To comrade Nicolás Maduro and the people of Venezuela:
It is with the profoundest sorrow that we in the Party for Socialism and Liberation (U.S.) learn of the death of Comandante President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías.
Words cannot describe the enormous blow and loss that we, along with the Venezuelan and Cuban masses and the revolutionary peoples of the world, suffer with his passing.
Chávez’s determined will to win a new Venezuela transformed not only your homeland for the betterment of the people, it also opened the road for a united and sovereign Latin America and the Caribbean.
In these sad moments we are remembering Chávez’s youthful spirit in 1992 as he courageously took on the old regime to vindicate the people, and thus lit a revolutionary flame that can never be extinguished. His humble roots, devoted love for his people, determined will for justice, and political acumen forged a revolutionary spirit in a man who never stopped fighting for Venezuela and a socialist future. His international solidarity gained many new alliances, so necessary in a world fraught with growing imperialist aggression.
Chávez is gone physically but his inspiration and example live on in the hearts of a combative Venezuelan people and all those who fight for true justice.
Brothers and sisters, we mourn alongside you the irreplaceable loss of our dear Chávez.
We extend our fullest solidarity to you and your comrades as you work arduously to defend and extend all the gains that Comandante Chávez inspired and fought for.
We have complete confidence that the Venezuelan people — workers, peasants, students, Indigenous communities, women, soldiers, intellectuals — those struggling for a socialist and sovereign Venezuela, will win.
Compañero Maduro and the government of Venezuela, we wish to assure you our revolutionary support and commitment to defend the Bolivarian Revolution within the United States, as we also continue our fight for socialism at home.
Socialist Party USA Co-Chair Billy Wharton in the Socialist Webzine:
Seeing Chavez Inside Ourselves
By Billy Wharton
When we reflect on the death of a historically significant figure we measure them at their peak. So, when considering Hugo Chavez, we can dispel the disturbing images of the end – a cancer ridden warrior struggling to cling to life with his enemies cynically wishing him along to the grave. We see instead Chavez, the hero of the resistance movement to neoliberalism. Chavez, the revolutionary committed to the democratic road. And most importantly, Chavez, the figure who carried the hopes and dreams of millions of poor and working class all over the world wishing to strike out to create a better future for all.
More than anything, Hugo Chavez was a teacher. A teacher with a classroom that extended throughout the globe. He taught us that the blind rage of the class war alone could not bring significant change. The revolution needs to be organized. It requires tactics. And patience. And, above all, it can only move as fast as the people who are making it are willing to go – no small group can force the engine of revolution to move at a speed they desire.
Chavez taught us that this old road of enlightened minority rule – a road with so many tragedies authored by leftists – was dead. He taught us this by example during the failed military coup of 1992. The greatness of Chavez as a teacher came from his ability to learn so much from his own mistakes and to teach so many in the process.
He taught us by persistently challenging his opponents – whether in Venezuela or Washington – by using the weapon of democracy. Time and again, the enemies of the Bolivarian revolution attempted to delegitimize his presidency and time and again he proved willing to face the cleansing and unpredictable force of the popular vote.
His tool was the ballot and not the gun. This distinguished him from both his opponents in the present – who proved willing to sanction the killing of an Iraqi or an Afghani or a Palestinian in the name of democracy – and his leftist predecessors of the past who preached the poisoned gospel of the end justifying the means.
In this way, we can see the historical bridge that Chavismo served to create. This is not one that, as he in his own propagandistic way, claimed to stretch back to Simon Bolivar. Instead, it is one that served to reconnect the Latin American and, by extension, the Global Left to the project initiated by the first democratically elected Marxist in the world, Salvador Allende. Allende’s presidency marked a critical moment in world history where the promise of democracy made so long ago by slave holders and land owners was finally fulfilled. The reclaiming of democracy from the bottom up, was done by both Allende and Chavez not for purpose of growing a new kind of “democratic” dictatorship, but to allow a democratic form of socialism to emerge.
