Transcript: Venezuela Symposium is about Chavez and the current state of | Apr 22, 2006

A caption appears it reads "Victor Rivas. Spanish, University of Toronto.’ A
Discussion of the Current State of Venezuela.’ Isabel Bader Theatre March 15,
2006."

Rivas is in his forties and has dark brown hair that is parted and a dark brown
goatee and moustache. He wears a black jacket, white shirt and red tie.

Rivas stands behind a wooden podium and speaks to the audience.

Rivas says IT IS AN
HONOUR FOR ME TO BE HERE
TONIGHT, TO BE PART OF THIS UM,
CONTROVERSIAL DEBATE,
CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE.
AND I'D LIKE TO BEGIN BY HAVING
A QUOTE READ TO YOU, IF I MAY,
MR. LUCHT.

Lucht is in his fifties and has white hair and a white beard. He wears a grey
suit and a gray tie.

Lucht sits at a table and speaks into the microphone.

Lucht says "THE PEOPLE
DON'T KNOW WHAT SACRIFICE IS.
THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT IT MEANS
TO ACQUIRE THINGS.
THAT IS WHY
THEY DON'T VALUE NOR CARE ABOUT
THESE THINGS.

A caption appears under Bernie Lucht that says "Bernie Lucht reading from ‘The
Revolution will not be televised.'"

Lucht continues WE ARE NOT GOING TO FORFEIT OUR
COUNTRY TO PEOPLE WHO DO NOT
HAVE PREPARATION, WHO HAVE NO
VALUES, AND WHO HAVE NEVER
STRUGGLED TO OBTAIN THINGS.
WHEREAS WE HAVE STRUGGLED FOR
THOSE THINGS WE POSSESS AND WE
WILL NOT GIVE THEM UP SO
EASILY."

Rivas says THANK YOU.
THIS QUOTE IS IN THE SETTING OF
THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF THE
ASSOCIATION, THE CONDOMINIUM
ASSOCIATION.
THE WOMAN WHO IS BEING
INTERVIEWED TALKS ABOUT HER
FEARS AND THE FEARS OF THE
OTHER MEMBERS OF THE
CONDOMINIUM THAT ARE GIVEN TO
THEM BY THE RISE OF THE MASSES,
BY THE RISE OF THE POOR PEOPLE.
SHE REFERS TO THEM AS PEOPLE
WITHOUT THE PROPER PREPARATION.
LET'S TALK ABOUT IT IN TERMS OF
EDUCATION.
IT'S A PROVOCATIVE STATEMENT,
PROVOCATIVE BECAUSE OF WHAT IT
IMPLIES.
IT IMPLIES DIFFERENCES IN
CULTURE.
IT IMPLIES DIFFERENCES FROM
HIGH TO LOW, FROM THE ELITE TO
THE HAVE NOT, TO THE POOR, TO
THE MASSES.
IT IMPLIES DIFFERENCES BETWEEN
FINE ART AND FOLK ART.
THESE ARE SOME OF THE
DIFFERENCES THAT ARE BEING
CHALLENGED NOW UNDER THE CHAVEZ
ADMINISTRATION.
I AM FROM VENEZUELA, OF COURSE.
BUT I MUST ADD THE FOLLOWING.
I AM A CHILD, I GREW UP IN THE
40 YEARS OF DEMOCRACY THAT YOU
HEAR VENEZUELANS TALK ABOUT IN
BOTH CAMPS.
THESE 40 YEARS OF DEMOCRACY
THAT BEGAN IN '58, '59 AFTER
THE DICTATOR MARCOS PEREZ
JIMENEZ WAS TOPPLED.
I AM WHAT YOU WOULD CALL AN OIL
CAMP BRAT.
GROWING UP IN THE OIL CAMPS IS
QUITE AN EXPERIENCE, SO I CAN
SAY THAT I HAVE A PRIVILEGED
LIFESTYLE, THAT I RECEIVED AN
EDUCATION IN EXCELLENT SCHOOLS,
PRIVATE SCHOOLS AS THEY MAY BE.
I WAS ABLE TO BE ONE OF THE
LAST RECIPIENTS OF A FAIRLY
WELL KNOWN SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM,
CALLED THE [Speaking Spanish],
THAT WAS GIVEN OUT BY THE
VENEZUELAN GOVERNMENT, PERHAPS
NOT SO EASY TO ATTAIN UNLESS
YOU KNEW THE RIGHT PEOPLE.
THIS IS IN THE LATE '70s, RIGHT
BEFORE THE SCHOLARSHIP WAS
CANCELLED BECAUSE OF MONETARY
PROBLEMS AND THE RISING
DIFFERENCES OF THE BOLIVAR
VERSUS THE AMERICAN DOLLAR.
I DID RECEIVE MY EDUCATION IN
THE STATES, SO I DO CONSIDER
MYSELF TO HAVE A DIFFERENT
POINT OF VIEW.
MOST OF MY FRIENDS, THE PEOPLE
I GREW UP WITH, WOULD ECHO THE
SENTIMENT OF THAT PASSAGE THAT
WAS READ.
AGAIN, IT IS THE SENTIMENT OF
THE MIDDLE CLASS, THE HIGH
MIDDLE CLASS THAT ARE CONCERNED
ABOUT THE CHANGES OCCURRING IN
THEIR REALITY THAT ARE
OCCURRING IN THEIR CONTEXT.
NOT ONLY ECONOMICALLY, BUT
ESPECIALLY POLITICALLY.
NOT ONLY IN THOSE TERMS, BUT
ALSO IN TERMS OF THE LIFESTYLE.
THAT IS, MOST OF THE PEOPLE I
KNOW, THAT I GREW UP WITH, THE
PEOPLE THAT I TALK TO, OTHER
ACADEMICS IN THE UNITED STATES
AND IN CANADA, WERE ALL OUTSIDE
OF VENEZUELA BECAUSE WE WERE
ABLE TO AFFORD IT.
SO IN TALKING TO MY FRIENDS AND
TO MY COLLEAGUES AND OTHER
PEOPLE ABOUT VENEZUELA, OTHER
VENEZUELANS ESPECIALLY, IT IS
INTERESTING THEN, TO SEE HOW
DIFFERENT OPINIONS RISE UP, AND
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I ALWAYS
NOTICED, WAS THAT THE...
OPPOSITION, OPPOSITION OF VIEWS
ABOUT CHAVEZ, TENDED TO BE, IF
I MAY SAY SO, EMPTY OF
RHETORIC.
THAT IS, A BIT PROBLEMATIC TO
SUSTAIN.
THE IDEA THAT WAS EXPRESSED BY
THIS QUOTE, IS COMMONPLACE,
AGAIN, AMONG THE MIDDLE CLASS,
THE HIGH MIDDLE CLASS AND THE
ELITE.
IT IS A REAL FEAR.
IT IS A FEAR BECAUSE, AS I SAID
BEFORE, IT THREATENS THE
LIFESTYLE.
ONE OF THE AREAS THAT IS
THREATENED, THAT IS MOST
OBVIOUS, IS THE PUBLIC SPACES.
SO PUBLIC SPACES, WE CAN
CATEGORISE IN MANY WAYS.
BUT LET'S TALK IN TERMS OF THE
MUSEUMS, FOR EXAMPLE, OR THE
ART GALLERIES, OR THE THEATRES.
YOU HAVE READ IN THE NEWS, I'M
SURE, THAT A LOT OF THE
CONTROVERSY COMES FROM ALLOWING
PREVIOUSLY PRIVILEGED SPACES
SUCH AS THE SOPHIA IMBER
MUSEUM, OR THE THERESA CARENNO
THEATRE, OPENED TO THE PUBLIC.
THERE WERE
STATEMENTS MADE IN THE PRESS,
ON THE RADIO AND IN THE MEDIA
THAT SAID, WELL AFTER CHAVEZ
FALLS, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO
COME IN HERE WITH SANITIZERS
AND CLEAN UP THE PLACE, BECAUSE
THE MASSES WERE ALLOWED IN.
I MENTION ALL
THIS ONLY TO BRING UP THE POINT
OF CONTRAST, THAT THERE IS, IN
FACT, A CULTURAL SHIFT, A
PARADIGM SHIFT, IF YOU WILL, ON
THE MEANING OF CULTURE,
OCCURRING IN THE PAST FOUR
YEARS IN VENEZUELA.
THIS IS IN STARK CONTRAST TO
WHAT, DURING THE PAST 40 YEARS,
BEFORE CHAVEZ CAME TO POWER,
WAS CREATED.
WE WHO GREW UP IN THESE CAMPS
THAT HAD FENCES, HAD
ESSENTIALLY GATED COMMUNITIES,
GREW UP WITH THE IDEA THAT,
WELL, WE WERE PRIVILEGED, WE
HAVE TO KEEP OUR WAY OF LIFE
PROTECTED, WE HAVE TO KEEP THE
POOR AND THE UNEDUCATED, YOU
CAN EVEN GO A LITTLE BIT
FURTHER AND THINK ABOUT THE
UNWASHED MASSES, LET THEM EAT
CAKE, BAD TRANSLATION FROM THE
FRENCH -- VERY PROVOCATIVE,
AGAIN.
THE PARADIGM SHIFT OCCURS,
THOUGH, WHEN, AFTER 40 YEARS OF
DEMOCRACY, THE 40 YEARS THAT
SHARED BETWEEN TWO POLITICAL
PARTIES, ACCION DEMOCRATICA
AND COPEI.
THEY SHARED THE POWER, AND
FINALLY WHAT HAPPENS IS, THE
CORRUPTION STEPS IN.
IN THE LATE '80s, A NEO-LIBERAL
POLICY COMES IN AND THE RESULT
WOULD BE THE CARACHAZO, RIOT ON
THE STREET, THE PEOPLE
COMPLAINING, MANIFESTING,
DEMONSTRATING ON THE STREETS
BECAUSE THEY'RE HUNGRY.
THIS IS NOT A NEW THING.
IT'S JUST THAT THE CARACHAZO IN
THE EARLY '90s, DURING THE
GOVERNMENT OF CARLOS ANDRES
PEREZ, WAS A MARKER IN
VENEZUELAN SOCIETY.
IT MARKED THE BEGINNING OF A
CHANGE.
IT MARKED THE BEGINNING OF THE
END FOR THAT 40 YEARS OF
DEMOCRACY AND THUS, THEN
BRINGING IN THE RISE OF NOW
PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ.
I WOULD CALL THIS TRANSITIONAL
CHANGE THE BEGINNING OF A NEW
ZEITGEIST, A ZEITGEIST THAT
WOULD BE FOLLOWING A NEW HERO,
A NEW LEADER, SOMEBODY THAT
WOULD EMBODY THE IDEALS THAT
THE MASSES, AND IN THIS CASE I
MEANT THE GREAT MAJORITY OF THE
POPULATION, AND I'M NOT TALKING
ABOUT THE MAJORITY OF POWER,
I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE
ELITE, WHO WERE REPRESENTED BY
THE 40 YEARS OF GOVERNMENT
PRIOR TO CHAVEZ, I'M TALKING
ABOUT THOSE WHO WERE
MARGINALISED, THOSE WHO LIVED
OUT IN THE BARRIOS OF THE CITY
OF CARACAS, THOSE WHO LIVED IN
THE BARRIOS, AS WE SAY THE
SLUMS, THOSE WHO LIVED OUT IN
THE PROVINCES, THE PROVINCES
THAT WOULD BE IN MARKED
CONTRAST TO THE CITY, TO THE
METROPOLES.
IT IS THIS GROUP OF PEOPLE,
THOSE WHO WERE UNREPRESENTED BY
GOVERNMENT, WHO DID NOT FEEL
REPRESENTED BY GOVERNMENT
BEFORE CHAVEZ, WHO HAVE RALLIED
TO THE SUPPORT OF CHAVEZ.
WHAT IS INTERESTING, THOUGH,
ABOUT ALL OF THIS, THE NEW
ZEITGEIST, THE DIFFERENCE IN
THE INTERPRETATION OF THE
MEANING OF CULTURE, THIS
PARADIGM SHIFT, IS THAT THE
GOVERNMENT UNDER CHAVEZ, HAS
IMPLEMENTED A CONCERTED EFFORT
TO CHANGE THE CONCEPTION OF
CULTURE.
THE GOVERNMENT HAS PUT INTO
PLACE SEVERAL MEASURES, LEGAL
MEASURES, GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS,
SOCIAL PROGRAMS, IN ORDER TO
HELP THE PEOPLE REALISE THEIR
POTENTIAL AS ACTIVE CITIZENS
WHO PARTICIPATE IN A TRUE
DEMOCRACY.
AND I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT A
DEMOCRACY WHERE, AGAIN, JUST
THE ELITE OR A FEW PEOPLE, WHO
ARE ABLE TO INFLUENCE THE
GOVERNMENT OR PARTICIPATE IN
THE GOVERNMENT, COULD BENEFIT
FROM.
I'M TALKING ABOUT THOSE PEOPLE
WHO, AGAIN, WERE PREVIOUSLY
MARGINALISED, WHO NOW CAN IN
FACT SAY TO THE CAMERAS, TO THE
MEDIA THAT THEY ARE
PARTICIPATING IN THE EVENTS OF
GOVERNMENT, IN THE CHOICES OF
GOVERNMENT.
IN TERMS OF A LEGAL DOCUMENT, I
HAVE TO BRING UP THE
CONSTITUTION OF VENEZUELA, THE
BOLIVARIAN CONSTITUTION.

