Vineet Tiwari and Archishman Raju
It was not Venezuela, it was India and the city was Pune where around 80 persons comprising of intellectuals-activists, young-old, women-men waved the Venezuelan flags and said “Venezuela is not a threat, It is the hope.” This was in response to the recent executive order signed by US government declaring Venezuela to be a threat to the national security of US. The Pune meeting was an occasion to express solidarity with the people of Venezuela who are facing the difficulties and threat to their sovereignty, posed by the US Imperialism and their pet media.
This meeting was organised on 17th June, 2016, to discuss “Crisis in Latin America and the People’s response” by Joshi-Adhikari Institute of Social Studies (JAISS) in association with Shankar Brahme Samaj Vidnyan Granthalaya at Lokayat, Pune. The meeting was addressed by the Ambassador of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Mr. Augusto Montiel. He was accompanied by his partner Ms. Mili Montiel.
Adwait Pednekar, an engineer and activist from Mumbai welcomed the guests. Veteran Com. Shanta Ranade and NFIW activist Com. Lata Bhise presented the souvenir to the guests. Dr. Jaya Mehta, Head of the Academic and Research wing of JAISS introduced the context in which this meeting was organised.
She said that we are talking of a socialist system as an alternative to capitalist production relations. Cuba stood for socialist ideology after the collapse of Soviet type economies. This is a big role that Cuba played after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And then when Chavez took up 21st century socialism, that was a new hope and a new revival of an alternative system. This experiment that is going on in Venezuela, Bolivia Ecuador, is an effort to pose an alternative to imperialist capitalist production relations. She said that when we talk of socialism, we have to talk of production relations. In that sense, Chavez made an attempt in 21st century to change the production relations. Chavez said that we cannot do what Soviet Union did in 20th century which is to nationalize all production. However, we can challenge the production structure by forming cooperatives. And through cooperatives, the production relations of the entire system will change. I think this was a new and creative beginning to go back to socialism. I salute this endeavour and I find it relevant for us also in India. Right now these countries are in crisis and all of us, who are concerned about the future of human civilisation, must put in all our efforts to protect the socialist ideology and system. Therefore, we express our solidarity with people of Latin America.
Mr. Augusto Montiel impressed upon the audience that the mainstream media hype that the Latin American countries under Left leadership are facing intractable economic, political and social crisis is a distorted perspective of the actual situation there. The fact of the matter is that Venezuela, along with Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador chose an alternative development paradigm challenging the imperialist capitalist world order. The response of the imperialist countries to this challenge has been multifarious. It ranges from economic strangulation, to aggressive dissemination of misinformation through media and financing and supporting right wing upsurge. The Ambassador mentioned that how the West Asian and African countries were maligned and destroyed to fulfill the greed of oil of metropolitan capital. A similar game plan is in the offing for Venezuela, but the people of Venezuela are resisting the attack on their sovereignty and they have got the solidarity and support across the world, especially in Latin America. He mentioned the voting results of Organisation of American States where all countries except US, Canada and Paraguay voted in favour of Venezuela. The US and western powers want to destabilize Venezuela because they want our oil. That is why when Hugo Chavez came to power, they did not like it. Who was selling oil to India? Hugo Chavez. One-third of the oil India is getting for its progress, for its development, for its industries, for its hospitals, for its schools, comes from Venezuela. And the United States did not want Venezuela to decide where to put their oil. But Hugo Chavez said this is our oil and we decide who to sell it. For us, this oil is a way of cooperation. It is not a way of domination. The giant corporate media houses are telling the world about Ms. Universe coming from Venezuela but it doesn’t mention that our constitution is the world’s only constitution which made provision for 50 percent reservation for women in the parliament. He requested the audience to frequently visit Telesur weblinks for authentic news about Latin America.
He concluded his talk by establishing that it is a war going on between third world countries and the imperialist world. It is a war going on between those who talk of peace and cooperation, and their opponents who are focused on accumulation and profiteering. It is a war between those who stand for Socialism and those who are taking humankind towards barbarism. We have to fight this war and the people of India, people of Venezuela, people of Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina and those in Africa and Arab world will all fight together. The lecture continued for nearly two hours and it was followed by a lively and meaningful interactive session of another one hour.
Dr. Abhay Shukla threw some light on situation in Bolivia and talked about the new way in which medical education is being given in Venezuela. Doctors are not just trained in technical details but they also receive training to develop appropriate social perspective and compassion for human life and dignity. Archishman Raju raised issues related with the recent developments in Brazil. While answering the questions, Mr. Montiel made a beautiful point. He said that yes, there are scarcities in our countries because of the embargo, because of conspiringly deciding oil prices internationally so that our country does not get enough money. But we are dealing with the situation with our people centric mind. In US, what happens when an economic crisis occur? They stop or curtail the welfare programmes for the majority of the masses and the rich and powerful section gets hit only in the last. Whereas, we see to it that the impact of crisis should touch our weaker sections, the children, women, working class only in the last.
President of Joshi-Adhikari Institute and former Member, Planning Commission and Former Secretary of Commerce and Finance, Shri S. P. Shukla chaired the meeting. In his address, he said that freedom loving people of Venezuela and of other Latin American countries are fighting with all their might. As for India, he said I think we should remember the situation in the 90’s or the early part of the first decade of the millennium. The neoliberal world order, particularly global financial order, hasn’t yet recovered after 2008. The situation is far more vulnerable for the global finance capital then it was in the early part of the first decade. We should look at this vulnerability for organizing our own strength. And that means not only appropriate policies at the border, in terms of capital controls, but internal policies. The internal policies in our context particularly regarding land and peasantry and the environment issues. Taking the cue from Venezuela, we should come forward with an agenda of a degree of economic and social security for all people. On all these three planks if we really move forward through people’s movements then I think it is really hopeful that people across the two continents, the people of Latin America and the rest of the world, can really seek a more hopeful future for the peoples of the world.
A resolution of solidarity was passed by the gathering and read out by Vineet Tiwari. It says:
The endeavour of the people of Latin America to construct 21st century socialism based on human dignity, freedom and solidarity, and the commendable success they achieved, has been a source of inspiration to the peoples of the third world. These ideas and accomplishments posed a serious threat to the current international order.
Consequently, entrenched and ascendant global capitalist forces have launched a concerted attack on multiple fronts. These include misinformation through the might of the media; economic strangulation as well as the financing of internal right wing upsurges.
We believe that it is important, at this juncture, to preserve and strengthen these achievements, to build an alternative world order. We express solidarity with the progressive forces, the people of Latin America and the pro people government of President Nicolas Maduro who are putting up a valiant fight against the forces of imperialism and are confident that we shall not allow history to take any turn without the active intervention of the working people of the world.
Veteran Economist Dr. Sulabha Brahme, Nandini Oza, Amit Narkar, Shripad Dharmadhikari, Neeraj Jain, Bazil Shaikh, Megha Pansare, Rakesh Shukla, Vinaya Malti, Neeraj Wagholikar, Milind, Sharmila Deo, Neema Athakbroom, Abhijit, Suhas Polekar, seema Kulkarni and many others joined in good numbers in this meeting.