- Chico Mendes International Ecosocialist Front
The Chico Mendes International Ecosocialist Front is a worldwide organization promoting ecosocialism as a fundamental way to achieve a new relationship between workers of the world and between workers and nature. We believe that fundamental changes in cultural, social, political and economic aspects of our societies are overdue. Green capitalism is not only something impossible to achieve but also a false slogan to keep us quiet and obtain our acquiescence.
We would like to specially thank our comrades from “System Change not Climate Change” (http://systemchangenotclimatechange.org) and from Ecosocialist Horizons (http://www.ecosocialisthorizons.com) for their support and their struggle. It is specially important in the face of US and Canada economic sanctions and Trump’s threats of military action against Venezuela.
Please join our struggle by signing this petition. Become part of this collective effort. We believe that the grassroots movement together with progressive governments of the world can make a real difference.
Towards Chavez’s Ecosocialism
Proposals for the consideration of the Constituent National Assembly and the International Community
In spite of all the technological advances of the past decades, contemporary society continues to be misinformed about current and past events. For-profit media corporations share the same interests as the world’s main corporations. Together, they manage a domination scheme where the mass media becomes a successful business at the expense of keeping us, ignorant or at least, misinformed, about what is really happening all around us.
Therefore, how we relate to each other, the meaning of our lives, and humanity’s progress — in short the way we understand the world — is closely related to a distorted economic system. Today’s capitalist economies are based on financial speculation, the lust for wealth, and the belief that Earth’s resources are endless. This system tells us that even if some resource becomes exhausted (or very expensive to exploit hard to reach deposits), substitutes can easily be found, and can even be more cost-effective.
We have sacrificed the strength and spiritual growth of our societies to adopt the same beliefs and interests of the privileged minority of the world. This small group of powerful people has made us believe that this is the way things must work. We end up being part of a predatory culture currently destroying the environment and our societies.
We certainly have exhausted, or are close to depleting easily accessible important world resources. At the same time, billions of people live in poverty, we continue to spill many different toxic substances into our water, we send many different contaminants into the atmosphere, and erosion, deforestation, and use of pesticides and genetically modified plants harm our soils. Earth’s temperature is going up resulting in climate change … But for the world’s dominant minority this is not worrisome. The interest of the 1% of the population is focused on the stock market, on their luxurious lives, on their mansions, on how to keep power. They are living the great life. Why should they worry about the world and other human beings? They are the ones whose overwhelming greed is leading to the end the existence of the human race.
This dominant minority in the wealthy capitalist countries view “peripheral” countries in a similar way. They are understood to be just suppliers of raw resources and more wealth. If they try to get out of the geopolitical submission and dependency on dominating countries, they become the target of economic sanctions and smear campaigns in the mass media. That is the Venezuelan case. Both, the dirty economic war and the smear campaign, are affecting not just Venezuelan leaders, but the people of Venezuela in general.
There are historical factors that make it rather easy to wreck havoc in the economies of the Latin American dependent countries and in Venezuela’s economy in particular: the Spanish colonization; the defeat of Bolivar’s project for a unified and independent Latin America; social fragmentation; racism; lack of national identity; US political and military interventions; and so on. It has led some Venezuelans to individualism, to a save-yourself kind of mentality where the motherland lacks meaning.
Furthermore, Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy has had a negative impact on cultural, social, and ideological aspect of the society. But the main perverting force is the US political and cultural propaganda machine. US domination has had such profound effects in different aspects of the society that some Venezuelan politicians prioritize US interests above Venezuelan interests.
Latin America is also weary of military threats. US military invasions and covert actions have shaped Latin American History. So Venezuela takes rather seriously Trump’s recent military threat (Aug. 11, 2017) against the country. Already, on March 9, 2015, Obama issued an Executive Order declaring Venezuela an "unusual and extraordinary threat to the US.” Obama extended the Executive Order for another year in 2016.
2017 seemed to be the year for civil war and military invasion in Venezuela. Venezuelan political opposition group called “Mesa de la Unidad Democrática” (MUD) or “Democratic Unity Table” was ready to serve as the channel for war, in close alliance with the governments of the USA, Spain and other Western European countries, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Peru.
The stage was set. Venezuelan society has been politically polarized after a well orchestrated campaign of hate propaganda on social networks; discontent was high thanks to the sabotage of the economy; crime was high after Venezuelan criminal bands and Colombian paramilitary forces joined ranks. Behind the scenes was the full and unconditional support of the “free press”.