Rivas brings out the constitution and shows it to the audience, that is a bright
blue miniature book.

Rivas says I BROUGHT INTO MY POCKET, JUST
AS A SHOW, AND IN MY HAND, IN
THE PALM OF MY HAND I HOLD A
NINE CENTIMETRES BY SIX
CENTIMETRE BOOK THAT IS THE
CONSTITUTION OF VENEZUELA.
IT FITS IN MY POCKET, IT'S
ROUGHLY ABOUT THREE INCHES.
IT FITS IN MY
POCKET VERY CONVENIENTLY.
IT HAS BEEN USED AS A SYMBOL BY
THE PRESIDENT HIMSELF, DURING
HIS TALKS, DURING HIS SPEECHES,
TO TALK ABOUT THE WORD OF THE
PEOPLE, TO TALK ABOUT THE
CHOICES THAT THE PEOPLE MADE
MANIFEST IN LAW.
WHAT HAPPENS
WITH THE CONSTITUTION, AND WHAT
SHOULD BE NOTED IS THAT IN
DIFFERENCE TO THE LAST
CONSTITUTION, THE CONSTITUTION
THAT CAME IN 1961, DURING THE
40 YEARS OF DEMOCRACY ALREADY
MENTIONED, IS THAT THIS
CONSTITUTION AFFORDS RIGHTS, OF
COURSE NOT ONLY TO MEN, BUT TO
WOMEN, TO THE CHILDREN, HERE'S
A FIRST, AND ALSO TO THE
INDIGENOUS POPULATION.
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT
APPROXIMATELY 36 DIFFERENT
ETHNIC GROUPS, DISTINCT ETHNIC
GROUPS IN VENEZUELA, INDIGENOUS
GROUPS THAT ARE NOW LEGALLY
REPRESENTED BY THIS DOCUMENT.
THIS IS ONE OF THE STEPS OF THE
GOVERNMENT, RATIFIED IN 1999,
WHICH THEN ALLOWED THE
ELECTION, AGAIN, BECAUSE THE
CONSTITUTION SAID SO, IN THE
YEAR 2000, OF CHAVEZ, INITIATED
A NEW TERM.
IT IS THIS DOCUMENT THEN, THAT
WOULD AFFORD LEGALITY, IT WOULD
AFFORD AGENCY, POLITICAL
AGENCY, TO THESE PREVIOUSLY
MARGINALISED PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE
WHO WERE NOT REPRESENTED AGAIN.
THE CONSTITUTION ALSO BRINGS UP
AN INTERESTING ISSUE.
THERE IS A SECTION IN IT THAT
IS DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY FOR
THE PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF
CULTURE.
NOW IMAGINE, CULTURE BEING
ADDRESSED, AS YOU WOULD, SAY A
CORPORATE ENTITY.
CULTURE, THAT ABSTRACT NOTION,
IS ALSO TREATED AS AN ENTITY
THAT HAS RIGHTS AND IS
PROTECTED NOW UNDER THE LAW.
WHAT THE CONSTITUTION TALKS
ABOUT AS CULTURE, IS EVERY BIT
OF IT.
OUR DAILY PRACTISES, OUR
CUSTOMS, WHAT WE'VE
TRADITIONALLY CALLED FOLKLORE,
CULTURAL EVENTS, KNOWLEDGE AS
SUCH.
IT IS PROTECTED UNDER THE
CONSTITUTION.
THIS BRINGS IN, THEN A
DIFFERENT-- A DIFFERENT VIEW OF
CULTURE THAT THEN IS GOING TO
BE SUPPORTED BY THE GOVERNMENT
IN TERMS OF THE CREATION OF
THEIR BOLIVARIAN MISSIONS, THE
SOCIAL PROGRAMS WE'VE ALL HEARD
ABOUT IN THE MEDIA.
THE SOCIAL PROGRAMS
SPECIFICALLY THE EDUCATIONAL
PROGRAMS, UNDER ALSO A NEWLY
CREATED MINISTRY, THE MINISTRY
OF CULTURE IN 2004, IS NOW
GOING TO BE PROTECTED AND THEN
IT WILL ALSO BE FOMENTED, THAT
IS, IT WILL BE SUBSIDISED BY
THE GOVERNMENT IN ALL AREAS,
ESPECIALLY THOSE AREAS THAT
WERE RELEGATED TO, FOR EXAMPLE,
ORAL TRADITION.
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT ORAL
HISTORIES.
WE'RE ALSO TALKING ABOUT THE
FORGOTTEN HISTORY, OR THE
HISTORY THAT DID NOT MAKE IT
INTO OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS THAT
WERE USED IN SCHOOLS AND
UNIVERSITIES FOR 40 YEARS, AND
EVEN PREVIOUS TO THE 40 YEARS.
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE
RESCUING OF HISTORICAL FIGURES
THAT WERE MEANINGFUL TO THE
REGIONAL AREAS OF VENEZUELA, TO
THE DIFFERENT PEOPLE OF
DIFFERENT REGIONS.
WE ONLY TALK ABOUT SIMON
BOLIVAR, BUT NOW UNDER CHAVEZ,
THESE FIGURES HAVE BEEN BROUGHT
UP AGAIN, HAVE BEEN RESCUED
FROM THAT HISTORICAL BIN,
DUSTED OFF AND HAVE BEEN RE-
EVALUATED.
SOMETHING ELSE THAT CHAVEZ
DOES, YOU HAVE NOTICED AND IT'S
ALSO CONTROVERSIAL, IS HIS USE
OF MEDIA, THE CONTROVERSIAL USE
OF THE TELEVISION CHANNELS FOUR
PRIVATE CHANNELS, VERY POWERFUL
CHANNELS, PART OF A MEDIA
CONGLOMERATE, MEDIA-- OR WHAT
WE WOULD CALL THE CORPORATE
MEDIA -- CNN IN ESPANOL, FOR
EXAMPLE, WOULD TRANSMIT THEIR
CHOICES OF CLIPS FROM
PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHES, THEN
TRANSLATED INTO CNN USA, FOR
EXAMPLE, AND SO YOU GET A VERY
PARTICULAR PICTURE OF THE
PRESIDENT, PERHAPS A MOCKERY,
PERHAPS A BUFFOON.
BUT IF YOU WERE TO TAKE THOSE
CLIPS AND INSERT THEM BACK INTO
THE REAL CONTEXT FROM WHICH
THEY WERE TAKEN FROM, YOU WOULD
UNDERSTAND THAT THOSE APPARENT
DIATRIBES HAVE MEANING AND ARE
TIED INTO A VERY CAREFULLY
ORCHESTRATED, VERY CAREFULLY
PLANNED SPEECH, MOMENTOUS
SPEECH.

