I have just returned from Venezuela, still under the emotional shock of this first "live" encounter with a revolution on the move, a revolution communicating by WhatsApp in an oil-exporting country seeking to become the prime example of "21st century Socialism." I will not provide scholarly analyses or annoy the reader with jargon here, but simply provide basic information and give my impressions of a stay decidedly too short (four days and four nights).
I was one of 150 foreign delegates from 35 countries invited to participate in the International Communication Congress, organized following the meeting of the São Paulo Forum last June in Caracas. That meeting of Latin American progressive parties and movements was followed by a series of sectoral conferences (workers, Afrodescendants, women, youth and students, community councils, social movements and popular power, Indigenous peoples).
The next congress including parties and social movements will take place starting January 23. The São Paulo Forum was created in 1990 at the initiative of the Brazilian Workers' Party. This forum brings together more than 100 left-wing parties and fronts, ranging from social democrats to communists and far leftists.
This forum was declared a public enemy by the Latin American right-wing reactionaries and recently designated as the main enemy by Iván Duque, the Colombian puppet president, who was somewhat destabilized by the national strike of November 21, which was only the beginning of a prolonged and popular movement of revolt against Colombia’s neoliberal oligarchy.
The PSUV, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, now appears to be the most active party committed to the dynamics of the São Paulo Forum, taking over from Cuba as a bastion of the continental movements for social and political change.
The slogan of the Communication Congress was: "And now, let the people speak!” At the end of the congress, President Nicolás Maduro signed a decree establishing the International University of Communication, whose objective is to train Venezuelan, Latin American and worldwide militants to fight in the "fourth generation war" waged today against all our peoples, from Bolivia to the Philippines, and including Congo and Palestine − in short, the entire Great Global South and a large part of the "South of the North" (meaning mainly Mediterranean Europe).
Everyone is now aware that elections are won by making massive and professional use of social networks. By investing a few million dollars, one can now create a virtual political party without any physical human base and obtain 10 percent of the votes without difficulty, as we have just seen in Uruguay for the "Artiguist Social Movement" of the former Commander-in-Chief of the army, Manini.
We know that Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil thanks to the millions of surrealist messages broadcast on WhatsApp. In Tunisia, the virtual party of money laundering media tycoon Nabil Karoui, Qalb Touns (Heart of Tunisia) won 38 seats in parliament (out of 217) by combining macaroni distributions to the poor and a massive campaign on Facebook with the help of paid professionals.
At the same time, as one says in Macronian newspeak, all the movements of revolt/confrontation of the last ten years, from the Arab Springs to Occupy Wall Street, from the indignados to Up all night (Nuits debout) and Yellow Vests, including the intifadas in Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and Romania and the democratic Tsunami in Catalonia, and the Italian 6,000 sardines, etc., walked on two legs: one virtual (social networks); the other physical (streets, central squares, roundabouts and junctions, temporarily liberated spaces); the first one being used to organize the second one.
Social war takes on new forms and dimensions, which are added to the classical forms and dimensions, and they all influence each other. Slogans circulate, from one country to another, from one continent to another, from one language to another, and even from one side of the conflict to the other.
Thus a slogan of British miners fighting Margaret Thatcher in 1984 − ACAB, All Cops Are Bastards, becomes a slogan of soccer fans and then a revolutionary graffiti in Tunisia in the 2010s or appears on placards in Colombia in 2019. A Zapatista slogan from the 1990s − "You can't kill us, because we're already dead" - reappeared on the front banner of the million-person march in Tizi Ouzou (Algeria) in 2000 and in the graffiti of the 2010-2011 Tunisian revolution. The slogan "You took everything from us, even our fear," moves from Venezuelan right-wing guarimberos [organized vandals] to the insurgents against the neoliberal regime in Chile.
Social war is asymmetrical: They have money, weapons and technology; we have numbers, energy and our bodies, our emotions, our dreams, our rages. The biopower of global capital is opposed by a biocounter-power.
The rich’s vertical use of communication tools, which they transform into weapons of mass destruction, contrasts with our horizontal use of these same tools, which we are trying to transform into weapons of mass construction.
I repeat: We are trying. Are we getting there? Will we make it? I strongly doubt that the movements from below will be able to establish control over the tools owned by the GAFA and Co. [Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple], which these corporations control, manage and manipulate according to their financial interests and their political, military and ideological connections.
I mentioned above the Bolivarian revolution communicating through WhatsApp: all Venezuelans we met and saw in four days and four nights communicate almost exclusively through WhatsApp. The country is under a Yankee/UEropean embargo, but the social networks are working.
The problem is that NASA, the CIA and other big ears know everything that is being said in Venezuela. Do they know how to make intelligent use (from their point of view) of all this knowledge? That's another question I'm having a hard time answering, but it's certainly helping them to try to refine their tactics.
