Jesus M Rodriguez
The Evolution of Global Conversations
'The future is already here - it’s just not very evenly distributed' - William Gibson (b. 1948)
One of the saddest and most consequential effects of 20 years of “Chavismo" in Venezuela, is that Venezuelans, while focusing all their energy on surviving, have missed taking part in global conversations about equality, human rights, inclusion and extreme capitalism.
I say most consequential, because it makes it very difficult for many Venezuelans to take part in very important conversations about Venezuela itself and its role in global politics and economic development. In order to truly gain international support in our fight for freedom and democracy, we need to be able to adjust our vocabulary to today's global standards.
Let’s remember that for most of the 20th century Venezuela had many elements that we all celebrated, embraced, enjoyed (and now miss) that by today’s standards would be considered “socialist" - or at least very to the left. We had free access to healthcare, free college education, a big bureaucracy and then some. More importantly, the State owned (to this day) all mineral resources, including the biggest oil reserves in the world, which is a fact always ignored in conversations about the evolution - or devolution - of Venezuelan politics in the last 50 years.
That means that when Venezuelans today, suffering from the deep trauma of Chávez saying that 'Chavismo is Socialism' over and over again, hear people like Bernie Sanders, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortéz and even Elizabeth Warren, they react with hate and fear of their political platforms. We forget that those same things that some Venezuelans today say are radical ideas (access to health care and free education for example), and align themselves with the American right as a result, are things that were fundamental elements of the best part of the democracy we had and miss so much.
The fear of anything that sounds “lefty” doesn’t allow them to be part of the important conversation we need to have about the biggest threat to capitalism: the wealth gap. As Rutger Bregman (quoting Professor Piketty) says in his book Utopia for Realists, “We have to save capitalism from capitalists”, by finding a way to close that gap and reducing poverty on a global scale. I’m afraid it is almost impossible to talk about social justice and equality without my fellow Venezuelans screaming that I am a Communist (and a Chavista).
It would be so useful to have a graphic, designed by objective experts in economy and politics, to be able to unequivocally place politicians, politics, parties and even countries according to their political views. That way we would have an objective way to measure how far to the left and to the right Bernie, AOC, Trump, Maduro, AMLO, the Nordic countries, Spain, etc., truly are. Imagine all the Facebook discussions that would be avoided (or started for that matter)!
But the conversations that are almost impossible to have with many Venezuelans are not just reduced to political and economic ideas, but also include basic conversations about Equality based on gender, sexual orientation and race, among many others. Anything that sounds a little “progressive" or “to the left” is immediately seen as “pro-Chávez”, ignoring that the biggest legacy Chávez left us was a complete disregard for progress.
As we, Venezuelans, refuse to join progressive views, we are actively engaged in keeping Chavismo alive.