International Feminist Brigade begins in Venezuela

Delegations of women from the five continents have traveled to Venezuela to learn about the struggle of women in the Bolivarian Revolution and share experiences from their own regions

June 19, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
I Alexandra Kollontai International Feminist Brigade. Photo: ISB

Women from the five continents have traveled to Caracas to participate in the I Alexandra Kollontai International Feminist Brigade, which began Friday June 17 and will conclude on June 27. The aim of the brigade is to exchange experiences on women’s community organization and in building popular feminism.

There are 29 women from 20 countries, including Swaziland, South Africa, Lesotho, Ghana, Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Cuba, the United States, Palestine, Morocco, Romania, Turkey, and Iraq, who will tour five Venezuelan states getting to know communes and other popular organizations led by women.

The brigade is organized by the International Peoples’ Assembly (IPA), the Simon Bolivar Institute for Peace and Solidarity (ISB), and is part of the feminist training program “Manuela Saenz”.

“We understand that the fundamental mission of this Brigade will be to debate on the concept of revolutionary popular feminism, because we understand that feminism is also a space of struggle in dispute. That is why we want to meet with women who build territorial organizations in Venezuela, in defense of sovereignty, dignity and the struggle for a socialist feminism,” says Laura Franco, one of the organizers of the event.

Franco highlights how since the ascension of Hugo Chávez as president and now with the government of Nicolás Maduro, the process of social transformations in Venezuela, called Bolivarian Revolution, has a feminist character.

“The Bolivarian Revolution has the face of women. They occupy the main positions of leadership of popular power in Venezuela. US imperialism identifies that Venezuelan women are the engine and the social base of support of the Revolution, that is why it tries with a series of attacks to demoralize, depoliticize, and discourage women believing that in this way it could carry forward its plans to overthrow the government. What we are showing is that this will not happen,” says the Venezuelan feminist activist.

Since 2015, Venezuela has been suffering an economic blockade imposed by the United States that generates an estimated annual damage of US$ 30 billion and has caused the withdrawal of 60% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in six years.

The Brigade kicked off with an analysis of the current context with a feminist perspective led by Layan Fuleihan of the IPA and Erika Farías of Frente Francisco de Miranda. This presentation was followed by a panel with Lídice Altuve, the vice president of ISB, María Leon of the national board of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and Diva Guzmán, the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, on the perspectives of current and historical feminist struggle in Venezuela. These exchanges will continue throughout the 10 days of the brigade where participants will meet with different organizations and leaders throughout Venezuelan territory to learn more about their experiences.

Fuleihan stated in her intervention that “We don’t have this opportunity every day and we must take advantage of it. We are here to learn and accompany our Venezuelan sisters. We are here to stand against capitalism and imperialism.”

The name of the International Brigade seeks to honor the 150th anniversary of Alexandra Kollontai, who was the People’s Commissar for Social Welfare in the Soviet Union. In 1917, she was the first Soviet ambassador, in 1924, in Norway, and is a world reference of socialist feminism.

With reports from Brasil de Fato.