About this blog

Venezuela: translating the revolution aims to promote solidarity with Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution by providing translations of interesting and important Venezuelan news articles and opinion pieces. It welcomes genuine discussion and debate on the posted articles.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

New call to voluntary labour

Translated by Owen Richards 

Comandante Chavez, in a meeting with the promotions committee of the Great Patriotic Pole [pro-revolution electoral alliance], held on Thursday at the Alba Hotel Caracas, reflected on the construction of socialism and its pillars. He referred to the importance of volunteer work for the creation of the spiritual and material bases of Socialism, and gave the example of one of its most genuine adherents – Che Guevara.

“There’s something that really contributes to the spiritual basis, the material basis of Socialism: voluntary labour.

“I encourage you to undertake volunteer work in the countryside, in the cities, that we may all - the Great Patriotic Pole, the collectives – get working.

“Have you seen Che Guevara, the photos and films of Che cutting cane, brick making, working…? What else… Carrying bags… Voluntary labour, let’s do it, help our people do various things, and it needs to be planned, it must be planned. The workers, the communities, the collectives.”

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

A budget for socialist development

Minister Faria: 2012 budget corresponds to the development of a socialist project

Caracas, 13 December, AVN
Translation by Owen Richards

The vice-president of the Permanent Commission of Finance and Development in the National Assembly, Jesus Faria, said that the budget for 2012 corresponds to a socialist development project for Venezuela.

China-Venezuela financed housing in Nueva Esparta
He mentioned this on Tuesday after the session that approved the national budget, which will provide 40% for social investment, which was voted against by the opposition bloc.

“It’s going to raise the level of health and education services, of housing, and of the overall quality of life of Venezuelans”, he explained.

He said that the Budgetary Law for 2012 that reaches 297.8 billion Bolivares [US$69.34 billion] is aimed at meeting the people’s needs.

Faria ratified, furthermore, how important social and productive financing had been for the country, through such instruments as National Development Fund (Fonden) and the China-Venezuela Joint Fund.

“Without these funds it would have been impossible for us (as the government) to meet the needs of the population and to have a growing economy for 2011 and 2012”.

He pointed out that resources for social investment obtained through the Joint Fund with China benefit the nation because they come with interest rates at least 50% lower than those imposed by the rest of the international financial system.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Chavez: 2012 will be the October revolution

7 December 2011

At the beginning of a Miraflores press conference, president Hugo Chavez recalled his victory of the December 6 1998, a victory which took place 13 years ago yesterday. He also referred to the coming election day for October 2012, declaring, “We’re going to win the elections. There will be an October revolution, and the projected difference (in votes) shouldn’t be less than four million”.

“We’re heading to the victory of the ten million. We have to get 70% of votes”, he said.

He pointed out that in its 13 years, the revolution had “put the icing on the cake” with the birth of the Community of Latin American and Carribean States (CELAC). He indicated that the creation of the regional bloc was a historic milestone, in the same way as Venezuelans’ participation in the various electoral activities that have taken place since his arrival in power in 1998 had been.

“I don’t think there’s been a more important political event on this continent in the last 100 years”. Chavez emphasized that the impact of the CELAC summit “had been extraordinarily positive”.  “It has surpassed our greatest expectations. There are various opinions (…) it’s unity in diversity”, he said, referring a Spanish journalist’s question about Ecuador’s proposal to approve decisions by consensus within the organization.

Chavez said CELAC had to be a defense against imperialist madness. Furthermore, he pointed out that it was born with major geopolitical weight. “CELAC will not be like the ineffable OAS [Organization of American States]”, he said.

He said that there was a proposal for a meeting of the troika to be held early next year, but clarified that it was a decision that belonged to Chile as president of the summit. He criticized the media, saying “they invert reality, presenting the villains as the heroes”.

Translated by Owen Richards

Friday, 4 November 2011

Socialist youth support indignados

JPSUV supports indignados of the world

Translated by Owen Richards

Aporrea – This Thursday, members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela Youth (JPSUV) expressed their solidarity with the movements of indignados of the world that are protesting capitalism.

The head of the PSUV’s electoral work, Heryck Rangel, said that the capitalist system imposed on the European countries generated unemployment and few opportunities for the world’s youth, a situation that has compelled thousands of indignados to march to reclaim their rights.
“Capitalism is in a terrible crisis that mainly effects the youth, and therefore us young Venezuelans, who live in a totally different reality, we’re taking to the streets of Caracas and all of Venezuela today in solidarity with the struggle of the indignados”, he said.

