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LATIN AMERICA
“Democracy means freedom of business for big business”
Tomás Andréu
3/23/2016
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Interview with Sociologist Heinz Dieterich

Heinz Dieterich is a sociologist and researcher at the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City. He has published more than 30 books on political, economic and social issues on Latin American. He is considered the ideologue of “Socialism of the 21st Century,” which proposes an economy of values based on the value of work and not the laws of supply and demand. He was a friend and advisor to the late President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), even though he is also a harsh critic of both Chávez and the current President Nicolás Maduro for the way they have governed Venezuela.

Tomas Andréu, a collaborator to Latinamerica Press, spoke with Dieterich about the present and future of the progressive governments in the region, the reentry of the right-wing and the current situation in Venezuela.

Just recently a former guerrilla commander of El Salvador said that socialism of the 21st century does not exist, that it has never existed. You are saddled with the emergence of this socio-political vision. What do you say to that? Did it exist? Does it exist now?
Socialism of the 21st century is the scientific paradigm of a post-capitalist society developed over 30 years by leading German and British scientists in the forefront of social sciences, natural sciences and technology. It is the only existing scientifically irrefutable paradigm to replace the current capitalist society through equivalence economy, based on the value of the work performed and in a participatory democracy.
That is to say, 21st century socialism exists as a scientific theory, just as [Albert] Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity exists. Its empirical realization has not been achieved yet, the same as certain of Einstein hypothesis were empirically tested only a century after their formulation.

If 21st century socialism has not been implemented, why is it attacked in Latin America during presidential elections if it has not come to life yet?
Because the election campaigns of the bourgeois parties and states in Latin America and North America are essentially exercises of lies and half-truths. One of these lies is that 21st century socialism has failed. It is idiotic to say it, because a social system that has not existed cannot have failed. But with the low informative and educational level of our people these lies take hold.

How would it be implemented in countries like those in Latin America where our leaders do not think or do not take risks?
Responsible and ethical people should explain to the youth, workers, peasants, etc. that this alternative does exist. This knowledge, along with the growing poverty into which Latin America sinks, would generate the dynamics of transformation. The problem lies in that Latin America is a headless giant. The illusions of social-populism, the conservative influence of the clergy, mediocrity, utilitarian opportunism and the political castration of our universities, intellectuals, trade unions and political parties, as well as the control of the heads by the oligarchy, have created a widespread destruction of any sensible software [program, proposal] of emancipation that existed. The bourgeoisie has succeeded in generating a general confusion in the heads of their victims.

The left-wing won in several Latin American countries, but the aftertaste that this has left is that those same people returned with different faces and different skin.
The left inherited the state apparatus from the oligarchic governments: with all their vices of corruption, inefficiency, etc. In some countries the new rulers took action against these scourges, as in Bolivia and Ecuador, and this is the reason why they are relatively stable today. In fact the corrupt regime of the Fourth Republic [1953-1999] was extended in Venezuela — the fifth one was that of Chávez. The sixth is the one that is to be born — and was boosted with the high oil prices. The result is in plain sight.

Although there is talk that capitalism is in critical condition, the right is recovering the spaces of power, as it has happened in Argentina. An ultraconservative comedian is elected in Guatemala. Bolivian President Evo Morales has repressed the indigenous. What is going wrong? Is it the parties and their policies? Is it society and its passivity? Is it the absence of new political projects?
In the US newspeak, democracy means freedom of business for big business; in a real sense, obviously; it means being able to decide between governance alternatives. The latter is not the case in Latin America. The de facto power structures — the Church, big business, media, the US-embassy — are much more powerful than the new governments and impose their logic in the medium term.

What has happened in Venezuela recently? Is it the strengthening of the right or are we witnessing the decline of an heir who could not sustain what Chávez had built?
Both are correct. The extreme ineptitude of the government of Nicolás Maduro-Diosdado Cabello generated the longing for change in large parts of the population. This desire was reflected in the results of the elections of Dec. 6, 2015. The defeat of the government is “made in Venezuela” by a government that has zero idea of modern economy.

After the loss in Congress suffered by the government of Maduro, does this mean that the president’s administration has its days counted? That is, can a call to the public be made constitutionally to decide whether or not Maduro continues as the head of Venezuela? What do you predict?
A recall referendum can be requested constitutionally. It is difficult and time consuming, but it would probably succeed. It depends on the internal restructuring of the government and if it can carry out national recovery measurements. It is obvious that the military has become the dominant factor in the government, thus leaving Maduro only as a facade. Whether they have the knowhow to save the economy, I doubt it. It’s too late (...) Maduro is the spokesman of the dominant group within the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and the government, which are the 22 military men who are ministers and governors. Maduro does not govern. He does not make the decisions. He only discloses them.

You have spoken of an “open military regime” in Venezuela. What do you mean and what would that entail?
It would mean dissolving the parliament, the presidency and the judicial system as a transitional measure in preparation for elections. This would cause the total isolation of Venezuela in the continent and the inevitable subsequent bankruptcy. It also would imply a likely military conflict with the US Southern Command and the Army of Colombia, a force that Washington and President Juan Manuel Santos are now turning into a conventional force precisely for this purpose.

From your perspective, what is going to happen to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in other Latin American countries?
With the collapse of Venezuela so collapse the hemispherical structures it created. This epicenter of power will vanish. In Venezuela, for example, even those economists of the center ask that at the moment of stabilizing the national economy, the beneficial terms of oil provided to Cuba and Nicaragua be removed. This, and the actions of [the president of Argentina Mauricio] Macri, gives you an idea of what is going to happen.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are about to reach an agreement with the government of President Santos and become a political party. Beyond the complexity of this issue, what do you think about the Amnesty Laws that are created between insurgency and State after conflicts?
We must understand that amnesty laws are political tools for the transition from one political stance to a different one. They are not instruments of justice. They reflect an impasse of power between two opponents in a status quo that has become unviable. This is not satisfactory, but it is reality. If you can later introduce aspects of justice as in the case of post-dictatorship Argentina, it depends on the development of the correlation of strengths of these adversaries.

How do you assess the current situation in Cuba in the framework of the restoration of diplomatic ties with the United States?
The United States never managed to destroy Cuba. But it prevented Cuba from developing socialism of the 20th century towards socialism of the 21st century, which is the only way in which socialism can exist in this century. The result is that the country has been left without a narrative of hope and losing its youth and part of the intelligence that is essential for the future. The current transition starts very late, it will see itself endangered by the collapse of Venezuela and possibly end in 21st century capitalism after the deaths of Fidel and Raúl Castro. Cuba has written a glorious page in the history of the rebellion of the people against the class society, but the correlation of international forces and some internal strategic mistakes, have not allowed it to go further. —Latinamerica Press.


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