The New Coup Plans of the Venezuelan Bourgeoisie

(Statement issued by the Marxist Tendency in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela)

Using the slogan of “Unity on the Streets” the right wing in Venezuela has launched a new “guarimba” (1) against the Bolivarian revolution.

Despite the fact that the Bolivarian government has issued calls to try and arrive at some way of working together with the political representatives of the opposition with the aim of resolving the different problems facing the country, the most extreme sections of this rancid opposition have prepared a new offensive to destabilise the country.

Conciliation is not possible.

After the elections of the 8th of December last year President Maduro had a meeting with the main sections of the national bourgeoisie where he made a number of concessions such as offering credit, dollars from the state and other opportunities. As was to be expected, a few weeks later these same people replied with an even greater level of hoarding goods thereby ramping up the economic war. In a similar manner, while the government was meeting with the Venezuelan opposition to try and work together to resolve issues such as insecurity, violence on the streets, education, health, and so on, the clear response of the right wing has been to issue a call to the most radicalised sections of the opposition who have been affected by government measures to mobilise, take to the streets and overthrow the government.

None of this should surprise us. The lessons are clear and they should have been learnt some time ago as we, the Marxists, have warned about time and time again. Any attempt to try to conciliate with the bourgeoisie and its political representatives in Venezuela, all grouped together in the parties of the MUD (2), will not succeed. The national bourgeoisie is incapable of playing any progressive role and has been irreconcilably opposed to the Bolivarian revolution since its beginnings. The revolution has meant the awakening of the working masses and a profound change in organisation and revolutionary consciousness that threatens the class domination of the bourgeoisie. For that reason alone there is no possible way of arriving at any form of conciliation with the bourgeoisie. Given this situation, the “national” bourgeoisie have thrown themselves into the arms of their masters in Washington to whom they are tied by a thousand economic, political and personal threads.

This is a Class Struggle

As we have said many times, we cannot count on the bourgeoisie to develop the country, not even to carry out basic progressive reforms in the areas of education, health, housing, and so on. They failed to carry out these reforms when they had their own servile governments that they were allied to and which governed in their interests, so they will be even less inclined to carry out these reforms when they have a government that is taking measures for the benefit of the working class.  Continue reading

Venezuela’s 21st Century Socialism: Neo-Developmentalism or Radical Alternative?

(By Federico Fuentes) 

In the recent period, political discussion in Venezuela has centered on the government’s economic strategy. The reasons seem obvious. Inflation during the first half of the year climbed to 25%. First quarter growth was only 0.7%. And then there are the shortages affecting various basic goods. The question many are asking is: has Chavismo’s economic model reached its limits?

A number of critics say yes. Underpinning the current crisis, they argue, are incorrect government policies that have contributed to the rise of a bureaucratic state residing over an excessively centralised economy that is increasingly dependent on oil revenue.

I would like to put forward an alternative argument, namely that focusing the blame primarily on the government’s policies ignores the historic realities and challenges intrinsic to the rentier and neo-colonial capitalist economy inherited by Chavismo; it also serves to conceal the existence of an ongoing economic war by Venezuela’s elites aimed at regaining control over the country’s prize possession: oil wealth.

To advance this argument I will begin by presenting a general outline of Chavismo’s economic strategy which at its core represents an attempt by Venezuela’s historically excluded popular classes to capture control of the state, stem the outward flow of oil wealth and utilise it as a means for achieving the goal set out in the Bolivarian constitution: “integral human development”. I will then evaluate how the government has gone about this in the social and economic sphere, showing how 21st century socialism differs from neo-developmentalism and how the main challenges faced by the process – bureaucratism, corruption and clientalism – pre-date the government of President Hugo Chavez. Finally, I will return to some of the current problems and potential ways forward.

On a side note, it must be said that the international aspect of Chavismo’s economic strategy is of fundamental importance. However, due to time I will only be focusing on domestic economic policy. Continue reading

Actually Existing Socialism: Venezuela’s Participatory Socialism

(Published by Socialism and Democracy

Venezuela’s construction of “21st-century socialism” is a unique experiment in the annals of history. It contrasts sharply with previous socialist experiences where the state seized control of the means of production and the revolutionary party dominated the political system, running the society from the top down. The core of the Venezuelan originality lies in its commitment to participatory democracy, the exercise of power from the community level. As Hugo Chávez proclaimed in his inaugural address to a new term in January 2007, “pure socialism has to be rooted in communal power, the communal councils.”

