[News] Venezuela - the United Socialist Front of People with Disabilities

Anti-Imperialist News 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 I’ve received. After 
I had a motor bike accident, I received my eye 
operations free with Mission Milagro (Miracle). 
I’ve 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 can’t 
work or their families can’t 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 
can’t 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 didn’t 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, that’s 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 we’re 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.

You’ve 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 I’d 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 I’d received. But I 
needed to think of a good way to do it; I can’t 
give much money, I don’t 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 we’ve received by 
giving political support to the revolution. You 
can’t 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.

Freedom Archives
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San Francisco, CA 94110

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