New Delhi/Jammu, October 17 (Scoop News)- Media Experts on Third World and Developing Countries, Foreign policy media personnel, writers and members of the Delhi Union of Journalists and the Delhi Media Centre for Research & Publications Trust made a fervent plea for a new information order if not an alternative information order to combat trivialism and virtual blackout of what was once known as the third world project and even called by many as the non-aligned movement.
A stimulating spotlight discussion on the victory of Hugo Chavez in the recent elections in Venezuela and its implications for Latin America countries and others was held in New Delhi. Venezuela’s Ambassador Ms. Milena Santana-Ramirez and Cuban Ambassador Abelardo Rafael Cueto Sosa led the discussion organised by the Delhi Media Centre for Research & Publications. Music by the group Parcham and the poetry of Pablo Neruda also marked the event. The ambassadors of the two countries participated in the discussion.
Hugo Chavez is a fighter, said Ambassador Santana-Ramirez, and he fought against all odds to return to power. His victory, she said, reflects the popularity of the Venezuelan model of twenty first century Socialism which puts the people at the centre, giving them the benefits of affordable food, housing, healthcare and education.
Investment in the social sector, she said, has shown the people that for the first time they have a government which is responsive to their needs.
Ambassador Santana-Ramirez observed that the past ten years have witnessed the election of several progressive governments in Latin America. They follow different models of Socialism but there is unity in this diversity, with the creation of various regional blocs and alliances for mutual support and cooperation. Latin America, she said,
is rich in resources and knowhow and pooling of these resources is achieving results.
Cuban Ambassador Sosa recalled the close bonds between Cuba and Venezuela. He said this is a time of unity for Latin America, “a time to preserve our roots and to create our own Socialism”. The Cuban government, he said, has given its full support to Chavez in Venezuela in his moments of crisis.
He also recalled the close ties between India and Cuba, harking back to the time when Jawaharlal Nehru went to meet Fidel Castro in a small hotel in Harlem in New York just before a United Nations’ General Assembly in September 1960. Nehru’s support for the Cuban leader helped to forge the unity of the Non Aligned Movement, he observed. He
also recalled the strong ties with Indira Gandhi and the support provided by the Indian people which sent a shipload of wheat to Cuba when the country faced an economic blockade and food shortages.
He said Cuba is not perfect but it is has a functional democracy with people choosing their representatives at grassroots through elections. Cuba has its own model of Socialism and is presently moving from a hundred percent state economy to a mixed economy, while ensuring that everyone has free education and health care, he said.
Prof. Vibha Maurya of Delhi University’s Department of Germanic and Romance Studies spoke on the impact of Chavez’s policies on Venezuelan politics and the sharp polarization between his supporters, the Chavistas and the anti-Chavistas. She said Chavez was among the first to oppose the celebration of Columbus Day which is the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. For Chavez the day
marks the beginning of colonization. When he said the holiday should be abolished, people in Caracas knocked down statues of Columbus.
Those opposed to Chavez decried this. She said Chavez’s promotion of people’s art and folk art is also a political act and is therefore opposed by exclusive groups like the ‘People of Culture’.
Dr. John Cherian, Bureau Chief of the Frontline, stated that “important achievements had been the government’s ability to provide free health care and education and a profit-free distribution system.
On the foreign policy front he said “Venezuela has played a key role in reshaping the political map of Latin America. American hegemonic influence is now only limited to a few pockets. Regional organizations like CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) are all set to transplant American dominated groupings like the Organisation of American States (OAS). Chavez was also the moving force behind ALBA (The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), a grouping that consists of staunchly anti-imperialist states like Cuba, Bolivia,
Ecuador and Nicaragua. His victory will also strengthen organizations like the NAM that have been striving for a multi-polar world.”
S.K. Pande of the General Secretary of the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) said the reportage of developing countries and their struggles was less important than the coverage of American elections and coverage of issues affecting the toiling masses. In fact, NAM had become a token for India’s foreign policy experts and some embedded
journalists. In fact we don’t even have correspondents covering many third world countries, while it is prestigious to have correspondents in select western countries and super powers.
Secretary of the Janawadi Lekhak Sangh, Rekha Avasthi recited a touching poem of Pablo Neruda, while Latin America tunes and freedom struggle tunes from various countries were also played.
On the occasion President of the Delhi Union of Journalists, Sujata Madhok, announced that the DUJ and its media centre as a policy decision would now have a spotlight wing, a foreign affairs wing and a trade union wing, besides others. The programme is to be announced soon.
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