Translation of Chávez’s Twenty-First Century Socialism Speech


Hotel Caracas Hilton, Caracas

February 25, 2005

Thank you very much, thank you very much.[1] We’re very happy to be here at this wonderful event, and we’re all very happy to have heard those speeches that came before mine, indeed, even happier. A very special greeting, a very, very special greeting to all of our guests, visitors and colleagues from other countries of the Americas and from around the world. We warmly welcome you to Venezuela, the country whose arms are open to all. A very special greeting to Deputy Nicolás Maduro, President of the National Assembly and to the other Deputies in attendance today. To Dr. Germán Mundaraín, Public Defender and President of the Moral Republican Council; to Dr. Isaías Rodríguez, Attorney General of the Republic and to his wife; a special greeting to all of the Honorable Ambassadors of the Diplomatic Corp in attendance today, many thanks to you for being here today, Ambassadors.[2] To Professor Aristóbulo Istúriz, Minister of Education and Sports; to Andrés Izarra, Minister of Communication and Information; to Deputy Filinto Durán Chuecos, President of the Latin American Parliament’s Permanent Committee for Economic Affairs, Social Debt and Regional Development. To Deputy Rafael Correa Flores, Secretary General of the Latin American Parliament; to Deputy Walter Gaviria, President of the Venezuelan Parliamentary Group of the Latin American Parliament’s Venezuelan Parliamentary Group; to Honorable Senator Sonia Escudero, Senator from our sister Republic, Argentina. To delegates from the Latin American Parliament, the European Parliament, the Asian Parliament and from the African Parliament; your presence today here with us is very important, very significant, representatives—I repeat—from the European Parliament, the Asian Parliament, the African Parliament, representatives of our brother peoples.

Honorable Deputy Helmuth Markov, member of the European Parliament; citizen Dr. Jorge Valero, Venezuelan Ambassador to the Organization of American States; honorable representatives of the United Nations and the Organization of American States in attendance today. Vice Ministers and other public servants of the state; distinguished representatives from Argentinian, Brazilian, Chilean, Spanish, Peruvian and Venezuelan universities; special guests from Latin America and the Caribbean and from around the world, friends all.

Well, I have so many things to say today during this meeting, and I’ve been trying to decide where to begin. That almost always happens to me, but especially when we’ve come together to discuss social topics, and in this case, social debt—there’s just so much to say. In the first place, I’d like to welcome our visitors from other countries, brothers all, and I’d like to acknowledge the commencement of the IV Social Debt Summit, an initiative that emerged from the alternative spaces in which we’ve worked with our hope unsheathed or fully drawn, however you want to say it, as the poet, Dr. Isaías Rodríguez, Attorney General of the Republic, has said. From the heat of our battles has emerged this space for debate, this space for reflection, this space for ideas and for the ideological battle that’s an essential part of the battle giving to save the world and to build the best new world possible, necessary, essential for life and for the future.

Our Fourth Social Debt Summit, and none can now doubt that this space has been created and consolidated, and that today it’s among the few platforms we have in America and in the world for this battle of ideas and for those proposals that should be permanently nourished, permanently constructed within that dialectic arena of theory and practice, of fundamental practice and theory for life’s course.

We’ve reached an important time of year. It’s already Friday, February 25. For Venezuelans, February has always been a month filled with shocks, from natural disasters, floods, volcanoes, uprisings, clashes, rebellions. I don’t know why, but that’s what February’s like for us and that’s how our history is. So twenty-four or twenty-five days ago, we began the month of February by commemorating the sixth anniversary of the arrival of the people to the government—and that’s the truth—not the arrival of a man to the government, but the arrival of the people, and the twenty-some-odd days have since passed, and with them many other things, but we’re approaching the day after tomorrow. Sunday will be February 27, a day that pains us still, doesn’t it? Just remembering it, just saying the date pains to the depths of our souls those of us who lived through it, those of us who saw it firsthand, those of us who cry, those of us who felt death draw near and who felt something inside of ourselves die. But at the same time, we felt something be born in the depths of our souls. Something died and something was born. Sixteen years ago on February 27, 1989, and we must always remember that date with pain, with pain, but beyond that pain, we must not forget, not only the tragedy of the Caracazo, as it remains in history, and even though Caracas wasn’t alone, all of Venezuela was affected, Caracas has always been the epicenter of these things and these stories. And so our national anthem says, “and if despotism raises its voice, follow the example that Caracas gave.”[3] That song was born from the passion of our people. That revolutionary song was sung on these same streets and in this same valley two hundred years ago.

February 27, we’ll never forget you. February 27, with the blood of an innocent people, you announced the arrival of a new era. February 27, you were and continue to be a rallying cry, which is why we must not just remember that day, not just mourn the lost lives, living with and for that memory, but we must also remember what caused that social eruption, the ignition of those social flames. The truth is, we could spend the entire day talking about and debating the causes of that horrifying week, the Caracazo, but we could also sum up those causes and ideas in two words: “social debt.” That’s the fundamental cause of that social explosion: the misery, poverty, deceit and treason carried out a thousand and one times over by the upper echelons of society who blindly conformed to the direction taken by whatever empire happened to be in power throughout the centuries; because history is long, and we’re not just talking about the last sixteen years. Sixteen years ago, the beginning of a new era was announced, the era in which we’re now intensely embedded, certainly, but everything currently happening in Venezuela was greatly impacted by that day, February 27, 1989. But history is much longer, Venezuelan compatriots, American compatriots, our America, colleagues and friends from around the world. We now find ourselves in the year 2005, and 200 years ago around this time, two Venezuelans traveled throughout Europe, two out of many Venezuelans traveled throughout Europe. One, of a more mature age, already graying, with many glories already under his belt, traveled between London and Paris. Francisco de Miranda was organizing a liberatory crusade to begin the revolution, the fight for the independence of these lands and these peoples. That man, who was already over fifty years old, a little over fifty… I’m a little over fifty, and really, life expectancy wasn’t sixty years old back then. Life expectancy, one of the advances of the twentieth century, or so-called advances of the twentieth century, but I don’t think life expectancy back then was even sixty years old.

Anyway, that fifty-some year old man had already traveled the world. He had carried a sword and rifle into battle alongside Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington, in the fight for the independence of the North American colonies. He had already carried a sword into battle on the plains of France, becoming a Field Marshall in the French Army and the Liberator of Antwerp. He had become a Colonel in the Russian Army and a member of the famous Catherine the Great’s court, one of the greatest—apparently—empresses of Russia. That man traveled in search of resources, money, support and arms to carry back with him to South America. Around this time exactly 200 years ago, Miranda traveled the snowy streets of London. Sebastián Francisco de Miranda, born here in this land, born here in this valley of Caracas, traveled not just in search of arms and ships, but ever in pursuit of a project, in pursuit of an ongoing project, Isaías, a project called, “Colombia,” honoring Columbus’s discovery. What’s more he did so very wisely, referencing history, philosophy and reason, honoring Columbus but also paying tribute to the Incas, proposing union for South America, the union of South America under a regime which he called the “Incanato,” honoring the Incan Empire, the pre-Colombian Empire. He designed a flag, started a printing press and edited a newspaper called El Colombiano, printed in English, French and Portuguese and which circulated all the way to here, including to Brazil, also eventually reaching Bueno Aires, Río de la Plata. I’m invited to go to Buenos Aires, and I’d would love to go to Buenos Aires, and even more so lately. I love Buenos Aires. They have buenos aires in Buenos Aires. I love Brasilia and Montevideo and the world, so nobody get jealous. The world. We love the world, and we’re in love with the world and, above all, with the idea of a new world, better than the one in which we live.

Anyway, so traveled Francisco de Miranda, as did another from Caracas, a young man, in the flower of his youth and passion, of the latest generation, very rich. He wasn’t looking for money. He had plenty of money, had inherited it. He was an orphan, no father or mother, and was recently widowed here in the valley of Caracas. He traveled again to Spain to spend money, and, as would we call it today, to carouse. And so he caroused, but amidst that carousal something in that young man was kindling, and he wandered in search of the cause for that fire. I believe Simón Bolívar was born on fire. He was born with so much fire that if that child were around these days, he’d be giving Isaías trouble, our Attorney General and Public Defender, because that was one rebellious child. He was a very rebellious child. He ran away from his uncle’s house, the uncle who had custody of him. He was an orphan and went to his older sister’s house, María Antonia Bolívar. She was already married, and a judge ordered him to go back to his uncle’s house. A case was opened and there was a hearing, and the police ended up dragging him three blocks, from one house to the other. Imagine the scandal that would’ve caused in Caracas back then, such a scandal! But they couldn’t keep the boy locked up like a caged bird. He was brought before the Royal Audience, where he made a memorable statement.[4] He was no more than twelve years old, and he asked the Royal Audience, “If even slaves can change owners, why cannot I, a free boy, do the same?”[5] And in the family and legal negotiations, what might’ve even been called community negotiations, the wise Royal Audience made a decision that would lift the boy’s spirits. They named a young man from Caracas to be his tutor and teacher, one who was a few years older than him. His tutor was a little over twenty years old, an elementary school teacher for the rich children of Caracas, the only ones who had access to education.

But he wasn’t just any teacher, as you know, Aristóbulo, that teacher who you know so well, having studied him so long. That’s why I say that to Aristóbulo. That teacher had the courage, the bravery to write to the Spanish government here in the province of Venezuela, which had already become the Captaincy General of Venezuela, telling, recommending the Spanish government to universalize education. He said, “Black children, brown children, the children of slaves also have a right to education.”[6] Of course, his recommendations were considered to be extravagant, and from that point forward he was called “el loco” Simón—crazy Simón. He was eccentric.

However, at that time, a group was already conspiring against the Spanish government, right there, in La Guaira in 1797, and he was working with Pedro Gual and José María España and a group of Venezuelan military men and civilians to overthrow the Spanish government. The conspiracy was discovered and almost all of the leaders were shot or hung, but Simón Rodríguez was able to escape, and that’s when he changed his name to Samuel Robinson and went to Europe. So, there he met the young and very wealthy wanderer, yes. Some of Simón Rodríguez’s writings have been found, in which he speaks of Bolívar’s moral and mental fatigue when he found him, that he had come to fear for Bolívar’s life, that the young man wanted to die, and he said to him, “But how can you die when you’ve only just begun to live?”[7] That young man didn’t want to live. Oh, but he was also rebellious and found direction for his passion and his energy.

A book came out just last week that I’d like to recommend, Simón Bolívar, Escritos anticolonialistas, by Gustavo Pereira, the newest edition. It contains a letter written by Bolívar from Paris in 1804, at the beginning of 1804, a little before the coronation of Napoleon. Bolívar wrote a letter to a French colonel, Fanny De Villiers’s father, asking his forgiveness for a big argument that had taken place in the home in which Bolívar lived.[8] Bolívar, twenty years old at the time, had invited some priests, generals and men and women from the country’s establishment to dinner. A scandal resulted when he began to attack Napoleon Bonaparte, calling him a “tyrant,” and he got into a fight with the priests. Apparently, he was badgering them because they were defending Bonaparte, and he said, “You don’t realize that this man is a tyrant, that the empire he will impose is far worse than the one that has been destroyed or that’s in the process of being destroyed.”[9] And at twenty years old, he wasn’t wrong.

