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Interview :: Globalization & Capitalism : Resistance & Tactics

About the FSA-Caracas 2006 and Venezuela

º In this interview with the mexican alternative news group La Rosa Negra (LRN-ci), the CRA from Venezuela explains the importance of the Alternative Social Forum, which will take place in a few days, and comments about their activity as an anarchist group.
1.- Why is there, in your opinion, the need for an Alternative Social Forum - ASF (or Foro Social Alternativo - FSA)?

* We, at the Comision de Relaciones Anarquistas (CRA) in Venezuela, as well as the publishers of the paper El Libertario (www.nodo50.org/ellibertario/seccioningles.htm), believe it is important to create and maintain spaces for discussion and promote the construction of dynamics for a positive social transformation. Judging from past experience (National Social Forums, events of solidarity with Venezuela, the Sixteenth World Festival for the Youth and the Students), as well as the organization and dynamics of the very same Commitee for the Promotion of the Sixth World Social Forum in Caracas, we have good reasons to believe that the next World Social Forum - WSF(which will take place in Caracas, January 24 to 29, 2006) will not be the diverse, self-managed, open, independent and participatory encounter as it is claimed to be in its mission statement. Because of this, we have participated in the promotion and organization of the FSA -taking place in the same days, and in the same city, than the WSF- so that there will be an encounter of movements, and not of the agendas imposed by leaders of any kind; an encounter that challenges not just the old regime of traditional parties (the "puntofijismo"), but also the blatant contradictions and ineptitudes of the Chavez administration; an encounter where we can discuss without barriers the meaning of revolution and the role of traditional politics in the era of globalisation; a place that prizes the diversity, self-identity and autonomy of the participants; and, in the best case, to become an open and permanent network linking together the diverse individual and collective actors.

2.- Could you elaborate in this Forum's agenda, from an anarchist perspective?

* The agenda for the FSA (which can be found at the event's website www.fsa.contrapoder.org.ve or fsa.ve.tripod.com, and contacted at forosocialalternativo (at) gmail.com) proposes the creation of a space to discuss, from clear anticapitalistic and antiauthoritarian perspectives, issues that are vital to building really revolutionary alternatives for Latin America. As we have frequently stated, as so much evidence confirms, we have to do that because the WSF is closed to those discussions, since it is subservient to the interests of populist governments, sanitized NGOs and multinational industrial moguls. I.e., it is vital to make a critical analysis of the experiences we've had of having the Left in charge in Latin America, their accomodation of the needs of the current capitalist globalisation, the new instances of militarism and pseudo-socialistic populism in the continent, the suppression of the transformative potential of the new social movements at the hands of the NGO's and/or the leftist populists' projects for political control, as well as the challenges the oppressed have to face in order to build and improve radical proyects genuinely based upon freedom, equality and solidarity. With these purposes, the FSA's agenda identifies itself with the proposals that the revitalized anarchist movement presents to our continent. This is not by chance, since venezuelan anarchists from the CRA - El Libertario have participated in the creation and development of the FSA initiative, where our points of view have been warmly received, due to the common points we share with the other instances of the venezuelan radical left.

3.- Is there any specific issue you'd want to prioritize in the Alternative Forum? If so, why?

* One of the most satisfactory things about the creation of the FSA, is that it allows whoever participates in it to carry on activities of their specific interest, within the spirit of the Forum's principles, of course. Thus, we from the CRA - El Libertario are promoting a series of events within the FSA's program dealing from issues that matter to us here and now. We don't buy into the old marxist story about having to cede the spotlight to a "primary goal" within a collective's party line, so our buddies are acting autonomously in order to promote her(their) favorite issue(s) and contribute collectively to the success of the FSA.

4.- What decisions expects the CRA - El Libertario to be taken at this Alternative Social Forum?

* It is not our intention -nor that of any of the other individuals and collectives participating in the ASF- to concoct ont of those events the traditional left likes so much, where you have the final decisions made before you even summon the participants. It is very clear for all of us that this is a place for dialogue, not a place to "win votes" in favor of one or another little group interested in electoral victories. If we the anarchists expect anything, it is precisely for the Forum to accomplish anything it was meant to do.

5.- We have read carefully the articles written by Pablo Moras, Rafael Uzcategui, as well as the answer from El Libertario to Pablo Moras. Three angles for the same situation, of course, but here is something we are curious about. From our point of view (we at LRN-ci), Uzcátegui, in his article "World Social Forum 2006, shroud for venezuelan social movements", paints a bleak landscape for the social movements in Venezuela; from an anarchist point of view, are there social, political or histórica constraints that explain Uzcátegui's grim picture?

* We think that Uzcátegui's article speaks for himself, about the causes of the hard times the social movements in Venezuela are living through. This issue, along with others that extend and complement Rafael's, has been explained repeatedly in El Libertario since 2004, both in the Editorials and several articles and notes about the situation of the social struggles in the country, so much that the best answer to your question is to point you to both our printed edition and our website.

6.- It is known that the anarchists collectively known as the CRA - El Libertario and the like face a three-fold opposition: a) from the chavist pseudoleftism currently in charge, b) from the anti-chavist opposition commanded by the socialdemocrats and the rightwing, and c) from the traditional leftist groups and parties. Considering all that, can your country's anarchists be considered to be confined in a ghetto, imposed by the State, the right wing and its socialdemocrat allies, and the traditional left, or is it a necessary strategic retreat?

