Capitalism Is Savagery
excerpts from a speech by Hugo
Chavez at 2005 World Social Forum
ZNet, April 10, 2005
The following are excerpts from a speech
given by Hugo Chávez at Gigantinho Stadium during the 2005
World Social Forum.
Ignacio Ramonet, in his introduction,
mentioned that I am a new kind of leader. I accept this, especially
coming from a bright mind such as Ignacio's, but I am inspired
by many old leaders.
Some very old like for example Jesus
Christ, one of the greatest revolutionaries, anti-imperialists
fighters in the history of the world, the true Christ, the Redemptor
of the Poor.
Simon Bolivar, a guy that crisscrossed
these lands, filling people with hope, and helping them become
Or that Argentine doctor, who crisscrossed
our continent on a motorcycle, arriving in Central America to
witness the gringo invasion of Guatemala in 1955, one of so many
abuses that North American Imperialism perpetrated on this continent.
Or that old guy with a beard, Fidel Castro
Abreu Lima, Artigas, San Martin, O'Higgins, Emiliano Zapata, Pancho
Villa, Sandino, Morazan, Tupac Amaru, from all those old guys
one draws inspiration.
Old guys that took up a commitment and
now, from my heart, I understand them, because we have taken up
a strong commitment. They have all returned.
Today we are millions.
One of these old guys, he was being ripped
into pieces, pulled by horses from each arm and leg - Empires
have always been brutal, there are no good or bad Empires, they
are all aberrant, brutal, perverse, no matter what they wear or
how they speak. When he felt he was about to die, he shouted "I
die today but some day I'll return and I'll be millions".
Atahualpa has returned and he is millions, Tupac Amaru has returned
and he is millions, Bolivar has returned and he is millions, Sucre,
Zapata, and here we are, they have returned with us. In this filled
up Gigantinho Stadium.
About the WSF
As I said two years ago here in Porto
Alegre, in the third WSF, the World Social Forum is the most important
political event in the world.
We have come to learn and to grasp knowledge,
to soak ourselves in the passion that abounds here. We keep searching,
because as every test run, the Venezuelan process needs to be
monitored and improved; it is an experiment open to all the wonderful
experiences happening in the world.
The World Social Forum, in these five
years, has become a solid platform for debate, discussions, a
solid, wide, varied, rich platform where the greater part of the
excluded, those without a voice in the corridors of power, come
here to express themselves and to raise their protests, here they
come to sing, to say who they are, what they want, they come to
recite their poems, their songs, their hope of finding consensus.
One more militant.
I don't feel like a President, being President
is a mere circumstance. I'm fulfilling a role as many fulfill
a role in any team. I'm only fulfilling a role, but I'm a peasant,
I'm a soldier, I'm a man committed to this project of an alternative
world which is better and possible, necessary to save the Earth.
I am one more militant of the revolutionary cause.
Friends and Enemies.
I have been a Maoist since I entered military
school, I read Che Guevara, I read Bolivar and his speeches and
letters, becoming a Bolivarian Maoist, a mixture of all that.
Mao says that it is imperative, for every
revolutionary, to determine very clearly who are your friends
and who are your enemies.
In Latin America this is particularly
Path of revolution /The conscience of
I'm convinced that only through the path
of revolution we will be able to come out of this historical conundrum
in which we have been stuck for many centuries.
The South, according to Mario Benedetti
(the Uruguayan Writer) also exists. There are many revolutionaries
in North America and in Europe, but although I could be wrong,
I think that the South is where there is a greater conscience
about the need for urgent, rapid and profound change in the World.
In 1950 we had the Summit at Bandung,
where the movement of non-aligned countries was born, giving birth
to the concept of the conscience of the South.
But then, with the collapse of the Soviet
Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, as Stiglitz says the "happy
90's" were upon us, we were all apparently so happy, the
end of history, the technological age, and so the conscience of
the south was frozen, and, as an avalanche, the proposal from
the Washington consensus arrived, neocolonialism, dressed around
a dubious thesis, neoliberalism, and all those IMF policies injected
with particular venom in Latin America.
Today, at the WSF, no other space more
appropriate, it is opportune to say that to save the world one
of the first things we need is the conscience of the south.
Re-launch the conscience of the southit
is possible that many in the north don't know this, but the future
of the north depends on the south, because if we do not do what
we must, if we truly do not make a better world real, if we fail,
behind the marines' bayonets, behind the murderous bombs from
Mr. Bush, if there is not enough strength, conscience, and organization
in the south to resist the neo-imperialist attacks, if the Bush
doctrine were to impose itself the world would be destroyed.
Even before the polar caps melt and entire
countries became submerged under the waters, the planet would
see hundreds of violent rebellions. People are not going to take
peacefully the imposition of the neo-liberal model, preferring
to die fighting than of hunger.
The whip of counter-revolution.
Trotsky said that every revolution needs
the whip of a counterrevolution, and the counterrevolution whipped
us hard, with economic, media and social sabotage, terrorism,
bombs, violence, blood and death, coup d'etat, institutional manipulation,
international pressure, they tried to convert Venezuela into a
subservient country, trying to install a transnational power above
our laws, our institutions and our constitution. But the Venezuelan
people demonstrated to the oligarchy that they will never surrender.
We resisted, we defended ourselves, and
then went on the counteroffensive. As a result in 2003, for the
first time, Venezuela recuperated its oil company, which had always
been in the hands of the Venezuelan oligarchy and the North American
We were now directing almost 4 billion
dollars to social investment, education, health, micro credits,
housing, directed to the poorest. The neo-liberals say we are
throwing money away but they were giving it away to the gringos,
or shared it amongst themselves in their juicy business deals.
