[Marxism] (Socialist Voice) Tsunami negligence; Venezuela, Cuba strengthen ties

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Fri Dec 31 18:34:55 MST 2004


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              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
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Editors' Note: With the death toll from the December 26 tsunami now
estimated
at more than 100,000, the concern and generosity of donors
internationally to
charity organizations stands in stark contrast to their governments'
uncaring and
pitifully inadequate response. The $250 million so far pledged by
imperialist
governments for emergency aid is a pittance compared to the hundreds of
billions committed to the U.S.-led war to conquer Iraq. With millions
more lives at
risk in the aftermath of the disaster, Ottawa is resisting calls for
massive aid
funding, and it refuses to send its best equipped emergency response
team, the
so-called DART, to the stricken zones.

Much of the human loss was preventable. The U.S. government knew of the
tsunami within minutes and warned its military base in the Indian Ocean,
but no
phone call was made to alert authorities in the threatened countries.
Speaking on
CBC Radio One's news program The Current on December 31, Dr. Tad Murty,
a
physicial oceanographer and Vice President of the Tsunami Society, based
in
Hawaii, estimated that 95 per cent of the lives lost could have been
saved by an
early warning system.

Tsunami warning systems are inexpensive and have been deployed for 50
years
to protect U.S. territory. There have been many calls to place such a
system in
the Indian Ocean, most recently at a UN conference in June. The
estimated cost
is $500,000--what Canada spends on "defence" in 20 minutes. But no
action was
taken. (For more, see "The Role of U.S. Criminal Negligence" at
www.iacenter.org/tsunami) --Roger Annis and John Riddell


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 union."

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. (http://www.kominf.pp.fi/L5extra.html)

"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 come."

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
defeated."
(http://resist.ca/story/2004/12/17/12434/986)

Caracas Declaration

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 movement's 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 November 18.

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 strength

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. In so
doing, we will draw invaluable lessons of this revolution in the making,
and this
will help point us in a political direction out of the morass of the
declining
imperialist order.


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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