At the beginning of April 2017, MUD Mayors in different cities of the country were key to develop violent protests that took place, mostly, within the territorial pockets under their control. They also have the General Prosecutor, Luisa Ortega, as a partner in the plot.
The plan was to use violence, to kill people from both the MUD and government side, to generate confrontation and at the same time a violent response on the part of the government. In parallel, a mass media and social network campaign would denounce the Venezuelan government as a human rights violator, and as a dictatorship. All the while, the criminals inflicting havoc on Venezuela’s streets would be represented as heroes. Soon enough, like magic, Venezuela’s war was going to start, with opposition militants getting the assistance of the US Air Force, and the Colombian regular and irregular (paramilitary) armies.
Heinous crimes started quickly. Opposition militants began to stab and set dark-skin people on fire—killing them—because of the color of their skin (In Venezuela, poor people are often the ones with dark skin); they also started assassinating their own militants during street protests. A small number of policemen, disobeying government orders, brought their weapons to protests and shot and killed armed militants during violent protests. (This is common in other countries but it is not legal in this context in Venezuela). They were immediately prosecuted.
In general, the Venezuelan government did not fall in the retaliation trap and, happily, war never started. Police forces used mostly tear gas and water canons to contain and repel violent and armed protests, not bullets as the warmongers expected. MUD-violence lasted 120 days; it took one hundred and thirty one lives (based on Ciudad-Caracas newspaper numbers). It also caused hundreds of people to suffer serious injuries. Damages to Venezuelan cities reached billions of dollars.
The war-plot only ended, when massive numbers of people, tired of opposition actions and crimes, went out to vote in August 30, 2017. A clear majority of the Venezuelan people, ducked bullets, crossed rivers on foot, and through many different actions confronted and defeated the terrorist plot that lasted 120 days. That day, they set in motion, through universal, direct, and secret vote, the creation of a Constituent National Assembly (CNA).
Venezuela has proud people that, with dignity and hard work, carry on the struggle based on ideas of Simon Bolivar, Hugo Chavez, Francisco de Miranda, and other important world-leaders. Venezuela is fortunate to have important energy resources and biodiversity. They generate a geo-strategic scenario that provides Venezuelans with possibilities and contradictions at all levels. This scenario guides Venezuelans to partake in the definition of that possible society they want to build today and in shaping up the Venezuela of the future. They dream of overcoming Spanish colonial domination, US imperialism domination, and the wrong values with which dependent capitalism has infected the spirit of many Venezuelans.
What is left to them? Should they surrender? Should they wait until the changing environment strikes them with a cataclysm of unknown proportions and then be happy to be part of the survivors? Or should they start to act right now to heal the planet’s wounds; to establish a new culture based on the rational use of the limited and finite resources available in the planet; to shape social, economic, cultural, and political systems and models that are inclusive and participatory; to bring forth human knowledge, skills, love, ingenuity to contribute to the well-being of the human race and not to the financial benefit of a privilege minority? Don’t you believe this last option is the best one, even though it may require more work, effort, and a struggle against very powerful forces?
The CNA is a space for the original power of the people. This power goes beyond any established power. It has power over any of the State structures. It is tasked with the re-writing of the constitution to make it more responsive to the reality Venezuelans are confronting. The idea is for it to also shape the new Venezuela, and to facilitate the writing of new laws and rules that will help build that country.
But the CNA had barely started deliberations, when Donald Trump, seeing his plot for war in Venezuela defeated, started to threaten Venezuela with direct military action and began imposing economic sanctions against Venezuela. This is clearly illegal according to the framework of international relations and laws. Venezuela is aware, that while defeating Trump’s military adventure it may suffer untold damages to its environment, to its infrastructure, and to its people. That is why Venezuelans will try their best to avoid military confrontation with the US.
The CNA must create room for open and public debate/learning processes all over the country. These processes must be oriented to help people understand the dynamic and complex tensions the country is confronting. If possible, the debates should expand to other countries and to the planet in general, because the problems Venezuelans are confronting are not just Venezuelan problems but world problems. The aggressive policies of the dominant-minority controlling the capitalist/imperial system of the world is taking us all to the brink of extinction.
Some Venezuelans are proposing ecosocialism as the new-civilization proposal for all human beings. They firmly believe that ecosocialism can change living conditions in Venezuela and the whole world, in a way that is intrinsically attached to the interests of the majority of the people.
