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Issue #1464      21 July 2010

There is no revolution without solidarity

Venezuela and the struggle for sovereignty (Part 2)

In this second part of his interview with Anna Pha of The Guardian, Venezuela’s ambassador to Australia, Nelson Dávila, explains how the Bolivarian Revolution is being consolidated in his country. He describes the forces carrying the process forward and the vital importance of international solidarity for the survival of the revolution.

Solidarity is not unilateral but is mutual, for example, from country to country or people to people. We have been helping, for example, the people of Haiti and, at this very moment, in Brazil due to the floods. We have also helped in Colombia during national disasters. During the cyclone in the United States we went to help in New Orleans by giving cheap oil to the inhabitants of the zone.

Solidarity is not just at the economic or material level but also political solidarity, and for example, the political solidarity of the people of Venezuela for the people of Palestine during the invasion by Israel. It wasn’t just in words, it was in deeds. In this case Venezuela broke diplomatic relations with Israel.

It also condemned the recent attack on the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid. Israel has developed into a criminal state. We also express our solidarity with those countries struggling for their freedom. For example, we condemned the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, we also condemned the attacks on Iran and Syria, and of course we are against the US blockade of Cuba.

So you can see that the Bolivarian Revolution is a very broad revolution. It does not just look after the internal necessities of our people but we also struggle for sovereignty – our own sovereignty and the sovereignty of others.

This is the same experience as that of the Cuban revolution. The Cuban revolution expresses solidarity with the independence of other countries, for example, the struggle of the Cuban soldiers in Angola. Cuba helped to defeat apartheid. A revolution that doesn’t act in solidarity is not a revolution.

And for us it is a revolution that is both internal and external. And that is why we have achieved the millennium targets*. Our president got 65 percent of the vote because we have helped our own population in the fields of education and health. That is what gives us the confidence that we are going to win the elections on September 26. And we are also going to win the presidential elections in 2013 when our president goes again to face election.

Consolidating the revolution

I would like to make it clear that it is not at all about the image of one person. There are some allegations that there is some kind of idolatry of Hugo Chávez. In reality Chávez is a historical leader and that is difficult to negate. If the people want president Chávez to continue governing he has the right to face another election. That is also a guarantee that the process will continue until we feel that the revolution has been consolidated.

Because there are some aspects of the revolution that we need to strengthen. We need to consolidate the ideological consciousness. We need to make sure that the population understands the importance of socialism as a political model. So we consider international solidarity important as it will help us strengthen consciousness.

For example, every year there are several delegations visiting Venezuela from Europe to other countries in Latin America, and of course from Australia different groups have visited Venezuela. And that is one of the reasons why our president has called for the construction of the Fifth International. If this is possible it would be a great advance ideologically and politically for the world.

Of course, we are aware of all the changes that are happening around the world, in the great international forums. For example, in Copenhagen, president Chávez, together with other Latin American presidents, united in alerting the world of a crisis in a system, which is the one that has created all these phenomena of climate change. Climate change is not an anarchical, capricious phenomena, did not happen by itself, humans have contributed to climate change.

For that reason, president Chávez has called on the people to show more humanity so we can stop devastating humanity, killing the rivers, continuing to destroy the forests, eliminating fauna and, of course, killing each other in wasteful wars. And we see the economic interests for which wars have been fomented around the world.

President of Venezuela, Hugo Rafael Chávez.

We have insisted that the Bolivarian Revolution is a peaceful revolution, but we will not allow for our revolution to be attacked. This, together with what we have discussed at the beginning, we will continue to link with our struggle of 200 years ago. Because Bolivar is alive. He is with us. And we need to continue his history and legacy until we finish this revolution.

For some people here it is difficult to understand, although the process in Australia was also a colonial process. The difference is that there was not strong resistance here in Australia. In Mexico and Central America we have ancestors who gave their lives in the process. It is something that is authentic, that lives, that is present in our struggle from the past.

Today we are looking for trade relations with Australia, and in other countries in the Pacific area. For example, when we talk about solidarity, Venezuela has a program of solidarity with the Pacific Islands assisting them to prevent desertification, to protect the forests. There are countries in the Pacific that have problems with the degradation of the soil, with salination.

So Venezuela has an aid program with all the Pacific Islands. That is one of the reasons for the diplomatic work. Part of the diplomatic work is defence of the revolution and to strengthen solidarity work of groups in Australia. And of course among the political parties of the left, like the Communist Party of Australia which is an historical party here in Australia, which is not an improvised party that comes from nothing.

