Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Hugo Chávez Talks to Marta Harnecker
by Hugo Chávez and Marta Harneckertranslated by Chesa Boudin

“Marta Harnecker s important book helps clarify the challenges facing Venezuela’s ongoing revolutionary process. The bourgeoisie still controls the economy, the media, the judiciary, and many elected bodies. Additionally, the middle classes which formerly enjoyed an orgy of spending financed by oil money, have now converted from previous nationalist attitudes into allies of imperialism. The decisive role played by Hugo Chavez in initiating that revolutionary process and the immense support he continues to receive from the popular classes makes this book necessary reading for understanding the forces at work in what may well become a stage in the long run transformation of the global system.”—SAMIR AMIN

“Marta Harnecker's penetrating questions brings out the profundity of Hugo Chávez's intelligence and his sense of commitment —as well as his sense of humor. This book is indispensable for understanding the revolutionary process in Venezuela.” —SAUL LANDAU, author of The Business of America and The Pre-Emptive Empire: A Guide to Bush's Kingdom

“This well-crafted, well-edited, and engaging book is a bracing antidote and a pleasure to read. Here you will discover the real Hugo Chávez: a highly educated, brilliant, democratic revolutionary leader, and a man of deep and thoroughly admirable humanity.” —MICHAEL PARENTI, author of The Assassination of Julius Caesar, Superpatriotism, and The Culture Struggle

Marta Harnecker’s interviews with Hugo Chávez began soon after one of the most dramatic moments of Chávez’s presidency—the failed coup of April 2002, which ended with Chávez restored to power by a massive movement of protest and resistance. In the aftermath of the failed coup, Chávez talks to Harnecker about the formation of his political ideas, his aspirations for Venezuela, its domestic and international policies, problems of political organization, relations with social movements in other countries, and more, constantly relating these to concrete events and to strategies for change.

The exchange between Harnecker and Chávez—sometimes reflective, sometimes anecdotal, always characterized by their passionate commitment to the struggles of the oppressed—brings to light the process of thought and action behind the public pronouncements and policies of state.
The interviews are supplemented by extracts from Chávez’s most recent pronouncements on the ongoing transformation in Venezuela and Latin America, an analysis by Harnecker on the role of the military, and a chronology.

Hugo Chávez has become a symbol of defiance of U.S. imperialism throughout Latin America. His importance for the future of the region makes this book essential reading.

Table of Contents
Chapter One:Roots
Chapter Two: A Peaceful Transition, A Painful Institutional Birth
Chapter Three: The Military in the Revolution and the Counterrevolution
Chapter Four: The Slow March Toward an Alternative Economy
Chapter Five: Sovereign and Independent International Policy
Chapter Six: The Middle Class, Communications Strategy, and Dialogue
Chapter Seven: A Political Party at its Height
Chapter Eight: The April 11 Coup

About the Authors
HUGO CHÁVEZ was elected president of Venezuela in 1998, re-elected under a new constitution in 2000, and won a large majority in a 2004 recall referendum.

MARTA HARNECKER is director of the Center for Research on Popular Memory in Latin America (MEPLA) in Havana and author of Venezuela: Militares Junta al Pueblo and numerous books on the Latin American left.

The Monthly Review, November 2005

Speaking in New York to the United Nations in September Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez delivered a fiery speech sharply critical of U.S. imperialism and what he called a “frightening neoliberal globalization.” Chávez denounced the blatant manipulation of the United Nations to support U.S. geopolitical ambitions and military aggression.

He condemned the U.S. government for allowing Christian evangelist Pat Robertson and others to call openly for his assassination in violation of international law.

But Chávez did not stop there. Although largely ignored by the U.S. media, he used the occasion to celebrate some of the extraordinary accomplishments of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution during the seven years since his first election as president in 1998. In a country that has been sharply divided between rich and poor and where the vast majority of the population has been impoverished, 17 million Venezuelans, almost 70 percent of the total population of 25 million, now have access for the first time to free health care, and in a few years this will be extended to all Venezuelans. More than a million tons of subsidized food is being channeled to 12 million people (almost half the population) through cooperatives, special food programs, and government distribution centers. One million people receive this food allotment without cost. Unemployment has dropped 9 points through the creation of 700,000 new jobs. Within a year and a half 1.4 million Venezuelans have learned to read and write, making the country illiteracy free.

Three million people previously excluded by poverty from the education system are now enrolled in school. These gains in poverty reduction, health, and education are concrete indications of what can be achieved if human needs are put first and if the economic surplus is directed to promoting the interests of the poor rather than the rich. All of this, however, is only the beginning of the revolutionary process. As Chávez has said, “You can’t solve the problem of poverty without giving power to the poor.”

For those wishing more information on Chávez and the Venezuelan Revolution, an important new work is Hugo Chávez interviewed by Marta Harnecker,
Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution (Monthly Review Press). A portion of this book appeared in the September issue of MR.

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