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By Aleksander Boyd

The International Human Rights Seminar held in Oxford last October served as a catalyst for a number of people who felt that the occasion provided enough reasons to take an active stance towards Venezuelan issues. Many believed that the mere presence of Hugo Chavez -as a guest speaker in a human rights conference- was a slap to our already battered dignity. Some decided to take action while some others inundated the intranet of Oxford university with letters sketching the utter incoherence that this event was going to represent i.e. the invitation to a person who made his international debut when attempting to overthrow by military means a democratically elected president. In spite of our protest the organizers did not cancel the event, although one must add that in the future they will be extremely careful when choosing their speakers. Oxford university provided a statement dissociating from those who organized the seminar.

The strategy then was not well orchestrated. As a matter of fact many of the organizations which are advocating nowadays for a peaceful and democratic resolution to the Venezuelan crisis were not even founded. As an example Vcrisis was created just after the seminar followed by Proveo shortly after. Eight months later though we feel in need to change our strategy. The organizations which form the atomized opposition have done to date none other than accusing the Venezuelan president of his numerous crimes in a rather vociferant and disorderly manner (Vcrisis and Proveo included). In my particular case, not one day passes without receiving at least 250 emails from Venezuelans around the planet. The content of these messages is invariably some sort of criticism towards Hugo Chavez, his actions, his abuses, his collaborators and so on.

Believe you me, you need not to convince me of the true nature of the Venezuelan president. Spreading the news around is something that we have not profited from. Every time the government wants something to be known at a global scale, it only takes sending an email to someone in the opossition or giving a statement to the private media. Time and time again we fell on their game. Actually we are their most efficient PR firm and the saddest thing of all is that we are doing it without even realizing it! Think of it for a minute, the Bolivarian forum in Caracas or the upcoming one in Paris, the declarations of government officials, the content of presidential speeches.. They all have been magnified and circulated massively by us not by the chavistas. Trust me the international media is not paying too much attention to Hugo Chavez or the Bolivarian revolution, it is us who are absolutely focused on every single word that comes out of the president's mouth, it is us who have mile long mailing lists to be used for the redistribution of government propaganda, it is us who echo each and every act of the president. No one else.

Therefore our strategy must change. We need to focus on what's really important: the recall referendum.. If and when the occasion permits rather than distributing government's agendas we must emphasize our own achievements. It is worth noting some events that constitute a resounding success for all Venezuelans. Ricardo Golding -director of Venezolanos en Chile- handed in personally a series of letters requesting assistance to the diplomats who form the Group of Friends and was interviewed by local TV networks regarding the referendum. This was done in conjunction with a myriad of Venezuelan organizations which have been formed around the planet. Such a feat would have been extremely difficult to accomplish in Venezuela at the present conditions.

Then we have the upcoming conference in Geneva, seat of some of the most important international bodies -organized by Iniciativa por Venezuela-. Said conference will be chaired by Bingen De Arbeloa, (Member of the government body of the International Labour Organization and employee’s delegate at the 2003 ILO International Labour Conference). Speakers and assistants alike will analyze the current crisis in the country.

The city of London will be the venue for a series of events, which will contribute to the furtherance of our democratic cause. Firstly we will meet with the directorate for the Americas of Amnesty International, where a detailed account about the grave violations to human rights will be given by Mohamad Merhi, father of one of the victims of last April's shootings and president of VIVE (Venezuelan NGO representing the victims of said abuses and crimes against humanity). The aim of the meeting is to inform the international community through Amnesty about the climate of disrespect to human liberties in Venezuela and to commence with action campaigns worldwide to alert the general public. This most certainly will have an impact on the perspective held by some regarding the character of the present administration.

Secondly, we will demonstrate in front of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster followed by a visit to the Latin American and Caribbean department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The presentation of the documentary "The Sins of Chavez" in the London School of Economics will be the concluding event of the day. Proveo and VIVE will join efforts for the successful completion of said events.

It is of extreme importance to capitalize on these actions. We all need to perceive them as victories in our long struggle to convert the country into the place we want our children to live. Let the world know about our feats!

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