Abroad and at home, opponents characterize Chávez’s call for socialism as simply the project of an authoritarian leader who wants to tighten his hold on power. But this ignores the fact that the origins of Chávez’s political persona lay in a popular rebellion, the Caracazo of 1989, when tens of thousands of people from the outlying slums of Caracas descended on the center of the city where the rich lived, throwing the existent political order into crisis. Chávez was appalled when the army was ordered to fire on the demonstrators, killing hundreds, and it was after this that he started organizing the military coup that failed in 1992. Given the broad popular hostility towards the two main political parties that dominated the government, there was significant support for Chávez when he was released from prison in 1994. Between 1989 and 1998 there were over 6,000 protests against political and economic conditions in Venezuela (López Maya 2005: 90). Chávez’s election in 1998 reflected this broad popular discontent as he promised to “refound” the country’s institutions to create a more humane society.

The transformations of the past eight years have all been carried out in tandem with the popular classes.1 This is why the “Bolivarian Revolution” has triumphed and moved forward in ten elections and referendums, as well as defeating a coup attempt and an economic shutdown orchestrated by domestic and international adversaries.2 The virulent offensive of the upper classes to maintain their privileges has only encouraged the mobilization of the historically marginalized sectors to defend their recent conquests and demand further changes in the status-quo. And this mobilization from below has been embraced by a government that is committed to building a more equal and a truly democratic society based on solidarity. Continue reading

Venezuelan President Maduro Vows to “Radicalize” Revolution

(By FightBack! News)

On April 16, newly elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called on workers to resist the wave of right-wing violence that broke out after the recent presidential election. Speaking defiantly to a crowd of workers in Miranda state on Tuesday, April 16, Maduro said, “If they continue with violence, what we can do is to radicalize this revolution.”

In the two days since Maduro’s victory, the Venezuelan right-wing opposition has attacked supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution and resorted to violence to oust the democratically elected president. These confrontations left seven people dead and more than 60 people injured. Armed bands of opposition forces, angry at their defeat in the election, attacked Venezuelans who gathered to celebrate the victory of Maduro in several states. These dangerous attacks are part of a deliberate attempt by the U.S.-supported opposition to destabilize the revolutionary Venezuelan government.

Lacking any commitment to democracy in Venezuela, opposition gangs firebombed the United Socialist Party of Venezuela’s (PSUV) party headquarters in Anzoategui and Tachira while people worked inside, April 16. Elsewhere, upper class students led deadly confrontations with Venezuelan security forces. According to Russia Today, these opposition mobs attacked a government-run clinic in a central Venezuelan state.

Maduro denounced the opposition’s violent tactics in the harshest terms. He vowed to protect the will of the Venezuelan people, saying, “I will fight fascism and those who attack democracy with a firm hand. If they want to topple me, they can come get me.”

In the recent special presidential election, Maduro defeated opposition candidate Henrique Caprilles by a margin of 50.8% to 49.0%. Maduro, a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), succeeded the late President Hugo Chavez, who died just months after also defeating Caprilles in the 2012 election.

Maduro won by a narrow margin of about 270,000 votes. Despite the National Electoral Council (CNE) and at least 100 international observers affirming that the election was fair, Caprilles and the opposition are demanding a full recount. Venezuela’s election process is consistently rated by international observers, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, as one of the most democratic in the world.

Caprilles’ demand for a recount follows in a sinister tradition of U.S.-backed counter-revolutions in socialist and anti-imperialist countries. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) works closely with the rich and wealthy elites in these countries to delegitimize democratic elections and violate the will of the people. In 2002, the U.S.-backed a coup d’état in Venezuela that temporarily removed then-President Chavez from power. The workers of Venezuela and progressive elements in the military battled these U.S. puppets in the streets and eventually restored Chavez to power. A similar CIA-backed destabilization attempt took place in Iran in 2009, with the so-called “Green Revolution.”

This most recent election marks the second time that the people of Venezuela rejected Caprilles’ anti-worker, pro-corporate agenda at the ballot box. Caprilles currently serves as the face of the wealthy Venezuelan opposition. The corporate elites who funded Caprilles’ campaign lost much of their wealth and power because of the Bolivarian Revolution led by Chavez. They fear Maduro’s presidency will continue the trend towards a more just society.

Maduro indicated that the threat of a coup would open the opportunity to radicalize the Bolivarian Revolution. Even after the privately owned media and major corporations conspired to overthrow him in 2002, Chavez stopped short of outlawing or arresting most opposition leaders. This latest wave of counter-revolutionary violence may open the opportunity for Maduro and the Venezuelan people to break the power of the rich oligarchs once and for all.