Rangel pointed out that the mass media tries to silence the struggle of the world’s millions, and for this reason he called on all Venezuelan youth to show solidarity with the indignados and “to show the world that only with socialism can we have a future and a good life”.

He argued that the struggle that the world’s peoples have now undertaken against capitalism is the same struggle that liberated Venezuela in the last few years of the twentieth century. “Let’s recall the Caracazo, [and] the banking crisis of ’94”, he added.

He said that today in Venezuela it could be said “we live in a different reality, in a country where the youth have access to free, quality education, while the rest of the world’s youth are losing their homes, their jobs, and are mortgaging their future”.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Indignados unite!

Translated by Owen Richards

The crisis of the capitalist system has provoked the “indignados” movement that has arisen in one country after another across the globe. Revolutionaries cannot be dismissive of this “anti-systemic” manifestation that raises its voice against injustice, against war, against the barbarism that puts our very life on Earth in danger.

Ana Elisa Osorio
It’s true that the “indignados” movement is heterogeneous, and is considered by many to be incapable of overthrowing imperialism. Certainly imperialism has been able to recuperate after each of the crises it has survived. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t overlook the enormous setback it has suffered, perhaps the worst in the history of capitalism.

I’m reminded of a song that goes, “I only ask of God that I be not indifferent to suffering … to war … to injustice”.

There’s much to be indignant about. The predatory capitalism that threatens Mother Earth and all her children; the gendarme imperialism that flaunts international treaties and all morality, that invades Afghanistan, Irak, and Libya, and assassinates Gadaffi. Ought we not be moved to indignation?

The anti-imperialist struggle can become the guiding thread of a global revolt that shakes the common enemy. We cannot leave this flag in the hands of the majunches [the dull, i.e. the Venezuelan opposition] who think they see an opportunity to organize an indignados movement in our country. They’re wrong, the flag is ours – it’s for justice, solidarity, peace. It’s against everything they stand for.

On the other hand, internationalism is characteristic of revolutions, and this is an opportunity to exercise it. Our Bolivarian revolution is called upon to articulate anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-system struggles. This struggle is ours as well.

Onward indignados! Unite!

[Ana Elisa Osorio is a national directorate member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).]

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Hugo Chavez applauds OWS protesters, condemns police violence

[This article originally appeared in Green Left Weekly]

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Venezuela’s socialist president Hugo Chavez has likened the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States to Venezuela’s February 1989 Caracazo riots against neoliberal policies that are widely seen as the start of Venezuela's revolutionary process.

Chavez made the comments by phone on the television program Dando y Dando on October 5.

Chavez also expressed solidarity with the protesters and condemned police repression of peaceful protest. “This movement of popular outrage is expanding ... and the repression is horrible, I don’t know how many are in prison now,” he said.

Discussing the roots of the popular explosion, he said: “Poverty’s growing. The misery is getting worse”.

The Caracazo broke out across Venezuela after a “shock package” of neoliberal reforms was introduced by then-president Carlos Andres Perez involving drastic price hikes in fuel and transport costs. 

It was a popular explosion of anger by Venezuela’s working people and destitute masses. It marked the beginning of the end of the rule of Venezuela’s capitalist oligarchy. 

Three years later, Chavez lead a failed military rebellion aimed at toppling the Andres Perez regime and establishing a popular revolutionary government. The attempt failed, but it earned Chavez and his military comrades immense respect among Venezuela’s poor majority. On the back of this mass support, Chavez was elected president in December 1998.

In his comments, Chavez characterized the Caracazo as “a forerunner to what we are seeing in Europe, and in North America, huge protests” against neoliberalism. In the Caracazo, “the Venezuelan people struck out against neoliberalism, against the Washington consensus, and here a revolution broke out”.

Venezuela has provided an example of an alternative approach to neoliberialism. The Chavez government has continued to nationalise more and more of Venezuela’s productive forces, starting with the biggest monopoly corporations in areas such as steel, electricity and telecommunications, to benefit Venezuela as a whole, not just the rich.

