“Socialism or death!” “Time is short”, states Chavez

During his speech to the recent World Social Forum held in Caracas, Chavez spoke several times about his idea of “socialism of the 21st century”. The fact that a prominent leader like Chavez even uses the word “socialism” is significant. It reflects the more general process unfolding in Venezuela and throughout Latin America.

On Friday night (January 27) some fifteen thousand enthusiastic people gathered at an anti-imperialist rally at the World Social Forum in Caracas to hear President Hugo Chavez.

The mass rally opened with the singing of The Internationale, the world anthem of proletarian revolution. This was the first time that Chavez has ever been introduced in this fashion within Venezuela and was a fitting background to his speech.

The atmosphere was electric as Chavez came to the podium thousands rose to their feet, clapping, cheering and waving flags and banners.

After waving back at the crowd, Chavez formally greeted those participating in the WSF together with the guests from different countries including Cindy Sheehan and Che Guevara’s daughter Aleida.

With these formalities over, Chavez began his speech with a history of the struggle against the Spanish domination of Latin America led by Simon Bolivar and Francisco de Miranda. He explained how Miranda, who was born in Caracas, had fought in the key three revolutions of his time: the fight for independence in the United States, the French Revolution and then the struggle for Latin American independence. The idea of these revolutionary fighters was the struggle to free and unite the whole of the continent.

Chavez talked about the resurgence of the Inca peoples and quoted Tupac Katari, who fought against the Spanish: “Today I die, but some day I will return with millions.” Chavez stressed the blood links with Africa – “our brother people” – and the rising tide of anti-imperialist struggle.

Today he pointed to the growth of anti-imperialism in Latin America and the new co-operation between the left governments, the latest between Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela. He went on to describe the revolutionary movements of the 20th century and the heroic symbols of our time, namely Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. He mentioned the anti-imperialist struggles in Asia and Africa.

“Now we have entered the 21st century”, stated Chavez. “…and now we are going to change the course of history in this 21st century. We will change the course of history...” “I believe this, I believe this is possible with each day that passes.” [Applause]

Chavez then launched a bitter attack against Bush, Mr. Danger, who talks about human rights but carries out torture in Guantanamo, and kidnapping people to secret CIA prisons in Europe and elsewhere. He described Bush as “the greatest terrorist of the world, yes in the world”. “It’s the most perverse, murderous, genocidal, immoral empire that this planet has known in 100 centuries,” Chavez said to applause. He called on all the diverse movements to unite against this threat.

He went on to explain that the imperialists are attempting to split the continent by promoting the differences between leaders like Lula, Kirchner and Tabare and the “mad left” Chavez and Fidel. “But we are going to deliver to them (the imperialists) the biggest defeat this continent has seen for 500 years.” [Applause]. “We will never be a colony of the United States.”

“There is a new consciousness in the people of the US”, stated Chavez, referring to the fight of Cindy Sheehan against the Iraq war, and describing her as “Miss Hope”. Chavez attacked Bush for abandoning the poor to suffer in the Katrina tragedy. “A government that has abandoned millions of citizens, especially the poor, the blacks, the Latinos, everyone!”

Chavez went out of his way to praise the ordinary people of the United States as the victims of the Bush Administration. “Long live the people of the United States!” “We must be clear about this”, he said.

Chavez then went on to refer to Karl Marx and how the world must be saved, including the United States, through the actions of the people. “We must unite the peoples of the Caribbean, Latin America, the peoples of Asia, Africa and Europe.”

“There are many reasons to be optimistic at the beginning of 2006, at the beginning of the 21st century”, said Chavez. He referred to the fervor of the youth and the diversity of the movement which must be brought together in a victorious offensive against imperialism.

Chavez described how the imperialists tried to corrupt him, however, he did not come to power to sell or betray the heroic people of Venezuela. The Empire is not invincible. In Iraq they have failed, or they are failing right now.

He referred to the costs of imperialist adventures, the billions of dollars wasted in military expenditure. If only these resources were used for the benefit of the people! Look what we have achieved in only a few years. Just imagine what we could achieve if the governments of the rich countries, like the United States, followed the same path with all their scientific knowledge? This could all be used to eliminate poverty, which stands at over 40 million in the US alone. Chavez then appealed to the people of the US to stand up and fight for their liberty.

Chavez stated that a plan of action was needed. Again Chavez referred to great applause to Karl Marx’s phrase “Socialism or death”, the same thing was repeated by Rosa Luxemburg. The same idea was taken up by Che and Fidel in 1960. “I believe that Karl Marx took up this phrase, quite clearly, also Rosa Luxemburg, they could see, like Bolivar, into the future”, stated Chavez. They were thinking of the future that was approaching. “We do not have a lot of time. We can’t think in terms of future centuries. It will be in this century that the question will be resolved.” He talked about the danger facing the human species and the fight for survival. Again he repeated the idea: “Time is short”. “I believe the time is now or never.”

“I believe the phrase of Karl Marx is more relevant today than ever before, so the question is: socialism or death, but death of the human race, the death of the planet, because capitalism has abandoned the planet, it is destroying the ecology of the planet”, stated Chavez. “We must raise up a new banner of socialism, a new way for the 21st century, the building of a firm movement of real socialism on the planet.”

“We want a new socialism”, but not one that copies the serious errors of the 20th century models”, a clear reference to Stalinism. He even drew parallels with the era of “primitive communism” before the Conquest and the roots of socialism. Chavez ended his speech with the slogans “Socialism or death!” and “We will Win!”

It was a bold and an historic speech which again built on the need to overthrow capitalism. It is symptomatic of the direction Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution are taking. This speech was broadcast by Telesur throughout Latin America and will certainly feed the radicalism of the masses, who are searching for a way out of the miseries of capitalism.

28 January, 2006

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