[General Raúl Isaias Baduel held a widely reported speech on the occasion of his leaving the office of Defense Minister. The event was also one in which Chavez swore in the new defense minister and a new military high command. Baduel is a long-time friend of President Chavez, who co-founded the MBR-200 with Chavez, the clandestine movement that was later to organise the 1992 coup attempt against then-president Carlos Andrés Perez. More recently, Baduel was instrumental in bringing Chavez back into office during the April 2002 coup attempt. Baduel’s speech ruffled some feathers in Venezuela because some believed that he was issuing an indirect criticism of Chavez. A more charitable interpretation, though, is that he was merely telling the country in which direction he believes 21st socialism must go.]
Speech by Outgoing Defense Minister Gen. Raúl Isaias Baduel
“Our Model of Socialism Must Be Profoundly Democratic”
By Gen. Raúl Isaías Baduel
Monday, July 23, 2007
I want to begin this speech by thanking from my soul, in the first place the almighty and eternal Lord, for having given me the privilege to serve him from this position, being protected by his powerful hand. And to all the people that with your help, work, dedication, and exchanges, aided me in bringing my time at the front of the Ministry of Defense to a happy conclusion.
I want to give a very special thanks to the President and Commander in Chief of the Bolivarian Armed Forces for the trust that he held in me, assigning me to this responsibility. To you, my Commander in Chief, my friendship and affection.
My fellow soldiers deserve to be mentioned as well, who make up around me a team of invaluable contribution, the successful result of our daily labor, it would have been impossible without them. To them, my eternal gratitude and my friendship forever, whatever road they may take.
Today, as a command from the lord and from my superiors, I will be succeeded by General Gustavo Reyes Rangel Briceño, a colleague and a friend, whose virtues and religious principles will greatly serve him during his time in this position. To you, my colleague and friend, my best wishes and may God’s guidance illuminate all your decisions.
I have had the honor to hold the position of Minister of Defense, a position that requires whoever holds it, by principle and by law, to show his judgment in the direction of the men and the strategy and policy of the state, with a view toward the future so that the citizens of our nation, who today are in an unprecedented political and social transition, know the professionalism of his actions, and, as a consequence, can rest knowing and trusting the decision of their Military Commander, and the institutions of the Venezuelan government.
When I say that we find ourselves in an unprecedented transition, the political and social order that our nation is experiencing, among other things, I am referring to the process of construction of a new political, economic, and social order that we have denominated 21st Century Socialism. The term socialism, unfortunately, does not have a homogenous and fixed meaning for everyone who uses the term and from there comes, perhaps, the uncertainty and uneasiness that is created in some sectors of the country when it is only mentioned. The call from President Hugo Chavez to construct 21st Century Socialism implies the urgent necessity to formalize our own theoretical model of socialism that is adapted to our historical, social, cultural, and political context.
We have to admit that this theoretical model, for the time being, does not exist, nor has it been formulated and I am guessing that as long as it remains so, there will remain uncertainties in some social groups. As I have said, on the other hand, we must invent 21st Century Socialism, yes, but not in an unorganized and chaotic way, but rather taking advantage of the tools and the framework of references that science gives us.
We must invent our own model, with logic, with methodology, with order, and consciousness. On the Aló Presidente TV show on March 27th, 2005, Mr. President indicated, and I quote, “The socialism of Venezuela will be built according to the original ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.”
More recently last Monday, in the graduation event at the Institute of Higher Studies for National Defense, Mr. President demanded from us deep research and analysis and constructive criticism. Reiterating what I have mentioned before, if the base for the construction of 21st Century Socialism is a scientific theory of Marx and Engels, what we build definitely has to be what we construct on top of it. It cannot be anything less or we risk that our construction will be nothing more than a humble hut built upon the foundation of a skyscraper.
We have listened in recent times to some theorists who want to contribute to the construction of a specifically Venezuelan socialist model, about how inconvenient it would be to repeat the errors made in countries known as socialist, among them the emblematic example of the extinct Soviet Union. However, I think that the errors that these theorists point to belong exclusively to the failures of the political order of the Soviet model, for example, with respect to the relationship between the revolutionary party and the government, and between the party and the population, or in the danger in making the same errors of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which became n organization that substituted and displaced the society, and ended up being controlled by the Central Committee of the Party.
In the political order, our model of socialism must be profoundly democratic. It must explain once and for all that a system of socialist production is not incompatible with profoundly democratic political system and division of power. In this aspect, I think that indeed we should separate ourselves from the Marxist orthodoxy that considers that democracy with a division of powers is only an instrument of bourgeois domination. As our President pointed out in an interview with Manuel Cabieses, the director of the magazine Punto Final, I quote, “In the political line, one of the determining factors of 21st Century Socialism must be participatory democracy, popular power, everything has to be centered in the people. The party must be subordinated to the people, not the other way around.”
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