Artists have been working diligently for the past few weeks to create a mural that covers a whole building in 23 de Enero neighbourhood in Caracas, Venezuela. The artists were brought together by local artist Julvio Millar to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people and put the spotlight on Palestine’s ongoing struggle to resist Israeli colonialism. The mural includes a map of Palestine, a key of return, the Palestinian flag, as well as a picture of a Palestinian fighter wearing the traditional keffiyeh and making the V for Victory sign.
The giant artwork is part of a larger project undertaken by Plataforma de solidaridad con Palestina group that is currently working on several initiatives and activities in Venezuela to publicise Israel’s brutal eviction and dispossession of Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the besieged Gaza Strip.
Millar has focused on painting murals since 1974, with more than 3,000 throughout Venezuela. He is also known as a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause ever since he was a university student and has put his passion for the cause to work in solidarity with Palestine as the General Coordinator of César Rengifo group involved in street art and painting murals.
“We are part of the Palestine Solidarity Platform in Venezuela,” he told me. “Since its creation, we have painted murals and posters in many different parts of Caracas and other places in Venezuela to show the popular interaction with the Palestinian cause in our country.”
The artist pointed out that the images are used to increase awareness of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. “Painting murals is a tool that should be used politically and socially in a way that anybody who sees and walks alongside a mural gets the message.”
The artist activists, he said, mobilise against the occupation of Palestine by framing the occupation in paintings about Israel’s human rights abuses. “We show how the occupation violates Palestinians’ freedoms and rights in their own country.”
This is one way, he added, that Palestinian efforts to reach an international audience can be successful. “It’s a blessing to be able to communicate these ideas in pictures.”
According to Millar, the only way to stop the Israeli genocide of the Palestinian people is to do things every day and in every place. “It should not only be through networks like ours, but also with any creative tool that can reflect the grim realities of life in occupied Palestine.”
Venezuela expressed strong solidarity with the Palestinian cause under President Hugo Chavez (1999-2013) and this is ongoing under President Nicolas Maduro (2013-present). It was the first country in Latin America to recognise the State of Palestine on the 1967 nominal borders. In 2009, Venezuela and the Palestinian Authority established diplomatic relations and announced the opening of a Palestine Embassy in Caracas. Diplomatic ties remain close, and Venezuela has supported the Palestinian cause at the UN.
Murals have been used in different contexts and with different techniques, to show these strong relations between Venezuela and Palestine. The use of colour and design and thematic treatment can alter the perception of the viewer radically. Through these paintings, many Venezuelans became curious to know more about Palestine and its people.
As many as 15,000 Palestinians live in Venezuela. They believe that murals can be a way to bring people together and create a sense of community. Despite the challenges they have faced with the differences in language, culture and customs, they have been able to integrate with Venezuelan society, and are respected.In Venezuela, Murals can be used to express a community’s history and culture and reflect the unique identity and values of a community. Many mural was painted as a way of telling stories of other community and preserving the Palestinian history and traditions.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.