“Eleven years ago [when I was first elected] I was quite gullible. I even believed in a ‘third way’. I believed it was possible to put a human face on capitalism, but I was wrong. The only way to save the world is through socialism… . Capitalism is destroying the world.” — Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, BBC TV Hardtalk interview, 13 June 2010
It will come as no surprise to regular readers of Lalkar that the US ruling class of big industrialists and even bigger financiers, and their executive committee in the White House and on Capitol Hill, remain hell-bent on destroying Hugo Chávez and the national-democratic revolution he and his United Socialist Party (PSU) are spearheading in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Not only has Chávez forcefully challenged the economic and political hegemony of US imperialism over his country, until relatively recently a supine yanqui neo-colony, but he has also linked up with other progressive regimes in Latin America — notably that of socialist Cuba — to push for completing the process of regional liberation, begun by Simón Bolívar in the first half of the nineteenth century, and putting socialism firmly back on the agenda from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego.
For the imperialists, this is intolerable. US monopoly capital, and its comprador puppets in the Latin American countries and elsewhere, will not “go gentle into that good night” which — sooner rather than later — awaits them as a result of their systemic crisis, their addiction to wars of aggression throughout the globe, and the resistance of oppressed and exploited peoples which crisis and war have strengthened and accelerated.
Instead, counter-revolutionary conspiracies of one kind or another have become ever more desperate wherever the victims of imperialism are standing up and fighting back in anything approaching an organised fashion. In the case of Venezuela, the most blatant example of US intervention to date came on 11 April 2002.
For the details of this episode, we give the floor to historian Henry Suárez, whose excellent and comprehensive 2010 booklet US Interventions in Latin America is available free of charge via the Venezuelan Embassy in London or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org:
“The Venezuelan president, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frias, was overthrown by a coup d’état. The military, businessmen, trade unionists and media who were behind the coup, many of whom were funded, and would continue to be funded in the following years, by the US Department of State through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID, were congratulated by the US ambassador Charles Shapiro at the moment of recognising the dictator Pedro Carmona, who lasted only 48 hours in power.
“This corresponded with the declaration of [then] President George W Bush, who said that President Chávez was responsible for the political crisis at the same time that he refused to classify what had happened as a coup d’état.
“In the words of Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman, ‘Chávez resigned’ [!]“
It’s worth noting here, in passing, that the reason Carmona lasted only 48 hours in power is that the workers and small peasants of Venezuela quickly rallied around their president Chávez, the country’s legitimate leader, and – in many cases with weapons in hand – forced the US-sponsored usurper to flee.
Monopoly-capitalist pressure on Venezuela’s anti-imperialist government and people has not relented, however, since the defeat of the counter-revolutionary coup. Quite the contrary. As the Venezuelan people prepare for crucial parliamentary elections in late September, various US state agencies – and the US and European media who objectively serve them – are already operating behind the scenes to help achieve one of two things.
The best result for US imperialism would be the outright defeat of the PSU in the National Assembly (an outcome which, given the support Chávez continues to enjoy among the Venezuelan masses, seems extremely unlikely). Alternatively, and less satisfyingly for Washington, a PSU victory could be challenged as being the result of electoral fraud – and this line could be sufficiently well propagated that it gains currency in at least certain sections of international public opinion.
The reality of the situation is as follows. If the opposition to Chávez, the PSU and their supporters — which include the Communist Party of Venezuela – wins more than 33 per cent of the seats in the National Assembly, that opposition (an alliance of the old bourgeois parties, the social-democrats of PODEMOS and the renegade ex-Chavistas of Homeland for All [PPT]) will be able to block further progressive legislation – including more expropriations of the big industrial firms, the banks, health services and the huge latifundista landowners. The Venezuelan masses, however, are likely to be as firm in defending their revolutionary aspirations at the ballot box as they were, eight years ago, on the streets.
That US imperialism is ultimately behind the opposition is not in doubt, whatever other questions the forthcoming elections may throw up. The “independent” – ie. bourgeois – media, the main mouthpiece for anti-Chávez forces, is known to have received nearly $5 million over the last three years from the US State Department.
All but three of Venezuela’s top 10 newspapers openly support the counter-revolution, and they just happen to be privately owned – with links to companies in the USA.
