Fire This Time Interviews 3 Revolutionary Venezuelan Youth
By Tamara Hansen and Alison Bodine
Fire This Time was honoured to meet and discuss with three revolutionary youth in Venezuela: Laurimar Simoza, Alexander Gil, and Albanys Montilla. Each spoke candidly about why they are supporting the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and how they are involved as young political activists and organizers in their own communities.
Fire This Time: Thank you for being here with Fire This Time Newspaper from Canada. Can you introduce yourself and say a little about yourself?
Laurimar Samosa: My name is Laurimar Simoza. I am 16 years old, and officially since Monday, I am a graduate of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. I studied at the Bolivarian High School “Armando Reverón”. One of the achievements of the revolution in Venezuela is that secondary education is totally free, which I benefited from. The Bicentennial Collection, which is a collection of books that, depending on the level of education, give you everything you need according to your educational plan. For those who do not have computers at their disposal or the possibility of going to a cyber café, they can connect to education through these books.
Before that, I lived in a very rural area known as Marapapiachi and my house was built by my parents and it was, a humble house, not a ranch, but a house. It was near a danger zone. It turns out that in 2011, in December of that year, one of the rains that normally affect the State and La Guaira occurred. Then many houses in that area were affected. In my case, the bathroom, the room where I slept, and part of another room fell apart. In the middle of that we spent about two months with my family in a shelter, provided by the government, and then they gave us an apartment as part of the Venezuela Housing Mission, which, if I’m not mistaken that year was the birth of the mission and I was a beneficiary.
From there I started living there in Maiquetía, which has approximately one thousand families or so. Then, followed by that they gave us the benefit of appliances, a fridge, a brand-new kitchen, new ones too, although we already had some, which, as we already had them, we returned as well.
Last year, if I’m not mistaken, I joined the militancy with the OBE, Bolivarian Student Organization, at the request of a friend. I’ve always had a left-leaning mind. Now that I realize what I already know, I can’t say that I could ever walk with the right-wing.
Now that I reflect back and with all the training processes that I have been involved in thanks to the PSUV, the youth and all these forums or opportunities that they have given us, I realized that I believe that no student can really walk with the right-wing. Once you realize that certain governments cut education, that they take away the possibility of scholarships, that education can become privatized, that it can become not by merit, but by some advantage — the OBE opened my eyes. I am infinitely thankful to that friend who got me involved in this, because together with several of my classmates we are like a big family. It is something that I believe, that these organizations have, when you join the militancy, a large family — either of youth or of women — whether in the Robert Serra Mission or Youth Chambas. We are a family. They welcome you and give you their love, they help you to train, they help you to prepare, they help us to have an ideal that often opens my eyes. It’s different.
So, since last year I am militant within the OBE, which is the Bolivarian Student Organization that is recognized worldwide, of which I feel very proud. We came from participating in the CLAE which was the Latin American and Caribbean Student Congress and it was a real experience that opened my eyes, that reminds me why I want to walk here, why I want to continue with this. I want to fight because so that not only Venezuela, but also other countries can achieve that free secondary education, including free meal programs from which I have benefited. Despite many changes we have found different ways to overcoming challenges. So, it has been a very beautiful experience, I am infinitely grateful for everything they have shown me.
Fire This Time: I got to know you a little during my visit these days and I know you have a personal passion.
Laurimar Simoza: Drawing. I have been drawing since I entered first year, before I liked to draw, but I started taking it seriously during my first year. There are many people who supported me with advice or by giving me areas and materials to draw. Even during this school year, due to the social work law where all fifth year (and sixth-year students in the case of technical high schools) must help out in communities and their high school, in this way we develop young people who will help society.
I helped create the murals inside our high school, to recover several areas and I really love it. Both because it helps me to express myself. Honestly, one of the most beautiful things when you draw is when the other person says ‘oh wow, it’s me’ or ‘oh wow thanks for the drawing’ is a great feeling, at first it’s like that and then practicing and seeing that you make people feel happy with your art is too beautiful.
Fire This Time: Thank you!
