We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Venezuela: Interview with WRI Council Member Rafael Uzcátegui

Click here to access a transcript of the interview from War Resisters' International. (Although WRI is related, it is not the same as the War Resistors League which, I believe, is based in the US.) 
Rafael Uzcategui is a member of the group that publishes the anarchist newspaper El Libertario in Caracas (Venezuela). As antimilitarist, he is also a member of the War Resisters’ International and works in a Venezuelan human rights NGO called Provea. He is author of the books “Heart of Ink” and “Venezuela: Revolution as Spectacle” in which he reports the so-called Bolivarian process of Chavez and the true face of his “revolutionary” government. Taking advantage of his conference tour in Germany, we interviewed Rafael for the magazine Gai Dao.
Although the transcript suffers a little from translation errors, one can gain important insights on what has really occurred in Venezuela under Chavez. According to this Venezuelan anarchist, despite all the early socialist and radical rhetoric from Chavez and the establishment of grass-roots populist organizations, this frequently lauded "revolution" in Venezuela was only another populist type of regime change that has occurred previously in that country and in other parts of South America. Moreover, the grass-roots organizations have been carefully brought under the political control of this popular caudillo and his administration. Popular measures such as the strengthening of social safety nets and some land re-distribution has occurred, but otherwise the economy is well integrated into the international capitalist economy. This view conforms to my view based on my visit to Venezuela in December of 2005 and subsequent reading material. 

The most relevant sections follow question 2 to the end of the interview.