In the end, at the same time the over fifty year old Miranda was traveling in search of support to carry his flag, his project, his efforts and his experiences to these lands of America, the barely twenty-year-old Bolívar was in Europe. He arrived one day, there in old Rome, exactly 200 years ago from this year of 2005, on August 15, 1805—he had recently turned twenty-two years old—and he made the following oath. Look, or rather, let’s hear the oath made by the twenty-two-year-old Simón Bolívar on Monte Sacro two hundred years ago. With Simón Rodríguez at his side, he said, among other things, “For every Cincinnatus there were one hundred Caracallas, for every Trajan one hundred Caligulas and for every Vespasian one hundred Claudiuses, this city has provided for every eventuality,” referring to Rome, “severity for the old times, austerity for the Republic, depravity for the Emperors, catacombs for the Christians, courage to conquer the whole world, ambition to make vassals of all the states on earth. Women to drive the sacrilegious wheels of their chariots over their parents’ mangled bodies. Orators like Cicero to incite; poets like Virgil to seduce with verses; satirists like Juvenal and Lucretia; weak philosophers, like Seneca, and upright citizens, like Cato; this city has served all causes, all but that of humanity; corrupt Messalinas, gutless Agrippas, great historians, distinguished naturalists, illustrious warriors, rapacious proconsuls, unbridled sybarites, cheap virtues and low crimes; but for the emancipation of the spirit, the quitting of worries, the edification of man and the definitive refinement of his reason, very little, if not nothing at all.” And that’s when he made this oath: “I vow before you, I vow before the God of my forefathers, I vow before them, I vow by my honor and I vow by the homeland, that I will not let my arm nor my soul rest until I have smashed the chains with which the will of the Spanish sovereign holds us down!”[10] Two hundred years, time to mature, to sow and to re-sow; time to die and to return, and that’s what’s happening right here, he died. Miranda couldn’t and died alone in La Carraca.[11] Bolívar couldn’t and was almost completely alone when he died in Santa Marta. Antonio José de Sucre couldn’t and was alone when he was murdered in Berruecos.[12] José de San Martín couldn’t either and died an old man in exile.[13] José Gervasio Artigas couldn’t either and died having been betrayed.[14] Bernardo O’Higgins couldn’t and neither could Abreu e Lima from Pernambucano.[15][16] Manuela Sáenz couldn’t and died alone in Paita; nor could José Martí, who died in battle in Dos Ríos; nor could Francisco “Pancho” Villa; or Emiliano Zapata, or Guaicaipuro, or Túpac Amaru, who came a little later.[17][18][19][20][21][22] But today all of them have returned, and they’re here today with those same ideas, with that same old hope and with those same beautiful projects.

Now, what times are we living in? No, it really takes some thought. Not too long ago, I received a note from Fidel, talking about an issue and he said, “Chávez, I’ve been thinking about this a lot.” “Well,” he added, “I’ve been thinking intensely about it. It’s necessary to think intensely about it.” I’m going to borrow that phrase from Fidel Castro—it’s necessary to think intensely about the times we’re living in, the circumstances we find ourselves in, not just in Venezuela, but in the Americas and around the world. Viviane Forrester said so. A few years ago she wrote, The Economic Horror, and as our great friend from France says, “at this very moment, the world is in a state of change.”[23] And that great philosopher in my opinion, well-suited to my intellectual and scientific tastes, the wise, unusual Fritjof Capra had already written about that same crucial point twenty years ago, back at the end of the eighties, that ten, fifteen years announced universal change.[24] Yes, we’re living change.

Now, listen, we must reflect when speaking of change, because circumstances evolve and generate change. Subjective and objective conditions. This doesn’t depend entirely on our wills as human beings, those of us who have studied and who share this same philosophy. We’re not talking about the conditions or circumstances of conscious and organized men and women, or about forces that are united or not, that are directed or undirected, that construct or do not construct alternative victories, true and profound changes and transformations.

Notable, for example, is the twentieth century, and in a bit we’ll talk more about the “so-called” I used earlier when referring to life expectancy at birth, that has increased and is now above seventy. What’s notable is the profound contradiction of the twentieth century, during which there were so many changes, but at the end of which, nothing really changed. Man went to the moon. What was his name? What’s his name? Neil Armstrong, although my grandmother, may she rest in peace, said that was all a lie, that no one could go to the moon. She said, “That’s all a hoax, Huguito.” I was in high school, and we had a small television, and she said, “No, it’s a hoax, the same thing as the movies. That’s that same as the movies. They made it look like the moon.” She never… And she died believing it was a hoax. We couldn’t convince her. My dear, old, wise grandmother. Anyway, basically, the subconscious of that black, Indian woman was saying, “And what do I care does if they go to the moon.” Surely, that’s what she wanted to say, “what do we care” if they go to the moon. Really, what do the people of the world care that they went to the moon.

The twentieth century witnessed such great changes, but in the end, nothing changed. Look at the list of countries considered to be developed one hundred years ago at the beginning of the twentieth century and compare it to that same list today. Look at the list of the poor peoples of the world, of the continents, if not to say peoples, that are exploited. As our friend Eduardo Galeano says, “not underdeveloped but under siege,” or as that notable Cuban intellectual Roberto Fernández Retamar says—lending a binary sense to the term “underdeveloped”—“the developed peoples or countries should rather be called under-developers and underdeveloped,” so that it’s more logical, to create a sense of binary opposition, under-developers and underdeveloped. All the same. Eighty percent of the world’s resources owned by a minority, the same. If our grandparents’ grandparents awoke to look upon the world, they’d say, “the same.” Poor farmers, exploited workers, millions upon millions upon millions of men, women and children in this Caribbean Latin America, in Africa and in Asia living in the most profound state of misery, many of them living in worse conditions than those that existed a hundred years ago, than those in which their grandparents or our grandparents lived, and I think we need to think about that a little, and if that idea, we’ll call it general and single out the economy, because when we talk about social debt, how can we not talk about the economy.

Karl Marx said, “The economy is determinant.” He was right, the economy. Over there I see a Marxist who I’ve read a lot of, Francisco Mieres.[25] But the economy. If we’re going to talk about social debt—let me repeat—how can we not talk about the economy. And by singling out that idea, we can push our discussion a little further and look for clues and answers based on reality, on the daily to-and-fro of our lives as a people. And we could discuss even more, but I believe it’s already been scientifically proven, mathematically proven… I don’t think it would be negative to have further discussion, whatever the topic, any discussion of ideas is positive, but it would be something like “beating a dead horse” to discuss what’s obvious, the capitalistic economic model, later cleaned up under the title “neoliberalism,” or the term “neoliberalism.” We could call it “neoliberal capitalism” if we like, or to focus our discussion, “neoliberal capitalism,” but beyond capitalism, the capitalistic model, and I, at this moment on the path we’ve tread, I have no doubt and I believe we must move beyond this kind of a discussion. Solving the tragedy of poverty is impossible within the framework of the capitalistic model, as is solving the tragedy of misery, of inequality.

Now, many have spoken or written about a third way, capitalism with human face, Central European capitalism, Martian capitalism, and I don’t know how many other names they’ve given it, trying to mask the monster, but the mask they put on the monster is the mask that falls to the ground, destroyed by reality. I should also confess, not that I need to really, Venezuelans will at least know it. I was going through a stage and making references to that effect—not going—references to a third way, but no, that’s a lie. That’s a lie. If we want to cancel global, worldwide social debt and do so without developmental aid, I’m of the opinion that all of the poor peoples of the world should together refuse that curse called “official developmental aid.” We should refuse it out of our own dignity and demand for change to truly take place, instead of asking for and waiting on handouts. As you said, my sister, splitting up the leftovers and sustaining the model, that’s what they’re trying to do.

They call it “sustainable development.” I disagree with that term. What kind of development are they talking about? Development that destroys the planet isn’t sustainable, and not only is it not a sustainable model for development, continuing on that course isn’t sustainable for life on this planet. We’re destroying the planet. We’re robbing our children’s grandchildren of their future. Global warming, drastic climate changes, these are the products of that development, truly drastic climate changes. A moment ago someone said, “The climate’s gone mad.” No, the climate hasn’t gone made. The world’s mad. The imposed model is mad, driving the climate and mother earth mad right along with it. Threats like the ozone layer and global thawing. Hundreds, thousands of scientists warning each and every day about these phenomena. Oh, but no, their voices, their warnings can’t be heard above the hum of the giant media corporations worldwide, nor above the media outlets. Almost all of them have been silenced because that just wouldn’t do for the worldwide status quo, for the transnationals, for the imperial Kyoto Protocol.[26] So if it’s not capitalism, then what? I have no doubt, it’s socialism. Now, with so many kinds of socialism out there, which one? We might also consider one not yet in existence, because although there have been experiences, and many cases of socialism have brought about achievements and advances, we must invent one for ourselves, and based on that, the importance of these debates and this battle of ideas. We must invent a Socialism for the Twenty-First Century, identifying the many available courses, many of which we know. The tactics will be as varied as each of our minds.

Listen, in Venezuela we haven’t defined our project as socialist during the last few years. We’ve just completed our sixth year in government. So when I say this, I’m doing so in a personal capacity to contribute to the debate, to open discussion among the parties involved in the advancement of the Bolivarian Revolution, social groups made up of women, youth, students, the Frente Miranda, workers, the indigenous, the military, civilians.[27] Everyone, intellectuals, professionals, the middle class. But this conviction of mine has been fueled from exactly these last few years, from time gone by and the areas in which we’ve worked, from experiences lived and from the energy that one gains from all that. Time and the environment, ideas and circumstances. We’ve begun that debate here in Venezuela.

And now, the course toward that goal of the construction of a social project, the course we’ve built or have been building here in Venezuela should serve only as a reference because each people has its circumstances, its own history and its own peculiarities. In Washington [D.C.], they say we’re a threat to the peoples of the Continent. In Washington, they’ve said and they’ve even personalized their attacks in recent weeks, all just a part of their plan. A plan is being carried out in Washington, they’re planning a new aggression against Venezuela, which doesn’t exclude individual physical aggression, in this case, against me. Because now they’re saying that Chávez is the threat, that Chávez is the danger, that Chávez destabilizes the region. Only one person destabilizes this region here and that’s George W. Bush, the great destabilizer of the world. He’s the threat to the entire world, but they say that it’s me.

