Venezuela: People in danger

Sandeep Banerjee

Before reading this piece, I would request readers to go through the latest concise report of the situation written by Farooque  Chowdhury, published in MR ONLINE on July 25, 2017 (1) (& also in FrontierOnline dated 31 July, 2017). That was also republished by the ZNET the very next day. It will properly inform us the severity of problems in Venezuela.

Within a week or month from now (29.07.2017) all I’m writing here may prove totally wrong. Venezuelan Socio-economic and Political history is perhaps one of the trickiest domains for idle conjectures like what follows.  But the facts cited are not wrong; we know ‘facts are stubborn things’.

If somehow the Venezuelan “Socialism of the Twenty-first Century” falls by continuous imperialist-backed warfare (what else to name the ugly provocations and actions of the pro-imperialist bourgeois opposition) I would like to put the main blame on those “socialists” running the government, because what the opposition is doing now is not something new to Latin Am countries; for example, we saw in Nicaragua how the contra, created and sponsored by the USA, worked.  The “STATE” has shown and is showing its character since early Chavez years including the coup d’état attempt in 2002.  But luckily majority of the armed forces were Chavez supporters and the people were also mobilized and ultimately the coup failed. This was the first and only coup attempt (by USA & Pro-US forces) in a Latin Am country that failed and that gave Chavez more international fame.
That the state apparatus was never smashed by the Venezuelan “revolution” was true to some Venezuelan leaders even 10-12 years ago. For example, in a 2004 interview Ali Rodriguez, the Chief of state run petroleum company PDVSA said, “The Main Obstacle Is the Administrative Structure of the Venezuelan State” (2).

Tamara Pearson wrote emotionally her experience in 2010: “The Insidious Bureaucracy in Venezuela: Biggest Barrier to Social Change” and gave some concrete examples of bureaucratic functioning of the state machinery. (3)

And lastly, an ardent supporter of Latin Am “socialisms” Marta Harnekar wrote in Dec 2016, “But nobody can deny that a sector of the Venezuelan capitalist class and corrupt state bureaucracy are taking advantage of this situation to deepen the crisis and bury the emancipatory Bolivarian project. They are seeking to restore the pre-Chavez Fourth Republic — a paradise for the few, but with suffering and marginalisation for most.”(4) In an recent article (5) George Martin admitted that “There is a struggle between the revolutionary rank and file and the bureaucracy and the reformists within the Bolivarian movement.”

This is not a particular Venezuelan mistake. Similar things happened in Soviet Russia too and by 1919-20 majority of the bureaucracy was back to work for the state. The incipient Workers’ Control there could not effectively challenge that, leave aside smashing that.

Now another influential part of the STATE is the armed forces. A vast majority (let us suppose) still put faith on Bolivarian Revolution, or Chavista visions of “Twenty-first century socialism” or etc. But the military cannot work against internal ‘political’ opposition which is again trying to make a coup to oust President Maduro and openly run the government in Neo-lib lines. What was needed was what Marx and Engels called ‘Arming of the People’.

Carlos Lanz, when he was 60+ years old took change of a big govt. company ALCASA (that is aluminium producing factory. He was a former Guerrilla and spent more than 7 years in jail during pre-Chavez era. The NY Times wrote in Aug3, 2005: “After weeks of accusations by Mr. Chavez in February that the Bush administration was preparing to invade Venezuela, Mr. Lanz invited military reserves to the factory to prepare workers for an American invasion.” ( 6 ) Allan Woods of In Defence of Marxism, on April 2010, assured readers that “working people armed themselves” (7). But is that was so, why we are getting news of one-sided civil war attempts by the opposition? Rather just a week before we heard in Aporrea: Workers must form Committees against coup attempt by the opposition (8). [It must be noted that Carlos Lanz, again in Oct 2011 analysed change of styles of operation by the USA to warn everybody for some urgent actions. He devoted a full section on ‘Asymmetric warfare or the Warfare by all the people’ and also wrote some immediate tasks for the people like: forming networks of groups of 5-7 members in each group; whose basic functions would be intelligence gathering, conduct psychological operations, organization of territorial control and mobilizations; and training and preservation of forces by continuing socio-political and technical-military education. (9)]

Absence of a Party of Revolution still matters. PSUV is not perhaps as much competent as it could have been. In the Chilean magazine Punto Final, in May 2003, a respected leader of Venezuela, Guillermo García Ponce, chief of Comando Político de la Revolución Bolivarian said – what we lack is a party of the revolution. (10) PSUV was not the proper answer to this void. “A lifelong union and socialist activist, Perez Borges is today a member of the United League of Chavista Socialists (LUCHAS), a radical current within the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and he tells us, “We are in a situation of uncertainty, given the multiple problems we face. The impacts of bureaucracy, corruption and improvisation are big. We are feeling the effects of these evils and the fact that after more than 10 years since Chavez declared the government and Bolivarian process to be anti-imperialist and socialist, we have not been able to transcend capitalism.

We are suffering the perverse effects of bureaucracy, corruption, improvisation, all within a framework of capitalism” (11).   Then, why not stop using the term ‘socialism’ anywhere you like while talking about the Venezuelan economy?

We know how the opposition won majority of assembly seats. The most striking thing in that election was massive abstention and blank votes (12)!

Only the toiling people can change the course of history, and that is not by votes alone, of course. Remember how the USA backed coup was defeated. Remember the way working people spoiled the Capitalists backed Petroleum “Strike”.  A significant section of the people was disheartened by govt. inactions or actions and the ruling party. They must be won back by ‘revolutionaries’ there.  

1. “The disinformation campaign on Venezuela”

7.   “Esta vez, además de las habituales camisas rojas, hubo una presentación masiva de la milicia popular, vestida de camuflaje verde y portando fusiles de asalto rusos AK-47, una clara advertencia a la oligarquía reaccionaria de que las masas están dispuestas a luchar contra cualquier intento de atrasar el reloj.”

8. “¡Todos contra el golpe de Estado a organizar comités de trabajadores contra el golpe!” Por: El Topo Obrero | Domingo, 23/07/2017,

9. “Tareas de las Redes de Movilización Inmediata ( REMI)
Funciones básicas: inteligencia, operaciones psicológicas, organización del control territorial y las movilizaciones.
Organización REMI: estructura mínima entre 5 y 7 miembros. Definición de mecanismos de funcionamiento, contactos y enlaces.
Formación y preservación de las fuerzas: educación socio-política y técnico-militar.”

10. The heading was: “Nos falta el partido de la revolución”   

12. “...abstention was 25%, representing more than 5 million people. The number of blank votes – 7.8% – was the highest in a number of years. ”

Aug 2, 2017

Sandeep Banerjee

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