Statement of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism shares in the grief of the people of Venezuela, Latin America and freedom loving people throughout the world in the loss of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez. Below is a statement from CCDS.
HUGO CHAVEZ REKINDLED RESISTANCE TO NEOLIBERAL GLOBALIZATION
Neoliberal Globalization: The Latest Phase of Imperialism
After the rise in oil prices brought on by crises in the 1970s the industrial capitalist giants led by the United States pressured poor countries to shift from state-directed to so-called “market economies.” The G7 countries – the United States, Japan, Britain, France, Italy, West Germany, and Canada – launched a campaign to demand that countries of the Global South downsize their governments, deregulate and privatize their economies, and shift from producing goods and services for domestic consumers to exports. These policies, known as the “neo-liberal policy agenda” or the “Washington consensus” were promoted by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization., and international bankers and CEOs of the major multinational corporations.
These policies were a disaster for the vast majority of humankind. In Latin America, there was over 80 percent economic growth between 1960 and 1980, before the neo-liberal policies went into effect and only 9 percent growth from 1980 to 2000. For almost all countries of the Western Hemisphere economic inequality dramatically increased and the percentages of the people living in poverty rose.
By the dawn of the 21st century about 1/4 of Latin Americans lived in poverty (less than $2 a day). Statistics indicated a direct relationship between productivity growth and the percentage of the population living in poverty; productivity and poverty increased at the same time. In addition, the work that most Latin Americans did significantly changed. From 1950 to 1990 there was a 29 percent decline of those who worked in agriculture, a modest 5 percent increase in industrial work, and a 23 percent increase in service sector employment. In the 1990s, it was estimated that almost all job creation was in the so-called “informal sector.” That is, most new job seekers were engaged in street markets, drug dealing, prostitution, unregulated sweatshops in small facilities or people’s homes, or other low-paying, unregulated work.
Despite the dramatic decline in the quality of life experienced throughout Latin America, since the 1980s, the G7 countries, the international economic organizations, and the private banks and corporations continued to promote neo-liberalism through strident rules involving borrowing and inequitable trade agreements. However, over the last decade, resistance to neo-liberalism increased dramatically inspired by Hugo Chavez’s vision of a 21st century socialism.
Resistance to Neoliberalism Spreads: Venezuela Takes the Lead
The latest stage of protest against neo-liberalism was reflected in a massive transformation of politics in Latin America. In a series of elections throughout the region beginning in Venezuela, candidates and parties were elected to office opposing neo-liberalism and “the Washington Consensus.” These included anti-neo-liberal governments elected in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Nicaragua, as well as Venezuela. While these regimes varied in their opposition to neo-liberalism, they threatened economic “business as usual” U.S. interests.
The leadership in this movement for change in Latin America came from Venezuela. The Venezuelan story began when its citizens elected a former army officer Hugo Chavez to the presidency in 1998. Chavez launched the “Bolivarian Revolution.” At home it included a new constitution recognizing the rights of all citizens to a job, education, health care, and basic nutrition. Since then literacy and medical campaigns have dramatically transformed the quality of life of the 80 per cent of the population that were poor. Poverty was cut in half in a decade. Local planning councils and Bolivarian Circles empowered the vast majority of Venezuelans to participate in political decision-making. The government encouraged worker managed and owned factories and redistributed 2.2 million hectares of state-owned land to 130,000 peasant families and cooperatives to revitalize agriculture.
Under the leadership of Chavez, Venezuela made agreements with her neighbors, to trade oil for products that they produce. Thousands of Cuban doctors have been working in Venezuela in exchange for valuable oil. In addition, Chavez worked to build a South American common market, and with others, began constructing a regional development bank. He initiated similar ties with countries in the Caribbean and Central America. Venezuela became one of the few countries in the world to have used profits from its scarce resources to redistribute wealth, income, and power to an underclass. Chavez began to refer to his policies at home and abroad as building 21st century socialism.
Since Chavez was elected president, the United States worked to undermine and overthrow his regime, including supporting an abortive military coup against him in 2002. The efforts of the United States administrations to isolate Venezuela in the Western Hemisphere and among the countries of the Global South have failed.
Venezuela, under the leadership of Hugo Chavez became a beacon of hope for the dispossessed in his country and among the poor and oppressed throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. While his bold challenges to global imperialism will be missed we remain confident that his legacy will continue throughout the region and the world. From Cuba, to Nicaragua, to Chile, to Chiapas, to Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil, the revolution continues. We in the United States stand with you.
Viva Hugo Chavez Siempre!