A balanced, beneficial relationship
I recently visited Venezuela to congratulate President Hugo Chavez and the victory of the Venezuelan people to keep in office a leader who has turned around the country and its economy. We learned that the leadership of Venezuela decided to do two important things. One, to take 30 percent of oil revenues and direct it towards the social needs of the masses of the people of Venezuela and two, within the next year to establish 40 embassies on the African continent to develop relationships between Venezuela and Africa.
This represents a strategic move, not only for Venezuela, but all of South America and the Caribbean. They call it the true South-South Relationship. The historic speech delivered by President Hugo Chavez at the African Union Conference in the Gambia this past July is an example of this historical thrust to move the relationship between South America and Africa closer for the benefit of both continents. In Venezuela, they call it Venezuela’s foreign policy within the frame of international balance. What follows are excerpts from that pivotal speech delivered by Pres. Chavez.
The first idea I want to expose, along with the greetings and regards, is to pay tribute to Mother Africa. From Latin America, from the Caribbean, we have been strengthening the conscience of our reality, of our history, of our origins, inspired there in Venezuela for the words, the libertarian and revolutionary ideas of Simon Bolivar, Liberator of the Americas.
Simon Bolivar said in 1815, while staying in the sister Republic of Jamaica, through his famous writing “La Carta de Jamaica” (Jamaica Letter), that southern Americans, Americans of dark skin, Americans from the Caribbean and Latin America are neither Europeans nor North Americans; we are rather a mixture of Africa and Indigenous America. Every day, we are becoming more aware of our African roots, of our Indigenous roots.
A few days ago, we were sharing with a great friend and brother, President of Bolivia, Evo Morales. We were there in the Bolivian Altiplano (high plateau), in the Tiwanaku, where pre-Columbian culture was settled, where we find the pyramids and the traces of a great civilization that existed in the American continent before the arrival of conquerers, of colonizers and empires. Civilizations such as the Aymara, Quechua, Inca, Aztec and Maya were prosperous original cultures of the Americas. But then, conquest, occupation, colonialism and genocide arrived. Nevertheless, a mixture with Africa was produced, a mixture with African Black race, a mixture of African root depth and Indigenous American root depth; and here we are, half-Indigenous, half-African. Therefore, I have come to pay a tribute to our Mother Africa.
Secondly, I shall express our happiness for being invited to be here. We are grateful and honored since you have invited Venezuela, a country that is conducting a revolution, a country that is conducting a revolution, a country that got tired of being dominated and exploited by North American empire, a country that has said, “Stop!” We have broken the chains, and so we are building a new project.
From Venezuela, we bring a message of solidarity with African resistance. Centuries of resistance, since those years when more than 15 million of Africans were taken from here to America, aboard the sadly famous slave ships. Since those tragic years, Africans have been resisting; first, the old colonialism; and now, a new way of colonialism. May Africa receive our words of solidarity and our commitment of being every day even more closer to this continent, in order to search for ways of integration, liberation and development.
TOGETHER DURING THE THIRD WAVE: AFRICA IS NOT POOR
Africa is not a poor continent. How can Africa be poor having oil, diamonds, cobalt, wide forests, all kinds of minerals and, above all, the accumulated, deep and millennial wisdom of its people? Africa is not poor. It is just that colonialist nations applied brutal methods of exploitation, domination and looting.
After 300 years of colonialism in America, a wave was unleashed: revolution, of independence for our nations. In the 19th century, the first wave came to Latin America and the Caribbean; in the 20th century, the second wave came to Africa, along with the liberation of Africa and the birth of African republics. Now, in the beginning of the 21st century, we must impel the third wave, and, in that third wave, we must be together: Latin America and the Caribbean, along with Africa, brother continents, sharing the same roots, magic, music and hope.
Only together we will be able to change the course of the world. This world is threatened by the North American empire’s hegemony, which intends to get rid of the world. Only together, from our conscience, our courage, our will, we will achieve what Simon Bolivar, the Liberator, called “the universal balance,” a pluripolar world.
Africa has everything to become a pole of power in the 21st century. Latin America and the Caribbean have everything to become another pole of power. They have everything to stop being dependent in the future, to stop being underdeveloped, slaved and colonized. So I believe this century can be the time for the real union, unity for the African peoples, for the Arab peoples, for the Latin American peoples.
VENEZUELAN PROPOSALS FOR AFRICA AND THE SOUTH
Integration and union cannot only be built with words and beautiful speeches, we have to dare to build union; and every process of unity affects the imperialistic interests, affects hegemonic interests and affects the interests of foreign companies, which constitute real instruments of colonialism.
From Venezuela, we have designed some ideas that begin to become real, but those ideas are not only for South America nor for Latin America. I think those ideas can be applied in South world, in Africa, since you are progressing some projects that could be fused.
An example of this is PETROSUR. Venezuela has one of the world’s biggest oil reserves. We got tired of feeding “Count Dracula” with Venezuela oil, Count Dracula’s fangs looting Venezuelan richness. Nowadays, Venezuela is free and we have recovered the management of our oil. Oil is a powerful instrument for social development, education, health, employment, agriculture, the life of peoples. As oil was used for others to colonize us, now it is being used for us to set us free.
Africa has, if I have clear numbers, almost 15 percent of world’s oil reserves. Africa has wide oil reserves. Here, foreign companies either do not pay oil royalties or pay very little–five percent of three percent. That is looting! In Venezuela, these companies pay 30 percent as oil royalty by each barrel they lift; and also 50 percent of income tax… and even in that way, those foreign companies earn money!
What good would make the creation of a commission to articulate oil, gas (and) petrochemical energetic strategy! Africa and Latin America are energetic powers. Let’s put in motion the PETROSUR project and we will experience miracles in the short-term. This is about economic independence and the thrust towards development.
Another idea I would like to propose is about the Television Corporation of the South. This already exists in South America, Latin America and the Caribbean, TELESUR. We could link this to Africa. My third proposal is the Bank of the South. The African Union has created the African Development Bank, an African financial fund. I consider it is necessary to join efforts between Latin America and Africa and create the Bank of the South, a bank for development, for the poor, for progress–not a bank to exploit the poor and loot peoples.
The University of the South (is) a project for development, for training our young people, for preparation, for integral development, for training physicians, who are so necessary both in Africa and Latin America; for training petroleum engineers, agricultural technicians, so that they can develop irrigation, technology, medicine systems.
Ali Primera, a Venezuelan singer, said: “llanto con fuego es vapor, vapor con fuego no es na, se va. Como lluvia, volvera para comenzar la siembra.” (Crying with fire becomes steam, steam with fire is nothing, it is dissolved; as rain it will come back to start seeding.)
Let’s dry, with the sacred fire of our conscience, the tears of Africa, the tears of Latin America. With the sacred fire of our courage and country along with the sacred fire of love of our peoples, the crying of our centuries comes back (as) rain to start the 21st century’s seeding. So Africa can live, so Latin America can live, so Arabia can live, so Iran can live, so the world can live with freedom and equality. Good afternoon and thank you very much, Sisters. Thank you very much, Brothers.