from Vancouver Internationalist Bolivarian Circle “Bob Everton”
Why is President Hugo Chavez so popular with the poor and disenfranchised of Venezuela; while at the same time causing great angst within the US administration? Just what is Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution really about, and why does it deserve your solidarity?
Essentially, Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution is due to the capacity and integrity of political leadership to converge with the will of the Venezuelan people to no longer be oppressed, passive subjects of exploitation by capital and US hegemonic interests in the region. The Venezuelan people have risen up as creative subjects – protagonists - empowered to forge a new history for themselves. The pathway of that new history is based on a very particular socio-political and cultural context, and a profound and collective restructuring of the countrys’ constitution. The four core Bolivarian principles are: redistribution, anti-neoliberal, participatory and inclusive. In addition, there is an emphasis on regional integration. In Venezuela’s case, these principles will form the foundation for the socialism of the XXI century.
With respect to redistributive policies, the Bolivarian revolution has placed a priority on redistributing the monies from Venezuela’s public oil wealth to help millions of poor people through various social programs. These include medical care to the barrios and remote areas, country-wide literacy programs, free Bolivarian secondary schools and universities, affordable food through community markets, rights for indigenous peoples, and rural and urban land reform.
Secondly, the Bolivarian revolution is profoundly anti-neoliberal, rejecting the principles of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) and America’s imperialist foreign policy. It rejects neo-liberal policies that privilege big corporations over ordinary citizens. It rejects the IMF program of privatization, state cutbacks and deregulation. Instead, the Bolivarian revolution advances a pathway towards a new socialism, where worker controlled co-operatives and state ownership of key sectors of the economy prevail; and where Latin Americans form their own south-to-south trade agreements and economic, cultural and social policy arrangements. Venezuela has proposed ALBA (The Latin American Bolivarian Alternative), as a viable alternative to northern-dominated capitalism.
Thirdly, the Bolivarian revolution emphasizes participatory democracy along with representative democracy. This implies that citizens have rights and duties, not only to vote in elections and referenda; but to participate in decision-making, implementation and monitoring in their neighbourhoods, cities and states. And, along with the rights come duties: A profound duty to be informed, active protagonists in transforming their society; and a duty to protect their revolution from those who seek to harm or hinder its independent evolution.
Fourthly, the Bolivarian revolution emphasizes the inclusion of those who previously were excluded by the tiny oligarchy that for decades ruled Venezuela. This implies listening to the voices of the poor, women, indigenous, youth, those of African descent, and to provide them preferential treatment when it comes to the provision of education, medical care, housing, land, micro-finance loans, etc. It also means they have the opportunity to be directly involved in the development, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of these programs in their local communities.
Rest assured that Venezuela’s progressive revolution has as many foes as allies. Those allied against the revolution include Venezuela’s traditional ruling class and their business allies: the corporate media, the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce - Fedecamaras, the now discredited union federation controlled by anti-Chavez labor bosses - the CTV, the Catholic Church hierarchy, and various organizations posing as representatives of “democratic civil society” – for example, the US-funded SUMATE. Each one of these groups participated in the April 2002 coup that briefly deposed President Chavez until the solidarity of the people together with loyal elements of the military returned him to power.
The most powerful external foe, allied with the internal opposition, remains US imperialism. The Bush administration is furious with Chavez’s denunciations of US foreign policy, his successful attempts to unite the Latin America and Caribbean region in alternative arrangements, and his close relationship with Cuban President Fidel Castro. On several occasions US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stated that Chavez is a “destablizing” force in the region; that Venezuela and Cuba’s partnership could be the beginning of an expansion of power of a New Left coalition in Latin America -- a coalition that will be hostile to US economic and security interests. They are using every means at their disposal to ensure that Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution fails, and they continue to attempt to undermine economic integration projects in the region by threatening individual states with sanctions. While Bush denies any covert intervention in Venezuela, the overt interference continues via attacks in the mainstream press and through the Organization of American States and UN, via pronouncements by Roger Noriega, Otto Reich or the head of the US Southern Command, General James Hill. This year, documents were discovered through the US Freedom of Information Act that show in great detail how the US, via its funding agencies the National Endowment for Democracy, USAID and Development Alternatives Inc., are supporting the opposition to the Venezuelan government’s Bolivarian project to the tune of many millions of dollars.
It is for these reasons, therefore, that the Vancouver Internationalist Bolivarian Circle “Bob Everton” request that you stand in solidarity with the revolutionary government and people of Venezuela. We invite you to learn more about the Bolivarian revolution, Venezuela’s history and new constitution, through regular dialogue events and film screenings. For more information, contact email@example.com .
Golinger, Eva. The Chavez Code. Editorial Jose Marti, La Habana, 2005.
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