Hugo Chavez's funeral, March 8, 2013.
[Below are statements issued by left and progressive
organisations in Africa. More will be posted as they
come to hand.]
* * *
Taking forward the revolutionary life and symbolism of hugo Rafael Chavez Frias
March 10, 2013 -- The Democratic Left Front (DLF) of South Africa joins the millions of poor and working people and their mass movements in Venezuela, the Caribbean, Latin America and across the world who celebrate the revolutionary and emancipatory life and symbolism of Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías. Since his tragic passing away on March 5, our hearts have drawn inspiration and courage from his example and symbolism.
As the 9 million people who attended his funeral on March 8 showed, Chavez represented and personified immense hope and possibility: hope for the wretched of the Earth, hope and faith in the ability of the mass of exploited and oppressed people to self-organise and challenge inordinate power relations in society, and thereby be their own liberators, and realistic hope in the possibility of constructing a socialist alternative to the barbarism of capitalism.
His unique role in history was to defiantly and positively affirm the absolute necessity of a democratic, feminist and ecological socialism relevant for the 21st century as a response to capitalism, neoliberal globalisation and imperialism.
Chavez’s public pride in his provenance from African slaves was another powerful personal statement against white supremacy and racism that remains responsible for genocide, humiliation, subjugation and oppression of indigenous peoples and descendants of black African slaves in Latin America.
During the 14 years of his democratically elected and widely popular government, Venezuela witnessed immense socioeconomic progress based on wealth redistribution. As reported in www.venezuelaanalysis.com, the facts speak for themselves: “the percentage of households in poverty fell from 55% in 1995 to 26.4% in 2009. When Chávez was sworn into office unemployment was 15%, in June 2009 it was 7.8%. Compare that to current unemployment figures in Europe.”
This was reaffirmed by a March 6 article published in the capitalist, London-based Independent newspaper (www.independent.co.uk): after 14 years of Chavez’s rule in Venezuela there are six million children who receive free meals a day; near-universal free health care has been established; education spending has doubled as a proportion of GDP; and education is free from daycare to university. Since, 2011 over 350,000 homes have been built, taking hundreds of thousands of families out of sub-standard housing in the barrios. Whilst the country remains dependent on oil, his government had begun to envisage a transition plan to structurally diversify the Venezuelan economy beyond oil. This remains a major structural challenge and vulnerability.
Thanks to its embrace of neoliberalism, Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa cannot even dream of similar transformative socioeconomic indicators, not for the last 18 years of its rule, not for any time in the foreseeable future. Venezuela’s transformative socioeconomic achievements were not made possible by the ANC kind of neoliberalism but by a redistribute economic policy which included the nationalisation of oil, telecommunications and other key strategic sectors of the Venezuelan economy with the proceeds from these nationalised enterprises redistributed to transformative socio-economic programmes in education, health and housing.
In contrast to the Bolivarian process in Venezuela, the ANC in South Africa has shaken and conceded to capitalism at every conceivable moment. Every progressive program, strategy and intention is either abandoned or rejected by the government in the face of the brutal logic of managing a capitalist state. The ANC has shied away from confronting capital and white privilege that was left largely intact when the end of apartheid was negotiated. This has resulted in a situation where the ANC leadership has adapted itself to the power of capital. No wonder then that post-apartheid capitalism is leaving a trail of hunger, poverty, anger and misery. The wealthy elite, the bosses and their hangers-on refuse to concede a single inch to the urgent needs of the majority. This is the example that Chavez stood against and actively built an alternative to.
After addressing an October 2008 international solidarity conference held in Caracas, the African socialists present there appealed to Chavez to work with popular and socialist forces here given that “Africa was now in a sorry state of its former revolutionary self”. His response was to challenge African socialists and popular movements to reclaim the essence of human liberation from below. As this African appeal and his response to it show, Chavez holds a useful mirror against which to assess the extent to which the ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and other African national liberation movements have long abandoned any hope, belief in, and commitment to socialism given their active political agency to maintain and reproduce capitalism in South Africa and other African countries that they govern.
As a response to the failure and limits of national liberation politics in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa, the DLF is a modest initiative in South Africa that seeks to support the growth and solidarity of anti-capitalist mass movements and construct an alternative eco-socialist political pole. As part of its growth, the DLF is critically studying and debating lessons, impacts, outcomes, contradictions and possible future trajectories of the Bolivarian revolutionary process that Chavez initiated and led.
