We've read with concern the vaguely humanitarian and dangerously 'impartial' opinion pieces by the likes of prominent musicians who, although honest in their emotional responses, fail to accurately assess the social and geopolitical realities happening today in Venezuela.
We all can agree that US foreign policy towards Venezuela since 1999 has been economic sabotage and attempts at regime change in order to protect vested oil interests. We also can agree that the corporate media distorts the reality on the ground in Venezuela to manipulate public opinion towards the interests of US multinationals and their cronies in the Venezuelan oligarch. Facts only.
From here we can begin to understand the nature of the protests in Venezuela.
We recently returned from Chile, where a student protest movement eight years strong has raised important questions about the fundamental human right of high quality, accessible public education. So imagine our surprise when we read about these 'student' protests occurring in Venezuela, a country where the constitution enshrines the right to free K-College public education. So, if not the question of access to education, what are their concerns exactly?
We've heard of the shortages in toothpaste and toilet paper but this is hardly the Toiletry Revolution. There is also the supposed concern about public safety but it seems counterintuitive to organize violent flash mob protests for safer streets. CNN and Univision paint the picture that there is massive opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution, despite the fact that it has won over 16 internationally-recognized local and national elections since 1999. Moreover, despite the claims of silenced dissent, the majority of press in Venezuela is in the hands of private media companies that operate with open hostilies and lies to destabilize the social fabric. So who is this 'opposition' really and why have they mobilized all of their disinformation channels now?
The protests began surfacing on February 12th of this year. On February 10th, The Law for the Control of Fare Costs, Prices, and Profits went into regulation. This law puts a cap on grotesque profit margins to ensure companies doing business in Venezuela are not simply pimping the resources of the national economy at the expense of its people. It seeks to address the economic warfare being waged by multinational corporations, who are hoarding goods to create artificial shortages, raise consumer prices, and foment social unrest. The law seeks to avoid what occurred in Chile during the presidency of Salvador Allende, where the CIA, and the US/Chilean oligarchy initially attempted to instigate a 'soft coup' by hoarding warehouses full of everyday necesities like rice, cooking oil, and flour in order to fabricate popular discontent. We need only to look back at this history and other imperial US interventions in Latin America to know that when the power of the global elite is threatened, as is happening in Venezuela today, the empire will respond with unmitigated violence, manipulation, and deceit in order to protect their profits.
Since receiving Hugo Chavez here in the South Bronx in 2005, we have been inspired to create safe, liberated cultural spaces for young people in the poorest congressional district of the United States through the RDACBX. Recently, we held a concert to commemorate the 20 years of the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, where the indigenous community has waged a 3 decades-long struggle to protect their land and culture from the same tentacles of predatory multinational 'development' companies that threaten Venezuela today; the same entities that spur gentrification and racist police brutality here in the South Bronx. Although different in context and process, our struggle for survival in the Bronx, the Zapatista uprising, and the Bolivarian Revolution face the same foe; a violently imposed socioeconomic model that threatens our very existence as a human race; a system that values profits over people and the planet. Perhaps we can all take a cue from the ancient wisdom of the Zapatista struggle; that of Leading by Following; For Everyone, Everything and For Us Nothing; and most importantly, One No, Many Yesses. A defiant, unequivocal, unified NO to imperial domination, and diverse, inclusive, participatory, creative, multiple YESSES to the wants and needs of the people- to be determined by, and only by, the people.
Abajo el imperio!
No a la violencia y los golpistas!
Que viva el pueblo Venezolano!
G1 of Rebel Diaz
South Bronx 02/21/14