On Friday 24 January, representatives of progressive parties and governments from every continent met in the ministry of foreign affairs in Caracas, Venezuela to reaffirm their commitment to the struggle against imperialism and to pledge themselves to taking concrete and coordinated action to unite their various struggles into a mighty and unstoppable force.
Minister of foreign affairs Comrade Jorge Arreaza made a powerful opening speech before opening the floor to the visiting delegates, who were in town to participate in the three-day world meeting against imperialism, organised by the PSUV, Venezuela’s ruling socialist party, under the slogan ‘For life, sovereignty and peace’.
Know your enemy
Introducing his remarks, Minister Arreaza talked about the hopelessness that the peoples of Latin America felt when the Berlin Wall fell and the imperialist ideologues pronounced the ‘end of history’. People generally, and young people in particular at that time, had no understanding of the term ‘imperialism’, which seemed exclusively to be used by ‘old, bearded communists’, he said. The mass of the youth rejected what they perceived as the ‘dogmatism’ of these veteran Marxists and declined to learn from them.
But the spirit of rebellion continued nevertheless throughout this period, which was full of struggle, despite a lack of clarity regarding the character of the enemy the people were facing.
Time, said the minister, has proved the old Marxist guerrillas right. Lenin’s definition of imperialism was absolutely correct and is as relevant as ever.
What contributed to this understanding? The resistance of communist Cuba, which has shone like a beacon for Latin America’s struggling poor. The teachings of Comandante Hugo Chávez, who ‘called a spade a spade’ and never minced his words when talking about the enemy that the people faced.
And lastly, the accession to power of US president Donald Trump, who has ripped the mask from the face of imperialism, exposing the PR spin and the media lies for what they are and making perfectly clear the empire’s intention towards the oppressed and their resources.
No doubt remains in our minds, said the minister, that imperialism exists or what its character is. The system is in decline, but it is still extremely dangerous.
Venezuela today, he said, is at the epicentre of the anti-imperialist struggle in the western hemisphere, while the heroic Syrian people are leading the struggle in the east. The fight may take different forms, but it is the same struggle and we need a collective plan of action to maximise our ability to counter imperialist aggression wherever it occurs.
2019 coup attempt: a case study in imperialist intervention
In the Trump era, said Comrade Jorge, there is no longer any secrecy about imperialism’s plans and manoeuvres in Venezuela. The US openly issues its orders to the opposition forces in Venezuela, openly pays the expenses of its members and decides their strategy and tactics. The state department’s meetings with these stooges are carried out in plain sight and are well documented, down to the stipends and expenses its members receive.
The US’s coup attempt in Venezuela is a case study in imperialist interference in a sovereign country, said the minister. Its diplomatic war alone makes Al Capone look like a saint. The bullying and pressure applied to small and weak countries during the campaign to prevent Venezuela being elected to the United Nations human rights council is just one example of this diplomatic war, which has been carried out in international forums around the world.
The US threatened many states with dire consequences if they supported Venezuela’s appointment to the council, including vowing to cut aid to countries in Africa, threatening ministers of Caribbean countries and more. And yet despite all these efforts, 106 countries voted for Venezuela as opposed to 90 who succumbed to pressure and sided with the US. The struggle went on until the last moment before the vote, and many heads of state and ministers were present at the session where the vote took place to avert any underhand action in the chamber itself.
The minister outlined the many avenues of bullying and aggression by the US against Venezuela in the last two years – not only diplomatic manoeuvrings and blackmail, but also the barrage of media lies, the attacks on Venezuela’s infrastructure and economy, the theft of its assets overseas, the attempted coup via its puppet Juan Guaidó and more. But never for a second in all of this did we consider surrendering, he told the meeting.
The sanctions, he said, are a punishment beating, inflicted on Venezuela’s people for their temerity in refusing to bow to the imperialist diktat. They are meant to starve the people into rejecting their government, but they have failed. Despite the difficulties caused – shortages of food, medicine and all sorts of essential goods – the masses remain firm in their defence of the government and their defiance against imperialism.