Given the potent anti-capitalist symbolism that Chavez represented, it is not a surprise that capitalists, the imperialist United States of America (USA) and Europe, neoliberals, post-liberation political elites and mainstream media including the ANC-controlled South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) produced false propaganda that Chavez was a dictator, a populist and so on. Strange dictator he was: since he was first democratically elected in 1998, there have been 17 elections and referenda, all of whom were declared free and fair by international bodies, and most of which he won. He was elected with 56% of the vote in 1998, 60% in 2000, defeated a coup in April 2002 on the back of mass power, received over 7 million votes in 2006 and secured 54.4% of the vote in October 2012. Even the former US President Jimmy Carter conceded that “of the 92 elections that we've monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world”.
Beyond the state and formal democratic institutions, Chavez also opened the path to the emergence of nascent participatory democracy institutions such as communal councils with competencies to plan and allocate resources, solidarity and communal enterprises, cooperatives and financing institutions like the Women’s Development Bank.
Chavez's problem and shortcomings laid elsewhere. No social transformation or a transition to socialism can ever depend on one person or through a compromised political infrastructure in a self-declared socialist state or even in a self-proclaimed socialist party. Any such change crucially depends on the self-organised and critically conscious class power of the vast majority of poor and working people. The still-to-be achieved socialist alternative that Chavez envisioned was clearly different from Stalinism, as he grappled with how it must be based on democracy and popular participation, and how this socialist alternative must learn from the self-proclaimed ‘socialist’ but ultimately disastrous and failed statist experiments of the 20th century.
The Chavez-led revolutionary process has not yet transformed and placed all power firmly in the hands of the working class. Insufficient independence and autonomy of popular movements, the significant power held by the Chavista bureaucratic and political elite, and problems in the functioning of the state are ever-present subjective dangers. If the mass movement does not swiftly claim the example and symbolism of Chavez and deepen the revolutionary process, there is a real possibility that the Chavista bureaucratic and political elite may entrench itself and constrain the promise of liberation, solidarity, people’s power and socialism that Chavez had opened. The struggle to build a new and different kind of society continues.
Beyond these internal challenges, the Bolivarian revolutionary process faces guaranteed counter-revolution from the oligarchs in Venezuela and Barack Obama’s imperialist government in the US. The same mass forces facing the challenge to deepen the Bolivarian process internally must now also continue to organise and defend the autonomy and sovereignty of Venezuela.
The struggle continues on all fronts!
SACP statement on the passing away of Hugo Chavez
March 6, 2013 -- The South African Communist Party (SACP) has received with great sadness the news of the passing away
of Hugo Rafael Chavez, president of the Bolivarian Republic of
Venezuela. Comrade commander Hugo Chavez was a recipient of the SACP's
highest honour, the Chris Hani Peace Award, in 2009 in recognition of his
gallant fight for socialism in Venezuela and giving hope to the fighting
A socialist, a soldier of the poor and a champion for mass-based and
mass-driven socialism is no more. In his time Chavez made a huge
contribution to the development of a notion of 21st century socialism,
which was different from earlier forms of socialist experiments.
Chavez dedicated his life to an anti-imperialists agenda, was the
foremost frontline combatant against imperialist subjugation of the
world and a champion of people’s power. In word and in deed he was
living proof that indeed a just alternative to neoliberalism is
possible. He was brave and sacrificed for what he believed in and never
pleased the oppressive capitalists and their imperial masters. He worked
tirelessly for a better Venezuela, Latin America and the world. He met
his fateful day still committed to fighting for the people of Venezuela
and for the Bolivarian Revolution. The deepening crisis of capitalism
has further plunged the working class world over into deeper crisis and
strengthening the need for alternative system which is socialism.
The SACP sends its condolences to his family, the people of
Venezuela, to the leadership and the entire membership of Partido
Socialista Unido de Venezuela. In these difficult times we pledge our
solidarity and love and ask you to draw strength and courage from
knowing that what commander Chavez stood for will always be with the
people of Venezuela, the people of Latin America and the entire
progressive camp worldwide.
Chavez was a brave soldier of socialism. Lets pick his fighting spear
to continue the struggle for socialism world over
COSATU conveys profound salutations to the great legend and revolutionary, President Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias
By Bongani Masuku, COSATU international relations secretary
March 6, 2013 -- It is with a deep sense of sadness and feeling of loss that the Congess of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
and the working class of South Africa wish to convey sincere condolences
to the great sister peoples of Venezuela, the whole freedom fighting
community of Latin America, the Chavez family and all compatriots,
particularly our companeros in Cuba who were supporting him till the end
of his life, for the loss of one of the greatest sons of the Latin
American people, El Commandante Hugo Rafael Chavez.
