Klaus Hart Brasilientexte

Aktuelle Berichte aus Brasilien – Politik, Kultur und Naturschutz

„Venezuela and Bolivia“ – Frei Betto.

I travelled around Venezuela and Bolivia in July. Both countries are governed by exceptional persons – Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales who are both in search of an alternative to neo liberalism. Both were democratically elected and Chavez was re-elected.
A political springtime blows over Latin America. After decades of military dictatorships (made in USA) and corrupt neo liberal governments (made in the Washington Consensus) “ Collor in Brazil, Menem in Argentina, Fujimori in Peru, Andres Perez in Venezuela and Sanchez Losada in Bolivia “ the voters opted to elect politicians who came from popular social extraction and/or who identified with social progressive movements.I visited Barquisimento, the musical capital of Venezuela, at the invitation of the Polytechnic University. I took part in a seminar on university extension as a form of solidarity with sectors of the population who are marginalised or excluded.I found a divided country. Chavez, for some, incarnates a messiah, for others he is the devil. The first group talks with enthusiasm of the ”communal organizations (the Venezuelan version of a participative budget) and of the growing interaction between civil society and the government. It acknowledges the improvement in salaries, in the consumption of consumer durables (especially cars) and in the services for health, education and the construction of popular housing.

Sitting on its oil barrels (Venezuela is the second largest exporter to the US after Saudi Arabia); the country gives itself the right to promote large investments in its infra-structure.

The rejection of Chavez comes from the high class who, thanks to petrodollars and to corruption, made Miami its centre and from sectors of the middle class who are also unhappy with the frequent lack of staple commodities and annual inflation reaching 21%.

The opposition, backed by the Catholic bishops, accuses Chavez of ”Cubanising the country thanks to the large number of Cuban doctors and teachers working in social programmes for those who are poorest. It also feels uncomfortable with the president™s rhetoric which is centred on the Bolivarian Revolution ”moving towards twenty first century socialism.  

In La Paz I participated in an encounter for the unity and sovereignty of Bolivia with intellectuals and artists from several countries. Some ministers of culture from other Latin American countries were present, including Juca Ferreira who now has replaced Gilberto Gil in Brazil. We were able to meet Evo Morales. A declaration in support of his government was approved which will be submitted to a revocatory plebiscite on 10th August.

The revocatory plebiscite is a very democratic measure (adopted also in Venezuela) which obliges the president, during his term in office, to submit his government for the approval of the electorate. The whole country becomes a huge area of debates regarding the federal administration.

Morales is a remarkable figure. He belongs to the Aimara ethnic group and from indigenous leader he became a union leader. In a country of nine million inhabitants, of whom one third live abroad in search of better conditions of life, he tries to make Bolivia take control of its energy sources such as natural gas and precious minerals which until now had been exploited by transnationals including Brazil™s Petrobras.

Chavez and Morales face the great historical challenge of promoting structural reforms in their countries through democratic and pacific means. Both suffer constant pressure from the White House and from the native oligarchy. In Bolivia there is a strong movement for autonomy in some regions with clear separatist tendencies (supported by the North American government)

Both Chavez and Morales have taken on the urgent demand to give consistency to  popular organisation and mobilisation, to political parties and, above all, to a project for the nation which they intend to implement and which today appears confusedly as leftist rhetoric which is not understood by the poor, feared by the middle class  and rejected by the rich.  

The Lula government in Brazil opted for development without uncontrolled inflation and with a strong social tendency through policies such as the Bolsa Familia (Family Allowance) which are compensable and not emancipatory “ all within the framework of neo liberalism. In Venezuela and Bolivia the option is to break these frameworks and promote structural reforms in order to build a social model with less inequality and more popular participation.

The future is unforeseeable. One thing however is obvious: nowhere in the world is there so much hope, so much searching for alternatives, as much utopia as there is today in Latin America. We hope that the dream will become reality.

*Frei Betto is a writer, author of ”Calendário do Poder (Calendar of Power) (Rocco).

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Montag, 25. August 2008 um 01:51 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Kultur, Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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