Economist Judith Valencia is a professor emeritus at Venezuela’s Central University and a member of the Network of Intellectuals in Defense of Humanity.
In this interview, Valencia talks about the evolution of Hugo Chávez’s approach to geopolitics and the recent reactivation of the Union of South American Nations [UNASUR], an institution for continental integration that was born under Chávez.
When Chávez came to power, he had only Simón Bolívar in his toolkit: his key concepts were the “Patria Grande” and Bolívar versus Monroe.
In other words, Chávez’s geopolitics evolved and became more complete during his presidency; he was in constant dialogue with the Venezuelan people, and he learned from his experience in national and international politics.
A pivotal event that would push Chávez to proclaim the Bolivarian Process anti-imperialist (and later frame our project as Socialism of the 21st Century) was the April 11, 2002 coup d’état.
This resulted in imperialist interference – and also the popular mobilization to rescue him and bring him back to the presidency on April 12 and 13, 2002
From that moment on, he began to purge his government of the conservative and anti-popular elements in it. He did all this because he was listening and learning from the people.
In 2004 Chávez declared the Venezuelan process to be anti-imperialist.
The counterrevolutionary offensive led Chávez to understand that Bolívar’s postulates were important, but that it was necessary to go beyond them, because the US’ expansionist policy had grown exponentially over time.
The Bolivarian Process is a constitutive one. What does that actually mean?
The Constitutive Assembly drafted the text of a new constitution and the Venezuelan people voted it into law in 1999. Even so, in articles 347, 348, 349, and 350, the country’s magna carta states that the constitutive process is ongoing.
In other words, our constitutive process began in 1999 and it’s still unfolding.
The process in which we are participating involves the making of laws, new ways of doing politics, and the ongoing incorporation of new elements to the program, including anti-imperialism in 2004 and later, in 2005, 21st Century Socialism.
The internal and external aggression against Venezuela worked as a catalyst. However, there were other experiences that pushed Chávez toward assuming an anti-imperialist stance, particularly his work with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC].
OPEC had been dormant for years, and in the early 2000’s, Chávez took a tour through the Middle East to reactivate the institution. This trip gave him a wider perspective on US meddling that would eventually fuel his anti-imperialism.
Chávez was not a god. Chávez was a human being – if an exceptional one – who learned through practice. That is why, returning to your question, I want to highlight that Chávez’s geopolitical perspective evolved through time.
If we look back at the geopolitical panorama, we can see that beginning in the early 1990s a unipolar empire emerged and extended its tentacles toward Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Having visited Iraq on his OPEC tour, the 2003 US invasion of that country had a great impact on Chávez.
Moreover, the destruction of Iraq came hard on the heels of the Oil Sabotage [December 2002 – February 2003] against Venezuela’s petroleum industry. Like the sabotage, the bombing of Iraq was carried out in the name of liberty and freedom.
Around that time, Chávez began to reflect on the terrorist character of US imperialism; he did it hand-in-hand with the people from around the world who stood up against military invasions, and in collaboration with Fidel Castro.
In fact, during the first decade of the 21st Century, Fidel and Chávez developed a rich geopolitical program based not only on recriminating and exposing imperialism, but also developing a counteroffensive that included promoting international alliances.
Chávez’s discourse around 2005 and 2006 was marvelous. He often talked about imperialism and its blood-stained actions, but he also proposed an alternative and promoted laws that would boost national sovereignty.
Additionally, Chávez recovered the terms democracy and liberty, which the empire was attempting to co-opt. All this triggered a counter-revolutionary onslaught around 2007 and 2008, but that didn’t weaken Chávez or the people.
This is a very condensed history, but I want to highlight once again that Chávez’s perspective and program evolved based on his lived experience and his dialogue with the pueblo.
On September 28, 2015, Vladimir Putin gave a speech at the United Nations, where he invited Barack Obama to join forces with him to defeat terrorism in the Middle East.
Unsurprisingly, Obama declined: the US had vested interests in those terrorist forces, which had become a critical factor in the US plan to redraw the map of the region.
Two days after that UN address, Russia offered a helping hand to Syria. As it turns out, the plight of terrorism in the region was actually neither cultural nor religious.
Of course, superficially, cultural and religious issues had become a sort of social cement in the war, but the logistics and the objectives had USA written all over.
The USA attempted to hide from international condemnation by working with mercenaries in Syria who didn’t wave US flags. In so doing, they avoided overtly breaching international law. Mercenary armies and proxy wars are the new modus operandi of the empire.
In fact, NATO has become quite comfortable with the use of such tactics to displace populations and governments from strategic territories.
Fast forward to 2023 and a similar scenario is unfolding in Ukraine. Since his famous Munich speech in 2007, Putin has been advising NATO to not encroach on Russia’s borderline.
It was clear already then that NATO, under US command, was attempting to pull the former Soviet republics away from Russia and into the North Atlantic bloc. In effect, the objective was to break the political, economic, and cultural ties of these former Soviet republics.
Over the years, NATO continued to encroach on the Russian Federation with terrorist and mercenary practices. That, in a nutshell, is why Russia was forced to go into Ukraine.
Mercenary terrorism is the currency of the US empire.
Weberian social scientists will often say that capitalism isn’t rational. On the other hand, political economists on the left understand that capital is rational, that those who govern are rational, have intentionality, and develop their strategies accordingly.
That’s why it would be a good idea to reread the 20th century and study how (and why) capitalist corporations (Ford, AT&T, IBM, Coca-Cola, Hugo Boss) collaborated with Hitler and Mussolini and their expansionist project.
Almost 100 years later, we can see the same expansionist logic – and the same terrorist practices – being deployed by the USA. This isn’t new, but it’s becoming more obvious.
The empire’s objective is to exterminate populations and cultures. What they are doing now is not too different from what Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy did: corporations are allying with the fascist axis to further their rational interests.
So, to answer your question, a global reconfiguration is underway, but the terrorist character of empire is nothing new.
A new global consciousness of the cruelty of the NATO project is emerging.
There isn’t such a thing as the “American way of life.” In its place, we find expansion and devastation. There is no life and no humanity in their project. In other words, the imperial drive to destroy life is visible everywhere you look.
Venezuela Analyses.com / ABC Flash Point News 2023.