Editor's Note: In the interests of providing "equal time" to this issue, this is the second and final installment of commentaries on the toppling of the Columbus Statue. The First two were actually written before Dawn Gable's piece, but people involved in the controversy asked us to post the statement in response to her commentary. Below the two statements from the "Popular Bolivarian Movements" is a response to Dawn Gable from Charley Allan, one of the main organizers of "Hands Off Venezuela," a London-based solidarity group.
We, the militants of multiple popular movements...defenders and activists of all the struggles for life taken on by the Venezuelan people...we, participants of the Bolivarian revolutionary process...defenders of ideals of freedom, justice, equality and continental liberation...we, who have been present in all forms of the struggle in defense of the government led by comandante Hugo Chavez, considering it a government loyal to the hopes for radical transformation that have been building in the Venezuelan people for years...definitely, we, who struggle absolutely in accord with the dreams of liberty of our people and all the peoples of the world...we completely assume, in all its dimensions—intellectual, organizational and executive—responsibility for the acts that occurred yesterday, October 12, 2004, that culminated in the toppling of the statue of Christopher Columbus (which until yesterday was situated in “Paseo Colon” of Plaza Venezuela) and was later dragged by hand to the doors of the Teresa Carreno Theater, and hung for a brief moment from a nearby tree until it was decided to bring it back to the ground because of the danger it presented to by-standers, until finally it was seized by the Policia Libertador during a cruel, irresponsible and repressive action that culminated in the arrests of five people in the vicinity of the theater.
This act began at about 12:00 noon, with the participation of hundreds of people, in what was named “the popular trial against Columbus,” which obviously extended to all forms, old and new, of COLONialism. This trial, after reading two public documents, concluded with a plebiscite where it was decided, by the consensus of all, to condemn, symbolically, our friend Columbus, this time petrified beneath the form of a bronze statue, to touch the ground again, only this time it would not be the marvelous land that he encountered over 500 years ago, but instead the hard ground and cement upon which we stood, the men and women who were happy to see him fall in such a noisy and humiliating manner.
For very diverse reasons, groups and persons situated in different ideological and political camps have been saying that this was the work of vandals, and with unusual judicial efficiency have opened proceedings against three companeros that were present at the action. We respond by saying that the accusations of vandalism, come from where they may, are rejected by us in an absolute manner, and we say that we feel absolutely proud of what we have done, and that we have finally destroyed—in the only manner that such icons deserve—one of the strongest and most representative symbols of what has been the exercise of genocide, exploitation, dehumanization, deculturalization, and true vandalism of all the imperialisms that have plagued this planet with misery, and in this particular case, the process of conquest and extermination of more than 70 million human beings, the original inhabitants of the continent of Abya Yala, and the death of more than 30 million inhabitants originating from Africa and brought here as slaves, from the day in which the “national hero” of Spain put his boot upon these lands.
Just as we assume complete responsibility for this totally legitimate act, so we also assume all legal reprecussions that might result from this case. A thousand times more important than our liberty as individuals is this opportunity to assist in the decolonization, once and for all, of our consciousness of our own history, our identity as people and as cultures, and our responsibility to create in the future truly free and soverign new worlds. We consider this fair and direct action of the people a pedagological and concrete example towards that end. How much indignation it gives us, that the day of October 12 has been declared a day of Indigenous Resistence by this government, and yet our children continue to learn from their school books that this day was nothing more than the marvelous “discovery” of the “american” lands, and furthermore that we continue to venerate with statues and “discovery days,” with the help of the corporate media, the hugest criminals in history!
For this same reason we consider it necessary and absolutely legitimate that we discharge against so much humilation and historical impunity our centuries of rage as people, with irreverent and rebellious actions that do not need the authorization of anyone except of our own consciousness. No people in the world need to ask permission from anyone to be free and throw off their oppressors. Possibly the only people from whom we ask permission are the indigenous communities and the communities of African descent from which the majority of us emerge—and probably the people such as those in Iraq, Palestine, Chechenia, Colombia, Bolivia, Chiapas, and all other people that today continue to suffer form the imperial beast—only that today it is from new technologies of military monstrosity that have been invented in recent times, by the only direct descendent of Colombus: the global empire of capital.
