The Battle of Copenhagen

An alternate English translation of President Hugo Chávez’s speech about the climate summit in Copenhagen, by the wonderfully talented translator & Tlaxcala member, David Brookbank.

“The Battle of Copenhagen” Español

Copenhagen was the scene of a historic battle in the context of the 15th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Better said: In the beautiful and snow-covered capital of Denmark, a battle began which did not end on December 18, 2009.  I want to reiterate: Copenhagen was only the beginning of the decisive battle for the salvation of the planet.  A battle on the field of ideas and of praxis.

The Brazilian Leonardo Boff, the great liberation theologian and one of the most authoritative voices on the subject of ecology, in an essential article entitled, What is at stake in Copenhagen, penned these insightful and courageous words:  “What can we hope for from Copenhagen?  Perhaps just this simple confession: We cannot continue the way we are going.  And this simple proposition:  We are going to change course.”

That is precisely why we went to Copenhagen: to fight for a change of course on behalf of Venezuela and on behalf of the Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA).  And even more so: in defense of the cause of humanity and, speaking in one voice with President Evo Morales, in defense of Pachamama, of Mother Earth.

Evo, who together with me took on the role of spokesperson for the Bolivarian Alliance, said it wisely:  “At issue here is whether we will live or whether we will die.”

The eyes of the entire world were focused on Copenhagen – the 15th Conference on Climate Change gave us the chance to determine what we are made of, where hope lies, and what we can do to create what the Liberator Simon Bolívar defined as the equilibrium of the universe, an equilibrium that can never be achieved within the global capitalist system.


Before our arrival in Copenhagen, the African bloc, backed by the Group of 77, took it upon itself to denounce the fact that the rich nations were walking away from the Kyoto Protocol, that is, the only international instrument that exists to fight against global warming and the only one that imposes sanctions on industrialized nations while protecting developing nations.

It must be acknowledged that the battle had already been taken up in the streets of Copenhagen, with the youth in the forefront protesting and proposing:  I could see and feel, from the moment of my arrival in the Danish capital on December 16, the historic power of another world which, for the youth, is now no longer just possible but which is also absolutely necessary.


From the beginning in Copenhagen, the cards were on the table for all to see. On one hand, the cards of a small-minded and brutally senseless capitalism that will not relent in the defense of its own logic: the logic of capital, which in its path leaves only ever-accelerating death and destruction.

On the other hand, there were the cards of the world’s peoples demanding human dignity, the salvation of the planet and radical change, not of the climate, but rather of the global system that has brought us to the brink of unprecedented ecological and social catastrophe.

On one side, the victors of a mercantile and utilitarian civilization, in other words, the “civilized” who for so long have forgotten “being” and have blindly chosen an increasingly insatiable “having”.

On the other side, we “barbarians” who remain committed to believing in, and therefore fighting for, a radical change in logic through which the well-being of humanity can be maximized while environmental and ecological impacts are minimized; barbarians who maintain, as pointed out by our comrade Evo Morales, that it is not possible to defend human rights if we do not first defend the rights of Mother Earth; barbarians who act with a firm commitment to leaving the planet and the future to our descendents.

I will not tire of shouting to the four winds: our only possible and viable alternative is socialism.  I said so each time I spoke before the gathered representatives of the world in Copenhagen, the most important global meeting in the last 200 years:  There is no other way, if we want to stop this heartless and debased competition which only promises total annihilation.

Why do the “civilized” so fear a project that aspires to create collective well-being?  They fear it, let’s be clear, because collective well-being does not produce profits.  From that crystal clear reality comes the great slogan of the Copenhagen street protests which today speaks for millions: “If the climate were a bank, they would have saved it already”.

The “civilized” do not take the measures they should take because that would, simply put, require them to radically change their voracious way of life, characterized by selfish comfort, and that does not suit their cold hearts, which beat only to the rhythm of money.

That is why the (U.S.) Empire showed up at the last minute, on December 18, to offer crumbs as a means of blackmail and in that way to wash the evident guilt from its face.  Confronted by this strategy of buying support, the clear and valiant voice of the Hindu thinker Vandana Shiva was heard throughout Denmark speaking a great truth:  “I think it’s time for the U.S. to stop seeing itself as a donor and recognize itself as a polluter, a polluter who must pay for damages and who must pay their ecological debt.  This is not about charity. This is about justice.”

I must say this:  In Copenhagen the Obama illusion came to a definite end.  His status as leader of the empire and Nobel War laureate was confirmed.  The enigma of the two Obamas has been resolved.

On Friday the 18th the event ended without reaching a democratic consensus: Obama conducted business outside the process, in further violation of United Nations procedures, thus obliging us to contest any resolution that does not respect the Kyoto Protocol.  To respect and strengthen Kyoto is our motto.

An agreement in Copenhagen was not possible due to the lack of political will by the rich nations: the powerful of the world, the hyper-developed, who do not want to give up their patterns of production and consumption which are as senseless as they are suicidal.  “To hell with the world if they threaten my privileges and my lifestyle” is what they seem to reiterate with their behavior.  This is the harsh reality that they do not what to hear from those of us who do act under the historic and categorical imperative to change course.

Copenhagen is not the end, I repeat, but rather a beginning: the doors have been opened for a universal debate on how to save our planet, to save life on our planet.  The battle continues.


We had the opportunity to commemorate the 179th Anniversary of the physical disappearance of our Liberator in an event with profound revolutionary meaning: I refer to the Meeting of the Bolivarian Alliance with the Danish social movements on December 17.  I was able to sense once again that Bolívar is not just a banner for Venezuela or the Americas, but increasingly a universal leader.

His living and combative legacy, embodied today in the Bolivarian Alliance, is what is transforming the world, a legacy that took us to Copenhagen to fight for la Patria Grande, which is to fight at the same time for the cause of humanity.

In reality and in truth, Bolívar lives!  In Copenhagen I confirmed that he is more alive than ever.

And now indeed he shall overcome!

Now indeed we shall overcome!

David Brookbank is a member of Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator and editor are cited.

3 responses to “The Battle of Copenhagen

  1. A truly talented translator if ever there was.

    Viva Hugo Chavez! Viva Evo Morales! Viva David Brookbank! Viva Pachamama!

    Let’s not sell O’Bama short. After all, one of his twin selves…

    …. has given us: “hopey” !

  2. So much for free speach. I have two posts that have been “awaiting moderation” on other posts for days now, in one case, weeks. What are you afraid of, Machetera?

    • Hank, chill out. Unlike some people I have a life away from the computer. I count only one other post of yours awaiting moderation, but I think I’ll just delete it anyway.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s