I very much recommend taking a look at the speech by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro at the political-cultural act of solidarity with Venezuela in Havana, Cuba, on April 10, 2017. It illustrates the form in which charismatic leaders forge understandings in the context of crises of political struggle, thus demonstrating the process of the evolution of theory in the context of practice. The study of the speeches of charismatic revolutionary leaders is fertile ground for developing our revolutionary consciousness.
The political crisis in Venezuela is the result of violent attacks by gangs supported by the Venezuelan Right with the support of the U.S. government. Using its control of the international media of communication, the Right is portraying Venezuela as a country in chaos, providing selected images of violence for which the Right itself is responsible. The Organization of American States has been enlisted in support of the cause, and the Secretary General of OAS, thus far without success, has been seeking to obtain OAS condemnation of Venezuela or the recommendation of sanctions. The OAS condemnation would serve as a prelude and a pretext for a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, in order to establish a government consistent with its interests, inasmuch as such a government likely could not be attained through electoral or constitutional means.
Speaking in Cuba in the context of this struggle and crisis, Maduro focuses on the role of the Organization of American States in carrying out U.S. interests. He recalls that the OAS was created in 1948 with the intention of creating a structure that would enable the United States to obtain Latin American diplomatic support for U.S. action against any Latin American country that would challenge its hegemonic interests. Enjoying enormous power and prestige at that time, the United States was able to establish the OAS as its “colonial ministry,” as called by Maduro, citing the Cuban foreign minister of the early 1960s, Raúl Roa. Maduro sees an analogy between OAS expulsion of Cuba in 1962 and the interventionist conduct of OAS with respect to Venezuela today. Given the role of the OAS as an instrument of U.S. interests, Maduro questions whether Venezuela should remain in the organization. Indeed, the South American nation subsequently did announce on April 26 its withdrawal from the OAS. Cuba, it should be noted, did not rejoin the organization when its expulsion was rescinded in 2009.
In his analysis of the historic moment, Maduro interprets the Cuban Revolution as of transcendental importance for the neocolonized peoples of the world. In his view, the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 established a new possible reality for the peoples of the Third World, thus marking the dawning of a new historic period. For this reason, the Cuban Revolution had to be destroyed by the imperialist powers, but as a result of the determination and intelligence of the Cuban leadership and its people, they could not do it.
The discourse of Maduro formulates various concepts and interpretations that are common among Third World revolutionaries. He formulates a grand narrative that finds meaning in human history. He has historic memory of the global process of colonialism, slavery and extermination, carried out by the educated and cultured of Europe. He possesses consciousness of the historic struggle of the colonized peoples in defense of their national sovereignty, their cultural autonomy and their rights. He has faith in the future of humanity, which, he believes, will be victorious in creating a more just, democratic and sustainable world.
Maduro sees free trade agreements between developed and underdeveloped nations as a new form of economic colonialism. Consistent with the classic Third World project of national and social liberation (see various posts in the category Third World), Maduro sees the importance of developing diverse forms of production as well as South-South cooperation, breaking from the peripheral economic role in relation to the core. The petroleum era is over, he maintains, and Venezuela must overcome dependency on petroleum through diversification of production and regional integration, overcoming the core-peripheral relation though South-South cooperation. For Maduro, economic development is the principal task confronting Latin American countries, and this is why the road is through regional organizations like ALBA, and not transnational organizations directed by the interests of the core powers, like OAS. In this emphasis on economic development through a new form of regional integration, Maduro’s views are consistent with those of the “socialism for the twenty-first century” that has emerged in Latin America.
In struggle of the neocolonized to save humanity, Maduro discerns the important role of charismatic leaders, like Fidel and Chávez, who possessed exceptional understanding as well as unbounded commitment to universal human values. He notes, for example, that Chávez understood how to lead in the new stage of struggle, overcoming ideological divisions by lifting up a Latin Americanist doctrine. And both Fidel and Chávez knew to unify the revolution in Venezuela and the Cuban Revolution. The leadership of Fidel and Chávez, Maduro observes, stands in contrast to the shameful subordination of the local hierarchies to imperialist interests, who sold their dignity.
Maduro is a former bus driver educated through a process of leadership in worker’s unions and social-political movements. He speaks in the everyday language of the humble people of the earth, with a simple and direct discourse that is full of insight into structures of domination. With revolutionary faith, he proclaims that, however powerful and clever the forces of imperialism may be, we have morality on our side as well as the determination to advance in our social and economic development. We will fulfill our destiny of attaining an historic victory over imperialism. We belong to a revolution born in history and that is called by history to prevail.