Fortunately for the Venezuelan people and their allies and friends, the imperial machines that have been trying to bring the Venezuelan people to their knees and crush it have as their local puppets certified idiots, scatterbrains and cowards, who are constantly missing their mark, making themselves look a little more foolish at every attempt, unable to succeed in an invasion, coup d'état or drone attack. We can be sure of one thing: In Venezuela, intelligence has long since chosen its side; it’s at the bottom left, where the heart is.
Coming from parts of the old Mediterranean world where one strives to destroy, to arrive in a country where one strives to build by putting everything into the effort -- heart, head, body and soul -- is a close encounter of the fourth kind. I know of no other country where, when an elected President of the Republic finally reaches the podium, acclaimed by a thousand breasts, he begins with a two-minute dance to the sound of a cumbia.
Some people may find this ridiculous. Not me. Politics doesn't have to turn you into robots or zombies. We can hold a serious speech interspersed with anecdotes and jokes without this being considered low demagogy, as long as the assembled crowd can feel that the speaker is doing it naturally, that it is no sham.
The congress was intense, dense but relaxed, serious but jubilant, Venezuelan but continental and transnational, syncretic like the people of Venezuela with their fused African, Arab, Andalusian, European, Caribbean and Indigenous roots, in short, a world people who open their arms to the world of peoples.
This great humanity has once again said, "Enough!" No embargo, no psychological warfare, no slander, however perverse, will cause it to abdicate and bow down before the gods of money and contempt, whose twilight is on the horizon.
We thank all the sisters and brothers who opened their arms to us with boundless generosity. I will not name them because I may forget some of them: They will recognize each other. We will return, we will welcome you to our homes and try to live up to your hospitality. And we set to work to make our common dreams come true.
Together, we will succeed in bringing to life all the tools that we have decided to forge to give voice to the peoples, the first step towards the power of these peoples, each in the dialect of the great human language that they have learned since their birth, so that the world finally becomes a Matria Grande, a motherland that contains all the motherlands, all fatherlands, all fraternities and sororities.
Below is a short text of proposals that we distributed in Caracas, to feed the ongoing debates:
We are poor. We are weak. We are ingenuous.
But at the same time:
We are intelligent. We are imaginative. We are experienced. We are many.
From Caracas, capital of a revolution under siege and threatened with extermination, we launch an appeal:
Let us combine our weaknesses so that they become a great strength
Let us unite our poverties to create wealth
Let us gather our imaginations to make possible a world containing all the worlds
Our tasks for the coming year could be:
1- Together create free alternative social communications, to be able to abandon Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and other imperial cages and move into liberated spaces.
2-Disseminate information, analyses, truthful and verified documents and make them available for those at the bottom.
3-Translate these documents quickly and with skill into as many languages as possible.
Tlaxcala – La Pluma – ProMosaik
http://tlaxcala-int.org http://lapluma.net https://promosaik.blogspot.com/
Stolen and given back images
A resistance member come directly from Bolivia: Sandra Cassio, part of the National Confederation of Peasant and Indigenous Women Bartolina Sisa, speaks at the congress on December 2
Two 13-year-old social communicators at a workshop at the congress
Diosado Cabello, vice-president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and president of the National Constituent Assembly
A social communicator of Radio Sardina of the state of Nueva Esparta, getting ready to interview me. She wanted to know all about the 6,000 Sardines movement in Italy…
“The peoples reject TIAR”: public rally in Caracas on December 2 against the meeting the same day in Bogota of the 15 governments signatories to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) signed by the Latin American countries with the USA after World War II and recently reactivated as part of the war against “Maduro's dictatorship”. Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador have withdrawn from the treaty. That day sanctions were decided against a long list of Venezuelans held responsible for all manners of crimes imaginable. Uruguay voted against and Trinidad and Tobago abstained.
“O my country, so beautiful and lost!”: of all the monuments seen in Caracas, this is the one that moved me, an old Garibaldian, the most, this modest bust of Giuseppe Verdi in the patio of the Teresa Carreño Theater, Venezuela's largest cultural complex completed in 1983. Below the bust a plaque says the fundamental, Va pensiero-Giuseppe Verde 1813-1901. Va pensiero, Go, thought is the first stanza of the famous slave choir of the opera Nabucco (1842). The Jewish slaves of Babylonia were seen as an allegory for the Lombardo-Venetians, then under the Austrian yoke. The libertarian spirit has lasted for centuries and spread across continents and now blows through the Bolivarian lands.
Young Bolivarian mother with son
The orchestra "ambiancing" the meeting at Miraflores Palace with Nicolás Maduro on December 4. Second from left: furruco player: furruco is a percussion instrument by friction, typical of the gaita zuliana (Zulia State), with origins of Congo and/or Andalusia
"We aren't sleeping": Placard in support of the Haitian people's uprising by Valentina Aguirre of the Comunidad Utopix, a collective of Venezuelan graphic artists.