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Communist Party of Greece: Criticism of certain contemporary opportunist views on the state

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Communist Party of Greece: Criticism of certain contemporary opportunist views on the state

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/04/communist-party-of-greece-criticism-of.html

POSITION OF THE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS SECTION OF THE CC OF THE KKE AT THE 11th ANNUAL CONFERENCE “V.I.LENIN, THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION AND THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD”.

Source: inter.kke.gr.

The importance and timeliness of Lenin’s work on the state. 

100 years ago, a few months before the Great October Socialist Revolution and in particularly difficult and complex political conditions, V.I. Lenin wrote a fundamentally important work, “The State and Revolution”, which, of course, was published for the first time after the October Revolution in 1918.
In this work, Lenin highlighted the essence and analyzed the class nature of the state: “The state is a product and a manifestation of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms. The state arises where, when and insofar as class antagonisms objectively cannot be reconciled. And, conversely, the existence of the state proves that the class antagonisms are irreconcilable.”[1]

Lenin in this work also establishes the need and timeliness of the socialist revolution and workers’ state.
It was based on the views of K. Marx and F. Engels regarding the issue of the state, which were formulated in several works, such as the “Communist Manifesto”, “the 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”, “the Civil War in France”, the “Critique of the Gotha Programme”, Engels’ letter to Bebel on 18-18 of March 1875, Engels’ introduction to the third editions of the Marx’ “Civil war in France” etc in relation to the dictatorship of the proletariat. The conclusions Marx and Engels drew from the study and generalization of the experience and lessons of the revolutions was that the working class can acquire political power and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat only through socialist revolution, which destroys the bourgeois state apparatus and creates a new state apparatus. So, we can characteristically refer to the fact that Marx in his work “Critique of the Gotha Programme” stressed that: “Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”[2]
Lenin highlighted the fundamental importance of this issue for those that understand the existence and determining role of the class struggle in social progress, noting that “particular attention should be paid to Marx’s extremely profound remark that the destruction of the bureaucratic-military state machine is “the precondition for every real people’s revolution””[3] and stressing that “Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”[4]
In addition, Lenin sought to describe the characteristics of the communist social-political formation, basic aspects of the socialist state, while severely criticizing right opportunist and anarchist views in relation to the state.
Of course, this specific work of Lenin, and this is true for the rest of the entire titanic collection of his works, cannot be detached from his other works, such as, for example, “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky”, and always must be approached in a dialectical relationship with the historical developments. In any case, however, the Leninist approach to the state is an enormous legacy for the international communist movement, which must be utilized in a suitable way in order to repel social-democratic and opportunist views about the state, which have penetrated and continue to penetrate the international communist movement. Consequently, the goal of this intervention is not to present the Leninist positions or appropriate quotations from Lenin, but to provide a response based on the Marxist-Leninist understanding of the state to contemporary opportunist views. This is even more relevant today, when many views that Lenin fought against in his era are re-emerging in old and new forms.

The “neutral” non-class understanding of the state.

The forces of European opportunism constitute the basic tool for the further watering down of the communist characteristics of the communist and workers’ parties. These are forces that are vehicles for bourgeois ideology inside the labour movement. In Europe, they have established their own ideological-political and organizational centre; the Party of the European Left (PEL), which some CPs that in the past were deeply influenced by eurocommunism have joined, such as the CPs of France and Spain. SYRIZA participates in it from Greece. This is a party that is contains forces influenced by the eurocommunist current that split from the KKE in 1968, and also forces that split from the KKE in 1991, under the influence of Gorbachev’s “New Thinking”. This party later merged with forces that came from social-democratic PASOK.
This party argues that:”The state, however, is not a fortress but a network, relationship and strategic arena for political struggle. It does not change from one day to the next, but on the contrary its necessary transformation presupposes constant and continuous battles, the involvement of the people, continuous democratization.”[5]
As is apparent from the above, the bourgeois state is not considered by them to constitute by its very nature an organ for the domination of the bourgeois class, but a collection of institutions that can be transformed in a pro-people direction. On the basis of this view, it is argued that the character of the institutions of the bourgeois state, the bourgeois state as a whole, can be suitable shaped as long as “leftwing governments” hold sway.
This is clearly a misleading view, because in practice it detaches the state from its economic base, from the dominant economic relations. It creates illusions amongst the workers that the role of the bourgeois state and its institutions (e.g. parliament, government, army, police) depends on which political force (“left” or “right”) is dominant in them.
Similarly dangerous views are being cultivated today in a number of Latin American countries, through the concept of “progressivism”, through the various “progressive” and “left” governments, which after their electoral victories attempt to sow illusions among the people that the system can change via bourgeois elections and referenda.
In reality, however, there is no class “neutrality” on the part of the bourgeois state and its institutions. The state, as Marxism-Leninism has demonstrated, has a clear class content, which cannot be used via electoral processes and bourgeois governmental solutions in favour of the working class and social change.
 

On the view concerning the “Deep State”.

The emergence of SYRIZA as a governing party in Greece led to the celebrations of many opportunist forces all over the world. Indeed, its cooperation with the nationalist ANEL party in government was interpreted by some as an attempt to control the deep state of Greece via this political governmental alliance.[6] Similarly, some presented the statements of made by A. Tsipras even before the elections, when he directly stated that Greece “belongs to the West” and that Greece’s withdrawal from NATO was not on the agenda, as being a smart move.[7]
What is the aim of this view that separates the functions of the bourgeois state from each other like “salami slices”? Of course, inside the state apparatus of the bourgeois state, there are structures with different functions and tasks. However this does not support the view that separates the state into «hard” and “soft” sections. So, for example, the municipalities, the local services are an integral part of bourgeois administration, as local government is also tasked with implementing the reactionary, anti-people legal framework that is approved by each bourgeois government and parliamentary majority. The communists in our country are active in local government, seek to win the majority in the municipalities and today have achieved this in 5 of the country’s municipalities, which include the 3rd largest city in Greece, Patras. However they do not foster illusions amongst the workers about the character of this section of the bourgeois state. They seek as an opposition or as majority in the administration of the municipalities to utilize their position to develop the class struggle and not to “cleanse” capitalism which is what SYRIZA and other opportunist forces argue for.
These opportunist forces find the separation of the bourgeois state into sections convenient. First of all, because this can conceal that the entire state apparatus, regardless of the different functions of its sections, is in the service of the bourgeois class. Secondly, because in this way they sow the illusion amongst the workers that gradually, beginning from the “periphery” of the bourgeois state and marching to the “centre”, to its “depths”, they can “cleanse” it, transform it into a state that will be pro-people.
Opportunist forces foster similarly utopian views even about the inter-state capitalist unions, such as the imperialist EU. Indeed, they propagandize that via referenda or the emergence of left, social-democratic governments, allegedly a “democratic structure for the continent” can be created with “respect for the democratic, sovereign rights of the peoples»[8]. In reality, these claims deliberately bypass the class character of this inter-state union, which arises from the class character of the bourgeois states that constitute it, and which from its birth, as the “European Community for Coal and Steel” in 1952, had been created for the interests of capital.

The expansion of democracy in the bourgeois state as a “step” to socialism.