The federation sends its sympathy and condolences to his family, the
people of Venezuela and to all his very many comrades and allies around
Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias was born into a working-class family on the July 28, 1954 in Sabaneta, Venezuela. He became a career military
officer, and led an attempted revolutionary overthrow of the corrupt and oppressive
Venezuelan political regime. On assuming power, he focused on
implementing radical reforms in the country to advance the Bolivarian
revolution (named after the great Latino freedom fighter Simon Bolivar),
which has seen the popular creation and implementation of a new
constitution, participatory democratic councils, the nationalisation of
several key industries and other related reforms that changed the lives
of Venezuelans for the better.
He was deeply loved by all who are poor, oppressed and fighting
against imperialism and the looting of the resources of the world’s
people by the few global elites led by the US, but equally, he was
deeply hated by both the ruling classes of global imperialism and their
lackeys in the form of apologists of the oppressive global empire.
Therefore, it is our firm belief as revolutionary workers that, the
history of Latin America and the global South shall be written before
and after the great legend, Hugo Chavez Frias.
In a statement released by former US president Jimmy Carter, though
ironical, points out the facts (never mind the quarters its coming from)
about the man when he said, “We came to know a man who expressed a
vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially
those people who had felt neglected and marginalized. Although we have
not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have
never doubted Hugo Chavez’s commitment to improving the lives of
millions of his fellow countrymen”.
He went on to say, “During his 14-year tenure, Chavez joined other
leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean to create new forms of
integration. Venezuelan poverty rates were cut in half, and millions
received identification documents for the first time allowing them to
participate more effectively in their country`s economic and political
Statistics on health, education and economic development point to a
substantial, if not great, leap forward for the people of Venezuela
during his tenure. This is regardless of the fact that Venezuela
registered one of the world’s worst economic declines between 1970 and
1998, the year Chavez was elected. Once again, under Chavez,
unemployment and poverty have been cut by half. Infant mortality is
falling. New clinics and hospitals are going up towards a very
comprehensive health infrastructure to serve the needs of the people of
According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR),
based in Washington, the indicators of Venezuela in their assessment of
his 10 years in power were as follows;
- The current economic expansion began when the government got
control over the national oil company in the first quarter of 2003.
Since then, real (inflation-adjusted) GDP has nearly doubled, growing by
94.7 per cent in 5.25 years, or 13.5 per cent annually.
- Most of this growth has been in the non-oil sector of the economy,
and the private sector has grown faster than the public sector.
- During the current economic expansion, the poverty rate has been
cut by more than half, from 54 per cent of households in the first half
of 2003 to 26 per cent at the end of 2008.
- Extreme poverty has fallen even more, by 72 per cent. These poverty
rates measure only cash income, and do not take into account increased
access to health care or education.
- Over the entire decade, the percentage of households in poverty
has been reduced by 39 per cent and extreme poverty by more than half.
- Inequality, as measured by the Gini index, has also fallen
substantially. The index has fallen to 41 in 2008, from 48.1 in 2003 and
47 in 1999. This represents a large reduction in inequality.
- Real (inflation-adjusted) social spending per person more than tripled from 1998-2006.
- From 1998-2006, infant mortality has fallen by more than
one-third. The number of primary care physicians in the public sector
increased 12-fold from 1999-2007, providing health care to millions of
Venezuelans who previously did not have access.
- There have been substantial gains in education, especially higher
education, where gross enrolment rates more than doubled from 1999-2000
- The labour market also improved substantially over the last
decade, with unemployment dropping from 11.3 per cent to 7.8 per cent.
During the current expansion it has fallen by more than half. Other
labour market indicators also show substantial gains.
- Over the past decade, the number of social security beneficiaries has more than doubled.
- Over the decade, the government’s total public debt has fallen from 30.7 to 14.3 per cent of
- GDP. The foreign public debt has fallen even more, from 25.6 to 9.8 per cent of GDP.
- Inflation is about where it was 10 years ago, ending the year at
31.4 per cent. However it has been falling over the last half year (as
measured by three-month averages) and is likely to continue declining
this year in the face of strong deflationary pressures worldwide.
There is no doubt he changed the face of the world and qualitatively
contributed to the shifting of the global balance of power towards
serving humanity, the environment and the poor. Apologists of
imperialism hated him, because they were willing accomplices of the
oppression of the peoples of the developing world, Africa and Latin
America, as well as Asia too. When COSATU invited him to address our
10th National Congress, there were rumblings from reactionary
opportunistic forces, calling themselves our friends in some parts of
the global North.
