Tariq Ali: ‘We must not lose Venezuela’
The article below was abridged from Correo Del Orinoco International.
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Internationally-acclaimed author, activist, and intellectual Tariq Ali highlighted the importance of Venezuela´s Bolivarian Revolution and socialist President Hugo Chavez at a conference at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela in Caracas over July 27-28.
Speaking at celebrations for the seventh anniversary of Telesur, the Caracas-based Latin American news media, the respected British Pakistani historian told those gathered that “Venezuela must not be lost” as the October 7 presidential election approaches.
Discussing the leadering role played by Latin America in promoting alternative means of communication, Ali spoke at an event titled, “The Western Media: A Pillar of the State”, highlighting Venezuela´s struggle to democratise the media.
Ali said the world is suffering through “a prolonged war, implemented by the United States, which is aimed at dominating the world and maintaining US hegemony”.
“In this war,” he said, “the means of communication play a fundamental role.” The mainstream corporate media “only reports on ordinary people when there are catastrophies”. But Ali said people around the world “are anxious to access alternative media that inform viewers in an open and critical way”.
“Above all else”, Ali said, “people want media that reflect the conditions in which ordinary people live and struggle on a daily basis”.
Venezuela-based Telesur “provides coverage of average people all the time; on the daily suffering experienced by common folk here in Venezuela, in neighbouring Colombia, in Chile, all over the place”, he said.
Media reports worldwide show the US and Europe plunging the world into a “global crisis”, but Ali said “it is this very same crisis that allowed for the development of alternative means of communication such as Telesur”.
“Since private media no longer allow for critical debate to occur,” Ali said, “this is something the public media must do …
“We must demonstrate that what Telesur is doing, for example, is the democratic alternative, that we are the ones allowing the people to express themselves.”
Ali said media such as Telesur “teach the people to think critically”.
The acclaimed author of Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope also used his speech to stress that great care must be taken to defend the advances made by progressive forces in Latin America.
The “democratisation” that has begun in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, he said, “is going to be a prolonged and difficult struggle”.
“I always tell my friends in South America that no one should think the United States has renounced its hold on the region.
“The US is very displeased with what is happening in South America and they consider it rather unfortunate that a new generation of valiant leaders has arisen.
“The US did not expect the rise of a [Hugo] Chavez, which took them by surprise. The United States thought the parties of the Right would be able to control things [in Venezuela], and they didn't think Evo [Morales] would win in Bolivia or that [Rafael] Correa would win in Ecuador.
“This has created panic in Washington and they've now launched their counter-offensive. They have tried to rid themselves of Chavez on numerous occasions. They've tried coup d'etats, organised oil stoppages, used the media as a weapon of war, always without success.
“Up until now they've failed because we've always been able to beat them democratically, with the support of the people … But it would be total foolishness to think that the victories we've had in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia are somehow irreversible.”
US imperialism “has not given up” in Latin America, and “while the United States is certainly debilitated, economically speaking, it is still the most powerful country in the world”.
“From a political point of view”, he added, “we must be very careful. We must continue educating the continent, the citizens of the region, and in this process Telesur and other public media are extremely important.”
Speaking to Venezuelan News Agency (AVN), Ali outlined the importance of the Bolivarian revolution led by Chavez.
In contrast to the “official democracy of capitalist countries”, which are “ever more restrictive”, Ali said Venezuela´s participatory democracy “represents a real democratic alternative”.
“It’s amazing the things people say about Venezuela abroad,” Ali said. “They say Chavez is a dictator, negating the fact that he has had more elections, has won more elections than any other [elected official].
“The only democracies they [the US and Europe] permit are the democracies that do what they say must be done.”
Asked about other regions, Ali said: “China is not an alternative, nor is India or Russia. In fact, the only real alternative available in today´s world is found here in South America.
“In no other place do we observe what we observe here. Venezuela is an alternative precisely because it questions all of the priorities of modern capitalism, using the state on behalf of the poor.
“That is the importance of Venezuela … for all of us, across the globe. We cannot allow ourselves to lose Venezuela.”