Lenin came into sharp conflict with those, like Bernstein, who argued that the reform of capitalism and the gradual reformist transformation of society are possible.
Later, the views of Eurocommunism gained a lot of ground, views which argued that communists can transform the state in a pro-people direction via the parliamentary road and the expansion of democracy.
The KKE, which fought and continues today to fight against these views, has estimated that the similar assessments made by the CPSU did a great deal of damage to the international communist movement. These views came to hold sway in the international communist movement mainly after the 20th Congress of the CPSU and spoke of a “parliamentary transition”[9]. Consequently, we consider views that developed on this basis and argue for the violation of basic principles of socialist revolution and construction to be problematic, e.g. the talk about “a variety of forms of transition to socialism” or the so-called “non-capitalist development path.”
The KKE has drawn conclusions and has rejected the “stages to socialism”, which tormented and continue today to torment the communist movement, as due to these “stages” they on the one hand negate the role of the CP as a force to overthrow capitalism in the name of the “current” tasks in the framework of the system (e.g. the aim of restoring bourgeois democracy in the conditions of dictatorship) and on the other hand they sow illusions about the “parliamentary transition” to socialism.
The KKE studies its history, draws valuable conclusions from the heroic struggles of the communists in the past decades. The CC of the KKE noted amongst other things in its recent statement on the 50th anniversary of the Junta in Greece:”The KKE and the labour-people’s movement seek and struggle to be able to function in the best possible conditions, which will facilitate their struggle and more generally expand their interventions against capital and its power. They struggle for freedoms and rights, in order to remove obstacles to their activity, in order to restrict-as far as possible-state repression.”[10] Nevertheless our party, studying its history, assesses that:”The dictatorship provided new experience that demonstrates the baseless character of the assessment that held sway in the International Communist Movement and the KKE, that the path of struggle for an advanced bourgeois democracy is fertile terrain for the concentration of forces and for approaching the revolutionary process, that the struggle for democracy is dialectically connected to the struggle for socialism. This assessment impeded the party from highlighting the military dictatorship as a form of the dictatorship of capital, impeded the orientation of the people’s struggle as a whole against the enemy-the dictatorship of the bourgeois class and its imperialist alliances, like NATO.”[11]
Today, similar mistaken views are being fostered within the ranks of the communist movement. These are views that either talk of “stages” on the road to socialism or of communists “penetrating” power, with the aim in both cases of expanding democracy, as a first stage to socialism.
In practice, such views postpone the struggle to overthrow of capitalist exploitation to the distant future, trap and restrict the labour movement inside the framework of only struggling for better conditions for the sale of labour power, negating the orientation of the struggle to radicalize the labour movement, to regroup it, to concentrate social forces, which have an interest in confronting the monopolies and can struggle for the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of the new socialist-communist society.

The nationalization of capitalist businesses as a step to change the nature of the state.

Similar confusion exists regarding issues related to the economy. For many years, the international communist movement, which was and to a great extent continues to be trapped in the rationale of stages to socialism, saw the reinforcement of the state sector of the bourgeois state as a step to socialism.
Indeed, today some misunderstand the Leninist position that “state-monopoly capitalism is a complete material preparation for socialism, the threshold of socialism, a rung on the ladder of history between which and the rung called socialism there are no intermediate rungs,”[12] in order to justify the active support and participation of communists in bourgeois management with an expanded state sector of the economy. But in this way they mistakenly understand state-monopoly capitalism as being the existence of a strong state sector in the economy and not as imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, as described by Lenin.
Life has demonstrated that capitalism, in line with its needs, can aim for a large section of a country’s economy to be state-managed. So, for example, in the 1970s and 1980s the largest part of the Greek economy was in the hands of the state, however this did not at all change the character of the bourgeois state. Nor, of course, does it mean that a policy of gradually nationalizing private businesses, which usually means capitalists simply passing on their debts to the state, can lead to a change of its character. As long as power is in the hands of the bourgeois class, the state (with a stronger or weaker state sector) will be bourgeois, and the ruling class will act as the “collective capitalist” of state ownership.

The name of the state as a reflection on how its nature is viewed.

Lenin described the basic aspects of the workers’ state. We cannot close our eyes to Lenin’s analysis and just orient ourselves to the adjectives that accompany the name of a state. Today, for example, the “People’s Republic of Lugansk” and the “People’s Republic of Donetsk” have emerged. What is the character of these self-proclaimed “People’s Republics”? And as an aside to this discussion, we could bear in mind the existence, for example, of the so-called “People’s Republic of Congo”, where small children work in the mines in terrible conditions so that the foreign monopolies can acquire valuable minerals like cobalt and copper.
We assess that we cannot judge a state and our stance towards it exclusively on the basis of how it defines itself and its proclamations. A basic criterion must be which class owns the means production and holds power in the specific state, what kinds of relations of production are predominant in the specific country. And this is because the state for Marxist-Leninists is a “repressive machine”, which in our era objectively, in the 21st century, in the era of the passage from capitalism to socialism, ushered in by the October Revolution, will either be in the hands of the bourgeois class or the working class. There is no middle way!
We must not forget that as always, and today is no exception, the bourgeois classes seek to conceal their goals, to conceal the class character of their state. So, for example, a classic method that the bourgeois class uses to camouflage the state is the projection of its “national” character, presenting its state as a “weapon” to defend the entire nation. Today the bourgeois do not hesitate to also utilize other propaganda “weapons” in order to subordinate the labour movement “under their banners». The communists, the labour movement as a whole, must demonstrate a high level of vigilance when bourgeois politicians, who contributed to capitalist restoration in the former USSR, today utilize the anti-fascist “card”.
Today, when the bourgeois class is also reinforcing fascist forces, some of which even seek to play a role in government, such as, for example, in Ukraine, the appeals for new “anti-fascist fronts” and for alliances even with bourgeois political forces, and even bourgeois states that appear with an anti-fascist mantle, are intensifying. However, as the KKE assessed in the Declaration of the CC of the KKE on the 70 years since the end of the 2nd World Imperialist War and the great anti-fascist victory of the peoples:”The reactionary bourgeois state is neither willing nor able to tackle Nazism root and branch; neither can the so called “antifascist fronts”, an alliance of the labour-people’s movement in cooperation with bourgeois political forces.  Only the people’s alliance, the development of the class struggle with the aim of overthrowing the monopolies’ power, the capitalist system can deal with Nazism.”[13]
In addition, the KKE assesses that today the goal of workers’ power must not be pushed aside by another governmental goal on the terrain of capitalism, in the name of the deterioration of the situation of the working class and popular strata, due to the deep and prolonged economic crisis, imperialist war, open terror against the CP and the labour movement by Nazi-fascist organizations, provocations, the intensification of state violence.[14]
 

Socialist construction and the state under socialism.

