Friday, 18 December 2009


Socialism is the course for the
salvation of the planet

Speech given by Hugo Chávez Frías, president of the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, at the United Nations Climate Change Summit, Copenhagen, Denmark, December 16, 2009

Translated by Granma International

Mr. President; Gentlemen; Ladies; Your Excellencies;

I promise you that I am not going to speak longer than the
person who has spoken the most here this afternoon.

Please allow me an initial comment, which I should liked to
have made as part of the previous point exercised by the
delegations of Brazil, China, India and Bolivia – we were
there asking to speak, but that was not possible.

The Bolivian representative said – greetings of course to
compañero President Evo Morales – who is here (Applause),
president of the Republic of Bolivia – among other things –
the following – note this – "The text presented is not
democratic, it is not inclusive."

I was just arriving and we were sitting down when we heard
the president of the previous session, the minister, saying
that a document was coming here, but nobody knows anything
about it. I have asked for the document; we still don’t
have it; I don’t think anybody knows about that top secret
document. Now, the Bolivian comrade definitely said it: "It
is not democratic, it is not inclusive."

Now, ladies, gentlemen, is that not precisely the reality
of this world? Are we actually in a democratic world? Can
we hope for something democratic, inclusive from the
current world system? What we are experiencing on this
planet is an imperial dictatorship and from here we
continue condemning it: Down with the imperial dictatorship
and long live the peoples, democracy and equality on this
planet! (Applause)

What we are seeing here is a reflection of that: exclusion.
There is a group of countries which believe themselves
superior to us from the South, to us from the Third World,
to us the underdeveloped or, as our great friend Eduardo
Galeano says, we, the countries run over by a train that
ran over us in history.

And so, we shouldn’t be surprised by that, we are not
surprised: there is no democracy in the world and we are
here, once again, in the face of powerful evidence of a
world imperial dictatorship.

Two young people got up on the platform here; fortunately,
the agents of order have been decent, a bit of shoving and
pushing, and they cooperated, right?

There are many people outside, you know? Of course, they
can’t fit in this hall. I have read in the press that some
of them have been arrested, some intense protests here on
the streets of Copenhagen, and I want to salute all those
people who are out there, most of them young people
(Applause). Of course, they are concerned young people,
rightly, I believe and much more than us, for the future of
the world. The majority of us here have the sun behind us;
they have the sun before them and they are very concerned.

One could say, Mr. President, that a phantom is sweeping
Copenhagen, paraphrasing Karl Marx, the great Karl Marx. A
phantom is sweeping the streets of Copenhagen and I believe
that that phantom is moving silently through this hall,
moving here and there among us, it gets into the corridors,
comes out downstairs, it is climbing. That phantom is a
terrifying one, hardly anyone wants to name it. Capitalism
is the phantom! (Applause); hardly anyone wants to name it,
it is capitalism. The people are praying out there, they
can be heard out there.

I was reading some of the slogans painted in the streets
and I think I heard some of those slogans of these young
people when they were moving around out there. There are
two that I took note of; among the others, two powerful
slogans could be heard: One: "Don’t change the climate,
change the system" (Applause) and I take it as ours: Let’s
not change the climate, let’s change the system and, as a
consequence, we shall begin to save the planet. Capitalism,
the destructive model of development is doing away with
life, it is threatening to definitively do away with the
human species.

The other slogan calls for reflection, very much in keeping
with the banking crisis that spread throughout the world
and is still striking it, and the way in which the
countries of the rich North came to the aid of the bankers
and the big banks; the United States alone… well, the
figure got lost, it is astronomic, to save the banks. In
the streets they’re saying the following: "If the climate
was a capitalist bank, one of the largest ones, they would
have saved it already," and I believe that that is the
truth (Applause). If the climate was a capitalist bank, one
of the largest, the rich governments would already have
saved it.

I believe that Obama hasn’t arrived, he received the Nobel
Peace prize virtually the same day that he was sending an
additional 30,000 soldiers to kill innocent people in
Afghanistan, and now the president of the United States is
coming to present himself here with the Nobel Peace Prize.