Venezuelanalysis.com said on October 11 that Chavez announced that houses built illegally on the Los Roques islands would be nationalised and turned into holiday resorts for workers and the poor. Until now, the archepelago has been frequented by Venezuela’s rich and international tourists.

Commenting on the nationalisation, Chavez said: “The upper class bourgeoisie privatised all of that, and that’s what we are going to expropriate.” 

He also announced that yachts appropriated from fugitive bankers would be used for sight-seeing tours in the region.

[Owen Richards is the author of the Venezuela: translating the revolution blog.]

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Venezuela: Chavez sets date for crucial presidential poll

The following is an article I wrote that has just been published in Green Left Weekly:

Venezuela: Chavez sets date for crucial presidential poll

CNE president Tibisay Lucena
Saturday, September 24, 2011
By Owen Richards

Voters should expect to see “a new Chavez, a rejuvenated Chavez, touring the country as a candidate, touring the streets at a rhythm set by the circumstances”, said Venezuela’s socialist president Hugo Chavez after the date for Venezuela’s presidential elections was announced as October 7, 2012.


The Venezuelan Electoral Commission’s (CNE) president Tibisay Lucena also announced that judicial, regional and local elections would take place on separate dates.

The right-wing, US-funded Venezuelan opposition hopes Chavez’s battle with cancer will keep him from his fourth straight victory in a presidential election.

But Chavez was upbeat and referred to the coming electoral campaign as the “October 7 mission”. Chavez said the campaign should aim to win 10 million votes. In 2006, Chavez won more than 7.3 million votes (63%).

Chavez said he would kick-start the re-election campaign on February 4: “We’ve set that date as the start of our official march towards the October 7 victory.”

February 4 is the date in 1992 when Chavez led a failed military rebellion against the corrupt, neoliberal government of President Carlos Andres Perez. Although the rising failed, it turned Chavez into a hero among the poor majority.

Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) will again lead the campaign as part of the left-wing Patriotic Pole electoral coalition with smaller left-wing groups, which has already endorsed Chavez as its candidate.

Since Chavez’s first election in 1998, his government has sought to redistribute the nation’s oil wealth through pro-poor social missions and other measures, such as nationalising key industries. These measures have halved poverty and millions of people have access to free education and health care for the first time.

Chavez said that if he was to win a fourth term, he might call on the National Assembly to pass an enabling law granting him special powers to enact reforms.

Chavez has previously used such constitutional powers to deepen the socialist revolution in Venezuela.

The PSUV has been holding sign-on sessions across the country to the new “vanguard patrols”. These grassroots bodies that will, among other things, campaign for his re-election.

The patrols have already enlisted more than 2 million members across seven weekends of recruiting.

Starting from October 1, the PSUV will begin the process of organising the members into local patrols of 10 to 20 members. Patrol bases, which will act as command centres, will be formed out of the patrols.

The divided opposition will again try to unite under the banner of the Democratic Unity Forum (MUD), which will hold primaries on February 12 to choose a presidential candidate to challenge Chavez.

There are 18 hopefuls so far vying for MUD endorsement. These include the governor of Miranda state (and participant in the 2002 coup attempt against Chavez) Henrique Capriles Radonski; 2006 presidential candidate and now fugitive from corruption charges Manuel Rosales; and Maria Corina Machado, current member of the National Assembly and former president of US-funded opposition group Sumate.

MUD has now been joined by the Progressive Front for Change (FPC), a grouping of mostly former Chavista parties, such as Homeland for All (PPT), Radical Cause (La Causa R) and We Can (Podemos).

Venezuelan journalist Eleazar Diaz Rangel has warned that the period leading up to the presidential election will be like “passing through a minefield, full of uncertainty and danger”. Rangel said this was due to the improbability of a MUD victory in 2012, making the opposition unpredictable.

Those in the opposition who consider the defeat of Chavez to be “mission impossible”, Rangel said, might be tempted to engage in destabilising actions, such as trying to discredit the electoral process.

“You don’t have to have a crystal ball to realize that surely in governing circles of the United States are also divided, according to the information they receive from Caracas, and they will align themselves with either hawks or doves.”

[Owen Richards is the author of the Venezuela: translating the revolution blog.]

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Huge involvement of youth in PSUV vanguard patrols

AVN/JPSUV, 19/9/11

Youth make up more than 60% of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)’s Vanguard Patrols, according to Juan Carlos Aleman, a PSUV member of the National Asembly (AN).

