel at this time. Having a decisively one-sided affair, with little Venezuelan participation, in my opinion would have been more of a disappointment and disaster than canceling and dealing with the consequences.
It is clearly understood that I personally and PHRF as an organization will be widely criticized for this development, and the manner and timeliness in which it was handled. As an individual I accept that criticism. I do hope however, that folks will continue to work with PHRF and support its efforts to build a just reconstruction movement in the Gulf Coast.
In Unity and Struggle,
PHRF Executive Director