The United States has a little machine for printing bills,
for making dollars and it has saved… well, they believe
that they’ve saved the banks and the capitalist system.

Well, this commentary on the margins, which I wanted to
make there, because we were raising our hands to accompany
Brazil, India, Bolivia and China, in their interesting
position firmly shared by Venezuela and the countries of
the Bolivarian Alliance; but, well, we were not given the
floor, so please don’t discount these minutes from me,
President, it was for that. (Applause)

Well, look, I had the pleasure of meeting here this French
writer, Hervé Kempf. I recommend this book, I recommend it,
it can be obtained in Spanish – Hervé is somewhere around
here – in French as well, definitely in English, How the
Rich Are Destroying the Earth, by Hervé Kempf. That is why
Christ said: "…it is easier for a camel to go through the
eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of
God." Christ our Lord said that (Applause).

The rich are destroying the Earth. Could it be that they
are thinking of going to another one when they have
destroyed this one, do they have plans to go to another
planet? To date one cannot see any on the horizon of the

This book has only just come into my hands – Ignacio
Ramonet, who is also here in this hall, gave it to me –
and, at the end of the prologue or preamble, this sentence
is very important. Kempf says the following: "We will not
be able to reduce material consumption at global level if
we do not force the powerful to descend the ladder a number
of rungs, if we do not combat inequality; what is needed is
for us to add to the ecological principle, so useful at the
moment of becoming aware, the principle imposed by the
situation: to consume less and to distribute better." I
think that is good advice from that French writer Hervé

Well, Mr. President, climate change is, without any doubt,
the most devastating environmental problem of the present
century: flooding, drought, severe storms, hurricanes,
melting ice caps, a rise in average sea levels, the
acidification of oceans and heat waves; all of that is
sharpening the impact of the global crises that are lashing

Current human activity is in excess of the thresholds of
sustainability, thus endangering life on the planet; but in
that we are profoundly unequal, I wish to recall that. The
500 million richest people, five hundred million! this is
7%. Seven percent! Seven [in English] percent of the world
population. That 7% is responsible, those 500 million
richest people are responsible for 50% of contaminating
emissions, while the poorest 50% are responsible for just
7% of contaminating emissions. For that reason it strikes
me that it is a little strange to put the United States and
China on the same level here. The United States could
amount to possibly 300 million inhabitants; China has a
population that is almost five times larger than the United
States. The United States consumes more than 20 million
barrels of oil per day. Chine barely reaches 5 or 6 million
barrels per day. One can’t ask the same of the United
States and China. There are issues that have to be
discussed here. I wish that, as heads of state and
government, we could sit down and really, really discuss
these issues.

So, Mr. President, 60% of the planet’s ecosystems are
damaged, 20% of the earth’s crust is degraded. We have been
the impassive witnesses of deforestation, land conversion,
desertification, alterations to fresh water systems,
over-exploitation of marine resources, contamination and
the loss of biological diversity. Exacerbated utilization
of land is 30% in excess of its regeneration capacity. The
planet is losing its self-regulation capacity, the planet
is losing that; every day more waste is released than can
be processed. The survival of our species is hammering on
the consciousness of humanity.

Despite the urgency, two years of negotiations for
concluding a second period of commitments under the Kyoto
Protocol have passed by and we are attending this meeting
without any real and significant agreement.

And, doubtless, referring to the text that is coming out of
nothing – as some have described it, the Chinese
representative – Venezuela says and the ALBA countries, the
Bolivarian Alliance, say that we do not accept it, we have
said that already, no other text unless it comes out of the
working groups of the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention,
and are the legitimate texts that have been discussed with
such intensity during these two years and in the last few
days. I believe that you have not slept; moreover, that you
have not had lunch, you haven’t slept, eh? It does not seem
logical to me that a document should come out of nothing,
as you are saying.