Rivas says IT IS DURING
THESE INTERVENTIONS THAT THE
PRESIDENT IS ABLE THEN TO BRING
UP NAMES OTHER THAN SIMON
BOLIVAR, AND AS I MENTIONED
EARLIER, RESCUE THEM FROM THE
HISTORICAL, OR THE HISTORY OF
THE BIN, THE DUSTBIN OF
HISTORY.
BY DOING THIS, HE IS ALSO
HELPING THE PEOPLE REALISE THAT
THERE IS QUITE A BIT MORE TO
THEIR LEGACY, TO THEIR CULTURAL
LEGACY, TO THEIR HISTORICAL
LEGACY.
THERE IS QUITE
A BIT MORE THAT WAS NOT TAUGHT
IN SCHOOLS DURING THE PAST 40
YEARS OF DEMOCRACY.
IT MAKES THE PEOPLE, AND BY
THIS I MEAN THE MASSES, THE
MAJORITY, REALISE THAT, IN
FACT, PEOPLE LIKE THEM WERE
FIGHTING FOR POLITICAL AGENCY,
WERE FIGHTING FOR POLITICAL
REPRESENTATION.
THIS IS QUITE IMPORTANT
BECAUSE, AGAIN, IN DOING THIS
RESCUING, IN DOING THIS
REMINDER, BRINGING UP THE NAMES
OF EZEKIEL ZAMORA OF
MAISANTA, SIMON RODRIGUEZ,
OTHER NAMES, THE PEOPLE THEN
CAN RELATE TO THESE FIGURES,
THESE FIGURES WHO LOOK LIKE THE
PEOPLE ALSO, THAT ARE THE
MAJORITY.
NOT NECESSARILY THE DESCENDENTS
OF EUROPEAN-- OF A EUROPEAN
ELITE.
SO WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL THEN,
IN HOW WE ANALYSE, IN HOW WE
INTEND TO CRITICISE THESE BITS
OF PIECES THAT SHOW UP IN THE
MEDIA.
PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ'S USE THE
MEDIA, BEING CONTROVERSIAL, IS
ALSO GOING TO BE QUITE-- QUITE
USEFUL IN PUTTING FORTH HIS
POLITICAL PLATFORM.
CHAVEZ WILL TALK ABOUT THE NEED
TO CREATE ENDOGAMOUS ECONOMIES,
LOCAL ECONOMIES, THAT IS, TO
CREATE AN INDEPENDENT NATION, A
NATION THAT IS NOT GOING TO BE
PART OF SAY, A NEO-LIBERAL
PLAN, TO BE DEPENDENT UPON
DOING BUSINESS ONLY, FOR
EXAMPLE, WITH THE UNITED
STATES.
THIS FLIES IN THE FACE OF MOST
CONSERVATIVES, OF THE UNITED
STATES GOVERNMENT, IT FLIES IN
THE FACE OF THAT ELITE THAT
PREVIOUSLY RULED VENEZUELA.
THIS IS THE ELITE THAT I GREW
UP IN.
WHAT HAPPENS THEN, IN MY CASE?
I GO BACK TO VENEZUELA, AFTER
LISTENING TO THE TRADITIONAL
NEWS MEDIA, ABOUT THE NEGATIVES
EFFECTS OF THE CHAVEZ
ADMINISTRATION.
AND IN GOING BACK, I WAS ABLE
TO WORK WITH PEOPLE FROM THE
BARRIOS, TO TALK TO THE PEOPLE
FROM THE BARRIOS, FROM THE POOR
NEIGHBOURHOODS, AND ACTUALLY
FILM, ACTUALLY DOCUMENT THE
CHANGES.
WHAT I WOULD HOPE FOR IS THAT
THE MEDIA ITSELF WOULD BE SO
RESPONSIBLE, AND BESIDES TRYING
TO BE OBJECTIVE AND
INTERVIEWING THOSE WHO ARE THE
SO-CALLED VICTIMS OF THE CHAVEZ
GOVERNMENT, WHO ARE NOW OUTSIDE
OF THE NATION, WHO ARE ABLE TO
AFFORD TO FLY OUT OF THE
NATION, THOSE WHO ARE TRYING TO
FIND VISAS, THOSE WHO ARE
TRYING TO FIND PASSPORTS, THAT
THE MEDIA, BESIDES INTERVIEWING
THESE PEOPLE, WHO HAVE
LEGITIMATE COMPLAINTS, BECAUSE
THEIR PARTICULAR LIFESTYLE IS
NOW CHANGED, THAT THEY WOULD
ALSO GO IN AND INTERVIEW THE
PEOPLE WHO ARE SUPPORTING
CHAVEZ.
THIS IS IMPORTANT.
IF WE ARE GOING TO TALK ABOUT
OBJECTIVE JOURNALISM, THEN WE
SHOULD TRY TO AT LEAST LIVE UP
TO THAT NOTION, TO THE PRETENCE
OF OBJECTIVITY.
A LOT OF WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE
IN VENEZUELA, A LOT OF WORK
NEEDS TO BE IMPLEMENTED.
WE NEED THE COOPERATION OF
OTHER NATIONS, OTHER
GOVERNMENTS, OTHER
ADMINISTRATIONS, WE NEED THE
COOPERATION OF OUR NEIGHBOURS
IN LATIN AMERICA.
I BELIEVE THAT THE PRESIDENT OF
VENEZUELA IS TRYING TO DO THIS.
I BELIEVE THAT WE, AS CITIZENS,
INTERNATIONAL, GLOBAL CITIZENS,
SHOULD MAKE IT OUR
RESPONSIBILITY TO GO BACK AND
LOOK AT THE MEDIA, SEE WHERE
THE NEWS IS COMING FROM, BE
RESPONSIBLE CONSUMERS OF
INFORMATION, BE RESPONSIBLE
CITIZENS OF A GLOBAL TERRITORY.
THIS IS WHAT CHAVEZ IS TRYING
TO ACCOMPLISH.
HE IS, IN EFFECT, MAKING THE
PEOPLE OF VENEZUELA, ON BOTH
SIDES, IN BOTH CAMPS, QUESTION
THEIR POLITICAL REALITY.
THEIR CULTURAL IMAGINARY IS
BEING CHALLENGED.
THE ELITE HAVE TO RETHINK
THEMSELVES, RETHINK THEIR
IDENTITY, RETHINK THEIR
CULTURAL PRACTICES AND THE
MASSES HAVE TO RETHINK THEIR
POSITION ALSO.
IT IS THESE
MASSES WHO, ONCE CHAVEZ IS
GONE, WILL RETAIN POWER,
BECAUSE NOW THEY HAVE HAD A
TASTE OF IT.
NOW THEY ARE
BEING TAUGHT AGAIN BY THE WORDS
OF GALLEGOS, AND THE WORDS OF
SIMON BOLIVAR.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
[Applause]

Klepak is in his fifties and has short brown hair that is thinning at the top.
He wears a navy blue jacket, light blue shirt and navy blue tie.

He stands behind a podium and speaks to the audience.

