Managua, Nicaragua -- Hugo Chávez's October
Presidente TV program, telecast live from Santa Clara (Cuba) is a historic
turning point in the gathering showdown between the imperialist North and the
popular upsurge taking place across the lands
and islands of Abya Yala (the "Western" Hemisphere), the south of the Rio ‘Bravo' and the infamous U.S. Border Wall.
As my 19 year-old
granddaughter and I watched Hugo and Fidel, members of Che Guevara's family,
and a range of other leaders of Cuba
my sense of history and actual events told me that something was up. A deeper
awareness began to form before me -- we indeed were witnessing and participating
in something new and vital to our
future; and the future of our aggrieved planet.
The Alo Presidente event, coupled with Hugo Chávez's
meeting with Fidel Castro the day before, stands - in my view -- as our 21st
Century Zimmerwald, a Zimmerwald Plus.
In September 1915 two
coach loads of outstanding socialist leaders from the antiwar left wing of Socialist
(2nd) International affiliated parties, including two future leaders
of the October Soviet Revolution - Lenin and Trotsky -- met at Zimmerwald (in
neutral Switzerland) to unite those revolutionary socialists prepared to carry
out serious and consequent opposition to the imperialist world war. They issued
a manifesto calling on soldiers, workers and oppressed peoples and
nationalities of Europe to lay down their arms; and to refuse to continue to slaughter one another
in the interests of capital; to struggle to defend their own class interests
against those who had sent them to the trenches. In today's jargon we might say that the group
was small enough to meet in a rented Tim Horton's, but too big to meet in a
telephone booth (as do quite a number of ultraleft groups today when they
congregate to cross more t's and dot more
i's on their manifestos denouncing
Chávez and Morales as a mealy-mouthed "populists").
The solid core of the Zimmerwald
group, despite its small size, went on to lead the Russian October revolution.
Under the impact of Soviet power in the former Tsarist Empire, the capacity of
the German and other ruling classes in Europe
to continue their carnage and slaughter dissipated. Kings, Kaisers, and Tsars were toppled as the
"war to end all wars" collapsed amidst mutinies, rebellions, civil wars, and
insurrectionary commotion across the "Old Continent." The rebellious mood even
spread to North America as the Winnipeg
General strike of 1919 showed.
From Santa Clara -- today's 21st
Century Zimmerwald -- tested Cuban and Venezuelan leaderships wielding
government and state power set forth a clear orientation to millions of
anti-imperialist, anti colonialist, and anti-capitalist fighters across the
continent. Hugo Chávez made it clear
that they and their allies will not back down in the face of imperialist
threats. And they will not stand idly by - Chávez iterated this with
utter clarity - and allow imperialist
inspired forces to overthrow the Bolivian government and/or assassinate Bolivian
President Evo Morales. The great moral authority of el Che - Ernesto Che Guevara - accompanied that of Fidel Castro and
Hugo Chávez to add force and depth to the message.
Chávez's October 13 meeting
with Fidel Castro lasted for over four hours. On Alo Presidente the next day he played a ten-minute segment of that
meeting. The clip appeared to be an unedited part of their longer chat (it is
available on the internet at http://www.aporrea.org/venezuelaexterior/n103013.html
I am struck by how
comfortable and at ease our two leaders
are, how much they enjoy each other's presence and being, and how much they want to learn from each other's
experiences and thinking. This was especially evident in videos of previous encounters
during Fidel's long convalescence, when emotions ran higher because of
uncertainty about Fidel's recovery during that period.
The next day Fidel called
into Chávez's show and remained on line for well over an hour. The back-and-forth
with Chávez and his live audience ranged from serious political discussion,
announcements about new economic agreements between Venezuela
to historical questions about the roots of the Bolivarian movement in the 80s
and 90s. There was enough banter and
irony in their exchanges to keep everyone, including them, in suspense as to
what might be coming next.