What are we as human beings to produce? How much and by what environmentally sound methods? For what reasons and towards what ends? What must we stop producing? Must we reduce the production of certain goods? Who controls productive processes? How are we to produce? How are we going to distribute wealth as a society in order to call ourselves “just”? How do we keep ourselves humble? How do we keep a permanent bureaucracy from developing? These are only a few of the questions we must ask ourselves as part of the public discussion.
One of Chavez’s legacy was the Plan of the Motherland for the 2013-2019 presidential period. This plan has five Historical Objectives. The fifth one of these objectives states: “to build and to encourage an ecosocialist productive model, which is based on a harmonious relationship between man and nature; to guarantee the rational, optimal and sustainable use and consumption of natural resources, with due respect to nature processes and cycles”. Unfortunately it has not been put into effect yet.
Venezuelans must keep in mind that any economic production must be subject to the biophysical limits of our ecosphere. There is no such things as perpetual economic growth or never ending resources. The use of renewable resources cannot be overexploited because their natural capacities have to regenerate themselves. Residual emissions must not overcome ecological rates of processing and assimilation.
Inflows and outflows of productive systems and processes must come together into one circular flow. This creates a healthy flow, a healthy production cycle. Production - distribution - consumption - residual – repair/reuse/recycle - production.
Eco-ethics must drive people’s conduct. A new ethic based on social responsibility values and a new rational relationship with nature. It will allow people to define their development using sustainability criteria. Healthy cycles of ecosystems will maintain sustainability. Sun energy and efficient-cycles and flows of matter and energy are fundamental.
Ecosocialism must recognize, recreate and strengthen Venezuela’s identity and multiculturalism. People’s character must have a rich cultural foundation based on their Caribbean-European-Indian-African roots.
A transition process towards ecosocialism must be based on and go forward through several dimensions:
* It should exist on several cultural-social-political levels beginning even as the struggle continues.
* The process must have coherence, visibility, agreements, coordination, links, synergy, and complementation.
* Miguel Angel Nuñez has defined six principles to guide us in the building of such a society.
5) Social equality
ECOSOCIALISTS DIMENSIONS AND ACTIONS
Pages 64 (ob..184.108.40.206), 75 (ob.220.127.116.11), 129 (ob5.1.2), and 135 (ob.18.104.22.168) of the Plan Patria law—Second Socialist Plan for the Social and Economic Development of the Nation 2013-2019—express the desire to advance on a new ethical code, a new ecosocialist ethic: the Eco-ethic.
Humanity as a whole has suffered the impact of the global neoliberal capitalist domination. This predator and pro-extraction model, besides being inefficient, generates deep social inequality and severe and often irreversible environmental damage such as accelerated species extinction. It also perverts our children, youth, and people in general with a consumerist, individualistic, and selfish mentality. Money becomes life’s purpose. Capitalism always presents an unbalanced input-output productive-system. This is the result of not really caring for the environment because of the pursuit of profits as the goal of capitalists.
Supporters of the capitalist system continue to impose on us megalomaniac conditions and false expectations to confuse us. The reality is that the capitalist system is not a viable option for humanity in the future.
Today, both human interaction and human-nature interaction, demands that we create a new ethic. One that recognizes Earth as a living being. We cannot do whatever we want with Earth. Above all, it is not merchandise. It is and will continue to generate life for generations to come. Capitalism considers Earth as something inert, a sort of store with infinite resources to be exploited to produce profits and capital accumulation.
The eco-ethic gives shape to a multi-dimensional cultural, psychological, and physical relationship between human beings and between humans and nature. Furthermore, we must see ourselves as the guarantors of future generations’ well-being. We must begin to demonstrate our dedication to community, equality, sharing, help for the poorest, and to show inter-generational solidarity. We must also practice healthy geo-political and international relationships.
The “Plan Patria” demands that we follow the eco-ethic and encourage ourselves and other people to improve themselves and their relationship with other living creatures and the planet in general. They must generate strategies and practices, based on rational, conscientious, responsible, participatory processes, to preserve the collective well being of all creatures, life diversity, and nature in general.
Healthy equitable social interaction and accountability must open room for participatory and collective democracy that values differences and commonalities. This kind of democracy must encourage social integration and must provide channels for a healthy interaction with nature too.
We must create and rescue social spaces for a variety of recreational and cultural activities, including the arts; for artisan and ecological production; for the open discussion of any issue of our interest; to join efforts in the building of our collective dreams.
Ecosocialist principles are guided by the struggle against individualism and consumerism, which promotes accumulation of wealth, social inequality and conflict. They are also guided towards promoting peace and achieving common goals through cooperation, sharing, compassion, and actively working to overcome prejudices and discrimination present in capitalist societies.
