[News] Goliath Is Not Invincible
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 4 12:28:06 EDT 2020
Is Not Invincible: The Twenty-Third Newsletter (2020).
June 4, 2020 - Vijay Prashad
[image: Comando Creativo, History is watching us, Bellas Artes, Caracas,
Comando Creativo, *History is watching us*, Bellas Artes, Caracas, 2011.
Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research
Last year, I walked
with Mariela Machado in her housing complex known as Kaikachi in the
neighbourhood of La Vega (Caracas, Venezuela). After Hugo Chávez was
inaugurated president in 1999, a group of working-class residents of the
city saw an empty piece of land and occupied it. Mariela and others went to
the government and said, ‘We built this city. We can build our own houses.
All we want are machines and materials’. The government supported them, and
they built a charming multi-story complex that houses ninety-two families.
Across the road is a middle-class apartment building. Sometimes, Mariela
told me, the people from that building throw trash into Kaikachi. ‘They
want us to be evicted’, she says. If the Bolivarian governments fall, she
points out, a government of the oligarchy will take the side of those
residents, evict the families – mainly Afro-Venezuelans – who built the
housing development, and hand it over to a landlord. This, she says, is the
nature of her struggle, a class struggle to defend the precious gains of
the poor against the oligarchy.
[image: Marisol, Culture Head, 1975.]
Marisol, *Culture Head*, 1975.
Everywhere you go amongst the Venezuelan working class and the urban poor,
you are greeted with an effusive identity: *Chavista*. This word is used by
women and men who are loyal to Chávez, certainly, but also to the
Bolivarian Revolution that his election inaugurated. Revolutions are
difficult; they must chip away at hundreds of years of inequality; they
must erode cultural expectations and build the material foundations for a
new society. Revolutions, Lenin wrote
are ‘a long, difficult, and stubborn class struggle, which, after the
overthrow of capitalist rule, after the destruction of the bourgeois
state…does not disappear…but merely changes its forms and in many respects
becomes fiercer’. Hunched shoulders must straighten and aspirations beyond
the most basic needs must be met. That was the agenda put on the table by
Chávez. Initially, oil revenues provided the resources for these dreams –
both within Venezuela and across the Global South
– but then oil prices collapsed
in 2015, which impacted the ability of the Venezuelan state to deepen
revolutionary change. But the revolutionary process did not weaken.
>From 1999, the main oil and mining companies tried their best to
delegitimise the revolutionary process in Venezuela. They did this not only
to access the resources of Venezuela, but also to make sure that the
Venezuelan example of resource socialism did not inspire other countries.
In 2007, for instance, Peter Munk, the head of Canada’s Barrick Gold
wrote an inflammatory letter to the *Financial Times* with the title ‘Stop
Chavez’ Demagoguery Before it is Too Late’. Munk compared Chávez to Hitler
and Pol Pot, saying that such ‘autocratic demagogues’ should not be
permitted to function. What bothered Munk – and executives of mining
companies such as him – is that Chávez was carrying out a ‘step-by-step
transformation of Venezuela’. What was the nature of this step-by-step
transformation? Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution were taking resources
away from the likes of Barrick Gold and diverting their wealth to benefit
not only the Venezuelan people, but also the people of Latin America and
elsewhere. This resource socialism had to be destroyed.
[image: Comando Creativo, ‘This is our homeland’ / Tenemos patria. Macuro,
Comando Creativo, ‘This is our homeland’ / *Tenemos patria.* Macuro, Sucre.
In 2002, the United States – with funds provided by the National Endowment
for Democracy and USAID – attempted a coup d’état against Chávez. This coup
failed decisively, but it did not stop the shenanigans. In 2004, US
Ambassador William Brownfield produced a five-point plan of the embassy:
‘the strategy’s focus’, he writes
<https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06CARACAS3356_a.html>, ‘is 1)
strengthening democratic [namely oligarchic] institutions; 2) penetrating
[meaning to disorient and buy off] Chavez’ political base; 3) dividing
Chavismo; 4) protecting vital US business, and 5) isolating Chavez
These are the elements of the hybrid war
against Venezuela, a war whose tactics range from sanctions to throttling
the economy to spreading misinformation and isolating the revolutionary
process. Every attempt has been made by the United States government and
its allies (including Canada and a number of governments in Latin America)
to overthrow not just President Chávez and President Nicolás Maduro, but
also the Bolivarian revolution in its entirely. If the US and its allies
were to win such a war, there is no doubt that they would erase the
Kaikachi housing complex where Mariela Machado is a local leader.
