The article below is abridged from an August 11 open letter from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) meeting in Quito, Ecuador. The full letter can be found at Venezuelanalysis.com. It was translated by Kiraz Janicke.
I would like to begin by recalling the fact that on August 10, 1809, the valiant Ecuadorian people proclaimed the First Cry of their dearly desired independence in Quito. The same city in which today, 200 years after first embarking on our process of independence, we gather to honor the effort of a whole generation of freedom fighters who traced the path to the new republics of Our America.
The idea of the union of republics, proposed by the Liberator Simon Bolivar [who led the liberation of much of South America from Spanish rule] has been revived.
One of Bolivar's greatest desires was to see all the nations along the width and breadth of our continent united in a Great Homeland.
And today, the birth of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) is a sign that the process of the liberation of our nations continues more vigorously than ever.
However, the unity and independence of our countries constitutes a threat to those who aspire to continue controlling our natural resources, economies and political will — that is, our sovereignty.
Faced with the progressive and democratic advances in our continent, the US empire — which in the past 100 years exercised its hegemony over our republics — has launched a counteroffensive. This aimed to roll back the union, sovereignty and democracy of our continent, and restore imperial domination in all spheres of life of our societies.
This counteroffensive was launched on June 28, with the perverse coup d'etat in the sister nation of Honduran. The putchists in Honduras, and the powerful conservative spokespeople in Washington, say this operation against President Manuel Zelaya was a manoeuvre to destroy the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA — anti-imperialist bloc initiated by Cuba and Venezuela).
Our alliance is a project for peace, social justice, a solidarity-based union, participatory democracy and independence led by the humble people.
This infamous coup was met with a dignified response by the Honduran people. They confronted repression and showed they are worthy successors of the heroic General Jose Francisco Morazan Quezada [Honduran-born fighter for Central American unity].
Comrades: on behalf of my government, I would like to express that we are truly and deeply worried by the tense situation with the Republic of Colombia, in relation to the installation of at least seven US military bases in that endearing and brother South American territory.
We want to denounce, here and now, that this is part of a political and military plan orchestrated to put an end to the project of Unasur. It is the biggest threat at this moment to the infinite riches of our continent — black gold, our oil; blue gold, our huge water reserves; green gold, our Amazon.
In recent years, we have denounced the permanent harassment of our country and our Bolivarian revolution, by the elites who run the US empire. Our people have defeated — to the astonishment of international opinion — coups, economic sabotage and the onslaught of media terrorism of national and international reach.
Brothers and sisters from South America: the media campaign and political justifications of the government of Colombia and the chiefs of these military bases are a threat to peace, independence and the rights of the Venezuelan people.
In recent days, we have received expressions of concern and solidarity from the peoples and governments of the continent, as well as an important sector of Colombian society. Those who threaten us believe they can halt the progress of the new and heroic story that we write today in peace.
But, as with 200 years ago when our people pushed back the decaying Spanish empire, today we have superior moral and political conditions for neutralising these warmongers. In doing so, we will ensure our continent is a land of peace.
It would be a grave mistake to think the threat is only against Venezuela, it is directed towards all the countries in the south of the continent, as comrade Fidel Castro said in his reflections entitled "Seven daggers in the heart of America".
The problem of war concerns all of humanity.
We cannot obscure the clamor of the Colombian people to achieve peace in their country. Seven decades of war inside Colombia will only be resolved through a political and negotiated solution.
The people of Colombia have the right to peace. A servile elite, whose business is war in our sister country, cannot expect to expand and impose its armed conflict with the intention of stigmatising and destabilising the progressive and revolutionary movements seeking to accomplish the pending tasks of union, justice and independence.
If we want real peace, we must respond in time with clarity and courage to the deepest needs of our people.
The hour of South America has arrived, the hour of Unasur. We trust in the political capacity of our nascent union to confront this current threat to the future of our republics, our peoples and all humanity.