Chavez The Radical III: ‘There Will Be no “Cozying Up” with the Venezuelan Oligarchy’

This chapter, "Chávez The Radical" calls on Venezuelans to continue their historical legacy of rebellion against oligarchic rule.

Chávez The Radical III calls on Venezuelans to continue their historical legacy of rebellion against oligarchic rule. Chávez highlights the active role played by enslaved and oppressed Venezuelans in nineteenth-century liberation struggles, from the fight against Spanish rule to the landless peasants’ rebellion. Taking up arms – rifles, machetes, farm tools, or any other weapon at hand – the poor and marginalized resisted exploitation, whether by foreign colonial authorities or domestic elites. Chávez, speaking to the humble people who make up his base, calls this “our history – our seed.”

Chávez refers to Ezequiel Zamora, who led an armed insurrection against regional elites in the 1850s, fighting with the rural poor for land reform and equal rights. A liberal party member persecuted by the conservative oligarchy early in his political career, Zamora became a regional commander in the civil war on the side of the federalists, who sought to oust the conservative oligarchy from power. However, Zamora, much like Chávez, did not align squarely with the elites of either camp, federalist or conservative; his radical vision aligned with the interests of the poor. It is suspected that Zamora was shot to death as part of a plan by his closest federalist collaborators, including Juan Crisóstomo Falcón, mentioned in the video, to purge their radical allies in order to make a pact with conservative president José Antonio Páez to end the war.

These events were symbolic of a repeated theme in Venezuelan history, where conflicting elites conspire to retain their privilege and power by excluding radical movements for justice. Chávez declares in the video that he will never compromise his radical ideals in order gain privileges or power: he will fight alongside the people and either prevail or die in battle. Venezuela’s movement toward 21st century socialism is the latest manifestation of the perennial struggle of oppressed Venezuelans to overthrow their oppressors. In Chávez The Radical III, he encourages Venezuelans to recognize, study, and reconnect to these roots, in order to nourish and energize their drive to construct socialism in the face of violent resistance from the oligarchic opposition.

Translation and subtitles by Joshua Wilson.