The selflessness, typical of Cubans, was once again, demonstrated
with such succinct and exemplary spirit in the various efforts towards
saving his life till the end. We all, as sons and daughters of a once
colonised part of the world, know and can attest to this outstanding
internationalism, sense of humaneness and love for life that the Cubans
have and always demonstrate.
In this regard,COSATU and its affiliates
shall continue supporting the struggle of the Cuban people for their
freedom from the US embargo and the release of the Cuban five from US
jails, for their quest to end state-sponsored terrorism. The NEHAWU-led
campaign in solidarity with the Cuban people should be intensified by us
all, by actively participating and also strengthening the Friends of
Cuba Society (FOCUS).
We are confident that with all the achievements of Hugo Chavez and
the heroic Venezuelan people, the world is better placed to demonstrate
that there are viable alternatives to the ruthless rule of neoliberal
imprisonment and imperialist domination. The Bank of the South,
developed by Chavez himself together with countries such as Argentina,
Bolivia. Ecuador, Paraguay and Brazil is becoming a model of an
alternative source of funding for genuine development in various of our
countries suffering from the stranglehold of the IMF and World Bank
global oligarchy and architecture of financial domination.
The defence of the Venezuelan gains and advances taking place
throughout the Latin American region is the primary task of all
revolutionaries, workers and all freedom fighters against the empire of
domination and global oppression. Humanity and the planet Earth, which
is over-heating from the ravages of capitalism’s destructiveness, have
suffered a terrible loss of a freedom fighter and soldier of justice and
Tribute from Botswana National Front
By Moeti Mohwasa, BNF information and publicity cecretary
March 7, 2013 -- The Botswana National Front has learnt with great grief and
disbelief of the death of the leader of the Venezuelan revolution, Cde
Hugo Chavez. Though Cde Chavez has been involved in a bitter war with
cancer for a while, we never anticipated his passing away at this time.
Maybe we deceived ourselves. Our respect and admiration of him and the
work he has done for the world probably blinded us from accepting that
he was not immortal. The hole that his passing away would leave made us
forget the laws of nature. We now have to live with the fact that the
champion of the poor, justice, fairness and the fight against
imperialism is no more. How death can be so cruel and unfair to the
downtrodden by snatching their man! His death marks a tragic loss not
only for the people of Bolivaria Republic of Venezuela but the left
throughout the world.
We stand in support of the people of
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela during this challenging time and
encourage them to continue on the path they set for themselves 14
years ago under the leadership of Cde Chavez. The BNF also urges the
people of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to continue with their support
for the Cuban revolution. The death of Chavez should not mean an end to
solidarity with the Cubans and other progressive peoples.
those who are fighting for justice, fairness, real and genuine
independence, he was a symbol of hope. Cde Chavez came from a humble
background. In fact humble is an understatement. Born from a big family,
he was raised by his grandmother in a mud-floor shack because his
parents were too poor to take care of all their children. He therefore
understood poverty and experienced it first hand. It was his interaction
with poverty that influenced him to fight for a better life for his
people by adopting a pro-poor development path for them.
government came up with programs that created jobs, housing and
services for the poor. A 2009 Economic and Policy Research Report
indicated that poverty was halved during the first decade of his rule.
There was a reduction in child mortality by a third. Deaths attributable
to malnutrition fell by 50% and enrolment in Colleges doubled. The
youngest ever president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela told his
people after being elected in a landslide victory in 1998 that the
resurrection of Venezuela has begun and nothing and no one can stop it.
former US President Jimmy Carter has conceded, "Chavez will be
remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for
Latin-American governments. We came to know a man who expressed a vision
to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those
people who had felt neglected and marginalised. Although we have not
agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never
doubted Hugo Chavez's commitment to improving the lives of millions of
his fellow countrymen."
He has survived an alleged US backed
attempt to overthrow him from power. The unrepentant socialist, Cde
Chavez fought hard against Imperialism and assisted other nations that
were on a similar path. He was seen as the chief antagonist of the US in
the area that it sees as its backyard. Just two days before his death,
the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela government expelled two US diplomats
from the country. Throughout his stay in power he fought against
Washington consensus and used the oil wealth of his country not to line
the pockets of a few, but to invest heavily in the upliftment of the
standard of living of the people of the Bolivaria Republic of Venezuela.
referred to the US as the "Empire" and its former president, George W.
Bush as "the devil" and "the king of vacations". Relations between his
government and the new US government under the Democrats did not improve
either. In 2011 he called for the resignation of Hillary Clinton "along
with those other delinquents working in the State Department". His
relationship with the US is described as having been icy.
