By Geraldina Colotti – April 25, 2020
Professor Adán Chávez Frías, the elder brother of the eternal commander, needs no introduction. He is the Vice President of International Affairs of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela(PSUV), currently the Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the Republic of Cuba and directs the Hugo Chávez Institute of Higher Studies. We thank him for agreeing to answer our questions from Havana.
How do you analyze this pandemic from Cuba?
We are living in a very complex situation for humanity, which has motivated efforts all over the world to face this new coronavirus, Covid-19. Now, when we evaluate the different ways in which the fight against this pandemic has been approached, we can with certainty affirm that the inefficiency and unfeasibility of an exclusionary and unfair model that is in decline has been demonstrated. That model is capitalism, which has wiped out the health systems of those countries that operate under it.
On the contrary, the socialist model, with its clear emphasis on the people, and on solidarity as a tool to combat the Covid-19, has demonstrated the value of its precepts, overcoming economic calculations, the preservation of life.
One of those cases to be highlighted, in addition to countries like China and Russia, is that of the sister republic of Cuba; a country that despite being a victim, like Venezuela, of a criminal economic, financial and commercial blockade by U.S. imperialism, continues to be an example of humanism and internationalism.
So far, Cuba has assigned 23 brigades of health professionals from the “Henry Reeve” Contingent to join the national and local efforts being made in 20 countries around the world to combat Covid-19; this figure is in addition to the medical collaboration brigades it maintains in 60 countries, which have also joined the effort to combat this disease, where they are already providing their services. All this, without in any way neglecting the responsibility to protect its own people.
The Bolivarian government is doing the same for Venezuelan women and men, without distinction of any kind and wherever they may be. For example, here in Havana, in accordance with our responsibilities as diplomatic representatives of our country on the island, we have been attending to those fellow countrymen and women who, for various reasons, are still in Cuba; a good number of whom have managed to return to the country, thanks to the efforts of comrade President Nicolás Maduro, son of Chávez, to guarantee the return of these compatriots to their homeland.
Why is Venezuela, despite all the harassment, succeeding with the Covid-19?
We, Venezuelan women and men, have decided to face this battle with responsibility, discipline, and awareness of social duty, as the historic leader of the Bolivarian revolution has always done, from the first moments when our revolutionary project began to take shape.
So, our people have responded with civility and deep love for the homeland, to the call for social quarantine, and have followed all the directives issued by the Bolivarian government, with comrade President Maduro at the helm; who did not hesitate to take forceful measures to safeguard the integrity of our people, in line with the recommendations made by bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO). That, along with the adoption of a set of initiatives aimed at ensuring that the various strategic sectors of the country remain operational and can provide a timely and immediate response to the pandemic, showing how, in socialism, the human being is at the center of all policies designed and implemented.
Today we can say that the action of the Bolivarian government to contain the Covid-19 has been exemplary and is a reference for other peoples of Latin America and the world; a task for which we have had the invaluable support of countries such as China, Russia and the always consistent Cuba.
I am sure that that discipline, that high degree of conscience and that hardened spirit of the heroic Venezuelan people will continue to be evident because we Venezuelans have always grown in adversity; Just as we have done by defeating, in civic-military union and in defense of the legacy of commander Hugo Chávez, the historic leader of the Bolivarian revolution, each and every one of the attempts undertaken by the Venezuelan ultra-right under the auspices of U.S. imperialism, to try to put an end to the project of broad transformations taking place in our country since 1999.
Fifteen years ago, Comandante Chávez, with the support of Fidel, created Barrio Adentro. What do you remember about this and what can this teach Europe?
The Barrio Adentro Mission, which on April 16 celebrated its 15th anniversary, is a clear example of the close relationship that exists between our peoples, since the signing of the Comprehensive Cuba-Venezuela Cooperation Agreement, signed on the initiative of Commanders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez on October 30, 2000.
The Barrio Adentro Mission is, without a doubt, one of the most important social policies promoted by the Bolivarian government, and it meant the access of our People to free, preventive and quality medical care, including those communities that were excluded before the Bolivarian revolution came to power in 1999, as a consequence of the neoliberal model imposed on the country in the Fourth republic, which kept us in misery and desolation for decades.
Today, as provided for in the Bolivarian constitution, health is a fundamental social right in the country, and it is the obligation of the Venezuelan state to guarantee it as part of the right to life of our people; a task in which the Barrio Adentro Mission plays an important role, as a fundamental tool to strengthen a national public system that today is capable of facing the pandemic, with great efficiency and free of charge.
