On Thursday, November 6th, Venezuela welcomed 119 Palestinian students, 36 from Gaza, to begin their studies in medicine at the Dr. Salvador Allende Latin American Medical School. A large crowd of Venezuelans, waiving Palestinian flags and wearing Kuffiyehs welcomed the students, at the foot of their airplane. During the welcoming ceremony, President Nicolas Maduro stated to the students, “The voice of Venezuela is always, and will always be, at the service of truth and the struggle of the Palestinian people. You will see, sooner of later, that we will celebrate the fall of the Israeli wall together. Down with the Israeli wall!”
A month ago, President Maduro announced the Yasser Arafat Scholarship Program, which would eventually welcome 1,000 Palestinian youth to Venezuela, where they would begin their medical studies. The aim of the program is that upon completing their studies, these students would return to their homeland to provide medical attention to the Palestinian population. The model of the program and the Dr. Salvador Allende Latin American Medical School is inspired by the Cuban schools which have trained thousands of students and provided medical attention to millions across the world.
The Bolivarian Revolution and the people of Venezuela have long showed solidarity to the Palestinian cause. Back in July, Maduro condemned Israeli attacks on Palestine and stated that Israel was committing a “war of extermination” against the Palestinian people. The Venezuelan government created a shelter named after Hugo Chavez to house orphaned children who lost their parents during the attacks on Gaza. Venezuela has also sent humanitarian aid and continues to do so. Last Sunday, the latest air-load of aid and supplies left Venezuela for Gaza. This is the third shipment since July.
During the welcoming ceremony, President Maduro stated, “we receive you into our homeland on this very special and heroic day. Palestine is here; the future of Palestine is here, in its youth…. Palestine has not allowed itself to be eliminated. It has refused to die, it has resisted, and Palestine will live.”