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In response to the questions raised by the Mexican, Gerardo Fernández Casanova, the Leader of the Bolivarian Revolution indicated that Mexico has a key role in building a Latin American community. He pointed out that Mexico fixed its gaze more to the North, and sooner or later, on account of its culture and history, it has to look towards the Southern Cone.

The Empire is Contracting

Ramsay Clark, who worked in the US Attorney General Department during the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations, declared that today the biggest threat for humanity and for the well being of the world is the US’s immense power to destroy the planet with the huge quantity of nuclear weapons it has accumulated. And he added: here we have a military power superior to the power possessed by all other nations put together.

According to the speaker nominated to intervene in the workshop “A Meeting of Intellectuals and Artists in Defense of Humanity” with President Hugo Chavez, the lawyer who spoke “from the belly of the beast” assured that the world would be much better-off if the people of the United States had better judgment when they chose their leaders.

Recalling Martin Luther King, he indicated that the principal supplier of violence in the world is “my country”. He added that the dreamer never “imagined how, in the years following his death, violence was going to increase in his country”.

The former Attorney General gave a long account of the aggressions that the Bush Administration carried out against other nations and its own citizens. Nations, he declared, had the right to feel free from the threat of a US invasion.

In copious detail, he indicated how his country’s government does not respect UN resolutions; how it wanted to avoid an International Criminal Court being set up; but as it could not, refused to accept its jurisdiction. Most dramatically, he spoke of how prisoners live in Guantanamo. According to him, the message that the superpower sends to the world with images that account for them, is unambiguous: “Who so much dares to challenge us, just look at what we are doing in the military base.”

Bush’s warlike offensive, he denounced, has resulted in crimes injurious to humanity being committed, the same with the use of smart bombs and enriched uranium. Furthermore, this has resulted in “torture being carried out”.

Clark was also referred to the invasion and devastation of Iraq and the terrible and symbolic destruction of the city of Fallujah, converted into a tragic symbol at this time in history.

Introducing himself “as a lawyer that is not removed from crime and delinquency”, he deeply regretted the intervention in Haiti, exactly 200 years after it abolished slavery, to replace the elected government with a puppet. “Haitian people – he noted - are the ones that have suffered the most.”

From his point of view, the difference between what happened in Haiti in 2004 and the events in Venezuela in 2002 - the year of the coup d’etat against Hugo Chavez - is that in 2002 what the US wanted to work did not work”.

Finally, he qualified the Venezuelan president as a good man, an effective leader, something very difficult to find in other governments and capable of delivering to his people welfare, health and education.

The Hen and the Cook

The workshop, that took place this afternoon, tried to initiate dialogue between those participating at the meeting and the Venezuelan president. It was inaugurated by the writer Luis Brito García, winner of the National Prize for Literature. He gave a detailed account of the tasks necessary to defend humanity today:
• to put an end to the horrors of financial capitalism;
• to recognize the people’s right to determine their destiny;
• to resist the imposition of a single system of values;
• to drive economic freedom;
• to disseminate publish knowledge to everyone;
• to re-establish the principle of popular sovereignty,
• to avoid an information monopoly transforming into a monopoly over political power, and
• to defend history.
He concluded his intervention by recalling that a nightmare lasts only as long as you want it to.

Brito Garcia then read out a letter that Eduardo Galeano sent to the meeting. In it, the Uruguayan writer wrote to the participants: “The culture of dignity is the response to the culture of fear that currently is prescribed in the world”.

Galeano was recalled by Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as speakers appointed to intervene in the workshop. To illustrate the serious situation in which humanity is in, the Argentine defender of human rights, related a story to the author of Las venas abiertas de América Latina, during a voyage through Italy: “ “A cook has a small assembly in the kitchen. There were there a hen, a duck, and some piglets. And the cook says to them: I have called them to ask them a question: with what sauce do you want to be cooked. The poor little animals were gobsmacked. At that point the hen responds: “I do not want to be cooked”. “No, no”, responded the cook, “that is not in discussion. The only thing you can choose is the sauce with which you want to be cooked.”

What can prevent them cooking us all, added Pérez Esquivel, is resistance to building another possible world, to build a project for life against death, to build new spaces for freedom.

Loyal to the narrative style that he chose for his intervention, the Nobel [Prize Winner] recalled the recommendation of the Council of Elders in one African nation:
“If you do not know where you are going to, go back so that you know where you are coming from.”
And he concluded asking the participants: “Do we know where we are going to? What are our roots”?

The last speaker on the list of those that spoke before Hugo Chávez, the journalist and today Argentine MP, Miguel Bonasso, made some practical proposals to follow up the meeting.

So he suggested globalizing resistance in defense of humanity:
• building a network, under the responsibility of the hosts;
• establishing a foundation that produces informational and pedagogical materials;
• publishing a weekly publication;
• appointing an advisory committee; and
• driving the constitution of national chapters of the network.

Concerned by the accusations of US General James Hill, Chief of the Command for Latin America, aimed at uniting the Defence Forces and Security Forces of the nations of the hemisphere to combat “drug trafficking”, he called for national armies not to be converted into police and not to regress to the times of the doctrine of national security.

Furthermore, he dwelt on a matter discussed at different tables at the meeting:
• to break CNN’s information barrier in the area;
• to stand up to media monopolies that do not respect the right to information in the name of freedom of information; and
• to establish a Latin American television channel.

The Uprising is truncated

Rather than plotting the direction of his call to launch an offensive in defense of humanity, President Chavez presented an account of several actions that his government recently carried out. He proudly told the participants about a scholarship programme, granting the equivalent of 100 dollars per month to each beneficiary, to half a million persons in total.

Dressed in a military shirt, he indicated furthermore, that poverty and destitution are the most serious problems in the world and to combat them, “we must to empower the poor. They are their own liberators”.

He read and analysed in detail the most recent Latinobarómetro survey on support for democracy in Latin America. The poll showed full support to the Venezuelan government and to democracy in the country, as well as a rejection of using military solutions. Chávez abstained from commenting on the figures that he read, which shows different attitudes and opinions to those documented in other nations on the continent.

As he is accustomed to doing so in public presentations, he made extensive reference to the life and struggle of Simon Bolivar so as to extract a moral: the revolution that the leader headed almost 200 years ago was still imminent. What is being experienced today in Venezuela and other countries in the hemisphere is the reappearance of this insurgency that had been cut short.

To end the meeting, tens of participants of the 52 countries present at the meeting spoke, in many cases to express their solidarity, with the Venezuelan revolution.

At that point, on behalf of the 39 US citizens present at the event, a delegate read a document in which they requested putting an end to the aggressions the government of his country carried out against the democratically elected authorities in this South American nation, and they showed their solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution.

A part, by no means negligible, of progressive intelligentsia declared its love for a process with which it had several months ago had suspicions or distance. The honeymoon has begun.

Anoosha Boralessa