Venezuela: Interview with El Libertario
* Interview with indonesian anarchist journal EMPTY HEAVEN - May 2007 (http://otonomis.org/ -- EMPTY HEAVEN collective website; http://pustaka.otonomis.org/ -- indonesian anarchist/autonomist archive). More info in english & spanish about El Libertario: www.nodo50.org/ellibertario
º Hola El Libertario... The purpose of this interview is a counter-information about bolivarian revolution, because you see, Leninists and Trots here benefited from the venezuelan revolution especially Chavismo where they always campaign about how can "state become a liberation purpose for the toilers". We would like to provide some different information about it, and we hope to do it more direct not via translation of other texts and pamphlet... My apologize for the bad english.
We are glad to start to answer what you have sent to us. We remind you that in April 24, 2007 we sent you an e-mail with the subject "Others informations about us and our positions & actions" [see the text: "Refuting the Deafs: Chavism and Anarchism in Venezuela" in the El Libertario' website, English section] where we clarify much of the information of interest for your interview in a summarized and precise way, so you can use this text to complete what we say here.
º Venezuela, as many people around the globe believed despite anti-communist propaganda conducted by its rival Bush and its administration--is the most socialistic country on earth that are run by a populist leftist president Hugo Chavez. This phenomenon leads to idolizing or the ideologisation of Chavismo, even trotskyist international such as "International Socialist Organization", identifying it as one of examples of success of Lenin and Trotsky idea of taking power and creating revolution. As an anarchist movement in Venezuela how do you see your group on further revolutionary struggle against the state and capital in this kind of situation?
The answer could sound in a brusque way but we suppose that those who believe that Chávez leads ´the most socialist country in the world´ and that Venezuela is an example of how good works the Marxist-Leninist way of taking the power and create the revolution are dreamers that deceive themselves or politicians that pretend some benefits from maintaining such kind of nonsenses. In other words, it is the same-old situation of sixty years ago when some people told similar things about the Soviet Union under Stalin. In order to see concrete evidences with precise details debunking the grotesque lie of that Venezuela has beginning to pass by a socialist revolutionary road, you can look up all that we have published in El Libertario during these eight years and a half of Chavista regime. Also in our website. (About the way that the Venezuelan anarchists visualize our role in the struggle against the State and Capital you can quote what we say in the text sent in April 24, particularly in the last part of the document).
º Could you explain what is Bolivarian revolution and why is that term used by Chavez to identify his revolution? And from your point of view, why is the social movements in Venezuela ended up supporting Chavez?
The ´Bolivarian´ came from Simón Bolívar that was the soldier and politician that led the struggle for independence of Venezuela and a good part of South America against the colonial power of Spain between 1810 and 1825. As many other authoritarian rulers in these countries where Bolívar is a great historical figure, Chávez uses him in his own benefit identifying his power project with a extension of what Bolívar done. On the other hand, we have to say that the pretension of giving an unquestionable validity to the group of sociopolitical ideas of someone who died in 1830 is something that have to be explained for the shamelessness and the opportunism of politicians like Chávez and his court of flatterers. (Regarding to if what Venezuela is living must have to be called a ´revolution´ we refer you to what is said about this precise point in the text sent April 24).
'On the other hand, it is inexact to say that 'the Venezuelan social movements ended up supporting Chavez'. The autonomous social movements such as ecologists, grassroots trade unionists, feminists, natives, countercultures, etc. were in a process of diversification and empowerment during the 1990s in Venezuela in a favorable situation due to the decline of traditional political parties: However, in the end of that decade, they faced a false dilemma that became catastrophic: to support or to refuse the so-called alternative of political change that represented Hugo Chávez. We say that it was catastrophic because even if they support Chávez or if not, the social movements give up to their own agendas and their activists became political militants for or against Chávez, and social movements practically disappeared of the scene, because the people who has been part of them were supporting the politicians that fought for the power of the State. What is remaining is a caricature of the social movements, particularly respect to the groups associated, financed and promoted by the government, and that is the reason why we face today the great task of beginning to create new ways of organization that really assume issues and problems of collective interest that never will be solved certainly by the power of the State or for the power of Capital.
º It is very unlikely for a State to be an autonomous power in this era of economic globalisation. Venezuela seems to counter this perception. As for example, Chavez hostile attitude towards United States as a powerful element of global capitalism, and regarding to its Bolivarian anti-imperialist circle, is Venezuela Bolivarian revolution really cut off from this economic imperialist link?
We have to answer in a conclusive way: NO, BY NO MEANS! Chávez and his friends have understood so well that their continuance in power depends of submitting to what the transnational powers have defined as the role of Venezuela in the capitalistic globalised economy: to be a massive provider, trusty and advantageous of energetic resources. The so-called ´hostile attitudes´ of the Chavista government before USA have been a ridiculous masquerade that can not impede to see some clear facts that proves how the Venezuelan State carries out perfectly the script that the global powers impose to him. As an example of this we have the facts of that after 8 years and a half of government, the oil exports keep on having as the main client to the US that receives the 80% of what goes abroad; The 60% of the imports comes from the US; After 40 years of having been established that the Venezuelan State were the only owner of the oil fields, now the government announces as an 'advance toward socialism' the constitution of mixed companies with the multinationals that since now will have 40% of this resource; and many other examples can be mentioned: the hanging over of gas, coal or gold to the voracity of multinationals; the gas pipeline projects where the palaver of the Latin American Integration is the excuse to carry out imperialist plans conceived a certain time ago; the demagogic palaver against the Bush administration in the same time when the more profitable contracts are given to Chevron-Texaco (Condolezza Rice came from the board of directors of this company) or to Halliburton that was led by the now Vice-President Dick Cheney, however the space of this interview is not enough to check all the ways the funny Chávez anti-imperialism is revealed as a lie. For that reason, we insistently will continue to declare that only cynicism or naivety can give credit to the idea of that Chavista regime is breaking with global capitalism or with imperialist domination.
