In the second installment of interviews with our sister organizations in the Patria Grande, we present Latin America in the eyes of Daniela González López, international coordinator of the Peoples’ Human Rights Observatory in Oaxaca, Mexico.
The Peoples’ Human Rights Observatory is an initiative of organized civil society to monitor, analyze and disseminate in all national and international spaces the situation of human rights and democracy in Mexico and Latin America.
What is the Latin American context in which the current attacks against Venezuela are taking place?
We are facing a scenario in which we have seen that the interventionist policy of the United States has been a constant one against our region and also against other countries of other continents in the world and I believe that they also take place within the framework of a participation of the policies of the neoliberal governments that are attacking the peoples of the world and in particular against Venezuela. That is why I believe that solidarity and the defense of the Bolivarian Revolution are very important. Because the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela is the symbol and the hope of really generating changes and profound transformations that benefit the peoples, since Comandante Chavez that has been a standard of struggle for other peoples in the world that we have been adopting the Bolivarian Revolution as the inspiration, example, vision and force to follow; that also establishes a foundation from the Chavez heart and the entire legacy of Chavez. This is what it has meant for many peoples in the world and it means a true deepening of equality, justice and above all peace for the peoples of the world.
In this search for equality, justice and peace, what challenges do we have as Left and Popular forces for the short and medium term?
We believe we have major challenges. We have a lot of work to do and above all it is fundamental that we truly deepen the construction of Latin American unity, but also global unity. An axis of this unity is the demand for the non-intervention of the United States against our peoples, fundamentally against Venezuela. Because Venezuela is today in the eye of the hurricane, it is being permanently identified and targeted, and if we allow them to harm Venezuela, they will harm all peoples, and if we allow the United States to achieve its objectives in Venezuela, we will be reversing this great revolutionary advance that we managed to build, and as left-wing forces we would experience a historic defeat. That is why it is so important that we are clear that every plan of action must also include the defense of Venezuela as a standard of struggle, which is to defend its sovereignty and above all, complete respect for its legitimate government, represented by Nicolás Maduro Moros.
It is essential that we take concrete and clear actions to defend the Bolivarian process in Venezuela. One of the great challenges we face is to agree on some general lines of work to make this defense of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela effective. I also believe that something fundamental in Latin America today is that we have to wage a permanent struggle against the war in Colombia. That is also another fundamental axis; we believe that it is one of the main strategic lines. In Columbia we have genocide, that is what the government is doing and they are effectively massacring peace, because peace in Colombia means peace for the peoples of the entire region.
Another very important axis of work is to strengthen and take possession of the discourse of the defense of human rights. Understanding human rights as a product of the just struggles that we have historically waged, and that this is a standard of struggle that imperialism has sought to take from us today, but as a people we must understand human rights as a collective defense of rights and we must reappropriate that standard of struggle.
Both in Venezuela and in the region in previous decades we knew how to advance in the construction against hegemony, we knew how to reach large layers of society in the ideas of transformation. How do we retake this hegemonic construction where ethics is a central value?
Something fundamental for a true, revolutionary construction of peoples must be based on the strategy of building and achieving popular power. In Mexico we have gained in the building of popular power on several axes though they are not a recipe. The basis of all this is the protagonist participation of the peoples, this is what is fundamental. In Mexico, in Venezuela, as in other countries in the world, we believe that this is the basis and essence of the struggles. What provides that essence and structure is effectively the construction from below, it is popular power, which is related to a new economy, a new way of doing politics, popular communication, new ideology, as well as new education and culture with new approaches, security adopted by the peoples themselves and especially in collective processes and assemblies, where the structures are truly horizontal and the processes comprehensive, where the protagonist participation and the will of the peoples are respected.
Another very important aspect to take into account is agro-ecological production, where we are promoting, through solidarity economy, collective and community cooperatives which must also be a foundation that enables us to empower our processes. In this sense, then, we consider that the construction of popular power from below can be the foundation that allows us to guarantee the life and the true consolidation of the revolutionary processes of the peoples, and in this sense, something very important, which has been an example for our organizations, has been the example of the experience of the communes and popular power in the Venezuela of the Bolivarian Revolution, which is why we believe that all this has to be deepened, so that all the processes against us can be reversed. And through this, we believe it is possible to potentiate and also give an exchange of very important ideas with different countries that have had or are carrying out construction processes, which are fundamental for our continued consolidation of this aspect of popular power in our America.
We have the challenge as a popular movement in Latin America to overcome an economic model of dependency. What steps do we have to take in the construction of a transforming economic model that is a guarantee of the social rights that are being achieved?
We believe that it should be based on an economy of solidarity, on the participation of workers through collective enterprises or cooperatives where a collective economy can really be established. We in Mexico have been promoting what we call mutualities, which are an example of collective work, in this case with a specificity. Mutuals are a working group of women. We want to be very clear that the only important element is that they are with female companions. This has always been a rule and not because our male colleagues are incapable, but experience and reality have shown us that in these mutuals priority is given to the work of women. They are small economic spaces where the women’s assembly defines the internal regulations, which determine amounts of individual and collective savings, and here we have companions and groups of companions, in different regions, different communities. Companions who collectively create groups of fifteen, twenty, fifty, one hundred. They determine training, work, savings. This board of directors is composed of a finance commission, an organization commission, and an education commission. Therefore, it is meant to be a formative, educational, and ideological process, but it is also meant to be a space to help in the family economy. We have advanced in regions where we have more experience, where our companions have already become the embryo of community banks, where the different sectors come to them to solve everyday problems, directly through popular power of women in the region.
It is a very small and humble experience and we have been sharing it since then. Interesting exchange processes have been generated with teachers who adopt this initiative in their workplaces so that they can also have an impact on the communities where they work.
We must also recover the practices of sowing and autochthonous production. To rescue the dead lands. We speak of dead lands because in Mexico the previous governments were either applying fertilizers, agrochemicals that have killed and damaged our land. Now we are in the process of healing our lands so that they become fertile on the basis of authentic agroecology and where, poor and indigenous families in Mexico can plant and produce for our own consumption. It also allows development in the cooperatives and we are going to continue to define this through a true organization of the people.
In Mexico we have this possibility with our new government, which is a legitimate government, a nationalist government, a government that gives us hope because we worked hard so we could have this government, after so many years of suffering, repression, many deaths, we have it today and it has been the product of a strong organizational struggle. Today we say that some of these axes have been proposed through different means in order to bring them to you, and we believe that collectively and jointly we can implement these axes. However, it is very important that we continue from below because it is from the humble to the more general that we are building and developing our ideas and projects.