|Adán Chavez and Alan Woods|
On Monday April 18th, Adan Chavez, a leader of the Bolivarian movement, elder brother of the President and currently Venezuelan Ambassador in Cuba, invited me to have breakfast with him in La Casona, the traditional residence of Venezuelan presidents. I took the chance to conduct a brief interview with him.
Alan Woods: Could you tell us something about your family? I understand you come from a humble family.
Adan Chavez: That’s correct, I am from Barinas state, which is in Los Llanos (the plains), in the Western part of Venezuela. It is an agricultural region, mainly cattle rearing. Dad and Mum were schoolteachers, but they are now retired. Since 1998 my father has been a state governor. We were six brothers, and I was the eldest.
AW: How did you become involved in politics?
ACh: When I was 16 I joined the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), a Marxist-Leninist organisation which had links with the Chilean MIR. There I started my political and revolutionary education. But after three years this party started to degenerate, becoming a revisionist party which even split into two fractions: one which continued to call itself the MIR and another called New Alternative. I decided not to join either of the two groups. I did not agree with revisionism and I was of the opinion that we needed to build a genuine revolutionary party in contact with the masses.
AW: What did you do then?
ACh: We were a group of youngsters, doing work in the university. We spent more or less a year and a half like that, until we joined another party, the Party of the Venezuelan Revolution (PRV). This party was working underground and was led by commander Douglas Bravo, the famous guerrilla. We conducted urban guerrilla work. But because of its clandestine character this party did not have contact with the masses. Furthermore they were very dogmatic and sectarian. Like the MIR, it split and ended up disappearing. In order to achieve a revolutionary popular movement, which would allow the taking of power, one had to have a strong influence within the popular masses and have support within the Armed Forces.
It was at that time that my brother Hugo was serving in the National Armed Forces as a young officer. A small group of officers who were unhappy about the situation in the country and who thought that something had to be done to change it was set up. These were progressive and patriotic army men. I informed the leadership of the party of the existence of my brother. In this way contacts were established between the two sides. Hugo Chavez also had other contacts with other left groups. Though finally the PRV disappeared, one must give it credit for this. Once again I was left with no concrete membership, but we kept in touch with the patriotic officers giving them any support we could. A civilian-military movement was consolidated, the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement 200 (MBR-200). They were reading, discussing and finally decided that they had to rescue the revolutionary ideas of Simon Bolivar, Simon Rodriguez and Ezequiel Zamora.
AW: But you are Marxist?
ACh: Of course.
AW: So, how do you see the role of Marxism in the Bolivarian revolution?
ACh: In the same way that we have reclaimed the ideas of Bolivar, Rodriguez and Zamora, I think that we must reclaim the genuine ideas of Marxism, applying them correctly to our society. The scientific method of Marxism is a necessity. We are a movement based on the “principles of the tree of the three roots”: Simon Bolivar, Simon Rodriguez and Ezequiel Zamora. But if you read these principles you will soon understand that they are not at all in contradiction with Marxism, they defend the principles of democracy, equality and humanity.
AW: And these principles, can they be carried out under the capitalist system?
ACh: I personally think they cannot. And President Chavez has said in the last few months that capitalism is slavery and that the Bolivarian revolution must go towards socialism. This conclusion is not by chance. It is the product of many discussions, many experiences and an in-depth analysis of the situation. The President used to consider the option of the so-called “Third Way” – a way between capitalism and socialism. We examined that and, as the President said, we have realised that for the Bolivarian revolution there is no third way possible, we must choose the way of socialism. This does not mean we are going to import other models from outside. Socialism is a system in which man is above Capital. That is clear. But we must adapt the ideas of socialism to the concrete conditions.
AW: I believe you are reading my book “Reason in Revolt”. Can you give me your opinion on it? You can speak with complete sincerity!
ACh: I think it is an excellent book. I have not finished it yet, but my impression is that it is a rigorous Marxist analysis of philosophy applied to nature. I am a physicist, and this seems extraordinarily interesting to me. I am interested above all in what you write about the origins of the universe – a subject I have always been passionate about, and which unfortunately I have abandoned.