This is a possibility that the inhabitants of Europe generally do not have today, given that the health systems of their countries have proved to be in crisis and incapable of providing effective care to the Covid-19. Europe destroyed the so-called welfare model that, with its casualties and additions, had managed to establish itself on that continent; a consequence that today is being paid for by European citizens, who have to turn to health systems overwhelmed by the reality of the pandemic, which shows the deep crisis in which they find themselves, a product of the neoliberal model that they took on.
The European governments privatized their health systems, the maintenance of which was considered a burden on the state and not, as is the case in Venezuela, a necessary investment for the benefit of the People. In 2020 alone, the percentage of the annual budget allocated to social investment amounts to 75.9%; despite the limitations that the criminal economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by US imperialism places on the country.
While in Europe, priority was given to making timely decisions aimed at protecting the lives of their fellow countrymen, profitability, calculation of socio-economic effects; in Venezuela and other countries, drastic measures were adopted in favor of the people, including the permanent re-empowering of their health systems, which have shown their effectiveness in the current scenario.
The year 2013 was very difficult for the Bolivarian revolution. We had just said goodbye to Commander Hugo Chávez and had to face the presidential elections; elections in which once again the forces of the fatherland were victorious, even in the midst of the great collective sadness suffered by the Venezuelan people due to the loss of the leader; results that, as you rightly say, were not recognized by the Venezuelan opposition.
In 2013, when celebrating his election in Miraflores, while Capriles was already unloading “the harness”, President Maduro announced that the oligarchy had proposed an agreement and that he rejected it.
What happened next, what has been the weight of the oligarchy and what has it achieved so far?
Now, this attitude is nothing new. According to them, there has been practically no electoral process in which they have lost, the results of which they have recognized, despite the fact that Venezuela has one of the most reliable electoral systems in the world. They only recognize the results when they win, as happened in the parliamentary elections of 2015; whose victory by the opposition, by the way, was quickly recognized by the patriotic forces.
Thus, the stateless Venezuelan oligarchy has always appealed to the coup “shortcut”, given the impossibility of defeating the Bolivarian revolution at the ballot box; which has led our people to be prepared to defend, in civic-military union, the legacy of Commander Hugo Chávez, facing with determination all the coup attacks that have taken place permanently in these 21 years, including the attempt by Capriles in 2013. In the face of each failure, the Venezuelan opposition has been wearing itself out, and practically the only thing that keeps it going is the direct support of the U.S. government.
There has not been now, and there will not be one later, a pact with the oligarchy to betray the heroic Venezuelan people, who stand firm in defense of their revolution.
In Europe, the market rules and that’s the way they want it to continue after the post-pandemic recession. What’s going to happen in Venezuela?
It seems to me that, although some people stubbornly insist on making decisions that have so far proved to be part of the problem; once the pandemic is brought under control, the world will be a different one.
Of course, this requires the support of all of us, the mobilization of the world’s political and social organizations, and everything we do now to make the planet a fairer, safer and more decent place, especially the working class, which is celebrating International Workers’ Day in a few days.
In any case, countries such as China, Cuba and Venezuela, among others that have placed their emphasis on the people, on safeguarding their lives, will come out stronger; while the capitalist countries, which have shown great ineptitude in facing up to this complex situation, will come out weaker, however much economic and military strength they have, as is the case with the United States itself and with a Europe that, incidentally, has little to show for its unity and cooperation.
In the case of Venezuela, we will have also validated our social welfare model, the system of missions and great socialist missions; as well as the plan of integration we have been developing these years, based on the integrationist ideas of the liberator father Simon Bolivar.
In Europe, the war propaganda against the Bolivarian government is very strong. How would you explain what is happening now with gasoline, price speculation?
Venezuela is the victim of a criminal imperial onslaught, which is expressed in the political-diplomatic and economic-financial spheres; being the object of strong unilateral coercive measures, adopted extraterritorially by the supreme government of the United States, since at least 2014.
These measures constitute a crime against humanity, as provided for in the Rome Statute; and are aimed at preventing our country from being able to carry out transactions to access food and medicine to serve our people, to obtain international financing – this prohibition includes: bonds, loans, loan extensions, loan guarantees, letters of credit, invoices or discount notes and commercial papers -, to blocking the financial activities of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV), and to prohibiting the operations of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), on which a large part of the country’s income depends, to the point of confiscating the CITGO subsidiary, located in U.S. territory, and preventing the arrival in the country of the inputs required to produce fuel. Also, we have been prohibited from making any transactions with gold and crypto-currencies.