Klepak says I WOULD LIKE TO
FIRST ASSERT, AND I THINK
PROFESSOR RIVAS HAS MADE IT
PRETTY CLEAR TO US THAT THIS
IS, IN FACT, ACCURATE.
THIS GOVERNMENT AND THIS MAN,
MAY BE ALL SORTS OF THINGS, BUT
HE AND THEY DID NOT FALL OUT OF
THE SKY AS SOME KIND OF COSMIC
ACCIDENT, NOR ARE THEY A RESULT
OF SOME KIND OF DREADFUL PLOT.
THIS MAN, THIS GOVERNMENT, ARE
VENEZUELA RESPONSES TO
VENEZUELAN HISTORY AND
VENEZUELAN PROBLEMS.

The caption changes to "Hal Klepak. Historian, Royal Military College of
Canada.’ A Discussion of the Current State of Venezuela.’ Isabel Bader Theatre
March 15 2006."

Klepak says PERHAPS MORE
TROUBLING FOR THOSE SOUTH OF
HERE, AT LEAST ONE GOVERNMENT
SOUTH OF HERE, IS THAT OF
COURSE, IT DOESN'T STOP THERE.
THE ISSUE BECOMES MORE
PROBLEMATICAL BECAUSE, AT LEAST
IN MUCH OF THE REGION, PERHAPS
ALL OF THE REGIONS, IN SOME
WAYS, THIS MAN AND THIS
RESPONSE CAN BE SEEN AS
ABSOLUTELY LEGITIMATE LATIN
AMERICAN PHENOMENON AND LATIN
AMERICAN RESPONSES TO THEIR
HISTORY, THEIR PROBLEMS.
I'D LIKE TO
SUGGEST TO YOU THAT WHEN I
START TEACHING INTRODUCTORY
COURSES IN LATIN AMERICA, I
FIND A WONDERFUL BOOK BY ALAIN
ROUQUIE, WHO IS A FRENCH
SCHOLAR AT THE [Speaking
French] IN PARIS, WHO HAS
WRITTEN A BOOK WITH A WONDERFUL
TURN OF TITLE.
HE CALLS IT AMERIQUE
LATINE: INTRODUCTION A
L'EXTREME-OCCIDENT.
SO PLAYING ON THE FAR EAST, AND
NOT WISHING TO USE ANY WORD
LIKE FAR WEST, WHICH, OF COURSE
IS TRANSLATED AS FAR WEST, INTO
FRENCH, HE IS TRYING TO SUGGEST
THAT LATIN AMERICA'S PROBLEMS,
INDEED, LATIN AMERICA'S
PERCEPTION OF ITSELF IS
ENTIRELY WESTERN.
LATIN AMERICANS DO NOT FEEL
THEMSELVES AS PART OF SOME
OTHER CULTURAL FRAMEWORK.
THEY ARE WESTERN BY RELIGION,
BY HISTORY, BY TRADITION, BY
LANGUAGE, BY YOU NAME IT,
VIRTUALLY, AT LEAST THE
DOMINANT ELEMENTS THAT HAVE
COME TO THE FORE IN THE LAST
500 YEARS, CONSIDER THEMSELVES
ABSOLUTELY WESTERN.
HENCE, WHAT HAPPENS IN LATIN
AMERICA IS LINKED TO WHAT WE
DO.
WHY DOES IT MATTER TO US WHAT
HAPPENS IN VENEZUELA?
IT'S FAR AWAY, OR RELATIVELY
FAR AWAY, AND MOST OBSERVERS
TODAY, IN THE ERA OF THE 11th
OF SEPTEMBER, IRAQ,
AFGHANISTAN, WOULD SAY IT'S
HARDLY A CENTRAL REGION FOR US.
IS IT ONLY THAT IT'S
VENEZUELA'S OIL?
IS THAT THE ONLY REASON?
I WOULD LIKE TO SUBMIT TO YOU
THAT, LIKE CASTRO, THE PROBLEM
WITH VENEZUELA, THE PROBLEM
WITH CHAVEZ IS SYMBOLISM.
IT'S NOT WHAT HAPPENS UNIQUELY
IN VENEZUELA THAT TROUBLES EVEN
THE AMERICANS, FRANKLY, IT IS
WHAT HAPPENS ELSEWHERE AS A
RESULT OF CASTRO ALREADY AND
NOW CHAVEZ.
BECAUSE WHAT ARE WE SAYING?
IF A RADICAL, OR WHAT IS
PERCEIVED AS A RADICAL REFORM
PROGRAM FUNCTIONS, IF IT WORKS,
WHICH HAS NOT BEEN THE CASE IN
A LATIN AMERICA COUNTRY YET,
THEN THE MESSAGE SENT TO THE
REST OF THE REGION IS THAT
RADICAL REFORMISM WORKS,
WHEREAS NOTHING ELSE WE HAVE
TRIED IN THE LONG AND HIGHLY
SAD TRAGEDY OF LATIN AMERICAN
INDEPENDENCE OVER ALMOST TWO
CENTURIES NOW, HAS WORKED.
IF THESE RADICAL APPROACHES DO
NOT WORK, THEN WE CANNOT SAY
THAT THERE IS A MESSAGE, A
POSITIVE MESSAGE FOR OTHERS TO
EMULATE.
I'D LIKE TO COME BACK TO THIS,
BUT I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT.
IT'S IMPORTANT THAT IF IT FAILS
AS A PROCESS, IT MUST BE FOR
ITS OWN REASONS AND NOT YET
AGAIN, BLAMEABLE ON THE UNITED
STATES, ON THE NORTH, ON A
DEVELOPED WORLD, ON WHATEVER
OTHER GROUP YOU WOULD LIKE TO
BLAME.
I WOULD SUBMIT TO YOU THAT THE
SITUATION TODAY, AND I HOPE YOU
WON'T CONSIDER IT ALARMIST,
THAT THE SITUATION TODAY HAS
REMARKABLE SIMILARITIES TO
GUATEMALA IN 1954.
AS YOU KNOW IN 1954, THE FREELY
ELECTED GOVERNMENT IN GUATEMALA
WAS OVERTHROWN BY UNITED STATES
STAGED INVASION.
ONE DID THINGS IN GRAND STYLE
IN THOSE DAYS, NOT JUST A COUP.
AND I THINK WHAT EVERYONE WOULD
SAY-- WHAT EVERYONE MIGHT SAY
ABOUT THE UNITED FRUIT COMPANY
AND OTHERS, THE REALITY THAT
ALL THE DOCUMENTS WOULD
SUGGEST, I THINK WE COULD
CONCLUDE, FROM UNITED STATES
OWN SOURCES NOW THAT MOST OF
THEM ARE OPEN, IS THAT THE
PROBLEM WAS NOT A LEFTIST
GOVERNMENT IN GUATEMALA, IT WAS
A LEFTIST GOVERNMENT IN
GUATEMALA WITH REALLY QUITE A
MODERATE REFORM PROGRAM, BUT
ONE THAT WORKED.
AND IF A LEFTIST GOVERNMENT
PROVIDES GOVERNMENT WHICH
WORKS, IT IS EXTREMELY
PROBLEMATICAL FOR POWERS THAT
INTEND THAT NOT TO HAPPEN.
NOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THAT
GOVERNMENT IS OVERTHROWN, I
THINK ALSO HAS MESSAGES FOR US
ALL AT THE MOMENT.
FIRSTLY, IF THAT LEFTIST
GUATEMALAN GOVERNMENT WAS TO
WORK-- WERE TO WORK, IT WOULD
BE SYMBOLIC THAT THERE IS A
PEACEFUL ROUTE TO REFORM.
THAT IS A
MESSAGE TO THE EXTREME LEFT,
BUT OF COURSE REGRETTABLY IT IS
A MESSAGE TO THE EXTREME RIGHT
AS WELL.
IF THAT LEFTIST GUATEMALAN
GOVERNMENT DOES NOT WORK, THEN
ONE CAN SHOW IT DIDN'T AND ONE
CAN STOP SIMILAR ATTEMPTS BY
DEMOCRATIC MEANS, TO REACH
REFORMIST POLICIES.
BUT WHAT HAPPENS
WITH UNITED STATES
INTERVENTION?
WHAT HAPPENS WITH UNITED STATES
INTERVENTION, AND WE HAVE CHE'S
MEMOIRS, FIDEL'S MEMOIRS
RAOUL'S MEMOIRS AND ALL KINDS
OF OTHER MEMOIRS, IS THAT OF
COURSE, YOU SHOW TO THE
MODERATE LEFT, AND DARE I SAY
THE CENTRE, THAT THERE IS NO
WAY TO MOVE FORWARD IN A
DEMOCRATIC FASHION TO REFORM,
EVEN MODERATE REFORM, THAT THE
UNITED STATES WILL NOT TOLERATE
UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, MOVES
TOWARD REFORM THAT THREATEN ITS
POSITION, DEMOCRATICALLY
INSPIRED OR NOT, WHICH, OF
COURSE, LEAVES THE LEFT AND TO
SOME DEGREE THE CENTRE, WITH
TWO OPTIONS -- ARMED STRUGGLE
OR SURRENDER.
THAT, IN MY VIEW IS 52 YEARS OF
MONSTROUS TRAGEDY IN THE REGION
THAT I HAVE THE PLEASURE OF
STUDYING, AND I THINK, I HOPE,
THAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS.
PERHAPS IT'S NOT QUITE SO STARK
TODAY -- I HOPE IT'S NOT QUITE
SO STARK TODAY.
THE COLD WAR IS OVER, THERE IS
NO WAY TO JUSTIFY, THROUGH
SUPPOSED LINKS TO A FOREIGN
MENACE, ACTION, MILITARY ACTION
AGAINST A DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED
GOVERNMENT, BUT STILL, I THINK
ONE COULD ARGUE IN THE FACE OF
MR. BUSH'S INITIATIVES AGAINST
MR. MORALES IN BOLIVIA ALREADY,
PARTICULARLY THIS WEEK, AGAINST
CHAVEZ, SINCE, VIRTUALLY, HE
CAME TO POWER, AND AGAINST
FIDEL, OBVIOUSLY IN A MORE
DRAMATIC FASHION.
STILL, THE QUESTION MAY WELL BE
SURRENDER OR RADICALISATION.
THIS IS THE PROBLEM, AND OF
COURSE IT'S NOT JUST A PROBLEM
FOR VENEZUELA.
IT'S A PROBLEM FOR VENEZUELA,
IT'S A PROBLEM FOR THE UNITED
STATES, IT'S A PROBLEM FOR