The outdoor audience
consisted of a large representation of Cuba's
government and Cuban Communist Party (CCP) leaderships, as well as local Santa Clara leaders and representatives
of grassroots organizations.
commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Che's capture and murder on October
8-9, 1967 was held on the grounds of the Che Guevara museum and memorial. The Santa Clara event came on
the heels of an official Bolivian government commemoration October 8 near the
site where Che had waged his last armed battle. Evo Morales gave a keynote
address at that event before a
multi-generational crowd from many countries. Prensa
that our indigenous president affirmed that the Movement Towards Socialism agenda
for change is moving forward along a "100%
Guevarist and socialist" course. El Che will live on forever, he said. "This struggle will
continue, as long as capitalism exists, as long as neoliberalism remains unchanged."
family -- his wife Aleida March and his surviving children, attended the Santa Clara commemoration [Hildita, Che's first daughter
with the Peruvian revolutionary Hilda Gadea, died of cancer in Havana, over a decade ago]. Dr. Aleida
Guevara, Che's daughter, spoke and exchanged views with the Venezuelan leader.
Chávez's TV program is
almost always dynamic and participatory. Throughout the five hours he often
invited compas (brothers and/or
sisters) in the audience to take the mike and offer their opinions on some
matter, usually their appreciation of the significance of the Che anniversary
The latter part of the
program took viewers to five or six locations in Venezuela for live interviews
with groups of citizens gathered together to discuss proposed amendments to
Venezuela's Bolivarian constitution, and to express their views on the Alo Presidente show they themselves were
taking part and watching at the same time.
significance of the encounter between Chávez and Fidel, and the Santa Clara Alo Presidente program can be qualified
through discussion of a number of key points.
- Fidel appears stronger and recovering well. He
clearly still plays a big role in key strategic discussions facing Cuba, Venezuela, and the ALBA alliance.
- Chávez spoke about a firm alliance of four
countries - Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, and Ecuador. He called for a federation
of nations, beginning with those four. He interjected fluid ideas about some kind of common, federative government. He
distinguished that idea from the longstanding pancontinental dream of "one Latin
American country." In a federation of nations
or countries some common state and semi autonomous institutions could handle questions
delegated to them through agreements among and between member states and governments.
- Many indigenous activists and leaders question
existing borders and/or the authority of many states in the hemisphere. They will surely appreciate the open-ended
nature of the ALBA leader's tentative proposals on this theme. A genuine
confederation along the lines of an expanded ALBA would have to incorporate the
essence of indigenous views on this problem, one with deep roots in the history
of European political and cultural colonization.
- Chávez and Castro discussed what Hugo calls
"the rise of two, three many Vietnams"
in South and Central America, and the Caribbean Basin.
Iraq's people, they noted, have just inflicted a Vietnam-scale defeat of U.S. imperialism that threatens to revive the Vietnam
syndrome with a vengeance.
Chávez explained, however, that his concept of
"two, three many Vietnams"
is not an armed struggle strategy. He
sees the Vietnams erupting up and down the continent as insurrections of "conscience
and ideas," the forging a new morality based on human solidarity, and the
escalation of political struggle to a level, scope, and scale capable of
delivering major defeats to the empire builders; and above all, capable of
scoring major victories for their victims.
We already have 21st Century Vietnams breaking
out, or well on their way. That's mainly because we - the grassroots toilers
and workers of society, the dispossessed and damned, are simply but loudly
saying "enough!" We are refusing to back down and carry out
our role as oppressed and exploited pawns. We want the whole board, and we want it now,
in our lifetimes. We want to save our Mother Earth so that our grandchildren
and great grandchildren can know her bosom and drink from her springs.
Fidel shares Chávez's ‘many Vietnams'
concept. When the younger revolutionist asked for his opinion on that, Fidel added
something significant to the mix. New Vietnams are blossoming all over
the world, not just in our hemisphere, he explained. Hugo was quick to nod
agreement on that point.
- Chávez repeatedly referred to the dangerous political situation in Bolivia -- the
threat of a pro-imperialist, right wing coup against the MAS government and
"brother Evo Morales."
"If the Bolivian oligarchy manages to
overthrow Evo Morales or assassinate him, you Bolivian oligarchs should know
that we Venezuelans will not stand by with our arms crossed," Chávez warned.
In the same vein, the Bolivarian
president pointedly cautioned those who are trying to squash the democratically
elected Bolivian government and Constituent Assembly. He told them they were playing with fire,
because if they carry out such plans the result "would hardly be a Vietnam of ideas or a Constituent Assembly
process; rather, they would beget, God help us, a Vietnam of submachine guns."
