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Chavez closes World Social Forum with call

"Imperialism is not invincible"

Venezuela's Chavez closes World Social Forum with call to transcend capitalism

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was warmly received at the World Social
Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where he said that a radical transformation
of society can be made democratically.

By Cleto A. Sojo -

Caracas, Jan 30, 2005 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was warmly received
at the 2005 edition of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where
he held several meetings with local leaders, intellectuals and activists,
and gave the closing speech at the Gigantinho Stadium. Chavez generated
great interest among Forum participants, many of whom see Chavez and his
project of political transformations being implemented in Venezuela, as an
inspiration in the struggles for a more better world.

The Venezuelan President visited the Lagoa do Junco agrarian settlement in
Tapes set up by Brazil's Landless Movement (MST), and later held a press
conference with more than 120 media organisations, where he criticised the
U.S. government for claiming to lead a fight against terrorism while
undermining democracy in Venezuela.

Chavez highlighted the recent creation of Latin American satellite TV
network TVSur, "which will allow us to tell our people's reality in our own
words." He added that TVSur will be at the disposal of the people, not of governments.

The leader added that his country's military forces are undergoing a period
of modernisation of its weapon systems and resources, but asserted that it
is aimed at defending the country's sovereignty. "Venezuela will not attack
anybody, but don't attack Venezuela, because you will find us ready to
defend our sovereignty, and the project we are carrying forward," he added.

"The FTAA is death"

During the closing speech at the Gigantinho Stadium, the president added
that the 2005 arrived and the FTAA was not implemented. "The FTAA is death,
what they go was mini-FTAA's because the U.S. imperialism did not have the
strength to impose the neo-colonial model of the FTAA."

The President highlighted the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas
(ALBA), a proposal made by Venezuela in opposition to the Free Trade
Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), and which emphasises social and cultural
exchanges above profit-based economic deals. "We can't wait for a sustained
economic growth of 10 years in order to start reducing poverty through the
trickledown effect, as the neoliberal economic theories propose."

He praised the co-operation with Cuba, which along with several Central
American countries, receives Venezuelan oil at below market prices, in
exchange for assistance in healthcare, education, agriculture and other
areas. He highlighted that about 20.000 Cuban doctors work in Venezuela at
free medical clinics in poor neighbourhoods, and that Venezuela has used a
Cuban literacy method approved by UNESCO that has allowed more than 1.3
million Venezuelans learn how to read and write. He said Venezuela is using
Cuban vaccines, which now allow poor children to be vaccinated against
diseases such as hepatitis.

The President criticised alleged media distortions with regard to plans by
Fidel Castro and him to spread Communism in the Americas, overthrow
governments and set up guerrillas, "after 10 years it seems like we haven't
been very successful."

"Cuba has its own profile and Venezuela has its own, but we have respect for
each other, but we celebrate accords and advance together for the interest
of our peoples." He said that any aggression against either country will
have to confront the other, "because we are united in spirit from Mexico
down to the Patagonia."

Chavez said U.S.-Venezuela political relations are unhealthy because of
"permanent aggressions from there". He criticised U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice who recently asserted that Chavez was "a negative force in
the region." He said those relations will stay unhealthy as long as the U.S.
continues their policies of aggression. "The most negative force in the
world today is the government of the United States," he said.

The President criticised the U.S. government for asking other countries to
pressure Venezuela in the crisis with Colombia over the kidnapping of a
Colombian guerrilla activist in Caracas last December. "Nobody answered
their call. they are more lonely everyday." He praised the co-operation of
other Latin American countries in the resolution of the crisis, and
mentioned that Cuban President Fidel Castro held talks with Colombian
President Jorge Uribe to try to help in the resolution of the crisis. Chavez
agreed to meet Uribe early in February to settle the dispute.

"Imperialism not invincible"

Chavez added that U.S. imperialism is not invincible. "Look at Vietnam, look
at Iraq and Cuba resisting, and now look at Venezuela." In reference to the
recommendations of some of his close advisors, he said that "some people say
that we cannot say nor do anything that can irritate those in Washington."
He repeated the words of Argentine independence hero José de San Martin
"let's be free without caring about anyone else says."

"When imperialism feels weak, it resorts to brute force. The attacks on
Venezuela are a sign of weakness, ideological weakness. Nowadays almost
nobody defends neoliberalism. Up until three years ago, just Fidel [Castro]
and I raised those criticisms at Presidential meetings. We felt lonely, as
if we were infiltrated at those meetings."

He added that those ideological and economic weaknesses will continue to
increase. "Just look at the internal repression inside the United States,
the Patriot Act, which is a repressive law against the U.S. citizens. They
have put in jail a group of journalists for not revealing their sources.
They won't allow them to take pictures of the bodies of the dead soldiers,
many of them Latinos, coming from Iraq. Those are signs of Goliath's weaknesses."