The minister described the disbelief in US ruling circles when their coup plot came to nothing. In the event, the assembled forces were so small and unsure of themselves (the majority of the soldiers assembled with Guaidó had been duped and left following phone calls from loyal officers explaining what they were involved in) that they were dispersed with nothing more than tear gas. The remaining handful ended the day in which they had been supposed to seize state power eating jamón serrano in the Spanish embassy.
The Bolivarian government of Nicolás Maduro remains firm: there can be no talks with the US until the genocidal blockade is lifted.
Opposition in disarray as new elections approach
Meanwhile, the opposition is in disarray now that Guaidó has been revealed as a busted flush. He has recently been rejected by the majority even of anti-government forces (he has never been of any interest to the mass of Venezuelans, many of whom have never heard of him).
More than half of Venezuela’s opposition MPs are now in favour of negotiating a peace agreement with the government, contra to the orders of the puppetmasters in Washington, who are still trying to push the ridiculous idea that Guaidó, a man who has never stood in a presidential election, is the ‘legitimate president’ of Venezuela.
Speaking of the forthcoming parliamentary elections, the minister said that the anti-imperialist forces are in a strong position and owe it to the Venezuelan people to take back control of the legislative assembly that was lost five years ago, and which has in recent years done nothing but try to obstruct the work of the government, refusing to pass legislation or get on with the business of the day.
After three years of Brexit shambles in our own parliament, workers in Britain will recognise the picture the minister drew of a legislative assembly at odds with the will of the people. The coming election, he said, offered a chance to restore harmony between the arms of government and remove the mechanism of obstruction that has been so gleefully utilised by the agents of Venezuela’s imperialist-backed oligarchs.
Venezuela: one front in a world struggle against imperialism
Comrade Jorge went on to put Venezuela’s struggle back into a world context, where it is just one of many fronts in the struggle. Recently returned from a visit to Iran, he reaffirmed the need for collective solidarity against imperialist blockades and aggression, and for a vibrant and coordinated world movement against imperialism.
The last year of struggle had been fierce and extremely difficult, but Venezuela had emerged triumphant at the end of 2019. Ours is not a perfect government, said the minister, but the people support us because they know we love them and are genuinely trying to solve their problems. We couldn’t survive as we have without that support.
The battle against imperialism is one we need to win, he said. All over our continent and around the world the imperialists are trying to crush the popular movements that are springing up. And yet, the people keep struggling.
Returning to the subject of the hated US leader, he said again that President Trump has a positive side: that he perfectly embodies the selfish, thuggish, supremacist nature of imperialism – is, in fact, a perfect posterchild for all the negative values of capitalist-imperialist society. No wonder the ‘rulers of the free world’ long for a return to the days of Obama with his slick suits, fake smiles and forked tongue!
The US made a serious miscalculation in relation to Venezuela. They thought the revolution would die with Chávez, but Chávez’s programme and ideas took deep roots among the masses and in this way he could not be killed. Chávez, he said, is everywhere that workers are enjoying rights – pensions, housing, education, culture – that they did not have before.
Minister Arreaza emphasised the need for Venezuela to learn from its mistakes and setbacks. Referring to the fact that the main levers of the economy have remained in the hands of a hostile class, he said that the government could not allow the bankers and the bourgeois to continue to rule even as the popular government wins election after election.
New difficulties are surely coming, he told the assembled representatives, and we will need all of your support and solidarity, especially when it comes to breaking the hold of the imperialist media on the minds of the masses everywhere. We must build a new global network of anti-imperialist media, exchanging information directly with one another and using every means at our disposal to disseminate the truth to workers everywhere.
Despite these lies, however, the truth is asserting itself. The Bolivarian revolution has been strengthened by the battles of the past year and its leadership tempered.