“They’re in the vanguard and they have a consciousness of where we’ve come from and where we’re going”, said Aleman referring to the socialist model that drives the Bolivarian revolution, lead by president Hugo Chavez.

Aleman made these points in a PSUV patrol sign-up day, which took place in the Maracao de Caracas area.

PSUV patrol sign-up station
He pointed out that the enlistment process for the patrols had been characterized by the participation of the organized population in a massive attendance at the Sign-up Points.

The PSUV patrols will have the responsibility of forming Patrol Bases that will be nothing other than a big mechanism involving the people and the government to work towards the presidential elections on October 7, 2012 and also to strengthen the  building of Venezuelan socialism.

Translated by Owen Richards

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Communes in Caracas

Communal organization includes the city
CCS - 07/09/11

Among the aims of community organization is that of building the communal State, where power is exercised directly by the people, through self-government, with an economic model of social property and endogenous development.

Based on this premise, 236 communes and more than 9,000 communal councils have been established, according to information from the Ministry of Popular Power for the Communes.

Through this process the city of Caracas has turned into a space full of examples of self-government.

Socioeconomic model

In the Capital District around 44 sectors exist that are in the process of building communes in order to lay the foundations for Venezuelan socialism.

In the Antimano ward, 18 communal councils of the Carapita sector and part of Santa Ana organised to establish the Victoria Socialist Commune.

Concrete block production by the Ezequiel Zamora Commune, Antimano, Caracas
Edgar Astudillo, the commune’s spokesperson, reports that the developing socioeconomic model now has four collective work units for the production of goods and services, working under the criteria of reinvesting profits back into the community.

Blacksmithing, concrete block making, carpentry, textiles and baking are the businesses established with an investment of 924,000 BsF that was authorized by president Hugo Chavez through the Micro-financing Development Fund (Fondemi), in June 2010.

More power and consciousness

The experience of the communes is based on self-government under the Organic Law of Popular Power, as the “set of actions through which the organized communities directly assume the management of projects, the carrying out of works and services in order to improve the quality of life in its geographical area”.

Blanca Araujo, spokesperson for the commune-in-construction, El Paraiso de Maisanta, of Cota 905, Santa Rosalia ward, defines the commune building process, from her experience, as an “organization of the people to solve their problems”. She adds that “with the commune we have more power and more consciousness of the problems we face”.

This commune, a year in the making, has a route that covers the Guzman Blanco sector on Cota 905 towards Quinta Crespo. The resources it receives are used for community projects.

La Pastora is another example that is adopting the communal model. “Firstly, we met as a promotional team for social and political activities in the area. When the President put out the call to form communes, we decided that this was a way to make a reality of the goals of the revolutionary process”, recalls Milagros Hernandez, spokesperson of the Los Mecedores commune in construction, in La Pastora ward.

They have just established a communal house acquired with 650,000 BsF granted by the Government of Capital District. In that space they will install an Infocentre and a textile company as socioeconomic projects.

Extending the geographic axis

In 2008, locals from the El Observatorio sector in 23 de Enero [neighbourhood] and part of the San Juan ward, which has12 communal councils, formed the Juan 23 Commune, made up of  11,526 inhabitants who share the same territory and history.

Nelson Solorzano, one of the promotors of this organization, said that they are now expanding their axis of activity. They meet with nine communes in west Caracas and make economic exchanges to break with the capitalist market which causes most of the problems the communes are struggling against.

Socialist spaces

The Organic Law of the Communes stipulates that these social organizations are “a socialist space that, as local entities, are defined by the integration of neighbourhood communities with a shared memory and history, cultural features, traits and customs that are recognized in the territory that they occupy and in the productive activities that are the basis of their livelihood”. Among its aims is to promote mechanisms for education and training in the communities and promote the popular defence of human rights.

Translated by Owen Richards 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The ideological map of the revolution

Translated by Owen Richards

These last twelve years have been in preparation for the “critical point” that inevitably approaches. It is a time that defines society’s direction. Everything done up to this point has been building towards this historic moment.

The Revolution, thanks to the guiding and unifying thread of its comandante, has continued to advance successfully through these turbulent years of ferocious struggle against the empire and its lackeys, and also of violent internal struggles amongst the currents that fight to lead the Revolution. The battle has raged endlessly on both fronts.

