|Venezuela’s President Chavez speaking to a boy dressed in a traditional Venezuelan outfit during his weekly telelvision program Aló Presidente.|
Credit: Prensa Presidencial
Caracas, Venezuela, July 11, 2005—A country cannot have a revolution without culture affirmed Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, yesterday during his weekly television and radio program Aló Presidente after unveiling the newly-created Mission Culture. “Without a cultural process, there cannot be a revolution. A revolution that is not accompanied by a cultural impulse designed to empower our roots, propels ideas, rescues costumes…a revolution that does not include that is not a revolution.”
Mission Culture is a social mission created by the Chavez government to stimulate cultural creativity within the Venezuelan people. The mission also contributes to the deepening of participatory democracy. According to Chávez, as the opportunities to participate in educational and cultural activities expand, Venezuelans will become more in touch with their native values and stop holding US values, such as materialism, in such high esteem. “Only through our culture can we link our counter-hegemonic movements,” Chávez affirmed added that “a process without ideas or philosophy would be as if the lights went out.”
Over the course of the past three years, the government’s social missions have considerably deepened. Over 1.4 million people have learned to read and write; over 30% of Venezuelans shop at government subsidizes supermarkets and a quarter of a million people are participating in endogenous development cooperatives. However, Chávez warned that the transformation of Venezuela cannot continue to limit itself to the social and economic spheres and that it must focus its energy on cultural ambit as well.
Mission Culture dates back to October, 2004, when the National Culture Council (CONAC) signed an agreement with the University Simón Rodríguez to develop an innovative educational proposal to decentralize and democratize culture. Thus far, 14,000 ‘activators,’ or university students, have signed up as leaders of the mission and are currently undergoing training.
These ‘activators’ will meet in groups of four on a weekly basis with a facilitator to develop different proposals in areas such as music, theater and dance for each municipality, district and neighborhood in the country. They will then directly contact communities throughout all of Venezuela and work with them to stimulate their intellectual ideas and develop their creative and artistic abilities.
Through this initiative, these students will earn their university degrees and graduate as educators for social development and the Venezuelan people will develop a more profound sense of what it means to be Venezuelan. “This is an organic network that makes contact with the people; it is a system capable of responding to them,” stated the Venezuelan Minister of Culture, Francisco SestoBy the end of the year, it is expected that 28,000 university students will have become ‘activators’ of the cultural program.