Chavez speech to WSF in Caracas

2006-01-31

Richard Moore

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Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 09:56:00 +1100
From: glparramatta <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: GLW: Chavez speech to WSF in Caracas

http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2006/654/654p15.htm

Jim McIlroy & Chris Kerr, Caracas

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez proclaimed "socialism or
death" in finishing his rousing speech to a rally of around
10,000 people at the Polihedro Stadium on January 27. The
rally was a feature of the Latin American section of the
Sixth World Social Forum held in Caracas on January 24-29.

The forum attracted an audience of up to 100,000 people from
all over Latin America and the world, to a feast of more
than 2000 public meetings and seminars on themes of
anti-imperialist globalisation and the struggle for a better
world.

Chavez said that unlike Karl Marx, when he first issued the
call for socialism in the 19th century, "we do not have much
time left". The 21st century has now come, "when the dilemma
must be finally resolved". "Time is short. If we do not
change the world now, there may be no 22nd century for
humanity. Capitalism has destroyed the ecological
equilibrium of the earth. It is now or never!", Chavez
declared. "We should go toward setting up a worldwide
anti-imperialist movement. We have already taken steps in
this direction", Chavez told the cheering crowd. He
commented that at the previous WSF in Porto Alegre in 2005,
"many talks were occurring without conclusions. We are not
here to waste our time. We must urgently build a new
socialist movement."

Chavez blasted the US empire. "It is the most perverse
empire in history: It talks about freedom while invading and
destroying other nations ... The empire is very powerful,
but not infallible. This century we will bury the US empire.
The empire has to face the people of Venezuela and Latin
America. It has failed in Iraq already."

He urged the audience to "imagine a world in which the US
administration declares peace to the world, withdraws its
forces, and uses its resources to produce medicines and food
for the poor people of the world". Chavez contrasted the
US's record to the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution
in Venezuela, with the help of Cuba, which taught 1.5
million people to read through Mission Robinson in just two
years. "Injustice and inequality are losing: it is now up to
us to define the formula of unity for victory. We need unity
of all our currents. While respecting the right to autonomy
of the movements, including the green movement and the
various political and national movements, all of us should
get together in a victorious offensive against imperialism."

Many prominent figures in the international progressive
movement were featured on a podium, including Aleida Guevara
(Che's daughter) and Cindy Sheehan (US anti-war leader whose
son was killed in Iraq). Huge applause greeted Chavez's
speech, and the rally included a rousing rendition of the
workers' anthem, "The Internationale".

Chavez's stress on the need for urgent international
political action against global capitalism and oppression
was a major theme of the forum. The whole conference was
filled with the overwhelming influence of the Venezuelan
revolution. The "Bolivarian spirit" was pervasive from the
very first day, when around 20,000 activists marched to
launch the WSF. The lively and colourful march featured the
banners, clothing and chants of the many national
contingents, especially from Latin America. One contingent
was a group of around 15 Australians, marching with the
banner of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network and
chanting: "Chavez, friend! Australians are with you!"

A panel with speakers from the National Union of Workers,
the worker-managed Alcasa aluminum factory, organisers from
participatory budgets in Brazil, and well-known radical
intellectuals, discussed how co-management and participatory
budgeting were weapons in the struggle against capitalism
and in building a democratic socialism of the 21st century.
It also featured debate on the strengths and weakness of
these various experiments so far. Another panel of radical
Latin American economists discussed how the Latin American
integration project known as the Bolivarian Alternative of
the Americas (ALBA) was the antithesis of the US-inspired
Free Trade Area of the Americas. The panellists discussed
how ALBA gave activists a strategic and concrete alternative
to struggle for and that it must be a social integration of
peoples at every level rather than only of governments and
elites.

Another well-attended forum discussed the Marxism of Che
Guevara and its relevance. The panel concluded that while
Che's thought didn't contain all the elements of 21st
century socialism, he articulated its essence by arguing
that socialism must be centered on developing new human
beings liberated from alienation, and that this can only be
achieved through their active participation in building a
society free from capitalism and all forms of bureaucracy
and hierarchy.

Another forum discussed the massive achievements of
Venezuela's social missions in improving the lives of the
poor communities, and their role in transforming the
communities into organised, conscious and creative social
actors in constructing a new socialist Venezuela, thus
giving them a revolutionary character in a capitalist
society.

Meetings also discussed solidarity work in various countries
and plans for coordination of international solidarity
activities with the Venezuelan revolution in 2006.

The variety and breadth of topics covered the whole spectrum
of debate in the world anti-capitalist globalisation
movement. As the WSF draws toward a close, discussion is
occurring on the future of the social forum movement and the
urgent tasks facing us in the coming year.

 From Green Left Weekly, February 1, 2006.

-- 

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