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"Learn from the world and share of ourselves," announced Yadira Pirela, the General Coordinator of the 3rd Global Encounter in Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, at its opening ceremony today in the Teresa Careño Theater.

During the ceremony, which was also attended by Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, Pirela thanked the crowd for contributing to a common dream of "an independent and sovereign country, with a highly developed economic potential, but fundamentally, a country that establishes itself as an example for all of the people of the world."

Between April 14th and 16th, Venezuela will bring together over 4,000 people from twenty countries across the world to participate in eight different discussion tables in eight different cities throughout the country. They will exchange national and international experiences, consolidate the revolutionary process and interact with the Venezuelan people.

This encounter is distinct to the other two international gatherings: "The 4th International Conference on the Social Debt" and "The World Forum of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity" that Venezuela hosted in the last four months. Instead of focusing on inviting world-renown intellectuals, the fifty-one panelists who will partake in the discussion tables are either actual participants living the reality of these areas or experts in these fields.

For example, in San Felipe, Yaracuy, members of the Landless Movement (MST) in Brazil will speak in the "Agrarian Reform" discussion table. In the "Democracy and Communicational Sovereignty" table in the northern state of Miranda Telesur directors will share their vision for a Latin American news channel and a documentary will be shown in homage of those who lost their lives and those who continue to fight for freedom of the press.

"We decided to do a quality rather than a quantity encounter," affirmed Marta Harnecker, the coordinator of the "Experiences of Citizens’ Participation in the Local Sphere" discussion table during a press conference yesterday. Harnecker added that the "Citizens’ Participation" discussion table, to be held in the southeastern city of Puerto Ordaz, will include contributions of participatory democracy experts from the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

Referring to the "Inhabitants, Public Housing and Habitat" discussion table, Yadira Pirela noted that members of Venezuelan cooperatives such as Vuelvan Caras will share their experiences with participants.

Argentine and Cuban architects will journey to Barquisimeto, a tourist city in the northern state of Lara, to speak on the construction of popular living alternatives. Additionally, there will be a panelist presenting "Constructing Houses and Transforming Man," a presentation detailing the connection between forming values and maintaining living spaces.

According to Pirela, "we did not want a large panel of speakers but instead we wanted the participants to see where the people eat, live and sleep...this is an opportunity for the people to share their experiences with the¨ [participants].

"Education is very important for transforming society," stated Luis Bonilla, adding that, "educators from all over Venezuela, including teachers, professors and the people who work day after day for change, will be traveling to Barinas" to participate in the `Education, Human Rights and Youth’ discussion table. Bonilla, who will lead the Education discussion table, added that that international experts from countries such as Colombia, Cuba, Mexico and Argentina as well as others, will also contribute their views and experiences.

From to the "Political Protagonism of Indigenous and Afro-descendents" panel in the mid-Eastern state of Anzoátegui to "The Women’s Movement and Their Prominent Role in the Revolutionary Process," in Caracas, Harnecker affirms, "the world is watching the Venezuelan process...this encounter demonstrates the world’s will to move forward." When asked if this is a "leftist" event Harnecker responded, "This is an event that is trying to gather people who think outside the framework of a capitalist world.

We don’t have many answers yet, but we have a great will and the world has many expectations of us...this is not an event for those who make alliances with the United States instead of with Venezuela or for those who think first of profits, no. But this is not just an event for Chavistas either. This is for anyone who believes in popular power."

Although registration for the discussion tables is no longer open, there are events offered in the afternoons open to the public. The experiences that the panelists will share will be recorded by film teams so that they are later available to others. Additionally, each discussion table will be responsible for producing a document proposing strategies of action with respect to their topic.