The Global South and China are the main forces of progressive world development

Conference at the Samuel Robinson Institute for Original Thought (Venezuela)

By Brian Adams

On 6 December Venzuela successfully held elections to its legislative assembly. The US de facto admitted in advance that the ‘Chavista’ forces supporting President Nicolás Maduro would win a majority. That is why both the US and its so called ‘president’ Juan Guaidó, who does not control a centimetre of Venezuelan territory, called for people not to vote – if they had thought they would win they would have participated. Given the US sanctions against Venezuela this was a victory for the Venezuelan people.

A large number of observers were invited by the Venezuelan government to the legislative election. One of these was Vijay Prashad, the Director of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research. On 4 December Prashad spoke at a public meeting with Delcy Rodriguez the Vice President of Venezuela. The Venezuelan government website’s report of this meeting is below.

This meeting and its participants clearly illustrates the main trend in world politics. In the advanced imperialist countries, the ‘West’, the working class is sharply on the defensive. Left political currents, such as Bernie Sanders and the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, have suffered overall defeats – despite individually inspiring events such as the mass rise of the US Black Lives Matter movement. The right wing is now firmly in control of both the Democratic and Labour Parties. In France Macron has launched a virulent Islamophobic campaign. In Germany the SPD has been reduced to its lowest level of support since World War. In Eastern Europe extreme right-wing and racist forces are on the offensive in a series of countries. These right-wing attacks in ‘Western’ countries are likely to increase given the failure of the labour movement to stop the huge medical and economic attack launched against it around Covid19.

But in developing and socialist countries, and in the interaction between them. the situation is very different. Unlike most countries in Latin America, where Covid19 is out of control, Cuba has been successful in containing the virus. China and Vietnam have not merely come through Covi19 with success unmatched in capitalist countries, but their economies are already growing rapidly again. On the projections of the IMF China alone will account for 60% of world economic growth in 2020-21.

This dramatic economic growth in turn directly affects developing countries interactions with China. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), comprised chiefly of the main East Asian developing countries, has replaced the US and EU as China’s largest trading partner. The US suffered a serious recent setback with the signing by 15 countries, including China, of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). This the world’s largest trading bloc, comprising 30% of the world’s population and GDP. RCEP’s signature was a direct rebuff to US initiatives. The US has put great resources into trying to create tension between Vietnam and China, but it so happened that in the period leading to the signing of RCEP Vietnam held the rotating chair of ASEAN – placing it in an ideal place to attempt to slowdown or block RCEP if it had wanted to. But instead, Vietnam facilitated the signing of the agreement – and was praised by figures in China for doing so. Similarly, the US has put huge effort into trying to stir up tension in the South China Sea – but every major country in the South China Sea signed RCEP.

In Latin America the left has still not recovered from the effect of defeats of the ‘pink tide’ in countries such as Brazil and Ecuador, but recent events show left recovery in some countries in the continent – the left continues to hold power in Venezuela and the recent general election was a great victory for the left in Bolivia. But these struggles overlap with those in socialist countries – politically because of the long term key role of Cuba in the Latin American left and increasingly because of the global weight of China. This latter feature is shown in the speeches by Delcy Rodriguez and Vijay Prashad reported below.

This increasing overlap of the situation in Latin America and China illustrates in the most graphic fashion the uselessness, indeed the directly reactionary character, of slogans such as ‘Neither Washington nor Beijing’ – put forward chiefly by parts of the left in imperialist countries. The US is directly attempting to overthrow the Venezuelan government, it was behind the coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia, every day it is working to suppress the forces of progress in Latin America. China is the main external economic aid and partner of the Venezuelan government, it is the chosen strategic partner for Bolivia in developing and building upon its key resources. To equate ‘Washington and ‘Beijing’ in that situation, as do some forces in the imperialist countries, is pure political nonsense – but very dangerous nonsense for the left and progressive forces in Latin America. The platform and speeches below instead show very clearly the situation in Latin America and the global ‘South’ more generally.

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Report of the public meeting of Delcy Rodriguez, Vice President of Venezuela, and Vijay Prashad on the eve of the Venezuelan legislative elections

What will happen this 6 December in Venezuela is not just any election, it is not just the formality of going to vote. It occurs in a context where the exercise of sovereignty by the Venezuelan people – which has been threatened, viciously attacked, criminally blocked – has become an expression of emancipation in the face of the powers that want to subdue it. These were the words of Venezuela’s Vice President, Delcy Rodríguez, speaking on 4 December.

These remarks were part of her intervention at the conference ‘Crisis and Challenges of Democracy in the Multipolar Era’, organized in Venezuela’s capital Caracas by the Samuel Robinson Institute for Original Thought, which also included the participation of the Director of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research, Vijay Prashad.

Delcy Rodriguez described the parliamentary elections as exemplary for the world because the people will stand up in national union to express themselves at the polls, despite the economic war, the threats, the attempts at political destabilization, assassinations and mercenary invasion.

Likewise, she expressed that there is also a national sentiment to go out to vote consciously as a pronouncement against the blockade and the unilateral coercive measures imposed by the United States Government – which have cruelly caused much suffering to the Venezuelan people and which the Venezuelan State has denounced as crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court.

She recalled that these coercive measures began with a decree of 2015 that declared Venezuela was a threat to the national security of the United States. ‘The Bolivarian Model is a threat to the Monroe model of imperialist expansion and territorial occupation, invasions, power to have control over the wealth of the entire planet – but we are not a threat to the peace of any people,’ declared the Vice President.

In her speech, she also detailed the model built by Venezuela to face and block the contagious curve of development of COVID-19, a pandemic that ‘has been a turning point’ and that leaves the lesson of the crisis of the capitalist model – which does not guarantee universal access to health care or the right to life of peoples.

For his part, Vijay Prashad expanded on the conflict between the United States and China over world economic power, stating that the Chinese Foreign Ministry has clarified that they are not interested in becoming the next superpower, but that they are committed to multipolarity, and for integrated regions that can become poles of development.

The member of the Progressive International asserted that the elite of the US is concerned by the development achieved by China in science and technology, and therefore sees it as an existential threat to US global economic dominance.

Prashad specified that as the US did in Vietnam and Iraq, it wants to impose a war on Venezuela  because it refuses to recognize that the days of supremacy are numbered. He also stated that the imposition of a hybrid war on the Venezuelan Bolivarian nation is not only because of oil, but because its people have decided for independence and political sovereignty. ‘What defines the conflict in Venezuela is that you have said: “We are not going to give up.”’.

Gustavo Borges, director of the Samuel Robinson Institute, argued that we are ‘two days away from a very special event for the history of the Republic, as it is about to establish a turning point to move towards a new political cycle – one in which we hope that conditions begin to change from now on as a result of the reconditioning, vigour and strengthening of Venezuelan democracy. ‘

He added that the recently created Samuel Robinson Institute seeks reflection and exchange of opinions to ensure that the country advances from its defensive position, imposed on it, to establish meeting points ‘that allows us to go together towards an offensive situation in the intellectual, political and philosophical spheres – because we understand and believe that there is a new world moment, one in which Venezuela has been a protagonist during the last 20 years.’

This article originally appeared in Spanish on the website of the Venezuelan government.