All these measures of economic asphyxiation, such as those implemented at the time against President Salvador Allende, together with the actions of cyberterrorism aimed at fixing a parallel and illegal exchange rate, as is the case of Dollar Today, have undoubtedly affected the Venezuelan economy, exacerbating inflationary pressures, diminishing the purchasing power of Venezuelan women and men, and undermining the authority of our Central Bank.
As if that were not enough, recently the U.S. government stole 342 million dollars from our country, which the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) had deposited in the Citibank; money that was “transferred” to the U.S. Federal Reserve; an act of pillage that evidences the seriousness of the attack of which the Venezuelan people are victims.
All this action is supported, moreover, by an aggressive anti-Bolivarian campaign, deployed with the complicity of the world’s large information corporations, which coordinate editorial lines that permanently highlight half-truths and blatant lies about the Venezuelan reality, in an attempt to tarnish the image of comrade President Nicolás Maduro and the Bolivarian government, to question the autonomy of the public powers of the republic and to undermine the morale of those who are militants and/or sympathize with the Bolivarian revolution.
After the passing of the Commander, your message became historical by picking up his legacy. What is the concrete legacy left by Hugo Chávez in Venezuela?
Commander Hugo Chávez left us a backpack of dreams and projects, some of which we must continue to consolidate. As I said on that sad day, it is an infinite backpack, which has no dimensions, where all the desires of Latin America and the Caribbean, of the peoples of the world, fit. I not only carry this backpack on my shoulders but also all the Venezuelan people, the women and men of goodwill who work tirelessly for the prosperity of the country, those of us who defend its sovereignty and independence, those of us who fight tirelessly for the true union of our great homeland.
As we know, our eternal leader was a vehement and consistent defender of the national and also the dignity of our America dignity, permanently threatened by the historical enemy of our peoples. In times as complex as the present ones, when we continue to be the object of imperial fury by those who insist on seeing us as their backyard, it is when it takes on greater strength that we become fully aware, at the continental level, of the commitment we have with that backpack, which is nothing more than the legacy of Chávez.
There are, for the world, the undeniable achievements in different areas of the national task: health, culture, sports, recreation, housing, social security and national defense, among many others for the benefit of the Venezuelan people.
They have not been able to, nor will they be able to with Venezuela, precisely because of the immense legacy of the historic leader of the Bolivarian revolution, with whom we recovered our national independence, as the most precious good that we have re-conquered after 200 years, as Chávez himself wrote in “the Plan de la Patria”, a fundamental part of his legacy; an independence that we Venezuelans are willing to defend at any price.
All people are afraid that Trump may attack Venezuela militarily. What do you think? And what can Cuba do?
In its desperation to put an end to the Bolivarian revolution, and in view of the failure of previous attempts, the current U.S. administration has directly taken over the leadership of the Venezuelan opposition, and the execution of the plans aimed at achieving that goal; to the point of, effectively, threatening military intervention in our country to overthrow the Bolivarian government and take over its natural wealth, as well as to punish the people of Bolivar and Chavez for their daring to be fraternal, sovereign and independent. All of this is now under an infamous accusation against comrade President Nicolás Maduro and other leaders, who are allegedly linked to drug trafficking, without any proof whatsoever.
In the face of this threat, which reveals the irrational and irresponsible nature of the actions that Donald Trump is undertaking against our country from an openly warlike position, the Venezuelan people, of courageous lineage, have stood up in defense of the country and its independence. As I said before: we are ready to defend our homeland in the field if that is necessary.
Besides, solidarity with our country has been unleashed all over the world, in defense of peace, sovereignty and Bolivarian democracy; a scenario in which Cuba, as always, has taken the lead, showing its unwavering commitment to the Venezuelan people, in whatever scenario.
What can this pandemic change in Venezuela’s political events with respect to the elections, to the coup opposition?
Comrade President Nicolás Maduro recently said, in an interview with an Argentine radio station, that it would be irresponsible of him to say that there must be elections at all costs this year; a scenario that seems unlikely for now, at a time when the priority is the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. However, when the elections are held, it will be shown that the support of the people for his management at the head of the Bolivarian government is growing. The indifferent will end up realizing that there is no other way but that of Bolivarian socialism.
In the world congresses after the Sao Paolo Forum, an agenda of international struggle has been established. How should it be updated in this pandemic with respect to the internationalist activity of the PSUV?