The scientifically sustained objective of reducing
contaminating gas emissions and achieving a long-term
cooperation agreement, evidently, today, at this hour,
seems to have failed, for now. What is the reason for that?
We are not in any doubt, the reason is the irresponsible
attitude and the lack of political will on the part of the
most powerful nations of the planet. Nobody should feel
offended, I will have recourse to the great José Gervasio
Artigas when he said: "With the truth I neither offend nor
am afraid;" but, in truth, it is an irresponsible attitude,
of marches, of counter-marches, of exclusion, of an elitist
management of a problem that is of all of us and that only
all of us can solve.

The political conservatism and egotism of the major
consumers, of the richest countries, denotes an elevated
insensibility and lack of solidarity with the poorest, with
the hungry, with those most vulnerable to disease, to
natural disasters.

Mr. President, there is an indispensable need for a new and
sole agreement applicable to absolutely unequal parties,
given the magnitude of their economic, financial and
technological contributions and capacities and one that is
based on unrestricted respect for the principles contained
in the Convention.

The developed countries must establish binding commitments
which are clear and concrete in respect of a substantial
reduction of their emissions and assume their obligations
of financial and technological assistance to their poor
countries, in order to confront the destructive dangers of
climate change. In that context, the particular situations
of island states and the most underdeveloped countries must
be fully recognized.

Mr. President, climate change is not the only problem
affecting humanity today; other scourges and injustices
await us, the gap that separates the rich countries from
the poor is still expanding despite the existence of the
Millennium Goals, the Monterrey Summit on finance, all of
these summits – as the president of Senegal said,
denouncing a great truth, promises and promises and
promises that have been unfulfilled, while the world
continues along its destructive path.

The total income of the 500 richest individuals on the
planet is greater than the income of the 416 million
poorest people. The 2.8 billion people who live in poverty,
earning less than one dollar a day, and who represent 40%
of the global population, 40% of the global population!,
receive just 5% of the global income.

Today, some 9.2 million children die before they reach
their fifth birthday, and 99.9% of those deaths occur in
the poorest countries. Infant mortality stands at 47 per
1,000 live births; but the figure for the rich countries is
just 5 per 1,000 live births. The average life expectancy
around the world is 67 years of age, in the rich countries
it is 79, while in the poorest countries it is just 40
years of age.

In addition to this, there are 1.1 billion people who do
not have access to clean potable water; 2.6 billion without
health services; more than 800 million illiterate
individuals and 1.02 billion starving people. This is the
global scenario.

Now, the cause, what is the cause? We’re talking about the
cause, we cannot shirk our responsibilities, we cannot
evade the seriousness of this problem. The cause, without
doubt – I’m going back to the same issue – of this entire
disastrous panorama is the metabolic, destructive system of
capital and its embodied model: capitalism.

I have a quote here that I would like to read to you, from
the great liberation theologian Leonardo Boff, as we know,
a Brazilian, from Our America.

On this subject, Leonardo Boff says the following: "What is
the cause? Ah! The cause is the dream of seeking happiness
through the accumulation of material wealth and unending
progress, using science and technology to achieve this, and
with which all of the Earth’s resources can be exploited,"
and I will now mention Charles Darwin and his natural
selection, the survival of the fittest; but we know that
the fittest survive over the ashes of the weakest.

Jean Jacob Rousseau —— we must also remember him – said
about that: ""Between the weak and the strong, it is
freedom which oppresses." For this reason, the empire talks
of freedom, in order to invade, to murder, to annihilate,
to exploit, that is its freedom. And Rousseau goes on: "it
is the law which sets free."

There are certain countries which are playing with the fact
that there is no document here, precisely because they do
not want a law, they do not want an agreement, because the
nonexistence of this agreement allows them to wield their
exploiting freedom, their overpowering liberty.

Let’s make an effort, put pressure on ourselves, here and
out on the streets, so that a commitment comes out of this
conference. So that a statement is released demanding a
commitment from the richest countries on the Earth!