For these reasons, with the signatures below, we assume completely and proudly all of the legal responsibilities that the Venezuelan States shall apply against us, as well as the the dreams that have been erupting from our skin.
DOWN WITH THE SYMBOLS OF HUMILIATION
DEATH TO ALL FORMS OF COLONIALISM
LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE OF PACHAMERIKA, AND MAY THE INFINITE BEAUTY OF PACHAMAMA BLOSSOM WITH HER FLOWERS
WE DEMAND THE IMMEDIATE RELASE OF ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS ARRESTED ON OCTOBER 12, 2004, OR A COLLECTIVE TRIAL AGAINST ALL THE UNDERSIGNEES OF THIS DOCUMENT.
Next Statues To Topple...
We knocked down the ex-statue of Columbus! ... We knocked down a face of COLONIALISM and it broke to pieces... We knocked down a bronze statue and, as it fell, it stuck its finger in the Empire’s eye... we knocked it down in the full light of the day with our young, uncovered faces, thus discovering hypocritical masks... we knocked down a “public evil” and we made a true work of art, a rebellious and collective work of art without imperial signature... we knocked down the oppressor at the rhythm of libertarian drums... we knocked down a symbolic ex-statue and we shook the bureaucratic-statue, the impunity-statue, the communication-monopoly-statue, the repressive-state-statue... the Escuálido-[anti-revolutionary]-with-a-red-beret-statue. In short, we knocked down an ex-statue and shook those who want to turn our Revolution into their hypocritical and untouchable Revolution-Statue.
The debate has been opened and so has the autonomous action of the popular movement, of the people that since February 27, 1989 came down the barrios to be a slave only to their conscience. To the surprise of us, the many people who organized and assume the responsibility for knocking down the ex-statue of Columbus, today that truly insignificant and small action has brought the internal enemy where we wanted to have it... naked and exposed. This autonomous action has become “The Battle of Santa Inés against the Escuálido State and against pseudo-revolutionary conservatism”. (Note: The Battle of Santa Inés was used by Chávez as an example of a historic battle where Zamora, a general of the people in the late XIX century, made the enemy follow him to a terrain where they could be easily defeated. Chávez called the battle for the August 15th referendum: “The Battle of Santa Inés”).
And in these we are all in agreement: that the true enemies of this Revolution are the ones that the same Empire has infiltrated in the State for a long time, and the ones that with their new positions of power, intend to expropriate the popular movements from their true participation and leading-role.
The fact is that the Empire knows that, right now, its power in Venezuela does not lie in its capacity to give coup d'Etats, since they would be starting, with their own hands, one of the most profound rebellions in history. Instead, the Empire is exercising its power through the corrupt, bourgeois State that, in spite of the doubtless good will of our comrade Hugo, continues serving as an instrument for the exploitation of our resources and of ourselves as a people. This does not mean that there are no more risks of coups or invasions, or that the government has been good for nothing, but it does mean that the most threatening risk than we run as a people is that this revolution be institutionalized and that the bureaucracy steals it from us through its demagogic discourse, while, underneath, multinational corporations keep taking away all our oil, our coal, our culture... only to leave us their trash and a land full of damned statues. At any rate, the great triumph of this government, aside from the very important social base that it is building, is precisely that we have the liberty to carry out our revolutionary conscience to action.
Because the struggle for the liberty of our 3 imprisoned comrades and the radical deepening of the Revolution is no longer the struggle of the hundreds of people that knocked down that statue of Columbus, but of all the Bolivarian people that in their daily revolutionary effort have been fighting against the damned bureaucratic statues that continue to sabotage the projects in the barrios; against the statues of impunity that continue liberating coup-leader and murderers while incarcerating comrades of struggle; against the media statues that continue exercising the monopoly of communications; against the statues that in name of progress continue devouring forests and staining rivers with oxide; against the statues that continue condemning us when we exercise popular will and rebel against the constituted power!