The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) develops its international relations with attachment to the country’s foreign policy, governed, as is known, by the principles of independence, equality, self-determination, cooperation, respect for human rights and solidarity among peoples.
In this context, from the Vice-presidency of International Affairs -a sectorial institution of our party that corresponds to us at present-, we have been deepening our relationship with different political, social and workers’ organizations of the world; as well as with parliamentarians, communicators and alternative communicators, some of them combined in the National and International Council of Popular Communication (Conaicop), and members of the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity; just to mention some sectors.
This profound international action emphasizes, as is normal in our Latin America and the Caribbean and, in particular, the relationship with the organizations that are part of the Sao Paulo Forum (FSP), whose XXV Meeting we are holding in Venezuela in 2019; a meeting from which emerged a plan of struggle that was assumed by the progressive forces of the continent and other parts of the world that participated in the event.
This plan has been developing satisfactorily, although logically it will have to be adjusted in light of the new international reality arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. In any case, such adjustments would imply the adoption of new methods from which to give continuity to the work that, in the international sphere, we have been developing for the defense of the great causes of humanity; and for the fight against predatory capitalism, the cause of the great evils of the world today.
All those battles to come in defense of the human cause will continue to find us, the Venezuelan people and government, and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), in the front line of combat; together with the other progressive organizations of our America and the world.
Can you talk about the activity of the High Studies Institute Hugo Chávez?
The Institute for Higher Studies of thought of eternal ommander Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was created by the Bolivarian government in 2013, with the aim of preserving and disseminating the legacy of the historic leader of the Bolivarian revolution; this humble servant was appointed to lead it, by decision of comrade President Nicolás Maduro.
The institution currently develops and promotes different types of creative and conceptual work in compliance with its purpose, which involves the study, research, collection, protection and dissemination of the ideas of our eternal commander in the political, ideological, scientific, social and cultural.
In this sense, just to mention some of the programs designed for such purposes, thousands of documents have been made available to all the citizens of the world that give an account of the political ideology of Commander Hugo Chávez, and that form part of his oral and written legacy; documents incorporated into the web “todochavezenlaweb”, classified in the categories “speeches and addresses”, “Hello President”, “interviews and statements”, “meetings and talks”, “writings” and “all of Chávez in chronological order”. All this information can be accessed through a very friendly search engine, which facilitates the work of those who enter the page.
Likewise, and among other initiatives that we have been developing in the area of training, the Institute offers in different federal entities of the country the diploma course “General Vision of the Legacy of Commander Hugo Chávez”, in which the participants get to know different aspects of the legacy of the historical leader of the Bolivarian revolution, which we mentioned before.
Also, we have advanced in an intense editorial program, from which a good quantity of texts have been printed that gather different elements related to the ideology of our eternal commander, with his vision and practice. Some of these, the most recent, were presented in February of this year in Havana, within the framework of the 29th International Book Fair of this brother country.
Also, we have advanced in an intense editorial program, from which a good quantity of texts have been printed that gather different elements related to the ideology of our eternal commander, with his vision and practice. Some of these, the most recent, were presented in February of this year in Havana, within the framework of the 29th International Book Fair of Cuba.
Special mention should be made of the program “La Huella Incandescente” (The Incandescent Footprint), which records on video the testimonies of people linked to the life and administration of the historic leader of the Bolivarian revolution, from his youth to his last days of physical existence.
In addition, and on what we have been doing at the national level, the Institute has been relating to other analogous institutions of great prestige in the world, such as the Che Guevara Study Center in Cuba, the Schafik Hándal Institute in El Salvador and the “Floreal Gorini” Cultural Cooperation Center in Argentina. With some of these institutions, cooperation agreements have been signed, the development of which we must continue to deepen every day; since, self-critically, we must point out that this is a field in which we still have much to do.
So, despite all that has been done so far, the scale of the task ahead is gigantic, like the legacy of Chávez. Look, at this moment we are developing a project of great importance, which will merit several years of work: the publication of the complete works of the thought of our eternal commander; as well as initiatives to be able to impart our educational offer in a virtual way, to advance in a greater international relationship of the Institute, and the compilation and registration of new titles related to the life and work of the historical leader of the Bolivarian revolution, the contemporary history of Venezuela, the role of the left in the world and the integration processes currently underway. All of them will be part of a great Documentation Center that we have been developing for several years now.
Featured image: Adán Chávez Frías, Photo: Bill Hackwell