University of Los Andes (ULA) professor Franz J. T. Lee writes: Sitting on a stone bench in Plaza Bolivar, Merida, awaiting Jutta to fetch our car from the parking lot, Iris and I were enjoying the eternal spring weather, the tropical, electoral palaver of the sovereign, of citizen power all around us.
Excitingly everybody was talking about the coming elections of the local counselors. Diverse opinions and critique could be heard everywhere.
Optimistically many Bolivarians were instructing the people how to vote correctly the following day.
Never in 26 years, in no other country, have I heard such serious, factual debates about “lo nuevo,” the new, about such vivid, popular, political discussions, about “socialism,” “private property” and “Castro-communism”; never, even less so, during the good old days, when the middle class still could have bought a brand new Chevette or Volkswagen for only Bs.20,000, was Venezuela socially so hot, so nervous, so sensitive, so politicized.
Across the past decades, as the result of the violent restructuring of the world market, of the “neo-liberalization” of the chronic “unequal exchange” of global goods, of the organized destruction of billions of manual, physical labor forces and of their replacement with a handful of “intellectual” labor forces, machines and computers, Venezuela itself was also triggered into the belligerent epicenter of this global, fascist, boiling cauldron.
In reality, Venezuela, as oil producing country, was catapulted into the devouring vortices of the global military and industrial complex, of armed expansion of US and European Orwellian imperialist, corporate hegemony. As such Venezuela is in permanent danger of US military intervention, and its peoples eternally live under the Damocles sword of Yankee “shock and awe”, of Fallujah!
However, let us talk about more pleasant things.
Knowingly or not, logically, every individual in the “Third World,” in Latin America, and in Venezuela, is being affected by world affairs, has a parapsychological, psychic premonition of approximating catastrophic world clashes and crashes, that could threaten the very existence of the human species. This is what modern, global, emancipatory class consciousness is all about.
Within this context, currently the very popular base of Venezuelan society experiences a coming devastating Tsunami; that is, over 80% of a total population of about 24 million, who since decades under corrupt oligarchic rule have been languishing in dire poverty and misery, are become the very tip of the global emancipatory iceberg, are creating the Bolivarian revolution, are directing it towards total human emancipation.
This is the human core of pleasant things here, of Venezuelan practical beauty, of theoretical truth, of emancipatory love. This is real, true, fundamental, optimistic, militant hope.
- Today, at last, they … the “scum of the earth,” the “tin-collectors” … feel that they brought their President, their leader, into political power, a comrade who looks like them, who speaks like them, who suffers like them, who addresses them, their real fears, their true tears.
They themselves, by referendum, have legalized their democratic constitution that now also serves their class and individual interests. Across their local representatives, whom they by democratic law all by themselves can elect, they can now participate directly in decision-making, in shaping their immediate and future destiny.
To Washington D.C., to the whole world, over the last six years, eight times in a row, they have demonstrated their popular political power, their revolutionary will, their mighty answers to military coups and oil sabotage, their militant, optimistic, emancipatory expectations. In the past, they were used and abused as election cannon fodder for the traditional political parties; in routine fashion, for decades, having only Hobson’s choice, alternately they were forced to vote, as their grandparents always have elected, once for Copei, the next time for Accion Democratica.
Things have changed.
The peoples themselves have changed the times in Latin America. Who does not grasp this emancipatory moment inexorably will be washed away into the trans-historic Hades of eternal oblivion.
Hence, beware of capitalist, imperialist wolves, disguised under red berets!
This should be a warning to all the current counter-revolutionary and counter-emancipatory forces across the continent, across the globe.
The Venezuelan masses saw President Rafael Caldera once in a blue moon, when he was playing dominoes with his generals; President Hugo Rafael Chavez is everywhere, is in all places, in all times, all at the same time; in New York, in New Orleans, in New Delhi, in New Esparta, making, thinking and talking the revolution, creating a New Socialism, a new future, a better life for the Latin American peoples, for the whole of humanity.
Pondering about all these revolutionary things, sitting among the common folks, in Plaza Bolivar, I listened to the conversation of two young Venezuelans, who definitely were not “chavistas.” One, Rafael, was fascinated by Chavez … his friend, Pedro, was furious about things that supposedly were happening all over in Merida, in the missions, in the offices of the governor and mayor, in the local government. He was simply fed up with everything, including with the “opposition” and categorically swore, not to go to the polls the next day, considering it as “a pure waste of time,” as “más de lo mismo” … as the very same thing, over and over again.
It was truly dramatic and educative to listen to the political battle of the two “chamos.” In fact, it reflects the real, current situation of the country, of the class forces clashing on each other, of the Bolivarian Revolution.
Rafael was practically begging: “Chamo, you have to go and vote tomorrow. You have to vote for Chavez; Pedro, listen man, you cannot do this to Chavez!”
His friend was spitting fire and brimstone, repeating undigested nearly everything that he had heard lately in the TV channels and radio programs of the so-called “opposition.” Definitely, he was a tragic, innocent victim of the democratic liberty of expression, of the free press.
Others joined the discussion, and a real battle ensued; crude ideology versus popular theory, mixed with cursing and shouting, everything nearly ended up in a street brawl.
Our car arrived, and off we went, wondering what would be the outcome of this “popular unrest.”
A few days later, sitting on Plaza Bolivar again, I heard familiar voices next to me. Then I saw them, both Rafael and Pedro, working together in their small shoe-polishing collective, both complaining about the high abstention figure, about how to get a loan within the government project of the “nuclei of endogenous development,” about how to start a “small business”; of course, they were also already talking about how to win the next December elections of 2005 and 2006, “for Chavez with 10 000 000 votes” (Pedro).
Yes, more than ever, in the dark, stark realities of our epoch, it is necessary not to lose the flaming torch of democratic revolution, not to miss the early morning clarion call for socialist emancipation, and, in the darkest hours, here and now, still to do and to talk about more pleasant, optimistic, militant things.
No matter what would and could happen in Venezuela within the next months. What and who really brought the Bolivarian Revolution into power, who truly are steering it towards total Human Emancipation … will eventually reach out for the stars.
All this in the permanent revolutionary spirit of Leon Trotsky … who died in the name of emancipation on America soil, who, a few days before his brutal assassination, still was saying: “life is beautiful, enjoy it to the fullest.”
Hence, in honor of his dum spiro spero, of his “as long as I breathe, I hope,” we fully and wholeheartedly support President Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution.
No reactionary … no counter-emancipatory force will or can stop the current inexorable forward march of the billions of toiling masses towards a still possible human freedom.
Franz J. T. Lee