This is our interview on the documentary Viva Venezuela with Ethesham who is part of RCG/FRFI.
Q. How was the experience of filming Viva Venezuela?
It was an honour, it was beautiful, empowering, humbling, inspiring, invigorating, fascinating and more. We went to Venezuela in order to better understand the revolutionary process and to make connections with revolutionary people… and that is what we did. So we’re happy and proud.
Q. From what you’ve observed, how are the people finding the new government?
I can’t speak for everyone but I would say that the election of Maduro [Venezuelan President] doesn’t make it a new government. So as far as the process is concerned — the struggle continues!
Last years election was a choice between the legacy of capitalism and the path of socialism. A choice between no healthcare and free healthcare. A choice between the past and the future.
For example, Venezuela now has the highest student population in the continent. This compares starkly to a painful past of brutality towards progressive students and young leaders.
This violence was perpetrated by the US backed, neo liberal oligarchy. The rich.
So, to a certain degree, you can imagine how the historically marginalized people might feel about the government of today. And you can imagine how the historically privileged might feel too.
But as you will see in the documentary — the Venezuelan government is now one part of the wider struggle against capitalism, imperialism and racism. A struggle which hasn’t ceased since Columbus first set foot on the continent.
So in short, rather than just feeling the effects of government, Venezuelans are closer to controlling the state than they have ever been. And certainly closer than anyone in Britain is.
There are still many contradictions though and the task ahead is hard, not least because they are picking up the pieces left by imperialism. And being shot at by imperialism. And being lied about by imperialism.
Many Venezuelan industries are still dominated by private, capitalist interests — who are unwilling to let go of the obscene privilege they once enjoyed. So how does Venezuela move forward? How would WE move forward? How would WE dismantle capitalism?
Q. What are your views about bringing creative outlets such as rap into protests and demonstrations?
Creative outlets are essential for human beings. There is a need for creativity in most circumstances, especially protest and demonstration.
So it might be worth going further with the question.
We have an abundance of creativity around us and within us — so we need resistance and struggle to be reflected by that creativity.
Artists: resist! Revolt!
Regarding rap, well, as people know, the history of hip hop is black struggle, resistance, love, empowerment and expression… against racism and against injustice.
Is racism and injustice finished? No! The conditions which resulted in an outburst of expressive resistance have not changed much, even if a handful of individuals have enriched themselves to obscene amounts through rapping, producing, dancing and graffing — it does not negate to the ‘success’ of hip hop — or an elevation away from racism.
Racism and imperialism is destroying our planet as much as ever. The need for us to resist, struggle, love and empower each other to ORGANISE against injustice is as present as it has ever been.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about RCG please?
The Revolutionary Communist Group has existed for about 30 years. It produces a paper called Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
At the moment we are focusing our energy on fighting the cuts, fighting British imperialism and fighting racism! What does that mean concretely? It means analysis, discussion and action.
it means supporting the Focus15 Campaign, Counihan-Sanchez Family Housing Campaign and Hands off Somalia. It has meant standing on the streets for hours engaging with people about the bedroom tax and the benefits cap — which is threatening the lives of thousands of people.
All this on top of producing literature, organizing events, meetings and discussions to develop and get our point across and to draw people towards the need to organize.
The capitalists are more organised than the people. This is a problem. The only solution is to be more organised than them. And Venezuela and Cuba are showing how communists and socialists organize to undermine capitalism. Lets take the challenge!
Q. What are you doing at the moment with Viva Venezuela and any other projects?
Regarding the documentary, we’re now trying to push it out as much as possible. We’ve done a few screenings already, and we packed out Bolivar Hall at our premier.
We screened it at a volunteer run soup kitchen in Brixton.
We made this documantary to engage with people. To use the Venezuelan revolution to inspire people here in Britain, to commit to changing the imperialist, racist character of Britain and to put the interests of the majority above the interests of the few. So this means — whenever we present the film, we do so against a backdrop of British capital in crisis, austerity, attacks on human rights and exploitation. And we always end by expressing the needs to get active and involved — and to fight, wherever you are.
Interview by Lana Bell
Watch the documentary:
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