By Francisco Dominguez, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
On 3rd February, exactly 25 years ago, Hugo Chavez Frias was inaugurated as president of the then Republic of Venezuela. Under his political leadership it would, in less than a year, become the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, unleashing a process of radical transformation that would not only transform his country but that would catapult him and his nation into the vanguard of the struggle against neoliberalism.
In fact, the 1999 Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela was the first anti-neoliberal constitution of the whole continent after a brutal three decades of savage capitalism imposed under the dominant Washington consensus that followed the US-led military coup which ousted democratically elected president Salvador Allende in 1973.
The appeal of Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution was so strong that other countries, in their own nationally-specific ways, in what is known as the ‘Pink Tide’, followed suit by adopting similar policies to address the inequities created by capitalism in their own states.
The first Pink Tide of progressive and revolutionary governments in Latin America reduced the continent’s poverty from 48% to less than 25%, created thousands of schools and hundreds of universities, made education free at every level, built social housing for millions of poor families, massively expanded free health to dozens of millions who never had it before, recovered precious natural resources to improve the life of their inhabitants, and much more in only about a decade.
Social progress and participatory democracy, the inseparable components of the Bolivarian transformation of Venezuela, have changed not only the country’s economy and society but have also made its people active and conscious agents of the process of progressive transformation.
Since 1999, there have been well over 30 democratic electoral processes. Venezuela’s people, especially women, have been empowered through tens of thousands of dynamic grassroots bodies in charge of addressing central issues pertaining to their communities’ social wellbeing. All this has been organised around the civic-military alliance, whose overarching task is to defend the nations’ sovereignty and its right to self-determination.
Throughout these 25 years, the United States and its European and Latin American accomplices have tried every dirty trick in their interventionist playbook: violent destabilization; organizing, financing and training in domestic subversion; and foreign-led mercenary attacks in attempts to decapitate the high political and military command of the Bolivarian Revolution by assassination and terrorism.
These have been accompanied by hundreds of illegal coercive economic measures, amounting to a total economic blockade causing losses of over US$600 billion, as well as the illegal confiscation of Venezuelan assets to the tune of well over US$40 billion. In combination, since 2017 when Nicolas Maduro has been the president, this has led to the unnecessary deaths of well over one hundred thousand people. Pinochet’s military dictatorship assassinated about 5000 people in 17 years, which gives an idea of the murderous efforts aimed at demolishing the contagious threat of the Bolivarian Revolution’s good example.
Jorge Rodriguez, president of the National Assembly, has stated that throughout 2023, a year in which there were serious contacts and dialogue between the Biden administration and the Venezuelan government, the CIA, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Venezuela’s extreme right wing based in Miami attempted to assassinate president Maduro five times!
It has been the outstanding resilience of the people of Venezuela and the sterling capacity of its political leadership, both under Hugo Chávez and then Nicolas Maduro, that have defeated every imperialist effort to destroy the building of a better world for the people of Venezuela.
International solidarity continues to be as necessary as ever as Venezuela prepares for yet another general election.
President Maduro wrote in the social media: “Today we have a lot to tell the world, a lot to celebrate, and a lot to fight for. We have been and are loyal to Chávez and to this great revolutionary process of transformation of the homeland. Congratulations, my embrace and love for the comrades, for the people!”
Long live twenty-five years of Bolivarian Revolution! Ready for twenty-five more!