This year Venezuela surpassed the United States in direct government funding
to Latin America and the Caribbean. Its pledges in aid, financing, and energy
funding so far this year amount to $8.8 billion. This commitment has created
space for many of the continent's countries to assert their sovereignty from
How is this possible? The United States has an economy (measured by GDP) the
size of 67 Venezuelas. Sixty countries of the world are richer than Venezuela
The answer is internationalism.
The Venezuelans have realized that prosperity for the people of Venezuela is
tied to that of all the world's peoples. Moreover, its physical security from a
U.S.-sponsored attack depends on the ties of solidarity it is forging with
peoples around the world. One country cannot build a society free of violence
and poverty when the world around it is full of the savage barbarism of
imperialism and exploitation.
For an integrated Latin America
Ever since the European conquest 500 years ago, Latin America's wealth has
been stolen and its development blocked by imperial powers, led first by Spain
and Portugal, then by Britain, now by the United States. Venezuela's Bolivarian
revolution rests on the conviction that the peoples of Latin America and the
Caribbean can only be free if they join together in a united stand against
imperialism. The Bolivarian movement aims to tear down the barriers to genuine
development by integrating the countries of Latin America.
This goal finds expression in a host of specific projects that aim to enhance
the independence of Latin American nations through cooperation. For example,
Venezuela is joining with Uruguay to build an insulin plant – the largest on the
continent. Uruguay has the technology and patents and Venezuela has the
financial resources. The plant will free people across the continent from
dependence on multinational corporations that charge many, many times what the
medication costs to produce.
Oil refineries and factories are being jointly built with numerous countries.
In this way, countries are able to build infrastructure that they could not
manage alone. Integration is not only economic; there are plans to integrate
education and medicine.
Peoples' trade agreement
The heart of Venezuela's internationalist vision is the Bolivarian
Alternative for the Americas, called by its Spanish acronym ALBA ("dawn"). Known
as a "people's trade agreement," ALBA is based not on capitalist market
principles but on a vision of social welfare and mutual economic aid. (See ALBA: Dawn of an
Alternative) For example, Venezuela trades oil to Cuba while thousands of
Cuban medical personnel provide services to Venezuela.
Venezuelan aid funds projects such as AIDS treatment in Nicaragua, housing in
Dominica, and doctors in Haiti.
When Bolivia was struck with devastating floods this year, Venezuela sent in
teams to help the victims of the disaster. In total Venezuela pledged over $800
million to Bolivia, more than six times the U.S. commitment.
Venezuelan asphalt paves the streets of Bolivia's capital. Venezuela has
offered to buy garbage trucks for Haiti and build a dairy cooperative in
Argentina. Funding has gone to building an oil refinery in Nicaragua and to
electricity plants in Nicaragua, Haiti and Bolivia. Venezuela has given an
estimated $1.6 billion in fuel financing to at least 17 countries.
Venezuela aided Argentina in paying off its debt by buying $5.1 billion in
Argentine bonds. Due to Venezuela's efforts, regional debt to the IMF dropped
from $49 billion in 2003 to $694 million this year.
Venezuelan aid is not limited to poor underdeveloped countries. Venezuela has
supplied subsidized oil to poor communities in the United States and Britain. In
the Bronx, in New York City, Venezuelan oil was provided at a 40% reduced rate
to poor people. In London, England, bus fares have been reduced by half for the
city's poor because of an agreement between London's mayor and Venezuela, in
which London provides technical expertise in public transit in exchange for
A new way of banking
For decades the exploited and poor countries of the world have had to turn to
the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for loans. With these loans
came conditions. Countries were forced to privatize industry and slash education
and public services. Crucial infrastructure was sold off and neglected. Profits
soared, but so too did poverty, while national economic infrastructures were
shattered and national economies wrecked.
To help break dependence on the IMF and World Bank, ALBA has launched the
Bank of ALBA. All members of ALBA have equal participation in the bank. The bank
grants low interest loans with no strings attached.
Venezuela has also proposed a Bank of the South, which would use billions
from Venezuela's reserves for seed money. In the meantime Venezuela has opened
its state bank to neighboring countries. Bolivia, Uruguay, Honduras, Guatemala
and Haiti can now borrow money with interest rates at 5% compared to up to 35%
by private banks.
Two, three, many Vietnams
Venezuela alone cannot provide the resources needed to solve the world's
urgent problems of poverty, war, and environmental collapse. But it's making an
enormous contribution of resources and political solidarity, and this powerful
example can solve the world's problems if the peoples of other countries follow
the lead. Venezuela is using economic assistance to promote a political goal:
unity of the world's peoples against imperialism. It thus has a fundamentally
different purpose than Canada's governmental aid programs, the purpose of which
is to increase the power of the Canadian government and the profits of Canadian
Thus in 2006, when Israel began its brutal bombing campaign and invasion of
Lebanon, Venezuela pulled its embassy from Israel. Venezuelan president Hugo
Chávez has frequently spoken out against the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and is
strongly opposed to an attack on Iran. Chávez consistently exposes the lies of
imperialism and its aim of exploiting the wealth of the world's people for the
benefit of a small minority.
Venezuela and other ALBA nations have been the world's most articulate and
determined voices in calling for action against climate change and defense of
the environment against capitalist profiteers.
As evidence mounts that the United States is seeking regime change in Bolivia
and Venezuela, Hugo Chavez has warned that "If U.S. imperialism attacks our
peoples, using their lackeys in Venezuela and Bolivia, they can be sure that
we're not going to wait with our arms crossed." Chavez has made clear that the
people of Venezuela and Bolivia will defend themselves against imperialist
aggression. Recalling Guevara's defiant appeal in 1967 to defend Vietnamese,
then under attack by U.S. imperialism, Chávez said, "We will shout with Che
Guevara and then one, two, three, four, five, or 10 Vietnams will have to be
created in Latin America."
A document of the United Socialist party of Venezuela (the party which Hugo
Chavez has initiated) states, "the current world situation creates, and makes
necessary, the formation of an international anti-imperialist bloc on a grand
scale" made up of governments, social movements and parties "to unite in action
hundreds of millions of people in all the world against imperialism and its
Solidarity in action
On August 26, Chavez said that "2008 could be a good time to convoke a
meeting of left parties in Latin America to organize a new international, an
organization of parties and movements of the left in Latin America and the
Venezuela has hosted numerous international gatherings including the World
Festival of Youth and Students in 2005 and the World Social Forum in 2006.
Venezuela has given special emphasis to supporting and encouraging indigenous
movements across the Western Hemisphere, and Hugo Chávez has identified the
socialism of indigenous peoples as one of the main sources for the Bolivarian
movement's vision of "21st Century socialism." (See Chávez Calls for
United Socialist Party of Venezuela)
On August 8, 2007, Venezuela hosted the first International Congress of the
Anti-imperialist Indigenous Peoples of Latin America (Abya Yala). A thousand
indigenous people from across the Americas converged in San Tomé for this
historic event. Among them was a delegation of indigenous activists from Canada
who attended on the Venezuelan government's invitation. (See The Bears Are
Mounting the Silver Eagle to Meet the Condor and Declaration of
The revolutionary people of Venezuela are still at an early
stage of their struggle for liberation. Yet they have provided an example of
what the working and oppressed peoples can achieve when we too rise up in
struggle for liberation and social justice.