[Marxism] Venezuela, Cuba Strengthen Ties
socialistvoice at sympatico.ca
Fri Dec 31 17:21:19 MST 2004
S O C I A L I S T V O I C E
Debate and dialogue on issues before the workers movement
Number 26, December 31, 2004 www.socialistvoice.com
VENEZUELA, CUBA STRENGTHEN TIES
Leadership Offered to World Anti-Imperialist Forces
By Roger Annis and John Riddell
On December 14, Cuban President Fidel Castro and Venezuelan
President Hugo Chávez Frias signed an agreement
strengthening cooperation between the peoples of their two
countries with the goal of "integration and economic
Venezuela agreed to transfer technology and to finance
development projects in Cuba, and it guarantees that Cuba
will continue to receive 53,000 barrels of oil per day, the
majority of its import requirement. Cuba will continue to
provide more than 15,000 medical professionals to take part
in Barrio Adentro. This program brings medical care to the
poor of Venezuela and trains Venezuelan doctors and
specialists. Cuba will also grant 2,000 annual scholarships
to Venezuelan students. The two countries will work
together with other Latin American countries in large-scale
efforts to fight illiteracy.
Cuba also subscribed to the Bolivarian Agreement for the
Americas (ALBA), the Venezuelan government's proposal to
unite the peoples of Latin America around "the egalitarian
principles of justice and equality that are innate in human
beings, the well-being of the most dispossessed sectors of
society, and a reinvigorated sense of solidarity toward the
underdeveloped countries of the western hemisphere,"
advanced as an alternative to the U.S.-sponsored Free Trade
Area of the Americas.
"The Cuban revolution and the Bolivarian revolution have
demonstrated that a better world is not only possible but
also is perfectly attainable," Chavez said during a
celebration of the agreement in Havana December 14.
"Bolivarian" is the name taken by the popular movement in
Venezuela headed by Chávez. "A different world is essential
in order to save life and the planet," Chávez said.
Visibly moved by the occasion, Castro paid homage to the
vision of the Venezuelan leader, who has visited Cuba 11
times in the past 10 years. "When a crisis comes, leaders
arise.... So arose Chávez when the dreadful social and
human situation in Venezuela and Latin America determined
that the time to fight for a second, real independence had
The world crisis "affects everyone," Castro added. The
"imperial system and the economic order it has imposed on
the world cannot be sustained. Peoples which have decided
to fight ... for their very survival can never be
The impact of Cuban-Venezuelan political collaboration was
evident at the December 1-5, 2004 World Forum of
Intellectuals and Artists, held in Caracas. Sizable
delegations from the two countries acted as an informal
leadership in this conference, securing the adoption of a
declaration that called for "a wall of resistance to
confront the attempt to impose worldwide domination." The
conference, attended by 350 delegates from 52 countries,
called for the creation of a "network of networks" of
social organizations and institutions around the world to
help build "an international movement in defense of
humanity." (For an English translation of the text, see
www.socialistvoice.com/caracas.html.) President Chávez
promised that resources would be provided to establish an
office in Venezuela for such a movement.
This Venezuelan initiative is reminiscent of efforts by the
Cuban revolution over the past 45 years, and by the Soviet
Union in Lenin's time, to lend support to and join forces
with revolutionary processes in other countries. For Cuba,
Venezuela represents the strongest anti-imperialist ally it
has ever had, and the first such ally since the defeat of
the Nicaraguan revolution in the 1980s. The Cuba-Venezuela
alignment offers working people worldwide a pole of
leadership for anti-imperialist struggle.
Character of the Venezuelan Process
The Venezuela-Cuba agreement noted the "political, social,
economic and legal asymmetries" between the two countries.
Venezuela has not experienced a social revolution of the
Cuban type, where the capitalist rulers are dispossessed
and driven from their seats of power and working people
take command of the state and economy. In Venezuela, a pro-
imperialist bourgeoisie still controls the economy and
media and most of the state apparatus, and retains
influence in the army.
The Bolivarian movement, which Chávez led into government
in 1998, aims for far-reaching social reforms. Following
the movements victory in the 1998 presidential elections,
to the horror of Venezuelan capitalists, it began to
implement the radical-democratic program approved by the
electorate. This act broke the rules of capitalist
"democracy," according to which electoral promises are
discarded the day after the vote.
