Dane County Board votes to establish ties with Venezuela


Dane County Board votes to establish ties with Venezuela
Dane County Board votes overwhelmingly to establish sister-county relationship with Andres Eloy Blanco Municipality


Charity Schmidt, Board Member, Community Action on Latin America Ph. (608) 334-6370
Ashok Kumar, Former Dane County Supervisor, District 5 Ph. (608) 843-0615
Martin Sanchez, Venezuelan Consulate General – Chicago Ph. (312) 236-9655
Juscha Robinson, Fellow, Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution Ph. (608) 239-4269

Madison – This week County Executive Kathleen Falk signed the resolution that established a sister county relationship with Andres Eloy Blanco, Venezuela. This comes at the heels of last week's overwhelming vote of support by the Dane County Board of Supervisors for the resolution. The "Resolution to Accept the Invitation to Establish a Sister Relationship with the People of Andres Eloy Blanco Municipality, Venezuela" was a response to a visit by Venezuela's ambassador Bernardo Alvarez to Dane County. Alvarez met with Supervisors in an effort to establish a sister relationship between Dane County and a municipality in Venezuela.

Martin Sanchez, the Venezuelan Consulate General from Chicago, emphasized the groundbreaking nature of the agreement, "This agreement is the first between a US city, county, or state in the last decade since Hugo Chavez was elected. It will surely contribute to improved relations between the American and the Venezuela people. Venezuela will now get to see aspects of American culture, traditions and everyday life that they haven't seen outside the trivial portrayal of the US by Hollywood. Also, Dane county residents will get to see positive aspects of Venezuelan society that are not covered by corporate media."

County Supervisors, community organizers, and officials in Andres Eloy Blanco worked together to formulate the resolution and relationship. Matt Earley, co-owner of Madison-based cooperative Just Coffee, who recently returned from visiting Sanare, the capital of Andres Eloy Blanco, said; "This agreement will help us develop people-to-people relationships as well as the trading of goods and services. We are very excited at the prospect of supplying coffee from Sanare to residents in the US which will be made infinitely easier with the passage of the sister-county relationship."

Sanare is an urban area surrounded by small rural towns located in the Midwest of Venezuela. The main engine of the municipality's economy is agriculture and coffee production. According to Mayor Alfredo Orozco, during many decades this area has been the epicenter of many struggles for social justice and is also considered to be the birthplace of the Venezuelan peasant cooperative movement, as well as home of poets, musicians and revolutionary leaders. All these characteristics make Andres Eloy Blanco a place with a unique social and progressive environment, as well as a place whose inhabitants have great adherence to participatory democracy and to community life. "After receiving the visit of several Wisconsin residents in our state we are very excited at officially establishing a Sister County relationship with Dane County," said the Mayor.

Beyond official recognition of the sister-county relationship, the resolution would also establish a revenue and expense account for donations, and form a taskforce to foster trade, enhance intercultural understanding, and encourage communication, friendship, and goodwill between communities in Venezuela and the United States.

Former Downtown Madison County Supervisor and lead sponsor of the resolution, Ashok Kumar, thanked the County Board and the County Executive for their support, stating, "The sister-county resolution passed unanimously in both the Personal and Finance Committee and the Executive Committee and on the floor last Thursday. This is a testament to the open-minded nature of Dane County residents and elected officials and it will undoubtedly assist social movements of both Dane County and Andres Eloy Blanco."