Bolivarian Venezuela is ready to re-elect president Hugo Chavez, thus confirming the anti-imperialist project and driving it into a socialist direction. The pre-electoral imperialist threats as well as the campaign by the internal opposition against the will of the majority of the Venezuelan people was the motive to organise the "solidarity congress for Bolivarian Venezuela and the re-election of Chavez" which was held in the German city of Duisburg on October 28 and 29.
The congress organised amongst others by the Anti-imperialist Camp was attended by important delegations from Venezuela, Latin America in general as well as Europe. Its aims were:
1) Inform about the electoral campaign and the perspectives of the popular movement under the conditions of a new mandate to Chavez.
2) Discuss the possibilities to realise the proposal of Chavez for anti-imperialist unity.
3) Exchange ideas about the meaning of "socialism of the 21st century" proclaimed by Chavez as the goal
The congress was opened by the German MP to the Bundestag, Hüseyin Aydin of the Left, and the consul of Venezuela Cà©sar Osvelio Mà©ndez González. They stressed the social gains already achieved by the "missions" (social reform programmes) as well as the importance of the international stance of Venezuela in favour of the self-determination of the people against the imperial offensive of the US.
The keynote speech was delivered by William Izarra, director of the "Centres for Ideological Formation", former vice foreign minister and veteran of the revolutionary movement within the armed forces which gave birth to Bolivarianism in Venezuela. In order to move ahead to socialism the main problem is to get rid of the inherited structure of the Fourth Republic. According to Izarra it is not enough to overturn the state institutions where the restorative, bureaucratic and anti-democratic elements still dominate, but also to endeavour a cultural change within the masses. He called upon the revolutionary movement to break with the old, worn-out paradigms. His proposal for a Unity Party of the revolution was maybe the most controversial element of his intervention. Izarra stressed the importance of the concept of people's war for the defence of his country against an imperialist attack referring to the recent experiences of the Iraqi and Lebanese resistance. He advocated an anti-imperialist bloc of the south against the permanent imperial menaces.
The congress was enriched by the presence of three outstanding leaders of different sectors of the revolutionary popular movement: Ali Ramos, National Peasant Front Ezequiel Zamora (FNCEZ); Rúben Linares, National Workers' Union (UNT) and Gonzalo Gà³mez, founder of the National Association of Free and Alternative Media (ANMCLA) as well as the independent news agency Aporrea.
The FNCEZ is the main peasant organisation fighting for the implementation of the agrarian reform with the aim of kicking off a revolutionary change in the land property relations. The FNCEZ has been waging a war against the latifundistas. But they are engaged as well in the political field struggling for the construction of a national anti-imperialist front to confront reformism within the state apparatus which is blocking the advance towards socialism. According to Ali Ramos the organised peasantry is a pillar of national defence by forming militias to fight both the internal counterrevolution, of which one spearhead are the big landowners, and imperialist intervention. Here the self-armament of the peasants converges with the new defence doctrine of president Chavez which is calling for the formation of territorial peasant guards. The FNCEZ is also operating exemplary agrarian co-operatives like "Berverà©" to experiment in the field of new social forms of production and the promotion of a new culture, of a new human being against the widespread capitalist individualism.
Another decisive sector of the revolutionary people's movement is the workers' trade union UNT. Rubà©n Linares, member of the national leadership and representative of the tendency C-CURA, defines the struggle against the privileges of the trade union leaders as a decisive element. Only those who live with their class and share their problems and dedicate themselves to the cause of the working class are worth being leaders. The Bolivarian unionism must be democratic based on elections of the functionaries by the base contrary to the old union CTV which passed over to those staging the coup d'etat of 2002. The UNT not only has to defend the workers' rights, but also the entire revolutionary process led by the president. Therefore the counterrevolutionary strike in the oil industry against the Bolivarian government instigated by the old union CTV had to be suppressed by the help of the lower stratum of oil workers as well as the rest of the working class.
Gonzalo Gà³mez is an outstanding political leader and founder of the ANMCLA. These independent media outlets, being organised by ANMCLA, played a decisive role in defence of the revolution in its most crucial moments: the putsch, the sabotage of the oil industry and the referendum. One must, however, be aware of the very fact that until now the main media outlets remain in the hands of the oligarchy. ANMCLA is struggling for more state support for the alternative media which is being held back by the bureaucracy. At the same time AMCLA is leading a campaign for the withdrawal of the licences of the big oligarchic media enterprises because of their open support to the coup d'etat. Already by now imperialism is crying because of an alleged curbing of free expression. But the reality shows the exact contrary: only when the predominant influence of the oligarchy over the media sector will be pushed back, an end to systematic manipulation can be achieved. The popular interest must have its due representation in the media which for the time being is not the case.
The sociologist Gregory Wilpert pointed out that the Bolivarian process has so far achieved several social gains for the subaltern classes but insisted that a transformation to socialism would require not only further steps suppressing the operation of market laws but also the full popular participation in state decisions.
Luz Perly Cordoba of the Peasant Organisation of Arauca (ACA), Colombia, reported about the dangerous situation in the frontal zone. While the massacres against the social opposition committed by paramilitary and governmental forces under the leadership of the president Uribe Và©lez goes on unabated, the paramilitaries also creep over the border finding its natural allies among the big landowners of Venezuela as well as the oligarchic forces. In case of an imperialist military intervention against Venezuela, Colombia and its paramilitaries certainly will not only be instrumental but a decisive factor.
The European speakers, Roberto Massari of the Che Guevara Foundation Italy and Nekane Jurado of the Basque Left, stressed that the Venezuelan experiences on the way to a socialist transformation could help in enhancing the somewhat dormant theoretical debate in Europe. Massari elaborated on the continuities and ruptures in the Latin American revolutionary processes. In the debate the meaning of the proposal of "unity party" was discussed warning of the abortive example of Eastern Europe. The Basque delegate was drawing a parallel between their conception of an "identitary socialism" supporting national, social and cultural self-determination with the Venezuelan "socialism of the 21st century".
The congress was saluted by the "Revolutionary People's Liberation Front" (DHKC) of Turkey, the revolutionary Islamic movement "Özgür Der" of Turkey, the "Portuguese Communist Party" (PCP) as well as resistir.info, a lusophone anti-imperialist internet portal. The congress was closed by singing the Venezuelan national anthem.
The Duisburg congress was conceived not exclusively as an act of solidarity and counter-information. It was held in the spirit of anti-imperialist unity against a common enemy to be globally fought paving the way for a new project of socialist emancipation. We are convinced that the revolutionary process in Venezuela will stimulate the anti-imperialist opposition in Europe helping to formulate a new anti-capitalist project against the Euro-American oligarchy. What the Venezuelan leaders consider to be the quintessence of solidarity, the support of the popular resistance against imperialism throughout the world, is being rejected widely by the European left under the pretext of Islamism, fundamentalism, terrorism, populism, nationalism etc. The historical left has been penetrated by the spirit of Western liberalism which renders the project of revolutionary anti-imperialism and the bloc with the fighting peoples of the south to one endeavoured only by a small minority. But the advance of the Bolivarian revolution can help to make it grow and to explore new political strategies. We are sure that the Duisburg congress gave a contribution to this trajectory.