[Marxism] Venezuela and Bolivia, historical links and formulaic thinking.

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Feb 3 04:46:12 MST 2004

[Dear Fred - I'm OK, you're OK. Genuine struggles, to be
successful, have to come out of deep indigenous roots,
that's the main point I was trying to address here.]

What with all the nasty commentary in the Wall Street
Journal and elsewhere regarding Venezuela and its relations
with Cuba, this is a good time to take another look at the
speech which Fidel Castro made three years ago when he
visited Venezuela. There were objections to his visit by
the same right-wing forces who continue to object to the
relationship between the two countries so Fidel took them
all on, diplomatically, but unambiguously. There can be no
mistaking the firm and uncompromising support which Cuba
feels for the Bolivarian project and above all its leader,
President Hugo Chavez Frias. (There may have been similar
objections to Carlos Lage's visit to Bolivia recently, but
if so, they weren't voiced loudly enough to make a major
impression on the international media.)

The right-wing was already making the same claims three
years ago that Venezuela was giving Cuba a free ride with
the oil, and Fidel took those allegations up and gave
emphatic responses. It's like a response to today's
newspaper headlines, really.

One of Fidel's most interesting points was his explicit
opposition to the idea that the nationalization of industry
was indispensable as a solution to the country's problems.
This idea was presented here in the legislature of
Venezuela, where these matters are of great significance.
Given Fidel's understanding of the situation, the Cuban
leader advised:

"A rational distribution of wealth, through an adequate
taxation system, is possible in a market economy. Of
course, that demands a total devotion to work by all
members of the revolutionary forces. This is easily said
but it can be an extremely hard and strenuous task.
However, in my view, on a short term basis Venezuela would
not have much choice. On the other hand, no less than 70%
of the wealth here is state owned, as neoliberalism did not
have enough time to give them all up to foreign capital, so
there is no need for nationalization."

The speech is long, but it shows how a past master of
political discourse handles both himself and come political
opponents going right into the lions den, speaking clearly.
One of Fidel's best speeches ever, I think. Take the time
to read this all the way.

I'm really not trying to beat a dead horse with this, but it
is this same obsession with CALLING FOR NATIONALIZATION which
got THE MILITANT in trouble back in 1960, and it's why they
don't include such things as their 1960 editorial in their
recounting of history now. It wouldn't be as bothersome to
me if they said honestly that they'd made an error in the
past, based on ignorance. Anyone can do that. But to cover
up an obvious part of the past, as if it hadn't happened,
or so those who don't know might not find out, only means
an inability to face facts and learn from real experience.

This same thing applies to the situations in Venezuela and
in Bolivia or any other place where people making sweeping
pronouncements don't have much actual factual knowledge.
One thing is certain: there are historical trends toward
ultra-leftism in Bolivia, just as there are everywhere in
the world, and if the powerful cannot derail opposition to
their rule in a frontal way, they won't hesitate to back
ultraleftists, using the frustration of people with many
justified grievances. A revolution is a PROCESS and it's
got to go through the stages necessary to get from where
it is now, to where a solid mass constituency knows there
is only one way forward. I cannot judge from my vantage
point as one who has only general knowledge, and not lots
of that, where things are now in Bolivia, only that they
are very unstable. I hope that an organization can or is
being built in a timely way to provide the necessary 
ideas, strategies and tactics in the situation. 

I sure wish there were an equivalent of the CubaNews list
for Bolivia as there is for Venezuela, so someone else 
could assemble the basic facts from which some intelligent
comments could be made. For the moment, the most important
thing is to learn the facts and solidarize with the struggle.

Walter Lippmann

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