People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 14

April 07, 2013





Chavez is Alive; Struggle Continues


THE meeting that was organised recently by the Left parties in Delhi to pay homage to Hugo Chavez, the revolutionary leader who brought fundamental changes in Venezuela, and in Latin America in general, pledged not only to preserve the memory of the departed leader but also to strengthen the Indian people’s solidarity with Venezuela. In his concluding address at the meeting that was organised by the CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), RSP and Forward Bloc, Prakash Karat informed the audience about the decision to set up a Venezuela Solidarity Committee in the country in order to strengthen the Indian people’s solidarity with that Latin American country. The CPI(M) general secretary also added that, apart from political parties and progressive organisations, intellectuals would also be associated with this solidarity committee.


In his initial remarks as the chairman of the meeting that was organised in the Constitution Club in the very heart of the city, on March 17, Prakash Karat made it clear that it was no condolence meeting at all; rather it was a celebration of the unique revolutionary life and work of Hugo Chavez during his presidency from 1999 to 2013. Referring to the mighty changes which Chavez was instrumental in bringing about in Venezuela and Latin America, and to an extent in the rest of the world as well, Karat said Chavez’s death has been a big loss to the people of Venezuela and Latin America as well as to the progressive forces the world over. He said, “Chavez’s was the biggest contribution in charting out the path of revolution in the twentieth century.”


Addressing the meeting on behalf of the CPI(M), Sitaram Yechury, a member of the party’s Polit Bureau and head of its International Department, said that the Indian Left not only received inspiration from Chavez; rather the aims of our struggles were also common. Referring to the changes in Venezuela under Chavez, Yechury said illiteracy has been wiped out there, inequalities have been halved, a new constitution was implemented to guarantee the rights of the working people, and mighty changes have been effected in the life of the people there through unprecedented progress on the health and employment fronts. Chavez was a central figure in this period not only in Venezuela but in the whole of Latin America. Yechury stressed that the process which started in the continent with the victory of the Cuban Revolution, has now reached such a stage where we see staunch anti-imperialist governments in several countries of Latin America. While the initiative by Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia has led to the creation of ELBA, the Bolivarian alternative, Yechury pointed out that there has been substantial progress towards the unification of currencies, radio and TV networks etc in the continent.


Stressing the importance of these developments in the very neighbourhood of the USA, the leader of imperialist countries, Yechury also underlined the important role Chavez played in resuscitating the socialist outlook at the international level. Here Yechury quoted Marx that an idea becomes a material force when it grips the masses, adding that Chavez’s was an important contribution in making socialism a material force. Chavez fearlessly and ruthlessly ridiculed the stand of imperialist countries at the global negotiations on climate change, on the issue of bringing agriculture under the World Trade Organisation, and in the UN General Assembly. He also wanted that India must revert to the path of genuine non-alignment. The scientific idea behind his contribution was that a country will be able to resist and fight imperialism back only if it pursues a path that is independent of imperialism. Yechury said Chavez had only one yardstick for progress --- whether one is against imperialism or not.


Veteran CPI leader A B Bardhan, CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, Forward Bloc leader Devarajan, and RSP leader ASbani Roy also addressed the meeting, stressing the importance of developing solidarity with Venezuela. The Hindu editor Siddhartha Varadharajan and social activist Achin Vinayak underlined the role of Chavez in the anti-imperialist struggle the world over. (Both these speakers were part of the group that went to Venezuela to meet Chavez in December 2004, at his invitation.) Prakash Karat too was among those who met Chavez on this occasion.


A large number of Leftist leaders and workers as well as intellectuals were present at this impressive meeting which Ms Milena Santana Ramirez, Venezuela’s ambassador to India, also addressed. While the hall was decorated with Chavez’s huge and life-like portraits, the departed leader’s books were on sale outside.