President, Leonardo Boff asks the question – do you know
Boff? I’m not sure whether Boff could come; I met him
recently in Paraguay; we have always read his work: "Can a
finite Earth withstand an infinite project?" The doctrine
of capitalism: infinite development, is a destructive
model, we have to accept that.

Then Boff asks us: "What can we expect from Copenhagen?"
Just this simple confession: we cannot continue as we are
at present, and one simple proposal: "Are we going to
change our path? Let us do it, but without cynicism,
without lies, without double agendas, with meaningless
documents, with the truth striding ahead."

Up to what point, we ask ourselves in Venezuela, Mr.
President, ladies and gentlemen, up to what point are we
going to allow so many injustices and inequalities? For how
long are we going to tolerate the current international
economic order and the market mechanisms in force? Until
what point are we going to allow fierce epidemics such as
HIV/AIDS to devastate entire populations? For how long are
we going to allow hungry people to starve and prevent them
from feeding their own children? For how long are we going
to allow millions of children to continue dying from
curable diseases? For how long are we going to allow armed
conflicts that massacre millions of innocent human beings,
with the aim of awarding the resources of other nations to
the more powerful ones?

Stop the aggression and the wars, we, the people of the
world are calling on the empires, on those who are
attempting to continue dominating the world and exploiting
us! No more imperial military bases or coups d’états. Let
us build a more just and equitable social and economic
order. Let us eradicate poverty. Let us bring an immediate
end to high levels of emissions, let us halt environmental
destruction and prevent a climate change catastrophe. Let
us join together in the noble objective of being more free
and driven by solidarity!

Mr. President, a Venezuelan who made his name almost two
centuries ago, the liberator of nations and the precursor
of consciousness, left a resounding maxim for posterity:
"If nature opposes, we will fight against her and make her
obey us." That was Simón Bolívar, the Liberator.

From Bolivarian Venezuela where, on a day like today, in
fact, exactly 10 years ago, we experienced the greatest
climatic tragedy in our history, the tragedy of Vargas,
that it how it is known; from that Venezuela whose
revolution is attempting to secure justice for all of its
people, the only road forward is that of
socialism…Socialism, the other phantom of which Karl Marx
spoke, is moving around here too; rather, it’s like a
counter-phantom. Socialism, that is the way forward, that
is the path for the salvation of the planet, I have not the
slightest doubt whatsoever about that. And capitalism is
the road to hell, toward the destruction of the world.

Socialism, from that Venezuela which is confronting the
threats of the U.S. empire, from the countries that make up
the ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance, we are calling for, I
respectfully ask for but, from my heart, I am calling on,
on behalf of many people on this planet, the governments
and the peoples of the world, in paraphrasing Simón
Bolívar, the Liberator: if the destructive nature of
capitalism opposes, then we will fight against it and we
will do what we must; we cannot wait with our arms folded
for the death of humanity.

History is calling us to unite and to fight. If capitalism
resists, we are forced to fight a battle against capitalism
and open the way for the salvation of the human species. It
is up to us, raising the standards of Christ, of Mohammed,
of equality, love, justice, humanism, of real and profound
humanism. If we do not do that, the most marvelous creation
of the universe, namely human beings, will disappear! They
are going to disappear!

This planet is billions of years old, and has existed for
billions of years without us, the human race: that is to
say, it does not need us to exist. Now, we cannot live
without the Earth, and we are destroying Pachamama (Mother
Earth) as Evo says, as our indigenous brothers and sisters
in South America say.

Finally Mr. President, now to conclude, we hear Fidel
Castro when he says: "There is an endangered species:
humans". We hear Rosa Luxemburg when she said: "Socialism
or barbarism." We hear Christ, the Redeemer, when he said:
"Blessed are the poor, for theirs shall be the kingdom of

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, we are capable of
ensuring that this Earth will not be the grave of humanity;
we can make this earth a heaven, a heaven of life, peace
and sisterhood for the whole of humanity, for the human

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, thank you and bon
appetit. (Applause).

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