“We are going to win, win for Peace, win for Development, win for our Independence, win for our Sovereignty, led by the ideas of Hugo Chávez and guided by our Comandante Nicolás Maduro”
Address of Roy Daza of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela to the Sao Paulo Forum.
Sunday, July 16th 2017
Comrades of the Sao Paulo Forum, of the working group and of the Sandinista Front, to whom we offer many thanks for your gracious and friendly welcome, I think I can say that on behalf of everyone.
I’ve always thought that poets are magicians because they manage to put into just a few words feelings, stories, situations. For that reason I’ll start these brief reflections quoting one of Venezuela’s national poets, Aquiles Nazoa, who wrote a beautiful poem called “Credo”. I won’t read all of it because it’s very long, but a couple of lines from it very much embody Nazoa’s thought. He said, “I believe in friendship as humanity’s most beautiful invention and I believe in the creative power of the People”.
And I believe in that image of Nazoa’s because, I am convinced, it is one of the philosophical bases of what today we call Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution.
And it is one of our Revolution’s philosophical bases because precisely at the moment in 1999 when the Constituent process began, it did so on the basis not just of a national clamor from the people in response to a historic continental and world leader, Hugo Chávez, but also because it opened up the possibility to find a way of avoiding a civil war in our country.
That was exactly the objective, or one of the great objectives, of the proposal we put forward in 1998 when we said, we must refound the Republic. Refound the Republic on different economic bases, different social bases, different legal bases, but also on different moral and ethical bases because Life definitely turns on the Love and Work that make possible our lives for all of us.
That is how we understand politics. That is why, as the Bolivarian Revolution develops, it’s rationale has been to find a politics that includes the excluded, a politics creating a political and social being able to go right into the depths of the catacombs, as Comandante Chávez put it, seeking out the most humble people, the most impoverished people, seeking out urban working people and rural families, students. That is one of the our Revolution’s achievements, one that perhaps has gone unrecorded.
But the response of the Right and of the extreme Right in Venezuela is very well known and has always been precisely to attack the most valuable aspect of our Revolution which is social policy, the attention to making a priority of our citizens and thus the most precious thing in our revolution is, above all, the construction of a representative, participatory, protagonist democracy. We don’t stick to a single, limited concept of democracy and that has historic significance which is why it’s important to explain so as to show what the situation is right now in this moment we are living through, why it is as it is, an extremely difficult conjuncture for the Chavista movement, for the revolutionary movement in Venezuela.
With the loss of our Leader, his physical absence, our indestructible leader Hugo Chávez, we had to face a new reaction of great strength from the right wing and the imperialist powers. And this coincided with an economic situation which, independently of the problems we may have had and independently even of any errors we may have committed, it would be really irresponsible of any serious analyst not to understand that a sudden dramatic fall of oil prices from US$84 per barrel in 2014 to US$32 in 2016 and 2017 meant a serious problem in terms of a fall in our oil production and exports.
Being an oil exporting country has advantages, but also disadvantages when oil prices fall and when markets shrink and we have had to confront a triple set of circumstances. Namely, the unfavorable international economic situation for oil exporting countries, the typical approach of a new US government characterized by an extremely hostile stance towards us and also we have had to face an extremely aggressive domestic campaign from the right wing using violent, unconstitutional means, despite the government keeping open every legal opening for political interaction. They have used that unconstitutional approach over the last few months, starting right after the Organization of American States meeting that tried to ring fence Venezuela and isolate it, something they tried in three meetings without success, trying to win a decision to diplomatically and politically isolate Venezuela, to which the accompanying internal response by the opposition was to increase the violence.
I want to recognize in a small way here the governments in the OAS that stood by the flag of dignified Latin American patriotism, in favor of Venezuela’s sovereignty, the governments of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ecuador, Bolivia thus reaffirming our own valiant government. The opposition plan failed in the OAS and they also had a plan via the institutional route, not exactly the same as what happened in Brazil but similar, seeking via disruptive institutional manipulation of Venezuela’s constitution to overthrow the government using what they call a soft coup, as if any coup can be soft if it overthrows a government. And what happened to that soft coup attempt was the same as has always happened over the last 18 years. Venezuela’s democracy demonstrated that it does not allow soft, silent coups.
So then the alternative for the right wing was to launch themselves into the streets, calling for shutting the country down with blockades in different parts of some cities. We should admit that to begin with the situation was extremely difficult with entire cities paralyzed and we need to recognize that for a while things were really difficult until the people of Venezuela themselves began to understand what was happening and to disbelieve the media disinformation campaign which only really works overseas, and not so well inside the country. So the people began to react progressively and that includes, I must say, that part of the population not committed to our revolutionary process but which now is rising up against the violence, against the guarimbas, against the fascism that is trying to take power in our country.