That’s how revolutions go – moments of euphoric advance along with tough, dispiriting and confusing moments. That’s why a leader is indispensable to a revolution, to give it the coherence it needs to avoid falling off the rails. And that task is complete. To have arrived at this stage is a feat in itself.

We now approach a decisive battle that will be decided by three basic factors: firstly, ideology, secondly, an active mass imbued with this ideology, [and thirdly, the masses] following the leader’s directives. This trilogy: ideology, mass and leader will decide the contest.

The situation is at once both dangerous and promising. We’ve got a leader; we have the potentials of an active mass that has been tested in previous battles, such as April [2002] and the oil sabotage [of 2002-3]. The 27 of February [i.e. the Caracazo of 1989] taught us the need for organization, for leadership, and that only this way can we win such battles. We’ve learned the need for clear political objectives and we have both good and bad experiences in battle.

We have failed to internalize the ideological struggle, to understand its logic and to use that understanding to place ourselves in the historic moment and assume the role it sets for us.

Victory is impossible without a strong and clear ideological delineation. The battlefronts are defined by ideology, which overflows the boundaries of political militancy and imposes its logic. This explains how parties and former leaders of the Revolution are today sitting at the same table where the assassination of leaders and militants was planned, sitting with Adecos [members of Democratic Action] and Copeyanos [members of COPEI], sitting with the capitalists. Ideology erases shame.

It’s not possible to understand the historic moment without having an ideological map, which supersedes the political map. That means ideological militancy will be more important than political militancy.

The battlefields are being outlined more and more. Chavez rallies the Revolutionary side with the slogan, “those that want a homeland come with me”. That means those that want genuine Socialism – which is the only way to have homeland, to have humanity.

Hence, it is mandatory to define socialist ideology. We can put forward some aspects here:

·        The human being at the center of all endeavours.

·        Life as the motive of all effort.

·        Nature as the basis of everything.

·        The Consciousness of Social Duty linked with Social Property in the means of production administered by the National State.

·        Internationalism.

·        To be always on the side of the weak, of the fighters, of the Revolutionaries.

Only an ideological map allows us to take successful positions in the war to build Socialism and defend humanity. History – that unequaled revolutionary teacher – is very clear in her lessons, we must always go back to them, keeping them under our pillows.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The battle of 2012 – The revolution, the people and the armed forces

The following is an article I have translated from the Frente Francisco de Miranda youth organisation’s weekly magazine Semenario Signos

The battle of 2012 – The revolution, the people and the armed forces

The counter-revolution, with its inability to win via electoral means, has a plan, with international backing, to generate violence, destabilisation and intervention before the 2012 elections. Such is shown by the attacks of the right wing’s spokespersons and their media that ranged from calling for Chavez’s resignation, to making attacks against the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), to attacking the National Electoral Commission.

In the face of these threats, our Comandante advises us: “We must prepare ourselves for the scenario that they call plan B, the Yankee embassy, the Yankee empire, the CIA is preparing, before this disaster for them, which I previously referred to as an organic, structural impossibility for them, of defeating us in the electoral sphere. The continuity and the future of the Bolivarian Revolution are in the unity, organisation and consciousness of the civic and military People”.

The ultra-right argues that the FANB is preparing a coup in the case an unfavourable vote for Chavez. Their strategy is to spread in the world press that Chavez is a coup-plotter and that the FANB cannot be guarantors of the process because they are ideologically committed [to Chavez].

The defence minister, General Carlos Mata Figueroa, accuses the Venezuelan counter-revolutionaries of fomenting subversive acts against the Armed Forces, while emphasising the extremely high level of soldiers’ consciousness. 

The Venezuelan Armed Forces has shown itself to be a guarantor of the Constitution and to be more dignified than ever, not like in the Fourth Republic when they encouraged all kinds of abuse against the people like the destruction of electoral results that favoured revolutionary parties, and more recently with the participation of the entire bourgeois high command in the coup de etat against comandante Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution.

Other elements of this conspiracy are the so-called Coalition for Democratic Unity (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática - MUD) agitating against the supposed increase in crime in Caracas and in the country’s interior and against the minister of the prison system, Iris Varela, for giving inmates soft treatment, because for the MUD, the solution to crime is to repress the People.

