By Hugo Chavez
“I won’t tire of repeating that we are one people. We are obliged to find one another, going beyond formality and discourse, in the same feeling of our unity” – Hugo Chavez
Caracas, February 22, 2013
Late Venezuelan president’s letter to the participants of the Third Africa-South America Summit, Equatorial Guinea, February 2013.
Brothers and Sisters,
Please receive my most fervent Bolivarian greeting of unity and solidarity, filled with all my joy and hope for the progression of this long-awaited Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of South America and Africa.
From the bottom of my heart, I truly regret that I cannot be physically present to reiterate my irrevocable commitment to the unity of our nations once more, in a sincere and everlasting embrace. I am there with you, however, represented by the Chancellor of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, comrade Elías Jaua Milano, whom I have asked to convey the deepest expression of my love for these continents, which are more than brethren, united by inseparable historic ties, and destined to move forward together towards their full and absolute redemption.
I say this from the depths of my consciousness; South America and Africa are one single people. The depth of the social and political reality of our continent can only be understood, within the womb of the vast African territory, from which I am sure that humanity originates. And from Africa, originate the components and codes that make up the cultural, musical and religious syncretism of our America, creating a unity between our peoples that is not only racial, but also spiritual.
Similarly, the empires of the past, guilty of kidnapping and murdering millions of daughters and sons of Mother Africa, as a means of feeding an exploitative slave system in their colonies, implanted the seeds of African warrior blood and fighting spirit in our America, which produced the burning desire for freedom. Those seeds germinated and our land engendered men as grand as Toussaint Louverture, Alexandre Pétion, José Leonardo Chirino and Pedro Camejo, among many others, resulting in the initiation of an independentist, unionist, anti-imperialist and restorative process in Latin America and the Caribbean, over 200 years ago.
Then in the twentieth century, came Africa’s libertarian struggles. Her independences, her new neocolonial menaces, her heroes and martyrs: Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral and Nelson Mandela just to mention a few.
Those that conquered us in the past, blinded by their hunger for power, did not realise that the barbaric colonialism they imposed on us would become the catalyst of our first independences. Thus, whilst Latin America and the Caribbean share a past history of oppression and slavery, today more than ever, we are the children of our liberators and their heroic deeds. We can and must say with conviction and resolve, that this unites us in the present, in a vital struggle for the freedom and definitive independence of our nations.
I won’t tire of repeating that we are one people. We are obliged to find one another, going beyond formality and discourse, in the same feeling of our unity. Together we must dedicate ourselves to creating conditions that allow us to rescue our peoples from the maze they were thrown into, first by colonialism and then by the neoliberal capitalism of the twentieth century.
For this reason, I wish to now recall two great fighters for South-South cooperation, the former Presidents of Brazil and Tanzania, Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva and Julius Nyerere respectively, whose contributions and efforts over time enabled the formation of this great forum for solidarity and complementary cooperation, such as ASA .
However, the times that we are currently living in oblige us to give our deepest, most urgent consideration to the effort needed in order to transform ASA into a truly productive apparatus for sovereignty and development in social, economic, political, productive and environmental spheres.
It is in our continents that sufficient natural, political and historical resources can be found, which are necessary to save the planet from chaos that has been brought about. We must not miss today’s opportunity provided by the independentist sacrifice of our forefathers, to unify our capabilities to turn our nations into authentic centres of power which, to quote our father Simon Bolívar the Liberator, would be greater for their freedom and glory than for their extent and riches.
Always resonant in my soul and conscience are the words of the incommensurable Uruguayan General José Gervasio Artigas; ‘We cannot expect anything, if not from ourselves.’ I believe that this deeply profound thought contains a great truth that we must accept, with absolute certainty.
Our South-South partnership must be an authentic and permanent joint effort that must thwart their plans for sustainable development of the Global South, of our nations.
While in no way denying our sovereign relations with the Western powers, we must remember that these are not the source of comprehensive and definitive solutions to the problems that our countries share. Far from it, some of them have neocolonial designs on us that threaten the stability we have begun to strengthen our continents.
Sisters and brothers, for this Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of ASA, I want to evoke the spirit of fraternity, unionism and willpower that drove the development of that wonderful Second Summit on Margarita Island in Venezuela, which allowed us to unanimously take on the commitments of the Declaration of Nueva Esparta. With much faith, I sincerely hope that here in Malabo we might achieve the same momentum and performance of that extraordinary moment for our unity process, the Summit of 2009, as demonstrated as much by massive appeal as by the quantity and substance of the agreements reached.
Today from Venezuela, we renew our firmest commitment to strengthening the Permanent Secretariat of the Strategic Presidential Table of ASA and its main tasks and functions, so as to accelerate the pace of consolidation in our institutional framework, and thus achieve greater efficiency in our collaborative work.
With much pain and regret, I am sorry that our work, formally initiated in 2006, has been interrupted by the imperial forces that still seek to dominate the world. It’s neither by luck nor by chance, and I say it with full responsibility, that since the Summit on Margarita, the African continent has been the victim of multiple interventions and attacks by Western powers.
Among the main objectives of the various imperial invasions and bombings, dismissing any chance for peaceful political solutions to internal conflicts that began in some African nations, were impeding the process of consolidating unity among African peoples, and consequently, undermining the progress of their union with Latin American and Caribbean peoples.
Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, neocolonial strategy has been to divide the world’s most vulnerable nations, so as to subject them to an enslaving relationship of dependency. For that reason Venezuela was radically opposed to the foreign military intervention in Libya from the outset. For that very same reason today, Venezuela reaffirms her absolute rejection of all NATO interventionist activity.
Facing the extra-regional threat to the advancement and deepening of our South-South cooperation, I quote the words of Bolívar in his letter from Jamaica in 1815; ‘union, union, union, must be our ultimate slogan’. In this Third ASA Summit held in our sister Republic of Equatorial Guinea, our Government renews its absolute willingness to progress in the work required to strengthen our partnership in areas that I personally suggested during our last summit, on beautiful Margarita Island.
Energy, education, agriculture, finance and communication remain our priorities, for which we reiterate our approach to making progress in concrete initiatives such as PetroSur, the University of the People’s of the South, or the Bank of the South, just to mention a few.
In the area of communications, from Venezuela we propose that TeleSUR, the effort we have succeeded in developing in conjunction with other South American countries, be coordinated with Africa from these latitudes, in order to enable it to meet its main function: to connect the peoples of the world to one another and to bring them the truth and reality of our countries.
Finally, I want to reaffirm my wish that the results obtained in this Third ASA Summit will allow us to gain our definitive independence, living up to modern demands and as the Liberator would say, bringing the greatest amount of happiness for our peoples.
I am thoroughly and absolutely convinced that we will succeed in this cause of centuries, entrusted to us by our liberators and martyrs, the millions of our women and men given up in sacrifice for their total and absolute liberty. I quote the words of the infinite Father once again, our Liberator Simón Bolívar: ‘We must expect a lot from time; its vast womb contains more hopes than past events, and future events must surpass those gone by’.
Let us march then towards our togetherness and definitive independence. Paraphrasing Bolívar once more, I say; let us form one homeland, one continent, one people at all costs, and everything else will be tolerable.
Long live the South American and African union!
Long live ASA!
Ever onwards to victory!
We will live on and we will succeed!
Commandant Hugo Chávez Frías
This letter was translated from French for Pambazuka News by Natasha da Silva.
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