Our Revolution is the Instrument of the People
A Talk by William Izarra, a Central Leader of the Bolivarian Revolution
Translation by Esteban Gonzales Artega
William Izarra is Venezuela’s former deputy minister for foreign relations in the Middle East, Asia and Oceania. Commander Izarra was a central military and political leader in the armed forces led by Chavez before Chavez was first elected President of Venezuela. Izarra is presently a policy maker for the Chavez government, as well as the national director of the Centers for Ideological Formation (CFIs). He is a central leader of Bolivarian Revolution and is a veteran Marxist. He was recently on a tour on the importance of 21st Century Socialism in Vancouver and Victoria, initiated and organized by Bolivarian Society of Vancouver. Below is a copy edit of the complete speech which he gave in the SFU Harbour Centre in Vancouver. Subtitles are by Fire This Time.
Good Evening…These are didactic conferences, meant to stimulate revolutionary consciousness in Venezuela…We have called this presentation The Revolutionary Transition en Change of Structure…on the 10th of January of this year when President Chavez is sworn in for his second presidential term, that indicates the beginning of the revolutionary transition. And to make it clear for those of you who do not have a clear understanding of what the revolutionary process is we are going to divide this period in Reform and Revolution. Reform previous to 1999, the form of government of which is characterized by a pyramid, the power is concentrated in the highest strata, the vertices of the pyramid, this higher strata becomes an elite, and this generates an asymmetrical balance of power…it is characterized by the appropriation of power. So the Reform is characterized by exclusion. The foundations of the Reform are the laws of commerce. When in ’99 Hugo Chavez gains the presidency of the republic the revolutionary process begins…it begins like a ladder…the propose of which is to invert the pyramid, and that power of the power of the elites at the top must pass to be the power of the base. Where the intention is that the Citizen’s Assembly becomes the highest body of power. This is a sort of methodology of the revolutionary process, which can be a reference for other countries on the continent the take on the revolutionary process.
USING ELECTORAL SYSTEM FOR REVOLUTIONARY GOAL
As a methodology we could say there are many steps. To take on elections as a revolutionary act…In the year 1997 there is a paradigm shift, in terms of how to carry out a revolution. Up until that year revolution was carried out through violent means. But starting in the year 1997 there is a shift in the moment the electoral path is taken to make a revolution. The Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement 200 (MBR200) establishes this. To make it clear for those who might not know, MBR200 is a political movement that is born in the midst of the armed forces. And carries out its first revolutionary action in 1992 with Hugo Chavez, the February Coup. MBR200 decides in the year 1997 to participate in the elections of 1998, so the revolution is not carried out through violent means, and it is established as a new paradigm. That the MBR200 through the Fifth Republic Movement is the structure that wins the election, and for that reason, Hugo Chavez is taken to the presidential palace
The second step is the convocation of a Constituent Assembly, will make the following political clarification, an assembly constituted by delegates is not the same as a Constituent Assembly. The reason for being of the Constituent Assembly and that is the third step, to create a National Constitution. And once the new constitution is established, we begin the change of structure. At what level? At the level of social relations, power relations, and relations of production. This is the sequence that is being followed in countries guided by the Bolivarian revolutionary process.
THE TRANSITIONAL STAGES
Where does this take us? It takes us to a change of structure, that is the most important, it is the essence of the revolution…When it is decided to go to elections we break a paradigm, because up to this point revolutions were carried out violently. And paradigms…are referred to at the theoretical level, generating a new ideology that is the Socialism of the 21st Century. There is also a breaking of paradigms at the level of practice, the creation of a new state. As the regulating body of the collective of society, in Venezuela we are going towards the construction of a social-communal state. To break the paradigm of the bureaucratic state, of representative democracy based on capitalism and the laws of the market.
These paradigms take us to define what we could call a model to interpret the revolutionary process. And as a process it is the summation of moments, the sum of moments constitutes phases. A group of phases constitute stages. And the whole of the stages is the process. We apply this model to reality. An we have a ladder with let’s say twenty steps, the revolutionary process is in the third, we have gone through two phases, and one stage already surpassed…The transitional stage began the 10th of January, the second term of President Chavez…The revolutionary Bolivarian process, still a child, still has to go through many stages and phases, that being similar to the development of a biological being, will transform into an adult, but for now it is a child. And that is what the revolution searches for, at the top, the last step, the common good.
We identify then, the transitional stage, in the following manner. The transitional stage consists in turning the representative power of the elites in popular power. To turn the Citizen’s Assembly, in what will become the base of the inverted pyramid. And we define the transitional stage as the transference of power to the organized communities. It identifies the moment in which the president takes oath, and decrees the five motors, as the beginning of the transition. The motors are political activities, directed towards transferring power to organized communities. And those motors are directed towards Socialism of the 21st Century.
