At this year’s Féile an Phobail in Belfast the Irish Chapter of the Network in Defence of Humanity convened a special panel on anti-imperialism and the Americas, which is to be screened on 6 August through the festival’s web site and Youtube channels.
The participants in the discussion were the executive secretary of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America and the People’s Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), Sacha Llorenti; the ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to Ireland, Rocío Maneiro; the Nicaraguan ambassador to Ireland, Guisell Morales-Echaverry; and the Cuban ambassador in Ireland, Hugo Ramos.
It was important to have Sacha Llorenti’s input as head of ALBA, which is, as attested to by the commentary from all the ambassadors, the most vital, primary means by which the revolutionary governments of the continent seek to assert unity of purpose and collective strength.
One of the reasons why the massively unpopular American puppet Bolsonaro in Brazil is now trying to find excuses to postpone presidential elections—with the assistance of the CIA and European liberals and neo-Nazis, who have all been paying him visits in the last month—is that Lula is poised to win by a landslide.
Lula’s impending victory will not only be of great relief to the vast majority of ordinary Brazilians but will also tip the continental balance of power back in favour of progressive, anti-imperialist forces and pave the way for an expansion of ALBA, or a newer decolonising structure of regional unity.
In her contribution, the Venezuelan ambassador, Rocío Maneiro, affirmed:
“If you look at the current political landscape in Latin America and the policies that are coming from the north, you can only conclude that Washington is at war with progressive forces in the region.”
While there is, rightly, an established focus in Ireland on the impact of the criminal US blockade of Cuba, it should and must be added that the blockade of Venezuela is just as punitive and destabilising. This particular blockade began in March 2015 following Obama’s deranged declaration that Venezuela constitutes “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the USA.” Since that point, as with Cuba, the Bolivarian Republic has had its international assets stolen, its economy besieged, and its routes to international trade closed down; it has been invaded by US-backed mercenaries several times, and there has been a further attempt to assassinate President Maduro.
As ever, the United States, whose colonial policy as a rule is based on exploiting human misery, has disgraced itself still further during a global pandemic by seizing Venezuela’s payment for COVAX vaccines, so that the country is embroiled in lengthy legal battles either to receive the vaccines or to recover its funds.
Nicaragua is also the focus of economic warfare, blended with other hybrid forms of aggression that will attempt to delegitimise the elections in November and unleash street violence through US-funded paramilitary and drugs gangs in the service of an oligarchic elite and the extreme right. The imperialists will never win at the ballot box, and the most favourable outcome for the United States is a failed state and protracted, needless death and suffering.
Such is the mentality of an empire that mistakes its domination for freedom and good order.
However, as the ambassador, Guisell Morales-Echaverry, affirms, the Sandinista revolution has strong popular support, which will defend Nicaraguan sovereignty and continue to play a strong internationalist role in opposing imperialist aggression in the region and around the world. She confirmed that the FLSN will continue to make Nicaragua
“a free, sovereign and independent country which develops its political, economic and social growth without the need for Washington’s permission . . . It will be Nicaraguans who vote and decide their future, regardless of whether or not it complies with the White House agenda. The Sandinista project will continue to confirm, to friends and enemies, that Nicaraguan democracy is popular, a democracy of the people, and it is no longer in the hands of the elite.”
Anyone naïve enough to believe the US-led campaign of misinformation against Nicaragua—regurgitated, of course, by NGOs whose sources of funds should make people aware that there is nothing “non-governmental” about them—must answer some important questions. Precisely why do you feel entitled to overthrow the sovereign, popular will of the Nicaraguan people? Why do your supposedly progressive, liberal or “leftist” aims align themselves so readily with imperialism, with fascist gangs, with disgruntled bourgeois poseurs, and with neoliberal fanatics who privatise primary-school education?
