The death of President Chavez is a big loss not only to Venezuelans but also to everyone who believes in the essential struggle to create a just society for all. But his revolution, 21st century socialism as he called it, will live on.
Hugo Chávez won’t go. Class conflict-ridden history shall not allow Chávez to go. He is part of history, part of people struggling against dispossession, exploitation and poverty, part of people struggling for democracy and dignity. ‘Those who die for life, can’t be called dead,’ said Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan vice-president. This makes Chávez live forever among the people.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez has passed away ‘after battling a tough illness for nearly two years’. A number of persons celebrated the news by honking their car horns. Reaction of his class enemies tell the cause Chávez stood for. Identity of his class enemies tells the class position Chávez chose. The cause and the class position make Chávez part of people, part of people’s history, part of class struggle toilers carry forward.
It was not his personal cause. It was a cause an old republic created with its failures, a cause determined by the society’s history. It was a cause the multitude demanded. It was a cause to which exploitation and inequality, injustice and lies, all practiced by the elites, provided the rationale. The cause was not driven by a personal vendetta.
So, Chávez stood for the excluded, for the poor, for the prisoners of poverty, for the captives of starvation. So, Chávez stood for the shackled, for those compelled to live with indignity and dishonor. So, Chávez stood for labour tied to the yoke of capital, to the yoke of capital’s dictatorship and tyranny. So, began the historic political journey by Comandante Chávez.
Thus, a ‘sin’ was committed in the court of the rich, the propertied classes, the appropriators, the land speculators, the oil wealth thieves, the world capitalist system. Hence Chávez turned on a sworn-in class enemy of the powerful, of the key keepers of property, of the custodians of undue privileges.
Chávez united workers, peasants, small and medium business people, women, indigenous communities, youths and students, professionals, members of the military, and activists and almost the entire leadership in the camp striving to make a forward journey, a new political practice for exercising national sovereignty and independence free from all external influences and interferences. He forged the largest progressive social-political force in Venezuela. Over the years, he led a struggle so that power belongs to the people, not to the rich.
He engaged the armed forces en masse into activities aimed at social protection and national development. An archaic state machine was pressed to gear a transformation process, frustrating at times, yet a challenging task.
Chávez made unique effort by cementing a Bolivarian civic-military political force relying on the people’s yearning for freedom and dignity. The aim was to reconstruct state institutions, a transformation process, and claim people’s sovereignty with the goal of transforming the social, political and state structures.
He mobilized the poor and the most excluded parts of the society. This was his constituency and strength. In response, the rich tried to flood mass psyche with lies-stuffed media, and employed Guarimba, violent mobilizations using firearms, to provoke the government to resort to repressive measures.
Despite conspiracies the people of Venezuela achieved victories over the years. The latest victories include the people’s patience and unity in the face of propaganda on the health condition of Chávez and electoral victory by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela in 20 of 23 states.
Chávez initiated unique experiments. With the existing reality these are difficult indeed. These provide people spaces for learning, getting mobilized, taking leadership roles, initiating plans, increasing awareness.
Venezuela can be called a land of cooperatives. Thousands of cooperatives are being organized in spheres of the society. There are thousands of farming cooperatives. It’s an initiative to change the way food is produced and to move towards sustainable and community-based food production. Lands expropriated from land speculators are being used to achieve food sovereignty. There are cooperatives of taxi drivers, janitors, small producers…
Chávez initiated projects for the benefit of the people, especially the poor. At the centre, it’s the Bolivarian Revolution. There are missions, projects, for heath, education. The housing program constructs dignified homes for the poor. More than half-a-million houses for the poor have already been constructed. The public housing program plans to construct two million homes in the next six years. A project of Community Urban Agriculture with an aim to produce food free of agro-chemicals by not damaging soil and recycling organic waste has been initiated. The project contributes to attaining food sovereignty and breaks down alienation in community. People are initiating ‘socialist’ direct community production enterprises. Alternative, free and community media aims at promoting feminism, gender diversity and wages an anti-patriarchal fight. There is effort to initiate a new type of policing aimed at dealing with the problem of crime through prevention and community engagement.
Mass debate over Venezuela’s Socialist Plan of the Nation 2013-2019 was initiated. People participated in hundreds of assemblies to specify the draft plan proposed by Chávez. On this plan he was re-elected as president. It’s part of the struggle he began.
The struggle, a persistent fight to collectively transform the society, goes on. Thousands of revolutionary social movements join together to consolidate the Great Patriotic Pole, a platform of all the popular organizations and political parties supporting the Bolivarian Revolution. Peasant organizations with thousands of people are struggling for ‘Democratic Radicalization’ and Land Reform, and against bureaucracy as bureaucracy sabotages socialism. It’s people’s fight against bureaucracy. Their demands include acceleration of the land reform program and the elimination of corruption and obstacles to construct of a socialist economy. Workers are struggling to run industrial units properly. They are getting mobilized.
These are part of a fight for what Chávez called 21st Century Socialism. It’s a long struggle. A bitter and longer struggle is there in the coming days. Already there are news of destabilization plans by the right wing and their international masters.
The people are rallying together to mourn the death of their president. They are expressing the defiant hope: ‘The struggle has already been ignited.’ People gathered in Plaza Bolivar, in front of Miraflores Palace, in central squares across the country voiced ‘Chávez lives, the struggle continues’, ‘people united will never be defeated’, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie ‘will never return to the Miraflores Palace’. These hopes keep Chávez alive.
It is people, their steadfastness, awareness, organization, unity that will determine the future path. The voice of the people is saying to the Comandante, Alo Presidente (Hello President), ‘Nobody is Surrendering Here’.