Because only a conscious people, like the conscious people of the Caribbean Latin America; only an organized people, like the organized people of the Caribbean Latin America, only true leaders courageous enough not to betray their people, converting the collective into a threat to the imperialistic pretensions that would maintain the status quo, the neoliberal, exploitative, colonizing, capitalistic model. Yes, there’s a threat in Latin America. Yes, there’s a threat, but it’s not Chávez. Chávez is a simple human being, product of his circumstances. Chávez, a military man, watched the chaos that was the Caracazo through his office window, and we all saw, what a shock to see the army massacring its own people.[28] And Chávez and others like him decided, now, that’s enough. And just as Alí Primera sang, we took new aim with our weapons, and instead of pointing our guns at a people asking for justice, we pointed our guns at those who would slaughter the people. Those were the circumstances, nothing more.

Now, I won’t use up all of the time at the forum here today because we’ll have some round table discussions today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow. I’m in the mood to keep talking for a while, but look, it’s already 12:00. I have to go participate in a mobile cabinet. We’re holding mobile cabinets. Today all ministers will attend, except Aristóbulo, who will stay here, and Vice President José Vicente Rangel, there at the El Palito Refinery with Felipe Acosta Carlez, governor of Carabobo; Jesús Montilla Aponte, governor of Falcón; Carlos Jiménez, governor of Yaracuy, and Johnny Yánez Rangel, governor of Cojedes. All a part of the new age in which we find ourselves, holding cabinets, mobile governing, making decisions out there, and above all, listening to mayors and to communities, receiving projects created by the community; true democracy, authentic democracy, part of the path toward democracy that we’ve established here. Now, we all, I’m sure that you’re all going to go over many things in the forums today.

I’m sure that Minister Aristóbulo and the Venezuelan Deputies of the Latin American Parliament, Filinto, Correa, I’m sure they’ve prepared material.[29][30] The whole team has been working very hard. This morning, I was going over some documents, and there’s plenty of material to go over. I wanted to discuss it all—how ambitious of me! Everything I’ve said up to this point has only been an introduction, and that’s what I was going to say, but I did read all the decrees last night. These decrees, I’ll touch on that a bit being that we should be aware that our current projects for liberation are part of one historical project.

We’re re-establishing the original project of Gran Colombia, returning to our roots. Decrees, Simón Bolívar, President of the Republic of Venezuela. That’s why they threw Bolívar out, because he was a revolutionary. They didn’t just want independence, they wanted revolution, they wanted a homeland, and that’s one of the biggest differences between those who liberated South America and those who liberated North America. In the north, they won independence from the empire only to establish another, legalizing slavery, wiping out the Indians. Here no. They tried something different here. Take, for example, what Bolívar said, “Considering”—this was on Sunday, October 10, 1819—“that public education and instruction are fundamental for ensuring general happiness and are the most solid foundation for the liberty of the people.”[31] Such clarity! The most solid foundation for the liberty of the people, my dear Senator from Japan. We have a senator from Japan here with us today. Welcome. My thanks to the young men from Japan. I don’t know if you speak Spanish. You do? Oh! And very well! You’ve made me very happy. I was getting a little worried since I don’t speak Japanese. Consider that message, Senator, that public education and instruction are fundamental for ensuring general happiness and the most solid foundation for the liberty of the people. And “considering that a multitude of children are living in poverty in New Granada,” children living in poverty it says, Isaías, “their virtuous parents having been sacrificed at that altar of the empire at the hands of Spanish cruelty, the Republic being their only source of refuge or hope for subsistence and education.”[32] That’s anti-neoliberalism, because neoliberalism would say that the Republic should have a diminished role, that the state should step back. Bolívar was anti-neoliberal.

“I have come to decree and I do hereby decree the following. Article 1.”[33] Think about what Bolívar did there, rousing a group of priests against him. An abandoned convent, an abandoned church, with no priests or anything, a Bolivarian school will go there, or a base of operations for Barrio Adentro.[34] Listen, “The convent abandoned in our capital by the Capuchin Friars will become a school for orphaned children or the poor, who should be supported and educated by the Republic.”[35] And on a side note, that’s almost law. Listen to what it says here, Aristóbulo. “Article 5.” Aristóbulo is among my top ministers, but back to education, education. Listen, is Vladimira Moreno around? Vladimira sent me a report on the Bolivarian schools, on their qualitative growth, and it’s impressive. Not that I’ll cry victory. We’re far from victory, but we’re progressing well, we’re moving forward on our course. The children have had perceptible behavioral changes in their emotional dispositions. From their height and weight, clearly, they’re eating breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

They’re eating every day, overall well-being. They have access to free dental care, psychologists and medical care. They have permanent access to sports, physical education. They dance, they sing, and their speaking abilities are amazing, recitals, poetry, singing, ecologically productive activities, gardens, urban vegetable plots, etc. It’s amazing. So, but it says so right here: “Should schools not have adequate funding”—the economy—“should schools not have adequate funding for instructors in all of the sciences, children will be taught writing, Spanish grammar, religion and morality, drawing, logic, math, physics, geography, drafting, engineering in the construction of roads, highways, homes, by special rule,” so on and so forth, “Simón Bolívar. Acting Secretary, Alejandro Osorio. Santa Fe de Bogotá Gazette, Sunday, October 10, 1819.”[36] That was barely a month after the Battle of Boyacá.[37] So you see, Bolívar had a sword readied for use against the empire, taking Bogotá and liberating her from the Viceroy and a few days later, this decree. Military action as a road to social revolution, an essential revolution. Leasing out goods destined for the development of education. A decree from October 20, 1822, this one from Ecuador. “That goods bequeathed by the various testators of the Province of Loja for the praiseworthy purpose of public education may be leased.”[38] They invented solutions, unorthodox solutions for financing the costs of education. The transformation of a private school for missionaries into a public school. Lima, January 31, 1825. He planted the seeds. And that’s why the oligarchies of Lima disliked him.

That’s why the oligarchies of La Paz disliked him, as they disliked Marshal Sucre. They carried out a coup d’état against him and shot him in the arm, almost killing him. Bogota’s oligarchy disliked Bolívar as well, as did the oligarchy here. They hated him. The monster Washington disliked him as well. In the United States, Bolívar was known as “that dangerous madman of the south.”[39] And that dangerous local (native) of the south continued about, planting the seeds of a true social revolution. That’s the truth, and we do so today as well, and now we’re the dangerous madmen of the south; that’s how we’re known as well. There are more madmen in the north. Listen to what it says here, “Considering that public education has been completely abandoned and that a concerted effort should be made to promote the education of the youth who have lost their parents to the cause of Liberty, I have come to decree and I do hereby decree: the missionary school of Santa Rosa de Ocopa shall be converted, along with all of its assets, and belongings, etc. into a school for public education…”[40] He expropriated it, well, so that within its walls those who had become victims of Peruvian liberty in the Valley of Jauja could be educated. Justice, for those who had become the victims to the cause of liberty, children of those who died in battle, left in a state of abandonment. That was November 1. Today is January 31, almost exactly 180 years later. Lima in 1825, various schools were established using the Lancasterian System, one of the most advanced systems of the time, a school in each province. The Panamal Hacienda was leased for public education… Seeking resources. Products resulting from the lease of the Panamal Hacienda were confiscated, dedicated exclusively to public education in this city. Social equality.

Next, a decree from 1816, 190 years ago, from the Caribe River, Carúpano, June 2, 1816. “Considering”—because concepts are what’s important, concepts are important—“that justice, policy and the country imperiously demand the inalienable rights of nature, I have come to decree and I do hereby decree absolute freedom for the slaves who have groaned under the Spanish yoke during the three previous centuries. Considering that the Republic needs the service of all her children, we must impose on these new citizens the following obligations.”[41] And so he established a list of obligations for the new citizens. This decree was never fulfilled. Bolívar died hearing the afternoon call, the noon call, of the slaves from the San Pedro Alejandrino Hacienda. They say that he sighed and said, “Smells like San Mateo,” remembering the San Mateo Hacienda, and he peered out his window to see slaves singing the Salve.[42] Such sadness! He was right when he told General Mariano Montilla, “Montilla, what good is this sh…?”—I can’t say the word—“What good is this sh…? Everything’s the same.” And he died frustrated. “I’ve plowed the sea,” he said, seeing that social revolution wasn’t possible, but clearly, he planted the seeds, or not him alone, because even Bolívar said that at best he would’ve been Mayor of San Mateo, but no, a liberating people planted the seeds for true social revolution.[43]

So, decrees, protection for the people, the indigenous, Mr. Public Defender, Bolívar was a defender of the people.[44] Meanwhile in the United States, they wiped out the indigenous and later they locked them up on reservations, where they remain, those who’ve stayed. Here, the liberators wanted to free the indigenous, wishing to address social injustice. “Simón Bolívar, Liberator President, Wishing to correct the abuses carried out in Cundinamarca in most of the native villages, against their persons as well as their communal lands and their freedom, and considering that this segment of the population of the Republic deserves the most paternal attention from the government, being the most aggrieved, oppressed and humiliated during the period of Spanish despotism, in view of the provisions of canonical and civil laws, I have come to decree and I do hereby decree: Article 1. All the lands whose titles identify them as part of the communal reserves shall be returned to the Indians as the legitimate owners, despite any claims alleged by the current landholders.”[45] Land for the indigenous. The products of the land. “All children between the ages of four and fourteen.”

Here’s our Simoncito Plan, Aristóbulo, listen, “All children between the ages of four and fourteen shall attend the schools, where they shall be taught reading, writing, arithmetic, the principles of religion, and the rights and obligations of men and citizens in Colombia according to the law.”[46][47] “Neither the priests…”—“Article 12. Neither the priests, nor the political judges, nor any other person, employed by the government or not, shall be allowed to exploit native peoples in any manner at any time without paying them a wage”—the right to work, the right to an income—“previously stipulated in a formal contract witnessed and approved by the political judges. Anyone violating this article shall pay double the value of the service performed, and the political judges shall exact this fine without exception in favor of the aggrieved person for any complaint, however slight.”[48][49] Public rights.

Here we have his Social Charter, Bolívar’s Social Charter, containing thousands of decrees. We almost don’t know them, and I really like reading and highlighting them. My dear General Juan Velasco Alvarado has a book, and it’s this thick, not a book, forty volumes and each one this thick, of Bolívar’s decrees while in Peru.[50] Sucre’s decrees too. When my dear General Juan Velasco was president of Peru, and he made his mistakes there to be sure, but his experiences were interesting, what they called the Peruvian National Revolution. “Article 15. The Indians, like all other free men in the Republic, can come and go with their passports, sell their fruit and other products, take them to the market or fair of their choice, and practice their craft and talents freely as they choose to do so and without impediment.”[51] The Indians. Protection for the indigenous. The redistribution of lands in Santa Cruz. The next passage comes from dear Bolivia, in Chuquisaca, December 14, 1825.[52] “Considering that agriculture in the Department of Santa Cruz”—here we find the foundation for an economic and social project—“suffers progressive shortages due to the disdain with which up until now the Spanish government has viewed it, that the fertility of the land and the riches that land promises belong to the man who works it,” so forth and so on, “I do hereby decree that lands belonging to the state will be divided among natural citizens of the country, who will be awarded measured and marked plots of land. Third. Each individual, no matter his or her gender”—women—“or age, will receive a fanegada of land…”[53] Isaías, you should remember about fanegadas. How big is a fanegada? Forty-four hectares. My grandmother used the term fanegada, a fanegada.

