Allende and Venezuela Today
Forty-five years after the death of Salvador Allende, Latin America faces great challenges and obstacles crucial for its advance toward true democracy and socialism. In our continent, transcendental and defining events are taking place for the aspirations of peace, independence, and sovereignty for the peoples that struggle to build more just and egalitarian societies.
It is not in Europe, Africa, or Asia, but in Latin America where the decisive battles are taking place, which forge new hope in a better future and define the destiny of all humanity. More precisely, it is in the Venezuela of the Bolivarian Revolution that the bourgeois and imperialist counterrevolution is fought and confronted every day.
The assassination attempt against President Nicolás Maduro on August 4, 2018, is the clearest example that the United States, with the complicity of the Venezuelan and Colombian oligarchies, has no peaceful intentions, either for Venezuela or Latin America as a whole. The recent offensive launched by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) against the democratically elected Venezuelan government shows the support of the government of Canada for Donald Trump’s ongoing military aggression against Venezuela.
In the history of Latin America, there are valuable lessons to be learned that arise out of various frustrated revolutionary democratic processes. The Chilean experience from 1970 to 1973 is one of them, which demonstrated that the U.S. government and its allies will resort to immoral and criminal methods to maintain their privileges. When democracy no longer serves to defend their interests, they destroy it and promote bloody coups. When universal suffrage is adverse to their political proposals and they are defeated in free elections, they ignore the popular will and break the rule of law. When their political arguments do not persuade voters, they do not hesitate to lie and to use systematic fascist violence and murder.
It is in this new and difficult reality—full of immense challenges for the Latin American popular movements—that we commemorated another anniversary of the heroic struggle for democracy and socialism of President Salvador Allende at the Palacio La Moneda on September 11, 1973. This man, who imagined socialism for the twenty-first century, has not died, but only continues to be more valid, more indispensable, and more appreciated than ever in the democratic, revolutionary struggles of the Latin American peoples for socio-political transformation and to reinstate socialism as a solution for the great problems of humanity.
Hugo Chávez, the daring, visionary Bolivarian revolutionary, understood better than anyone the challenge posed by Allende. Chávez, in a tribute to Allende shortly before his death, said, “Some … theorized saying that the path to socialism was impossible along this path, through the electoral path, through peaceful means. The years passed, and I believe that what is happening today in Latin America vindicates the attempt of Allende and the Chilean people. It is not [accurate to say] that it is not viable to build the path of socialism through peaceful means.”
The Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela confirms the full validity, viability, and fairness of the “Allendista way” to build socialism in freedom, pluralism, and democracy. The Bolivarian Revolution, categorically, is the paradigm for socialism in the twenty-first century.
The strategic objective of the United States government and the bourgeois counterrevolution is none other than to achieve the defeat of the Bolivarian Revolution’s political project, reestablish the political power of the oligarchy, reimpose the neoliberal economic model and unleash a massive, brutal repression against the popular movement and its political leadership.
Why is Venezuela an irreconcilable enemy and so dangerous to the empire? The main reason is because the Bolivarian Revolution represents a political alternative, which could return to all of humanity the indispensable utopia—that a model of a better society than the capitalist one is possible for organizing the development of productive forces and human coexistence. As the Australian journalist John Pilger pointed out in a TeleSur interview, “if Venezuela falls, humanity falls.”
More than five decades have passed since the beginning of globalization, and capitalism has proven unable to solve the great problems of humanity. To understand the current reality is not necessary to be an economist; it is enough to turn on the television and observe what is happening in the world. The paradise offered by capitalism is nowhere to be seen. Wars continue to plague many countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and the Middle East. Terrorism has not been eliminated, political instability is widespread, and promises of economic prosperity have vanished. On the contrary, the economic and social crisis deepens, the gap between rich and poor increases. Along with globalization of neoliberalism, inequalities have also globalized, and, at the same time, the chasm between rich and poor has grown wider even in the developed countries themselves.
As the capital crisis deepens, and predictions of a new economic recession continue to increase, the policies of the United States become more aggressive and dangerous, threatening the peace of democratic, independent, and sovereign countries.
The U.S. National Security Strategy considers access to and management of natural resources as a matter of national security, which secures the growth of the economy and the welfare of the population. In this vision, the White House constantly carries out a strategy of appropriation of natural resources at the global level, which is made manifest in a set of recolonization policies for the territories, countries, and continents that possess these resources.
In these times of global competition for natural resources and the recolonization of much of the world—in particular, of Latin America—two features of Salvador Allende’s thought and political action become absolutely relevant: his intransigent criticism of capitalism and his consistent anti-imperialism. Allende was firm in his conviction that the subjection, exploitation, backwardness, and poverty of Latin American countries had precise causes: “We are dependent countries, encompassed in the process of economic development of the great metropolises. The dialectic is expressed clearly. There is underdevelopment because imperialism exists. There is imperialism because there is poverty.”
Every day that is lived in Latin America is complex and decisive—especially in Venezuela, where today all the fury of the empire and the counterrevolution is concentrated. They have not succeeded, because Venezuela resists defiantly and courageously. They will fail in their objectives of restoring the neoliberal model, seizing the oil, and converting the Venezuelan people into a colony again.
The Bolivarian Revolution, with the people’s majority support, will continue to advance and win in any scenario. The convocation of the constituent power of the people and the call for free elections to elect the members of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), which culminated in the reelection of President Maduro, signalled a resounding political defeat for the fascist extreme right. They have been defeated militarily following their insane, armed attacks on military and police barracks, their multiple attempts at coups d’état, and their efforts to break the civic-military union of the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB).
Further, with the recent announcement by President Maduro on August 22 of the “nine lines of action” comprising the Recovery, Growth, and Economic Prosperity Program, the extreme right’s sinister plans to sabotage the economy and bring misery, poverty, and hunger will also be defeated.
Maduro characterized this economic recovery program as “the counterattack to resume the path to Venezuelan socialism. I know that the working class is the real engine, with the workers’ councils, of a productive economic revolution that stabilizes the country.” Emphasizing the program’s socialist nature, Maduro indicated that it must aim to ensure that all workers “have an income that allows them to develop their lives with tranquility and happiness.”
Consistent with his socialist and internationalist commitment, Allende would not have hesitated to stand by the Bolivarian Revolution, to raise his voice and denounce the imperialist aggression—much as he once called for global, anti-imperialist unity “based on the intransigent struggle that leads to the defeat of the forces that hinder the advance of the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America toward democracy, socialism and peace.”
The coming days will be decisive for Venezuela and for its struggle to consolidate the Bolivarian revolutionary process initiated by Hugo Chávez. The Venezuelan people will continue to advance and make their way to victory with a faith and conviction the same as that of Salvador Allende, who, in the heat of his last fight at the La Moneda Palace, would announce: “This is how the first page of this story is written. My people and America will write the rest.”
Dr. Miguel Sánchez is a Professor at the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Regina, where he teaches courses on the Practice Of Social Work, Social Welfare, Social Work with victims of abuse and Social Work with multicultural groups. Rolando Hugo Vergara is a Teacher and Information Technology professional. He is a founding member of the Latin American Research Institute (LARI).