The minister paid tribute to the heroism of the Syrian people and their victorious struggle against imperialist invasion, and also to Iran’s murdered general Qasem Soleimani, the scourge of Isis and the other imperialist-backed terrorists in the middle east.
The action of the US in slaying General Soleimani, and the lies that Trump told about him, had once again made it very clear that the real goal of imperialism in the middle east is not to destroy the terrorists but to save them; not to free the people of the region but to enslave them.
No doubt the puppetmasters in Washington would like to see some well-presented, nicely-spoken lady elected as president to carry on destroying the world with a smile on her face. But we must understand, he said, that the problem is the system of imperialism, not the character of the particular leader who happens to act as frontman or woman for that system.
The minister quoted with approval something his Chinese counterpart had said to him in a recent meeting: “To effectively confront our imperialist enemy, we must understand him in depth.” We must thoroughly study the nature of imperialism if we are to be successful in destroying it.
We have a lot to do, said Comrade Jorge, if we are to destroy imperialism. We must have a concrete plan of coordinated action and be able to carry it out. But this work can and must be done. We do not have another 200 years in which to try and fail. The continued existence of humanity depends upon our success.
Comrade Joti: Let us learn from Lenin how to defeat our enemy
Speaking on behalf of Britain’s communists, Comrade Joti Brar made a brief contribution to the meeting. She started by bringing solidarity to the people and government of Venezuela from communist and anti-imperialist workers in Britain, and extended these greetings in particular to the people and governments of Cuba and Syria, also struggling on the front lines of the world struggle against imperialism.
She thanked the minister for his excellent and informative speech and took the opportunity to underline three important points that he had raised.
First was the nature of Donald Trump and his presidency. It is true, she said, what the minister said about Trump having ripped the mask of respectability from the face of imperialism. His words and actions, shorn of all pretence, are teaching lessons to workers that in more stable times our rulers have taken good care they should not understand – the nature of capitalist ‘democracy’; the class nature of the state, of the media, of the judiciary and so on.
His election was a sign of the deep crisis in the world capitalist system, and of divisions amongst the ruling class in the US – divisions that are mirrored in capitalist and imperialist ruling circles all over the world.
Our party, she said, describes Trump as a loose cannon on the imperialist deck, because he is shooting in all directions, and some of his missiles are hitting his own side. Imperialism is fractured and weakening, and this provides opportunities for the anti-imperialist forces to make gains, which we must be sure to take advantage of.
Still, although imperialism is weaker than it was, we must be aware that it is still extremely dangerous in its decaying state.
The second point underlined by Comrade Joti was in relation to Lenin’s teachings on imperialism. She thanked the minister for pointing out the correctness of Lenin’s analysis and reminded the meeting that Lenin was also the first to lead a successful struggle against imperialism.
In this 150th anniversary year of Lenin’s birth, she said, let us take advantage of the opportunity to popularise the writings of Comrade Lenin amongst the masses everywhere. Let us learn from Lenin and the Bolsheviks everything we can about the nature of our enemy; let us learn from them the theory and practice of revolution; let us learn how to wage the struggle and win!
Thirdly, Comrade Joti re-emphasised the importance of a worldwide anti-imperialist movement. Our struggle is one, and indivisible, she said, agreeing with the minister’s earlier words.
In Britain, she said, the communists are working to bring an anti-imperialist consciousness to workers, explaining the importance of opposing the imperialists’ economic, military and propaganda wars against oppressed and independent countries.
Our slogans in this struggle, she said are ‘No cooperation with imperialist war’, and we pay attention not only to the physical aspects of the war machine – materials, arms and transportation etc – but also to the all-important lie machine – the propaganda that facilitates the wars and demonises leaders of peoples struggling for independence and freedom.
Comrade Joti emphasised the importance of creating a new, anti-imperialist media able to bring the truth to workers and break the hold of the corporate lie machine on their minds, and ended her contribution by emphasising the need for such a media to give full support to all those struggling against imperialism, encapsulated in the communists’ slogan of ‘Victory to the resistance!’