Anyway, listen, that’s a respectable amount of property, isn’t it? Listen. “Each individual, no matter his or her gender or age, will receive a fanegada of land in those areas of abundance,”—areas with water, forty-four hectares—“and in areas that are sterile and dry, each individual will received two.”[54] Here Bolívar has established a principle contrary to capitalism, and that’s a socialist principle. Aristotle, that dangerous radical, as some writer called him, also establishes that idea in The Republic. We know that the capitalistic approach on this subject is based on what’s called “equal opportunity,” such a hoax. Equal opportunities for both a child and Cassius Clay in a boxing match? Back when Cassius Clay was good? Or how about Brazil’s soccer team, or Ronaldo, against a soccer team made up of the members of Latin American Parliament?[55] How many goals do you think they’d score? I think it’d be fifty to zero. They could play whoever they wanted, and you guys wouldn’t even get close to the goal, I don’t think you’d even get close, even with Filinto Durán, who’s fast, or Rafael Correa Flores.

What do they mean equal opportunities? How can the corn producers, the grain producers, how can the farmers of Latin America, of South American and of the Caribbean compete with transnationals? With equal conditions? Or equal opportunities? No. Aristotle said it’s about equal conditions, and Bolívar reflects on that same idea here. Justice. Equal conditions. Inequality should be regulated, and that’s the role of the State, that’s why we have laws, regulations and rules, to mitigate those differences and produce equality, the results of which should be equal conditions for life. That’s why Bolívar said, “where there’s water, each person will receive a fanegada, and where there’s no water, they’ll receive two. The indigenous will receive preferential treatment in this redistribution”—that is, they’ll be prioritized—“along with those with those who have contributed most greatly to the cause for Independence, or those who have most sacrificed for this principle.”[56]

Think about that, justice as well. “If at the close of the year, after the redistribution of land and the establishment of property lines, the beneficiaries have not undertaken the work required given the season and do not demonstrate dedication to the work, the land will be taken from them.”[57] Private property with the condition that the land be worked, if not, I’ll take it from you and give it to someone who will. Private property with a social function, for a social project. That has nothing to do with capitalism. If Bolívar would have lived a few more years, I’m certain, after studying Bolívar—the true Bolívar—that he would’ve ended up being socialist. I’m absolutely certain. He would have converted right to socialism, and after just a few years, a utopian socialism would’ve developed. José Abreu e Lima, one of Bolívar’s greatest colleagues, ended up becoming socialist, and he wrote an extensive book on the history of Brazil—our friends from Brazil are sitting over there. Abreu e Lima wrote El Socialismo, and he’s almost unknown in Brazil. Here as well, but I’d say he should be more well-known there, or we have some debts to repay to those who planted the seeds of justice. Anyway, consider this, Francisco Mieres, consider this. “Lands to be used for the grazing of cattle will be shared by all citizens of the province.”[58] Common property. Communal property. Collective property. He was inventing a model. He was planting the seeds. The redistribution of land, each Native American, regardless of gender or age, would receive a topo of land. Isaías, what’s a topo? If anyone’s confused, it’s a measurement. The Bolivians should recognize that phrase, since it was used in Bolivia—oh no, in Peru—a topo of land. Oh, they’re telling me it’s a hill.

Anyway, Bolívar even created legislation on mining, through decrees and other measures. Bolívar set precedents. Here we have Bolívar’s decree, the first seed for current mining laws in Venezuela, which aren’t at all neoliberal, not at all capitalist, which has allowed us to maintain the same force of that of the Liberator. Here we have his decree from October 24, 1829. Almost going, a pretty extensive decree, thirty-eight articles. Almost a law, Nicolás Maduro, Mr. President of the National Assembly. Almost a law. And what has Bolívar decreed here? Regarding mining, Article 1 states, “In accordance with law, mines, regardless of class, are the property of the Republic. They cannot be privatized, being the property of the Republic,”[59] Well, I threatened to nationalize them and followed through with that threat. But here we have another. Do you know who wrote this one? Antonio José de Sucre. Sucre was just as revolutionary as Bolívar. Marshall Sucre, the first President, the founder of Bolivia, the Grand Marshal of Ayacucho, the immortal Cumanés, assassinated at 35 years old in Berruecos.[60] Sucre would end up saying something like the following: “When Spanish America went to war, when they took up arms for war, they understood, the people understood that they did so not only to achieve Independence from Spain, but to achieve equality and justice as well, inseparable ideas. Without one, the other makes no sense.” A revolutionary. Both Sucre and Bolívar wanted revolution. I’ll give just one example of Sucre’s. Listen. They were both giants. March 2, 1816.

“The Commander in Chief Antonio José de Sucre, of the Liberating Army, charged with the supreme command of these departments, considering, that the supreme decree of December 11 has mandated the establishment of schools of sciences and arts in each department,” so on and so forth, “I have come to decree: First. The Potosí School of Sciences and Arts will be immediately organized in Belén Hospital, which will be allocated as the property of the school, located in the main plaza of this city. This school will begin with the same seven department chairs as Chuquisaca and Cochabamba, including: one for the Spanish and Latin languages, another for rhetoric, eloquence and public speaking, another for mathematics and architecture, another for medicine, another for botany and agriculture, another for modern philosophy, and another for morality; each chair will earn an income of 600 pesos free of all room and board.” What’s that, but the seeds of a project for social revolution?

I promise you all that’s my only example. Aristóbulo, I’m going to leave these here for you, so that you can all consult them. It would be great to get a pamphlet going with these writings and a team of analysts. I only had time to read and highlight them and to bring them here. There they are. We’ll also get the Decrees of San Martín, of Artigas, the proclamations and announcements made by all of them. There it is, the same project.

Now, consider how poorly things are really going in the world, despite the very important signs of change out there. Not too long ago, the people of Portugal once again signaled such a desire for change to the world. Although I wouldn’t want to interfere with the internal proceedings of any country, the day before yesterday, I spoke on the phone with the next Prime Minister of Portugal, Deputy Socrates, and with the president of the Communist Party of Portugal, which also had a critical number of votes. In the end the Communist Party received the third highest number of votes in Portugal. And then there’s Spain, the Spanish people.

On Tuesday, one of the great warriors of this land will be inaugurated, the revolutionary medic, Tabaré Vázquez, will become the president of the sister Eastern Republic of Uruguay. There are also some very positive signs in Central America. Chafid Handal is there, leader, brother and colleague from the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. In short, there are signs, powerful signs that have allowed us to think that it’s now possible, despite all of the powerful forces against us as well.

When the people decide to be free, no kind of pressure or extortion can stop them, and that feeling only grows the dignity we now see spreading far and wide in the world. Dignity is growing. The will of the people is growing. Isaías has already given us a fantastic lesson on the foundations of imperialism, how behind the threats and shouts of imperialism lies Mao Tse-tung’s idea of “the paper tiger.”[61] The paper tiger is there in Iraq, and if they happen to decide to involve themselves here, we’ll be wrapped up ten times worse than they are in Iraq.

Anyway, millennium goals. Five years have passed since the presidents of the world together signed the Millennium Declaration. I asked a question there at the summit: we’ve signed or are going to sign; now, how are we going to achieve those goals? At our current rate, we’ll achieve one of the goals, even though it’s quite conservative, although at times, well, I was reading it last night, Nicolás, and I had a chilling thought. You don’t think that some may have interpreted that goal—and it seems like it—of reducing the amount of people living in extreme poverty to half by 2015, you don’t think some may have interpreted that as bombing us and massacring us in order to reduce the number to half. Well, it seems that’s how some have decided to go, eliminating the poor peoples, killing the poor. But certainly, those goals are quite modest, 2015, and a bit monetarist at times, reducing to half by 2015 the number of people in the world suffering from hunger and surviving on an income that’s less than a dollar a day. Tomorrow, someone could say, “No, no, we achieved that goal because look, now they’re living on $1.10 a day.” The goals are quite modest, and even so in the five years that have passed since 2000, or in 33.3% of the time established, a third of the time, not only have hunger rates not leveled off, but hunger has risen, poverty has risen. But clearly, unless we change the model, we’ll never reach our goals. Here in Venezuela we’re manning efforts and advancing a model, constructing a model, but one that doesn’t need to be exported to every country, and each country will construct its own model within the framework of a general strategy. External Debt, for example, is a topic that you’re going to discuss. Some would talk about that topic as if it’s already in the past. Some would say that the debt crisis has already passed. No, it hasn’t passed, and I have some figures on it here that are horrifying.

Between the years of 1982 and 2003, that is, in twenty years, in two decades, underdeveloped countries, ourselves included, have paid a sum of 5.4 trillion dollars in twenty years, which divided by twenty is 2.7 billion dollars per year. That’s what poor countries are paying rich countries each year. Poor nations or poor countries paying rich countries 2.7 billion dollars each year.

Now, beyond that, we can’t forget that the External Debt service that we’ve paid up to this point has reached 2.5 trillion dollars. That is to say, in twenty years we’ve paid that debt twice over, yet there it is, still intact. Fidel Castro said one day that “external debt” is like the index-linked credits that we eliminated here. Thanks to actions taken by a social state for rights and justice, we’ve freed the middle class from the tyranny of a rich minority.

Anyway, you can see the amount of resources—I repeat—2.7 billion dollars per year. Later, when we talk about this topic, I don’t even want to talk about Official Development Assistance. I truly believe we should abandon that topic for our own dignity, not abandon the topic, but ask the governments of the third world, the governments of underdeveloped countries, as we like to call ourselves, that we not accept, for our own dignity, that assistance known as Official Development Assistance.[62] Years ago, back in 1990, no, before that, they promised to invest 0.7% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in poor countries, but they never got even close to that level, and that assistance has been decreasing. It’s now at 0.2%, and even that comes with conditions. They took that assistance from Venezuela—they did us a favor. The United States said, “No, Venezuela doesn’t deserve assistance.” We don’t need it, and we won’t ask for it.[63]

Let’s focus on another detail, that hoax they call free trade. It’s a hoax. Not too long ago, the prime minister of one of our sister countries of the Caribbean came, and as we were visiting there in the Palace, he told me that five years ago, six years ago, his country had an annual income—listen to this figure—of one hundred million dollars a year from the sale of bananas. It’s his country’s petroleum. Until the United States government came and brought a dispute before the inexplicable World Trade Organization, which is nothing more than an instrument of world imperialism, and guess who won the dispute. The United States won, such a surprise, and now they can’t sell bananas. They sell only a small portion of what they used to produce, of the one hundred million dollars per year, now they only sell, guess how much, eight million dollars per year. They had a soap factory, and it must be good soap. It must be very good, being made with the artisanal coconut oil of the long-time inhabitants of the island. They used to sell it. Well, one of those transnationals that makes soap shows up, destroying the small producers of that Caribbean island, and they’re now living in conditions of poverty like they’ve never experienced before, not even during colonial times, neocolonialism, and now they have to sell their souls in order to get five million dollars in assistance. But there’s a dignity to those people, and what we’re going to do within a short period of time is to launch Petrocaribe with the peoples of the Caribbean, in a Venezuelan initiative in cooperation with the Caribbean.[64]

Anyway, you know, speaking of so-called free trade, developed countries subsidize their agriculture. In 2003, those subsidies reached 330 billion dollars a year. Six times the amount they allocate to so-called Official Development Assistance, which doesn’t amount to fifty billion dollars.

