Statement on the Neoliberal Offensive Against the Bolivarian Revolution

Bolivarian Circle of New York “Alberto Lovera”

Statement on the Neoliberal Offensive Against the Bolivarian Revolution

May 2, 2016

The Bolivarian Circle of New York “Alberto Lovera” calls on progressive forces in the United States to stand with the sovereign peoples of Latin America against the US backed right wing offensive in the region. Now is the moment for mobilization, for uniting individual initiatives, and for overcoming sectarian divisions. This corporate offensive is going to impact the entire hemisphere, including the plight of the poor and workers in the United States. It would impose an ambitious and aggressive free trade regime, driving wages down even further and devastating ecosystems. The situation is urgent. In a matter of days President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff may be impeached under pretext of corruption. Last week, a recall referendum was initiated by the Venezuelan opposition in the midst of an economic war, to remove President Maduro from office and put an end to the Chavista project. And just five months into his first term, right wing President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, has already imposed ruthless austerity measures and ceded to the demands of the vulture funds.

All of these attacks are an expression of the New Washington Consensus which posits neoliberalism, and its flagship, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as the only acceptable economic model for the Americas, from Ottawa to Santiago. According to this imperial rationality the Consensus must be forced down the throats of  non-compliant states in the name of democracy and freedom for their peoples. In the aftermath of the signing of the TPP in Auckland, New Zealand two months ago, oligarchic interests in the region are eager to comply and have rapidly stepped up their efforts to reverse the pink tide in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia. This conservative tide also aims at the curtailment of the growing economic partnerships forged by the BRICS as well as the termination of complementary trade arrangements of ALBA and PetroCaribe. The BRICS, ALBA, and PetroCaribe promote the diversification of commercial ties and a multipolar, as opposed to a unipolar world. These associations have the potential to pose a challenge to the dominance of a TPP trading block. Such associations therefore stand in the way of the expansion of the TPP and the restoration of US hegemony in its proverbial “backyard”.

This New Washington Consensus is the antithesis of the Bolivarian project. The Bolivarian revolution is a continent wide movement with its historic roots in the independence struggle against Spain. Over the past seventeen years, the Bolivarian project has advanced regional integration and independence in order that the sovereign peoples of the Americas could develop, each in their own way, alternative democratic paths to social and economic justice.  As a result, more than a decade of left and left leaning governments have defied the neoliberal gospel and taken control of their own natural resources, lifting millions of people out of poverty, recognizing a measure of autonomy of Indigenous and Afro-descendant nations, and experimenting with more participatory forms of democracy.

These progressives alternatives, in terms of their ideals, do not conform to the the inner logic of the global capital system, and they call the moral superiority of US exceptionalism into question.  The very existence of the Bolivarian revolution, the Citizens revolution, the communal councils, and the Pluri-national state, demonstrates that history did not end in 1989.  Nor is it written in stone that the progressive cycle is nearing its end. Though still in the grip of global capital and in some cases over-dependent on extractive industry, these Bolivarian alternatives nevertheless demonstrate that there are other feasible economic and social paths forward, ones that seek a departure from the totality of the prevailing system, ones that take into account the constituent power of the sovereign peoples themselves, ones that include Indigenous and Afro-descendant voices.

The main target right now of the New Washington Consensus and its right wing allies in the region is Venezuela, which despite the economic crisis and the opposition’s victory in the December 6 legislative elections, is still the main point of reference for the Bolivarian cause.  For it was Hugo Chavez, backed by popular power, who developed the associations of Latin American and Caribbean integration: CELAC, UNASUR, ALBA, and PetroCaribe, all of which exclude the US and Canada. And it was Chavez who led the resistance to the proliferation of free trade agreements in the region. This may be one of the main reasons for Washington’s continued hostility towards Caracas.

It is important to place the bellicose posture of US policy towards Venezuela in a historical context. Washington has never been prepared to recognize the democratic legitimacy of a Bolivarian alternative in Venezuela, despite solid electoral procedures there. Moreover, President Obama has never recognized the outcome of the election of Nicolas Maduro as President. Venezuela has been subject to coup attempts, paramilitary incursions, an oil strike, a recall referendum, and a relentless US backed opposition ever since Chavez was elected President in 1998.