CUBA, I WILL ARGUE SHORTLY IT'S
A PROBLEM FOR CANADA AS WELL.
THE UNITED STATES ESSENTIALLY
FEARS EMULATION OF A VENEZUELAN
MODEL OF REFORMISM WHICH NOT
ONLY HAS APPEAL, BUT WHICH HAS
MONETARY POWER BEHIND IT,
FINANCIAL POWER BEHIND IT THAT
CAN MAKE IT SELL.
CUBA CANNOT SEE CHAVEZ FALL
WITH GLEE, BECAUSE OF COURSE,
IT IS ITS ONLY -- HE IS ITS
ONLY IMPORTANT FRIEND IN THE
HEMISPHERE, OR AT LEAST THE
ONLY ONE WILLING TO SPEAK OUT
AND PUT HIS MONEY WHERE HIS
MOUTH IS.
AND OF COURSE, VENEZUELANS
POLARISED AS THEY ARE IN THIS
DREADFUL SITUATION TO WHICH
PROFESSOR RIVAS REFERRED SO
ELOQUENTLY, HAS ALL KINDS OF
REASONS TO VIEW THIS AS A
PROBLEM AS WELL.
WELL WHAT'S THE GOOD NEWS IN
ALL OF THIS?
THE GOOD NEWS IS, VENEZUELANS
LIKE DEMOCRACY.
THEY DON'T LIKE WHAT THEY LIVED
AS DEMOCRACY, THE REAL
DEMOCRACY THAT THEY LIVED,
WHICH DID NOT DELIVER THE
GOODS, OVER ALL THOSE DECADES
TO WHICH PROFESSOR RIVAS MADE
REFERENCE.
LATIN AMERICANS LIKE DEMOCRACY,
THE POLLS ARE THERE TO SHOW IT,
BUT THEY DO NOT LIKE THE ACTUAL
DEMOCRACY THEY HAVE LIVED, AND
THERE WE HAVE ANOTHER LEVEL OF
PROBLEM.
THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN THE
REGION ARE DEEPLY DISSATISFIED
AND ANXIOUS FOR REFORM.
THIS IS NOT DENIABLE.
AND HARDLY SURPRISING, THEY'RE
LOOKING FOR NEW ANSWERS.
RIGHTIST REGIMES AND THEIR
ELECTORAL DEMOCRACIES HAVE NOT
DELIVERED THE GOODS IN THE 20
YEARS, ROUGHLY, SINCE WE HAD
THE LAST WAVE OF
DEMOCRATISATION OR RE-
DEMOCRATISATION IF YOU'RE AN
OPTIMIST.
THE MILITARY ARE NOT
NECESSARILY DISCREDITED,
REGRETTABLY, ON THEIR RULE
ACROSS THE REGION, BUT RATHER
OMINOUSLY, THEY'RE NOT
INTERESTED IN POWER.
WHO WANTS TO PICK UP THIS MESS
IS THE GENERAL VIEW OF THINGS.
IT IS NATURAL, SURELY, THAT IF
ONE IS GOING TO MOVE, AS UNITED
STATES POLICY, CANADIAN POLICY,
WESTERN POLICY HAS BEEN TOWARD
THE REGION SINCE THE END OF THE
COLD WAR, IF WE REALLY WANT
DEMOCRACIES, AND IT'S ONE MAN,
AND ONE WOMAN, ONE VOTE, THEN
SURELY WE HAVE TO EXPECT THAT
REFORMIST REGIMES WILL LIKELY
COME TO POWER.
THIS IS NOT ODD
IN THE CONTEXT OF A REGION OF
THE WORLD DEEPLY DISSATISFIED.
IT IS NATURAL THAT THAT SHALL
HAPPEN.
AND TO ASSUME THAT THE ANSWER
TO THAT IS OPPOSITION AND
SUBVERSION, IS A VERY, VERY
DANGEROUS ASSUMPTION INDEED,
AND OF COURSE STRIKES AT OUR
OWN DEMOCRACIES, NEVER MIND
THOSE ONE IS TRYING TO
STIMULATE SOUTH OF HERE.
WELL THERE ARE
MANY THINGS WE DON'T LIKE.
MANY THINGS WE DON'T LIKE, I
SUPPOSE, OR AT LEAST WE
QUESTION.
WE'RE WORRIED ABOUT STATISM AND
EXCESSIVE STATISM.
WE'RE WORRIED ABOUT THE
EXPANSION OF THE MILITARY ROLE
IN THE ECONOMY IN THE
BUREAUCRACY, IN THE
ORGANISATION OF THE STATE AND
ITS ADMINISTRATION.
WE'RE WORRIED ABOUT THE GROWTH
IN THE MILITARY, THE GROWTH IN
ITS WEAPONRY.
WE'RE WORRIED ABOUT THE
JUDICIAL SYSTEM AND SOME THINGS
THAT SEEM TO BE DANGEROUS IN
SOME OF THE ELEMENTS OF THE
REFORM PACKAGE THAT PRESIDENT
CHAVEZ HAS BROUGHT ALONG, AND
AS PROFESSOR RIVAS SAID AGAIN,
WE'RE A LITTLE CONCERNED ABOUT
WHERE THE MEDIA MIGHT BE GOING.
BUT WE DIDN'T LIKE WHAT WE SAW
BEFORE EITHER.
IT'S NOT AS IF, MY GOSH, HERE
WE HAVE A BAD GOVERNMENT IN
VENEZUELA, THAT'S NEW.
THAT IS NOT WHAT WE ARE
SUGGESTING.
INDEED, HERE WE HAVE A
GOVERNMENT, HIGHLY REFORMIST,
BUT WHICH CLEARLY CARES ABOUT
ITS PEOPLE -- THE MAJORITY OF
ITS PEOPLE.
IT HAS REAL PROGRAMS AND HAS
PROVEN THAT IT CARES.
I MUST SAY THAT I THINK THE
ROLE OF THE UNITED STATES IS
GOING TO BE ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL
HERE.
FIDEL CASTRO HAS REFERRED
RECENTLY THAT HE DOESN'T CARE
IF YOU WANT TO CALL IT
CHRISTIANISMO,
CHRISTIANITY, HE DOESN'T CARE
IF YOU CALL IT BOLIVARIANISM,
AND HE DOESN'T CARE IF YOU CALL
IT SOCIALISM -- THAT'S THE WORD
HE LIKES.
DO YOU CARE ABOUT THE MASSES?
IF YOU CARE ABOUT THE MASSES,
YOU ARE AUTOMATICALLY IN LEAGUE
WITH A GROUP OF NEW STATES AND
NEW GOVERNMENTS, MAYBE NOT NEW
STATES, SORRY, THAT'S A
MISTAKE, AND NEW GOVERNMENTS
AROUND.
WE CAN FIGHT IT, THE UNITED
STATES CAN FIGHT IT, BUT I
WOULD SUBMIT TO YOU AGAIN,
RISKING BOREDOM, EVEN FURTHER
BOREDOM FOR YOU THAN HAS
ALREADY BEEN AVAILABLE...
[Audience Laughter]
IF WE LOOK AT THE GREATEST
SUCCESS STORY THE UNITED STATES
HAS EVER PULLED OFF IN THE
HISTORY OF ITS RELATIONSHIP
WITH LATIN AMERICA, IT IS
BEYOND QUESTION THE ALMOST
UNANIMOUS RESPONSE OF
DECLARATIONS OF WAR AGAINST THE
AXIS POWERS IN FEBRUARY OF
1942, A REGION THAT LAUGHED AT
AMERICAN DEFEATS OR PROBLEMS IN
THE FIRST WORLD WAR, CAME
FORWARD TO BACK THE UNITED
STATES, PERHAPS NOT
AUTOMATICALLY, BUT DRAMATICALLY
IN THE SECOND.
WHAT HAD CHANGED?
ONE THING, A NEW DEAL IN
FOREIGN POLICY AS WELL, WHAT
WAS CALLED THE GOOD NEIGHBOUR
POLICY.
ESTABLISHED IN 1934, STILL
THERE IN 1942, AND IT BORE
FRUIT IN AN ERA WHEN THE UNITED
STATES WAR MORE CONCERNED ABOUT
SECURITY THAN ANY OTHER
SUBJECT.
SOUND FAMILIAR?
THE UNITED STATES' LIST OF
SECURITY PROBLEMS IT HAS,
DRUGS, TERRORISM, ILLEGAL
IMMIGRATION WITHOUT EXCEPTION,
DEPEND ON COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS
IN THIS HEMISPHERE, NOT FOR
SOLUTION, THAT'S TOO MUCH TO
ASK, BUT FOR HANDLING AT ALL,
AND REFORMIST GOVERNMENTS WHICH
MAY BE INCONVENIENT IN SOME
WAYS, TEND TO HAVE POPULAR
SUPPORT, MILITARY ACCEPTANCE
AND ABILITIES TO MOBILISE
ACTION.
WHY WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO
ALIENATE THEM?
CANADA'S ROLE HERE -- I THINK,
AND I FINISH WITH THAT,
I THINK THAT CANADA'S ROLE IS NOT GOING TO
BE NEW HERE.
IT MAY BE NEW IN SOME WAYS IN
LATIN AMERICA.
THAT IS TO SAY, WE UNDERSTAND
WHY THERE IS A CHAVEZ IN POWER.
WE PROBABLY HAVE SOME INVESTORS
WHO RATHER WOULD PREFER HE
WEREN'T AS WELL.
BUT WE ARE NOT WONDROUSLY
SURPRISED THAT THIS SHOULD
HAPPEN, NOR THAT MORALES SHOULD
WIN, NOR THAT FIDEL SHOULD
SURVIVE.
NONE OF THOSE THINGS SURPRISE
OTTAWA.
HOW CAN WE FIND A ROLE, IT
SEEMS TO ME, AVOIDING EVERY
POSSIBLE OFFER FROM WASHINGTON,
TO ISOLATE THESE GOVERNMENTS,
AND PARTICULARLY TO ISOLATE THE
CHAVEZ GOVERNMENT.
WE HAVE TO STAY
OPEN, WE HAVE TO SHOW THAT IT
IS POSSIBLE TO COOPERATE WITH
THE NORTH.
WE HAVE TO SHOW THAT YOU WILL
NOT BE TAGGED BECAUSE OF MEDIA
EXAGGERATION OR PERHAPS EVEN
SOME OF YOUR OWN ERRORS, AS
SOMEONE BEYOND THE PALE.
AND NOT FOR THE
STRATEGIC REASONS OF ACCESS TO
OIL, BUT FOR THE VERY STRATEGIC
REASON OF ACCESS TO LATIN
AMERICA'S FUTURE.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
[Applause]