Military spending, tell me, the United States accusing us of investing too much in arms. What right do they have to say that? The pot calling the kettle black, Mr. Bush, and you’re the pot. They accuse us of investing too much in arms. Do you know how much their 2004 budget, the U.S. budget for military spending was in 2004? Five trillion dollars.[65] With half that amount, so as to not ask them to surrender their arms yet. We don’t have them surrounded yet, and clearly, the time to ask someone to surrender their arms is when you’ve got them surrounded. No, no, they wouldn’t surrender them even then. But even with half that budget, a great part of the social debt of the world could be cancelled, and I’m not talking about canceling it monetarily. No, investing in agriculture. Nutritional debt is the greatest we have. Education, schools like those that Bolívar dreamed of, like those that Sucre dreamed of; Bolivarian schools, just to give an example, nothing more, integral schools. Healthcare like the Barrio Adentro program so that all may have those rights satisfied: health, education. What we couldn’t do, and it’s based on that point of view that we’ve been making a proposal to the world since the Conference on Financing for Development, so named in Monterrey in 2001.

Of the 2.7 trillion dollars a year that we poor, underdeveloped countries pay in debt, our proposal isn’t radical and it isn’t to the extreme of not paying either. No, we’re proposing a debate on debt, and we’re proposing that an important part of that debt, not a marginal part, be converted into investments in education, health, and in the production of food, at least fifty percent of that debt. This is a proposal that the President of Spain has now introduced. But there hasn’t been a response. There hasn’t been a response. Up until now, there hasn’t been a response, and we are, in part, a cause of that. We haven’t come to a consensus, and so each one of us goes about trying to manage the problem in our own way and as best we can. With union comes true power, and the day that the people and the governments that represent those people come to a consensus on how to manage this problem in a unified way, the problem will change, and a good amount of our resources will remain here, instead of flowing to the north. But to make that happen will require political will and, of course, social consciousness, because the people must also participate in the debate and put pressure on their governments. The people must be the ones to drive this project. They must take a leading role. Nothing will change without the active, growing participation of the masses of poor, underdeveloped peoples from our countries, without the active, permanent, conscious participation of intellectuals committed to real change, and of students, and women, and the indigenous and workers, and everyone. This is a cause, and for that reason, in my opinion, we here at this event, the IV Social Debt Summit, should also join this debate, unsheathe our swords, as the Attorney General said, draw our weapons, with ideas originating from here below. Unsheathe our swords and draw our weapons from here, to fire off proposals and convert them into idea-forces, as Hugo Calello would say. I read you when I was locked up, you know. When I was locked up, I read your ideology. How do you convert ideas into forces? Bolívar is an idea-force in the same way that Motiva is a motor.[66]

These proposals on debt should be converted into battle flags in factories, in universities, in the streets and everywhere or things will never change. This has to be done with the participation of the people, and leaders will come forward to lead. Leaders will come forward like birds in flight, or as one mare comes forward to lead the herd, or like a stream of water when it rains, and a single drop happens to run down a certain path, only for more drops to follow behind, or like the lead fish in a school. If one tires at the front, another comes forward to take his place, but the mass consciousness of a people is what’s important. Simón Rodríguez said so very clearly. “Our calling as South Americans is not to deceive,” he said after Bolívar had died and the entire project was falling apart. Simón Rodríguez died at an old age as well, abandoned, alone, making candles with the Indians. He made wax candles with his own hands, and when asked why someone as wise as him would be making candles, he replied quite simply, that making candles was the only means left for him to bring light to America.

He said so in his writings of the 1840s and 1850s, and he died in old age in 1854, having said, “Our calling as South Americans is not to deceive; we have no republics here and we have no republics because we have no peoples.” He added, “Material force lies with the masses, moral force lies with the movement of the masses, and these masses must be conscious and well-directed, guided by a strategic project.” We should be re-sowing these ideas in the streets of every city, nourishing them, re-sowing, strengthening and converting them into the flags of our fight because without—this isn’t going to be decided in a night and a morning at these Summits of Presidents. So said our friend with six years of experience attending these Summits of Presidents, from the Millennium Summit to many others held in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Here in Venezuela we’re making a concerted effort to continuously construct an alternative to the capitalistic model, to the neoliberal model, but we’re doing so by following the lead of the people, and that project, well, it’s part of the Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela, and we’ve worked very hard and we’ll continue to work very hard in its advancement. To speak more precisely, our project has five broad strategic axes, and the first of those is the social axis, the strategic, social axis. And what’s the central slogan or the manner in which we define its objective and strategy? The cancellation of social debt, just like that, and that’s something that we’ve been developing since back in 1992, since 1991, even before the Bolivarian rebellion of February 4, 1992, which occurred as a direct consequence of February 27, 1989. That military rebellion wouldn’t have occurred in Venezuela if the people hadn’t been massacred at the hands of the Republic during the popular rebellion.

Since then, we’ve been working with these ideas and defining our project, now solidified in the Constitution, but you all know the costs, such costs, but in the end, looking into the eyes of the people, seeing the outstretched hands of the poorest above all, one can’t help but say, “No matter the cost, this is worth the effort; no matter the cost, this is the course.” We have a slogan within that strategy, and each day we become more convinced that it’s essential for the plan to cancel social debt, to end poverty, and to end misery. Out there we say—and this isn’t something we came up with, it originated in the streets—that if we truly want to end poverty, we must empower the poor, empower them to transform their own lives, to become a truly powerful and transformational force, and one of best tools for empowering them is education. There is no other, on that we’re very clear. Education, and the Bolivarian Schools Project originated from that idea, and we’re now approaching nearly 3,780 Bolivarian Schools, and this year we’ve decided to give them an additional push. To do so, we have to break that orthodox neoliberal doctrine that would reduce the budget for education to almost zero, of course, and we’re now nearing seven percent of Gross Domestic Product allocated to education. We’re close and watch if we don’t just pass seven percent this year with all our educational missions, like the Robinson I Mission, Robinson II Mission, Ribas Mission, Sucre Mission and the grants plan. Through the educational missions, we’re now giving grants to four hundred thousand Venezuelans, at a hundred dollars for each grant, which totals forty million dollars a month. This year we’ve given out 480 million dollars in grants alone, clearly they’re the poorest among us, of course, and we’re criticized. By who? Capitalists, neoliberals, “Chávez is giving money away…” Oh? For them, education isn’t important. And no, we’re not giving away money here. Very simply, we’re redistributing national income to promote social development here. Redistributing national income.

Now, there’s something I’d like to add because it would be a terrible blow… I believe I should expand upon something from my earlier reflections, bring it into focus like a social x-ray or a political x-ray, or better still, an ideological x-ray. To believe we’re condemned because the world isn’t changing on a global scale would be terrible. No, we can do many things, despite the great limitations we face, imposed upon us by a world dominated by we all know who, by the capitalist project, by the consensus in Washington and within the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the WTO, the pressure, extortion and threats. We must fight against these things, but if we achieve great things within each country and together as a whole, whether we work in the government or not. The fundamental responsibility for those who do not work in the government in each of our countries, for anyone, a person or any social group not in the government is debate, discussion and beyond that, the organization of the social forces necessary for moving a transformational project forward, and that’s plenty, as you know. Here we were imprisoned for years, persecuted, organizing, and many have continued on that course, as you all have done as well. I’m sure that everyone will do so in their respective countries as well.

Still, I’m going to focus on actions that can be taken by governments, from local governments and regional governments to Parliaments, with the pre-defined objective of cancelling of Social Debt. We can’t wait for the capitalist system to destroy the world, and someday it will, but perhaps we won’t see that day, and certainly, we can’t sit waiting with our arms crossed for the corpse of capitalism to pass by our doorsteps. No, our efforts against it must be great, and that’s what we’re doing here in Venezuela, building, putting measures and actions in place, redistributing the country’s wealth, recuperating oil wealth. Just last night I was reading a speech given by former president Jimmy Carter to the OAS before the Permanent Council. He used Venezuela as an example because he had been here a few times before, and now they’re accusing him of being chavista. But when talking about Venezuela, Carter told the OAS that here oil wealth is being used to benefit the poor, through education and healthcare.

We’ve initiated a number of measures from projects, projects that require reinvention, continual reinvention. We rethink and reinvent these projects every day, and those efforts have produced astonishing results without requiring millions of dollars. I believe that first and foremost, these efforts require will, the collective will fundamental for achieving the changes we want to see further down the road.

One of the things we’ve done here to transform the economic model and the social model and to cancel social debt, within that strategy of empowering the poor, beyond the Constitution, has been to create a group of laws, one the them the Microcredits Law. That surprised Muhammad Yunus, our good friend from Asia, creator of the Bank for the Poor, the “Grameen Bank,” and a wave of microcredit banks in Bangladesh and throughout many other countries in Asia, and also in America. He was surprised we have a Microcredits Law here. Now, I’d like to draw your attention to something. Since 1998, who has given microcredit loans to the poor? Loan sharks. You pawn your watch. I pawn my watch and you loan me a thousand bolívars, and they charge you how much? You make a small living. A captain with three boys, he pawned his watch for a hundred bolívars more than once. Anyway, loan sharks used to be free to do as they pleased here, and they exploited the poor. Not anymore.