We will knock down each and every one of these statues and we will ask for nobody’s permission. We will knock them down in the same way we knocked down Columbus: in the full light of the day and with uncovered faces, to the full rhythm of joyous drums, with smiles from ear to ear and lips painted with poetry. But now we won’t be only hundreds, we will be thousands and millions of rebels that take the streets and assume that our liberty and our happiness as people subdue to nothing, and no-one, but our own conscious of respect towards all the human beings in this world. Our violence, in any case, is not the violence against monsters of flesh and blood as long as they don’t shoot at our dancing bodies on the streets.
And thus we will go on taking it all... Because, either we assume this Revolution as our own, realizing that only we ourselves can build a more free and more just society, or we become the slaves and servants of a Revolution-Statue that seeks nothing more than the survival of its self-appointed sculptors. Let’s assume, then, for once and for all, our own rebel action as a popular sculpture, as one with which we will build our own history. Because that popular motto of “Revolution in the Revolution” is also being turned into a statue, condemned to the pathetic world of the office-revolution. For that reason, we must carry the word to the street and give it gesture, give it a face, make it rebellious art with which, far from physically harming other human beings, we will take back what they have forever denied us: our identity.
It is not about denying history and disappearing the statue of Columbus. In any case, what should be placed on that monument is the figure of the Columbus that our resistance left destroyed, of the Columbus that we painted red as symbol of the blood spilled by the cruel sword of his old and new Empire. We propose then that the statue that is placed back is the one of the Knocked-Down-Columbus, of the Columbus that was defeated by our resistance and that, only after we transformed it, it became a true work of art, a collective work of art that speaks of our times and culture in a much more accurate way than that other figure smiling to genocide. Just like Rafael de la Cova (the sculptor) took from the Pachamama (Mother Earth), the copper and the tin, made bronze and turned it into an imperial symbol, we took the imperial symbol and turned it into a symbol of resistance. In this case, the true cultural patrimony is the one that would be destroyed if they return that figure to its posture of genocidal pride. (To prison, then, by their logic, those who dare restore it!)
And if “revolutionary authorities” are going to condemn us for having our own conscience and not following the official line in what we consider a backward attitude towards the revolutionary process, then let them imprison all of us rebels of these Bolivarian lands... Let us all go to jail!... those of us who take land, those of us who take schools and universities, those of us who take factories, those of us who re-take our culture! Those of us who will take movie theaters and museums! Those of us who will take, for once and for all, the mass media outlets so that they may serve the people! Those of us who will take the Guasare, Imitaca and the Delta to fight the destruction that multinational corporations carry out! Those of us who will take control of our own lives! Those of us who will take the golf courses of the Country Club and sow fields of yucca for all the children of the Pachamama! Those of us who, at last, will re-take the COLONial borders to abolish them forever and begin the continental rebellion, from Alaska to Patagonia and to the very last corner of this world that rises!
LONG LIVE THE FUTURE FRONT OF PACHAMERIKAN LIBERATION, THAT WHEN THE COLUMBUSES OF TODAY LEAST EXPECT, WILL RE-TAKE THIS CONTINENT BY ASSAULT!
FREE THE IMPRISONED COMRADES, OR JAIL TO ALL OF US REBELS OF THESE LANDS! NOW!
