Tens of thousands of students rallied in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas in a show of support for President Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution and to celebrate the “Day of Youth” on Friday.
The demonstration occurred just weeks after violent protests by hundreds of right-wing opposition students in support of private television channel RCTV made international headlines.
Robert Serra an activist from the youth wing of Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (J-PSUV) said the rally was “a clear demonstration of where the majority of the youth and student sectors of the country stand.”
Dani VallÃ©s a student councilor from the University of the East said “we are on the side of the people and we’re not going to let the oligarchy destabilise Venezuela.”
From the early hours of the morning thousands of students and young workers gathered at the National Experimental University of the Armed Forces (UNEFA) and marched through the opposition controlled wealthy eastern suburbs of Caracas to the Bolivarian University, where they were met by thousands more students and activists.
To the sounds of music and chants of “Chavez is here to stay” and “Expropriation, confiscation, the means of production for the people”, students danced and marched along the 10 km route arriving around 5pm at the Miraflores Presidential Palace, where Chavez addressed the crowd.
The president called on young people to assume a leading role, saying that the future of the revolution and the country depended on them.
In particular he called on them to be critical and to tackle bureaucracy, which he said posed the biggest threat to the revolution and pointed to the example of the bureaucratic degeneration of the Russian revolution.
Chavez also welcomed the creation of the new Bicentenary Youth Front, formed on February 2 to unite all the pro-revolution youth organizations around the country, including the JPSUV, the Communist Party Youth, and the youth section of the Homeland for All Party (PPT), as well as other smaller youth movements and currents.
Referring to the recent opposition student protests, Chavez argued they are being used by local and US elites to foment a “coloured revolution” and implement regime change in Venezuela.
The sharp class divisions within Venezuela are reflected in the competing opposition and pro-revolution student movements within the politically polarised country.
On the one hand the majority of Venezuela’s elite autonomous and private universities, which account for approximately 300 000 students, are dominated by right-wing US backed opposition student groups, from predominantly upper and middle-class backgrounds
While the experimental universities, the Bolivarian universities and social missions which together account for around 700 000 students, overwhelmingly from poorer and working-class backgrounds, are strongly supportive of Chavez the Bolivarian revolution.
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This post was written by Kiraz Janicke