Now we have a Microfinance Law which has all but rid us of predatory lending, and that has been a responsibility that the State has assumed. Public microcredit lenders never existed in Venezuela, but by 2004, we had almost reached 200 billion bolívars in microloans, with dramatic increases in 2003 and 2004. This is part of a project for redistributing national income. And where was this money going before? To the large capitalists. That’s why some of them hate my guts, but who cares about them. Because they used to have the Industrial Bank of Venezuela, and they ran the banks. Well, not just the banks, most of the Ministries of Finance of the governments before ours were made up of bankers. Bankers making banking laws because they had control of Congress, and the laws weren’t written by Congress or by deputies but by lawyers paid by the oligarchic business sector to later be passed into law in Congress. “A vulture guarding the meat,” as we say where I come from. Private banking at the head of the Ministry of Finance in an oil country—come on! A vulture guarding the meat. Anyway, then came liquid microloans. The number of microloans before 1998, zero. In the last six years we’ve given out 61,610 microloans at very low interest rates, and we’ve even established by law an interest rate of zero for those cases of extreme poverty, disability, etc. A woman with six children, living in extreme poverty, and a loan of a hundred dollars, of 500 dollars, to speak in dollars, a million bolívars, is authorized. For example, I see the President of the National Development Bank here, Edgar Hernández Behrens. You can give out loans without interest, and so can Banfoandes, and so can all of the state banks. We’ve also created banks specifically geared toward microloans, like the People’s Bank, the Women’s Bank and more recently the Microfinance Fund, which is multiplying popular banking everywhere. And what’s popular banking? A neighborhood cooperative. They organize, take a class, meet certain requirements and then become a bank. A bank. And their locations are really quite luxurious, air conditioning… No, no, nothing like that, it’s a bank. They open an account in the name of their cooperative with one of the state banks, with around a million dollars, which would be around two billion bolívars, and the cooperative becomes a bank by law and its members administer that capital.

The people living in the neighborhood are the ones to decide who among the most poor in that neighborhood will receive microloans. They’re the ones to establish charges and interest rates, and whether to charge interest or not, and they’re the one responsible for the money before the state bank and before the state. That’s empowering the poor, because they are the bank, and we must trust in them because they’re great and noble and good and earnest. Another effort we’ve been making through the redistribution of wealth and through the unorthodox management of the economy has been to look for progressive ways to improve workers’ wages and the purchasing power of the family. And seeing so, for roughly the last six years the minimum national salary has risen from a hundred thousand bolívars, a little less, ninety-eight thousand, somewhere around there, we’ll say a hundred thousand. The minimum salary is now around 321,000 bolívars; that is to say, in six years it has grown 200 percent and then some, while inflation has grown by a hundred percent, which has been one of our greatest battles, one we continue to fight.

The inflation rate in Venezuela began to look like hyperinflation. Hyperinflation will be no more. The rate is still very high, but it should continue to fall this year. But anyway, you can all do the math. The minimum salary has grown in the last six years by more than 200 percent, while inflation grew by less than a hundred percent. And the minimum salary, if it wouldn’t have been for, look, the coup—the coup did so much damage—but that’s just part of the battle, right? Because the countercoup was something as well, to speak plainly. Clearly, we didn’t want the coup or the deaths or the blood. Who would want that? But the popular response was really something. From that we learned that only the people can. We’re so weak as individuals. I was imprisoned and taken to an island, and the people said, “No. Chávez is president. Go get him.” And they brought me back. I wasn’t in La Orchila for even a week. I didn’t even get a chance to go for a swim, and the sea was right there. Anyway, listen, Nicolás, we were already progressing in 2001. The minimum salary in Venezuela hadn’t reached 200 dollars in twenty years.

In 2000, we increased it to 206 dollars, at minimum. And in 2001, we increased it to 208 dollars, but 2002 brought madness, sabotage, capital flight, devaluation and inflation with it, and the minimum salary dropped drastically to 136 dollars. In 2003, we increased it to 154 and in 2004 to 167. We’re rebuilding it once again. And we haven’t announced anything yet this year, but we’ll do so closer to May 1, which is one of the traditions of our revolutionary government, announcing these measures to workers, and of course they’ll observe that tradition, as the economic cabinet knows. None of the ministers of the economic cabinet are here now, but they know that around this time, even in the most difficult times, Isaías was the Vice President in 2000, and although we had hardly the resources, we increased the minimum salary by twenty percent.

Creating taxes, we created a tax on bank transactions, on bank debits to pay for the salary increase for workers. We saved. We reduced military spending tremendously, stopping a number of pending military purchases, all to increase salaries. So this year, if we’re at 321,000 bolívars, the minimum salary, ten percent is thirty-two thousands, twenty percent is sixty-two thousand, so we’ll reach close to 400 thousand bolívars this year. That’s where we’re taking it, and clearly, that’s what we’re going to do. Workers deserve it; employees deserve it. Some of them work here in the government, some in the private sector, because we’re nearing 200 dollars again, and in a short while we’ll surpass 200 dollars, and I’m talking about the minimum salary, the minimum, the benchmark.

I hope I’m not boring you with all these numbers. Listen, this was all left to me. Aristóbulo gave me this job. Listen to this, here’s another bit of information on debt. I’m giving examples of things we can do, even in reference to the current global landscape, to reinforce that earlier idea, because it would be terrible, I repeat, to have that attitude that a good friend of mine in Barinas had, I repeat. He was very Marxist and at parties, well, I don’t dance well, but I dance. Anyway, we saw some very pretty ladies and I asked him, “You’re not going to dance? Let’s go ask them.” “I don’t dance with anyone until she tells me where she stands ideologically.” And I said to him, “Really?” Don’t repeat his name; protect the innocent. His name is Vladimir Ilich. “I don’t dance with anyone until they tell me where they stand ideologically.” Really, well, some pretty adeco girls were there, and one of us danced with them. What are you going to do? Consensus, or as Ruiz Guevara says, the social pact. Anyway, listen, we can still do many things.

Social Security, for example. They were going to privatize Social Security here. When we won, we were just in time. There was a commission set to close all accounts, you all remember that, and the plan was all set that would’ve imposed a model on Venezuela that was presented by some as a model for administering pension funds. Shoo cat. Get thee behind me, Satan. A vulture guarding the meat. The people’s money. Workers’ money in the hands of bankers. No. We stopped that privatization, and look, we began to save a dying system, permeated by corruption. The most horrible corruption and inefficiency were concentrated in Social Security, which has now been eradicated for the most part.

We’re still fighting against abuses and old transgressions, and that’s one of the strongest calls I’ve issued to the country, to fight against corruption and other transgressions wherever they might be. But we’ve had a monumental battle there in Social Security. This figure will be very telling. Listen, from 1978 to 1998, twenty years, in twenty years do you know how many people benefited from Social Security, how many people received Social Security benefits? Three hundred and eighty-seven thousand in twenty years, I repeat. In the five years of our revolution, including 2004, the figure is similar: 384 thousand. Let’s figure it out on a yearly basis. In the twenty years up to 1998, those who received benefits from Social Security annually, we’ll round the figure to twenty thousand people per year. During our revolution, that number has increased to eighty thousand a year, from twenty thousand to eighty thousand, a growth of 400 percent. The number of people who have received benefits from Social Security, along with pensions, which used to be just horrible. By constitutional law, we’ve set it up so that pensions match the minimum salary, and each increase to the minimum salary corresponds to an increase in pensions as well. No pensions are below the minimum salary rates.

This is, quite simply, the redistribution of wealth, the redistribution of national wealth. We’ve paid, and that’s another problem we’ve inherited and that we need to speed up on, Aristóbulo, as you’re in the social cabinet. Look, what did we inherit? A labor debt accumulated in the hundreds of thousands of workers who never received benefits, trusts required by law, not to mention that the social benefits of the old regime were taken away from workers, replaced by a new regime operating within the neoliberal practice of relaxing labor laws to attract investment, all based on the idea that relaxing labor laws increases investments thereby increasing employment. Lies upon lies! A way to take from workers, a way to take from the poor the little they had, the product of so many years of struggle by labor unions, workers and the working class.

The damage caused by neoliberalism, and it continues causing damage to this day. And on top of that, those requirements of the new regime were never met, the deposit of five days’ worth of monthly salary, a deposit to be made in the name of each person, five days’ worth of salary to be deposited during the beginning of the month, which would then of course generate interest, interest that each worker could withdraw every six months, according to law. We consider that part of the law to be positive, as workers have something that is theirs generating interest. But that requirement was never met. Well, the first thing we’ve done has been to calculate that debt, and according to our initial calculations, it has reached five trillion bolívars, five trillion bolívars. Up to this point, we’ve paid, in the last three years, twenty-three percent of that debt, that is to say, twenty-three percent of workers, which is still low. That’s why I say we need to make a push this year, a great push ahead. We’re going to try to get to fifty percent, to reach fifty percent this year. What does that mean? That we’ve been opening up trusts and making deposits for the accumulated capital and back interest. We’ve paid 1.1 trillion, twenty-three percent of that debt, but this debt has accumulated over twenty years, twenty-five years. I’m going to give you example that someone gave to me. A person named Ana, who works in a ministry, twenty-three years of service as a receptionist. Her salary: 600 thousand bolívars—pay attention to the salaries.

Remember, we’re talking about the minimum salary, which is only a benchmark, but a woman working as a receptionist in a ministry earns 609 thousand bolívars each month. That’s not a great deal, but it shows where we’re going, how we’ve been changing. And how much have we deposited in her trust, which is the product of all those years of work? She has 21,200,000 bolívars in her fund. That belongs to her. And how much did she earn in interest from that amount, which she can withdraw or not, up to the year 2004? 2,198,000 bolívars that she, and in this case I don’t know if she has withdrawn it, I hope not, but surely at the end of the year if she needs to get presents or make some sort of home improvement, she can withdraw that interest because it of course belongs to her. A worker in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Maximiliano, seventeen years of service. They hadn’t paid him any benefits, or said anything to him about it either. We now give each person a document. What’s it called? A certificate that says how much we owe them. It’s something he can hold in his hand that’s signed by the state, by a branch of the ministry. We’ve assumed that debt, so I owe you this much and I’ll pay you. A responsible state.

A responsible government. Now, everyone knows how much they’re owed, for those who haven’t been paid yet. Well, twenty-one million in this case. Thirteen million was deposited for the worker I was just talking about. Thirteen million now deposited into his account, and interest for 2004 reached 937 thousand bolívars, almost a million bolívars. That’s a payment toward accumulated labor debt. And employment, we’ve been working to decrease unemployment. This year we started a very revolutionary project, the Vuelvan Caras Mission, and we were able to close out 2004 with an unemployment rate of 10.9 percent, still high, but we were at 20.7 percent. Unions. In 1998, Venezuela had 2,000 unions. 2,400.

Now we’ve almost doubled the amount of unions, and moreover, we’ve expanded the democratic processes within. Agricultural financing has also been increased as part of our strategy for empowering the poor, with above all, financing for small and medium producers. Listen to this, between the years 1980 and 1998, agricultural financing reached around twenty billion bolívars. Twenty billion bolívars in almost twenty years. In the six years since we began our revolution, five years, that number has grown to 121 billion bolívars and that’s a number that will keep on growing. And very important because it deals with one aspect of social debt, identity. Identification cards, something so simple, used to be horrible in Venezuela. Listen, before the revolution, fifteen thousand children were documented each year. Last year, in just one year, we documented 855 thousand children, something we continue to do each day. They should be out documenting children at this very moment throughout the country, through mobile units with computers and inspections. The indigenous, in the thirty years before the revolution, ninety thousand indigenous were documented, in thirty years.

