When you are forty-five years old and with a revolution in tow, it is really difficult to prevent words from being peppered with a certain teacherly tone. Unintentionally, without even noticing it, I suppose that on more occasions than desirable I speak or write with an air of self-sufficiency and that may not be very pleasant for the interlocutor.
The thing gets complicated when one believes oneself obligated to tell the story of the Bolivarian revolution, its background, its greatnesses and miseries, its possible paths. Several times I have said that was exactly what motivated me to write regularly: to tell my part of a story that seemed scarce or poorly told. There were too many loose ends, details that were overlooked, extraordinary episodes that ran the risk of being forgotten.
Also, it is my part of a story that is my story. Having the possibility to tell it, I simply did not intend to miss the opportunity to offer my version of the facts.
Now that I think about it, beyond any pretention to verity, I also write with the purpose of accompanying and being accompanied. However, I try not to forget Horacio Quiroga’s recommendation: “Do not think about your friends when writing, or the impression your story will make.” The opposite case, one can discover oneself writing what others want to read, which is not always what it is necessary to tell. Pleasing an audience can be a form of deception, especially with oneself.
I said that in my circumstances it is difficult to avoid the lecturing tone and to speak or write with an air of sufficiency. But you have to apply yourself thoroughly, make the best effort. Because the truth is that there is much to learn from those who preceded us and also, although it may not seem so, from those who will succeed us.
With all this in mind, I dare to suggest some guidelines for the thinking and action of the younger militants:
- Don’t be ashamed of your popular class origins. If you are going to become a “desclasado”, let it be because you come from the middle or upper class and decided to give up your class privileges. That does not mean at all conform or live badly. It means fighting because society as a whole lives better, and not just a small part. You did not become militants to solve your own material problems and those of your small group, family or friends and relatives.
- Be wary of those who speak of revolution and amass privileges. Do not sell to the highest bidder. Do not become anyone’s clients. Do not approach the powerful, do not believe that it is only possible to survive under the protective mantle of those who hold leadership positions. You are not to be survivors of anything or anyone. Do not be dazzled by the power of those who snap a finger and solve a problem. Do not get carried away by siren calls or snake charmers.
- Think with your own head. Do not underestimate yourselves. You have a minimum notion of what is right and what is wrong, of what is correct and incorrect. You decided to be politically militant for a reason. Read, study. Suspect those who are lax with values and principles.
- If you hold a position of responsibility, do not accommodate yourself there. Frequently, the best way to know if you are working correctly is if you win the animosity of the negative leaderships, of the most corrupted elements. Facing power, and exercising it, always be subversive. Look at who applauds you and who vilifies you. You are not militant for a title, to occupy a post indefinitely. Power is transitory. Life takes many turns. Be humble.
- When doubts assail you, which will be many times, listen to ordinary people. Be able to learn from them. Do not distance yourself from the reality of the street, because it is the great teacher of politics.
- Do not become repeaters of slogans. Your job is to create, invent. The revolution is virgin land and a thousand problems. Problems are not solved with hollow, empty, repetitive speeches, without imagination. On the contrary, they do a disservice to the revolution and a very big one to the state of things we want to change.
- You are not to play the role of the manipulated mass or captive audience in acts and concentrations. Do not feel compelled to fill in someone else’s staging. Be wary of stages and lecterns.
- Don’t be timid, but audacious. Do not play the role of those sad characters who call themselves revolutionaries, but the facts betray them as inveterate conservatives.
- Respect diversity of thought, difference of opinions. Be receptive to criticism. Do not get entrenched in indefensible positions simply because it is the opinion of your small group. If you are going to be uncompromising, let it be for a worthwhile cause.
- Show a reverential respect for the people who fight. Don’t despise them, don’t single them out, don’t censor them. If you are going to be wrong, let it be with the people who fight, and not putting yourselves on the side of those who turn their backs, for convenience, for cowardice, because their interests are being affected.
- Do not be afraid to say what you feel and think what you have to say, because you will be belittled, singled out or censored. A politically honest militant is uncomfortable by nature. Over time you learn to have a sense of opportunity, to proceed with intelligence. But keep in mind that the best option will never be to shut up, look the other way, ignore yourself.
- Believe in the Commune as the horizon of realization of the Bolivarian, Robinsonian, Zamorist, Chavista, Socialist ideals.
Forgive the initial detour about the story or if these guidelines seem very impertinent or controversial. But they are some of the things that one has been learning, and believe me when I tell you that I am not encouraged by any intention other than to accompany you, to make way for you. You are not alone.
Translated by JRE/EF