The general view among workers, peasants and progressive intellectuals in the northern part of South America (where only Colombia now remains in total neo-colonial bondage) seems to be one of optimism. “Venezuela vencerá [Venezuela will win]!” is the main slogan doing the rounds internationally at the moment in the run-up to the National Assembly elections. Lalkar joins in that chant and sends President Chávez our revolutionary best wishes for victory in the forthcoming elections. We also offer our firm solidarity with his political programme, which seeks to take Venezuela ever closer to grassroots democracy, genuine independence and socialism.
The organised libel and slander aimed at Hugo Chávez, his United Socialist Party and the national-democratic revolution which defines his time in office in Venezuela, is not confined to that country’s bourgeois media alone, nor to that of the US.
As an example of the lying pro-imperialist propaganda aimed at trying to destabilise the Bolivarian process in Venezuela and at giving succour to the counter-revolutionary opposition, we quote our ‘own’, liberal, Guardian:
“A crackdown on opposition was highlighted … when an arrest warrant [was] issued for the owner of the TV channel Globovisión, which takes a critical line against Chávez. Guillermo Zuloga has since gone into hiding…” (Guardian, 13 June 2010). Actually, the TV station in question remains open and the said Mr Zuloga was subsequently interviewed by BBC TV, with a potential audience of several million people. So much for “hiding”!
And it gets worse. In the last eight months alone, President Chávez has variously been described in Britain’s capitalist press as “a thug”, “an ignoramus”, “a vengeful dictator”, “an egotistical liar” and “a jumped-up peasant”. The class snobbery implied by this last epithet notwithstanding, and without challenging any of the other insults in detail, what really upsets the monopoly bourgeoisie is that Chávez is an anti-imperialist and a revolutionary democrat. What’s more, the bastard seems to be winning!
Meanwhile, a bit further north but still in Latin America, the people of socialist Cuba are rejoicing at the return to the public stage of their commander-in-chief and the Leader of the Revolution, Comrade Fidel Castro. At a specially convened meeting of Cuba’s parliament, the National Assembly of People’s Power, Fidel drew an ecstatic standing ovation when he walked into the chamber flanked by president Raúl Castro and Assembly speaker Ricardo Alarcón.
In his first return to political life since he retired for reasons of ill health a full five years ago, Fidel warned of the threat to global peace posed by US imperialist sabre-rattling against Teheran over its development of nuclear energy. If either Washington or its Zionist surrogates in Tel Aviv attacked Iran, the veteran revolutionary and statesman declared, the planet could be faced with a new world war — with the possibility of nuclear weapons being used for the first time in sixty-five years.
Fidel took advantage of his renewed strength and energy to travel widely around Cuba, holding informal discussions with workers at the National Centre for Scientific Research, the Centre for Research into the World Economy, and the Havana aquarium — whose staff include the daughter of iconic revolutionary Che Guevara.
More recently, he greeted a team of 200 Cuban internationalist volunteers who had just returned from medical missions helping disabled people in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.
Fidel’s impromptu remarks at that homecoming sum up the strengths of socialism and the moribund condition that monopoly capitalism now finds itself in:
“Our force”, he said, “which brought joy to close to 800,000 people [in four neighbouring countries], is no more than a wisp of what can be done for the people of this hemisphere and the rest of the world, without charging a single cent for it. The most important thing is the example that you have bequeathed to the youth who, together with you, have begun to undertake that task in the heart of their nation and in other countries.
“In all of its history,” the Cuban leader continued, “the [US] empire has not been capable, nor could it ever do the same with even one per cent of this amount. What use is such a system?”
Yes, indeed, Comrade Fidel, what use is the system of capitalism and imperialism? Except for the capitalists and imperialists.
While internationalist missions – both humanitarian and military – by Cuban volunteers are legendary and have spanned the globe, there is no co-incidence in the fact that this particular contingent of aid workers was sent to four of the Latin American countries which are building an increasingly strong regional bloc against US imperialism, led by socialist Cuba and Bolivarian Venezuela.
Lalkar wishes the oppressed and exploited peoples of Latin America well in their continuing struggle for freedom, dignity and an end to US imperialist domination.