This is Part 2 of a two-part interview. Read the first part here.
A few days ago, the Communication Forum for the Integration of Our America conducted a collective interview to the executive secretary of ALBA TCP, David Choquehuanca, in its headquarters in the city of Caracas.
-What do you think are the concrete issues and initiatives where Social Movements Towards ALBA can coordinate with the governments of ALBA-TCP?
Look, we have to identify agendas for different moments. The problems that we have today are global, the problem of poverty is a global problem, the “problem” of migration is a global issue. All of these problems are global: no country, as developed as it may be, can handle these problems that capitalism has created for us in an isolated way, because today we live the consequences of the application of a model of capitalist development…and what do we have? We live the consequences of a model of capitalist development that has generated a global crisis of capitalism itself: poverty and exclusion, energy, food and financial crises and general disorder. Such that not only from the social movements, not only from the spaces of integration like ALBA, but from the states, from the social movements, from our people, from the indigenous people, from the universities, from the scientists, we must all agree on how to move forward, we must establish structures, we must identify a global agenda.
A global agenda where we deal with issues like climate change. What are we thinking about climate change? What is Social Movements Towards ALBA thinking about climate change? What are the universities in Uruguay saying about climate change? Or what are the Bolivian scientists saying? Who is coordinating work? Does it matter to us? Climate change is precisely one of the most worrying issues, even the presidents feel it and know it. These days they are in a meeting in Germany discussing how they will face climate change that is bringing us consequences, we are seeing fatal consequences and those that deal with the consequences are always our people. So we must work on the issue of climate change, we cannot neglect it, we must be worried, we must create proposals in a global way, we have to generate movements in all parts of the world. We have identified that not just us but the experts in all countries have identified capitalism as one of the causes of the climate change, the capitalist model. How can we work on the global agenda? How can we continue advancing in relation to the rights of mother earth? Thanks to the resistance of our people, like how the kunas of Panama have protected Abya Yala, but not for them but for all of us, the Pachamama also protects the Aimaras and other people. Pachamama, Mother Earth in balance, the same was Abya Yala has resisted colonialism throughout centuries. The word Pachamama resisted the invasion of colonialism, of capitalism, it has been protected by the indigenous people of Bolivia and when an indigenous person arrives to the presidency, he brings it to the UN. The word of the Pachamama does not go from the academia, but from resistance, from our farms, from our mountains, from our coca. The word Pachamama travels to the United Nations. Who brings it? A warrior of the rainbow called Evo Morales. And he convinces them. More than 190 countries. He tells them “when we are talking about the land of the planet we are not talking about something that does not feel, that does not think, we are not talking about an object, we are not talking just about earth, it is not only planet earth, it is Pachamama, it is Mother Earth.” In the United Nations, to adopt a universal declaration they have a team behind them, they don’t engage emotionally, they have a whole support system, their technical teams, their experts, give recommendations and from there the countries have adopted April 22 as the International Mother Earth Day. It is not just planet, it is Mother Earth. And from this the United Nations gave a mandate to the general secretary so that they would do an annual report, there is a resolution so that they bring an annual report about the jurisprudence and the advances about the rights of Mother Earth. Today in the United Nations they are discussing the rights of the Mother Earth. As we have started as indigenous people to discuss the rights of indigenous people, which has taken 30 years. This issue is discussed in a space, not marginal, but that was called “indigenous questions”. The states were not driven to discuss these things, so the discussion happened in this space, but we did it. Today we are with the rights of Mother Earth.
Other global issue that we should work on is the human right to water, we have to expand it. The water is the milk of mother earth, with which we feed ourselves every day as human beings, that is why it is sacred for indigenous communities. But not only does it feed human beings, but plants and animals. The United Nations also passed a declaration of water as a human right, but not only do human beings have this right. We should work on the human right to water and the right of nature to water.
We have to continue advancing, we have to have initiative, we have to wake up this rebellious spirit we have inside. We do not have to let the universities educate us, universities have educated us very well, they have made us obedient and submissive. We have to rebel, we have to wake up our larama, as we say in Aimara. What is lamara? Lamara means “rebel with wisdom”, all of us have it inside sleeping, we have to wake it up and not react to what they are doing, but we must have initiative and contribute in different spaces to global problems: climate change, right of Mother Earth, human rights, and the nature of water and discuss the “chaosmos” that capitalism has generated.