A party for the next stage

Guardian: Chávez was elected without the base of a political party, with a number of movements and people who rose against the regime, the poverty, the intolerable conditions. Now he has formed a party. Could you describe that process and the reasons behind it?

Nelson Dávila: That is part of the history of Venezuela – unity in disunity. Even during the process of achieving independence, there was unity and division. When the Bolivarian project begins, with president Chávez and then the military insurrection, the Movement of the Fifth Republic was founded – “Fifth Republic” because the history of our country had been divided into republics, and nowadays we live in the fifth republic. That began in 1999 when president Chávez came to power.

When we talk about the fourth republic, we are talking about the supposed democratic past. The fifth republic party gave us the possibility of another political party, which is today the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. Perhaps at the beginning of the revolution that political party would not have been accepted by the population. Today it is.

For example, a month ago we re-opened applications and received 700,000 new members. Of course, there were other political parties that supported the revolution, but some of those political parties have been left behind. Because they know now that the ideology of Bolivarian process is against their interests.

At the beginning, they thought that process would give them similar privileges as during the fourth republic, and that is one of the reasons they have not continued supporting president Chávez. The only political party that continues affiliated to the Bolivarian process is the Communist Party of Venezuela. Despite there being some points that we do not have in common, we continue walking in the same direction. So we are not enemies.

We have the other political parties who jumped directly to the other side, and that is a very important ideological process that has to be made clear, and as the Bolivarian process gains strength in the population, in the same way we are going to clarify the position politically and ideologically for the movement.

Of course, there will be people who will stay behind but there will be others that will come onboard.

G: So how would you characterise the current ideological position of the United Socialist Party – in a way you are saying that it is an evolving process?

ND: We have defined this period of 10 years of government as a transitional period, in which people have been left behind, there are political parties that have deserted, we have created the Socialist Party, and that party is in a process of consolidation and we expect that party to become a vanguard of revolutionary cadres.

The achievements and the challenges

G: Could you provide some detail on the achievements of the government to date in social and economic terms and describe what the situation was before the commencement of the Bolivarian Revolution?

ND: Prior to the Bolivarian Revolution we had a high level of illiteracy and we have been able to achieve a reduction in the numbers of those living in poverty of up to 32 percent – it was 50 percent. We have fulfilled the targets of the Millennium Goals and we have achieved food sovereignty. In the past the food distribution was in the private hands of the political opposition. For example, in health, with the help of Cuba, we created the mission Barrio Adentro (Inside the Neighbourhood).

The missions and programs were created by the revolution to directly look after the population. Because we are in a transition period, we pretty much invaded a capitalist state, we are living in a capitalist state, we are changing that state, and that capitalist state, like others, was not designed to help people. So the structure of the state did not allow resources to go to the people. And that is why we created the missions, in which the missions gathered the resources and distributed them directly to the people – food, health, education and so on.

In education we created several missions from primary schooling to the university. People from the third age, for example, who were unable to complete secondary school, through the missions were able to finalise their education.

Education in Venezuela is free of charge from primary school to university. There are private universities but the government has created universities throughout the country and they are free of charge – technical colleges, as well, where we train technicians.

In the economy, one of the key issues is that we are opposed to privatisation. We prevented the sale of PDVSA (Venezuela’s national oil company), which is the third largest company of its type in the world. The capitalist plan was to sell it.

Without the Bolivarian Revolution our economic situation would be critical. We prevented a flight of capital from the country and we managed to do that by controlling currency exchange. Previously, the capitalists were able to buy a huge amount of US dollars, but not the people.

But now the dollars are being put in the market by the government, and that is a problem for our international reserves. We put many US dollars in the market and the capitalists came and bought them, and then our international reserves were lowered, so we stabilised the situation by controlling the exchange rate. Now currency control is in the hands of the government. That allows for more economic stability.

In the political sphere, we have created new institutions to advance the elimination of the capitalist state. We have established an incentive to community media and, of course, in the process of Latin American integration there are all the instruments that we have created for that unity.

In Venezuela, we had a rail system, which was eliminated completely by the auto multinationals that wanted to sell more cars. Now we are building a new national rail system. We have got a metro network in Caracas.

Now we are continuing to build the revolution. Of course, there are many people who carry forward the vices of their past. We have to fight against the corruption and bureaucracy that still exist. There are some bureaucrats that don’t fulfil their jobs.

* The Millennium Development Goals are eight international development goals that all 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organisations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. They include reducing extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates, fighting disease epidemics such as AIDS, and developing a global partnership for development.  

Next article – The Shahram Affair

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