Rodríguez was speaking on behalf of the leadership of the Youth of the Fifth Republic (JVR). The organization is affiliated with the governing party, the Movement of the Fifth Republic.
A member of the legislative council in the state of Miranda, Rodríguez was speaking as part of a panel presentation of Nueva Internacional numbers 6 and 7, the Spanish editions of the two most recently published issues of the magazine of Marxist politics and theory, New International.
More than 50 people attended the event, which was part of Venezuela's Second International Book Fair. The fair, which will travel throughout the country, is being held here in the capital city November 9-19.
Also on the panel were Zuleica Romay, vice president of the Cuban Book Institute, and Mary-Alice Waters, editor of New International.
The program also included a special contribution from Harry Villegas, a brigadier general in Cuba's Revolutionary Armed Forces. Villegas is known widely as Pombo, the nom de guerre given him by Ernesto Che Guevara, the Argentine-born leader of the Cuban Revolution. Villegas worked and fought alongside Che for a decade, from the Congo to Bolivia.
'A turning point in class struggle'
"Nueva Internacional is a tool to arm and be used by workers and youth actively involved in the practical work of building a communist party and youth organizationin the United States above all," said Waters in her opening remarks.
"We believe that building such a proletarian movement is a historical necessity, she said. None of the burning social questions of our epoch will be settled short of working people in the United States taking the economic and military power to rule out of the hands of the class that today imposes its interests on the world."
The two most recent issues of Nueva Internacional, Waters noted, "explain with conviction and facts that we are today living through a great turning point in the international class struggle. Communists and broader vanguard forces must fully absorb this historic shift and begin acting on its political logic."
Waters noted the importance of the composition of the speakers' panel and the audience, which included many young people. It is young people to whom the magazine is directed first and foremost, she said, as well as to cadres with decades of experience in the class struggle.
Waters also introduced Ulises Estrada, another well-known Cuban internationalist who worked alongside Guevara in Africa and throughout the Americas for many years. She urged those present to attend a forum the following evening at the book fair at which Villegas and Estrada were scheduled to speak.
"Without continuity, without the mix of experiences among generations of revolutionary fighters, without collaboration across bordersand without each new generation making the lessons of the modern international working-class movement its ownvictory is far from certain," Waters said.
"It will be won at a much higher price than necessary, if at all. Those lessons have been paid for in blood by those who have gone before us. That's why having compañera Zuleica speaking from the perspective of the Cuban Revolution is so important, and why the presence of compañeros Ulises and Pombo means a great deal."
Using Nueva Internacional
"We are living at the beginning of capitalism's long hot winter," Rodríguez said, as is pointed out in the article by Jack Barnes, national secretary of the Socialist Workers Party in the United States, that is featured in Nueva Internacional no. 6.
The JVR leader referred to a section of the article that says: "Driven inexorably by the necessity to compete or die, capitalists, without exception, act pragmaticallyon the basis that what has been happening will continue to happen. They seek to maximize profits by moving in directions that bring the highest returns."
This article, Rodríguez said, helps explain how the capitalists, including the owners of the banks, "have no scruples and use interest rates and other means to spread their tentacles everywhere in order to enrich themselves at the expense of the vast majority."
The JVR leader referred to struggles his organization has been part of in the state of Miranda, which surrounds Caracas, against attempts by Venezuelas pro-imperialist opposition to privatize hospitals and schools and to prevent implementation of programs such as Barrio Adentro. The latter, which means Into the Barrio, is a program sponsored by the Venezuelan government that has brought volunteer doctors from Cuba offering quality health care, free of charge, into areas where working people have had little or no access to medical services.
Reading Nueva Internacional "helped me see that what we have faced in Miranda is not some local conflict," he said. "It has to do with much bigger forces in the world."
Studying a magazine like Nueva Internacional, and applying in practice what it presents, is necessary to develop revolutionary youth cadres, Rodríguez said. He added that he will use the articles in the magazine, of which he purchased several copies, in study circles he is organizing in Miranda.
Lenin and electrification
Zuleica Romay of the Cuban Book Institute focused her remarks on the article, "Our Politics Start with the World," also by Barnes, in Nueva Internacional no. 7. She pointed to a statement at the opening of the article made in 1920 by V.I. Lenin, the central leader of the Bolsheviks and the October 1917 Russian Revolution. "Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the entire country," Lenin said.
This is important, Romay noted, because many people argue that what Lenin and other Marxists said and did decades ago is not relevant today because the world has changed so much. "But these are superficial changes," she said. "The world Lenin described in 1920 is fundamentally the same unjust world we live in today."
Romay said Nueva Internacional no. 7 explains how the Bolsheviks in Lenin's time used electrification "not only to achieve social development by applying important scientific and technological advances. Electrification for Russia, which was backward and its countryside was still marked by semifeudal conditions, meant the possibility for human beings to transform themselves into new men and women by creating new conditions of life and work."
This is applicable today, Romay said, in a world where one-third of humanity have no access to modern means of energy.
Nueva Internacional no. 7 also shows how technology is used by different classes to achieve different ends. "The magazine explains with savvy how the scientific advances of the 19th and 20th centuries were used for wars of conquest and to crush and colonize many peoples," Romay noted. She contrasted that reality to how the Cuban Revolution has used technological advances to raise the cultural level of the entire population and to strive to build a society of cooperation and equality.
One of the points that surprised her in reading "Our Politics Start with the World," Romay said, is the centrality of the effort to close the cultural gap between city and countryside in cementing an alliance of workers and peasants, which was a cornerstone of both the Russian and Cuban revolutions. This is important, she emphasized, "because many people argue that such an alliance is impossible today because imperialism has already eliminated the peasants."
A magazine like Nueva Internacional is not only essential for building a communist movement in an imperialist country like the United States, Romay said. "It is also useful in Cuba where we are good on action but we lack on theory, on explaining to those who march alongside us the hows and whys, and need this kind of material," she said.
"We went through a period in Cuba when we presented Marxism as an ossified science, like the Bible," Romay said, "in which you didn't have to change anything, you simply had to do what it said."
During the book fair here, Romay noted, some friends have argued with her that it is no longer possible to make a socialist revolution today as they did in Cuba nearly half a century ago because conditions in the world are so different now. That's why the point in Nueva Internacional about not only the need but the possibility of emulating the Cuban Revolution in today's conditions "must be appreciated and studied," she said.
'Knowing your enemy'
At the invitation of Waters, who chaired the meeting, Harry Villegas took the floor when the discussion was opened. He underscored the importance of presenting Nueva Internacional at Venezuela's International Book Fair, as had been done at Havana's International Book Fair earlier this year, because it is a magazine about Marxist politics and theory.
"There is a military principle that you can't win in combat without knowing the characteristics of your enemy, in regular warfare and guerrilla warfare, which I experienced," Villegas said, and Nueva Internacional makes it possible to know the enemy. "The existence of such a magazine that analyzes imperialism in all its global manifestations is important to us all."
People have to take into account the experiences of all revolutions, Villegas said. "And you have to take into account your experience here," he noted, referring to Venezuela, "where what you have done has been peaceful. But I remember something Che said, which I haven't forgotten because I spent so much time at his side. And that is that the character of imperialism is not peacefulyou can't expect it can bring you peace. You always have to be prepared, analyze, and investigate under light of Marxism, which is objective and concrete."
A magazine like Nueva Internacional, he added, "arms us with the ideas essential for defending our revolution and fighting imperialism around the world."
Nueva Internacional nos. 6 and 7 together were the top sellers from the Pathfinder booth at the book fair here, with 130 copies sold.
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