Faced with the street blockades and the terrible economic boycott our country suffers we cannot develop negotiations of our debt arrangements in order to ease living conditions. We face a financial boycott and a trade boycott when, as all of you know, one of our coutnry’s economic characteristics is that it depends on imports. We have met basic needs and covered indispensable necessities, at the same time meeting every challenge so that this year there’s been a slow recovery, still quite weak, but we have emerged from the extremely critical situation in 2016 and just at that point we faced this triple menace of street violence, diplomatic and financial boycott and the so called soft institutional coup.
We faced that situation starting in early April and, not by chance, coinciding with another meeting of the OAS. Since then we have been living a new political moment in which our country is in a serious and very difficult situation. We had many options and we studied and analyzed all of the possible scenarios of what was happening and what might happen tomorrow, what might happen in a month’s time, including the open announcement of some opposition leaders that they were working for a direct intervention of the United States and of US troops in our country. That’s not just street gossip or rumor. They state it openly and publicly without any shame.
Faced with that, President Maduro acted and continues to act just as Chávez would have done. President Maduro took a decision and we could put it in Venezuelan but you wouldn’t understand…In Venezuela we say about a decision of that kind, “we aren’t playing Rosalind, this is a a roped steer in a crowded square…” In other words, we said we’ll go for broke, we’ll call a National Constituent Assembly and put what to do about our country’s national crisis in the hands of Venezuela’s people so our people can decide what path to take, a decision taken by the Venezuelan people.
Obviously, back in 2002 the right wanted to install a dictatorship in our country and we remember that. None of us, comrades, should forget that they have already tried installing a dictatorship once and now they think they can install a new dictatorship. Now, faced with a dictatorship, we insist on democracy, we insist on a Constituent Assembly. Faced with war and violence, we insist on peace. That is the policy of our Bolivarian government, that is the policy we are promoting and precisely at this point we are saying to US President Donald Trump, our President Nicolas Maduro has just said this again, that he is ready to sit down and talk, to dialog directly with the US government. Yes, we are ready for dialog, so long as it on the basis of equality with respect for the sovereignty of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. In that regard, our justice system just took an important step which it is necessary to mention because it is important, it has just extended house arrest to a very well known opposition leader, Leopoldo López.
In the decree issued by former US President Barack Obama, the decree declares that Venezuela is an unusual and outstanding threat to the national security of the United States. If it were not so serious one might laugh, but it is far from funny. That measure taken by one of the powers of State in the US has led to more and more violence in our country by the right wing despite the points agreed between the opposition and the government signed in December of last year. It is a good document on which to base a set of talks and on which it is possible to establish a political dialog with everything up for discussion. We don’t exclude anything.
All we demand is that the talks are not held by the government as the government or by our party as the PSUV but that we hold those talks in the name of Venezuela’s families and citizens so that, in God’s name, the opposition stop the violence, stop killing people, stop provoking, stop setting fire to buildings and setting fire to people, stop intimidating whole cities. We are ready to send delegations to all those countries that for one reason or another have taken positions against Venezuela in the meetings of the OAS. We are indeed prepared to talk with those countries and establish relations of friendship with all of them because our word is our bond. That is our philosophy, as we have shown by rising up and making it possible to establish categorically in Venezuela an enduring, profoundly, radically democratic system, socialist, revolutionary and anti-imperialist.
Finally I want to say that on July 30th there’s the election to the National Constituent Assembly and the opposition propose to mobilize thinking they can prevent voters going to the election centers. They think they can try by means of violence to stop the election of our National Constituent Assembly. I want to tell you that our government, our party and our armed forces are going to guarantee that on July 30th the election takes place of the National Constituent Assembly.
Today our party is out in the streets and it’s hard for me to be here because I’m a candidate to the National Constituent Assembly but I want to tell you that by means of a well structured campaign a movement has begun involving untold thousands of people as full participants, urban and rural workers, people out in the barrios, people unemployed, public sector workers, retired people, all of them participating in the process of the National Constituent Assembly. We are going to have a Constituent Assembly addressing all its fundamental objectives.
The first objective involves producing and carrying out a deep economic reform because we know the economic crisis is not just momentary but structural and that is why we have called a National Constituent Assembly. Because this is another historic moment we are living through. Secondly, we are staking everything on Peace and Democracy and we will demonstrate for Latin America and this Sao Paulo Forum, to the whole world that the people of Venezuela make our revolution peacefully, democratically, using pacific, constitutional means in order to work out our political discussions.
They say that Bolivar was a difficult person and it may well be that Venezuela is itself a difficut country. And it’s true we are going through difficulties, but there’s one thing our party and our people have made impossible for imperialism to achieve, even with all its media power and all its broad offensive, added to the complex economic situation we all know about. Right now we are more united than ever, ready for the struggle. Right now, the information I am getting about the electoral dry run held today is that the election centers are overflowing with people voting and the same will happen on July 30th. We are going to win, win for Peace, win for Development, win for our Independence, win for our Sovereignty, led by the ideas of Hugo Chávez and guided by our Comandante Nicolás Maduro.
Comrades, Forward to Victory Always!