For decades, social-democrats and opportunists have been carrying out, amongst other things, a systematic effort to negate every scientific approach to socialism and its state. We read, for example, in the material of the opportunist centre of Europe, the PEL, that it defends the “perspective of a democratic socialism». And this “socialist perspective” is defined by the PEL as “a society of justice founded on the pooling of wealth and the means of production, and on the sovereignty of democratic choice, in harmony with the planet’s limited resources.”Similar confusion and anti-Marxist approaches of the socialist society have multiplied in recent years with the various “socialisms” of Latin America. From the “Socialism of the 21st Century” of Chavez to the “socialism of buen vivir” in Ecuador, where the US dollar is used as the national currency.
They aim for us to ignore the fact that at the base of every socio-economic formation is a specific mode of production, which is the dialectical unity of the forces of production and the relations of production. The relations of production as whole in every phase of the process of reproduction-production, distribution, exchange, consumption- constitute the economic base of society. Approaching this issue scientifically, Lenin underscored that:”In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.[15]
J.V. Stalin noted: “There are two types of production: the capitalist, including the state-capitalist, type, where there are two classes, where production is carried on for the profit of the capitalist; and there is the other type, the socialist type of production, where there is no exploitation, where the means of production belong to the working class, and where the enterprises are run not for the profit of an alien class, but for the expansion of industry in the interests of the workers as a whole.”[16]
This is why the KKE rejects various interpretations of socialism, which have nothing to do with the Marxist-Leninist view, and as it has often stressed in relation to the views of the PEL, or the various “socialisms” of Latin America, that what we have in essence is the promotion of opportunist positions about the “humanization” of capitalism, “ the utopia about the democratization of the bourgeois state, while the “mixed” capitalist economy is being presented as being a new model of socialism. “The logic of national specificities constituted the instrument of “eurocommunism” in order to deny the scientific laws of socialist revolution and construction and today the problem manifests itself with the same or similar arguments.(…) in order to substantiate the substitution of the revolutionary path with parliamentarianism, the relegation of socialism into governmental changes which will manage bourgeois society, as, for example, the Sao Paolo Forum and other forces do. The construction of socialism is a unified process, which begins with the conquest of power by the working class in order to form the new mode of production, which will prevail with the complete abolition of capitalist relations, the capital-wage labour relations. The socialization of the means of production and central planning are laws of socialist construction, necessary conditions for the satisfaction of the people’s needs.”[17]
The KKE, studying the experience of socialist construction assessed the 1965 economic reforms in the USSR as being mistaken. These were reforms that gave priority to “market reforms” and brought back the role of profit to the socialist economy. As a result vested interests emerged in the enterprises, which were not always in harmony with the interests of society. The mistaken reforms in the economy were combined with similar mistaken directions in the political superstructure (e.g. the All-people’s state) and in the strategy of the international communist movement (e.g. policy of “peaceful coexistence”).Of course, our party disagrees with the assessments of CPs, which were pulled into the damaging current of “Maoism” and which considered that from one moment to the next, immediately after the 20th Congress, the workers’ state ceased to exist or indeed that it was allegedly transformed into “social-imperialism” and in this way they participated in the anti-soviet propaganda. In contrast, our party, which defends the contribution of the USSR as the international communist and workers’ movement did, considers that socialism was constructed in the USSR. However, it also considers that the 20th Congress of the CPSU was a turning point, because a number of opportunist positions were adopted on issues related to the economy, the strategy of the communist movement and international relations.
Today, we evaluate that 30 years after the counterrevolution in the USSR, Central and Eastern Europe, the capitalization of China has advanced. Capitalist relations of production hold sway there. At the same time we observe the continuing reinforcement of capitalist relations in countries that sought socialist construction, such as Vietnam and Cuba.[18]
Some comrades from other CPs argue that the developments in these countries are reminiscent of the NEP in Lenin’s era. In other texts[19], we have highlighted the differences between the NEP and the changes taking place in these countries and the results of which our party is concerned about, based in its long study of the experience of the USSR. And this is because the socialization of the concentrated means of production, central planning in the distribution of labour power and the means of production, the eradication of the exploitation of man by man for the majority of workers are basic and necessary conditions, not only for the beginning of socialist construction, but also for its continuation.
In addition, as Lenin had noted that:”the dictatorship of the proletariat is not only the use of force against the exploiters, and not even mainly the use of force. The economic foundation of this use of revolutionary force, the guarantee of its effectiveness and success is the fact that the proletariat represents and creates a higher type of social organization of labour compared with capitalism. This is what is important, this is the source of the strength and the guarantee that the final triumph of communism is inevitable.”[20] It is clear that this “higher type of social organization” can have nothing to do with nepotism. As was noted in the Report of the CC of the KKE to the 20th Congress of the party “North Korea has proceeded to reinforcing the so-called “free economic zones”, the “market». The Workers’ Party of Korea has for some years relinquished Marxism-Leninism and promotes the idealist “Juche” theory, speaks of “Kimilsungism-Kimjongunism”, violating every concept of socialist democracy,  workers’-people’s control, in a regime of nepotism.”[21]

Instead of an epilogue: We must close the “loopholes” of the 2nd International.

The KKE carried out a deep study of the causes that led to the overthrow of socialism in the USSR, following the path of many years of inner-party study and discussion and devoting its 18th Congress (in 2009) in order to provide comprehensive answers on this issue, drawing valuable conclusions for the future. On the basis of this effort, grounded in Marxism-Leninism, our party enriched its programmatic understanding of socialism, something that is reflected in the new Programme adopted at the 19th Congress (2013).
 
The Programme of the KKE notes amongst other things:The socialist power is the revolutionary power of the working class, the dictatorship of the proletariat. The working class power will replace all the bourgeois institutions, which will be smashed by the revolutionary activity, with new institutions that will be created by the people.”[22]
In addition, the Programme of the KKE describes in detail:
  • The material basis of the necessity of socialism in Greece
  • The duties of the KKE for the socialist revolution
  •  Its duties more specifically on the revolutionary situation
  • The leading role of the Party in the revolution
  •  Socialism as the first, lowest phase of communism
  • The issue of the satisfaction of the social needs
  • Fundamental principles of the formation of the socialist power
The 20th Congress of the KKE, which was held this year, on the 30th of March-2nd April 2017, posed the task of the comprehensive ideological-political-organizational steeling of the party and its youth as a party for the revolutionary overthrow.
100 years ago, at the end of his work “State of Revolution”, V. I. Lenin noted that the 2nd International had spiraled into opportunism, that the experience of the Commune was forgotten and distorted and he added that:” Far from inculcating in the workers’ minds the idea that the time is nearing when they must act to smash the old state machine, replace it by a new one, and in this way make their political rule the foundation for the socialist reorganization of society, they have actually preached to the masses the very opposite and have depicted the “conquest of power” in a way that has left thousands of loopholes for opportunism.”[23]
Today, 100 years after the Great October Revolution and a year before the 100th anniversary of the founding of our party, the KKE seeks with its positions and activity to bar the “doors and windows” to opportunism. This is a precondition for the realization of the ideals of a society without the exploitation of man by man.
 

