Actor/activist Danny Glover talked to Roland Martin about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez recently during an exclusive interview.
MR. MARTIN: You also face criticism, because once you put yourself out there, all of a sudden, people begin to take their shots. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez – you’ve made many visits there. I remember, I guess, in ’09, I was trying to interview you; and you were actually shooting a movie, I believe, down there.
MR. GLOVER: I was trying to shoot a movie on the Haitian revolution. It was President Hugo Chavez who embraced the idea around the issue of Afro-descendants, and one of the things that we’ve been working on – my friend James Early, from the Smithsonian, and others – is creating this relationship between what has happened with Afro-descendants in the hemisphere. There’re 150 million African descendants in the Southern Hemisphere, in this – in this hemisphere. 90 percent of them live in poverty.
And what’s happening with these extraordinary moments in grassroots democracy and reimagining democracy all over the hemisphere is that there’s a place for African descendants. You know, Brazilians … 90 million people of African descent live in Brazil. Colombia – all these questions that are happening…. And it’s been exciting to watch them as they interface with the dynamics that are changing in their country.
Yeah, you’re going to get criticized, but … Hugo Chavez said, “Look at my hair. My grandmother was – [chuckles] – African.” You know what I’m saying? You want to talk to him and find out how can we find ways in which that experience translates into [the] kind[s] of changes that need to happen in your country, but also in the hemisphere as well.
MR. MARTIN: And the reason I brought that up [is] because you approached that not thinking of, “Oh, here are the geopolitical interests of political folks in Washington, D.C.” What you’re actually doing is going back historically, two, three, 400 years to day, “Look, there’s a lineage here, a connection here that goes beyond what you want it to be in terms of in America here, we don’t like that person because we think he’s socialist. We don’t like Castro for these reasons.”
You’re saying, “No, no, no. There’s a different dynamic, different connection here.”
MR. GLOVER: It’s a different dynamic and different connection. And the most important thing about the process is something is happening in the region. Something has happened different in the region. … in the Organization of American States, when you get a vote of 30 to 2, there’s something happening not only in Latin America with those countries … who are the usual suspects – you know, whether it’s Bolivia, or whether it’s Ecuador, or whether it’s Venezuela. … what you have is also that resonating – or Nicaragua – resonating with Caribbean countries and other countries that are part of the Organization of American States.
So, something is happening in the region, and maybe we could learn a great deal about this whole re-imagination of democracy. Where do you get – what is exceptional in this region? They have an indigenous man elected president of a country who comes out of a movement, a social movement, around the privatization of water in his country – [unintelligible] – who he is. Or, to have a woman the president of the sixth-largest economy in the world, who’s actually a woman who had been tortured in an attempt to change her country – that’s what I consider to be exceptional in a way. And to be able to talk to these people in a sense, because what is evident, and what we realize is that something is changing in the world, whether we look at the EU and what is happening with the virtual collapse of the EU, a virtual collapse within the context of the existing economic paradigm; and at the same time, you have a country like Argentina who walks away from the World Bank, establishing another relationship in terms of ALBA and other relationships. Where do you find the relationship between Petrocaribe, which provides discount oil for Caribbean countries?
You watch all these things happening, and you wonder, you question, “What if?” Because it’s all in our imagination. What did Einstein say? The imagination is more important and more powerful than knowledge. So – [chuckles] – it’s all in our imagination.
So, we can create the kind of relationship that King talks about in his “beloved community.” We can create the relationships in our imagination. How do they manifest themsel[ves] from people to people, within the nation-state? And how do they manifest themsel[ves] from nation-state to nation-state?