President Chavez's recent visit to the United Nations on September 15th caused a major commotion in the United States. First of all, the Bush administration tried to block and delay the visit, so that Chavez’s appearance would not coincide with Bush’s at the United Nations. Most of Chavez's entourage (doctors, media, security personnel) spent four days locked up in the presidential plane at a military airfield 200 miles away from New York City, in a clear diplomatic provocation.
But when Chavez finally spoke at the UN assembly he delivered a very powerful and damning speech. The main thrust of it was that the United Nations did not work and could not be reformed. However, he added that in the meantime three measures should be taken as a matter of urgency: the abolition of the right of veto in the Security Council, the inclusion of countries from the South on the council, and to move the UN outside of the United States since this was the country that had violated the most UN resolutions! This was certainly the most shocking thing that had been heard in the meeting rooms of the UN in a long time. When the chair of the session tried to cut his speech short, Hugo Chavez replied, "I understand that President Bush spoke for 20 minutes here yesterday, so I will finish my speech". Chavez was also instrumental in denouncing the manoeuvre organised to get a resolution on the Millennium Goals passed. He explained how only a small group of 35 countries (excluding Cuba and Venezuela) had been involved in the drafting of the document and that most heads of state had only received a copy, in English, five minutes before it was supposed to be passed by acclamation without a vote. You can read a full transcript of the speech in English and Spanish, and you can also listen to it in Spanish.
President Chavez then had some meetings with the community in South Bronx. At a packed meeting with more than 2000 trade union and community leaders and activists he reiterated that "we are convinced that the road to hell is the road of capitalism... in Venezuela we are trying to build a new socialism, a XXI century socialism... a socialist democracy". He explained how he originally thought that one could have capitalism with a human face, but that "today, after seven years of revolution, and having travelled around the world ... and having read and having seen what I have read and seen in this seven years, I am now convinced that on the road of capitalism it is not possible to save the world". He then repeated his offer to supply cheap heating fuel to the poor communities in the United States so that poor people would not die of cold during the winter. He offered to do this through CITGO, the US subsidiary of the Venezuelan state-owned company PDVSA. He insisted that he was in favour of the real unity of the Americas, not based on the Free Trade Agreement being pushed by the Bush administration, but rather, unity based on the unity of the peoples, unity from below. You can read the full speech in Spanish on the Ministry of Communication and Information website.
During the trip Chavez also gave two very important interviews to the US media. One to Democracy Now! the network of community TV and radio stations, in which he discussed many issues, including global warming, the aftermath of Katrina, imperialism, the war in Iraq, etc. He once again appealed to the people of the US, as opposed to the Bush administration, to play their necessary role in saving the planet. The alternative, Chavez said, is "like Rosa Luxemburg said: socialism or barbarism". You can read a transcript of the interview and watch the video on the Democracy Now! website where you can also purchase a DVD of it.
He was also interviewed on the popular Nightline programme on ABC News. Hugo Chavez very skilfully replied to the questions of Ted Koppel, and made it clear once again that Venezuela had a conflict with the US administration (which had participated in the April 2002 coup and tried several times to overthrow his government) but not with the US people. "We love the people of the United States, and our desire is to have a world of brothers in peace," he stressed. Chavez also condemned the hypocrisy of the so-called war on terror, and pointed out that fundamentalist preacher Pat Robertson had publicly called for his assassination and was still at large. A transcript of this very interesting interview can be read on the ABC website.These were a couple of days full of events in which the message of the Bolivarian Revolution was brought right to the belly of the beast, to the people who can play a key role in defeating imperialism - the working people of the US.