Victor is in her forties and has short curly hair. She wears glasses a black
blazer and a red blouse.

Victor speaks behind a podium.

Victor says
THROUGHOUT MOST OF ITS HISTORY
THERE HAS BEEN VERY LITTLE
HISTORY IN NORTH AMERICA ABOUT
VENEZUELA, EXCEPT AS A SUPPLIER
OF OIL.
WITH THE
ELECTION OF HUGO CHAVEZ IN
1999, ALL THIS CHANGED.
HE USHERED IN THE BOLIVARIAN
REVOLUTION, FOUNDED ON IDEAS
EXPOUNDED IN THE 19th CENTURY
BY SIMON BOLIVAR THE GREAT
LIBERATOR OF VENEZUELA,
COLUMBIA, BOLIVIA, ECUADOR AND
PERU.

The caption changes to "Maria Paez Victor. Sociologist and Public Policy
Analyst.’A Discussion of the Current State of Venezuela.’ Isabel Bader Theatre
March 15, 2006."

Victor says IT'S
BASIC PRINCIPLES ARE THAT
NATURAL RESOURCES ARE FOR THE
BENEFIT OF ALL ITS CITIZENS,
THAT THE STATE IS GUARDIAN AND
PROMOTER OF CIVIC AND SOCIAL
HUMAN RIGHTS, AND THAT THE
CITIZENS ARE FUNDAMENTAL
PROTAGONISTS IN POLITICAL LIFE.
ITS FOREIGN POLICY IS BASED ON
LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN
INTEGRATION AND SOLIDARITY.
WITH THE BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION
VENEZUELA HAS BECOME THE MOST
EXCITING, INNOVATIVE AND
PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPING COUNTRY
IN THE WORLD.
SO WHAT IS THE CONTEXT OF THIS
REVOLUTION?
WHAT HAS BEEN THE ROLE OF THE
VENEZUELAN ELITES?
WHAT HAS THE CHAVEZ GOVERNMENT
ACHIEVED?
AND, IS THERE A CAUTIONARY TALE
FOR ALL DEMOCRACIES?
WELL AS TO THE CONTEXT.
ON JUNE 1st, 2002, IN A SPEECH
AT WEST POINT, U.S. PRESIDENT
GEORGE BUSH MADE AN
UNPRECEDENTED ASSERTION THAT
THE U.S. HAS THE RIGHT TO
OVERTHROW ANY GOVERNMENT IN THE
WORLD THAT IS SEEN AS A THREAT
TO ITS SECURITY.
THIS MIGHT HAVE BEEN STARTLING
NEWS TO THE WORLD, INCLUDING
CANADA, BUT NOT TO LATIN
AMERICANS.
SINCE 1846, THE UNITED STATES
HAS CARRIED OUT NO FEWER THAN
50 MILITARY INVASIONS,
DESTABILISING OPERATIONS
INVOLVING AT LEAST 12 DIFFERENT
LATIN AMERICA COUNTRIES.
YET NONE OF THESE COUNTRIES HAS
EVER HAD THE CAPACITY TO
THREATEN U.S. SECURITY IN ANY
SIGNIFICANT WAY.
THE U.S. INTERVENED BECAUSE OF
PERCEIVED THREATS TO ITS
ECONOMIC CONTROL AND ITS
EXPANSION.
FOR THIS REASON IT HAS ALSO
SUPPORTED SOME OF THE REGION'S
MOST VICIOUS DICTATORS,
BATISTA, SOMOSA, TRJULLIO,
PINOCHET.
TO THIS SCENARIO, PRESIDENT
BUSH'S ADMINISTRATION HAS ADDED
UNPRECEDENTED MILITARIZATION
PLUS ARROGANT POLITICAL
INTERFERENCE, WHICH SURPASSES
HISTORICAL PRECEDENTS.
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION DOES
NOT ACCEPT THE DEMOCRATICALLY
EXPRESSED WILL OF THE
VENEZUELAN PEOPLE.
THEY HAVE CLEARLY CHOSEN
PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ AND HIS
GOVERNMENT IN NINE FREE,
TRANSPARENT, INTERNATIONALLY
OBSERVED ELECTIONS AND
REFERENDA DURING THE SEVEN
YEARS SINCE HE WAS FIRST
ELECTED.
PRESIDENT BUSH SUPPORTED THE
2002 BLOODY COUP AGAINST THE
GOVERNMENT OF PRESIDENT CHAVEZ,
FINANCED AND SUPPORTED A
DEVASTATING OIL LOCKOUT THAT
COST THE COUNTRY 14 BILLION IN
EXPORT REVENUES AND NUMEROUS
OPPOSITION MANOEUVRES,
DISTURBANCES AND A RECALL
REFERENDUM.
AND THEY CONTINUE TO FINANCE
THE OPPOSITION THERE.
RECENTLY HIS ADMINISTRATION HAS
STEPPED UP ITS AGGRESSIVE
STANCE AGAINST VENEZUELAN
DEMOCRACY.
U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENCE,
DONALD RUMSFELD, HAS COMPARED
PRESIDENT CHAVEZ WITH HITLER,
AND U.S. DIRECTOR FOR NATIONAL
INTELLIGENCE, JOHN NEGROPONTE,
STATED THAT VENEZUELA IS ITS
MAIN SECURITY CHALLENGE IN THIS
HEMISPHERE.
AND U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE,
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, TOLD THE
SENATE COMMITTEE LAST FEBRUARY
16th, THAT VENEZUELA IS A
PARTICULAR DANGER TO THE
REGION, AND THAT SHE IS WORKING
WITH OTHERS TO TRY AND MAKE
CERTAIN THAT THERE IS A KIND OF
UNITED FRONT AGAINST VENEZUELA.
TO THIS, PRESIDENT CHAVEZ HAS
RESPONDED BY SAYING, "MR.
DANGER, YOU FORM YOUR FRONT AND
WE'LL FORM OURS?"
AND WHY IS MR. DANGER SO
OPPOSED?
THE MAIN REASON BEHIND
PRESIDENT BUSH'S AGGRESSION
TOWARD THIS SMALL COUNTRY THAT
HAS MINIMAL ARMED CAPACITY IS
QUITE OBVIOUS, OIL.
THE UNITED STATES HAS BECOME
INCREASINGLY DEPENDENT ON OIL
IMPORTS AND FEELS THAT ITS
SECURITY IS THREATENED.
VENEZUELA IS THE FIFTH LARGEST
OIL EXPORTING COUNTRY IN THE
WORLD, AND IS SITTING ON THE
LARGEST OIL RESERVES IN THIS
HEMISPHERE, AND PERHAPS THE
WORLD.
IT SUPPLIES THE U.S. WITH 1.2
MILLION BARRELS DAILY, SUPPLY
THAT HAS NOT BEEN IN ANY DANGER
OF STOPPING UNTIL PRESIDENT
BUSH CAME ALONG.
INDEED, IT'S BEEN A VERY
CONVENIENT TRADING ARRANGEMENT
FOR BOTH COUNTRIES.
BUT THE INSECURITY OF THE
UNITED STATES, REAL OR
IMAGINED, HAS LED IT INTO
INVASIONS AND ARMED CONFLICT IN
THE MIDDLE EAST TO SHORE UP ITS
SUPPLY OF OIL.
GIVEN THE RHETORIC AND THE
ACTIONS OF ITS LEADERS, IS IT
ANY WONDER THAT PRESIDENT
CHAVEZ SHOULD QUESTION THE
INTENTIONS OF THE UNITED STATES
TOWARD HIM AND HIS GOVERNMENT.
THERE IS ALSO ANOTHER REASON
FOR BUSH'S ADMINISTRATION
AGGRESSIVE STANCE TOWARD
VENEZUELA.
PRESIDENT CHAVEZ HAS MADE
POSSIBLE A NEW POLITICAL AND
ECONOMIC REALITY IN HIS
COUNTRY, AND THAT CHALLENGES
DIRECTLY GLOBALIZATION AND THE
NEW CONSERVATIVE POLICIES, OR
NEO-LIBERAL, AS THEY ARE CALLED
IN LATIN AMERICA, PUSHED BY THE
WORLD BANK, THE IMF, THE WTO,
AND OF COURSE THE PROFIT DRIVE
OF BIG CORPORATIONS.
THIS IS THE SO-CALLED
WASHINGTON CONSENSUS CONSISTING
OF PRIVATISATION OF PUBLIC
SERVICES, DEREGULATION, LIFTING
OF TARIFFS, UNRESTRICTED
INVESTMENT FLOWS, FREE ACCESS
OF THE CORPORATIONS TO PUBLIC
CONTRACTS, AND DOMESTIC
MARKETS, AND THESE MEASURES
WERE FOISTED ONTO THE LATIN
AMERICA GOVERNMENTS, BY MAKING
THEM CONDITIONS OF
INTERNATIONAL LOANS AND EVEN BY
THREATS.TOUTED AS
INSTRUMENTS OF DEVELOPMENT,
THEY HAVE BEEN A SPECTACULAR
FAILURE, ALMOST BY ANY
INDICATOR.
BETWEEN 1960 AND 1980, INCOME
PER PERSON IN LATIN AMERICA
GREW BY 82 PERCENT, WHEREAS IN THE
NEXT 20 YEARS, IT GREW BY 9 PERCENT,
AND IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS, IT
GREW BY 1 PERCENT.
IN JUST
ONE DECADE, THE NUMBER OF POOR
IN THE REGION INCREASED BY 14
MILLION PEOPLE.
FROM 1990 TO 2002, U.S. BANKS
AND CORPORATIONS REMITTED 1
TRILLION DOLLARS IN PROFITS AND
ROYALTIES FROM LATIN AMERICA.
IN THE 1990s, MORE THAN 178
BILLION DOLLARS OF STATE OWNED
INDUSTRIES WERE PRIVATISED,
MORE THAN 20 TIMES THE VALUE OF
PRIVATISATION IN RUSSIA AFTER
THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET
