Eva Golinger: Venezuela shows 'People can take power and do great things'

Eva Golinger is a Venezuelan-American lawyer and author of The Chavez Code, which exposed US government involvement in a 2002 military coup that briefly overthrew Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's left-wing president, before he was reinstated by a popular uprising. She spoke to Green Left Weekly in late October. Golinger's latest book is Bush vs Chavez: Washington's War on Venezuela. (The first part of this interview appeared in GLW #691.)

GLW asked Golinger about the possible US responses toward Venezuela after the likely victory of Chavez in the December presidential election. She replied, "If we make it to the elections — hopefully we will — one option is for [right-wing opposition candidate Manuel] Rosales to withdraw. The US and the opposition has already started with their bogus [opinion] polling. They used the same company, linked to the US State Department, that was used in Nicaragua, in the Philippines, in the Ukraine and in Georgia, to produce polling results favourable to the US-backed candidate.

"Sogby International, a respected international polling company, has produced figures showing Chavez's support at 57%, Rosales's at 24%. One of the US government strategies is to get their bogus polling companies to show that the numbers are very close — like in Mexico. That's one option.

"The other possibility is Chavez wins but by a narrow margin. They claim fraud, and refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the election. Then Rosales goes back to Zulia [the state of which he is governor] and they try to separate [from Venezuela], saying 'We won't recognise the national government'."

At this point, Rosales probably isn't in a position to withdraw from the election, because the opposition can't justify it. "Right now, they keep saying they're going through to the elections. They may try to create a climate of fear so that people won't vote, so that it discredits the result. And, of course, the other option is an assassination attempt against Chavez.

"Assuming [Chavez] wins, the other part of the strategy [the US] has been working on for a long time is influencing, and the penetration of, Chavez supporters — to destabilise them and divide them. That's happening already."

She gave an example of Caracas's Barrio Enero 23, "one of the most powerful and organised communities in the country". "They've got deep divisions, and they've had shoot-outs [within the militant groups]. I talked to some people, and they said there are infiltrators, paid by the CIA, and they're getting into groups and corrupting people — playing on the tensions, making up lies, and playing one against the other."

The fate of the Bolivarian revolution is far from being the concern only of Venezuelans. Golinger told GLW that the "Venezuelan revolution is a leader in world reform. It has provided inspiration, not just to Latin America, but to peoples around the world. It shows that even if you're not so powerful a nation, economically and militarily, you can still stand up to US domination. You can still build your own society in the way that best suits the needs of your people ...

"Venezuela is providing an excellent example of governance in the interests of the people, of humane governance. This involves investing state resources in very effective social programs — not just limiting those programs to health and education, but expanding into cultural needs, and job training ...

"Mission Vuelvan Caras ['About Face'] is one of the most important missions. The issue of supporting cooperatives, community media, these are things which I don't think any government has really done on a mass scale before. And there are really radical changes taking place in Venezuela, such as in housing and the Mercal-subsidised food.

"The Communal Councils are crucial too. They are part of putting the constitution into law. The Venezuelan constitution is one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, especially in the area of human rights. The constitution as a document stands up well, but it's not effective unless there is legislation implementing those rights.

"So, the Law of the Communal Councils is one of the guarantees that those rights to socio-political and economic participation are being implemented. The Communal Councils are an incredibly innovative and effective way of getting people involved at every level, from the most local to the most national — to provide people with the tools and legislation that will ensure popular oversight of the government."

GLW asked Golinger what she thought Australians needed to know about the importance of solidarity with Venezuela. She explained that international solidarity is "absolutely essential" because "Venezuela is under attack — very serious attack — from the US government. [The US] is trying to create a public opinion internationally that Venezuela is a 'terrorist state' — or on the way to becoming one — and that it's a repressive society.

"I can say with assurance, just having returned from the United States, that the US itself is an extremely repressive state right now. It really is. It's scary. There are more and more political prisoners — people being jailed for political activism. There are increasing controls on free speech. Even getting into the country, the airport controls are excessive, and then going from city to city [is difficult]. It's completely outrageous. The government has violated the US constitution beyond belief."

Venezuela needs solidarity against attacks from the US, "but also to build up exchanges between the grassroots organising groups and social movements, because what's happening here is very interesting for world change. And when we talk about the fall of the US empire, or saving humanity, which are two of the biggest themes that Chavez is always addressing, you can't save humanity without building international solidarity. Venezuelans can't do it on their own, nor can they induce the fall of the empire [by themselves]. We talk about saving our different nations and peoples; it can only be done through an internationalist perspective.

"The Venezuelan foreign policy on [international] integration, not just in Latin America but worldwide, is one of the fundamental ways that Venezuela is helping to create this type of solidarity. It's between governments, but it's also between peoples. And more people need to know what's going on here.

"It also refutes this concept of Latin America being an underdeveloped part of the world. We have social policies here that are more developed than a lot of nations in the world community — more than the US, for example. More democracy, for instance ...

"One of the most important things for people of the US — and I dare say Australia also — is to see how society in Venezuela changed, and how the people, mainly the poor people, have completely changed the structure of government here at a grassroots level. And this is a capitalist country still.

"It was a very consumerist society, and very apathetic, with a largely excluded and marginalised population. That has changed ... This is now a country where people are aware of their rights. They know about politics; they know what's happening every day, because people watch the news. They don't care as much about frivolous stuff on TV as they used to. They're aware and active — in their daily life, and involved in effecting change. It's an inspiration in that sense, and it also shows that common people can make changes on a really large scale.

"So, international solidarity is important for all these reasons. There are many other countries that need to make changes like this. And there are movements of people who are trying [to make such changes], but don't yet have the power ... But Venezuela is a prime example, for everyone, that people can take power, and they can do great things with it."

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