It behoves the people of the Caribbean to pay extremely close attention to the current political happenings in Venezuela. Recently, the United Socialist Party –– the party of President Nicolas Maduro and the late great Hugo Chavez –– lost the National Assembly elections. It means therefore that the United Socialist Party controls the presidency and the executive, while the patched together political coalition of the oligarchy –– the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) –– controls the Parliament or National Assembly.
We can therefore expect that the MUD will now try to roll back the Bolivarian Revolution that means so much, and that has delivered so much to the people of Venezuela and the wider Caribbean.
It is against this background therefore that on January 2, 2016, the newly established Caribbean chapter of the International Network In Defence Of Humanity –– an organization I am a founding member of –– sent the following letter of solidarity and support to the United Socialist Party.
The President, General Secretary, Officers and members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
Dear Brothers, Sisters and Comrades,
I greet you with the pan-Africanist rallying cry of One Cause, One Goal, One Destiny!, and extend greetings to you on behalf of the members of the Caribbean chapter of the International Network In Defence Of Humanity and their many organizations located in the Caribbean nations of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United States Virgin Islands, and in the Caribbean Diaspora communities of Canada, Britain and the United States.
We write to you dear brothers, sisters and comrades of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela in order to reiterate our continuing solidarity with you and our unstinting support for the valiant and principled struggle that you have undertaken over the past two decades in defence of the most noble and enlightened principles that human beings have devised for living together on this Earth.
Indeed, the most straightforward way for us to express how we feel is to simply state that we stand proudly and defiantly with you because your cause is our cause!
Needless to say, we are only too well aware of the role that you, under the leadership of Hugo Chavez (and more recently under the leadership of Nicolas Maduro), have played in carving out critical space for all of us in the Caribbean and Latin America to utilize in defending, preserving and even advancing the humane, progressive, life-affirming principles, policies and social practices that are essential to the survival and development of the broad masses of our people and the nations they have striven to construct over the centuries.
After all, it was largely because of you and your efforts that the United States’ orchestrated Free Trade Area Of The Americas was defeated, and we were able to derail the concerted effort that the US establishment was making to thoroughly denude our national governments of sovereignty; to fully open up our economies to the depradations of US multinational corporations; and to privatise and commodify the crucial social services and public utilities that are critical to our people’s well-being.
It was your articulation and championing of a new 21st century brand of socialism –– inspired by the glorious example of the Cuban Revolution –– that broke new ground in defending and advancing the notion that the state must undertake the duty of providing for the education and critical health care of its people; and that the state must also ensure adequate minimum levels of housing and nutrition for its citizens, and invest in a cultural and artistic policy that is designed to preserve fundamental elements of the national identity and sense of purpose.
Furthermore, it was largely through the efforts of your national hero (and our hemispheric hero) Hugo Chavez that Bolivar’s and Marti’s dream of a united Americas was given new life in the form of the Bolivarian Alliance For Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA), the PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Banco del Sur, Telesur –– and the list goes on.
It was your party and your/our leader –– Hugo Chavez –– that brought to life a new principle of international relations, namely: prosper thy neighbour by co-existing in solidarity, sharing resources, and coming to the assistance of each other in times of crisis.
Indeed, this is how we interpret the PetroCaribe Energy Co-operation Agreement. We do not conceive of PetroCaribe as a one-way mechanism through which the Caribbean nations and people merely extract benefits from Venezuela’s petroleum resources! Rather, we see it as an exercise in building solidarity and brotherhood and in fostering a “prosper-thy-neighbour” ethos.
And so, we fully appreciate that when oil prices drop on the international market and Venezuela experiences financial or economic difficulties that we have a duty –– in keeping with the spirit that infuses PetroCaribe –– to make whatever efforts we can to source more of our imports from Venezuela; to facilitate Venezuelan airlines accessing Caribbean routes; to support Venezuela in the international arena; to build tourism linkages with Venezuela; and to otherwise come to the assistance of Venezuela.
Venezuela has taught many important lessons in “solidarity” and the mutual duties that come with solidarity, and we have learnt those lessons well! And this is why we are so confident that the border issue between Venezuela and Guyana is not a foreboding one that portends crisis in our relations.
Indeed, we have come too far along the road of solidarity and brotherhood to harbour any such doubts or fears! We will not permit external (or even internal) forces to exploit this issue for their own selfish and destructive ends. Rather, we will solve this issue peacefully and consensually within the family structure that Venezuela and the Caribbean have constructed over the past two decades.
And so, brothers and sisters, please be assured that in this most difficult period of your national politics we are with you. We have interpreted the results of the recent National Assembly elections as a wake-up call, and a summons to redouble our efforts of solidarity with the still unfolding Bolivarian Revolution!
The survival of many important social and political principles are at stake here; the fate of 21st century socialism is in the balance; the mission to unify and integrate “our America” is being called into question; and we fully understand that the very fate of our Caribbean civilization is wrapped up with the political events that are unfolding in Venezuela today.
Like you, dear brothers and sisters of the United Socialist Party, we too have only just begun to struggle and we are ready for the campaign that lies ahead. We may have lost a battle, but we are confident that we will win the war!
A luta continua! Victory is certain!
(Signed on behalf of the entire membership of the Caribbean chapter located in 14 Caribbean nations and three nations of the Caribbean Diaspora)
David Comissiong, Thelma Gill-Barnett, Professor Keith Ellis, Bobby Clarke, David Denny, Keith Layne, Ayo Ololara.
(David Comissiong, attorney-at-law, is president of the Clement Payne Movement.)