Though Allende’s breakthrough was ultimately drowned in the blood of capitalist dictatorship, the breech into the system had already been made. Capitalism and democracy were no longer seen as the same thing. Democracy could belong to the people. It could be used to advance the cause of human development. It could be used to challenge the imperialists and to confront those who exploited others. In short, a democratic form of socialism could change the world. Chavez both grew to understand the potential of democratic socialism and offered an updated vision of it to millions of others.
As we think of the legacy of Hugo Chavez, think of the many ways in which his Presidency became an organic expression of the democratic will of the Venezuelan people. Think of the millions who were engaged in the local communal councils. Think of those employed in the self owned and managed cooperatives. Those provided with housing using funds that, in the past, would have lined the pockets of the rich. Think of millions of people on the move – organized to vote for their own self-interest, mobilized to defend their democratic decisions and empowered to fight for a life with dignity, with equality and with justice.
Ultimately the life of Hugo Chavez challenges us to look at our own lives. To see in ourselves, as he saw in himself and other common people, the spark of humanity capable of changing the world. If Chavez initiated a new kind of socialism for the 21st century, he did so with the implicit understanding that it was not his movement to complete. He merely offered a glimpse into a future where the needs and desires of the people, regular people like us, are more important than those of the 1% who seek to rule the world. The world changing message offered by Hugo Chavez is that another future is possible and that future begins with us.
Viva Chavez! Viva Chavismo!
Workers World Party joins the Venezuelan people in grief over the loss of the great revolutionary leader Hugo Chávez.
The death of a larger-than-life leader like Chávez is hard to take. Millions around the world will deeply mourn the loss of his vibrant personality, his warm embrace of the ordinary people, his courage and resoluteness at critical moments — like the attempted coup in 2002, from which he emerged even stronger with the militant support of the masses of people. Also sorely missed will be his creative optimism expressed through countless projects that aim to unite the people of Latin America in a socialist future, based on cooperation and the equitable sharing of their abundant resources.
As Berta Joubert-Ceci wrote in Workers World in December:
“One leader is not the revolution. It is the masses and the process of revolution that create leaders, and not the other way around. Leaders, however, can steer the revolution, coordinate resources and speed it up. Leaders are also an important part of revolutions when they are the product of the masses’ aspiration.
“Chávez is such a leader. He has been able to gather and concentrate the desire of the Venezuelan people for social justice and equality and turn it into action. Under his presidency, the government has lifted the lives of all Venezuelans, dedicating an impressive 43.2 percent of the budget to social programs. Illiteracy is now nonexistent in Venezuela and poverty has been reduced.
“Along with improving the quality of life of millions of people, Chávez’s government has shown that Simón Bolívar’s dream of regional integration could be a reality. Together with revolutionary Cuba, Venezuela impelled the formation of anti-imperialist regional associations like the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). These associations have been crucial for the improvement and cohesion of the region, including other Caribbean nations.
“Chávez and Venezuela inspire the world by standing up against the U.S. imperialist monster. They show that nations can win and maintain national dignity, independence and sovereignty in the face of criminal imperialist interventions.”
This is not just a time to mourn his untimely death from cancer. It is a time to express firm support for Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution. And a time to be more vigilant against the schemes being hatched by U.S. imperialism and its reactionary agents inside Venezuela.
The imperialists have tried to undermine and overthrow Chávez, calling their goal “democracy,” even though he had the undisputed confidence of the majority of his people, as expressed in more than a dozen elections held during his tenure.
Now they are scrambling to take advantage of this great leader’s death. But Chávez himself prepared for this moment by designing a Plan of Action for the Advancement of the Revolution and naming Vice President Nicolás Maduro to succeed him.
We are confident that the Bolivarian Revolution will overcome this cruel twist of fate, and the Venezuelan people will rally, even more united than before, behind their leaders to advance the struggle toward a society free of classes and imperial oppression.
Progressives in the United States must also put our shoulder to the wheel and give our undivided support to Venezuela in order to prevent imperialism from sabotaging the Bolivarian project to unite the popular, anti-imperialist struggles throughout Latin America.
¡Hasta la victoria siempre, Comandante!