By Sam McGill
Can you explain a little of the history of Indo Bolivarian Ecosocialism Forum? How did it begin and what are the projects and achievements so far?
The Forum for “Ecosocialismo Bolivariano Indoamericano” (Indo-American Bolivarian Ecosocialism) was organized as part of the World Peoples summit on Climate Change in Cochabamba in April 2010. The forum arose from our interest to demonstrate internationally that there has been work in Venezuela to strengthen socialism. For us “Bolivarian ecosocialism” is a term that is synonymous with 21st Century Socialism. This socialism is ours, endogenous, and is based on transforming collective consciousness to establish new relationships within society and with the environment.
This work to develop Bolivarian ecosocialism has been strengthened since 2008. Between the Venezuelan Parliamentary Group of the Latin American Parliament and ANROS, we have organized a range of events. These events have been carried out with the participation of various communities organized from the base, who are interested in solving environmental problems arising from their communities, including national issues. The results of these meetings have been the diagnosis of problems coupled with proposals for action. We have systematized this information and already begun a monitoring process.
In Cochabamba, we used the term “Indoamericano” to emphasize that we should look at our relationship with Mother Earth from the view point of indigenous communities. However in Venezuela we prefer to use Bolivarian Ecosocialism, as this term implicitly includes people not only of indigenous communities but also of African descent and other cultures that make up the population of Venezuela.
You mentioned the creation of a new national project “Mision Madre Tierra” (Mother Earth Mission). Can you outline the proposed work of this new mission?
What are the plans for future projects and work after the summit in Cochabamba?
Cochabamba was a stimulus, an additional motivation to keep going, what comes now is action. We have planned and organized enough events and meetings to make diagnoses and develop proposals, now the challenge to act and achieve is great and should be assumed by everyone; communities, government agencies, universities, i.e., all actors of society. We are particularly trying to organize all this work we have accumulated in the last two years, splitting it into short, medium and long term and strategic areas. In this way we can better see which proposals and actions lie with who or whom, sharing the work and commitment within different groups and communities to motivate and achieve the proposals. The real challenge is to track all actions.
How does the work relate to government institutions and initiatives?
If I speak on behalf of the ANROS, our work for nine years has been hand in hand with the government. We are constantly articulating our actions with various governmental agencies, particularly since our organization is non-profit; the government gives us great support in funding our activities. So our helping hand has been and will continue to be state institutions, through this sound relationship we have made progress.
What do you think about the mixed enterprise ventures and new contracts for PDVSA in the Orinoco Belt to exploit oil?
The Orinoco Belt has been studied as one of the largest oil reserves in the world, but this oil is a major pollutant. However, it is also our main current economy. While strengthening the diversification of the economy, we are aware that we must continue to extract and export this resource to further advance the socialist programs. Many of the social programs in Venezuela including free healthcare and education are funded directly from oil revenue.
How is ANROS, PDVSA and the government working with the peoples of the Orinoco (indigenous and others) to preserve the forest and biodiversity in this region?
We as ANROS, as Venezuelans are supporting initiatives such as the "Plan Caura" in which the government is solving the problem of invasion of more than 3,000 illegal gold miners at one of the largest forest reserves and national parks in our country. This great initiative looks not only to solve the social problems of the area, but also to initiate plans for ecological restoration in all areas that were devastated by illegal mining. Also, along with a state enterprise, we are supporting indigenous and community organizations to organize socialist training workshops for various community stakeholders in these areas and the Orinoco belt.
Sam McGill writes for Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (www.revolutionarycommunist.org).