NOTE FOR COMRADE CHAVEZ:
Comrade Chávez, we would not be as hypocritical as to thank you for your words, since they are sadly unjust and of a rather inaccurate historical analysis (that of the extreme-left, Allende and us). If it is true that there are leaders that, as you say, manipulate us, please tell us where they are because we have not found them. In terms of your insinuation of CIA-infiltration in our rebel ranks, please have the mercy of passing us the intelligence information so we may turn them into frogs or statues. But regardless of the tone and fury of your verb, we thank you for having collaborated with our main objective: to recognize the impossibility of a unique, individual responsibility for the toppling of the statue, and to facilitate, through your accusations, the collective responsibility of the action. At any rate, your comments serve us to reiterate our main demand: that a collective trial is opened, in liberty, to all of us who assume the co-responsibility of this action in the documents “We Are Responsible”, and in denouncing the fact that the three comrades in jail are being used as scape-goats. This would permit us to quickly re-open the trial started 400 years ago by Bartolomé de las Casas against the Conquest murderers and takes us to our times with the demand for the payment of the historic debt that the Imperial European States have with our people. If we turn out to be guilty of something, in any case, it would be of having opened the historic debate that still lives in the lands of the Abya Yala (“America” in tongue of the native Cunas) and in the skin of all the children of the Pachamama.
The only thing that we would add—and count on this, Mr. President—is that this trial will not only carry us backwards in our sorrows, but will serve to reveal our present struggles, particularly in the accusation of the cave of rascals and merchants of goods and contracts that have COLONized your government and are about to even rob you the richness of your word in exchange for mirrors and mirages of “revolution”. Let this serve as an opportunity to see if you can leave aside your arrogance and realize the political filth that a self-appointed leadership has imposed on us and will soon control, for their own benefit and pleasure, no less than 80% of the local and national budgets.
Finally, even if it bothers you or the court of traitors you have around, we continue supporting and defending you as a leader of OUR Revolution, that of all the Bolivarian people. But you must choose sides, Mr. President: decide whether you are on the side of those who will not think twice before selling you if you become a real threat to the Empire, or with us that will defend you with our lives if it is necessary, as long as you are serving the interests of the people.
LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE OF PACHAMERIKA AND LET THE SPRING BRING WITH ITS FLOWERS THE INFINITE SPIRAL OF THE PACHAMAMA.
PD: We invite you, Hugo, to come along with this band of young rebels to knock down all the other statues that we mentioned. We hope that you don’t lose your youth and that you are not manipulated by the old walls of your palace.
The next statues to knock down:
- The bureaucratic, corrupt, and parallel State that has grown again in PDVSA.
- The thieves of public finances cloistered in the Central Bank.
- The lords of the regional corporations and their plans of predatory destruction and piracy.
- Those who have given impunity to the murderers of more than 90 peasant leaders, to “government-topplers” and corrupt officers.
- The corrupt ministers traffickers of chicken, weapons, agrochemical supplies and pharmaceuticals.
- The contracts with Microsoft, Texaco, Repsol and the construction of Puertoamérica.
- Etc, etc... and let’s not forget those who want to finalize the COLONization of our Revolution.
LONG LIVE THE BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION!
LIBERTY FOR THE REVOLUTIONARY POLITICAL PRISONERS!
UNTIL VICTORY ALWAYS!
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
SIGNS: “UnidenTified Front of Pachamerikan Liberation”
Response by Charley Allan to:
>Those Who Toppled Columbus Statue Must Bear Responsibility For Their Act
>Saturday, Oct 23, 2004
>By: Dawn Gable
>Based on the account of the October 12 destruction of the Columbus statue that was written and disseminated world-wide by the organizers (some of whom do not live in Venezuela) and based on the fact that this was a pre-planned theatrical show, it appears that those arguing for the amnesty of those detained are either misinformed about what took place, or do not understand the danger of the act or of the damage it has done to the Bolivarian government.
As someone who has "disseminated" (both through the world wide web and by word of mouth) accounts of the O12 Columbus-toppling, and also an organiser here in the UK of solidarity actions with Bolivarian Movement in Venezuela, I feel compelled to respond to Dawn Gable's clear, if not complete, analysis of the aftermath to the statue-toppling. However I must make it clear that in no way did I help organise the Caracas demonstration, any more than those claiming responsibility for what happened in Plaza Venezuela helped organise our solidarity demonstration outside the US Embassy in London that day.
