Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, leader of the Bolivian Revolution, delivered a fiery speech today aimed right at the heart of capitalism. While not in the room, I watched him speak, along with a crowd of attendees who had gathered around the close-circuit TV.
Here are a few highlights:
“There is a ghost lurking…a ghost running through the streets of Copenhagen. That ghost is silent. It’s capitalism. Capitalism is that ghost. Nobody wants to name it. Out there.”
“The destructive model of capitalism is eradicating life!”
“If the climate were a bank, they’d have already saved it. If the climate were a bank, a capitalist bank.”
President Chavez says climate change is the most devastating problem of the century, but says not to lose site of the cause of all this. “The cause of this problem is the destructive model of capitalism.”
“Can an infinite model exist on a finite earth? How long can we go on with this?…We won’t wait with our arms crossed, waiting for humanity to die…If we don’t to this, then the great creation of the universe will disappear.”
He ends by thanking the UN President, and telling the delegates to enjoy their lunch.
Of course, whether or not one agrees with Mr. Chavez, this being a climate convention, it begs the question, what exactlyis
Venezuela doing about climate change? As most folks know, Venezuela sits on top of vast petroleum reserves, and is a major oil exporter (6th largest
in the world). Venezuela also heavily subsidizes the cost of gasoline and other petroleum products, keeping domestic prices low, and thereby increasing demand. Venezuelans currently pay around 17¢/gallon
While the atmosphere doesn’t care a lick about whether GHG emissions are produced under a capitalist or socialist system, Chavez’s speech is just one more example of the many divides – ideological, economic, geographic, etc. – that must be bridged in order to fashion a global agreement on climate change.