Obituary: Rafael Angulo

Rafael Angulo

The Revolutionary Communist Group expresses its condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Venezuelan community organiser and educator, Rafael Angulo Ruiz who died on 14 May 2018 at the age of 68.

Rafa and his wife Ivonne began in the 1970’s and 1980’s as active members of ASOCITE (Asociacion Civil de Terepaima), a community organization and system of barrio committees founded in 1976 in La Vega, Caracas. Rafa and Ivonne began applying Paulo Friere’s methods of teaching literacy in the Caracas slums. Active in a time of extreme poverty and repression, the work of ASOCITE developed into a struggle for housing, education, and social rights, and included tactics such as hunger strikes, occupations of government offices, publishing a newspaper and a broadcasting a radical radio show.

Rafa, Ivonne and others then founded ENFODEP (Ensayo de Formacion de Educadores Populares, the formation of Popular Educators) with a view to creating political, critical socialist discussion of community struggles and the formation of popular educators, through a process of transformation where people become protagonists of change. Popular educators, in the view of ENFODEP are not simply community workers or youth workers, but any member of the community who takes on the role of raising consciousness and critical thought of their family, co-workers, and neighbourhood. Rafa continued to practice this methodology through sustained work in coastal Vargas State forming the Paulo Freire cooperative and opening the Salvador Garmendia community library and cinema. He mobilised his community to respond to the terrible mud-slide which hit Vargas state in 1999 and Rafa took in people who lost their homes. To this day the family still welcome children to live with them who need a safe place to stay.

Rafa and his comrades were key to bringing education projects, Mission Robinson, Mission Ribas and Mission Cultura to La Salina and Puerto Carayaca villages. In January 2016 he received an honorary doctorate from The Simon Rodríguez National Experimental University (Unesr).  He began to publish a community newspaper El Salitre with input from the local population, winning the National Anibal Nazoa Journalism Award in 2017.

Rafa and his family welcomed members of the Revolutionary Communist Group to their house and community on several occasions, participating in our 2012 documentary ‘Viva Venezuela – fighting for socialism’ (you can watch it here). Rafa’s commitment to community education and organising will live on through the projects he leaves behind, and in the new generations of popular educators he trained for the future.

Hasta Siempre Rafa!