I'd also like to mention that neither I, nor the campaign "Hands Off Venezuela" (who joint-sponsored the protests here), have ever argued for the amnesty of the O12 prisoners. Nor for that matter has anyone else I've read online (in English) including the prisoners themselves! In fact, by all accounts they (and the over 200 activists who assume collective-responsibility for the action - see their document "We are responsible") are very much looking forward to defending themselves to a jury of their peers. The reason we demonstrated outside the Venezuelan consulate last Thursday had nothing to do with amnesty; it was to support their demand for the prisoners' bail until trial.
As for not understanding the "danger" and "damage" this has caused the Venezuelan government, I fully accept that here, far away from the Caracas political heat, my personal judgement of these issues must be rather clouded, but I genuinely believe there are far greater dangers to the Bolivarian Revolution than peaceful anarchists and autonomists toppling statues, and that debates like the one generated by this action can certainly help the Movement avoid them.
>All Revolutionary activities must be done with not only with the symbolism of the act, or the motivation for the act in mind but also with the end result in mind. While it is certainly understandable to take out ones anger on a statue of the symbol of 500 years of cruelty and injustice, the fulfilling of this impulse at the expense of the only government in the history of the world to ever make any REAL attempt at returning rights to indigenous peoples is unjustifiable. Especially when, at the same moment in another area of Caracas, the mayor Freddy Bernal was signing an agreement to take down ALL of the Columbus statues in the city and replace them with statues of Chief Guaicaipuro (although Bernal admitted that the enforcement of this agreement was not solely up to him).
Chávez himself talks of the "Revolution within the Revolution". At the same time, the government line is to portray the O12 prisoners as extremists. By all accounts, this is not accurate. The statue-toppling was carried out in broad daylight, announced and unmasked. Over 200 people have claimed collective responsibility, and their names are on the internet. This was not an angry act of vandalism. It was peaceful, principled protest. Yes, it made a lot of noise. Yes, it was illegal. Yes, they should stand trial. But they should not be in jail. As for Bernal signing such an agreement, if it is true then why is he spending public money to repair the broken Columbus statue? Why not just put it back up in pieces, as the protesters have suggested? And what exactly is the "end result" of refusing these three prisoners bail?
>The participants of the action could have been satisfied with symbolism of knocking down the statue. But they were not. They were looking for response. So they dragged the statue down to the Teresa Carreño Theater where the day’s formal celebration was happening. The National Guard of course, protected this event. Bringing the statue to the theater resulted in also bringing the Metropolitan Police who are run by the opposition and who are often in conflict with the National Guard. This was a dangerous and careless thing to do. Creating a disturbance while positioned between two rival armed forces is not only irresponsible but it would have been unforgivable if an exchange between the two would have broken out.
This is probably the most worrying part of Gable's writing. It describes an atmosphere of perpetual danger, where at any moment violence can break out and soldiers could be dragged into raging gun-fights with police, as of course has happened in the past. But for this still to be the situation, where a crowd of statue-dragging, samba-playing hippies could (but didn't) trigger off some kind of civil war, is at least at odds with most of what I've read and heard recently, especially since the referendum victory in August. To blame over-zealous protesters for "creating" such a dangerous environment surely misses the point, which is that any country proud of its democracy should be able to safeguard the security of those exercising their democratic right to protest. It is unfortunately true that in many countries, like the UK and the US, and of course Italy, where Carlo Giuliani was shot dead by an inexperienced riot cop at the Genoa 2001 demonstrations, this right is sorely lacking. It is sad that Venezuela appears not to have progressed very far beyond these countries with respect to such a basic human right as this.
>Luckily this did not happen and after some discussion between the organizers, the National Guard, and the police, the statue was confiscated by the police. At this point the participants surely had made their point AND have gotten a response. But this was not enough either. The small crowd began to taunt the police who responded, as one would expect of this notoriously trigger-happy group, with tear gas and rubber bullets. In the end a hand full of participants were detained.
