by Dada Maheshvarananda From an impoverished family, Hugo Chávez joined the army for a chance to play baseball, but soon came to love the service that gave the opportunity for advancement to anyone based on hard work and performance. Disgusted by the corruption, censorship and human rights abuses of the Venezuelan government, the young officer started a secret organization in the military, the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement-200 (MBR-200), to overthrow the dictatorship. As one of the most popular teachers in the Venezuelan Military Academy, he recruited young officers for ten years. Caught red-handed twice and brought before a tribunal for subversion, Chávez managed to brazenly talk his way out of the charges both times. He was so successful that by the time he led a coup d’état in 1992 to overthrow President Carlos Andrés Pérez, he had 130 officers and nearly 900 soldiers under his command, approximately ten percent of the Venezuelan military.
Though the rebels came within a few meters of capturing Pérez, they failed. The military high command arrested Chávez and ordered him to tell the rest of his men to lay down their arms. Wearing his military uniform and red paratrooper beret, this unknown lieutenant-colonel was put in front of live television cameras for 72 seconds so that he could order all his men to surrender. What he said electrified the nation. Invoking the liberation hero Simón Bolívar, Chávez assumed full responsibility for the failure, which almost no Venezuelan leader had ever done before. Then he said that the objectives of this movement were not achieved "for now". As he went to prison, he had suddenly become a national hero to millions who realized that these soldiers were not hungry for power, rather they were risking their lives to save their country. A group of 62 retired generals ran full-page advertisements in newspapers attacking the government and supporting the coup leaders. In his cell Chávez began receiving hundreds of letters a week from supporters.
[caption id="attachment_2421" align="alignright" width="199"] Proutist Universal, 2002[/caption] By Saul Escobedo
More than ten years ago, someone recommended a book to me: After Capitalism: Prout's Vision for a New World by Dada Maheshvarananda. The book was written in English, a language which I didn’t know too well, but after thumbing through it, I decided to buy it.
The term “cooperative” in Monterrey, Mexico where I live, means a small convenience store at a public school where students can purchase primarily junk food if their parents send them off without a home-made lunch. Sometimes the word is also used to mean a pyramid scheme or something similarly dishonorable that no one should trust.
Until that moment I was a firm believer that the capitalist system represented the pinnacle of civilization. Suddenly “cooperativism” appeared to me as a viable alternative movement, upholding the values I’ve always embraced, including the wellbeing of every individual as well as of the entire community.
[caption id="attachment_2745" align="alignright" width="750"] From left to right, Front row: Jesus Medina, Nivia Clavijo Cruz, Asha (Araceli Collazo) and Rafa Cantú. Back row: Alberto Barrera, Saul Escobedo, Francisco Rios, Luz Elena Góngora, Isabel Cristina Reséndiz Briseño, Mateo Rangel.[/caption] Read More
ReLOVEutionaries— "Sueño Para Venezuela". Here's the music video of our debut song, "Dream for Venezuela", from our new album that we made on 01/04/15. The lyrics were composed to uplift the spirits of the people, and in fact it's becoming quite popular in Caracas. We want to share it with you. With Sélène Viallard, Thales Fortes, and Alejandro Balan. Please click and listen! Read More
Former Prout volunteer Sascha Bercovitch was awarded the prestigious Hoopes Prize for outstanding scholarly research in his undergraduate thesis: "THE BOLIVAR ARCHIVE: Politicizing the Past in Venezuela, 1962-2010" by Alexander Philip Bercovitch, thesis submitted to Harvard University for his degree in Latin American History. Download the pdf file, 148 pages. Dada Maheshvarananda says, "This is a really great work. Clear, well-written, it packs a lot of Venezuelan history and politics into this fascinating story." And the best news of all, in our opinion, is that Sascha is returning to Venezuela for another year! Harvard has given him a fellowship to study the political processes in the Caracas barrios from mid July 2014 to July 2015. Read More
“Diagnosis and Perspectives of the Social and Solidarity Economy of Venezuela: Where are we and where are we going?” by Elvy Monzant, Dean of the School of Communication at the University Cecilio Acosta de Maracaibo, member of Gestión Participativa Cooperative. Listen to the English audio file or audio file in Spanish. - Read the original Spanish presentation with the charts. Read More
On April 2, 2015 PRIVEN Volunteer Sélène Viallard and I gave a one-hour interview about Prout and Venezuela via telephone from Caracas on independent community radio station KGNU in Boulder, Colorado, USA. The show was "It's The Economy", with brilliant host Liz Lane. At this link you can download the file or stream it mp3. Read More