Interview: “Capitalism Is No Longer an Option”

Venezuelan political scientist and former president of the Latin American Parliament, Amilcar Figueroa, discusses the coming challenges for the Bolivarian revolution and outlines possible opposition strategies to prevent a Chavez victory in the 7 October presidential election. 


Amilcar Figueroa is Venezuelan, a historian, a political scientist and member of the Continental Bolivarian Movement. Until 2011 he was president of the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino). He has a long political background linked to the revolutionary struggles of Our America and he participated in the compilation of the texts Reform or Revolution in Latin America? (2009) and El Salvador: Its History and Its Struggles, among others.

In a conversation with Alba TV, he shared his impressions in the context of the 7 October [presidential] election, [when socialist president Hugo Chavez will stand against right-wing candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski], and the possible scenarios and opposition strategies against the triumph of Hugo Chavez. Furthermore, he spoke of the challenges for the Bolivarian revolution in the 2013 – 2019 stage and its impact on the Latin American context.

Alba TV: What scenario do you envisage for 7 October and the first days after the election? What will the right-wing strategy be in this period?

Figueroa: What we know is that they [the right wing] have been thinking about and have been working on a strategy which involves [claiming] electoral fraud [in the event of a Chavez victory].Of course this strategy, launched from Europe and the United States with the media power that imperialism and the right wing have, could have some impact. It would depend on the margin of the [Chavez] victory. If it’s overwhelming, it’s going to be a bit more difficult for them to implement this strategy.

What’s certain is that after [Chavez’s] victory, radical sectors [of the right] will try to deepen destabilisation in various ways, I couldn’t say which. In countries where imperialism has operated recently, the common point is the existence of a small internal group deeply rooted in the international alliance of the forces of capital. On the other hand, there’s a part of the opposition that isn’t thinking about destabilisation, but rather in trying to gain ground in the regional mayoral and state governor elections in December.

These possibilities are there and we shouldn’t disregard either of the two. Everything largely depends on the result on 7 October, and the margin by which we win.

Alba TV: Let’s look at the medium term. With Chavez elected and the Program of the Nation being pushed forward, what will be the challenges for the Bolivarian revolution?

Figueroa: I think that we need to start by demanding something that president Chavez himself proposed: rectification. It’s necessary to deepen [the revolution], supported by the forces that historically are most interested in the development of a socialist Venezuela. This happens by understanding with enough clarity the current class structure in Venezuela, what the structural composition of classes in the country is today and which of those classes are most interested in the deepening of historic change. With this input, [we should] develop all of our most important political activity there, centre it there. [We should] weave the social framework of the revolution from below, and strengthen [grassroots] organisations and what has been called popular power.

I believe that’s the strategy. It’s not possible to advance if we don’t take a leap forward in the conquest of social hegemony, and at the same time, battle to revert current cultural domination. We still haven’t freed ourselves from the cultural hegemony of the bourgeoisie. The values of bourgeoisie society are still alive and kicking in all areas of Venezuelan society. Therefore this is the strategic battle in front of which the revolutionary movement has to focus its energy. Without a strategic vision, understanding many other problems, there aren’t advances.

Alba TV: In the words of Chavez, one of the main objectives of the [2013 – 2019] stage [of the revolution] consists of “crossing the threshold”, securing the path to socialism in a way that the changes [so far] become irreversible transformations. What analysis do you make of this objective?

Advancing supposes having a very strong debate about how to understand the transition, how to understand socialism, and what socialism is. All socialist theory needs to be brought down to a concrete level and be seen in the conditions of Latin America; in the conditions of the 21st century. It’s a great challenge for the revolutionaries of Venezuela, where there has been an extraordinary advance, which rose up in a moment of global revolutionary retreat.

Of course this has permitted the creative search to adapt socialist theory to the conditions of the 21st century. However, obviously we have to fight a tremendous battle in theoretical construction. We won’t successfully advance if the construction of theory around the revolution in Venezuela and Latin America isn’t done; an intellectual effort to validate the conquests of that field that we could call the world of work.

We are living in a historic moment where the capitalist system passes its maximum expansion and where, at the same time, it experiences its greatest decadence. It’s becoming clear that capitalism isn’t an option and that the option needs to be sought outside [of capitalism]. That option is socialism.

Alba TV: In the present and focusing on the Latin American context, in what state is the construction of the Great Country? Is it feasible to think about a continental socialist project? Or are we in a time of defensive retreat of anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist tendencies?

In 2005 the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) suffered a tremendous defeat, however after this, some Latin American countries signed free trade agreements with the United States, and also treaties of strategic relation with Europe. These agreements represent the attempt of capital to reform itself and regain its hegemony in Latin America. They [the US and Europe] also advanced in many ways, not only economically. For example, they are trying to construct a kind of School of the Americas supported in some countries in the so-called Pacific Axis.

On the other hand, the tendencies of unity guided by the Bolivarian spirit are advancing, like the ALBA [the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America] could be. The alliance with the countries of the Mercosur [the Market of the South, which Venezuela joined as a formal member in July] is an advance in this sense. It needs to be assimilated in its proper measure, because it [joining Mercosur] supposes great challenges. It makes it indispensable for the Bolivarian revolution to take a leap forward in the expansion of its internal productive forces to develop a productive economy of a socialist nature. This process should be supported by the classes with the greatest vocation to construct socialism, but also by a leap forward in scientific-technological development. The construction of socialism isn’t possible in only one country, and in the case of Latin America this beautiful process of unity needs to be combined with the struggle for socialism.

Something indispensable is the unity of the peoples [of Latin America]. Up to now there have been great advances in unity between nation states, in the good relations between heads of state. However the unity of the peoples must be strengthened, a unity that carries at the same time a leap forward of a revolutionary nature in the societal realm.

Translation by Ewan Robertson for Venezuelanalysis.com