Last year alone, we documented 150 thousand indigenous, by going to them, working with their participation. Naturalization, foreigners who are naturalized. Before the revolution, in twenty years, citizenship was awarded to—and our colleagues from other countries should really listen to this—in twenty years, ninety thousand people were naturalized or nationalized. In just one year, last year, we naturalized 283 thousand people who had been living here for forty years. People with Venezuelan children and grandchildren who had never been naturalized as Venezuelans, the will of the government for many years. Corruption. If you didn’t pay, you didn’t get naturalized. Now we’re working on naturalization, on the cancellation of social debt, because they’re now Venezuelan citizens. They’re now citizens with rights and responsibilities.

Land, land. We’ve begun fighting directly against latifundios. Because one of the kinds of social debt we have here is food debt. We must produce food, something we won’t be able to achieve if we don’t put an end to the latifundio, dividing land equally among those who work it, also providing credit, machinery and technical support. Already in these first few months of change, in just two months, we’ve identified three million hectares of land, hectares of latifundio, a great part unused, but these procedures have already begun and soon, very soon, God willing, I’ll begin awarding the first letters or titles, titles for property use to farmers who don’t have land. I want to recover the latifundios. At an urban level, we’ve been giving out titles for urban land in poor neighborhoods. In 2004 alone, we gave out 73,200 titles for urban land, benefiting 106 thousand families. They are becoming the owners of their environment. Organized first in, and this is very important, community organization and participation, committees on urban land, we’ve already registered four thousand committees on urban land, the CTU, and another 1,836 are in the process of being registered. Each committee on urban land is made up of an average of 147 homes, or close to a radius that includes 147 homes, and within that radius, the committee works to rebuild homes, to fix streets, potable water, waste water, and ecological equilibrium, parks, places to go and have fun, neighborhood security, and the government supports them, of course, providing even nonrenewable resources, so that they can contract out for services, like they’ve been doing. Architects or engineers to draw up the topography of the neighborhood. Many neighborhoods have already had their topography mapped, and they know how the water flows there and what dangers that presents in case of heavy rains.

Our last natural disaster, or social disaster, could’ve resulted in even greater tragedy. One of the factors that helped us to much more effectively avoid that tragedy was popular organization, neighborhood committees, committees on urban land, health committees. They took action immediately. At even the smallest threat, something happens, and they quickly took action, knowing exactly where they needed to go. Fortunately, there wasn’t a single death in Vargas, even with everything that happened there during the last few weeks. Regrettably, in Mérida, a river overflowed at dawn, taking everyone by surprise. A number of buses filled with people were carried away, so our greatest tragedies occurred there, and in Carabobo. There was some destruction here in Caracas, and deaths in Carabobo, mostly in Carabobo, and in Miranda. In Miranda, in Araira, a river swept away an entire town. I was there, and people told me about how they organized, how they’re organized and how they respond to tragedies, not just at the time, but after the fact. So organization at the community level is fundamental. It’s participatory democracy. It’s a democracy in which citizens are the protagonists, and our Chancellor Alí Rodríguez talked about this in the excellent speech he gave to the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States. So, debt and the debts we’re paying. Potable water. When the revolution began, there were, or eighteen million people had access to potable water, and now twenty-four million people have access. Same thing for waste water. About six and a half million people had waste water services. That number now surpasses nine million, waste water, sewers, plumbing and all that.

Food markets, through Mercal we’re supplying a food distribution network with forty percent savings. We’ve already surpassed four thousand tons of food daily, allowing us to permanently supply some ten million people, because we’re working within the neighborhoods, through a network, well, a series of small networks of Mercals, of food deposits. We didn’t used to have food reserves in Venezuela, but we now have more than a month’s worth of food in reserve. We used to depend upon ships coming, because we were importing too much food, but the Mercal network now has thousands of Mercal stores, small stores in neighborhoods and other channels, the same people participating in those places. Many people have started small Mercals in their homes and, after talking with the man down the street and fixing up his broken truck, they go out and get their own food and bring it back, food for their neighborhood, food they care for and monitor and watch over.

Not too long ago, we discovered some corruption there in the center of the country. Someone was diverting trucks filled with chicken to resell it at a higher cost. How was that discovered? Social accountability. Neighbors realized that five trucks were leaving, and only three were coming back. They counted the trucks and the chickens themselves. That’s the best way to fight against corruption. Social accountability. Community participation.

I only wanted to give a few examples, but I have so many others, education. For the first time in Venezuelan history, we’ve surpassed one million students enrolled in higher education, through the Sucre Mission. The Robinson Mission. Through the Robinson Mission, we’ve taught 1.3 million people to read and write in a year and a half, and we continue to do so. Soon, with a joint signature from the United Nations, we’ve petitioned a Commission of the United Nations from UNESCO. We want representatives of UNESCO to come here. They haven’t come yet, but we hope that they’ll come in the next few months and certify Venezuela to be a “illiteracy-free zone.” That’s our hope. An illiteracy-free zone, and we must always say so. We must issue infinite thanks to Cuba, to her people, to her government and to her President. Their support has been exceptional, the support that Cuba has given us, not to arm guerrilla fighters, as they’re saying in Washington, or to destabilize the region, but to fight against illiteracy, using the Cuban method of “Yes I can,” a method we’ve adapted to our own circumstances. In seven weeks, individuals over ninety years old learned to read and write, in seven weeks, a significant effort. The Bolivarian University, a new university with a new model.

The Sucre Mission has already enrolled close to four hundred thousand young men, men my age, women our age, who completed their high school educations, just like us, thirty-some years ago but were never able to go on the college. They’re now enrolling, the Sucre Mission. For the first time Venezuelan universities are run by municipalities. We’re going to municipalities, constructing small university villages so that people can study there, one of Bolívar’s projects. The Ribas Mission, to close, a group of social missions that I’m sure you’ll all already look over.

I hope you all have time to go out and visit these difference places, and some could visit me at Aló Presidente. You’re all invited to Aló Presidente on Sunday. Oh! Another thing. The Housing Plan. Our Housing Plan is a revolutionary plan, and Sunday, that very day, we’re going to broadcast Aló Presidente from the site where one of these new towns is being constructed, a new conception of housing and the environment, dignified housing including all services, potable water, plumbing, electricity, gardens, work areas, small industrial zones, clinics, Barrio Adentro. A great housing project, the Housing Mission.

In closing, we can still do many things as we change the world, while we’re surrounded by one another. “God helps those who help themselves.” There are many things we can do despite the limitations imposed upon us by the world. How much can we do? Today, we could say that we’re progressing rapidly. Think of the heights to which the peoples of the world will soar the day that we change the conditions impeding that flight. We won’t just run but soar to the heights of our dreams, to the heights of the best dreams, times, and centuries that have existed on our planet.

The day on which we really change the structures dominating the world, a change that requires a worldwide fight, the efforts of all the peoples of the world. But the day on which we convert that horrible external debt into investments in education, health, in the fight against illiteracy, into financing for microcredit loans, for all of those things and much, much more, the world will fly free someday. As the great poet Cumaná Andrés Eloy Blanco once said, “That truly great, prosperous, free, equal and just world, if we don’t witness it with our own eyes it matters not. It will be enough if our children witness it, or it will be enough that the changes they witness will have resulted from the heartbeat of our dreams and hopes.”

I’m so happy to have been able to commence the IV Social Debt Summit with you all. We’ll ready ourselves for the battle. Thank you very much; your patience has been very kind. A very good afternoon to you all.

[1] The source file for this translation, “Discurso del presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, con motivo del acto de inauguración de la IV Cumbre de la deuda social y cara social de las Américas,” contains errors that appear to be the result of the transcription process. Where errors in this source file were identified, a second transcription of Chávez’s speech has been consulted. See Chávez, “Palabras inaugurales de la IV Cumbre de la Deuda Social; Incluye: Proyecto ‘Carta Social de las Américas.’”

[2] According to the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Moral Republican Council is an institution within the Citizen’s Branch of government responsible for defending and promoting citizens and public ethics. The institution consists of the Comptroller General’s office, the office of the Public Defender and the Attorney General’s Office. See “Information about Venezuela: Politics and Government.”

[3] “Gloria al Bravo Pueblo” was written in the early 1800s by Juan José Landaeta and Vicente Salias, both of whom fought for Venezuelan independence. See National Anthems from Around the World, 15, 164-168.

[4] According to Lynch, an audiencia, or “high court of justice,” was instituted in Caracas by Spain in 1786. See Lynch, Simón Bolívar: A Life, 5.

[5] A twelve-year-old Bolívar ran away from the home of his uncle Carlos Palacios in 1795. See Lynch, Simón Bolívar: A Life, 17.

[6] Chávez likely references Simón Rodríguez’s “Reflexiones sobre los defectos que vician la escuela de primeras letras de Caracas y medio de lograr su reforma por un Nuevo establecimiento,” or “Reflection on the flaws vitiating the Reading & Writing School for Children in Caracas and Means of Achieving its Reform and a New Establishment.” Within this document, first presented on May 19, 1794, Rodríguez argues for the education of all children, regardless of skin color. See Rumazo González, Simon Rodriguez, maestro de America, 36-38 for a description of Rodríquez’s “Reflection.”

[7] Bolívar travelled from Paris to Vienna to reunite with his old teacher Rodríguez in 1803. Bolívar had recently become widowed and sought the solace of Rodríguez’s company. Rumazo González’s Simon Rodriguez, maestro de America contains an extract from a letter written by Bolívar, in which Bolívar describes the advice given him by his old teacher to animate him. Ibid, 66-67.

[8] Lynch refers to a “Fanny de Villar”. See Simón Bolívar A Life, 23. Web searches yield alternate spellings as well, including Fanny Du Villars.

[9] See 33-34 of Pereira’s Simón Bolívar Escritos Anticolonialistas for Bolívar’s letter of apology to Denis de Trobriand, although that letter does not contain direct quotations on the comments made by Bolívar on Bonaparte.

[10] The rendering of Bolívar’s “Oath of Monte Sacro” is based upon Lily Ford’s translation in “The Oath of Monte Sacro, A Pocket Epic.” Her translation has been modified slightly here.

[11] Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda (1750-1816) was among the first to organize the fight for the independence of Spanish colonies in South America. Miranda was appointed to the head of the Patriot army and then granted dictatorial powers over the Patriot government of the First Republic following the July 5, 1811 Declaration of Independence. However, that republic came to a close when Miranda surrendered to Royalist forces by signing the Pact of San Mateo. See “Miranda, [Generalísimo] Fransisco de,” Historical Dictionary of Venezuela.

[12] Antonio José de Sucre (1795-1830) was a close friend of Bolívar who fought in the wars for Latin American independence, receiving the title, Grand Marshal of Ayacucho after securing Peruvian independence with victories in Junín and Ayacucho in 1824. He was assassinated on June 4, 1830. See “Sucre, [Mariscal] Antonio José de,” 648‑649.