* We believe that, no matter what political or social situation of a country, whoever wields -or aspires to wield- any kind of coercive power, will try to repress any sign of sincere anarchist struggle, building "ghettoes" of open or covert repression in an attempt to confine it. Thus, to confront the establishment is almost inherent to being anarchist, a condition we accept without reserve and, above all, without conforming ourselves to the supposedly unavoidable condition of marginals. We at the CRA refuse to imprison ourselves within our own shell awaiting better times, and whoever has direct contact with our activities, or simply reads El Libertario regularly, will find evidence that we aren't a self-confined group at all...

7.- Here at La Rosa Negra, we feel that the victory for abstentionism in the latest elections, as well as the retreat of civil struggle groups towards "non-participation", is fertile ground for statist (chavist) initiatives and imposing them by force; how true is our perception from afar?

* We must inform you that, according to the official statistics themselves, abstentionism, the voluntary non-participation in an election by segments of the population who have the right to do it, has been a majority in every election held in the country since 1989, even during the Referendum to Revoke the President in 2004, when the politico opposition gangs and the populist government made a stupendous effort to mobilize the unbelieving masses. We refuse to call "civil defense groups" those who now opportunistically pretend to call people to abstention, since they in no way express the real current social forces in Venezuela. In any case, no doubt the chavist regime intends to impose statist control methods everywhere but, being such an inept and corrupt government, which deludes itself into thinking it is building solid popular support by turning the poorest segment of the population into dependent receivers of statist alms, will have a lot of trouble advancing that contradictory chimera called "Socialism for the 21st Century", which in reality is taking us to a crude capitalism of the 19th century.

8.- Also, we think that the venezuelan anarchist struggle has become trapped in a sea of so-called "anti-imperialist" propaganda, promoted by what we at the LRN-ci call the Kirchner-Chávez-Morales-Castro Axis; is that true? if so, will the venezuelan anarchist resistance be forced to redouble their efforts?

* We can't understand how can anyone have the perception that we are "trapped" between the anti-imperialist propaganda of the pseudo-leftist demagogues that have jumped into the bandwagon in Latin America. In fact, we think that whoever has followed closely our actions and writings (as an example, read the answer to P. Moras mentioned in a previous question), will find that we haven't let ourselves fall into the false dichotomy of "either you are with Chavez or with Bush", as we have clearly exposed the evidences that debunk that farce. It hasn't been easy to hold that position, since it goes outside of the simplistic perspectives that have driven the latin american left to failure for more than eighty years, and the redoubled efforts to keep it up-to-date, but our stubborness begins to give fruit, modest but hopeful nonethless.

9.- About the previous question, if that's so, are we then talking about a wider and more open participation of the anarchist movements in your country and the rest of South America?

* We aren't sure we understand the question, but we must express our optimism about the renewed activity and presence of anarchism in South America, still a minority trend, but which has made advances since 1990 that are, both quantitatively and qualitatively, very important compared to what happened in the five or six previous decades. The challenge we face now is to convert that modest rebirth into the capacity to have a significant influence in those forces for positive social change our continent urgently clamors for.

10.- The Kirchner-Chavez-Morales-Castro Axis has several faces: one of them presents itself as the triumph of parliamentary democracy; another as the flagship in the struggle against the Empire; yet another, as the mediator of the popular movement and thus, as the catalyst of civil resistance. What role do the venezuelan anarchists see themselves playing in all this?

* We understand this question as asking about our proposals for the current situation in Venezuela; about that, we will quote a paragraph from the editorial for the issue 44 of El Libertario, September-October 2004: "We are not, nor want to be, contestants for control over institutionalized power: we are anarchists, and desire the dissapearance of both state power and every oppressive hierarchical structure. This is not a mere declaration of principles; here and now, it means to commit ourselves to promote and improve the autonomy of every nonauthoritarian social movement. Such as it is, we are not interested in building 'anarchist social movements', which would be so useless to any collective progress as the dying bolivarian circles or those opposition parties disguised as NGOs. We support social movements who build dynamics of independent action and organization, based upon everybody's participation at all levels, which allow people to reapropriate or build modes of direct action and self-management outside the control of the state or any other instance of oppression; because only in this way can shared spaces of freedom, equality and solidarity can be build, which will be the seeds of the kind of future we fight for. All in all, our offer can be best expressed in John Holloway's lemma: 'to change the world without seizing power'".

11.- Considering the whole picture, would the CRA - El Libertario consider appropriate a wider work propagating the anarchist ideas?

* Considering Venezuela's history, which lacks the notorious anarchist presence many other countries in America and Europe had, since we made our first steps, the task of communicating our ideas has been a high priority, since we live in an environment where the anarchist ideal was virtually unknown. Now that we have spent ten years doing that, we are proud of mentioning our modest acomplishments in making it known, but those have been just the first steps, there is still much to do, so that the propagation of anarchist thinking is still a constant preoccupation of us at the CRA - El Libertario.

12.- ...anything else you'd like to add?

* We'd like to thank you for this interview. Also, to invite you all to the Alternative Social Forum, as well as to spread the word about our work, to establish contacts with like-minded people, whether in person or in the Net, visiting the locales and social gathering places where we perform our activities -i.e. the Centro de Estudios Sociales Libertarios (Center for Anarchist Studies) in Caracas, www.centrosocial.contrapoder.org.ve-, and getting information from the Internet about the Anarchist Relationships Commission (CRA) and El Libertario from Venezuela.

ellibertario (at) nodo50.org
www.nodo50.org/ellibertario
 
 


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