I know who Chavez is.

Workers World / Chicago wwchi at SPAMwwa.com
Mon Aug 9 11:41:30 MDT 1999

-----Original Message-----
From: Julio Fernández Baraibar <julfb at sinectis.com.ar>
I beg you try to translate this post because I think that the question is
very important.


OK, I got to it sooner than I thought.  The following is my best fast
attempt at translating Julio's post.  I apologize for any errors, and there
is a couple of terms which I just didn't get.

L. Paulsen
member, Workers World Party, Chicago, USA

My first reaction to Steve Kerr's first message was a series of intense
intellectual and emotional reacions.  Because I've learned through
experience that one can't act politically under the influence of such
impulses, because there's a good chance of making a mistake, I didn't answer
immediately but let a few hours go by.

The new messages have brought peace to my troubled mind.  The messages from
Louis and Charles Brown made me feel that I wasn't alone and that it's
possible to understand our Latin American reality if one meets it with
humility and realism and without an ideological blindfold.

So, more calmly, I will try to explain my optimistic  "Simon Bolivar rides
again over the llanos".

Simon Bolivar was the greatest political and military leader of South
America in the 19th century, the most glorious and the one with the greatest
vision.  His "Greater Colombia" project for the continent is still the
unfinished task of the Latin American revolution.  His army was organized in
part by European officials, among others, who, after the triumph of the Holy
Alliance, saw in this Caracan the possibility of spreading the ideals of the
French Revolution through the Indies.  Irish,  French, Prussians, English,
veterans of the Napoleonic wars, joined with government and built his
greater state.  His military apogee, the organization of a great armed state
stretching from Panama to Lima in the conditions of 1820, is an inimitable
accomplishment.  His republicanism, his jacobite democratism, his unchecked
will to independence and liberty for the South American people is to this
day the ideal in which our popular movements have grown up in our Great
Fatherland from the time of Benito Juarez.

And the teacher of Bolivar, Simon Rodriguez, a character still unknown to
most Latin Americans, is the most passionate, rebellious, and iconoclastic
intellectual figure in our land of the last century.  Son of a humble
Caracan craftsperson, he adhered to the ideals of the French Revolution and
traveled to Europe to learn about them and see them in action.  He is the
one who gave Bolivar the intellectual elements for his continental plan, and
was paid for it by the hate, slander, and persecution by the miserable
Creole oligarchies. He founded mixed (does this mean boys and girls, or
multiracial? - LPa) schools in the 1820's.  He gave sex education classes in
his schools.  He was Minister of Education of Bolivia, which was founded by
Sucre, comprising in it the cruel paradox of Latin American ideals.  He did
homage to Bolivar with the least viable country of Latin America, this
absurd Mediterranean island, landlocked, without industry, without a future.

When I say that "Bolivar rides again" I mean that once again the Latin
Americans are living in historic times.  When Commander Chavez, facing the
whole miserable Venezuelan political system, which is no different from the
whole miserable Latin American political system, he wears the broad poncho
of Bolivar and Simon Rodriguez, it's an indication that something new is

I had the opportunity of getting to know Chavez personally.  I talked with
him twice.  The first was at the office of our organization (Nestor's and
mine) where he gave a talk for about 100 people about five years ago.  He
had just gotten out of prison, after his attempted coup against the
arch-corrupt social democrat Carlos Andres Perez, and had come to Argentina
to discuss his ideas, invited by some friends.  We had the chance to be his
hosts and he left an excellent impression on us.  His political rhetoric is
native to the Caribbean, as is Fidels.  If I can be allowed a literary
digression, it's like an influence of the rhetoric of "modernism" - the
great Latin American literary movement whose influence ran from 1900 to the
1950's and which found extraordinary exemplars in this region.  His speech
is clear and explicitly anti-imperialist and popular-Jacobin.  In contrast
with the military officers of my country, most of whom are under the
sinister influence of a semi-fascist style of Catholic fundamentalism,
Chavez is not at all influenced by the church.  He have the impression, from
other Venezuelan officers I've been able to meet, that, in general, the
Church doesn't have the superstructural importance that it does, for
example, in Argentina.  He appeals to Latin American Unity, th the struggle
against semicolonial structures, to the disinherited, and to the poor, and
tries to find in his speaking a theme that is one of the principal legacies
of the Latin American emancipation struggle.

Of course he's not a Marxist, in the sense that Lenin and Ho Chi Minh were,
and I say that with irony.  But, and this is my personal opinion, he is the
most advanced that Latin America has brought forth since the defeat of the
Nicaraguan revolution, and in the worst international climate besides.

Later I had the opportunity to talk with him as president-elect of
Venezuela, during a very short trip that he made right after his victory.
He went to Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia - not by chance.  He gave a press
conference at the airport in Buenos Aires and I went there to hear it.  He
was still the same anti-imperialist, populist, jacobin, and Latinamericanist
officer that he had been at our meeting.  He confirmed his intention of
constructing a new Republic of Venezuela, through a new constituent assemply
that would re-found the nation.  He expressed his will and desire to bring
together the Mercosur (South American Common Market, I believe - LPa) and
his strategic idea of turning Venezuela into the natural source of petroleum
for Brazil.  With the caution of a head of state who has not yet taken
power, he dodged media attempts to make him confront the U.S. in the
abstract, and, in Argentina, although it seems like deception, to identify
himself with our "carapintada" officers.  [This means "with painted faces" .
Does it mean "wearing war paint?"  I don't think I have the meaning of
this - LPa]

I know who Chavez is.  I affirm that every socialist revolutionary should
support him whenever it is necessary.  Bolivar rides again across the llanos
of Venezuela.  May we socialists become a division of this army.

Julio FB

More information about the Marxism mailing list