The global crisis of capitalism has generated “chaosmos”: disorder in the cosmos. There is disorder world-wide and every day even the capitalists say it. Everyone talks about a new world order, those who are the puppet masters also talk about a new world order, Monsanto also says it wants a new world order, where the seed is controlled by them and us in the south have to work because we live in a world disorder, we live the chaosmos. We have to return to our cosmos and on a regional level it is important to work on the integration, it is important to work on unity, they are several issues that we have as a challenge in the future.
-This November 6 the military exercise “America United” was started in the triple border between Brazil, Colombia and Peru, driven by the USA with participation from these three countries. One could consider that the operation constitutes a potential threat to Venezuela, given the strategy of the United States towards this country, that they have already said could include a military intervention. Given that Latin America and the Caribbean have been declared as a “Peace Zone”, What do the countries of ALBA propose to prevent this threat?
We always react to what is happening. It seems as if we have lost the capacity to take initiative. We, as people, as social movements, as leaders, as political organizations or as progressive or revolutionary countries. We are always reacting, we don’t take initiative. I said, before voting happened in the United Nations rejecting the embargo against Cuba, that we should take initiative. The same United Nations should take an initiative, instead of always being attentive to these militar exercises that have been a threat to Venezuela and for our region. Everything that is related to weapons, everything related to the war, is a threat to humanity. Instead of wasting time with this, we should generate a program, a project implemented from the UN to install a capacitation program of alphabetization for the US. What the US needs is a program so that yankees are alphabetized in human rights themes. We should take the initiative, why not? And wake that anti-imperialism that each and everyone of them carries within.
Every human being, in Europe and everywhere, rejects imperialism. Rejects war. So we must start working in these themes. Why not putting in practice a human rights alphabetization program in the US. And not just resigning to react before these threats. These exercises are being allowed in Peru, Colombia and Brazil, because these governments have lost their sovereignty. The rulers of these countries have lost sovereignty. They have taken distance from their people. A divorce is happening. They are not thinking in the well being of their peoples. And they have forgotten what our peoples want: our peoples want integration. Our peoples want brotherhood. Our peoples want us to guarantee peace for future generations in a conjoint way. And these exercises have nothing to do with the construction of peace and brotherhood. Nothing to do. We have to react, it can’t just get our attention or get worried by it. We have to wake our peoples, our social movements. But someone in Cuba used to say: “it is not enough to wake up, we have to organize our peoples”. We have to articulate ourselves, we have to share our preoccupations. We have to implement the principles that our ancestors have left us: the aruskipt’asipxañanakasakipunirakispawa. It is just one word, which means that we always have to dialogue, we must always communicate. This is what it is happening with these exercises: we have to communicate them to our peoples. On these themes and many other we must always dialogue.
These military exercises additionally give a context where Venezuela recovers. The Venezuelan people, the strong Venezuelan people react and start to defend their sovereignty. The Venezuelans opt for the path to resolve their problems between themselves, without interference. These policies of interference have failed with the installation of the Constituent Assembly, with the elections for governors and the announcement of elections for municipal governments. I think that they feel impotent because they don’t know the path that the US will follow. And surely they won’t write off the option of a military intervention and use these countries. It is a message for us that we cannot ignore, that we cannot not see as important. We must analyze it, discuss, share and organize ourselves.
– While looking at the advance of the right-wing in the continent, what is the biggest challenge for the progressive governments in these moments of neoliberal attack in the region?
The progressive governments, the left-wing governments, we come from the streets. We come from the same place as our people. What we have to do is return to the streets. We must not separate ourselves from our people. Look at what Lula is doing. Lula has returned to the streets. Dilma has to return to the streets. Correa has to return to the streets. And we must always listen to our people. Our people are wise. Not one leader, not one director is superior to our people. To know how to listen to our people.
Work the unity. Commit everyday more. And generating spaces of reflection, generating spaces of formation and of experience exchange, of knowledge recovery and communitary construction of our proposals. And to weave and articulate unity and integration. Defending our sovereignties. Being honest with our peoples, being sincere with our peoples.