[1] “State and Revolution”, V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, V. 25
[2] “Critique of the Gotha Programme”, K. Marx
[3] “State and Revolution”, V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, V.25
[4] “State and Revolution”, V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, V.25
[5]From SYRIZA’s governmental programme.
[6] The Real News Network, Interview (28/1/2015) with Leo Panitch, Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto, Canada. http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=13071&updaterx=2015-01-28+01%3A16%3A04
[7] Article of Paul Mason (1/9/2015), former BBC journalist and former economics editor for Channel 4 News.http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/paul-mason-what-unites-the-new-movements-of-the-left-1.2335322
[8] 5th Congress of the PEL. Political Document: “Refound Europe, create new progressive convergence”
[10] “Statement of the CC of the KKE on the Military Coup of the 21st of April 1967. “Rizospastis”, 5 March 2017.
[11] Ibid
[12] “The impending catastrophe and how to combat it”, V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, V.25
[14] ibid
[15]  “Karl Marx”, V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, V.21
[16]J.V. Stalin, Works, V. 7
[20] “A great beginning”, V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, V. 29
[21]Report of the CC of the KKE to the 20th Congress of the party, March 2017.
[23] «State and Revolution”, V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, V. 25.
‘Protagonistic Democracy’ Helps Venezuelans Fight US Provocations
Hugo Chavez statue in Sabaneta

‘Protagonistic Democracy’ Helps Venezuelans Fight US Provocations

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Today marks the 15th anniversary of the short lived right-wing coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. A decade and a half on, the opposition continues its violent attempts at overthrowing the socialist government.

Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela in 1998. Throughout his presidency, he promoted extensive social reforms and sovereignty for Latin America.

“At the center of those social reforms was the decision by Hugo Chavez to follow through on his December 1998 election promise to organize a new constitutional assembly so as to have the people discuss, provide their input and adopt a new constitution,” Arnold August, Canadian journalist and lecturer, told Radio Sputnik’s Brian Becker.

“I think that was really the move that the United States and the wealthy in Venezuela didn’t expect. They perhaps had a wait-and-see attitude for several months or a year, but when it was decided to have a new constitution, that was a thing that really bothered them, because in fact it meant that Hugo Chavez was taking steps to have political power in the hands of the people, something that never before happened in that country.”

According to August, the Washington-backed coup attempt in April 2002 was organized to secure economic and political power in the hands of the wealthy and to prevent the people of Venezuela from getting control over the country’s massive oil resources.

Today, the right wing is accusing the socialists of mounting their own judicial “coup,” after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that the opposition-controlled National Assembly was in contempt of the constitution, citing its failure to remove three lawmakers who were temporarily suspended over fraud charges.

“Despite all the proof, the National Assembly, now controlled by the opposition, refused to remove those deputies from the National Assembly, therefore they are the ones who have provoked the need to dissolve that parliament. Because it contains three deputies who have been illegally elected,” August explained during Becker’s Loud & Clear broadcast.

​Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been engaged in a tense political standoff with the opposition ever since he took office, and August believes what has kept him in power to the present day is the same force that helped Hugo Chavez survive the coup in 2002.

“I think, unwillingly, the United States provided the Bolivarian Revolution with a new real feature in politics, that is going from ‘participatory democracy’ to ‘protagonistic democracy’,” August said.

“Millions of Venezuelan people became the protagonists in their own revolution by uniting with important sections of the military to actually overthrow opposition that was fully backed by the United States and bring Chavez back to power. I think from that day on til today, when the people are fighting in the streets against the latest US provocations, the Chavistas on an individual and collective basis say to themselves ‘This is our revolution. The Bolivarian revolution is about our dignity’.”

Most Important Battle Is Beating Demoralization: Cuban Minister

 

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Most-Important-Battle-Is-Beating-Demoralization-Cuban-Minister-20170313-0024.html

  • Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto Jimenez.

    Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto Jimenez. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 March 2017

A conversation with the Cuban minister of culture reminds us, “The battle of consciousness and ideas must be won.”

The great battle underway today on a global level is taking place in the minds of each and every one of us, rather than in specific physical locations. Revolutionaries, warriors of ideas, are not lacking; but the forces are dispersed in the face of a powerful, compact bloc of mass media which looks to turn human beings into captives of their emotions, disconnected from their ability to think.

ANALYSIS:
3 Tactics Mainstream Media Uses to Attack Hugo Chavez’s Legacy

It is no coincidence that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for a communication revolution in November 2016, one that includes traditional media, social networks, streets, and walls, inviting us to assume the intense, necessary task of progressive thinking.

It was precisely this urgent work which was discussed by the Network of Intellectuals, Artists, and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity during its 15th summit held March 6-7 in Caracas, with more than 60 thinkers from Venezuela and other countries in attendance titled, “Emancipatory Communication or Colonized homelands.”

Just minutes prior to the meeting’s second day, Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto Jimenez dedicated a few minutes to a dialogue, speaking of the times in which we live, insisting on the importance of the fight for critical, revolutionary thinking, saying, “The battle of consciousness and ideas must be won.”

Alina Perera Robbio: You have commented during this meeting that the left has not constructed a paradigm, in terms of communication, which could provide an alternative in the face of right-wing media hegemony. Would you share some reflections on this issue?

Abel Prieto Jimenez: Intellectuals from Venezuela and other countries have spoken here about this traditional weak point of the left, in the sense of being able to create a kind of paradigm, in terms of communication, that could be effective in the face of the lying, defamatory machine — to which we could add any number of adjectives — but which is undoubtedly effective in domesticating consciousness, dampening critical thinking, imposing on the people, for example, candidates who offer villas and castles, but later betray them.

That’s why we see everyday people voting against their own interests, everyday people voting against their country’s future, against conquests won. These are chilling things that are related to the world in which we live today, in which a few media corporations control everything.

There has been talk during this workshop of the role of social networks, of how even in electoral processes, those targeted for messages are very clearly defined, based on the great database these social networks provide, from which psychological profiles are created and different messages crafted for each one of these persons. That is to say, this is where the machinery of manipulation and trickery is, an issue that has been constantly raised in discussions within the Network in Defense of Humanity.

I recalled a panel that was held at the Cuartel de la Montaña, in December 2004, when Chavez called on us to take the offensive, and he called on us to create a breach in the media wall. From that discussion, the idea emerged for teleSUR, which has had so much success and been so important. Since that era, we have been talking about the machinery of manipulation. But I would say that today, the concentration of the media, the use of people’s unconscious reflexes, has grown to an almost Orwellian level — thinking about that famous book of George Orwell, “1984,” in which he talks of a policed world. We are facing a tremendous challenge and most important are trying to create this new paradigm, which must be participatory, because it must be the revolutionary people, using social networks, who resist being hypnotized, being driven like a herd from one place to another. And at the same time, we must be able to generate content. We must be critical with respect to the system, and at the same time proactive.

Perera Robbio: Circumstances have changed dramatically since 2004. The difficulties, as you say, have increased.

Prieto Jimenez: Fidel, Chavez founded so many extraordinary things. Then Evo (Morales), (Rafael) Correa, Daniel (Ortega), ALBA joined in. The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) was defeated in Mar del Plata (Argentina) — a truly glorious moment for the left in our America. Nestor Kirchner participated in the defeat of the FTAA and later so did Cristina (Fernandez). It was a significant moment. In Brazil, the Workers’ Party was in power; it was a time that really awakened many hopes, that made Latin America a pole.