The people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela have ensured Cde Chavez
continued stay in power for 14 years. His fight to assume power
and use it to improve the living standards of his people started in 1992
in a failed coup attempt that landed him in prison. Cde Chavez did not
relent in his fight against ruling class. After being pardoned, he
announced his presidential candidature in the 1998 elections. The
popularity of the policies he stood for led to his winning the elections
four times since then. In the last elections, he had an electoral
approval of 62% which is quite high by any standards.
was a man of humour and his speeches were always colourful and laced
with effective sound-bites. Even his wife could not escape his humour.
On Valentines Day in 2000 he said to her, "Masisabel, I am giving you one
tonight, get ready." He described Christopher Columbus (the Italian-born explorer) as the spearhead of the biggest invasion and genocide
ever seen in the history of humanity.
On his return from Cuba in
June 2011, where he underwent treatment, he said, "today the revolution
is more alive than ever. I feel it. I touch it.. If Christ is with us,
who can be against us? If the people are with us, who can be against
us?". He reminded the people of Venezuela, "But no one should think my
presence here means that the battle is won. No." Probably we should add
that his demise should remind us that the battle has not been won!
The left should continue on the path of ensuring a better world for our
people. A world free of poverty, squalor, wars and deprivation. This we
can achieve if we learn from Cde Chavez by depeening our collaboration
and adopt an Internationalist posture. The body of Cde Cde Chavez breathed
for the last time yesterday after 58 years, but his spirit
shall live forever.
VIVA THE SPIRIT OF CDE HUGO CHAVEZ! VIVA! LONG LIVE THE SPIRIT OF CDE CHAVEZ! LONG LIVE! VIVA THE SPIRIT OF NO SURRENDER! LONG LIVE!
Workers Congress Party of Kenya: 'More leaders like Hugo Chavez are bound to emerge from the ranks of the masses'
March 10, 2-13 -- We, the Workers Congress Party of Kenya (WCPK), unite with the workers and people of Venezuela and of the world in mourning the death of Hugo Chavez (1954-2013).
We salute Chavez as a sharp and outspoken critic of imperialism and as one of the few world leaders who dared to defy imperialism’s plunder of the world’s resources and its wars of aggression.
He united with the workers and peoples of Cuba, Bolivia and other countries in opposing and exposing imperialism in Latin America and the world.
As president of Venezuela, he implemented significant reforms and alleviated the living conditions of the workers and peoples of his beloved country. He strengthened and made accessible to the poor services like education, healthcare and housing by allocating an impressive 43.2 per cent of the national budget to these social programs.
Repudiating the neoliberal dogmas promoted by US imperialists and their allies, Chavez nationalised Venezuela’s petroleum industry and other basic industries. He showed in practice how a pro-worker and pro-people government can run basic industries with the welfare of the workers and people as its foundation stone.
He advocated revolution, the rising up of the masses to bring down the wealthy and powerful who exploit, oppress, and repress them. He advocated socialism, a society led by workers and the masses where freedom, equality and justice reign.
He remained steadfast against the attacks of US imperialism and its running dogs in Venezuela and elsewhere because he had the solid backing of the Venezuelan workers and masses who admired, respected and loved him.
Hugo’s spirit will live on. Indeed, “Those who die fighting for life cannot be called dead.” His memory is eternally enshrined in the hearts of the workers and peoples of the world. His life and struggle will continue to inspire people struggling for a world without imperialism.
We are confident that the workers and people of Venezuela will continue the struggle against imperialism and all reactionaries. Already, US imperialism is talking about a “new phase” for Venezuela, signalling new attempts to enthrone a pro-imperialist elite rule in the country. The enemies may be emboldened by Hugo’s death but their evil schemes will be frustrated by the Venezuelan masses.
Hugo died at a time when the financial oligarchs, the monopoly-capitalists, and their allies are dismally failing in solving the worst crisis of the world capitalist system since the 1930s. This year, they are organising conferences and multilateral fora in an attempt to consolidate their ranks and defend their collapsing system.
Meanwhile, more and more workers and peoples are taking this opportune moment to strike severe blows against the system just when it is at its most vulnerable, organising themselves and launching determined resistance against imperialism and their local running dogs.
More leaders like Hugo Chavez are bound to emerge from the ranks of the masses who are struggling against imperialism and all reactionaries.
Long live Hugo Chavez! Long live the workers and people of Venezuela! Onward with the revolutionary struggle for socialism! Down with imperialism and all reactionaries! Long live the workers and peoples of the world!