Revolutionaries and progressives in the U.S. have an obligation to the Venezuelan people to oppose intervention by their own government in the conflict. Venezuela has a right to national self-determination and progressives in the U.S should support the ongoing national democratic process under the leadership of President Maduro. We should demand, “U.S. hands off Venezuela! U.S. hands off Latin America! Victory to the Bolivarian Revolution!”


Hugo Chávez: Heroic and Tireless Internationalist Revolutionary

(By the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist))

The following article is based on a speech delivered by a member of the Central Committee of the CPGB-ML to the memorial meeting, ‘Hugo Chávez and the Venezuelan Revolution’, organised by the Party in London on 8 March, the day of Comrade Chávez’’s funeral. 

Speaking of Mao’s contributions, the Chinese Communist Party has summed up: “Without him the Chinese people would, at the very least, have spent much more time groping in the dark

The same, also at the very least, can be said about the relationship between Hugo Chávez and the people of Venezuela.

Hugo Chávez was a patriot and a champion of the poor who transformed the lives of millions of his long-oppressed and downtrodden compatriots – the workers, the people living in the teeming urban barrios, women, youth, African Venezuelans and the indigenous peoples – not only through real and meaningful reforms, but also in the course of the first determined, conscious and ongoing effort to forge and build a new socialist state that the world has seen in some 30 years.

For these reasons alone, we join with our class brothers and sisters in Venezuela, and with their friends and comrades around the world, in mourning, with deepest grief, the loss of this revolutionary warrior at the too-young age of 58, but also in celebrating his revolutionary life.

Internationalist revolutionary

However, the significance of Hugo Chávez goes far beyond the borders and shores of Venezuela. He was an internationalist revolutionary who stood on the side of every single people fighting against oppression and exploitation. An outstanding political figure of the last part of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st, it can truly be said that, in recent years, no single individual played a greater role in the worldwide anti-imperialist struggle. Therefore, as our party’s statement, quoting Comrade Mao Zedong, rightly says, his death truly is weightier than Mount Tai. Continue reading

In Memory of Comrade Hugo Chavez

‎It is with a heavy heart that Toilers’ Struggle recognizes the loss of El Comandante Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. His tireless efforts to act as the crystallized expression of the people of Venezuela’s pursuit of justice, peace, and socialist transformation will never be forgotten by the oppressed peoples of the Global South and the comrades here in the center of the imperialist world system.

Having died on the same day as Comrade Stalin, Chavez is in good company.

Con tu inspiracion en nuestra corazon Comandante, la lucha sigue camarada!!!

News from the frontlines: Venezuela – The Oligarchy is Defeated

(A news article featured in En Marcha #1596 (October 12-18), organ of the Central Committee of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador)

The announcement of the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela confirming the victory of Hugo Chavez, with more than 54% of the votes over the candidate of the right and the oligarchy, showed the popular support that the project led by the Bolivarian President enjoyed.

This no doubt was an election between two diametrically opposed government programs; that of Hugo Chavez, which focuses on the role of the State as regulator of the means of production and consumption; investment in social programs; a greater popular participation in public institutions; Latin American integration; the driving force for free health care and education programs; for housing; and, what disturbs the right most: state control of oil production. On the other extreme, Henrique Capriles, although he says he is in accord with the right of the popular sectors to better living conditions, does not deny that he represents the Venezuelan oligarchy that yearns to regain control of the public enterprises through their privatization and, therefore, does not deny that they oppose many of the social programs of the present government. It is also in favor of private, national and foreign capital resuming control of the Venezuelan economy.

James Petras, a respected political analyst is clear in pointing out this antagonism: “Chavez is with Latin America, he is opposed to U.S. imperialism where it shows itself and is an unconditional defender of self-determination and Latin American integration.” Capriles Radonski is in favor of free trade agreements with the U.S., he opposes regional integration, he supports the U.S. interventions in the Middle East and is a staunch defender of Israel.” And that difference is what the Venezuelan people have evaluated.

With this result the right has not been defeated. With the power that it maintains over the banks and the media, they managed to convince a large sector to support their openly neoliberal thesis. According to the first report of the CNE, with 90% of the votes counted, Chavez obtained 7,440,082 (54.4%) and Capriles Radonski, 6,151,544 votes (45%).

With Chavez’s victory, the popular sectors have won, those millions who benefit from the programs and missions that allow them to live a dignified life. The thesis of the neoliberal and privatizing oligarchy, of the banks, of transnational oil and gas corporations that yearn to go back to the past of opulence and corruption was defeated together with the U.S. Embassy and the United States Department of State.