We see now how there is talk of a pendulum. One of the most sinister things one can do is accept the idea that there was a pendulum swing toward the left, and now a swing to the reactionary right is coming. It’s crazy because history does not move by way of pendulum swings. History is made by men, women, the people, and I think what is most important is to put an end to the demoralization, the discouragement, the worry among progressive forces — stop the idea that what is happening now is fate, that neoliberal ideas can survive another ten years, instead of going to the ideas of Bolivar, Jose Martí, of Fidel, Chavez, of the Cuban Revolution and the Latin American Revolution.

Everything that happens is inevitably affected by our ability to communicate in an effective manner, in a serious, profound manner.

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Perera Robbio: How can the left meet this challenge, continue the struggle, not be discouraged?

Prieto Jimenez: Participants in this 15th Network meeting unanimously concur on the need to leave here with an agreement on concrete steps, an action plan.

One of the tasks the Network could undertake is linking the nuclei of cultural resistance, the alternative media, radio, the work of digital guerillas in social networks. There are many people who have not allowed themselves to be defeated and are fighting for liberation, against the neoliberal offensive, but they are not linked up.

I think the Network must take on the task of attempting to link these forces, so that people understand we are facing a global struggle, and that the little wars at a local level are not going to resolve the problem, even though victories may be won at this local level.

The idea of ethical monitoring of the media is important. During this workshop, one participant spoke about the slander of Fidel that appeared in Forbes magazine, according to which the leader of the Cuban Revolution had amassed a huge fortune, and was among the richest leaders in the world. I told this speaker that Fidel said something tremendous on Cuban television, in front of many compañeros, saying that if they showed him just one scrap of evidence, he would resign immediately. This reply was never published by Forbes.

The mass media lies, and if there is a reply, they never accept the fact that they lied, and the lie continues floating about. It’s Goebbels’ theory: repeat and repeat a lie until it becomes true. This is the philosophy of all the mass media at this time.

There has been talk in this forum about what Venezuela (mass media) did with the guarimbas (violent street protests), of how they circulated pictures of acts of violence, of throat slashings, of beatings which never occurred and were attributed to the police and the Bolivarian government, supposedly taking place during confrontations with opposition demonstrators. That is to say, they are constantly disseminating slanderous lies. Well, there is talk of post-truth politics, of totally invented events meant to create destabilization, which suddenly go viral on social networks, so people believe them.

The situation is terrible. The mass media has trained a massive group of people, mostly young who are very aware of what is going on, of what is moving around the web, and who are very credulous. That is why I believe that the other thing we need to do is to promote the critical study of these communications phenomena, especially among adolescents.

The use of intelligence must be promoted. Let us recall what Fidel said many times: They want to dismantle our ability to think. This is the great project: that the people don’t think; that the people don’t critically examine the lies that are everywhere.

Something else which has been discussed during these hours is that which is customarily referred to as the training of young cadres, revolutionary cadres. In this regard, the issue of new technologies must be included, the necessity of knowing how to use them, the issue of the battle of ideas on social networks.

During these times, we can ask a question: Are we going to allow the thinking of Fidel, allow generations in Cuba and Latin America, to be seen as something archaeological, something of the past? Are Venezuelans going to let the thinking of Chavez be put away in a museum, as something that happened but has no relevance? I think this depends a great deal on us.

First published in Juventud Rebelde on March 7, 2017. Translated by Granma International.

Alina Perera Robbio is a writer for Juventud Rebelde.

Speech of B.V.Vijayalakshmi at the International Seminar on “The Trade Unions against anti workers policies, imperialiast interventions and wars” at Athens

Dear Comrades and Friends,
Good evening to all.

