President Chávez’s First Column

Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, twenty-eight newspapers across the country including Venezuela's largest newspaper, Ultimas Noticias, will publish a new column by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, according to the Ministry of Communication and Information. Here the first column.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced Tuesday that he will write a new opinion column titled "Chávez's Lines," the first of which was published today. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, twenty-eight newspapers across the country including Venezuela's largest newspaper, Ultimas Noticias, will publish the column, according to the Ministry of Communication and Information. Two predominant newspapers considered to sympathize with the opposition, El Universal and El Nacional, will not publish the column, but have written reviews of this first one. Last weekend, Chávez temporarily suspended his weekly Sunday talk show, "Aló Presidente," in which he addresses the public directly for many hours, in order to dedicate himself to the campaign for a constitutional amendment that would abolish the two-term limit on all elected offices if it wins the majority of votes in a national referendum this coming February 15th. President Chávez said his new column would be charged with "the force of ideas and the passion for homeland, which like fire I carry in my soul, and the patriots of Venezuela carry in our hearts." Below is a translation of the first column, "Chávez's Lines #1."

Chávez's Lines

My strongest hits as a baseball player always went to the right field.

Now, on the playing field of politics and revolution, these hits that begin today will go toward every field with the same force as my hits.

Only, now they go with the force of ideas, of convictions, and of passion for the homeland.

I am, in essence, a soldier. And as such, I was shaped in the school of commitment and obedience to legitimate power that orients the collective force in pursuit of tactical objectives and strategic goals.

The circumstances and conditions that marked my life converted me early on into a revolutionary soldier. From that point on, I recognized as legitimate and superior the sovereign power of the Venezuelan people, to which I am now absolutely subordinated. And I will be for the rest of my days.

I say this today amidst events that mark the beginning of 2009, as the political battle that was unleashed in our homeland two centuries ago intensifies. Some, the majority of us, want national independence; others, the minority, want to convert Venezuela once again into a colony, into an imperial subordinate, a sub-republic.

There are no other paths to achieving Venezuelan independence than national revolution.

There are no other paths toward the great homeland than this path toward socialism on which we have already embarked; our Bolivarian Socialism, Socialist Democracy!

The other path, on which the Yankee-following colonialists want to take us, would condemn our country to handicap, to insignificance, and the historical tomb; it is the path of capitalism and its political expression, "bourgeois democracy."

We, the independence fighters, carry an oath; that which our leader, Simón Bolívar, took on the Sacred Mount on August 15th, 1805. We, the patriots, have a project, we bear a flag.

They, the colonialists, have no oath, have no project, have no flag. Or better said, as we have seen in several of the Yankee-followers' activities, their flag is reversed, turned upside down, with seven stars and not eight as our Bolívar commanded in Angostura. That says it all: they represent what is contrary to the homeland, they are the anti-flag, they are the anti-Venezuela, they are anti-Bolívar. They are the negation. They are the no-homeland.

And I want to express this in my lines, especially now, when we are in full campaign headed into the referendum on February 15th.

February, February once again! I have felt for years now that my life is powerfully linked to this month, the month of the festivities of the savannah and the gusts of dry season wind: February 27th, February 4th, February 2nd!

And now: February 15th.

Twenty years after the Caracazo[1] that bred me, seventeen years after the Bolivarian Military Rebellion[2] that gave birth to me, and ten years after my inauguration that brought me here, I once again place my life and my entire future in the hands of the people and their sovereign decision. This revolutionary soldier will do as the people command.

If the majority says no, then I will leave in another February, that of 2013.

On the other hand, if the majority of you, Venezuelan men and women, support the amendment with a ‘Yes' vote, then it is possible that I could continue in front of the wheel beyond 2013.

But this is not what is truly most important. Here and now, what is essential is that if the ‘No' wins, a colony will be imposed, the anti-homeland. And if the ‘Yes' wins, independence and homeland will prevail.

That is why I repeat to you, men and women, Venezuelan youth:

Those who want a homeland, come with me!

Those who come with me, you will have a homeland!

Introduction and Translation by James Suggett

[1] Caracazo is the name given to the wave of spontaneous protests, riots and looting that occurred on February 27, 1989 in the Venezuelan capital Caracas and surrounding towns against free-market reforms proposed by then social democrat President of Venezuela Carlos Andrés Pérez, who followed the recommendations of the IMF. These expressions of popular discontent extended for five days and were violently repressed by police and military forces.

[2] On February 4, 1992, by-then army officer Hugo Chávez led a military uprising against the neoliberal government of Carlos Andrés Pérez at a time when the government had lost all legitimacy due to the Caracazo and other acts of repression.