Round Table with Oscar
July 4, 2017

Between our revolutionary solidarity and criminal complicity

Venezuela and SVG

According to Ernesto “Che” Guevara, a leader in the Cuban revolution: “The true revolutionary is motivated by a profound spirit of love.” It is very likely that Che Guevara lived and died in obedience to the principle of love. How much love do

we see unfolding as the crisis in revolutionary Venezuela brings that country close to civil collapse? And what does love have to do with our solidarity as Vincentians with the government and people of Venezuela?

An Oil-based Revolution

Behind the unrest and deprivations that haunt that neighbour Caribbean nation, we must identify three major political economic causes and at least one other geopolitical factor – US imperial discomfort with a little brother to Cuba in our Caribbean hemisphere. Venezuela has had an economy dependent on ‘oil’ and its good prices.

Oil money paid for the upliftment of millions of the poor with housing, health and education benefits. Oil money also reached outside of Venezuela into places like Cuba, CARICOM, every village in SVG, and other needy peoples. Some of the oil money was badly spent, and when it dried up, as a result of low prices, unrest grew and exploded;

We must note also that the Hugo Chavez, now Maduro regime, was quite bombastic as it presented its case for “raising up the humble”, while it “brought down the mighty from their seats” in Venezuela. That was a recipe for disorder, particularly when the government’s purse was getting thin and business groups in the country and the USA wanted their “pound of flesh” back from the revolution. In addition to these factors, sympathetic observers note the “capital goods” sector of the economy was undeveloped and led to insufficient production and supply of “daily use” items that citizens consume and need for their livelihoods. With oil money not being at hand to import these items, the local supply just couldn’t meet the demand. Scarcity fuelled the endemic poverty and intensified the outcry against the government.

In such a situation, love has been a path to compromise and national understanding, but revolutionary love was hard put to find a place to lay its head.

It is into this complex conjuncture that we in SVG are offering solidarity – or is it complicity with error and authoritarianism? Is there a love and solidarity that can help Venezuelan people and government at this stage? I think that there is both the need and the path for an unblinkered solidarity that can “intervene” in Venezuela’s crisis, but it calls for a “strategic rethink”.

Love as a Strategic Intervention

A “love your neighbour as you love yourself” policy towards the violence prone conjuncture, the governance crisis and the hemispheric divide around Venezuela, needs to consider these, (among other) elements of a love package.

  • Withdraw from any position of “picking a side” to support at this time.
  • Try to take the perspective of the Venezuelan people’s national future as the ideological and solidarity baseline for action.
  • Make every diplomatic effort to pry open a national window for broad communication among critical stakeholders in Venezuela, (perhaps CARICOM, the Vatican, a United Nations unit, and another neighbour can constitute a facilitating group);
  • Encourage and mobilize the supply and distribution of critical material relief;
  • Move the conversation and encounters to a stage one of “trust guidelines’ among stakeholders;
  • Undertake among relevant CARICOM members a revised debt repayment schedule to the Venezuelan people.

Such an elementary intervention package raises question and poses problems, but that is to be and confronted.

A deeper concern has to do with revolutionary politics which may have a weak or insufficient material and economic platform, but are strong on rhetoric and vision. That was the Chavista model. In SVG, our tentatives towards revolutionary change must have a sufficient material capability, moderate rhetoric and ethical leadership. None of these factors are present or being enabled. We too are heading for change.