At the outset I would like to express my proud pleasure to be a part of this most important seminar. Most important it is in the prevailing grim state of affairs around the world. A seminar to perceive the immeasurable sway of imperialism across the globe and the portending dangerous wars is imminent for the international trade union movement, particularly the class oriented revolutionary trade unions like us. For, it is the working class that are the ‘grave diggers’ of capitalism and history now beckons us to advance ahead to demolish the system of barbarism to usher in an era of peace and equality.
Our topic for the seminar is so thoroughly thought out that it lays down the matrix of the socio political and economic constrictions that imperialism employs to strangulate its subservient nations in order to establish its political hegemony. To approach this topic it is only the most appropriate to turn to Comrade V I Lenin who has given the most precise and the fullest ever definition of imperialism as, “Imperialism is a specific historic stage of capitalism. The imperialist epoch of capitalism of the 19th and the early 20th century has now grown into gargantuan proportions as humanity never had witnessed before. We are here to perceive the draconian dimension of the 21st century imperialism characterized by the twin onslaughts of economic repression and military aggression exercised by the gripping political influence that the imperialist power of the day, the USA has over the growing economies of the world.
One of the most visible successes of imperialism in the post cold war period was the defeat of the Soviet Union and the destruction of the post-capitalist property relations in the former Eastern Bloc states as well as in China and Vietnam. The planned economies implemented here had brought not only social progress but also had successfully restricted the scope of operation of the global capital. But the resurgence of capitalism in the later part of the 20th century came with revengeful vigour. The bourgeoisie succeeded in an enormous geographical expansion after it had been excluded from these regions for decades and strengthened itself internationally in relation to the working class and oppressed people in the third world.
At the beginning of the 1980s, the imperialist bourgeoisie began a concerted offensive against the social and political gains of the working class and the oppressed peoples that were made during the years of economic boom which lasted till the 70s. The rise of the East Asian economy, the Greek economic miracle, the Italian economic miracle, the economic growth stories of Japan, West Germany, France had experienced the unprecedented jolt with the collapse of the Bretton Woods monetary system in 1971 followed by the oil crisis in 1973, 1973-74 crash of the stock market and the worst economic recession of the 1970s. The growing economies were brought down to their knees for further structural adjustment dictated by the dominant power of USA. United States of America used its political and economic superiority to wield its power through the World Bank – IMF and the WTO. Debt trapped developing nations like walked willingly into the contrivance of the Structural Adjustment Programmes that came as the dictates of the financial masters. Capitalism began to hit back with more vehemence thereafter.
Economic repression of imperialism
Growth of monopoly capital is the quintessence of imperialism. USA moved decisively in this direction to monopolise and wield its power to influence the political and economic spheres of the beneficiary nations. Lenin saw the growth of monopolies as the most fundamental defining feature of imperialism. This process of monopolisation is advanced dramatically in the period of capitalist globalisation. Through the dictated philosophies of neo liberal economic globalization in the last two to three decades USA holds its grip over the political and economic spheres. This has caused untold miseries and enormous hardships to workers across the world.
In India as anywhere else in the rest of the world, capitalism plays havoc into the lives of the people. The Welfare state character of our country is given a go by to summarily adopt a full fledged laissez faire concept. Market liberalization and privatization has choked the economy rendering several crores of workers jobless. Unemployment, wage cut, wage freeze, retrenchments, layoffs, closures all at once have made the lives of workers absolutely miserable. Laying seize over the fertile middle class market of over 450 million, the MNCs and TNCs have captured the Indian market thereby killing the indigenous market. The consecutive governments since the 80s, paying obeisance to the imperialist powers have been making policies that cater to the needs of the super powers. FDI in the banks, insurance, defence, retail trade, real estate, pharmacy, farming etc,. have spelt the worst disaster on the Indian market and the Indian worker in turn. To cap it all, the present government at the center with its lenience towards extreme right is all set to amend the labour legislations in favour of the capital.
This, I am sure is the onslaught of capital in all the other parts of the world as well. In India, we have the trade union unity emerging and concretising against the policies of the government. But politicalisation of the workers is in a pace not in resonance to the spiralling speed of the capital. Politicalisation of the workers is the most imperative task, for the workers are the battalions to fight and finish the barbaric advance of the capitalists.
Finance capital is a new form of capital, in which the owners of capital in the form of stocks own not only banks and other financial institutions but industrial corporations as well. Even more remarkable however, has been the increased importance of multinational corporations, that is, globally active monopolies. Today, these firms, together with their affiliates, control two thirds of world trade. The 300 biggest companies own one quarter of all productive assets worldwide and control more than half of the world market in consumer durables, steel, airlines, electronics, oil, computers, media, aerospace and cars.
Such is the scale of accumulation of capital. The theory of imperialism attributes these asymmetries to the systematic transfer of the value created in the dominated regions to the dominating capitalists. This transfer is concretised through the deterioration of the terms of trade, the extraction of financial resources and the transfer of industrial profits. The net political effect of this drainage is the loss of the political autonomy of the ruling classes and the increasing level of US military intervention. This is the concerted and calculated economic imperialism of the US exercised on the nations.
Economic imperialism of more sophistication and surrogacy is evident in the movement of around 4 trillion US dollars as foot loose fictitious capital that is involved in the speculative market. This gargantuan amount used for economic maneuvering is deprived to the world for industrial capital. India is no exception to such economic imperialism.
Understanding such as this economic imperialism is imperative for us to comprehend the historic thirst of the United States of America for global power. American foreign policy is governed by the doctrine of “full-spectrum dominance”, which means .that the US should control military, economic and political development worldwide. Fullest expression of this dogma is expressively illustrated in the divergent form of US imperialism during the past three decades: military driven intervention, occupation and domination; and economic expansion and exploitation of resources, markets and labor should be understood as a ‘unified whole’ in which the two basic components, military and economic are always complimentary.
Full spectrum dominance of the US imperialism encompasses not only the illegal domination it exercises over the nations but also the dominance over planets and satellites. Amazing growth of Information and communication technology during the past decade is best appropriated by the US imperialism to serve its purpose. This is media imperialism which is used to manufacture consents and manipulate the conflicts. Media engineers the consent of the people for the capitalist barbarism and manipulates to glorify the US wars in the name of peace.
Self proclaimed economic might of the US justifies its right to exercise military control over the other nations. US stamp its boots in any part of the world with utter disregard to the UN charter and violate the international laws with unparalleled arrogance. This is done in absolute impunity to expropriate the land, labor, capital, natural resources, commerce, and markets of that other country.
Military aggression of Imperialism
Permanent war is the official US policy.US has a complex economy termed as the ‘War Economy’.. Economists even opine that US economy is essentially needs a war every four years to sustain and grow. US imperial state invested trillions of dollars in military expenditures, hundreds of thousands of military personnel into wars in the Middle East -Iraq, Yemen, and Syria; North and East Africa Libya, Somalia;, Afghanistan in South Asia. Etc,. Comprising only just 5% of the world population, the US accounts for 40% of total military spending. US’ war history is notorious to the fact that US instigates wars between neighboring countries and sells its arms and ammunition to both the combatants. We experience it in India where the US provokes war like situation between India and Pakistan and sells its arms and missiles to both. Defence budget of India is so huge that to that extent growth is deprived.
The war mongering USA tramples upon all the UN restrictions but wages war not only with impunity but also scores the support of the other nations. Typical ‘His Master Voice’ subservience is at display on the global stage.
Washington has continuously draped its predatory policies in the Middle East in the false banners of “human rights” and “democracy.” The “Operation desert fox” in December 1998, the indiscriminate bombing of civilian sites for four consecutive days to the most naked war on humanity under the falsehood that Iraq was possessing “weapons of mass destruction” were blatant lies that US held out to the comity of nations.
The bombing on Libya ‘to protect the people and restore peace’ was a blatant crime carried over by a group of nations, the merceneries of the USA. Libya under the rule of Gaddafi was peaceful and growing. There was no credible reason for NATO bombing Libya. US just did not like Gaffafi nationalizing the oil wealth lest it would be difficult for them to lay their free hands upon.
Imperialism can be the nastiest in its pursuit for political power is evident in the fact that USA time and again engages itself in creating and nurturing groups like Al quaeda and ISIS which spread terror across the globe. US has now implanted the venom of ‘Islamophobia’ to justify its ‘war on terror’. This is institutionally manipulated as ‘clash of civilisations’ to alienate a section of humanity. This simultaneously nurtures religious divide and antagonism. This is most dangerous. Divide and rule is the fundamental gospel of imperialism from its birth. We feel its ramifications in India, a pluralistic and secular country. International trade unions should take a serious view of this dangerous phenomenon.
It is the US imperialism that deprives the legal rights of the Palestinians. Palestine issue itself is the epitome and embodiment of imperialist aggression. The Israeli occupation of Palestine land, the Gaza and the west bank indisputably belong to Palestine. Israeli occupation is illegal and violative of the UN resolution. But the US supports Israel and therefore Palestinians continue to suffer the worst of human tragedies. Without the huge economic and military assistance provided by the United States and to a lesser extent from certain European governments, there can be no doubt that Israel would not be able to maintain indefinitely its aggressive and uncompromising policy towards the Palestinians, and would be forced in time to negotiate a more favourable settlement with them.
Latin America has always been the other eye sore of the US imperialism. In 1974 the democratically elected President and socialist leader Salvador Allande of Chile was overthrown by the armed forces and the national police. This was operated by the then US President Richard Nixon. After paying heavy toll to the economic imperialism for more than three decades the Bolivarian revolution has installed strong left regimes in the region. Emergence of socialist blocs in Latin America are seen with contempt and fear. The recent coup against the Brazilian President Dilma Rousuff is deliberately engineered by the US. Brazil has joined the list of successful coups in Honduras, and Paraguay in the recent past.
Emergence of BRICS is viewed with hostility by the imperialist powers. The development in Brazil with installation of its puppet regime is to be seen together with the game plan of the US to destroy the BRICS.
But the developing world have been coming closer to create regional economic integration too. While BRICS has formed the BRICS development bank, ALBA the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas on December 14, 2004 between Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez has thrown a real challenge to the growing US imperialism that preys on the human squalour. ALBA is based on the idea of regional integration based on the principles of solidarity, social justice, complementarity, and cooperation aimed at transforming geopolitical relations in the western hemisphere. Many governments in Latin America have come to the conclusion that they have a chance to eradicate poverty, reduce the existing gross inequalities, expand and consolidate democracy, develop a participating and conscious citizenry, grow economically, and strengthen national sovereignty only if they do it collectively. In this regard the ongoing process of regional integration is central. Impressive steps have also been taken to eliminate racism, bigotry, gender and sex discrimination, and intolerance towards sexual diversity. In all these regards Latin America shows not only that another world is possible but is being built right now.
Another World is possible where there are no wars but only peace. No discrimination only equality. This is the alternative to imperialism. The alternative is Socialism. Socialism has to be built. History has proved that it is the working class that can build that alternative society. Workers organized under the class oriented trade unions have to rise up to build the socialist world.
Workers have done it. Now history beckons them to play the role destined to them. It is only the working class that can overthrow capitalism and reconstitute society on socialist lines. The trade unions are an expression of the organised working class. This is why the unions are a key consideration in the perspectives for changing society. Trade unions are the weapons and the class oriented ideology is the strength. Winning workers to the ideas of socialism by politicalising them is the immediate task before us. Building, expanding and strengthening left wing, class oriented trade unions with a clear socialist programme to overthrow capitalism and establish a socialist state is our objective. Workers should be politicalised. There is no other short cut. Class oriented trade unions should do it, starting the process now. Fight the global enemy locally and internationally should be our guideline. Economic expropriation, political recolonisation and military interventionism are the three pillars of the current imperialism that have to be demolished. Trade unions should prepare the workers to do it.

