[News] Venezuela - the United Socialist Front of People with Disabilities
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 20 12:59:38 EDT 2010
The History and Mission of the United Socialist
Front of People with Disabilities
By Sam Mcgill, May 19th 2010
On Saturday 10th of April, Frente Unido
Socialista de Personas con Discapacidad (FUSPD
United Socialist Front of People with
Disabilities) celebrated its first birthday with
a friendly basketball game in Municipio Guacara,
Carabobo State. In this interview, FUSPD
President Jose Rodriguez explains the history behind FUSPD and its aims.
What are the objectives of FUSPD?
Our objective is to achieve, in accordance with
our capacities, the integration of people with
disabilities into family and community life. To
mediate direct participation as citizens, with
our rights, incorporated into the joint
participation of society and family. We also
focus on using community spaces that rightfully
belong to us as members of Venezuelan society,
participating in areas of work, politics,
society, economy, health, culture and sports,
with equal conditions and rights. We support
people and ourselves to demonstrate our capacities.
What was the situation was like for people with
disabilities before the Bolivarian Revolution?
In the past, it was approximately 80,000 bolivars
for the eye operations like Ive received. After
I had a motor bike accident, I received my eye
operations free with Mission Milagro (Miracle).
Ive received free operation on my legs, skull,
and teeth with the Mission Sonrisa (Smile). I
went to live in Maternidad, Caracas in a Centro
de atencion integral a personas con discapacidad
(Centre of integral attention for people with
disabilities). For one year I received free food,
free healthcare, free clothes, toiletries and I
lived there for free. This helped me to get
rehabilitated. The programme works with the
Mission Negra Hipolita and also provides
attention for people with drug and alcohol
problems and those on the streets. The Centres
have a 3-month minimum programme where if you
want to receive treatment you agree to stay there
3 months without leaving. This is due to the
connection between disabilities and drug/alcohol use.
Of course, not everyone who has a disability
lives on the streets or becomes addicted to drugs
but because before this government, people with
disabilities were literally left out on the
streets to die, the issues often go hand in hand.
With these rehabilitation centres you can stay
there for one year without paying a thing, this
is really important because many people cant
work or their families cant support them.
Depending on you disability or problem you are
encouraged to take courses, practice sports,
everyone has to get active in doing something. If
after a year you want to stay more you can do but
you have to contribute, they help you find work,
and you contribute what you can afford. This
means that people get back on their feet and get
their lives back. Obviously there are people who
cant ever work or can never live independently
and there are other projects and places where
they can live and get the support they need.
For me, the government helped me with my house
that I live in now. They provided me with a house
and kitted it out with all the equipment, all of
which is worth 150,000 Bolivars, now I live
independently, work and run FUSPD with others.
Before, disabilities or people left incapacitated
after accidents and injuries were ignored,
outcast and segregated. If you had money you
could get treatment but if you didnt have money
the doctors would turn their backs. With the
arrival of the Cuban doctors with Barrio Adentro,
people began to be attended to and be treated.
Now with the 2007 Ley de personas con
discapacidad (Law of People with Disabilities)
we have rights that have to be respected, they
are laws, for example each enterprise has to
employ people with disabilities, at a rate no less that 5% of its workforce.
Can you tell me more about the work of FUSPD; is
it National or local to Valencia?
With support from friends and comrades I set up
FUSPD in 2009, first it was just in Valencia, in
Municipio Guacara, thats still where most of the
work is based but it is national and anyone with
disabilities in any area in the whole of
Venezuela can get involved. Our work consists of
finding and meeting people from the community
with disabilities, getting to know them,
organising sports games, like basketball. We run
a computer course in The Guajira Club, share
information about rights and the laws. Our work
is incorporated in the table of the local
communal councils. Now were working with the
Mission Che Guevara which is currently running a
pilot project, supporting people to get involved
in work, job training and education
opportunities. Of course we fight for equal
rights within everything we get involved in too.
We go out and incorporate people with
disabilities into daily life with dignity and
support them to stop just being social welfare projects.
Youve achieved a lot in one year, how did you begin this kind of work?
I was so grateful for the attention and support I
was given, once Id gotten back on my feet, got
some vision back, and started walking again, I
wanted to do something to support the revolution,
give back some of the support Id received. But I
needed to think of a good way to do it; I cant
give much money, I dont have training as a
doctor or teacher or anything. So, I decided to
set up FUSPD because I realized there are lots of
people like me and we need to get involved in the
revolution, fight for our own space within it and
also give back the support that weve received by
giving political support to the revolution. You
cant just take all the time, you need to give
back too, we need to raise
consciousness-sometimes when people receive their
money or wheelchairs or other equipment they need
they sell them on and just think about the money
that they make, this damages and robs from the
revolution. I also wanted to build consciousness
and show to other people that we have a place in
the revolution and we can build to support it.
FUSPD is getting support from the Mayor of
Guacara, the Contraloria Municipal, the municipal
council, PDVSA Mission Ribas and the Mission Che
Guevara. This kind of support and the rights we
have won can only be possible in a socialist
revolution, a socialist process and so we need to defend it.
FUSPD can be contacted on 0416 243 69 14 and the
group meets every Wednesday at 2pm in the Guajira
Club (el Club la Guajira), Municipality Guacara, Valencia, Carabobo state.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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