Every story has a motive; a thought that should always be kept in mind when reading the news. Is it any wonder that we are only targeted, on a daily basis, with negative images from around the world. In Egypt, all has become chaos thanks to “Islamists” taking over. In Mali, the same situation would have engulfed another African, Muslim country if it were not for European soldiers restoring order. In England, the government’s policies, many of which came into effect yesterday and throughout the rest of April, will make thousands of families homeless. When you consider the sweep and rapidity of the tide of Conservative ideology scarring the face of England, it is hard to remember that they never actually won an election! Here in Venezuela, an alternative to that ideology is being built, but its achievements are rarely reported. Is it really a surprise? Or do we need to read less “news” and more books?
The campaign for the Presidential elections begins today. Every poll puts Nicolas Maduro in front, and a long way in front. Tensions rose when Capriles announced that he would kick-off his campaign in Barinas, the state of the Venezuelan countryside and birth-place of Hugo Chavez, three days after Maduro had chosen the same state to begin his own campaign. Why, the government asked. According to our political culture, it’s a provocation, people summarised. The following day, Capriles said that after advice from his team in Barinas, he would begin in Monagas state instead.
I made an interview with Jamal Amir, a Tanzanian man who has been living in Venezuela for the last fourteen years. “I was speaking with a woman who supports the opposition, and they definitely believe that Capriles will win,” he told me. “But to me, it appears like some kind of dream. The only thing Capriles is doing is saying how bad Maduro is…” He shakes his head. “That is not the right thing to be doing now, he needs to be saying what he is going to do. The bigger aspect is the fact that before Chavez died, he specifically named Maduro as the candidate that people should vote for if anything happened to him. Now, people feel as if they have a commitment with Chavez. In the last elections [on October 7th] there were a lot of Chavez supporters who didn’t come out to vote, and I’m sure supporters of Capriles too, but this time everyone wants to fulfil their commitment.”
Last night, an extraordinary meeting of the Forum of Sao Paolo took place in Caracas, opening with a recorded video message from Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former President of Brazil.
“I am not interfering in what is an internal Venezuelan affair, but I could not leave aside my thoughts to a people that are so dear to us,” he said, before going on to lend his support to the Maduro campaign.
Will the United States make the same affirmation, not to get involved in an internal Venezuelan affair? It’s a question that many people here would like an answer to. I often wonder why people living in countries that interfere in the affairs of others on such a regular basis can take so long to understand the concept of imperialism. I think it could be because they have never experienced life on the receiving end of their government’s foreign policy. Juan Bosch was the first ever democratically-elected President of the Dominican Republic in 1963, but was overthrown in a military coup after just seven months in charge. Over forty thousand US troops dispatched to the island later ensured the change. In one of his books, entitled Pentagonism, Substitute of Imperialism, Bosch writes in reference to the people of the United States:
“The ‘pentagonist’ people [too] are exploited like a colony, since they pay, through their taxes, for the bomber planes that enrich their manufacturers.”
One of the speakers at the Forum of Sao Paolo last night was a young woman named Alba Santana, from the Youth of the FMLN in El Salvador. She said that young people were determined to be a leading force in the uniting of the continent, and that they were “returning” to the ideas of “the Liberator”, Simon Bolivar.
“Last year, Lula sent a message to Chavez in regards to the Presidential elections in Venezuela,” Santana added. “Now, we want to send the same message to Maduro; your victory is our victory too.”