UNION.
NONE OF THIS COULD HAVE
OCCURRED WITHOUT THE WILLING
COLLABORATION OF LATIN AMERICAN
ELITES AND THEIR SATELLITE
MIDDLE CLASSES, A BACKGROUND
WHICH I SHARE WITH VICTOR HERE.
VENEZUELA IN PARTICULAR, HAS
THE MOST AMERICANISED MIDDLE
CLASS ON THE CONTINENT, BY
VIRTUE OF THE PENETRATION OF
THE OIL INDUSTRY EARLY ON.
THE SHAM 20 YEARS ELITE DRIVEN
DEMOCRACY LEFT OIL RICH
VENEZUELA IN 1998, WITH 80 PERCENT OF
IT’S POPULATION IN POVERTY, 75 PERCENT
OF THE ARABLE LAND IN THE HANDS
OF 5 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION,
CRUMBLING SCHOOLS AND
HOSPITALS, 70 PERCENT DROPOUT RATE
FROM SCHOOLS, ILLITERACY RATE,
7 PERCENT, 60 PERCENT TO 70 PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE
WITHOUT MEDICAL CARE.
IN THE LAST 25 YEARS, OIL RICH
VENEZUELA HAS HAD THE LARGEST
INCREASE IN POVERTY IN LATIN
AMERICA.
AND WHAT HAS BEEN THE ROLE OF
THE VENEZUELAN ELITES?
WELL IN THE WEST, WE'RE USED TO
ASSOCIATING MIDDLE CLASS
STRUGGLES WITH PROGRESSIVE
LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENTS,
WITH THE HISTORIC BOURGEOIS
REVOLUTIONS AGAINST THE
[Inaudible] REGIMES.
AND IT COMES AS A SHOCK TO SEE
THE VENEZUELAN MIDDLE CLASSES,
LESS THAN 20 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION
FIERCELY FIGHTING IN AN UGLY
RACIST MANNER FOR THEIR
UNEARNED PRIVILEGES AGAINST THE
VERY POOR MAJORITY OF THEIR OWN
COUNTRY.
A FAR SIGHTED STUDY OF
VENEZUELA'S ELITES IN THE 1960s
BY U.S. SOCIOLOGIST, FRANK
BONILLA, HAS THE INSIGHTFUL
TITLE, "THE FAILURE OF THE
ELITES."
IT DETAILS HOW OIL COMPANIES
AND OTHERS IN THE U.S.
COMMUNITY IN VENEZUELA ACTED AS
SOCIALISING AGENTS TO PRODUCE
LEADERS IN VENEZUELA IN
BUSINESS, POLITICS, THE ARMED
FORCES, THE POLICE.
THUS VENEZUELA'S ELITES LOST
THE CAPACITY TO OPERATE AS
INSTRUMENTS OF NATIONAL
AFFIRMATION THE MORE THEY
BECAME PARTNERS WITH THE U.S.
FOREIGN CAPITAL AND
MULTINATIONALS.
AS ONE VENEZUELAN APTLY STATED,
THEIR COUNTRY IS MONEY.
BONILLA DESCRIBES AN ELITE
WHOSE PERSPECTIVE WAS TOTALLY
DEVOID OF A ROLE FOR THE MASS
OF THE PEOPLE, THAT HAD LITTLE
OR NO SUSTAINED CONTACT WITH
THEM, AND IN NO SENSE FELT
PRESSURED TO MEET THE NEEDS OF
THE POPULATION.
AN ANALYST OBSERVING THE
VENEZUELAN SITUATION TEN YEARS
LATER, DESCRIBED THE MAJORITY
OF THE POPULATION AS
SPECTATORS, SPECTATORS TO
POLITICS, MARGINAL RECIPIENTS,
SUBJECT ONLY TO THE BOUNTY OF
ELECTION CAMPAIGNS.
AND AS HISTORIAN ERIC COSBAUM
INDICATES, THE FRENCH
REVOLUTION'S MOST FORMIDABLE
LEGACY WAS THAT IT SET UP
MODELS AND PATTERNS OF
POLITICAL UPHEAVAL FOR THE
GENERAL USE OF REBELS ANYWHERE.
LIKEWISE, VENEZUELANS HAVE SET
UP A MODEL OF ELECTORAL
REVOLUTION FOR PARTICIPATORY
DEMOCRACY THAT HAS REVERBERATED
THROUGHOUT LATIN AMERICA AND
INDEED THE ENTIRE DEVELOPING
WORLD.
THIS IS A PEACEFUL REVOLUTION,
OR, AS VENEZUELANS, AS WE CALL
IT AFFECTIONATELY,
LA REVOLUTION BONITA,
THE PRETTY REVOLUTION.
BY USING OIL REVENUES FOR THE
PUBLIC GOOD, THE GOVERNMENT OF
PRESIDENT CHAVEZ HAS DONE WHAT
PREVIOUS ELITE DOMINATED
GOVERNMENTS HAVE FAILED TO DO,
PROVIDE FOR THE BASIC
POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL
NEEDS OF THE POPULATION.
OIL REVENUE NOW IS USED FOR
HEALTH, EDUCATION, CLEAN WATER,
MICRO CREDITS, SUPPORT FOR
SMALL INDUSTRY, LAND
DISTRIBUTION, CO-OPERATIVES,
ROADS, RAILWAYS.
MOST IMPORTANTLY THERE IS
PROMOTION OF CITIZEN
PARTICIPATION IN ALL GOVERNMENT
PROGRAMS INCLUDING POLICY
CONSULTATION.
THIS HAS NEVER BEFORE BEEN DONE
IN VENEZUELA, AND IS RARE
THROUGHOUT THE DEVELOPING
WORLD.
THE MARGINALISED SPECTATORS ARE
NOW POLITICAL PROTAGONISTS.
AS
PRESIDENT CHAVEZ HAS ASSERTED,
[Speaking Spanish]
IF WE WANT TO GET RID OF
POVERTY, WE MUST GIVE POWER TO
THE POOR.
THIS IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE
TAINT OF POPULISM, WHERE PEOPLE
ARE NO MORE THAN BEGGARS IN A
PATRONAGE RELATION TO LEADERS.
THIS
REFLECTS THE PHILOSOPHY OF
JURGEN HABERMAS WHO SEES
PUBLIC DISCOURSE AND
PARTICIPATION AS THE ESSENCE OF
DEMOCRACY IN A PLURALISTIC
WORLD, AND THE RESULTS HAVE
BEEN SPECTACULAR.
VENEZUELA HAS BEEN DECLARED
FREE OF ILLITERACY BY UNESCO,
INFANT MORTALITY HAS DROPPED,
70 PERCENT OF ITS CITIZENS NOW HAVE
HEALTH CARE IN THEIR
NEIGHBOURHOODS, HALF THE
POPULATION IS STUDYING, POVERTY
HAS DROPPED TO 37 PERCENT, AND THE
ECONOMY, THE GDP GREW BY 9.4 PERCENT
IN 2005, THE HIGHEST IN LATIN
AMERICA, WITH MOST OF THE
GROWTH COMING FROM THE NON-OIL
SECTOR.
HIS FOREIGN POLICY IS BASED ON
THE IDEA OF LATIN AMERICAN
INTEGRATION AS URGED MANY YEARS
AGO BY SIMON BOLIVAR.
VENEZUELA IS TRADING OIL FOR
GOODS, OIL FOR PHYSICIANS WITH
CUBA AND INVESTING IN JOINT
VENTURES WITH ITS NEIGHBOURING
NATIONS.
IT HAS GIVEN PREFERENTIAL OIL
PRICES TO IMPOVERISHED
CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES, HAS SET UP
PETROSUR, HAS SET UP TELESUR, A
REGIONAL TV THAT WILL ALLOW
LATIN AMERICANS TO BROADCAST TO
EACH OTHER, UNMEDIATED BY CNN.
AND THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF HIS
DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICY
TAKE ON A PROFOUND SIGNIFICANCE
IN CONTRAST TO THE EFFECTS OF
THE WASHINGTON CONSENSUS, WHICH
ONLY CREATED UNPRECEDENTED LOSS
AND MISERY TO THE REGION.
THE MAJORITY OF VENEZUELAN
CITIZENS ARE JUDGING PRESIDENT
CHAVEZ'S GOVERNMENT NOT BY SOME
IDEAL CONCEPT OF DEMOCRACY,
REVOLUTION OR SOCIALISM, BUT BY
THE WASTELAND OF THEIR RECENT
HISTORY.
NEITHER ARE THEY FOLLOWING ANY
MODEL FROM RUSSIA, CHINA OR
EVEN CUBA.
THE PREVIOUS SUPPOSED DEMOCRACY
WAS ONLY A FACADE FOR PLUNDER
AND ABUSE BY WEALTHY UPPER
CLASSES THAT REAPED THE BENEFIT
OF THE NATION'S IMMENSE OIL
WEALTH CARING VERY LITTLE FOR
THE IMPOVERISHED MAJORITY.
IN CONTRAST VENEZUELA'S
BOLIVARIAN REVOLUTION IS
DISTINGUISHED BY EAGER CITIZEN
PARTICIPATION, WHICH CLOSES ANY
GULF BETWEEN POLITICIANS AND
THE PEOPLE THEY OUGHT TO SERVE
AND IT IS THE FOUNDATION FOR
THE SOCIALISM OF THE 21st
CENTURY, WHICH VENEZUELANS HOPE
TO DEVELOP.
AND NOW FOR THE CAUTIONARY TALE
FOR DEMOCRACIES.
HERE'S THE MORAL OF THE STORY.
WHEN A COUNTRY'S ELITES
DISENGAGE FROM THE MAJORITY OF
THE POPULATION, THEY FAIL TO
LEAD AND WILL FIND THAT THE
MAJORITY WILL GO THEIR OWN WAY.
DESPITE THE BEST EFFORTS OF
PRESIDENT BUSH TO DERAIL THEM,
THE HUMBLE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE
ARE GOING THEIR OWN WAY, AND
THEY DESERVE THE CHANCE TO
DETERMINE THEIR DESTINY IN A
PEACEFUL AND DEMOCRATIC MANNER.
THANK YOU.
[Applause]