SOCIALISM OF THE 21st CENTURY
We ask ourselves. Socialism of the 21st Century? Breaking of paradigms? What is Socialism of the 21st Century? We can have two types of concepts. One concept is within colloquial parameters, ordinary conversation. Day to day language, dialog, we could call this one type of concept, to immediately define socialism. But we can also elaborate, conceptualize, with scientific bases, and we will do it in the briefest way possible. What is Socialism of the 21st Century? We would have to go to the roots, to understand this new universal parameter. Which has no comparison; it cannot be compared to Marxism, or with utopian socialism, or with the Soviet Union, or with Vietnam, or with China, or with Cuba. Brotherhood, alliances, and fraternity with these countries, but there political models are distinct…The inspirational foundation…has to do with three thinkers and great men, geniuses, like Bolivar, each one of them has his significance establishing the origins of this process. Simon Bolivar, what is the synthesis of the thinking of Simon Bolivar: emancipation. To break any relation of dependency. Emancipation is total freedom. Simon Rodriguez, Bolivar’s teacher, socialism already by the half of the 19th century, we had a socialist who was Simon Rodriguez, and he transmitted his ideas to the Liberator. There we have Ezquiel Zamora in the second half of the 19th century, he revolutionizes breaking ground against the oligarchy. He represents revolution. Apart from this, to the emancipation that would be socialism and revolution we add the though, the action, the attitude, of Christ, in the search for the common good. Common Good is based on the love of one’s fellow and good will. And we begin to see that Socialism of the 21st Century has a feature that separates it from the rest, that it is sustained on the spirituality of the being. And we add what could bring together rebellion, Marxism, utopian socialism: El Che. What is El Che? The new ethic of being, a new morality, a new being, El Che is the undying struggle against injustice.
Apart from the inspirational foundations are incorporated the nation’s own cultural elements: the African characteristics that Venezuelans have, and all the mixing, a consequence of the conquest, and the cultural practices that are derived from this mix. But apart from these cultural elements, there are many new tendencies in universal thought, and we add spiritual factors, that define a new position towards life and the world. This constant and permanent process generates Socialism of the 21st Century, in construction. If we look at it this way we have our first answer. What is Socialism of the 21st Century? We respond it is he continuation of the project of the Liberator Simon Bolivar. We can also say, it is the total emancipation of the people. There we have our first simple concept, easy to say. But we could complement it; taking from Christ, it is the search for the common good. But we could also say like El Che manifested. What is Socialism of the 21st Century? It is the strengthening of the ethic of the individual, to strengthen the morality of the new man. But we could also take from Hugo Chavez himself, from his international position. What is Socialism of the 21st Century? It is anti-imperialist conscience. We could have an approximation to give a more finished concept.
THE SOURCES OF INSPIRATION
The sources of inspiration, Christ, Bolivar, El Che, Hugo Chavez, if we combine these, we can the extract the fundamental components of Socialism of the 21st Century. The first and the most important, the common good, the root that feeds the process. Second, social production. Third, direct participation. If we combine these we can produce this concept. Systems that require that their components work in a coordinated manner. We could say it this way: political-economic and social-cultural system, with a humanist basis, based on the common good, social production, the direct participation of the collective in the decisions that involve the destiny and prosperity of the nation. This has to be theorized further of course.
If you have followed me, we have said the Socialism of the 21st Century is a process in construction. For example social production must still be theorized further; how to justify the state where capital equals work, because further on we have to get to the stage where work imposes conditions on capital, which would be to invert the current pyramid. Like you already know capital imposes conditions on labor.
All this conceptualization of the sate, society and it organic structure, must be at the service of the common good of the people. One example to talk about common good: in Venezuela there are still extremely poor sectors. The hill around Caracas, which are a structural problem of poverty.
We have an example for common good, how is it that beer reaches the hill…one brand named Polar, this Polar beer is conspirator, it participated in the coup five years ago, and it still continues to try to destabilize the process… we can see the trucks that go up to the hill. We have to ask ourselves: Why does the beer go up to the hill? And this is the response: to increase its sales, maximize profits. The fundamental and basic law: accumulation. Polar beer does not go up to fix the problems of the community…but, as well, doctors also go up to the hills through one of the principal missions, which is Barrio Adentro. The doctor also goes up to the hills. Why does the doctor go to the hills? The doctor goes to give attention, affection and solidarity. The doctor lives with the community in the hill, he generates expectations, hope. And that’s why we continue to form the doctor battalions, one of the most important programs of the revolutionary process. We have that comparison. Polar beer is a pragmatic and materialistic act, based on the laws of the market, capitalism. The doctor goes up to hills as a human and spiritual act, he is moved by the common good, that is socialism.