Moreover, confronted by the resistance of governmental
ministries, the Chavistas set up new agencies, the
"Misiones," to implement literacy, public health, and other
programs. They invited the Venezuelan working people to
organize to carry out and defend these measures--with the
help of thousands of revolutionary volunteers from Cuba.
And when the Venezuelan capitalists and their imperialist
backers rose in fury to put an end to this defiance, the
Chavistas organized the masses in militant resistance.
The Bolivarian program does not challenge capitalist
property relations. Yet all experience proves that so long
as the capitalist ruling class retains control of decisive
sectors of the state and economy, they will use this power
to frustrate, undermine, destabilize, and ultimately
overthrow any government committed to serious reform. Where
necessary, the local capitalists, in alliance with their
imperialist backers, resort to murderous force and war.
And indeed, there have been three offensives mounted by the
Venezuelan capitalists--a bosses' strike, aimed at
devastating the economy; a military coup, organized with
the connivance of the CIA (see www.venezuelafoia.org); and
a recall referendum. All three met decisive defeat. Never
before, excepting Cuba, has imperialism been so humiliated
in Latin America. The people's successful overturn of the
2002 military coup in two days is unprecedented.
Rightists in disarray
These events fully deserve the description given them by
the Bolivarians: a revolutionary process, in which the
masses of working people forcibly intervene in political
life to challenge the power of the ruling class. These
victories have disorganized and demobilized the rightist
opposition and forced Washington to postpone plans to
overthrow the Venezuelan government.
Following the referendum in the summer of 2004, the pro-
Bolivarian parties won majorities in 20 of 22 states in
regional elections October 31, 2004. The economy is
expanding, with a balanced government budget. Yet the
counter-revolution is sure to attack again, more fiercely
and more murderously. In an ominous portent of things to
come, Danilo Anderson, the government prosecutor
investigating the 2002 military coup, was assassinated on
Venezuela's working people can defend their gains and carry
through the Bolivarian program only by driving the
capitalists out of their seats of power in the state and
the economy, following the example of the Cuban revolution
after 1959 and the Russian revolution after October 1917.
Such an overturn cannot be carried out by governmental
decree. Only working people themselves can make such a
revolution, when they are convinced through struggle there
is no other road that can preserve their gains and save
them from devastating defeat.
Leaders of the Venezuelan process are not unaware of this
challenge. Chávez has spoken since the referendum of the
need for a "revolution within the revolution." In his
address to the December Caracas conference, for example, he
"noted the need to study the original principles of
socialism as well as its errors. The President ... referred
to the importance of early twentieth century Russian
revolutionary Leon Trotsky's ideas, embodied in 'The
Permanent Revolution' and how it explains that there are no
national solutions to global problems." (Robin Nieto,
venezuelanalysis.com, December 6)
New sources of stregth
Many socialist groups that look to the Russian revolution
as a model have found the Venezuelan process puzzling. Few
of these groups supported the popular forces in the August
referendum struggle. Many have hesitated, or reacted
negatively. Indeed, the Venezuelan process does not
correspond to the received blueprint. There is no
revolutionary party, no Stalinist party, and nothing that
much resembles Social Democracy. The main trade unions
lined up with the bosses. Chávez came from the officer
corps, and his program is not socialist.
But the Venezuelan process has found new and powerful
sources of strength. And the weakness of procapitalist
workers' leaderships, who have betrayed so many
revolutionary uprisings, is an immense plus. As Fidel
Castro noted on December 14, referring to the Bolivarians'
struggle for power, "It was a good lesson for
revolutionaries. There are no dogmas, nor [is there] only
one way of doing things. The Cuban Revolution itself was
also proof of that."
In responding to a revolutionary advance, the first rule is
to get engaged. Today, that means telling the worlds'
peoples the truth about Venezuela, including the
international initiatives of Venezuelan and Cuban
revolutionists. It means defending Venezuela and Cuba
against the inevitable imperialist assaults.
SOME ENGLISH-LANGUAGE WEB SOURCES ON VENEZUELA:
www.rethinkvenezuela.com/index.html--Venezuela Information Office
www.venezuelanalysis.com--Comprehensive information and comment
www.venezuelafoia.info/--"A website devoted to U.S. meddling in Venezuela"
www.vheadline.com/main.asp--"Venezuela's electronic news"
www.handsoffvenezuela.org/--Hands Off Venezuela Campaign
www.zmag.org/venezuela_watch.cfm--Venezuela page of Znet
www.granma.cu/ingles/ouramerica-i.html--Cuba's leading daily
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