The People of Latin America Lost a Leader and a Builder of Ideas!
The death of Hugo Chávez represents an irreparable loss to all the peoples of Latin America.
His humble origins, his path as a military nationalist and his unwavering commitment to the project of the freedom of the Venezuelan people, turned him into a popular leader of the whole continent.
He was the first to face with weapons drawn the ills of neoliberalism in the 1990’s. Embittered in prison. The people recognized him and brought him to the government with the largest electoral support in the history of the country.
He faced more than ten elections with broad popular participation and with extreme rigor of popular control over the fairness of the polls. He won them all.
He faced the empire and the bourgeois media worldwide.
He faced “lumpen” businessmen and corrupt puppets of the CIA that attempted a coup. But the scorned leadership of the people saved him!
Over the years, he implemented fundamental changes in Venezuelan society. After a century of an economy dependent on exports of oil, it took a turn. First, he distributed the oil revenues to solve the people’s problems. Of health, education, housing and food.
And then he implemented changes to reorganize the economy through a process of industrialization of the country, and autonomy.
In politics, he encouraged all the forces in popular participation. Not just in elections and government, but he stimulated the role of workers in all areas of society.
In solidarity with other poorer countries, he created Petrocaribe, which sells needed oil at cost.
Like the MST and other movements of Via Campesina, we always had a great identity with his project. And a special affection for this leader solely committed to his people.
We met in the activities of the World Social Forum (WSF), to discuss neoliberalism and exits for the capitalist crisis.
We built together a continental proposal for agro-ecology, which could be the basis for a policy of producing healthy food for the entire population. We organized a continental network of agro-ecology schools and experiments with seeds. With our network IALA (Agro-ecological Institute of Latin Americans).
And together we placed the groundwork for a project of continental integration, based on the people, that went further than the government and commercial links. That could serve as popular integration with productive initiatives. With educational initiatives to eradicate illiteracy in our population. With social initiatives and policies. To this end, we are building a network of all American social movements, who identify with this project.
It was a decade of defeats to neoliberalism, to the sectors of the bourgeoisie, and the eternal servants of the interests of foreign capital.
There were ten years of building a process of alternatives. With enormous challenges, victories and small defeats, but always forward!
Chavez will be missed!
But with the intensity of a true leader, he put the foundations in Venezuelan society for the project to be continued.
His example and clarity will serve as encouragement for all social activism in Latin America, for all the popular forces and progressive governments so that we can continue to build a popular true liberation processes.
Continue the course for true continental integration!
Viva popular integration of our continent!
João Pedro Stedile
for the MST and Via Campesina
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