Here we have President Chavez, in this phase there are two big sectors, that the revolution must take head on, surpassing all adversities, which are many, among them the insistence of the empire of destabilizing the process. Today there are two U.S. intelligence agencies operating in Venezuela, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Strategic Command Agency for South America, the military command that currently has three plans against Latin America, let me list them, in case you don’t know them, because perhaps you don’t have an understanding of what the empire means, probably because you are in the empire, but there are three well defined plans, the Strategical Command of the South, the U.S. Military Forces capable of carrying it out, the first Puebla-Panama Plan, that goes from Mexico to Panama, control of what is called the Mesoamerican corridor, because of its resource and biodiversity. As well, Plan Colombia, and Plan Colombia has a part named Plan Venezuela, and Plan Dignity, which has as its objective the control of the Amazon. And despite these military plans, the goal of the government to strengthen the social, and political, that has to do with transition, and the change of structure.
Socially, this is directed towards strengthening the missions. The missions are the programs that are directed to include the people excluded by the previous system. In the areas of health, education, and nutrition principally. From there we have Barrio Adentro, which is health, free, to all the people who need it, including the hills, the marginalized sectors, through different stages, we are right now building and christening, many general diagnostic centers, equipped with advanced technology, to refer there people who can not pay for an operation for cancer or for a child born with a disability. Not only are they guaranteed attention, but also the operation if necessary, follow up, and medication. Our product comes from oil, and let’s point out that Venezuela possesses the largest oil reserves in the world, and there are new reserves being discovered, Monday begins a new Energy Summit in Caracas, to begin to establish the union of Latin-American countries, and to take advantage of the oil. New gas reserves have been discovered which [means that] from the fifth place; Venezuela will occupy the second place. Today the Caribbean gas pipe is being built, a project in unison with Colombia, to take gas to the Pacific and bring it closer to Asia.
The importance of Asia for polypolarity, that’s why there are alliances with Iran, a broad alliance, total identification with revolutionary governments, and with China, India, and Russia, as you know Russia is part of Europe but also part of Asia, in fact various weapon systems have been acquired from Russia, with the particularity, that all the alliances that are being made with the countries of the world, establish as a clause, the transference of technology.
I say all of this because it is from oil that all these missions are coming from. What was extracted from oil, the wealth that it generated previously, did not go to the people. It benefited the big multinational corporations, and the elite group that managed society; from the oil we are building, constructing all the missions. The network of Mercal, the markets of the people, will be breaking the monopolies that controlled food. Venezuela aside from oil is also rich in fish, nonetheless fish does not constituted an item of daily consumption, because it is also controlled by monopolies, and the commercialization of fish affects the price, which is impossible to pay. Breaking the monopolies is the first step, to generate conscience in the fishing communities, to know of this, and of course much more.
That’s where the missions come from, like Mision Ribas, where reading and writing is taught, it continues with primary education, then on to secondary, and including going to university. There has never been such a number of inscriptions for school, this through the programs and missions. There is the case of an Indigenous man of the Guayu of the Venezuelan Guajira, whose name was Aurelio, of 75 years. He took his grandchild to learn to read and write, and he stayed there too. Aureliano learned to read and write, he went on to Mision Ribas, he went to Mision Sucre, today not only does he have his university degree, but also a talent was discovered in Aurelio. Now he is a genius with the guitar, he composes music; he is a master with the guitar. And you hear him play and you look at his indigenous face and you don’t believe it, but you close your eyes and you listen to the melody. It is like a European master, that’s Aureliano, about to turn 80. Thanks to the missions a talent was discovered that otherwise would have died. So the missions also accomplish this, they discover the talent of the people. There in the people is the richness of the Socialism of the 21st Century. A there is a goal, to reduce poverty by 30% in the next four years.
UNITED SOCIALIST PARTY OF VENEZUELA
Apart from the five motors of the revolution, which stimulate the revolution, and make the revolutionary identify with the process. Because there are also false revolutionaries, who went into the ranks of the revolution with culture borrowed from the Fourth republic, of the Reform, and wear red, the color that symbolizes revolution, but his heat is not revolutionary, he is only an elite, and is there to maintain power. And there are many who are still have power, who are not revolutionary. There was a wave of purges, five years ago after the coup d’etat but there are those still incognito, soon they will be shaken of, because we are going into the centrifuge, the revolutionary converted into centrifuge. What does centrifuge mean?