In this regard, the interior and Justice minister, Tareck El Aissami, pointed out that the MUD has a clear agenda of destabilisation. He claimed that groups linked to the Unity Table intend to carry out a guarimba [road blockades], threatening to cut off Los Valles del Tuy and Valencia and participating in the name of the transport workers, of the main routes of the states of Miranda, Carabobo, Tachira, Lara and Zulia, attempting to promote an agenda of violence and fear in every state of the country.

At the same time as president Chavez’s popularity has reached 58%, they seek through the oppositionist MUD to put out a call for Chavez to resign. Presidential pre-candidate Oswaldo Alvarez Paz formulated the request, which is nothing other than yet another media attack to enhance their discredited leaders at the same time that at the international level there is the false perception that in Venezuela there is widespread discontent with the leadership of Comandante Chavez.

So far, the PSUV has signed up more than 400,000 at 10,450 recruitment posts set up around the country. It seeks to guarantee that the party’s rank and file win the battle of 2012 in the name of the Bolivarian Revolution and Comandante Chavez. And that is the correct strategy to win the elections and consolidate Bolivarian socialism.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Chavez's use of Twitter - "a milestone in the history of our ideas"

Chavez, the revolution and Twitter a year later

May 1, 2011
Eliades Acosta Matos1

President Chavez’s Twitter account, @Chavezcandanga, debuted on April 27, 2010, at 9:43pm. After one year, the balance sheet is impressive: using this social network, the Bolivarian president has published 933 tweets – short messages of up to 140 characters - has 1 432 740 followers and has been included on 39 461 lists. Its runaway success has necessitated the creation of a mission specifically to attend to the thousands of messages that are received every day and gave rise to a “Union of Socialist Twitterers”.

The most important thing about this phenomenon, initiated by the theoretical and practical prime mover of this promising current called ‘Socialism of the 21st century’, is that it shows that the new information technologies can and should be utilized without fear or reservation, in the difficult task of changing the world and placing it on more just and humane foundations. They do not have to play a fatal, demobilizing or alienating role, or be a means of diffusing frivolity and nonsense, nor must they be docile instruments in the hands of the programs of world counterrevolution, especially those that fight 24/7 on the frontline of the culture wars.

It is not going out on a limb to claim that Chavez’s decision to set up a Twitter account and make it serve the purpose of making his government leadership transparent and open new channels of contact with the people, can be considered one of the most important strategic actions taken by revolutionary forces on the world scale in the struggle to overthrow their own limits, taboos and myths, and advance toward the transformation of a reality that has little similarity to that which Karl Marx or Lenin faced in their time. Injustice cannot be revolutionized without knowing the keys of each age, or refusing to take advantage of its transformational tools – including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs.

Can anyone doubt that if Marx lived in our time he would have a web page, and Lenin a Twitter account? Would Marti have spurned the enormous information and communication possibilities the internet offers us today?

But if backward approaches and fear of change is harmful, neither is it enough to formally agree with these propositions, after all, they’re so obvious they cannot be denied. To use these social networks to make revolution implies a deep change in the verticalist and centralist mentality - sadly inherited by the left from previous historical experiences – and placing themselves on an equal footing, without a centre or periphery, alongside the people who use these technologies, including our enemies that use them heavily. And this means, in itself, an enormous strategic step in the march of development, democratization and the renewal of socialist forces. Their future and its success in the struggle depends upon it.

Eliades Acosta Matos
As such, that discrete, telegraphic first tweet Chavez made one year ago will go down as a milestone in the history of our ideas. As with all transcendental things, it happened naturally, without pretense. Its brilliance was not visible to the naked eye; it lies within, in its subaltern significance, and in what it means for the future, and the challenge to emulate, but not imitate it.

What is known as the “Twitter Revolution” or the “Cyber Revolution” merits a more detailed analysis. For now, it’s enough to say that the front line of the secular struggle for progress and social justice also passes through here. The confrontation that begins in the political or economic sphere is decided in the symbolic and ideological sphere.

“Twitter is the best way to find out what’s new in your world”, says one of the slogans of the promoters of that social network. A sly Dr Marx of our epoch would no doubt add, ironically, “ … but the point is to change it”.

With patience and constancy, amidst his enormous tasks and responsibilities, Chavez is doing just that.

And it is going out to millions.