º How diverse the progress of anarchist movement in Venezuela during Chavistas regime, are they in contact with grassroot struggle, and I also read some report about anarchist who worked with Chavistas, could explain a bit about this?
In Venezuela we didn´t have the historical experience of an anarchist movement with an appreciable presence as the existing in another countries of Latin America such as Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and many more, so anarchism as a social movement was scarcely beginning around the middle of 1990 when it had to confront the challenge that meant the appearance of Chavismo in the Venezuelan political arena. Since then, the sociopolitical situation of the country was strongly marked for the confrontation between chavistas and antichavistas, where both sides agreed in not to allow the development of an alternative that could confront equally both as so we the anarchists are.
Under the Chavista regime and as a result of this political polarization led by chavistas and antichavistas, the grassroots movements and organizations fell into the trap and went with the trend of the actions and ideas of the two groups that competed for the power of the State showing the negative result of that the autonomous social struggles of any kind: trade union, student, female, ecologist, indigenous, for housing, against the repression and the control of the State, etc. submitted to the groups into struggle and for that reason they almost disappear and it is just in this moment when they begin to reappear in an independent way. We would never stop to advice the danger that represented for the social organizations the submission to that political polarization and have neither stop to try to establish links and support the autonomous expressions of struggle and social organization that have been birthing. Regarding to the so-called collaboration between anarchists and chavistas as it has been announced out of Venezuela, we loudly denounce that as one of some propaganda lies this government spreads abroad, and that any person that understands what we the anarchists are or make could not give them any credibility. In any case, maybe there are Chavista paid government employees that pretends to be anarchist and pretending to mislead to the people who does not what happens in Venezuela, that is -in an anarchist perspective- this government is authoritarian, corrupt, militarist, obedient to the multinational corporations, ineffective to satisfy the collective requirements and only good for the demagogic palaver.
º But I also notice some report about Chavez ‘socialist’ policy on building workers cooperatives and accomodating grassroot struggle, how do you see this?
The precise answer to that question is in the email we sent you in April 24, so we will copy it textually:
"- Now, it is announced by the Venezuelan government an explosion of the communal power, with the massive implantation and hanging over for the Communal Councils, communitarian and horizontal organizations of popular power. Do anarchists support those kind of grassroots structures?
We began to see that the establishment and functioning of the Communal Councils will own its existence and capacity of action as depending on their loyalty to the State, which is assured allowing the President the juridical faculty of giving or not the approval to those organizations,in the way it is expressed in the corresponding laws. In Venezuela there are examples of that kind of situation, where a lot of grassroots organizations (as the trade unions for not going further), they always has seemed the tramcars which receives current from above. Indeed, there are attempts for a real organization from below toward above, and it happens in some fields as local, peasants, natives, ecologists, students, cultural, etc, even when they do not have the affection of the government. We think that the legal, functional and financial submission of the Communal Councils to the power of the State will be asevere obstacle to begin from it a grassroots autonomous movement. This is also valid for the announced Workers Councils for the companies which seem to be a project to waste away a free trade unionism."
º Do you see any potentials in grassroot movements to go further beyond Chavismo, and how do you see anarchist alternatives on this contexts?
We have no doubt about the potential of the Venezuelan social movements because in spite of everything, they are showing good signs of looking for an independent and autonomous way again and Chávez and the people of the same political beliefs are becoming exhaust in order to continue manipulating the grassroots organizations and that is the reason why they are only resorting to repressive tactics against the people who want to satisfy their needs. According to the most trustable source that exists in that sense (you can see it at http://www.derechos.org.ve), among the five months from July to November of 2006, the repressive forces of the Venezuelan State repressed 26 popular demonstrations, causing 71 injured persons and 130 arbitrary arrests. This amount is bigger than the events occurred in all the year 2005 and we are sure that it would be beaten this year 2007 because only among the months from January to March the same source reports that 23 social demonstrations were assaulted, with an outcome of 99 arrested persons and 39 injured ones.
Due to the little force that still has the Venezuelan anarchist movement and due to that it is relatively unknown for the majority and its few time of being active, our possibilities of having an important impact in the social struggles are limited. However, it does not reduce out intention of promoting specific anarchist alternatives among the people and the organizations that received our message and actions. Regarding to the proposals that we have encouraged and motivated could be found proofs and evidences in the 50 issues that has published El Libertario between 1995 and 2007, emphasizing of course the mere existence of this newspaper absolutely of self-management that has could maintain itself and make known in Venezuela and the rest of Spanish speakers countries, keeping a total independence in front of the State, Capital and any other way of oppressive power.