I believe this is simply untrue. From all the accounts I've read and heard, the Caracas Police (under Bernal's command) fired tear-gas and rubber bullets at the peaceful crowd without warning and without provocation. The protest was winding down, the point had been made, the National Guard were standing, watching, doing nothing, when the police arrived and immediately dramatically and violently escalated the situation. Arbitrary arrests were made, particular activists (such as Roland Denis) were targeted and shot at. Indeed, this might be as one would expect, but to blame the crowd for the violence by taunting the police is disingenuous, again.
>At this point it would have made sense to wait for the situation to calm and then send a few people to talk to the police who may have released the detainees. But instead this group escalated their self-made confrontation by going to the mayor’s office expecting him to intervene and get them off the hook. Here is the worst part of the whole mess.
The writer's sudden good-faith in the police may or may not be justified, however we have come to the most important issue (that Gable assiduous obscures): that the demand is not for amnesty (or getting them "off the hook"); it is for them to be treated fairly and equally under the law, which is not too much to ask from a self-proclaimed progressive government. It is a fact that in Venezuela you can topple a government and just be held under house-arrest. If you topple a statue (of a hated and divisive figure), you are refused bail. Maybe this is because Pedro Carmona is a millionaire member of the elite, while William Escalona, Freddy Tabarquino and Jorge Freites are not. In any case, the activists who went to the mayor's office went there to demand the release of the prisoners on bail or the arrest of them all, as they were jointly responsible for toppling the statue. This is the living definition of solidarity, and the writer chooses portrays it as another type of corruption.
>Regional elections are the end of this month. The last thing the government needs right now is fighting among the ranks, especially over an act that had no objective in the first place aside from the venting of a little rage. Pleading that Freddy Bernal save them from the law is not only cowardly, but is patently an expression of a fourth republic mentality. Expecting special treatment from the government for expressing a government held sentiment through illegal means is exactly the kind of favoritism and corruption of power that the Chavez government is fighting against and it is expressedly forbidden by the rules of the Fifth Republic.
"Cowardly" is not a word I'd use about the activists who went to the mayor's office and offered their liberty in solidarity with the three. And to repeat, they were not looking for Freddy Bernal to "save" them (the notion is laughable), but to treat them fairly and equally under the law. Which among other things means releasing the three or arresting everyone who claims responsibility. To accuse them of exploiting favouritism or corruption is a little like blaming the victim for the crime, something of course that people do to Chávez all the time.
>While the perpetrators continue to claim that they are willing to take responsibility for their actions they have on the other hand continually attacked Freddy Bernal’s loyalty to the Bolivarian Revolution for not tossing aside the rule of law and coming to their rescue. Freddy Bernal is a strong supporter and friend of Hugo Chavez, and he is the mayor of a very important part of Caracas. The protesters have put both of these men in an impossible situation forcing them to take action against their own constituents. The turmoil that this fiasco has created within the Chavista camp must be making the opposition laugh with satisfaction and has undoubtedly left them wondering why they didn’t think of perpetrating such an event themselves. In fact, this has been so beneficial to their cause; it makes one wonder if the hands of saboteurs were not involved.
Pretty serious stuff, except for one thing: we all know Chávez is going to win these elections with a landslide, probably even more so than the last eight, and it really doesn't matter if Freddy loses a few votes because his cops are known to go off the deep end (just ask the numerous peaceful squatters who have been violently evicted by his thugs over recent months in Caracas). Just to put this in context, and I know I'm on the other side of the world from the intrigues of Miraflores, but as I understand it, there is no democratic opposition left in Venezuela. The CD have irrevocably split, AD are more hated than ever, and nobody else even merits a mention. Which, by the way, is a very dangerous position for any democracy to be in, even if it lets Chávez' chosen candidates off the hook.