It is ecosocialism’s mission to articulate and to support theoretical tools and concepts. Some are the result of building ecosocialist societies; others come from several political and ideological tendencies, such as: Ecologism, political ecology, Eco-marxism, Eco-feminism, altermundism, good living, living well, the decolonization movement, among others.
The United Nations sponsored Ecosystems Review Report concludes that 60% of the environmental services that make human existence possible such as potable water, fertile and healthy soil, and natural climate regulators, have seriously deteriorated.
Ecosocialism demands all of us to reverse this tendency immediately and urgently. If current trends continue, human life will collapse into barbarism. It is an urgent matter and the CNA must address this issue by making laws and public policies that regulate the utilization of natural resources based on current ecological limits.
We must insist that is the healthy functioning of ecological systems and their vital support to life, not the planet in abstract, which, is under threat. Of course, as result, we are endangering human existence and that of many other species.
The extractive-rate of renewable natural resources must not go beyond their ecological regeneration levels or rates. Emission of pollutants must not exceed nature’s own capacity for assimilation and processing of such residuals. Sustainability will appear as result of healthy ecosystem flows and cycles and efficient use of energy resources.
Environmental justice must guide our actions. It means taking future generations into consideration when making a decision. Ecosocialism promotes a healthy life with individual and social freedom. It also strives to achieve the peaceful resolution of conflicts; the egalitarian distribution of benefits (when taking resources from the environment); and the minimization of environmental contaminants and residuals, but with egalitarian distribution of those that remain.
Ecosocialism promotes caring for all life forms that are part of the complex web of life on the planet. It strives to make a reality the rational use of resources in accordance with the biosphere and its limits. This, over time, will lead to the creation and strengthening of ecosocialist spaces.
It is also necessary for organizations to exercise social pressure on the CNA, so that the new environmental policies and laws will have real weight among the rest of the public sector policies and in laws and regulations.
Ecosocialist education must be a requirement at all educational levels. It is specially important at the university level, where the environment must be a priority. Universities must address emergent topics by developing new knowledge, new techniques and new approaches.
We propose that Venezuela's new housing developments must have solar-panels roof; libraries; centers for the collection and processing of residuals including residual waters; nature parks; centers for agroecological production; among other things that will allow for the creation of positive work habits, daily physical exercise, and a healthy social and natural environment.
Latin America was the first region of the world that incorporated ecologism into national constitutions. Bolivia and Ecuador gave mother Earth constitutional rights. This action has had a tremendous impact on the International Environmental Rights arena. It forces us to see Earth (Gaia) as a living, finite entity, with its own limits. An entity that could die when subjected to harsh conditions. This action also puts neoliberals against the wall, because they do not even recognized basic social rights.
This is a milestone for humanity. It elevates the importance of the creative virtues of the harmonious relationship between human beings and nature. Both, (sumak kawsay) “good living” and (sumak qamaña) “living well” proposals put Gaia as a living super-being which, regulates itself to produce and reproduce life.
Mother Earth rights provides us with a unique opportunity to advance on the catalog of rights known as rights of first, second, third generation. Now we also have emergent rights (trans-generational type) as duty for current generations.
Members of the human species must have more duties than rights in their relationship with Mother Earth. So it is a challenge for the CNA to find the proper balance between current constitutional human rights, with proper duties and obligations towards Mother Earth that must be established in the new constitution.
Nature has a lot of patience. We have been doing damage to nature for years without perceiving any visible counter-reaction. Suddenly, its catastrophic response emerges, taking us by surprise. Nevertheless, we continue extracting and wasting natural resources with a speed that is clearly causing damage to Earth. Some of this is permanent (species extinction) while other damage such as soil degradation can be remedied.
“The Great Acceleration” of economic activity after the Second World War, without consideration for the environment, has caused this rapid degradation of the planet. We have been consuming natural resources and services and producing waste at never before seen amounts and speed. This phenomenon is only getting worse.
During the last 65 years, world’s population has doubled twice; the world’s GDP has increased 9 times; energy consumption by 7 times; water consumption by 10 times; food production by 7 times. These changes, meantime, have generated exponential direct effects on the environment: carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide (all greenhouse gases) have increased 155 times, 150 times and 120 times respectively; ocean acidification by 30 times; and the loss of forest and biodiversity by 30 times and 35 times in that order.
