Castro said it: “The din of war sounds loud in South America”. The verbal escalade between Uribe and Chavez appears to be more than rhetoric. Tanks sent to the border, ambassadors kicked out and heated speeches and public appearances up the ante of confrontation. Maybe it won’t be this time, though there’s no doubt the situation is alarming. Perhaps the waters will return to their level, waiting for a future occasion to unleash the conflict. I wholeheartedly hope this will never happen because I am repelled at the prospect of our peoples killing each other because of state interests, whatever the circumstances may be. But for now everything looks dark.
The truth is that bellicose rhetoric favors both Uribe and Chavez, the latter perhaps more so. The truth is that the Comandante’s revolutionary discourse has seen better days. After the December 2nd defeat, the first electoral thrashing he has got, the floodgates of discontent within chavismo have swung open. Not the discontent seen on TV with high sounding declarations, but that of the people who abstained and caused the constitutional reform defeat, the same people who are tired of empty supermarket shelves and abandoned Missions while the Boli-bourgeoisie drives expensive cars. The same people who denounce corruption and confront the Ministry of Labor bureaucracy and get shot by the National Guard in return. The very same people who those chavistas closest to the presidency accuse of being left deviationists, ultra-left or anarchists, of whom it is said it isn’t ready for socialism after nine years waiting for some real moves, and who get desperate seeing Chavez flirting with the right in the past few months. Not in vain calls to internal discipline by the constituted power multiply, demanding unity for the coming electoral battle. Those who complain within the PSUV (Venezuela’s socialist party) are summarily expelled even when they’re just denouncing corruption, even though said party is not yet formally constituted, has no statutes but it already has a disciplinary committee.
It is not the first time that when the revolutionary rhetoric of a populist movement is exhausted they resort to rancid vociferous and aggressive nationalism. It’s the best remedy against dissent, since when you have an external enemy you can conflate it with any internal threat to the stability of the regime, thus solving the problem of the dissidents, no doubt on the enemy’s payroll. We’ve seen a lot of this in Venezuela: Bill Gates implants chips on people, so and so work for the CIA, same old same old. In reality an open conflict with Colombia will be just another step forward in this game, a life saver for a chavista regime that’s losing its bearings and its base. Thus it is not strange that although the main problem is the Ecuadorian border violation by Colombian troops, the Venezuelan government wastes no time joining the fray and increases tension by sending troops, instead of playing a pacifying role that could really be of diplomatic benefit.
Of course Uribe also feeds off the confrontation. He has done everything possible to sabotage any dialogue with the guerrilla, to impede the freeing of the hostages, in order to advance an armed solution to the conflict (or its continuation for that matter) since he came to power with that discourse and already he’s exploring the possibility of constitutional reform that will allow him re-election. There are frightening coincidences. If not, explain to me why kill the mediator responsible for the liberation of Betancour a few days before his release was announced. He has clearly shown he prefers war to a peaceful accord. His has always been an aggressive and para-military policy that says organizing a lively and active civil society, an urgent necessity in Colombia after sixty years of conflict, equals supporting the guerrilla. Another example of how a known enemy can be used to persecute that which is perceived as a threat. Of course the Unites States supports all this as they stand to be the greatest beneficiary of a conflict that would mire Venezuela in a long war. Nothing pleases the established powers more than consensus, and Uribe exploits it as much as he can, to the point of accusing any critic of the government of being in the guerrilla, to say nothing of union activists, human rights defenders, etc. Uribe has bet on personal power at the expense of all Colombians, who are now threatened with the possibility of war, and because of the resumption on the part of the FARC to a campaign of indiscriminate attacks. There are few people in the world that suffer their governments as much as the Colombian people.
After all a war will only serve to perpetuate both rulers in power, each one waving the colored rags that move the nationalists so much, flags that in this case are painfully similar. Meanwhile the people bleed in a war that’s not their war, not the class war, crying for their children, without justice, bread or peace. Neither the bourgeoisie the politicians nor the bureaucrats will take part.
But in the case of Venezuela there’s an added evil. Let there be no doubt that in case of war the revolution is finished. Once again politicians of every ilk will trade the people’s hope for mirrors and beads, in this case bullets and machete blows. In case of armed confrontation nothing is easier than to intensify the calls to discipline, disqualify those who dare take the initiative apart from the government; nothing easier than to change the priorities of building the socialism for the XXI century for victory in war. Socialism for later, when it will again be possible, if at all. We’ve seen it in Spain, at the end we have no revolution, we lose the war and we’re really fucked.
As usual, the only solution to the governmental madness is the people, a revolutionary tide that will run over the demagogues, the populists and those who sell their mothers on both sides of the border, dedicated to building a strong civil society from below, independent of that power that always tries to perpetuate itself, a self-managed society, revolutionary by vocation and nature, without blinding leaders, internationalist and in solidarity, that recognizes that the people of Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador are brothers for many reasons, brothers in suffering, brothers in their desire for peace and justice. For starters, nothing would be better than not being deceived by war proclamations and totally rejecting war among states, any war except class war. Mobilizing for peace must begin as soon as the drums of war start beating. Later it will be too late.
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