[13] José de San Martín (1778-1850) was an Argentine revolutionary among those who lead the fight for independence from Spain in Argentina, Chile and Peru. See “José de San Martín,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

[14] José Gervasio Artigas (1764-1850) was a Uruguayan soldier, revolutionary leader and founding father of Uruguay. See “José Gervasio Artigas,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

[15] Bernardo O’Higgins (? -1842) was a Chilean revolutionary and leader of the forces that won Chilean independence from the Spanish. See “Bernardo O’Higgins,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

[16] José Inácio de Abreu e Lima (1794-1869) was a Brazilian revolutionary fighter and historian. He fought alongside Bolívar and earned such honors as the title “Escudo de Carabobo” [Shield of Carabobo] for his bravery in battle. See “José Inácio de Abreu e Lima: El general de masas.” Ministerio de Comunicación e Información, Gobierno Bolivariano de Venezuela.

[17] Manuela Sáenz (1797-1856) was Bolívar’s mistress. The two met in 1822 and Sáenz shared in Bolívar’s fight for independence. See “Manuela Sáenz,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

[18] José Martí (1853-1985) was a leader in and symbol for Cuba’s revolutionary movement toward independence from Spain. See “Jose Julian Marti,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

[19] Francisco “Pancho” Villa (1878-1923) was a field laborer turned Mexican revolutionary and guerrilla fighter. See “Pancho Villa,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

[20] Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919) was a soldier in the Mexican Revolution who also later fought for agrarian reform. See “Emiliano Zapata,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

[21] Guaicaipuro (?-1569), Chief of the Teques, led his own and troops from other Indian tribes in battle against Spanish settlers. See “Guaicaipuro,” Historical Dictionary of Venezuela.

[22] Chávez likely refers to Túpac Amaru II (?-1781), originally named José Gabriel Condorcanqui, a descendant of Inca’s last ruler, Túpac Amaru. Amaru II led an unsuccessful uprising of Peruvian peasants against Spanish rule. See “Túpac Amaru II,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

[23] Forrester’s The Economic Horror criticizes what the author believes to be outdated conceptions of employment and success. The text was translated from French into English, and while no translator is credited on either the cover or title page, the copyright page includes the following note: “Translated with the assistance of Sheila Malovany-Chevallier.”

[24] Chávez may refer to The Turning Point, published in 1982. According to the author’s website, the book predicts a coming “revolution” in the sciences and the “corresponding transformation of world views and values in society,” such as “paradigm shifts in biology, medicine, psychology, and economics.” See “Fritjof Capra – Bibliography.”

[25] Francisco Mieres was an author, oil expert and professor who served as the Venezuelan ambassador to Russia. He died in 2008. See “Falleció ex embajador de Venezuela en Rusia profesor Francisco Mieres,” Radio Nacional de Venezuela.

[26] The Kyoto Protocol is an international accord of the United Nations in response to climate change. It establishes emission reduction goals that are mandatory for its parties. See “Kyoto Protocol,” United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

[27] The Frente Francisco de Miranda, or Francisco de Miranda Front, was formed by Chávez and Fidel Castro on June 29, 2003. The objective of the Frente was to organize political actors for the popular transformation of Venezuelan institutions and society. See “Celebrarán 11 años del Frente Francisco de Miranda fortaleciendo su rol en la Revolución,” Sistema Bolivariano de Comunicación e Información.

[28] Chávez was home recovering from the chicken pox during the Caracazo. See Jones, The Hugo Chávez Story: From Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution, 122.

[29] Filinto Durán served in the Latin American Parliament and was appointed as Venezuela’s ambassador to Honduras in 2014. See “Filinto Durán, autorizado por AN como embajador en Honduras,” Sistema Bolivariano de Comunicación e Información.

[30] Rafael Correa is the current President of Ecuador.

[31] See Bolívar, “Resolución convirtiendo en colegio para huérfanos un convento abandonado.”

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid.

[34] According to the Pan American Health Organization, Barrio Adentro is a “humanitarian medical and health care project” carried out cooperatively with Cuba. Through the program, thousands of Cuban doctors were installed in economically depressed neighborhoods to address the lack of access to health care. See “Mission Barrio Adentro: The Right to Health and Social Inclusion in Venezuela,” 1.

[35] Article 1 of Bolívar’s “Resolución convirtiendo en colegio para huérfanos un convento abandonado.”

[36] Bolívar’s Resolution contains no reference to engineering or construction. See Bolívar, “Resolución convirtiendo en colegio para huérfanos un convento abandonado.”

[37] Bolívar’s victory in the Battle of Boyacá on August 7, 1819 secured independence for much of Gran Colombia. See Lynch, Simón Bolívar A Life, 129-131.

[38] See Bolívar, “Arriéndanse bienes destinados al fomento de la educación.”

[39] In Faces and Masks, Eduardo Galeano attributes the name “dangerous madman of Colombia” to William Tudor, United States Consul in Peru, who denounced Bolívar’s fight against slavery and his glorification of an America liberated from Spain.

[40] From Bolívar’s decree of November 1, 1821. See “1° de noviembre de 1821. Adjudicando a colegio de enseñanza pública a rentas del colegio de Ocopa,” Colección de leyes, decretos y órdenes publicadas en el Perú desde el año del 1821 hasta 31 de diciembre de 1859, 6-7.

[41] The rendering of Bolívar’s “Decree for the Emancipation of the Slaves” is based upon Frederick H. Fornoff’s translation in El Libertador: Writings of Simón Bolívar. See pages 177-178. His translation has been modified slightly here.

[42] San Mateo was an estate in Bolívar’s family since the sixteenth century. See Lynch, Simón Bolívar A Life, 2.

[43] Bolívar died on December 17, 1830 disillusioned with his fight to unite the countries of South America, having said, “Those who serve a revolution plough the sea.” Trnsltd in Lynch, Simón Bolívar A Life, 276.

[44] Chávez likely addresses Venezuela’s Public Defender, Isaías Rodríguez.

[45] The rendering of Bolívar’s May 20, 1820 “Decree Abolishing Personal Service Imposed on the Native Peoples: New Statute Governing Their Work” is based upon Frederick H. Fornoff’s translation in El Libertador: Writings of Simón Bolívar. See page 184. His translation has been modified slightly here.

[46] The Simoncito Plan is an early education program for children up to age six in Venezuela. See “Venezuela: Programa ‘Simoncito Comunitario’,” Sistema de información sobre la primera infancia en América Latina.

[47] Ibid. Fornoff’s translation very slightly modified. See Article 9, page 185.

[48] Ibid. Translation by Frederick H. Fornoff. See Article 12, page 185.

[49] Juez político, translated here as “political judge,” was not actually a judicial office. According to Fornoff, “the juez político was [instead] the agent of the national executive at the municipal level. The position was subsequently given the more appropriate title of jefe político. See Note 6 on page 230 in El Libertador: Writings of Simón Bolívar.

[50] General Juan Velasco Alvarado, President of Peru from 1968 to 1975, and his military forces overthrew President Fernando Belaúnde Terry. Velasco’s government was characterized by its populist reforms and limitations to US influence within Peru. See “Juan Velasco Alvarado,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Online. As far as books by Velasco, Chávez may refer here to the title Perú: Documentos Fundamentales del Proceso Revolucionario, although that work does not encompass multiple volumes.

[51] The rendering of Article 15 of Bolívar’s “Decree Abolishing Personal Service Imposed on the Native Peoples: New Statute Governing Their Work” is Frederick H. Fornoff’s translation in El Libertador: Writings of Simón Bolívar. See page 186.

[52] Chávez references Bolívar’s December 14, 1825 decree, “Protección al derecho de propiedad en el departamento de Santa Cruz.” See Bolívar, “Protección al derecho de propiedad en el departamento de Santa Cruz,” Colección oficial de leyes, decretos, ordenes… de la República Boliviana Años 1825 y 1826.

[53] Ibid. See page 72.

[54] Ibid. See Article 3, page 72.

[55] Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima, known as just Ronaldo or “the phenomenon” is a retired Brazilian soccer player and is regarded as one of the best soccer players of all times.

[56] Article 4 of Bolívar’s December 14, 1825 decree, “Protección al derecho de propiedad en el departamento de Santa Cruz.” See Bolívar, “Protección al derecho de propiedad en el departamento de Santa Cruz,” Colección oficial de leyes, decretos, ordenes… de la República Boliviana Años 1825 y 1826, page 72.

[57] Ibid. See Article 5, page 73.

[58] Ibid. See Article 6, page 73.

[59] Article 1 of Bolívar’s “Decreto dictado por el Libertador el 24 de octubre de 1829 (Reglamento de Minas” is quoted in Luis Enrique Cuervo Pontón’s Introducción al derecho y la política de petróleos. The text quoted does not contain the text corresponding to the translation, “They cannot be privatized, being property of the Republic.” See Cuervo Pontón, Introducción al derecho y la política de petróleos, 76.

[60] According to the RAE, “cumanés” refers to an individual from Cumaná, the capital of the state of Sucre, in Venezuela. See “Cumanés, sa,” Real Academia Española.

[61] On July 14, 1956, Mao Tse-tung gave a talk in which he compared the U.S. to a paper tiger, “powerful in appearance” but “unable to withstand the wind and the rain.” See “U.S. Imperialism is a Paper Tiger.”

[62] The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines Official Development Assistance (ODA) as “those flows to countries and territories on the DAC List of ODA Recipients… provided by official agencies, including state and local governments.” “[A]dministered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries[,]… [ODA] is concessional in character and conveys a grant element of at least 25 per cent.” See “Official development assistance – definition and coverage,” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

[63] According to the OECD, investments of 0.7% of GNI in ODA was first agreed upon in 1970. See “The 0.7% ODA/GNI target – a history,” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In Chávez’s comments here, whether “they” refers specifically to the US or to all countries from which aid flows. The OECD infographic, “Compare your country – Official Development Assistance 2013,” indicated only five countries surpassing the 0.7% target in 2013: Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark, United Kingdom. See “Compare your country – Official Development Assistance 2013,” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

[64] According to Jones, PetroCaribe, a regional alliance created by Chávez, “offered fourteen Caribbean nations a total of 198,000 barrels of oil a day with ‘soft financing’.” See Jones, ¡Hugo! The Hugo Chávez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution, 441. The fourteen member nations of the alliance are Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Suriname and Venezuela. See “Members,” PetroCaribe.

[65] The Council on Foreign Relations report, “Trends in U.S. Military Spending,” indicates between 500 and 600 billion dollars in US military spending in 2004. See Walker.

[66] The phrase, “motiva es un motor,” translated here as, “Motiva is a motor,” plays on the dual meaning of “motiva,” which is both a proper noun and a conjugation of the verb, motivar, meaning “to motivate.”