Tour of Josà© del Carmen Alvarado, mayor of Guasdualito on the border to Colombia
Since Hugo Chávez Fràas was elected president in 1998 Venezuela has become the most dynamic place of Latin America. The impact of the Bolivarian Revolution fighting for real national sovereignty and social equality is huge. Soon the anti-imperialist orientation of the president became a target of the US which fears to loose a major supplier of crude oil.
Especially in the border region to Colombia, in the federal state of Apure, the conflict between the old oligarchic power and its international backers on one side and the new Bolivarian movement on the other assumes an open and explosive character. Colombia is one of the prime allies of the US who has some 400 troops there allegedly for "combating drug trafficking and terrorism". While Venezuela is being accused of supporting the Colombian guerrilla, Chavez regards the US presence on the territory of the neighbour as a threat.
At the same time the clash between the elite of land owners and the poor peasants is the sharpest in Apure. The peasants and the landless regard themselves empowered by their "commander Chavez" and his land reform to occupy the idle estates and return it to those who till it. While the Bolivarian Revolution so far was more or less a peaceful movement of reforms, in Apure the struggle between paramilitary forces and the peasant movement left 115 tillers dead.
The community of Guasdualito
Guasdualito belongs to the federal state of Apure. Behind the capital San Josà© it is the second biggest town of the province. The community is located only an half-hour-drive away from the Colombian border. The civil war there has left its marks also on Guasdualito. Both Colombian paramilitaries as well as guerrillas freely cross the border line. The garrison of Guasdualito is less engaged in securing the border than with contraband traffic. Their main partner are the paramilitaries.
Traditionally the population has been making its livelihood with agriculture and fishing as it is located on the bank of the Rio Apure. But also here the petroleum boom has left its traces. The agrarian potential remains in fallow while the big landowners could increase their territories also in connection to the Colombian drug mafia. On the other side this has pushed Guasdualito to become the centre of the peasant movement led by the "Revolutionary Peasant Front Simà³n Bolivar".
Who is Josà© "Pepete" Alvarado?
Josà© Alvarado, born in 1966, originates from the peasant movement of Guasdualito. He later joined the leftist party "Patria para Todos" (PPT, Fatherland for All) which supported the candidacy of Chávez for presidency. But with the time the PPT, though supporting the new president, turned out to be like the traditional political class forgetting about those who their claim to represent. Thus Alvarado, who enjoys great popularity, decided to quit. In autumn 2004 he ran for the mayor as an independent candidate forming the "Movimiento de Bases Populares" (MBP, Popular Base Movement). On the platform of "people's power" he was elected mayor with a vast majority. Together with the predominately very young militants of his movement he tries to build new forms of direct democracy experimenting on possibilities for "people's power" all over Venezuela.
Beside reporting on his experiences Alvarado is asking for concrete solidarity. One possible form is to build partnerships between European municipalities and Guasdualito.
He also will raise support for the project of a "School for People's Power" run by the municipality to educate the political, administrative and technical cadres to substitute the old elite.
Furthermore he wants to inform about and invite to the Bolivarian Anti-imperialist Camp scheduled for January 2006 both in Caracas and Guasdualito which is being organised by the MBP together with a coalition of the revolutionary forces of Venezuela.