LONG LIVE PEACE – NO TO WAR
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY-UNITE FOR PEACEFUL WORLD
LONG LIVE WORKERS UNITY
LONG LIVE SOCIALISM

World Federation of Trade Unions
Central Offices in Athens
40, Zan Moreas str, 117 45 Athens, GREECE
Tel: +30210 9214417, +30210 9236700, Fax: +30210 9214517
E-mails: info@wftucentral.org, gensec@wftucentral.org
Venezuela Deadlocked Amid Anti-President Protests With Army Supporting Maduro
16:32 28.10.2016
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The effort of Venezuela’s opposition to oust President Nicolas Maduro has left the country in political gridlock, while the army still supports the head of state.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The military, which often had a final say in Venezuela’s political history, might play a decisive role in this conflict fraught with bloodshed and further impoverishment of Venezuelans. Crisis starting point Maduro came to presidency upon the 2013 death of iconic leader Hugo Chavez. While Chavez rule was marked with high prices for oil, necessary to keep the economy of the oil-producing Venezuela afloat and widely used to support the poorest and most vulnerable members of society, Maduro’s years in power have been hampered by turbulence on global oil market that devastated Venezuela’s economy. The country started to face shortages in medicine, food and electricity supplies. And though in recent months, the leftist government started to relax price control system, in place since 2003, to allow food sales at market prices in several Venezuelan states and somewhere in Caracas, just few could actually afford to pay it. As Ricardo Hausmann, the director of Harvard’s Center for International Development, told the CNBC broadcaster in July “one monthly minimum wage can buy you 33,000 liters of gasoline, but only 18 pounds of beef.” The situation has been exacerbated by three-digit inflation. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Venezuela’s inflation rate will reach 475 percent by the end of this year and risks to rocket to 1,660 percent in 2017. Meanwhile, Maduro, as his opponents claim, has moved toward an increasingly autocratic rule. Earlier in October, the Supreme Court took budgetary authority away from the National Assembly, which is controlled by the opposition. Last Friday, the National Electoral Council (CNE) put an abrupt stop to a nearly year-long push campaign of collecting signatures for referendum that might see the unpopular leftist president leaving the office on accusations of breaking with democracy and human rights and ruining economy. According to the CNE, this campaign was matched with widespread irregularities that put into question the validity of signatures that were already collected as some 30 percent of them belonged to children or to already deceased Venezuelans. That argumentation fell on deaf ears — enraged by this suspension of push for a referendum to remove Maduro, his opponents from the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), an alliance of a dozen center-right parties, called the CNE decision a “rupture of constitutional order” and a de facto coup of the legislative branch. On Tuesday, the National Assembly voted to put Maduro on trial. On Wednesday, the opposition leader and Miranda State Governor Henrique Capriles initiated a large-scale peaceful protest across the country, which saw hundreds of thousands people coming to the streets, to defend the nation’s right to a referendum on Maduro’s recall. It ended up in police using tear gas against the opposition protesters with some 120 people wounded and one policeman shot dead. What is next “What I expect is the continuation of the situation which is basically a political stalemate: the opposition is gaining popularity but can legally not go further,” Dirk Kruijt, emeritus professor of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and a prominent expert on Latin America, told Sputnik. Unlike other countries in Latin America, such as Brazil, where Dilma Rousseff was removed from the presidency in August, Venezuela’s National Assembly do not have a legal right to impeach the president as this power lies with the Supreme Court. The Court is dominated by leftists loyal to Maduro, so it has never voted against him. Ironically, when opposition-led National Assembly voted on Tuesday to put President Nicolás Maduro on political trial, a lawmaker from Mr. Maduro’s Socialist Party Edwin Rojas, mocked this vote as “a cheap copy of impeachment,” adding that “We are not Brazil.” Besides, not only the judiciary is on Venezuelan leader’s side, but also is the army. “The armed forces are (still?) supporting the president. Even before the electoral victory of Chavez the Venezuelan army was radicalized; after the failed coup in 2002 [which saw that Hugo Chavez ousted from office for 47 hours, before being restored by a combination of military loyalists and support from some of Venezuela’s poor] the armed forces were purified. Intelligence is shared with Cuban advisers. Ultimately, Maduro’s fate is in the hands of the army,” Dutch expert explained. Back in July, in a clear attempt to shore up armed support, Maduro announced that he was putting all the country’s cabinet-level departments under the leadership of the defense minister, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, whom he elevated to a “superminister” position. The next day Venezuela’s military took over operations at five high-volume port cities in a bid to ensure that commercial activity continues as Venezuela’s economy collapses. No surprise that the defense minister stated this week it was necessary to “reiterate our unconditional loyalty and unbreakable commitment” to Maduro. International mediation On Monday, the Venezuelan president met with Pope Francis privately at the Vatican, and upon these talks it was announced that the Holly Sea accompanied by the former presidents of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez, and Panama, Martin Torrijos, and former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero would mediate a dialogue between the opposing sides. The talks are set to begin this Sunday in the Caribbean island of Margarita. “There is no alternative to dialogue and peace. We want dialogue because we want peace and prosperity for the people,” the president, who accuses the opposition of seeking a coup with support from the United States, said on Wednesday at a rally attended by thousands of his supporters. “Pope Francis also successfully intermediated in the apparently eternal conflict between Cuba and the United States. Venezuela’s people is extremely Catholic, the army officers are recruited from the poor and lower middle classes and the pope is popular (and a Latin American). One never knows. Vatican’s diplomacy is not one of the worst in the world,” Kruijt commented on the prospects for the international mediation. Meanwhile, some opposition leaders initially said they refuse to participate in conciliation talks unless the dialogue is held in Caracas. Opposition’s call for general strike Friday and November 3 march to the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, unless the election board allows the referendum to remove Maduro, also cast doubts on the possibility of a agreement between the country’s dueling political factions. However, on Thursday, two days after the opposition’s two-time presidential candidate Capriles said the opposition would boycott the talks, another MUD leader Jesus Torrealba that the Venezuelan opposition would take part in a Vatican-led dialogue. Alternatively, he said, Maduro’s government and the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) could agree on a constitutional amendment authorizing early general elections. President’s opponents suspect him of attempts to buy time and delay the recall process. As the Constitution states, if the referendum is held before January 10, it may trigger a new election. If it is delayed beyond year-end, then Maduro still can be forced from office but only to be succeeded by his vice president. The only other presidential recall ever attempted in Venezuela took place in 2004, but only after three failed petitions.