A caption reads " How do you see Canada aligning itself in this conflict?"

A voice reads HOW DO YOU SEE CANADA ALIGNING ITSELF GEOPOLITICALLY CONFLICT
BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND SOUTH AMERICANS?

Klepak and Victor sit at a table with one microphone and bottles of water.

Klepak says WE'RE A SMALL
COUNTRY NEXT TO A BIG COUNTRY
AND WE ARE A VERY SPOILED SMALL
COUNTRY.
THE FRENCH EMPIRE COULD BE
ACCUSED OF MANY THINGS, BUT
WEAKNESS WASN'T ONE OF THOSE
THINGS.
THE BRITISH EMPIRE COULD BE
ACCUSED OF MANY THINGS, BUT
WEAKNESS WASN'T ONE OF THEM.
AND NATO, BLESS IT, COULD BE
ACCUSED OF MANY THINGS, BUT
WEAKNESS WASN'T ONE OF THEM.
NOW WE HAVE A EUROPE WITH ITS
BACK SOLIDLY TURNED TOWARD US
FOR BOTH OUR FAULTS, EUROPE'S
AND OURS.WE HAVE AN ASIA
WHO LAUGHS AT US WHEN WE SAY
WE'RE AN ASIAN-PACIFIC NATION,
DESPITE VANCOUVER, AND WE HAVE
A LATIN AMERICA WHERE OUR
POSITION IS ABSOLUTELY AND
TOTALLY GUARANTEED.
NO ONE FROM
CHILE TO MEXICO EVER QUESTIONS
THE RIGHT OF CANADA TO BE PART
OF THE AMERICAS AND A FULL PART
OF THE AMERICAS.
IN THAT KIND OF WORLD, OF
INCREASING BLOCKS, HOWEVER PROBLEMATICAL, I SEE A REAL
PROBLEM.
OUR POLICY IN NATO AS A
CANADIAN SENIOR OFFICIAL ONCE
PUT IT, IS ADOPT A LOW PROFILE,
AND JOIN ANY EMERGING
CONSENSUS.
[Audience Laughter]
GOOD COWARDICE, YOU WOULD SAY,
BUT WHEN YOU ARE IN ALLIANCE
WITH THE BRITISH, THE FRENCH
AND THE GERMANS, AND YOU
DISAGREE WITH THE BIG BOY, YOU
PUSH THOSE OTHERS NICELY
FORWARD, AND YOU HIDE SMARTLY
BEHIND THEM, SAYING, "ME, TOO."
[Audience Laughter]
AND YOU SURVIVE.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH THE
RELATIONSHIP WITH LATIN
AMERICA, WHICH I THINK YOU ALL
KNOW I FIRMLY SUPPORT, IS THAT
IT'S THE FIRST TIME IN OUR
HISTORY THAT IT'S AN ALLIANCE
WITH THE WEAK, VERY WEAK.
NOW WE'RE WEAK.
NORMALLY WEAK POWERS SEEK THE
ASSISTANCE OF STRONG ONES.
THERE AIN'T NO STRONG ONES OUT
THERE.
AND SO WHILE I THOROUGHLY
SUPPORT ANY GROWTH LINKAGES POSSIBLE,
WE STAYED OUT OF THE
ORGANISATION OF AMERICAN STATES
AND ITS PREDECESSOR THE
AMERICAN UNION FOR 101 YEARS,
BECAUSE WE SAID WE WILL DIFFER
FROM THE UNITED STATES ON
ISSUES WHICH ARE CONCEIVED OF
AS ABSOLUTELY VITAL INTERESTS
IN WASHINGTON, BUT WHICH ARE
FRANKLY PERIPHERAL FOR US.
THAT IS A VERY DANGEROUS
POSTURE WITH A UNITED STATES
GOVERNMENT LIKE THE ONE WE HAVE
NOW. I'M SORRY ABOUT THE
DOUCHE FROIDE, BUT I THINK WE
NEED THAT COLD SHOWER AT THE
MOMENT.
IT IS EXTREMELY PROBLEMATIC,
AND YOUR QUESTION IS VERY WELL
FOUNDED.
HOW DO WE FIND, IN AN AREA
WHERE WE CLEARLY SEE
DISAGREEMENTS, OVER VENEZUELA,
OVER MORALES, OVER CUBA, OVER
WHERE THE REGION IS GOING.
AND WHERE THE UNITED STATES
CONSIDERS ITS INTERESTS THERE
CRUCIAL, AND WE CONSIDER THEM
AMUSING, WHERE DO WE FIND A
BALANCE THERE WITH WHICH WE CAN
SURVIVE, GIVEN THE DEPENDENCE
WHICH WE'VE ACCEPTED TO GROW
SINCE 1946 WITH OUR SOUTHERN
NEIGHBOUR.
I DON'T HAVE AN ANSWER I THINK ITS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.

Watch: Venezuela Symposium is about Chavez and the current state of