We have called everybody to study, grandmothers,
children, many of them living in misery, so we created a system
to give half a million grants of 100 dollars each per month. Almost
600 million per year that before was stolen from us and now is
redistributed to empower the poor so they can defeat their own
Today we also have the Missions, for
example Barrio Adentro. It is a national crusade involving everybody
, civilians, military, old, young, communities, the national and
local governments, grassroots community organizations, helped
by Revolutionary Cuba. Today there are almost 25 thousand Cuban
doctors and dentists living among the poorest, plus Venezuelan
male and female nurses. 50 million cases were seen during 2004
- that's double the Venezuelan population. Before, the money to
pay for all this left the country.
Capitalism is savagery.
Before, education was privatized. That's
the neo-liberal, imperialist plan, health systems were privatized,
that cannot be, it's a fundamental human right. Health, education,
water, energy, public services, that cannot be given to the voracity
of private capital, that denies those rights to the people, that's
the road to savagery, capitalism is savagery.
Every day I'm more convinced, less capitalism
and more socialism.
We need to transcend capitalism, but
capitalism cannot be transcended from within. Capitalism needs
to be transcended via socialism, with equality and justice, that's
the path to transcend the capitalist power.
I'm also convinced that it's possible
to do it in democracybut watch it, what type of democracynot the
one Mr. Superman wants to impose.
Although I admire Che Guevara very much,
his thesis was not viable. His guerrilla unit, perhaps 100 men
in a mountain, that may have been valid in Cuba, but the conditions
elsewhere were different, and that's why Che died in Bolivia,
a Quixotic figure.
History showed that his thesis of one,
two, three Vietnams did not work.
Today, the situation does not involve
guerrilla cells, that can be surrounded by the Rangers or the
Marines in a mountain, as they did to Che Guevara, they were only
maybe 50 men against 500, now we are millions, how are they going
to surround us Careful, we might be the ones doing the surrounding...
not yet, little by little.
Empires sometimes do not get surrounded,
they rot from inside, and then they tumble down and get destroyed
as the Roman Empire and every Empire from Europe in the past centuries.
Some day the rottenness that it carries inside will end up destroying
the US Empire.
And the great people of Martin Luther
King will be free, the great U.S. people, our brothers.
We are not yet declaring victory, but
reality shows that the process is ongoing, although we have to
nurture it every day. That's one of my sermons to my compañeros
and compañeras every day. And as Che said, we need revolutionary
efficacy, fighting bureaucratism and corruption.
2004 brought us the great political victory.
It was said that I was doing everything possible to avoid the
referendum. The neo-liberals said I was afraid of the people.
All lies. I never did anything to avoid it. But the opposition
had to abide by the constitutional requisites, collecting their
signatures within the allotted time, as our institutions mandate.
It could not be the OAS or the U.S. Government presenting the
signatures with witnesses. We won on August 15 with 60% of the
vote, much more than five years ago. Then, in the regional elections
of 10-31 we won in most of the 24 provinces up for grabs, a great
advance in the social inclusion model. An advance in the political
stage, a strengthening of our institutions, the judicial power.
Economy and Integration.
In 2003 and 2004, we saw the strengthening
of the Venezuelan economy. Manufacturing, agriculture are all
growing. For the first time in a long time we can say that we
don't have to import rice, we are self sufficient in corn, and
we will continue to rescue our agriculture, helping us attain
food sovereignty. In the war against the latifundios, we recognize
the example of the MST. They have been an example to us and to
the rest of the peasants all over the continent.
In 2004 we entered Mercosur (South American
Common Market). I am critical of its profile, but still we decided
to join. Five years ago I was criticized for being in Canada in
the Americas Summit. But I was the only one there opposing the
FTAA, because it is nothing but a colonialist project. We want
to create an alternative integrationist model, which we call Bolivarian
alternative or ALBA. This project progresses, one would want it
to be faster, but there are realities and moments, timing.
The sun rose on January 1st, 2005 and
the FTAA has gone to hell. Where is the FTAA, Mr.? The FTAA is
dead. There are little FTAAs, but the North American Empire did
not have the strength, in spite of so much pressure and blackmail,
to impose on this continent the imperialist and neocolonial model
that the FTAA represented. I do not want to overestimate the weakness
of our adversary. It would be a fatal error. But nevertheless
I think it is convenient to objectively recognize its weaknesses.
Because if one believes that the adversary is unbeatable, well,
it is unbeatable.
History has Vietnam, the Iraqi people
resisting the attack and invasion, Revolutionary Cuba forty years
later still resisting. Bolivarian Venezuela resisting for already
6 years. North American Imperialism is not invincible. Of course
it is important to know that, because there are people around
with good intentions who think that it is invincible and we cannot
even hit it with rose petals, the Empire can get angry and react.
Goliath is not invincible. That makes
it more dangerous, because as it begins to be aware of its weaknesses,
it begins to resort to brute force. The assault on Venezuela,
utilizing brute force, is a sign of weakness, ideological weakness.
This is not the same Latin America of
even five years ago. I cannot, out of respect for you, comment
on the internal situation of any other country. There in Venezuela,
particularly the first two years, many of my partisans criticized
me, asking me to go faster, that we had to be more radical. I
did not consider it to be the right moment, because processes
have stages. Compañeros, there are stages in the processes,
there are rhythms that have to do with more than just the internal
situation in every country, they have to do with the International
situation. And even if some of you make noise, I will say it:
I like Lula, I appreciate him, he is a good man, with a big heart,
a brother, a compañero, and I'm sure that Lula and the
people of Brazil, with Nestor Kirchner and the Argentine people,
with Tabarez Vazquez and the Uruguayan people, we will open the
path towards the dream of a United Latin America, different, possible.
A big hug, I love you all very much,
a big hug to everybody, Many, many thanks.
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