Saturday, March 5, 2011

Can Chavez & Castro tell imperialism from anti-imperialism?

IV Online magazine : IV434 - March 2011
Arab revolution/Libya

Latin America and the Arab revolution: the bankruptcy of Chavism?
Ataulfo Riera

In Europe, governments are trying to prevent contagion and solidarity
between European workers and the Arab masses in revolt by brandishing
the scarecrow of Islamism. In Latin America, it is the Venezuelan and
Cuban progressive leaders themselves who are trying to isolate these
rising revolutions by affirming the supposedly “anti-imperialist”
character of the despotic Libyan, Syrian and Iranian regimes, which
are also being destabilized by the rising wave of peoples in struggle.

The Arab revolution constitutes a litmus test for imperialism, but
also for the Cuban and Chavist leaderships. However, if the latter
were also were completely taken by surprise by the upsurge of the Arab
masses, they seem at present to be still unable to grasp the nature,
the depth and the unity of the revolutionary process that is underway
in the entire region. They do not seem to understand at all the
powerful thirst for real democracy, for social justice, for
independence and sovereignty which motivate the Arab masses and the
formidable opportunity that their struggles offer to profoundly modify
the relationships of forces between capital and labour on a world
scale, and with imperialism.

The attitude of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez concerning the events in
Libya is particularly shocking. In a manner that is less pronounced in
the case of the first and pretty consistent in the case of the second,
they imply that the revolt of the Libyan people is the result of
manipulation, of an imperialist plot aimed at overthrowing an enemy
regime. Curiously, this “thesis” does not take up the official version
of the Libyan regime itself, according to which it is on the contrary
Al-Qaeda which is behind the “riots”! However, far from all these
delirious conspiracy theories, there is nothing “singular” or
“particular” about the revolution in Libya, no foreign plot directed
by the CIA or Bin Laden; on the contrary, it is an integral part of
the process of the Arab revolution which is breaking out throughout
the region. Furthermore, this is not happening by chance, since the
dictatorial Libyan regime is precisely geographically wedged between
the Tunisian revolution and the Egyptian revolution.

In spite of everything, Fidel Castro has declared that it “will be
necessary to wait as long as we have to in order to really know what
is truth and what is lies or half-truths in what we are being told
about the chaotic situation (sic) in Libya”. However, he draws an
immediate conclusion from it: “The worst thing now would be to be
silent about the crime that NATO is on the point of committing against
the Libyan people. For the leaders of this warmongering organization,
it is urgent. It must be denounced.” The difficulty is that, as
Santiago Alba Rico and Alma Allende point out, it is not the planes of
NATO which are today machine-gunning the Libyan people, it is the
planes of the Gaddafi regime! Thus, according to Fidel, it is not
urgent to denounce the carnage committed by Gaddafi against his people
and to choose the camp of the popular uprising, it is urgent to
demonstrate against the future and hypothetical intervention of NATO.
So in the name of the threat of a crime that remains a vague
possibility, we should “be silent” about a real crime that is actually
taking place.

Still according to this purely “campist” conception (“the enemies of
my enemies are my friends”), on February 25 President Hugo Chavez has
just, like Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, given his “support to
the Libyan government”, at the moment when it is massacring its people
with heavy weapons. Admittedly, there is no doubt that imperialism is
lying in wait and hopes to take advantage of the slightest
opportunity. Admittedly, we have to denounce the double morality of
imperialism, which condemns civilian victims in Libya, but not in
Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine. But that does not at all justify
support for a bloody tyrant, who is precisely giving imperialism a
wonderful opportunity to regain its balance and who, in spite of his
verbal outpourings about the so-called “green revolution", is at the
head of a system of exploitation and a corrupt regime which is part
and parcel of the imperialist network for plundering of the area and
its resources.

In Venezuela, revolutionary organizations such as Marea Socialista
have taken a clear decision in favour of the Libyan people and against
the dictator Gaddafi. We can only hope that the Venezuelan and Cuban
workers will be more capable of understanding what is at stake than
their leaders are. But, even if he comes to his senses and corrects
his position, there is no doubt that the catastrophic declarations of
Chavez will immediately and lastingly ruin the immense prestige which
he has up to now enjoyed among the Arab masses. This popularity came
from his declared opposition to the war and the occupation of
Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, as well as Israel’s aggression
against Lebanon in 2006. It reached its culminating point in January
2009, when he decided to expel the Israeli ambassador part of the
embassy staff to protest against the massacre perpetrated by the
Zionist state against the population of Gaza, thus marking his
“unqualified solidarity with the heroic Palestinian people”. What is
most serious is that, in the person of Chavez, it is the prestige of
an alternative that is identified as progressive and seeking to build
the “socialism of the twenty-first century” which is in danger of
being deeply discredited in the Arab world.

This attitude constitutes a godsend for the reactionary and
imperialist forces who, at present disorientated by the scale of what
is happening, are trying at all costs to take the situation in hand,
to control or to stop the Arab revolution. Moreover, by lining up
shamefully alongside the Libyan tyrant, the Chavist leadership is
shooting itself in the foot by offering ammunition to its own
adversaries and detractors, who constantly make unfounded accusations
about its “dictatorial” nature.

In Europe, in Latin America, in the United States and in Asia, the
Arab people – who are today in the vanguard of the anti-imperialist
struggle - must receive the unreserved support of the progressive
forces of the world. This is the only way to effectively contest the
hypocritical claim of imperialism to represent the democratic
interests of peoples and to counter effectively any threat, real or
intentionally brandished, of a military intervention.

This article was first published in French on the website of the
LCR_SAP, belgian section of the Fourth International :

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