We are faced with various reflections/questions: How could we re-dimension our society’s growth? What priority areas can we address in the new economic system? Can we decrease our economic growth rate (based on current standards for measuring economic growth) and still be able to live well? Furthermore, can we use other methods to measure society’s well being? Are we willing to change our production systems to implement clean-energy models? Are we willing to enter a transition process toward ecosocialism?
Production processes must comply with the following aspects:
1st. To minimize the using of natural resources. We must evaluate whether a particular natural resource is really necessary in the production process.
2nd. To use clean and proper technologies. In other words, to get the maximum amount of benefits from the resources we take from nature, and to produce the minimum amount of residuals and waste possible. To reuse and to recycle the most we can. But we must also put forward a new way of organizing work in society... so humans can have a humane work environment.
3rd. To use energy efficiently. To eliminate or at least minimize the using of fossil fuels.
4th. To apply a precautionary approach, which means, to try to foresee the consequences of our possible actions.
5th. To respect our eco-system’s bio-physical limits and to manage the distribution of goods and services by maximum equality and sharing.
6th. To incorporate the notion of “biomimesis” (“biomimicry”) to innovation, to the development of new technologies and new industries to make them environmentally friendly.
7th. To benefit the economy and social networks of families as a priority. To promote a new more flexible division of labor.
Actions to implement immediately:
1) To use clean energy in all and every sector. This means reducing dependency on fossil fuels and to initiate a carbon-free economy
2) Rational and efficient use of natural resources. To save water and all kind of raw resources when possible.
3) To consolidate agro-ecological production and to forbid genetically modified products.
4) To defend and to promote the right to a healthy diet. We must have a goal (but not a strict mandate) to feed ourselves from the agro-bio-diversity of our local territories (radius<40 miles).
5) To create food’s eco-networks that connect local producers with local consumers. Such networks must be based on the culinary and gastronomic particularities of our socio-bio-regions.
6) To promote the use of new eco-technologies, to replace the old and obsolete, highly contaminating industry we have.
7) To demand the exchange of clean technologies between countries in South-South and North-South relationships.
8) To prioritize free and public transportation.
9) To modernize our natural parks, with a focus on enjoyment of nature in all its beauty and diversity.
10) To implement and to strengthen business environmental management.
11) To promote the active participation of workers in the eradication of monopolies.
12) To facilitate active participation by workers in the production, distribution, and flow of goods.
13) To investigate whether Venezuelan politicians and businessmen debts in dollars are real and legal.
14) To nationalize banks and the financial system.
15) To make possible the organic coherence between people’s thinking, saying and doing by teaching, discussing, and debating the concept of “well living” and about ecosocialism. It is especially important for people belonging to Popular Power organizations. Members of these groups should be modeling social behavior for a future society.
16) To increase the budget for people’s strategic projects related to energy, food, and the environment.
17) To provide free health and education services.
18) To exercise a strict control of citizens’ properties, income, debts, and finances in general, to strive to obtain the greatest equality of income possible. To avoid excessive accumulation, and to heavily punish corruption and money laundering. All citizens must declare their annual income, as well as any new property they could acquire specified month by month. They must also pay their due taxes.
19) To guarantee the rational and objective use of mass media, social networks and other virtual spaces. To punish mass media and people’s involvement in the spread of false information, outright lies, and mismanagement of facts. To eliminate dependency of mass media on corporate power and interests. To close media outlets involved in promoting hate speech, violence, and war.
20) To put in place a system of government where there is not one person responsible but small groups of people who act as ministers, directors, even governors and mayors under a collective responsibility. When this is not possible, a democratic system will be used to select and replace people for various local, regional, and national government positions so as to guard against the development of a permanent bureaucracy and corruption of officials. Rotation of leadership positions at all levels helps maintain transparency, essential for gaining and maintaining the trust of the mass of people.
The ideas we have put forward on this document come from many different productive and social organizations. We highly value their contribution and continue to look forward for more. Popular power must guide our process to try to build ecosocialism together, a new civilization proposal for human societies. We must plant the seed today that will grow into a new society where humans can find real development, solidarity, responsibility, peace, love, and most of all sharing and living in harmony with nature.
We all have been entrusted with creating a new way of being and living. We must advance toward a new form of human development, of societal development, from social and ecological perspectives. We must achieve and consolidate real peace, social and economic justice, independence with interdependence… a good quality of life for us all.
Revolutions will be ecosocialist or they will not be revolutions
INTERNATIONAL ECOSOCIALIST FRONT CHICO MENDES
The Towards Chavez's Ecosocialism petition to Chico Mendes International Ecosocialist Front was written by Oci Notas and is in the category Environment at GoPetition.