Centrifuge means the revolutionary become a cog of the five motors, which is the big wheel. And has to push, contribute to move the five motors, generating actions to elevate conscience and transfer power to the organized communities. We have for, example, how this contributes to the change of structure, and the revolutionary begins the transition, looking for a shift in the power relations, social relations, and production relations. That’s why it is important to point out the new structure that is being created, The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) that has to do with the extension of the political change. The two major areas of the process: political and social. The political demands a new structure: United Socialist Party of Venezuela. Within the framework of the revolution, change of paradigm, the party as concept, as a political category, has to change. The parties of the entire world are clients in character. The parties, including those on the left, are clients, even in Europe. Moreover, I believe that in Europe there doesn’t exist a single revolutionary party, they have been subdued into the status quo, they have incorporated themselves into the establishment, they have lost their passion, the struggle for the marginalized, these are completely client structures, even those in Venezuela. And to advance the revolutionary process is t is required that this structure, the PSUV, changes paradigms. And it is not to manipulate the people to stay in power; it is to transform itself into an instrument of the people.
And what will it do as an instrument of the people? A political instrument to contribute to the emancipation of the people. This is a discussion in Venezuela today, the parties that support the revolutionary process, that somehow have gotten votes, including the Communist Party, do not want to join the PSUV. The are appealing to diversity of expression, but they are not within the conceptual framework of the revolutionary Venezuelan process. Because if they are in the revolutionary frame work they have to understand that the most important thing is not votes, or to be a leader, because he wants to be governor, that is not important, what is important is the essence the conceptual framework of the revolution. And what is the conceptual framework? Popular power. Every structure that is created has to be oriented towards the transference of power to the organized community. If they are not doing it within the conceptual framework let me make this value judgment: they are not revolutionaries. In Venezuela we are at a moment when we most detach ourselves from personalize policies, and we must go to the conceptual framework of the revolution. That’s why this instrument created by the president, that is in a process of evaluation, that is in a process of looking for members, where de concept of the spokesperson appears, the spokesperson does not rule, the assembly rules, the spokesperson simply carries the message, he says what the assembly tells him to say. This conduct also shatters paradigms. And those who are accustomed to maintain power, and not to take the people into account, of course they flee from this, from there come the importance that those who do not identify themselves with the revolutionary framework, be they called Communist Party, are representing counterrevolutionary attitudes.
CHANGES OF STRUCTURE
On the other side we also have change of structure at the state level, the social-communal state. The current state is a reformist state, therefore these structures have to be eliminated, all those structures, the mayors, the governorships, the municipal council. All these are reformist structures; we must change them…we must look for expressions, which are in the very constitution, plus the ones that are appearing, as a direct result of the action of the people. For example we have the Communal Councils, a structure where the people can exercise what is known as direct democracy. The Citizen’s Assembly, which is the highest body of power. The Social Controller, the direct control of the people of political action. Open and public accounting, these are the structures which must replace the present reformist state.
Also changes of structure in the armed forces, revolutionary armed forces, change of doctrine. Doctrine, as you already know, is a set of principals through which a team is operated, following an operational concept. Change of doctrine, we must recognize that all the armed forces of Latin America…were formed under de operational concept of the U.S. The dominating security doctrine until the fall of the Berlin Wall, was focus against communism and subversion, from the Fall of the Berlin Wall because the enemy, communism, disappears, the enemy become the masses, the people, and for this reason they continue with the same concept, and begin to attack nationalist movements. The United States considers the conscience of the people to be an asymmetric threat. All of this has to do with the new doctrine of the Venezuelan armed forces, that is the union of the people and the armed forces. Also change of structure at the level of technology. The mastering of the technology that arrives, and the creation of military science. And the new culture of the soldier that can be identified with the slogan “Socialism, Motherland, or Death”
Then the power, against the reform, which is the elite, power, is aimed towards the direct decisions of the people… the revolution is already directed to the construction of power at the level of organized communities. So then we have a overview of what the revolutionary process is in the two areas where the transitional stage is beginning, the social, to strengthen the missions and the special programs for the communities, and in the political, the change of structures in order to change the composition of society to reach the common good…this is a translation of the actual process…so that you can feel the passion, passion as a virtue, to begin the process of total identification with a process that is not materialist, it is a process sustained in spirituality. The support that Hugo Chavez gave to Bolivia and the 15 million dollars, were challenged by the opposition, because the framework of the opposition, is not based on spirituality, but on the material order of life. And they are left pointing out: “those 15 million are being lost, when we need it to fix our poverty problems.” They cannot understand the framework of the revolution, based on spirituality, and solidarity is something completely spiritual. Hopefully you can in some way serve the Bolivarian Revolutionary process, study it more. And to work here in Vancouver, to expose the media manipulation against the revolutionary process, and specifically Hugo Chavez. The greater number of you who identify with the process, and become spokespeople, and tell the Canadian people…what is happening in Venezuela, is one of the best way of aiding the Venezuelan people…to become a voice of the Venezuelan process…Greetings and thanks for coming.
Back to Article Listing