Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution: “Our inspiration comes from historical struggles”
The Guardian (Australia): Nelson Davila is not your usual diplomat. He does not come from a comfortable bureaucratic position but rather from the revolutionary struggle, from the struggle of students and teachers and ultimately the process of building the Bolivarian revolution. Even before the start of the revolution he had been under the command of President Hugo Chavez. In the 1960s he was involved in the guerrilla struggle. During the ’60s and up to 1974, universities were attacked and closed down by “democratic” governments.
On June 24, Mr Davila presented his credentials to the Governor General Quentin Bryce to become officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s Ambassador to Australia. It was no slow news day — the new Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her deputy Wayne Swan were also sworn in at Government House. The day after Anna Pha had the privilege of interviewing him for The Guardian. In part 1 of the interview, Mr Davila describes the historic continuity of the Bolivarian revolution and the associated process of integration taking place in Latin America against great resistance from the US and internal reactionary forces:
Bolivar’s 200-year vision
The topic of the bicentenary is not just a formal remembrance of an historical fact as often people think of history, that history is dead and past. For us this event has an historical significance. The process of independence that took place 200 years ago was interrupted. That project was part of the revolutionary process of the 19th century, which was to create the Great Colombia, the great homeland that was an entire, united continent.
For us at this moment, that historical process of independence (and this is why we are telling the world) is of a significance equal to that of the French Revolution. From that process of independence in America many nations arose. It showed the rejection of an imperial system. It was a rejection of colonialism. It was a process of struggle that brought about unity in the continent. For that reason several countries in Latin America are celebrating the bicentenary, because it was in 1810 the declaration was made by several countries.
In the case of Venezuela it was on April 19, 1810, on which the Venezuelans organized around a progressive junta and resolved not to continue as a colony and declared against the kingdom of Spain. After that declaration was the process that we are going to celebrate next year — the act of independence. That was not an easy process. The imperialist forces of the time did not want to accept that independence.
It was necessary to go to war. In Venezuela we organized a patriotic army that was there to defend the interests of America and one of the leaders of that process of formation of the army was Simon Bolivar. That army was able to defeat the empire. The Bolivarian army fought the imperial army. They came from winning wars for the Spanish empire and our army was one that was made up of peasantry, derived from the ordinary people and was capable of defeating the imperial army.
The Spanish empire sent large numbers of troops to America and despite that the continental army was able to defeat it. There were many deaths but, in the end, we triumphed. Of course the project of developing this great continental alliance was impossible to materialise. Bolivar died in 1830, and there were several contradictions that prevented that project from being consolidated. Divisions between those nations developed.
The same process
That seems like a tale from the past, but it happens that today we are passing through the same process. We are fighting against an empire and that empire has another name — the empire of the United States, the government of the United States. There are countries in Latin America that are allies of the empire and the Bolivarian revolution has taken up the historical link from that process that happened 200 years ago and we are creating a new Latin American unity. That is the reason why the Bolivarian revolution is under attack, not just in the media but also economically and even militarily.
For example, in 2002 there was a coup d’etat against President Chavez. That was a movement supported by internal forces allied with the US and other countries seeking to stop the Bolivarian revolution from advancing.
These threats developed on a daily basis. For example, the presence of the new US bases in Colombia is a threat against the Bolivarian revolution. Those bases are not destined to prevent drug trafficking but are to put a brake on the advance of revolutionary forces on the continent.
That revolutionary struggle is happening in several parts of Latin America. All those geopolitical and strategic changes in the continent, for example what is happening in Bolivia and Ecuador, everything historical that is represented by the revolution in Cuba, the process of change in Nicaragua, all of that means the plans of the empire are not being complied with.
The Bolivarian revolution is trying to keep the unity of the continent advancing for which reason it has created different forms of unity. For example we have created this strategic alliance called ALBA [the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America]. We have strengthened the creation of UNOSUR [the Union of South American Nations], we have also created the Bank of the South and we have been trying to become incorporated into MERCOSUR [a common market of several South American countries], but going back in history there are internal enemy forces on the continent.
In the same way that Bolivar had enemies during the process of independence, in this new independence we also have enemies. For example, two days ago the Congress of Paraguay rejected the incorporation of Venezuela into MERCOSUR. This decision has thus been postponed until 2011. Despite this, Venezuela continues to advance in the process of unity, and that continental unity is not just words.
Latin American integration
It is an historical project that can be achieved. It is extended on the basis of solidarity and all those mechanisms are to provide mutual help among all the countries of Latin America. For example, Venezuela has created mechanisms of solidarity using its natural resources of oil. We have been able to create Petrocaribe which aims to create accords with Latin American countries. It is to administer oil at a different price to the international market, so as to help those countries without those natural resources.
That is Latin American integration. But that integration is not seen as positive by the United States. In this mechanism of integration there are other important countries involved, such as Argentina and Brazil. So all that current process of independence is developing at a different level rather than war. Two hundred years ago we had to fight with guns, but now we are fighting politically. We are struggling against the forces of the economy, against the mass media that every day portrays the Bolivarian revolution as a threat to the continent; that portrays President Chavez as a dictator.
This process of development of the revolution is part of the whole that we have called the Simon Bolivar Plan. It guides the Bolivarian revolution and we are beginning the process of building something new on the continent, where we are mixing elements of our history, from our predecessors, from our historical roots, and also theoretical elements of what is our political practice and historical materialism to interpret reality today. We are showing the world that capitalism is not the system that will fix the great problems of humanity. We have been saying that socialism is the political model that can help us fix the great problems that currently face humanity.
At an international level we are carrying that message as well to defeat the smear campaign against the Bolivarian Revolution. Two days ago, we had the president of the General Assembly of the United Nations in Venezuela as part of his trip to Latin America to establish which countries have fulfilled the challenges of the Millennium Goals and he congratulated Venezuela because we have fulfilled all the targets of the Millennium. That is exactly where the mass media does not say anything.
Of course, all the multinational networks of the mass media like the BBC and CNN will not show any advances of the Revolution, neither all the development we have fulfilled internally in Venezuela, nor the multi-billion investments made in our society. We have always had that wealth from the oil, but the problem of the governments prior to the revolution was that money, the product of the oil sales, disappeared among the political parties that were in government, in corruption.
Now for example, most of the profits are invested in social services. In Venezuela for example, one of the biggest attacks we face at the international level, accuses Venezuela of not having freedom of expression. That version is very difficult to believe because in Venezuela there are hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations belonging to the political opposition and every day they broadcast everything they want; all the lies against the revolution. There is no repression on the part of the government and they keep on saying that in Venezuela there is a dictatorship.
In a dictatorship there is no freedom of the media, there are no community TV or radio stations as was the case in the dictatorships in Latin America in Chile, Brazil or Argentina. For that reason, on all of those points on which they attack the revolution they do not have any solid argument.