It is dangerous to say these things, so one must be tentative,
but I think we may well be witnessing a world-historic event with the
election of Evo Morales in Bolivia.
Right now a series of governments have emerged in key Latin
American countries that –with whatever hesitations, incompleteness,
contradictions– are part of a historic movement.
That movement is the negation of our Balkanization through the
strengthening of the Balkanized fragments of our Latin American nation.
Argentina and Brazil have joined Venezuela in shaking of the shackles of
the International Monetary Fund and its adjustment plans, they have
torpedoed the imperialist project to turn the entire continent into a
Disneyland for U.S. corporations with the FTAA. And with Petrosur and
the agreement to admit Venezuela as a full member of Mercosur, the first
steps are being taken in establishing what one day must become a
confederation of Latin American and Caribbean nations.
But the most important thing is the political concept behind it,
expressed in the slogan of their answer to CNN, which is called Telesur:
Nuestro Norte es el Sur (Our North is the South, “North” meaning
something like “north star”).
Perhaps, possibly, “quizas” in Brazil one could speak of an
individual “national” road of development and revolution, but as for the
rest of our America, and here I would include Mexico, no socially or
historically serious advance that is likely to withstand the test of
decades is possible on an individual basis.
Cuba may seem like it disproves this, but the road followed by
Cuba is no longer open, and the Revolution itself consolidated before it
had to stand alone.
Indeed, Cuba may have been a rare and unique case, because if it
had happened just a few years earlier, the USSR may not have been strong
and self-confident enough to guarantee its survival, and a few years
later it may well have met with the fate of Nicaragua, left twisting in
the wind by the Soviet bureaucracy, with enough aid to produce a
prolonged death agony but not enough to survive. But, at any rate, the
Cuban road was definitively closed by the collapse of the USSR and will
not open again until working people forge a new –and better– union of
socialist republics, almost certainly somewhere in the global South, and
as things stand today, most likely in Latin America.
And most likely in Latin America because what was born in 1917
was not just the Russian revolution but the world socialist revolution,
and even though extinguished for a time in the land that gave it birth,
October took refuge and continued to live in a small Caribbean island
too stubborn to recognize what everyone else in the world, including and
perhaps especially the “tovarich” in business suits of yesteryear, were
saying, that Cuba was a museum, a piece of a past that was already dead
and defeated, and Fidel was such a hopeless, old, sentimental fool and
dreamer that he wouldn’t admit it.
And Cuba’s answer was Patria o Muerte: as long as we are not
destroyed, we are not defeated. If we still breathe, we still fight.
And because Cuba refused to be defeated, Venezuela was possible.
Because there is one thing that Chavez and his friends needed to know to
the marrow of their bones to embark on the course they have been on. And
Cuba was the only place they could learn it and it was indeed where they
did learn it. What Cuba taught, what Cuba teaches even today, is this:
That the revolution is possible.
That the people can make it.
That no power on this earth is stronger than a people determined
to win its liberation.
“The people.” How easy a term to use! And how difficult a
reality to call into being!!! The people. Not “the people” as those to
whom history happens, but those that make history, not its victims, but
And this I will say in Spanish because the English words,
although they are the same, do not say the same thing:
No hay pueblo mas pueblo que los pueblos indÃgenas de nuestra
There are no people who are more the people than the indigenous
peoples of our America. Five hundred years of oppression and
exploitation, of slavery and genocide. And they have survived, and
endured, and resisted and –I hope this is what history will say– on a
day recorded as being in December of 2005 by the calendars the white man
brought to this part of the world, that people stood up and said:
It is not the first time they have tried, they are not the only
“most oppressed and exploited” to have stood up, broken their chains,
they will not be the last. Black people in the South did that against a
regime of sujugation, dehumanization and terror that would have broken
many other nations, and put an end to the “American Century” inaugurated
in 1945 in about fifteen years.
The Black movement broke the back of the post-WWII juggernaut of
political and ideological hegemony the ruling class imagined in the
early 50′s it had implanted forever by housebreaking the unions and
terrorizing the socialist and communist left with McCarthyism.
Black people, regular people, and very poor and insecure and
terrorized people, they smashed it by refusing to be defeated. The
antiwar movement was a byproduct of that Black Liberation Movement, and
of the same kind of movement among the Vietnamese, first and foremost
among rebel campus youth of those years, and down to our days, we should
remember in whose footsteps we walk every time we march on Washington.
Because it was the children and grandchildren of slaves who defied white
terrorism and savage repression that made it so easy for us just to file
for a permit and get on a bus.
When a people like the Black people of the United States, the
indigenous people of Bolivia rise up, become protagonists of their own
history, fight to forge their own destiny, they change everything.