Around 10,000 people rallied in the Poliedro amphitheatre on June 29 to celebrate the third anniversary of the founding of the Frente Francisco de Miranda. The FFM is the leading organisation mobilising youth in support of the revolutionary process in Venezuela being led by the nation’s socialist President Hugo Chavez.
Erika Farias, national director of the FFM and recently appointed government minister in charge of Venezuela’s food program, described to the gathering the work of the FFM in helping to organise the social missions that are addressing the needs of the poor majority in the areas of education, health, food distribution, support for prisoners and assistance to the homeless.
Farias also described the new role of the FFM in monitoring the micro-banks linked to the new community councils, as well as the responsibility given to the FFM in assisting Mission Identity — the process of ensuring the great majority of the population is registered to vote in the December 3 presidential elections.
Chavez also addressed the gathering, telling the cheering and chanting audience of young FFM members that “The most important thing [right now] is to celebrate the third anniversary of our sons and daughters of the revolution, fighting in a progressive way ... It is three years since that day we went with [Cuban President] Fidel [Castro] to one of the first courses to see the [Cuban Youth] Pioneers ... I imagine the voice of the oligarchy saying we are 'using the children’, but they don’t think young people have the capacity to think or to take a position.”
Chavez described FFM members as “social fighters” who are all “leaders of this country” and stressed that “the ideological battle against destructive capitalism, for socialism, must deepen. Only socialism will save the planet, will save the human species ... We must develop consciousness.”
Chavez explained that “the FFM began as an idea three years ago, a product of imperialist aggression and the [April 2002] coup, named after one of the greatest men in our history” — Venezuelan revolutionary from the late 18th and early 19th century Francisco de Miranda. Chavez said Miranda wrote to the youth that “the path of revolution is hard, is painful, is difficult. That advice was good. He was fighting for the independence [of the continent]. But his ideas serve to inspire us today; his ideas conform to the central nucleus of our struggle for socialism of the 21st century.
“In 2003 and 2004, eight courses [attended by Frente members] were completed in Havana. I need to congratulate you, who left friends, family, daily life, to go to Cuba, to become social fighters for the FFM. Around 36,000 men and women went to Cuba to attend these courses. [Since then] the FFM has assisted with developing the first missions. There have been some internal conflicts, but this is all part of the process of maturing.
“Now you are doing tasks in different missions, involving different institutions, transforming them. Because the old state — bureaucratic and corrupt — sought to benefit the old oligarchy, and repress and exclude the majority.”
Chavez said there has been an “internal process of confrontation, but we are still very far from the state of justice that we need to consolidate and deepen the revolution”.
“The continuation of this transformation of the state is a giant task, involving the creation of new institutions. And the FFM [through working to construct the social missions] has demonstrated with increasing ability that it is possible to have institutions that are transparent, efficient, that fulfill their tasks, and that fight against corruption.”
A new generation
Chavez recalled the “marvellous youth of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. The [rulers] tried to rob us of our future. The generation that I belong to, and the generation that preceded me, were the generation that were beaten up badly. They robbed us all.
“These generations were collectively inoculated by an anti-social vaccine. My generation was not politically conscious. You are a new generation, new blood; you represent a new offensive of the youth — and true revolutionaries. I will be with you always. When you are much older, we will have a country that is truly free, a socialist republic. We have hardly started, hardly opened the path, because we are always being threatened.”
Che Guevara is “one of the greatest examples” of someone “whose spirit lives in the hearts of the youth of this continent”, Chavez said. “Today, we must adapt Che’s [example]. The revolutionary youth must be a vanguard of all the movements. There should not be one movement that does not incorporate the Frente, together with the popular organisations, as the vanguard; the first who are ready to make the sacrifices that the revolution demands; the first in work; the first at study; the first to the defence of the country.
“For example, if imperialist North America dares to invade our country, the 25,000 youth of the FFM would go out with arms. The Frente should assume your tasks in defence of the country. The first Russian rifles [of 100,000 recently purchased] are arriving, and these guns are being distributed to the army, the marines, the air force, and also to the National Guard and certain territorial forces. As soon as we can, the forces in the frontline — the Frente — will be distributed rifles.
“Che said that the vanguard is the first to do the work. But it has more to do with ideology. Each of you assumes the job of constructing a new socialism. You are doing great things with voluntary work. You don’t make a revolution without voluntary work. Your solidarity work is not based on exploitation, but on liberation from the yoke of work, from social control, under capitalism.”
Chavez argued that socialism must become “more concrete”, not just a “better state in the future”. “No, socialism must be constructed every day, in concrete spaces, with people of blood and bones. In only three years of existence, the FFM has created a world record. You have achieved and consolidated growth — 36,000 [went through the training], 21,000 remain [involved]. Today, 15,000 are active — a great troop.
“We are now in the second stage of formation [of the FFM]. [This year] more than 5000 new members came [to the training course in Cuba]. And we have another 5000 attending a different school in August. The FFM have expanded and consolidated in revolutionary consciousness and in efficiency. The Frente has consolidated throughout the country, there is now no state that does not have an FFM presence.”
Battle for socialism
Chavez called for a “battle to create socialism in the economic sphere. There can be no socialism without transforming the economy. Socialism involves a great deal of humanism. Socialism includes the politics and the economics; together they form a whole. Equality must be established and practised in Venezuela. It has everything to do with inclusion.
“The social missions became the instruments of constructing socialism. But they are not socialism itself. They are weapons in the construction of socialism, aimed to include everybody, to establish and to practice equality ... But socialism in the economy is also something specific. We must transform the structures of the capitalist model. We are running out of time, because the model of control of capital reproduces itself; it is a virus that reappears and expands. And here in Venezuela, the capitalist system was deeply implanted, not only in the reality, but sadly in the minds of the great majority of Venezuelans.
“In this battle of ideas, the opinion polls reflect the [advances made]. When Venezuelan people were asked whether they preferred capitalism or socialism, 10-15 years ago you wouldn’t get 10% [for socialism]. Now the polls show that from last year, 40-50% of Venezuelans say they would prefer socialism. This is a great step forward in the ideological battle. But for socialism to exist in reality, there is a long way to go. Nevertheless, it is perfectly clear that those who prefer socialism are committed and active. This is a great advance ...
“The Frente can now begin to move into the economic sphere, into the economic production units that are born with a socialist, rather than capitalist, character ... [such as] the endogenous production units [production aimed at national economic development]. We need to develop new technical skills, and study mixed with work.”
Chavez urged the FFM to “also incorporate itself into the international struggle. We are in a new stage internationally, and in Latin America. We express our solidarity with Palestine, with Africa.
“The FFM has arrived to stay. The Frente is converting itself into a vanguard of the Bolivarian socialist revolution. The FFM has written itself into the pages of the history of Venezuela. The future is yours, go and construct it. Long live the Frente! Long live the Bolivarian revolution! Long live revolution in Latin America! Venceremos! [We will win!]”
From Green Left Weekly, August 2, 2006.