Obama’s renewal of an executive order last month, declaring Venezuela an extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States; the Senate’s recent extension of sanctions led by the extreme right wing Senator Marco Rubio; and Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent pronouncements against Caracas;  are all directed at buttressing the opposition in Venezuela, which is now in the midst of organizing a recall campaign against President Nicolas Maduro.  The new Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, in conformity with Washington’s New Consensus, seeks to invoke the democratic charter against Venezuela and has repeatedly expressed his selective indignation over human rights abuses in that South American nation, without giving Venezuela a sufficient forum to defend itself against the charges.. But Venezuela is not alone.  The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), whose pro tempore president is now the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, stands firmly against imperial interference in the internal affairs of Caracas or any other member state. If Dilma Rousseff is ousted in the coming days, however, the conservative wave may very well be on its way to dismembering UNASUR! This would be a great blow to the dream of establishing la gran patria (an integrated South America).

Should Maduro be ousted and the fourth republic be restored in Venezuela, a Clinton administration would likely carry the TPP torch. If we can take a lesson from the precedent of Secretary of State Clinton’s strong backing for golpismo in Honduras; if we remember her refusal to release the transcripts of her highly paid speeches to Goldman Sachs; we might suspect that her conversion to the anti-TPP position at a democratic primary debate with Bernie Sanders is not likely to last beyond the Democratic convention. Clinton has been a true believer in the neoliberal agenda. There is therefore good reason to think that if she were to become president, it is likely she would attempt to destabilize and provide the coup de grace to Bolivian and Ecuadorian democracy. These Bolivarian states have also endured coup attempts and remain in the crosshairs of the New Consensus, but they have taken the precautionary measures of banning USAID from their countries and constitutionally forbidding foreign military bases in their countries.

We must not be lulled into complacency by the tactical overtures of the Obama administration towards Cuba. There is nothing to celebrate. The embargo is still in place.  Guantanamo is still a US military base on Cuban soil, and normalization is a continuation of subversion of the Cuban revolution, now by economic, ideological and technological means. Obama’s trip to Cuba last month, with all its wishful fanfare, was followed by a trip to Argentina to salute his new and most promising ally, President Mauricio Macri. Macri, in just a few months, has implemented austerity, terminated thousands of workers, backed the invocation of the democratic charter against the government of Venezuelan, and has asked for the expulsion of Venezuela from MERCOSUR (Common Market of the South). Macri also supports inclusion of MERCOSUR in the TPP agreements.

In order to bring MERCOSUR into the TPP, regime change in Venezuela and Brazil are necessary conditions. In this context, it is no surprise that in Brazil, right wing elites have orchestrated a bogus impeachment process aimed at deposing President Dilma Rousseff. Should Rousseff be ousted a few days from now, Vice President Michel Temer, himself under investigation for corruption, would likely choose  the chair of the Goldman Sachs unit in Brazil, Paulo Leme, to take charge of the Central Bank. There are also reports that IMF official Murilo Portugal is a prime candidate for becoming Finance Minister. Should Brazil follow Argentina in a move to the right, the BRICS would lose one of its major partners and likely join forces with Macri in promoting the TPP.

The Bolivarian project in Latin America, and in particular Venezuela, is not without its faults and limitations. Despite the breach between the popular sectors and the government manifest in the December 6, 2015 legislative elections, Chavistas do not see the restoration of the infamous fourth republic as a viable alternative and will likely circle the wagons against any attack on the homeland. The survival of the Bolivarian project is vital to the possibility of of building human life-centered alternatives to neoliberalism. Now is the time to stand with our brothers and sisters to the South, and to build more bonds of solidarity and community.  In this way it may still be possible for us to join forces to construct a new world in which many worlds can fit and to avoid a return to the age of dirty wars and the dictatorship of the one percent.

Correspondence: cbalbertolovera@gmail.com

The Bolivarian Circle of New York “Alberto Lovera” is an all-volunteer run group that organizes educational forums in solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution. Alberto Lovera was a university lecturer, union leader and member of the Venezuelan Communist Party who was was arrested on 17th October 1965 by officers of Venezuelan Intelligence (DISIP), tortured for several days, and his body was found on October 27, 1965. He was assassinated during the years in which the fourth republic implemented a policy of extermination of political opponents.

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