1. Eliades Acosta Matos is the former director of Cuba’s Jose Marti National Library (1997–2007) and currently head of the Committee on Culture of the Cuban Communist party's Central Committee. He is the author of The Apocalypse according to Saint George.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Chavez : “The idea of a new International is catching on”

Hugo Chavez first raised the idea for establishing a new International association of socialist parties in 2007. In November 2009 he again raised the idea at a meeting of left-wing political parties that was held in Caracas.

Chavez at the International Meeting of Left Parties
Since then, the idea seemed to have been forgotten. However, in this short excerpt from his speech to the executive cabinet, assembled governors and the Political Bureau of the Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) on 16 July, Chavez revived the idea of a new International:

“Well, in truth I feel really strengthened by the way you and our Party shaped this modest document, these five lines, and now they return to me with a sixth line, which really was missing: the international line, a formation of some networks of Bolivarian circles, and different links, a network, a mesh of Latin American and Caribean organizations, of solidarity and political action, heading towards the creation of international structures, respecting the ones that already exist.

“Now, we raised an idea, just one idea for the world. But we need to develop it, to explain it well, because it tended to be rejected initially by sectors of the international Left, the idea of a new International, not the fifth, a new socialist International for the 21st century. This is a debate that started in Europe, and I think that with the world hotting up in these recent days and months of this feverish year, with big battles in Europe and North Africa, and in Latin America as always, the idea seems to be catching on. But we need to make links, argue and explain to movements and parties that are worried about it being a throwback.”

Translated by Owen Richards 

For more information on Chavez' 2009 call for a new International, read: 

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Socialism and voluntary labour

The following is an article from the Socialist Debate website about the role of voluntary labour in Venezuela's housing construction program, Mision Vivienda, launched in April this year to address the shortage of housing in Venezuela. It discusses the significance of voluntary labour in the transition to socialism.

Welcome socialism

By Neftali Reyes, Debate socialista 

Translated by Owen Richards 

Practice has had the last word: this process is headed for socialism. The facts have already appeared on the social horizon. Reality has outstripped the Byzantine discussions of the philosophical pretenders who deny our socialism. They have their refutation from within the bowels of life itself.

An historic event has occurred in Venezuela: the oil workers were summoned to Voluntary Collective Labour in Mision Vivienda and arrived en masse. And the number exceeded fifteen thousand.

Voluntary Labour, where the worker goes off to work motivated by altruism, and committed to the society to which they belong and in which they feel wanted, is giving labour a new meaning: it is liberating it, experimenting with it, and prefiguring free labour. It is now done without the compulsion of survival.

Voluntary Labour is the “sharp tool” that must be used to build Socialism. It radiates to all of society the new ethics of the loving relations, and through it the working class leads the revolutionary process.

The massive surge of oil workers to Voluntary Labour means that the conditions for the flourishing of socialism exist in Venezuela.  It’s indicative of the class struggle that socialism unleashes on the old world, against capitalism, a system that hangs on in a thousand ways. It unequivocally indicates that the Socialist battle takes place here in our midst, even though we sometimes misunderstand it.

Without a doubt, the Bolivarian Revolution has created conditions to build socialism as never before in our history. Socialism can arise in Venezuela because it expands and reinforces the state-administered Social Property. This form of property enables the fruits of labour to be the property of society as a whole, constituting itself thus as the basis of the Consciousness of Social Duty.

The workers become more and more aware of their power and their historical role, a role that goes beyond merely making demands; they’re committed to showing the way to the new world. This is the material basis for the advance of the process.

Furthermore, the government, political power, is in the hands of the Revolution, embodied in president Chavez. The call to socialism, to anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism that came down from the high command, unleashed the contradictions that generate movement and make the way toward socialism possible.

After years of struggle, favorable factors converge: Social Property administered by the state; a working class that is conscious of it historical role; Popular Power lead by Chavez – the most important Venezuelan revolutionary of the last hundred years in loving harmony with the masses; the Housing Mission as the auspicious setting for demonstrating the power of voluntary labour.

Centuries of hope, hope in the possibility of greatness, hope that we can defeat the deadening mediocrity, finds its concretion here. We are privileged: socialism is almost within our reach.

There’s no excuse to get lost in shortcuts or to use blunt instruments. We must have faith, break with custom, and follow the example set by the oil workers.

This is Socialism. Now we must pass beyond adversities, deepening socialism, nurturing it and extending it.

