Chávez and Europe


Hugo Chavez has died. Few people have been more controversial in Europe for the last 15 years. I say Europe because in Venezuela there is no controversy. If you are a “chavist” you love him and if you are an “oppositor” you wish the worst to him. He representes the confrontation of two different models: neoliberal capitalism and socialism of the XXI century. In Europe, the right-wing and their media knew perfectly their position. But the controversy extended among the left-wing organizations, mainly as a consequence of their Eurocentrism. They liked what they heard about socialism but they were suspicious.

The left-wing heard that there has been 14 elections and that he won all but one. But most of them were suspicious because they thought he was not very serious on the way he addressed the people and because it was a personalist regime. European media helped convincing them that there was no freedom of speech and that he was a kind of dictator. What many people do not realize is that he wasn’t addressing to us but to the Venezuelans, and that the political culture in Latinamerica is way too different to the one in Europe to be analyzed with our prejudices. What the media didn’t tell is that all the private media are openly antichavist, attacking the Government 24/7 and that they were one of the main actors on the Cup d’état in 2002.

Most of the left-wing people in Europe read the data about de decrease in poverty levels, free education, free health care, alphabetism… but they still weren’t very convinced. They talked about the control by the State, that it was a hierarchical centralized process. It was a simply nationalization of the economy, like State capitalism in the old soviet countries. I heard all these arguments when Chavez and Venezuela were part of the conversation. And again, this shows a lack of information or the slanted information the media are providing.

What they have probably never heard about is the organization of Communal Conseils (Conseils for every 200 families that decide how the money they will get for the community will be spent), water committees (committees formed by communities for the management of a very valuable public resource), the missions (a revolutionary way to implement public policies involving social organizations and communities), the creation of cooperatives controlled by the local communities all over the country… All this was possible with the support of the State and the oil money, of course. And the Government does not deny it. But what is revolutionary is that the State empowered the people. Gave them the power to decide, involve them on the management of resources and gave them resources for accountability. It started to create a political body of the common that has been developing in the last 15 years. This is the Constituent Power that we claim in Europe, but it is a permanent Constituent Power, that does not deplete once they delegate on a constituted power. And that is what makes this revolution different and what will make this revolution last after Chavez is gone. People have more and more power and are learning how to use it. Of course, there is still a long way to go and lot of mistakes to be made, but Hugo Chavez helped to put the first stone of a project that can change the world.

A lot of European left-wing analyst claim that Chavez is a product of the neoliberal measures implemented in Latinamerica in the 80s. The poverty caused by these measures leaded to the revolutionary processes today. But a lot of Europeans don’t show any interest in what is happening because they are too busy fixing Europe and because they still expect an old-fashion revolution. We are facing now the same neoliberal attack in Europe. Let’s hope that our Eurocentrism does not prevent us from learning from their experiences and that we don’t have to wait 20 years of impoverishment to start fighting and changing the system.