With few exceptions, most international media coverage of the recent protests in Venezuela gives little sense of the response from the popular social movements who support the government of President Nicolas Maduro but operate independently from it.
As researchers who have carried out long-term fieldwork in the urban barrios (poor neighbourhoods) of Caracas, we felt compelled to translate and publish the statement of one of these barrio groups.
This piece is written by a group called Cayapo, a long-time social movement group with members in rural and urban areas across Venezuela. The piece locates the current antagonism [the often violent right-wing protests – Green Left] as deeply rooted in a historic fear of the masses dating back to colonisation, which eventually turns to hatred and is then easily sparked into violence. There is a danger that this violence can eventually be used in self-destructive ways by the masses themselves.
In this statement, Cayapo call on Maduro supporters to resist the urge to respond to the provocations of some sectors of the opposition with more violence. They hope that through conversation and collective creative expression they can expose a truth — that this war seeks to divide the people who should otherwise stand united.
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Work together to dilute hate
We are clear that this war is like all wars; its aim is power, a gospel truth. We face a type of war where trenches are diffuse, whose main front is the collective mind.
Multinationals have won over the mind of the middle class in Venezuela, fomenting a deeply rooted fear, burdened by the weight of history, savagely exploited and conveniently used, turned into irrational hatred, impossible to cure.
Only the passage of time can disarm the hate that makes any act of war a possible trigger for those seeking change, and which will lead these sick masses, demented, to self destruct in a maelstrom that sates their manufactured hatred.
To preserve life, we must isolate those who try to generate and propagate more hate.
In this light we propose to gather together and unite everyone working with art, words, and music to work towards the goal of diluting hate. Everyone organised in various unions, all producers, all the people.
The state or revolutionary leadership has acted with propriety, unraveling every difficult situation (as in the exemplary case of negotiating [far right leader] Leopoldo Lopez's surrender and cordoning the demonstration with policewomen) that — stoked by agitators and trained provocateurs who were paid for and organised by the real stakeholders — could easily have boiled over and provoked the final objective: total war, Venezuela dead and prostrate.
This comfortable war by the world's owners now seeks the elimination of the bourgeois state* in all of its varieties because it no longer serves its plans for maximum dictatorial control.
It is incumbent upon the people to dilute the hatred, to prevent elites from building their armies with us. To do so it is vital to stay united as a people, the key condition to avoid the breakout of civil war, fratricidal war, remote war (proxy war, as they call it at the Pentagon): death without distinction is its primary purpose. The war of boardrooms and suits.
It is true that we could scorch the east** in a day of rage, but how long will we endure its consequences? El Comandante [late president Hugo Chavez] taught us to dodge the hate even when it seemed most impossible. To call yourself Chavista and fail to apply its most important lessons is a contradiction: and we are not talking about turning the other cheek, but knowing how to fight.
We must deepen the work of organising, of propaganda and popular intelligence fundamentally in the heart of the barrios, countryside and villages, explaining the situation, organising conversations based on a broad, real, and complete understanding, of this (new) situation (the “new” might not be that obvious), informing the population with accurate information.
In the morass, the truth will sustain us as revolutionaries. And truth is accomplished together, as ourselves.
Those who can access social media should do so, understanding that it is not the main way to dilute hate. It must be done very carefully to avoid falling prey to that which we wish to temper.
Always remember that as people we are more prone to wars of confrontation than to diluting the conditions that produce it. The heroes in this war will not be those who fire the most shots, but those who most defuse the catalysts for war.
*The authors believe that the current global configuration of elite classes seeks to destroy even the meager protections of the bourgeois state, as it is no longer sufficient for them to extend their economic profits and political power.
** They refer here to the east of Caracas, an area occupied by mostly middle and upper class residents (with the exception of Petare), compared to the predominantly poor, working class west side of the city.
Read the Spanish original
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