Comrades and friends, we are gathering here at the Kenya National Theatre today to commemorate the life of one of the greatest revolutionary heroes of our time, comrade Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, simply famous as Hugo Chavez. We remember him as a fighter for the poor and oppressed people of Venezuela, Latin America and the World. We also remember Chavez as of Africa’s friends and comrades to emerge as a leader of South America.
Comrade Chavez was born on 28 July 1954 and died in 5 March 2013 after a long brave battle with cancer. Actually, we are not sure whether he died a natural death or whether he died from the disease induced by the enemies of the Bolivarian revolution - the capitalists of Venezuela or the imperialists lead by the United States of America who hated him with an evil passion. All we are sure of is that after he came to power in 1999 up to the time of his death comrade Chavez lived for the struggle for the freedom and development of Venezuela and humanity. Chavez was always the champion of the poor and the majority and took many heroic risks and personal sacrifices in the life of a revolutionary he believed in and lived. As President of Venezuela and socialist party, his political, economic, social and cultural policies were for building the Bolivarian revolution to create and enhance the material and political conditions for freedom, justice and a humane society that he believed could only be realized in socialism and in fighting and defeating imperialism and neocolonialism in the world.
Venezuela is country endowed with rich natural resources, particularly petroleum. But for decades the natural resources only benefited foreign imperialists especially from the US and the greedy and brutal comprador bourgeoisie class of Venezuela who controlled state, political and economic power on behalf of imperialism. Through the colonial, neocolonial and dictatorial systems imposed upon the country like also in many so called Third World countries, the people of Venezuela suffered poverty, ignorance, disease, hunger, violations of human rights and all the manifestations of underdevelopment while their rich resources were pillaged, and squandered by imperialists and a few rich families of Venezuela allied with the neocolonial system against their country and people. The Bolivarian revolution established by Venezuelan patriots and revolutionaries founded and spearheaded by Chavez until his death was about replacing the reactionary systems with the progressive system of using the human and natural resources of the country to end imperialist domination and to empower all the people of Venezuela politically, economically, socially and culturally.
It is for this reason that the Bolivarian revolution nationalized the petroleum and other natural resources based industries. Chavez and his government also embarked on implementing programs and policies of nationalizing and socializing other key sectors of the economy and putting them in the hands of the state and working class and majority of the people of Venezuela. The Bolivarian revolution ensured that for the first time in the history of Venezuela the resources of the country were used to fight poverty and underdevelopment. Despite organized imperialist propaganda to the contrary, the world is witness to the fact that the Bolivarian revolution created an independent and sovereign nation that has won the admiration of not only world revolutionaries but also people still under capitalist and imperialist’s domination and who desire freedom and independence of their countries, including from Kenya and Africa.
Under Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution, many social programs including of education, housing, health, nutrition, participatory democracy, human rights, environment, gender equality and poverty eradication were initiated and implemented. These programs achievements of the leadership of Chavez were recognized and appreciated even by the United Nation’s agencies. In fact, it is because of this that Venezuela became famous throughout the world as an anti-imperialist and socialist oriented country that had regained its independence and was matching along the road of socialism. A philosopher of revolution, Chavez was a great reader, thinker and writer of socialist ideas that he applied to deal with the problems of building socialism and fighting imperialism under the historical and material conditions of Venezuela, Latin America and the world during his time. World socialist revolution will continue to benefit from his contribution in this regard, socialism of the 20th Century.
A socialist revolutionary, Chavez was also one of the greatest internationalists of our time. He shared the natural resources of Venezuela, particularly petroleum, with Cuba and the countries of Latin America and even Africa. The people of Cuba, for example, will never forget Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution for the socialist solidarity they extended to each other which helped their survival amidst the brutal economic, financial and commercial blockades imposed by US imperialism against their countries. The friendship and comradeship between Chavez and Fidel Castro and their governments, for example, is legendary.
Chavez was also a great supporter and fighter of the just causes of the people and countries of the world struggling for freedom and independence from colonialism, neocolonialism, Zionism, racism and imperialism. He always called for the strengthening of the non - aligned movement countries and the unity of the ‘Third World’ nations for an alternative just world economic system. Chavez was a vehement supporter of the struggle of the Palestine and Western Sahara people and put a lot of resources in solidarity with them. Incidentally, for his solidarity with Palestine and Iran against imperialism and reactionary Zionism, the oppressors of the Palestine people loathed Chavez. At the same time, Chavez was also always thinking about Africa. He initiated and implemented foreign policy of forging close links between Venezuela, Latin America and Africa. It is for this reason that there are solidarity with Venezuela organizations in many countries of Africa, including Kenya.
Being a socialist revolutionary leader, Chavez was made one of greatest enemies by the comprador capitalists of Venezuela and imperialists led by the United States of America. The United States government declared cold and hot war against Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution. They used economic sabotage, propaganda, attempted coups, contraband trade, violence, crime, blockades of all sorts, assassinations, bourgeois democracy, etc., to fight Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution. But comrade Chavez never feared to participate in the internal and external class struggles on behalf of the popular masses of Venezuela and humanity as a whole.
Comrade Hugo Chavez died as socialist revolutionary. Despite, the ‘victory’ the stooges of imperialists in the parliamentary elections held last year, comrade Nicolas Maduro - the successor of Chavez - is still the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The class struggle in Venezuela continues to unfold in many forms. Since the struggle against capitalism and imperialism is long, hard and protracted and proceeds in zigzags the people of Venezuela are learning lessons of consolidating the revolutionary gains they made under comrade Chavez and continued under Maduro. In future they will not trust bourgeoisie elections that favor the reactionary classes, they will not participate in the elections imposed by the reactionary oppressors and traitors of Venezuela with their imperialist masters and collaborators that are aimed at killing the legacy of Simon Bolivar, Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution.
And in all this, the Venezuelan people will not allow the legacy of Simon Bolivar, Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution to die just because imperialist’s puppets have managed to rig themselves to parliament through elections held under the state of war they imposed with the assistance of their imperialist masters.
Such people as Chavez rarely emerge in history. And when they do they leave a significant mark in history. Such was Chavez. The KVSFC, Kenyan and African revolutionaries will never forget Chavez. For we cannot afford to forget our own. Chavez was and remains our own. We valued him, we loved him and we shall cherish his name and legacy forever.
Long live Hugo Chavez!
Long live Maduro!
Long live the Bolivarian Revolution!
Long live anti – imperialist solidarity!
Long live socialism!
Mwandawiro Mghanga is the Chairperson of Kenya Venezuelan Solidarity and Friendship Committee (KVSFC), Chairperson of the Social Democratic Party of Kenya (SDP) and serves in the Executive Committee of the Africa Left Networking Forum (ALNEF) with headquarters in Thies, Senegal.