He added, "no consensus is possible with any oligarchy," because they are only
concerned with "hegemony and imposition."[i]
- The ALBA leadership team acts upon its
strategy of open discussion with supporters, with the grassroots of their
countries and the rest of the globe. They are completely comfortable with that
- unlike their imperialist enemies who prefer the basement White House, secret
negotiation, hidden agendas, and a dumbed-down public for their "leadership formula."
distinction is simple. One approach is based on convincing millions of supporters
to undertake a course of action through open discussion and shared information.
The contrary method is to impose policy decisions through lies, deception, and
fiat - the way the Bush and Blair administrations dragged their countries into
the war against Iraq,
imperial occupation, and ultimate catastrophe for victims and aggressors alike.
Chávez, upon arriving at the Santa
Clara airport, made an immediate tour of the town in
an open jeep. Cheering crowds lined streets and parks to welcome him to their
city where July 26 forces under Che's command struck a mortal blow against the
Batista dictatorship in the historic 1958 Battle
of Santa Clara.
The presence of
virtually the entire Cuban leadership -- and the public and participatory
nature of the tribune from which this united, clear defiance was proclaimed -- leave
no doubt among friend and foe alike that this is an affirmation of strong will
and intent to unite in a life-and-death struggle against imperialist war and
intervention. The ALBA alliance is re-invigorating the struggle against
imperialist domination, regime-change, and coup making. This is nothing less
than subversive, wide-open peace advocacy based on the right to
self-determination, on harmonious relations with Mother Nature, and on freedom
from imperial oppression, exploitation, and plunder.
The just concluded For the
Historic Victory of the Indigenous Peoples of the World
Encounter, held in Chimoré, Cochabamba - Bolivia (October 12, 2007), also
issued an urgent call for the defense of the MAS government and "brother Evo Morales - President of the Indigenous
Peoples of Abya Yala." -- See http://www.movimientos.org
"We commit ourselves to support the historic effort led by
bother Evo Morales, President of the Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala [the lands
and islands of the Western hemisphere], in the construction of a new
plurinational state. In the face of any internal or external threat, we remain
vigilant over what is happening in Bolivia, and we call on the peoples of the
planet to offer support and solidarity to this process that must serve to
motivate the Peoples, Nations, and States of the world to take up the same course."
Recent Montreal demonstration supporting the UN Declaration of
Indigenous Rights -- on the left, veteran Quechua leader Hugo Blanco (Peru) speaks with
assistance from a French language translator.
The appeals from Hugo and Fidel in Havana, and from the continental Indigenous Encounter in
articulate and amplify the voices of a chorus of fighters from a new generation.
Some are organized in ALBA; some in a growing and strengthened continental
indigenous movement; and some in other networks and campaigns. Many find
themselves tuned in to all these harmonious frameworks. An orchestra for our times
has assembled to rehearse and then carry off "two, three, many festivals of the
oppressed." Among them will be two, three, many Che's.
That's why Bolivia's allies can and do affirm, fists raised, that "they
will never bring Evo down. He is our president, too, and we will defend him."
The world will be a better world because it will be a socialist world.
Anything less would not be, and could not be a better world. This time
the victory is ours, and everyone's. The
planet told me so.
[i] See Presidente
"No nos quedaremos de brazos cruzados."
"No hay consenso posible con oligarquía alguna."
14 Octubre 2007. - "Si
la oligarquía boliviana lograra derrocar a Evo Morales o asesinarlo, ustedes
sepan oligarcas de Bolivia, que los venezolanos no vamos a quedarnos con brazos
cruzados", afirmó el Presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela,
Hugo Chávez, durante su programa Aló, Presidente, transmitido este domingo
El Jefe de Estado señaló que tiene conocimiento de las conspiraciones e
intentos del imperio norteamericano de derrocar el mandato del Presidente de
Bolivia, Evo Morales.
"Bolivia eligió a un Presidente, la mayoría del pueblo boliviano dijo
constituyente, la oligarquía la ha saboteado, ha impedido que se cumpla la
voluntad del pueblo para refundar la República", recalcó el Presidente
En este sentido, afirmó que la oligarquía no perdona y resaltó que "Evo es
de los que no se vende, es incorruptible, es inteligente, tiene coraje y