Let us be clear, the reason for this "turmoil" is that these three activists are still in jail. And I'll make a prediction: the longer they stay in jail, the worse this "fiasco" is going to get. We know they're not being tortured, or going to "disappear" or anything like that, but from one particularly persuasive perspective, these are Bolivarian Venezuela's first political prisoners. The fact that the Bolivarian government seems to be making an example of these Bolivarian grass-roots activists by isolating them is a worrying development that will inevitably raise questions among Bolivarian solidarity campaigners worldwide, questions that will only be answered when they are finally released. The fact they are facing up to four years in prison, when Chávez himself only served two for leading a coup, might explain how ludicrous this all looks internationally.
>On this same day, in many countries around the world there were protests against governments that are still perpetuating the oppression and misery imported by the colonialists 500 years ago. This makes sense. Protesting against current colonial tendencies is valid. Protesting against colonialism in Venezuela at this time when the government itself is fervently fighting it, is not. However, demonstrating in favor of the current government’s steps to correct the atrocities of the past is. The day would have been better spent celebrating the advances of the indigenous cause brought about by the Chavez government. Or better yet, the organizers could have spent their organizing energy doing something constructive for the indigenous community such as volunteering in the Missions.
Putting aside the condescending tone (and what were +you+ doing that day, Dawn?) we get to the heart of the matter - whether the government really is "fervently fighting" colonialism in Venezuela. Many on the left would say this fight is rather taking the form of a courtship ritual, albeit with more dignity than before. Others would say (neo-) colonialism is just a fact of life in Venezuela and the Bolivarian Movement's most effective strategy is to work within this framework reforming it more favourably in the interests of the people. Whatever, in a democratic society, it is not up to one person, whoever they are, to determine what is a "valid" protest or not. A protest is validated by the act of someone carrying it out, and taking responsibility for the foreseeable consequences of their actions.
As to whether they were justified, politically, for destroying public property, that's really up to a jury. Was the statue artistic, political, or both? Was this action a form of "participatory democracy"? During the "Revolution within the Revolution", activists must be free to debate differences of opinion with their leaders when they disagree, without having to concern themselves as to whether their timing is embarrassing or if they're offending the wrong people. Especially now, when the Bolivarian government is more powerful than ever before, the grassroots have the greatest responsibility to keep their leaders on the right path, even if that means protesting against them, in the most respectful way possible.
>Many of the arguments both in support of and against this action have centered on the person of Columbus. This has nothing to do with Columbus. These arguments only serve to illuminate the immaturity and lack of political preparation of those arguing. The real question here is about tactics. Revolutionaries must not act out of pure emotion, but instead must weigh the utility of their actions in respect to the effect it will have on strengthening and advancing the Revolution. Any act that results in a weakening of the Revolution is unacceptable. Above all, Revolutionaries must know WHO their enemy is and must stay focused. This kind of deviation from the goal can and will destroy the Revolution.
In a sense, this issue is beyond Columbus, rather is it about the people's right to rise up and shape their environment in the manner they see fit. It is also about the right to challenge leadership when it loses touch with the grassroots. But it is also about a very divisive and provocative figure, who Chávez himself, as leader of the Bolivarian Movement in Venezuela, has described as "worse than Hitler". Well, when your leader says that about someone, while continuously invoking the people's revolutionary spirit to support him and his government, you have to expect that the people will eventually act. And they will do so without being given permission. And as long as they don't hurt anybody, they should be supported in this right. As Che said; "A true revolutionary is guided by feelings of great love." Again, we are not talking about mindless vandalism here, because, as admitted by the writer, above, a great deal of effort has been made to describe the political significance of their action by the organisers themselves, which isn't something vandals generally do.
What's most interesting is that, whether people agree with the statue-toppling or not, no-one on the left, and certainly no Bolivarian I've spoken with, believes that these people belong in jail. That they are still inside is the antithesis of what makes us Bolivarian or support the Bolivarian Movement. The real question, as Gable draws attention to here, is whether this action and its aftermath strengthens or weakens the peaceful, democratic revolution in Venezuela. And indeed that is a question of knowing WHO the allies and enemies of the revolution are, both in and outside of Venezuela. We'll all find out the answers soon enough, but it must be pointed out that Revolutions aren't destroyed by protesters toppling statues, rather they are started by them.