[image: Coronashock 02_EN_quote1-1]
When I met Mariela in 2019, the US had been trying to install Juan Guaidó –
an insignificant politician inside of Venezuela up to that point – as the
president. It was people like Mariela who took to the streets on a daily
basis to resist the attempted coup and hybrid war engineered by Washington,
DC, by the transnational corporations, and by Venezuela’s old oligarchy.
Chavistas like Mariela understood very well Chávez’s comments
from 2005: ‘Goliath is not invincible. That makes it more dangerous,
because as it begins to be aware of its weaknesses, it begins to resort to
brute force. The assault on Venezuela, utilising brute force, is a sign of
weakness, ideological weakness’. What Chávez said then mirrors what Franz
Fanon wrote in *A Dying Colonialism* (1959): ‘What we are really witnessing
is the slow but sure agony of the settler mentality’ and the ‘radical
mutation’ that the revolutionary process produces in the working class.
Chavismo is the name of revolutionary energy, of the radical mutation of
the personality of the Venezuelan who is no longer willing to bend before
the oligarchy or of Washington, DC, but dignified in the struggle, is
unwilling to accept a life of submission.
During the period of the global pandemic, a sensitive world would have
united to condemn the suffocation of places like Venezuela and Iran, which
face a hybrid war from Washington, DC that has diminished their ability to
combat the virus. But, instead of ending or even suspending the hybrid war,
the United States government – and its Canadian, European, and Latin
American allies – increased their attack on Venezuela. This attack ranges
from preventing Venezuela from using the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
COVID-19 fund to accusing – without evidence – key Venezuelan leaders of
narco-trafficking to attempting to invade the country.
Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research worked closely with Ana
Maldonado of Frente Francisco de Miranda (Venezuela), Paola Estrada of the
International Peoples Assembly, and Zoe PC of Peoples Dispatch to craft
CoronaShock study no. 2: *CoronaShock and the Hybrid War Against Venezuela*
(June 2020). The text covers the hybrid war against Venezuela during 2020
and shows how – despite entreaties from the United Nations – the United
States persisted in, and even increased, its sanctions policy and military
attacks. We urge you to read this booklet, discuss it with your friends and
comrades, and circulate it widely.
Words such as ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ have been emptied of their
meaning by the hybrid war. The United States accuses Venezuela of ‘human
rights violations’ at the same time as it operates a sanctions policy that
is tantamount to a crime against humanity; the US – out of thin air –
chooses a man that it anoints as the president of Venezuela in the name of
‘democracy’ without concern for the democratic processes inside Venezuela.
Years before Chávez won his election, the Venezuelan poet Miyó Vestrini
wrote <https://granta.com/three-poems-vestrini/> about this manipulation of
*I wonder if human rights really are an ideology. Fernando, the only
alcoholic bartender who hasn’t retired, speaks in rhymes: the night is dark
and I don’t have my heart. As I understand it, he’s one of the few left who
thinks human rights are morals.*
Certainly, in Washington, DC, they treat ‘human rights’ as an instrument of
Meanwhile, five Iranian oil tankers broke what is effectively a US embargo
on Venezuelan trade to bring gasoline into the country. The first tanker,
on 24 May and the fifth, *Carnation*, came into port on 1 June. Last year,
an Iranian ship, *Grace 1*, was hijacked in Gibraltar, but this time the
United States could not provoke an incident. It helps that China and Russia
are supporting Venezuela with resources to assist in the struggle against
COVID-19, and it helps that China has made it clear that it will not allow
a regime change in Caracas. This is not enough of a shield, however;
nothing in our times seems to prevent Washington from conducting a war.
[image: Luis Cario, Now we are breathing, 2020.]
Luis Cario, *Now we are breathing*, 2020.
The streets in the US are on fire once more because of the murder of George
Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer and his accomplices
in Minneapolis. Malcolm X once said ‘That’s not a chip on my shoulder.
That’s your foot on my neck’. A week before George Floyd was murdered
João Pedro Mattos Pinto (age 14) was killed by the police in Rio de Janeiro
(Brazil) while playing in the yard of his house; a few days after his
murder, Israeli occupation forces murdered Iyad el-Hallak (age 32), who
worked in and attended a special needs school in Old Jerusalem. The foot on
the neck of George Floyd, João Pedro, and on Iyad el-Hallak is the same
foot that suffocates the Venezuelan people, who suffer each day from the
US-driven hybrid war.
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