28 July 1954-5 March 2013
The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from complications following surgery for cancer, is a huge loss to the revolutionary movement worldwide, and the Revolutionary Communist group joins with the people of Venezuela in mourning the loss of a great socialist leader.
Hugo Chavez was first elected to power in 1998, following a military coup in 1992; elected again in 2000 under the new, progressive constitution of the Bolivarian Revolution. In 2002 a US-backed coup against him was defeated as working class Venezuelans poured out of the barrios in their hundreds of thousands to defend their president. He was re-elected as president with sweeping majorities in 2006 and again in 2013.
Hugo Chavez was a political giant, under whose leadership of the Bolivarian Revolution and vision of ‘socialism for the 21st century’ the lives of ordinary working class Venezuelans were transformed. In the last ten years, Venezuela has achieved the lowest levels of inequality in the region (excluding Cuba); it has wiped out illiteracy, brought infant mortality down from 25 per 1,000 to 13 per 1,000 live births, slashed levels of extreme poverty, provided free health care and education for all, built hundreds of thousands of units of social housing and ensured that – unlike in Britain – no child goes to school hungry in the morning. Chavez built anti-imperialist alliances, first with Cuba and then, through ALBA and other trade and cooperation treaties, more widely across Latin America and the Caribbean, to challenge the hegemony of the United States and begin to create a new anti-imperialist bloc on the world stage. On the international stage, he challenged the hypocrisy and brutality of a world dominated by the interests of imperialism.
Inevitably, he has attracted the unswerving hatred of Venezuela’s middle classes and their backers in the US and Europe; the vitriol of the international bourgeois press has been relentless. The vultures of reaction have been circling ever since the seriousness of President Chavez’s condition was made public, with counter-revolutionary forces attempting to foment the destabilisation of the Bolivarian Revolution. They perpetrate the big lie - that without Hugo Chavez there can be no Bolivarian Revolution – that it lives or dies with him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the mass popular support, admiration and indeed love Chavez enjoyed as the living embodiment of the aspirations of the Venezuelan people, the Bolivarian Revolution has never been about just one man. It is a revolution being built from below, by the conscious organisation of the Venezuelan working class to transform society from one of neoliberal exploitation, hunger, sickness and poverty for the majority, to one moving towards collective, socialist organisation and production.
The Venezuelan people will not allow these vital gains to be lost. The tremendous popularity of the governing PSUV was demonstrated again in December’s regional elections, where the party won 20 out of 23 states. Under the stewardship of vice-president Nicolas Maduro and National Assembly leader Diosdado Cabello, Bolivarian revolutionaries in their own right, the Venezuelan government has begun to implement the Programa Patria manifesto on which Chavez was elected, ‘developing socialism beyond the point of no return’. The battle lines are drawn as the Venezuelan people prepare to fight tooth and nail to defend and develop that revolutionary process. We stand with all those defending the Bolivarian Revolution, mourn with them the loss of a great socialist and revolutionary, and defend the continuing struggle for socialism.
On 17 February, the Ecuadorian people overwhelmingly re-elected Rafael Correa as their president. Correa’s governing PAIS alliance took some 70% the 137 seats in the National Assembly, including six for overseas workers and three of the country’s five Andean Parliament seats Correa received 51.17% of the total vote for president, 6% more than in 2009. It was more than twice that of the runner-up, banker Guillermo Lasso (23.3%), a neo-liberal figure deeply involved in the chaos and corruption of previous governments.
It is important to understand that Correa heads an alliance that took 52.24% of the votes for the National Assembly seats (with 98% returns counted). This makes his decisions more closely tied to social movements themselves than would be the case if he were heading a traditional political party. Since first taking office in early 2007, he has directed an energetic and radical reform process. He led the rewriting of the constitution and replaced the old corrupt Congress through a Constitutional Assembly. 64% of the voters endorsed the 2008 constitution. This created new rights for women, and indigenous and disabled people. The law now requires women to account for 50% of the party lists in national legislative elections. Subsequently, women took 40 of 124 National Assembly seats in the 2009 elections (32%). Correa’s political project is the ‘Citizens Revolution’ with five axes that are: Political revolution, Economic Revolution, Ethical Revolution, Social, and finally the Sovereignty Revolution and Latin American Integration. With these postulates PAIS seeks to direct Ecuador towards 21st century socialism.
First published by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 231 February-March 2013
‘All of us here are Chávez, the people in the street are Chávez, the lady who cooks is Chávez, the soldier is Chávez…the farmer is Chávez, the worker is Chávez; we’re all Chávez.’
Elias Jaua, Minister of Foreign Relations, 10 January 2013
On 10 January, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez still recovering in Cuba from post-operative complications following surgery for cancer and unable to attend his inauguration ceremony, tens of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets in his place. With their symbolic tri-colour presidential sashes and rallying cries of ‘Yo soy Chavez!’ – ‘I am Chavez!’ and ‘Chavez is the people’, the vast crowd was proof once again that the power of the Bolivarian Revolution lies not in the hands of a single revolutionary but in the vast mass of that same Venezuelan working class which swept Chavez to a fourth presidential term in the elections of October 2012. SAM MCGILL reports.
On 17 February, the Ecuadorian people re-elected Rafael Correa as their president with 56.7% of the vote and more than twice that of the runner-up banker Guillermo Lasso (23.3%). Correa’s governing PAIS alliance took 70% the 137 seats in the National Assembly. Rock around the Blockade here republish this interview with the re-elected president conducted by New Left Review
Interview with Aleida Guevara:
Despite the propaganda surrounding Che Guevara, the Latin leader was a true revolutionary, and modern-day circumstances would have made him even more zealous to unite Latin Americans against their common foe, daughter Aleida Guevara told RT.
First published on 4 Feburary 2013 by www.revolutionarycommunist.org
On 7 December 2012 a 5-month consultation about a proposed highway to be built through Bolivia’s Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) came to an end. Of the territory’s 69 indigenous communities, 55 approved the highway, three communities rejected the proposal and 11 refused to participate in the consultation.
TIPNIS is an area of more than 1 million hectares of forest in the centre of Bolivia. It is home to 12,000 people living in 69 separate communities. In 2009 Evo Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) government designated it ‘indigenous territory’.
The proposed highway will cross north-south through TIPNIS for 32 miles of its 182-mile route. It will be the first paved road linking northwest Bolivia with the economic centre, Santa Cruz. It will mean greater access to health and education for the TIPNIS population and reduced barriers to economic development. In particular it will undermine the monopoly of Santa Cruz-based businesses in terms of access to processing goods and distributing them to the rest of the country. It is no coincidence that the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB), which supported protests against the highway, has strong links with the right-wing governor of Santa Cruz and signed an agreement guaranteeing CIDOB a place on the governership.
We are happy to report that president Hugo Chavez has today returned to Venezuela following his surgery in Cuba. We publish below a letter from Fidel Castro and send our solidarity wishes for his continued recovery.
I am extremely satisfied that you have been able to return to that piece of American land which you love so much, and to our brother people who support you so much.
A long and agonising wait, as well as your astonishing capacity for physical resistance and the total dedication of a team of doctors, as has been the case over the last 10 years, were necessary to achieve this objective.
It would be totally unfair not to mention the insurmountable dedication of your closest family members, your colleagues in the revolutionary leadership, the Bolivarian Armed Forces, who were re-armed and re-equipped by you, and the honest people of the world who have shown their support.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters joined the international media campaign of solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, echoing the Venezuelan people who came out in their tens of thousands to proudly declare 'I am Chavez, Chavez is the people!'