Read more: https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201610281046841483-deadlock-venezuela-maduro-protest/

Chavez may be gone. His revolution isn’t


Mar
2016
Saturday 5th
posted by Morning Star in Features
https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-e3c1-Chavez-may-be-gone-His-revolution-isnt#.VuoO-uTmpaQ

Venezuela’s ambassador to Britain Rocio del Valle Maneiro Gonzalez talks to Morning Star editor Ben Chacko about the legacy of Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013


HUGO CHAVEZ, who died three years ago today, is surely one of the outstanding statesmen of the century so far.

Not only did his Bolivarian revolution inspire the “pink tide” that swept the whole of Latin America, his influence and his message spread far beyond that continent.

But what is his legacy today? Venezuela’s ambassador to Britain Rocio del Valle Maneiro Gonzalez says to understand that we need to grasp what Chavez’s rise to power in 1998 meant.

“Before Chavez we were stuck with a two-party system, Democratic Action and the Social Christians [Copei], and the political class has failed Venezuela,” Maneiro says.

“When Chavez came to power 60 to 70 per cent of the population was in poverty, and of that 15 per cent were in extreme poverty — those people who have nothing, who eat food fit for dogs.

“That’s why Chavez’s message came across so strong: it was the first time people started to hear about social debt.”

What’s that?

“He said the people who had ruled our country were in debt to the Venezuelan people. They had money from all over the world, because we are an oil exporter, but there was such misery, so many were illiterate.

“That is why the Venezuelan revolution has won 19 out of 20 elections. Because of a message of social justice, of equality — and because of the facts, the ways the country has changed in education, in health, in housing.”

And is current President Nicolas Maduro continuing that mission? “Maduro’s first priority is the social missions. The number of houses, the number of students, it’s like this” — she makes a soaring gesture with her hand.

“It’s hard to describe. But when I was ambassador to China I was visiting home to see one of my sons and the building he lived in had a concierge. He was about 70 years old and he said to me: ‘Ambassador, I learned to read!’”

But literacy and housing drives cost money. And reinvesting Venezuela’s oil wealth in its people was Chavez’s solution.

“To take the money from the oil and sow it in social plans, so that it would grow,” Maneiro explains. “And in one area, one of these missions, we required help from outside.

“That was health. And Cuba, where they have an excellent health system, they came to help us. They sent thousands of doctors, and they created a mission called Inside the Neighbourhood where the Cuban doctors set up practices in the barrios.

“I remember Operation Miracle. Three million people across Latin America had problems with their eyes — not just cataracts, all sorts — and they operated. A Cuban programme helped by Venezuelan finances.”

Cuba was not Venezuela’s only ally. For nine years Maneiro was ambassador to China.

“I had the privilege of being in China just at the moment when you could see the power shifting internationally,” she smiles. “I went in 2004 and stayed until 2013.

“And the relationship with Venezuela was very special. It matched perfectly with Chavez’s international policy.”

Most people over here, I note, see that policy as primarily about challenging the power of the United States.

“I wouldn’t define it like that. Chavez was in the first place an integrationist, his policy was for regional integration of Latin America. Over 17 years you can see the fruits of that — we have Alba, Celac, Unasur, all vehicles for the continent’s integration.

“Of course Chavez wanted independence from the United States, always. He was a Venezuelan leader, if a very special and charismatic one.

“We have a historical memory. If you read about Simon Bolivar, look what regional unity meant to him. And that involved challenging the US. ‘The United States has been out here through God’s will to sow misery and pain in Latin America in the name of freedom.’ Bolivar said that in the 1820s!

“Chavez took this as a basis. The first thing was regional integration, and then globally he thought: We do not need one superpower. We have to go for multilateralism.”

So he welcomed China’s growing power?

“Of course. To balance power globally. He wanted a strong Europe, a strong China, a strong Latin America. Given those, why not a strong United States?

“A multitude of powers. When I was in China what was happening there fitted that vision perfectly.”

So Chavez backed China’s rise. Was China equally supportive of his revolution?

“Yes. Very supportive. They created a system of bilateral co-operation, with a high-level joint committee working out shared priorities.

“When I arrived in China in 2004 our trade volume was $700 million. When I left in 2013 it was $23 billion. It was very dynamic.”

The growing trade ended longstanding US monopolies on many manufactured goods available in the Venezuelan market. “Critics said: ‘You are exchanging one dependence for another.’ But Chavez replied: ‘If you want to be independent, you need to diversify your dependencies first!’”

As ambassador, Maneiro worked closely with Chavez and came to know him well.

“He was a workaholic,” she recalls. “He would phone me at one, two in the morning, and say: ‘Did I wake you?’ But then we would talk for hours.

“Chavez was absolutely, completely Venezuelan. We are very musical and he was like that. He didn’t have a good ear. I was always telling him: ‘Don’t sing!’

“But he loved to sing and he tried to do it well. He sang some songs from the plains, because he was from that region, but out of tune.”

Chavez’s love of music found national expression in El Sistema, the system of youth orchestras that were the brainchild of Jose Antonio Abreu as an escape from poverty for young people. On coming to power, Chavez embraced the system and invested in it; now countries as far away as Germany are imitating the model. Indeed, Venezuela under Chavez experienced a cultural renaissance, from music to cinema.

“I think this is one of the most beautiful contributions of Venezuela to the world,” she says.

Was his private persona different from his public image?

“Everybody’s is different. But he was almost the same person.

“I suppose when he was very angry, he never raised his voice. If he didn’t like something it got lower and lower — you had to lean in.

“When he saw a problem, immediately it was like a dissection. ‘OK, what is this problem? Let me see. This is this, that is that, this is that … right, OK, the solution is this’.”

Venezuela has a had a rocky ride since Chavez’s death, but is the enthusiasm for this revolution still there?

“We are facing problems, and the whole world knows that.

“We had an election and for the first time, we didn’t win. It’s a challenge but the enthusiasm is still there.

“Our people, they have memories, they know. They know what their lives were like before and what they are like now.

“The people Chavez gave hope to, and told them: ‘Listen, you are a person, this is your constitution, you can vote and you have rights.’

“These people, they are the revolution. Chavez planted the seed and it is up to us, the revolutionary government, to make it grow. If we fail, history will ask: Why?”

It’s a message that might apply to today’s Labour Party. But Ambassador Maneiro smilingly declines to be drawn on British politics. What’s clear is that while Chavez is sorely missed, the revolution he began is far from over.

La Habana: Homenaje a Hugo Chavez en el tercer aniversario de su paso a la inmortalidad
| March 7, 2016 | 7:54 pm | Analysis, Hugo Chavez, political struggle | No comments