Fire This Time: Thank you for being here with Fire This Time. Can you introduce yourself? What is your name? What do you do?
Alexander Gil: My name is Alexander Gil. I come from a social movement called “Hijos del Sur” (Children of the South). We work in communities with our youth, in the popular neighborhoods. We establish training cells, both in Marxist-Leninist education and the theme of our history of Venezuela, which must be salvaged because a people without historical memory is doomed to modern slavery. We always keep that in mind, but we also have “aula alterna,” what we call alternate classrooms, which are productive classrooms.
We understand that as a result of the induced crisis they [the Untied States] are trying to impose on Venezuela, we have to respond with productivity especially us as young people. We have developed strategies to teach young people in our neighborhoods to become productive producers. We teach artisanal and screen-printing workshops, like this shirt that I have on [points to his t-shirt of Fidel Castro], we make it, we design it. We also have courses of different types of masonry and other trades, that is, we give young people the tools to educate and defend themselves, because the revolutionary process is also the struggle for productivity. In addition to the intellectual issue, that is praxis — theory and practice.
Fire This Time: In North America and in Europe there are many lies in the media about Venezuela. If you could communicate directly the American or European people and youth, what do you want them to know about the Venezuelan reality?
Alexander Gil: Look, look, although in Venezuela an attempt has been made to impose a very strong opinion matrix — that we are a country at war, that we are a country where socialists are eating children — that old Second World War or post-World War II strategy to spread fear that communists eat children and all this kind of thing. I would tell them to come to Venezuela when they can, to come, to interact with the communities. Even though Venezuela has very beautiful beaches and has very beautiful landscapes — Venezuela also has organized communities. I think that is our greatest potential.
That warmth you feel when you enter a Venezuelan community, you will not feel it in any other part of the world. That organization demonstrates our love for the project we are building. No other people in the world will give that to you. Venezuela has a lot to offer at the organizational level, at the level of cultural manifestations.
What I would say is that despite the fact that in mainstream media worldwide we are still projected as a country at war, as a country in crisis, we are still betting on advancing. As I told you at the beginning, we are still betting on a social, political and alternative model to capitalism that allows the greatest possible amount of happiness to our people.
Fire This Time: Thank you very much!
Fire This Time: Thank you very much for being here with Fire This Time. Can you introduce yourself?
Albanys Montilla: My name is Albanys Montilla. I am a student of political studies and government. I am 21 years old. I am a member of the “Hijos del Sur” Collective and of the feminist social organization Lydda Franco Farías. As I have been discussing with my compañera Tamara, it is important to meet as youth, to meet as women, to discuss what we are living through here in Venezuela, which is very challenging because we are going through a series of crises and situations created by the coercive economic measures imposed by the government of Donald Trump in the United States.
At the same time, we are building from the inside, we are developing as youth. We are empowering ourselves in our political spaces, in our economic spaces, to build a better country.
Within Venezuela’s historical evolution, we have been creating processes of independence, since Simón Bolívar, since Spain colonized us to now, with the process of President Chávez. From which we have been experiencing attacks from the new empire of the new United States. And we from the inside, as I have been saying, we have been resisting, acting as an example to Latin America and the world of what the revolutionary vanguard is. As youth we have to start rethinking the models of government that we have seen since our birth, in our development and the models that we must build for a better tomorrow, for a better future, because political governments are transitory. However, the models we must begin to discuss are socialist models, humanist models, what Marx asked us, and what a group of leaders who have been proposing a more human vision, a vision of development, a vision of coexistence for life of the human race on earth is what we must bet on and we must collectively build, understanding that as sister nations, as countries, as youth, we must coexist in a united way, in a way which unites our struggles.
Fire This Time: What do you think people in North America can do to show solidarity and help Venezuelans?
Albanys Montilla: First, I think they should come to Venezuela. We invite you to come, share with us, share our reality, understand what our communities and neighborhoods are, what our social movements are, what our schools are, what our training centers are, what everything we want to build will be. From there each person must review and understand the political leaders they choose each time they go to an election there in their country.
Fire This Time: Thank you!
Albanys Montilla: Thank you!