"The south also exists"

He said there were old and new actors in the geopolitical map who are coming
into the scene and have an influence in the weaknesses and strengths of the
U.S. hegemony. "Today's Russia is not Yeltsin's... there is new Russian
nationalism, and I have seen it in the streets of Moscow... there is a good
president, Mr. Putin, at the wheel." He also praised China's fast economic
growth, and highlighted the new Spanish socialist government, "which no
longer bends its knees in front of U.S. imperialism."

"The south also exists... the future of the north depends on the south. If
we don't make that better world possible, if we fail, and through the rifles
of the U.S. Marines, and through Mr. Bush murderous bombs, if the is no
coincidence and organisation necessary in the south to resist the offensive
of neo-imperialism, and the Bush doctrine is imposed upon the world, the
world will go into destruction," he said.

Chavez warned of drastic weather changes that would bring catastrophic
events if no action is taken soon, in reference to uncontrolled or little
regulated industrial activity. Chavez added that perhaps before those
drastic changes take place, there will be rebellions everywhere "because the
peoples are not going to accept in peace impositions such as neoliberalism
or such as colonialism."

"The U.S. people are our brothers"

He added that all empires come to an end. "One day the decay inside U.S.
imperialism will end up toppling it, and the great people of Martin Luther
King will be set free. The great people of the United States are our
brothers, my salute to them."

"We must start talking again about equality. The U.S. government talks about
freedom and liberty, but never about equality. "They are not interested in
equality. This is a distorted concept of liberty. The U.S. people, with whom
we share dreams and ideals, must free themselves. A country of heroes,
dreamers, and fighters, the people of Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez."

Christ "revolutionary"

Chavez thanked Spanish intellectual and director of Le Monde Diplomatique
Ignacio Ramonet for saying that Chavez was a new type of leader. He said he
is inspired by old types of leaders such as Christ, whom he described as
"one of the greatest anti-imperialist fighters, the redeemers of the poor,
and own of the greatest revolutionaries of the history of the world." The
President mentioned Venezuela's independent hero Simon Bolivar, Brazil's
José Ignacio Abreu Elima, Che Guevara "the Argentine doctor that travelled
through the continent in a motorcycle and who was a witness of the U.S.
invasion of Guatemala in 1955, one of the many invasions of the U.S. empire
in this continent," and Cuban President Fidel Castro.

"Capitalism must be transcended"

"Everyday I become more convinced, there is no doubt in my mind, and as many
intellectuals have said, that it is necessary to transcend capitalism. But
capitalism can't be transcended from with capitalism itself, but through
socialism, true socialism, with equality and justice. But I'm also convinced
that it is possible to do it under democracy, but not in the type of
democracy being imposed from Washington," he said.

Chavez said that Venezuela is trying to implement a social economy. "It is
impossible, within the framework of the capitalist system to solve the grave
problems of poverty of the majority of the world's population. We must
transcend capitalism. But we cannot resort to state capitalism, which would
be the same perversion of the Soviet Union. We must reclaim socialism as a
thesis, a project and a path, but a new type of socialism, a humanist one
which puts humans, and not machines or the state ahead of everything. That's
the debate we must promote around the world, and the WSF is a good place to do it."

He added that in spite of his admiration for Argentine revolutionary Che
Guevara, he said Che's methods are not applicable. "That thesis of one, two,
or three Vietnams, did not work, especially in Venezuela."

The President cited Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky by saying that "each
revolution needs the whip of the counterrevolution to advance." He listed
actions by the opposition and the U.S. government to drive him out of power.
"But we resisted, and now have gone into the offensive. For instance, we
recovered our oil industry... In 2004, from the oil industry budget we
utilised $4 billion in social investments, education, health, micro-credits,
scholarships, and housing, aimed at the poorest of the poor, what
neoliberals call waste of money. But that is not a waste of money because it
is aimed at empowering the poor so that they can defeat poverty. He added
"that money before stayed out of Venezuela or just benefited the rich."

He criticised privatisation's by saying that "privatisation is a neoliberal
and imperialist plan. Health can't be privatised because it is a fundamental
human right, nor can education, water, electricity and other public
services. They can't be surrendered to private capital that denies the
people from their rights."

Defends Lula

Chavez defended Brazilian President Luis "Lula" Da Silva, who has been
sharply criticised by the Latin American left, and who was booed during his
speech at the World Social Forum.

"I say this from the bottom of my heart. In Venezuela at the beginning of my
presidency, many of my supporters criticised me and asked me to go at a
faster pace [to implement changes], and be more radical, but I considered
that it was not the right moment because each process has several phases and
different rhythms that not only have to do with internal situations in each
country, but with the international situation at the time. So, I risking
that you make some strange noise, want to say that I like Lula, I appreciate
him, and he is a good man, of a great heart. He is a brother, a comrade and
I send him a hug, my love and affection. I'm sure that with Lula and the
people of Brazil, with Nestor Kirchner and the Argentine people, with Tabaré
Vasquez and the Uruguayan people, we will be opening the path to realising
the dream of a united Latin America."

© Scoop Media

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