Cuba’s ambassador, Hugo Ramos, placed the current aggression against his country in the continuum of history and reminded counter-revolutionaries and their Yankee sponsors that “we come from a long history of struggle.” While the empire can spend tens of millions manufacturing a fake hip-hop scene and disorder disproportionately magnified around the world by mainstream media and social media giants, this stage-managed “spontaneity” will not dislodge the deep-rooted resolve and foundations of the revolution and its popular aims.
The executive secretary of ALBA, Sacha Llorenti, also punctured the hypocritical veneer of imperialist posturing over freedom and human rights. He eloquently assessed how notions of humanitarian assistance, human rights or democracy are embedded in a very specific and contradictory phase of imperialist attack, designed to employ these concepts as weapons, at the very same time that the United States does not itself uphold such ideals internally, let alone overseas. In fact imperialism voids terms like “democracy,” “freedom” and “human rights” of their meaning, and the appearance of such words in the lexicon of empire is merely a dissembling disguise cloaking the Yankees’ real goals.
As Sacha Llorenti points out, the United States wants a monopoly on the natural resources of the Americas, to use our region as a market for their products and to have us as the cheap labour manufacturing those goods, to make themselves the central benefactor and controller of all our commerce and trade, and of course to assert unipolar, geopolitical control.
However, despite the renewed imperialist aggression, Sacha Llorenti paid tribute to the countries that have given ALBA its strength and its vision—Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia—and noted how it has been the countries that have been most attacked by the United States that have offered the most strength and courage.
“We are looking at a continuous attack against many of our member-states. It is not sporadic: it is part of that huge plan that has the goal of provoking ‘regime change,’ as they have done in different parts of the world. But the huge difference—and this is why they will fail—is that the revolutions in our countries are deeply popular, are dependent on the people.”
As with the current popular defence of the Cuban Revolution discussed by Hugo Ramos, Sacha Llorenti acknowledged how, in his own home nation, Bolivia, it was the people who brought the revolution back to power following the fascist coup that unseated Evo Morales in one of the most heroic actions of mass resistance this century, in spite of the military violence of the state, the backing of the biggest empire in the history of the planet, and the complicity of western liberals.
As with all the contributors, Sacha Llorenti invoked centuries of liberation struggle and historical consciousness as the lifeblood energising the continuing projects of the present. The recent celebrations of the bicentenary of the Battle of Carabobo are very instructive, particularly as a response to anyone who would seek to belittle the achievements of the revolutions in Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela or Bolivia or to couch them in terms of a purely national or regional resonance, since all these necessarily national revolutions are also already internationalist and cross-continental.
Carabobo was a battle that did not solely secure the independence of Venezuela: it was a continental victory in keeping with the vision of Simón Bolívar of decolonised and anti-imperialist Americas, a vision that has continued through the likes of José Martí, Augusto Sandino, Hugo Chávez, Che Guevara and Fidel and that most certainly shines through the actions of the progressive governments and alliances today.
As a rebuttal to those doubters who felt that the continental unity embedded in ALBA would wane in the face of the US blockade of the Venezuelan economy and its oil revenue, Sacha Llorenti insists:
“Our alliance is stronger than ever . . . Our alliance is based on principles that are impossible to eradicate.”
All anti-imperialists around the world must mobilise in defence of those principles and these revolutions. If people had the courage and consciousness to organise themselves into international brigades in the 1930s to defend the Spanish Republic from fascist assault through their understanding of the world-historical importance of that struggle, then only metropolitan provincialism would prevent them from recognising that fascism is fascism everywhere it rears its ugly head; that fascism—and the imperialism that facilitates it—is to be fought, whether it is on the streets of Madrid in 1936 or the towns of Bolivia now.
The revolutionary movements in the Americas are valiantly holding the front line in the worldwide battle against imperialism and neoliberalism, and they are the cutting edge of the resistance. We must join them in struggle and back them to the hilt.
As Sacha Llorenti affirms,
“our countries represent a material, real example that a different kind of world is possible, that we can build a different society that goes against the neoliberal model, against capitalism. So, there is an alternative, and they want to destroy the alternative. They want to destroy a different model that really works.”