The country needed its best sons, and more than fifteen thousand patriots from within the heart of the oil industry stepped forward. The march to Socialism, which is the attempt to build a viable society, needed real action to demonstrate that humanity is able to surpass egoistic behaviour and to wholeheartedly build that other world that the Liberator dreamed of. The oil workers stepped forward and said, “present”.

Now they are the example and the promise, showing the way, they are the evidence that Socialism is more than a utopia; it’s a reality that’s taking shape before our very eyes.

They were called to Voluntary Collective Labour, invited to give of themselves to the Mision Vivienda, they gave themselves to society, to its Revolutionary Government, generously offering their most valuable possession: their labour power. And they came, without asking for explanations, and without hesitating, more than fifteen thousand good souls with a will to commit themselves to the future.

This act, which not by chance passes almost unnoticed, is one of the most important things that have taken place in the Bolivarian Revolution, placing it in a new dimension on the path.

Labour, always appropriated by the ruling classes, acquires with the gesture of these oil workers the condition of being an instrument of liberation, it’s the harbinger of a new world where exploitation - which is nothing but the appropriation of social labour on behalf of a minority - is overcome through the establishment of loving relations for the benefit of all.

What took place in Mision Vivienda with the Voluntary Collective Labour foreshadows the emancipation of labour, when labour will belong to society, to everyone.

The material and social foundations upon which to build a society where “to each according to his ability, to each according to his need” are established. In that world, exploitation, the appropriation of labour, robbery, will no longer be possible. It will no longer make sense. That is True Socialism.

Beyond the will of its protagonists, Mision Vivienda exposes the Revolution’s basic contradiction: the confrontation between capitalism and Socialism.

The capitalists, the anti-social, put a high price on their “collaboration”, they expect payment in cash, and, most harmfully, they do so with an egoistic consciousness.

Voluntary Labour is a socialist tool. It approaches the problem of housing with moral and spiritual vigour. By the end, we will have housing, but more importantly, we will have a conscious mass, a mass able to understand and confront the challenges along the road to Socialism. They will be a symbol of that which we struggle for.  And an active, conscious vanguard will have formed, that has proved its effectiveness, its loyalty to Comandante Chavez, willing to step forward when called upon.

The challenge of the oil workers is great: now they have the responsibility to show the way, to guide the rest of society in the building of Socialism.

Let the gesture that these pioneers made be known throughout the country and around the world. Let their selflessness and their understanding of the historic moment be known.

The spirit of our nation’s heroes, of the Paso de Los Andes, of Carabobo, is embodied in this gesture of the workers. They are a prelude, a good omen of the successes we will have in the coming battles.

May society reward them, returning love for the love that they gave to all of humanity.

[For more information on Mision Vivienda, see: Venezuelanalysis.com]

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Chavez's return: what is to be done?

From the thrill of the return

This Grain is written with emotion, which is the first element of the new picture. It is from passion that the great works of the people are built. That love, that passion for Bolivar, was the hurricane that made Independence possible. That human warmth that alone awakens great deeds and the men that embody them has appeared again with the return of Chavez.

Chavez’s return changes the political landscape that the right tried to establish: the plans for restoration have been frustrated; por ahora. The revolution and Chavez’s leadership deepens its roots in the passion of the humble, this is very important, and creates magnificent conditions for the much needed great leap towards complete consolidation.

Amidst the euphoria arises a question that the triumph [of Chavez’s return] cannot gloss over: What is to be done?

We must not fall into triumphalism. In the midst of the euphoria, the side that reflects most, the camp that plans for the future, will ultimately be victorious. We must not forget that the empire’s greed never sleeps.

We must refine theory – this is essential and fundamental. We must never forget that a Revolution cannot stray far from theory, from the ideology that sustains it. Theory, ideology, is the source of every victory and defeat.

Ideological distractions have done such damage to the revolutionary march and have already shown their impotence. With them it’s not possible to shape society, to give sentiment strategic consistency.

It is necessary to consolidate a social and political organization that underpins the building of socialism, an organization that forms a national fabric starting from the finest capillaries and going all the way up to the government and its leader.

Thus, we enter into a stage of reorganization in all fields. We are happy, and there are reasons for our happiness. Chavez has demonstrated great fortitude and deep reflections in his “fruitful repose”.