In the build up to the September
elections, the right-wing opposition is preparing on several fronts.
Economic sabotage is one of them, as are the manoeuvres on the part of
right-wing elements within the Bolivarian movement itself. Meanwhile,
all this is having a radicalising effect on the left.
the counter-revolution is organizing to prepare a new prolonged battle
against the Bolivarian government. On top of the deep economic
recession, we recently saw new shifts in the alignments in the political
landscape which can play a decisive role in the warm up to the
parliamentary elections in September.
Some three weeks ago, the governor of Lara state, Henri Falcón chose
to abandon the ranks of the PSUV, after a long polemic with Chávez. The
latter had accused him of being too close to the bourgeoisie of Lara and
not really serving the interests of the workers and youth of that
state. Falcón replied by slamming the door and joining the PPT (Patria
Para Todos), a small party which supports the government but stayed out
of the PSUV when it was formed in 2007. Since then, it has tried to act
as a brake on Chávez, by promoting the cause for “reconciliation” and
“dialogue” with the opposition.
Falcón spoke demagogically about the need for “tolerance”. “A
revolutionary must build bridges, not put up traps nor denounce the
right of the people to participate in the political party that they
he affirmed. While trying to rally the petit-bourgeois and middle class
elements around his calls for “democracy” and “freedom of political
parties” (a strange demand, as this is already reality in Venezuela),
what Falcón is really upset about are the recent declarations of Chávez
accusing him of being allied to the bourgeoisie.
On March 14, Chávez commented on the case of Falcón in his weekly Aló
Presidente show. He spoke in very harsh terms, not just of the
governor of Lara, but also of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie as a class:
“Our revolution is not planning an agreement with the bourgeoisie.
There is no possibility of an agreement or any deal with the Venezuelan
bourgeoisie. There is no possibility of any agreement, nor can there or
will there ever be and he who does think that there can be one, should
abandon our ranks immediately.
“That is why the question of the governor of Lara, about which I was
speaking yesterday with firmness in Barquisimeto itself, has come up.
Because behind him there is a lot of manipulation going on, to which the
governor pays service and to which the PPT pays service. That is
regrettable, but it is a fact. “Oh no, we are with Chávez”. That is a
lie. It is the bourgeoisie who stands behind this game. Don’t you see
that the bourgeoisie is applauding the Lara governor? Why don’t they
attack him? Because there are deals being made behind the scenes.”ii
This is the truth of the matter. The fact is that the vast majority
of all right-wing newspapers were euphoric about Henri Falcon’s
desertion from the PSUV. Falcon and the PPT assures everyone that they
stand for a “Blue Chavismo” (“Chavismo Azul”), which is supposed to be
more “tolerant” than the kind advocated by Chávez himself. But that is
just a smokescreen for saying that they have broken with Chávez and
are in reality fighting for a completely different programme:
Counter-revolution with a democratic mask.
In a recent interview to Últimas Noticiasiii,
José Albornóz, the General Secretary of the PPT, said that it was a
pity that people like Ismael Garcia and his party PODEMOS, had left the
camp of the revolution, as they would have had much more influence
within it. He thought it was just a regrettable misunderstanding and a
matter of “wild, uncontrolled sentiments” that had led PODEMOS to betray
the revolution in the run up to the constitutional reform referendum in
This is a most peculiar logic. The truth is that Ismael Garcia and
his PODEMOS party were never revolutionaries, but social-democrats who
for a time clung to the Chávez coalition, in order to try to slow down
the pace of the revolution. But even the limited constitutional reform
was too much for them to swallow, so they decided to join the
opposition, that is the open camp of the counter-revolution, and run an
anti-communist campaign for a NO-vote in the referendum. But for
Albornoz this was just a misunderstanding!
What Albornóz is really saying is that his party is trying to do the
same as PODEMOS (and before that, the MAS), that is to put a brake on
the revolution and reach a deal with the ruling class. In other words, he
represents a fifth column within the revolution. Many ordinary
members of the PPT have understood this. More than 200 members decided
to abandon the party and join the PSUV. But on the other hand, Albornóz
informed that 20,000 people had applied for membership after the
incorporation of Falcón. There is no doubt which class these 20,000
people belong to. It is the layers of the petit-bourgeoisie and of the
bourgeoisie itself who are seeking an option to get rid of Chávez and
the revolution altogether.
In recent years we have seen a long list of renegades, abandoning the
revolution: Ariás Cárdenas (who then “rejoined” in 2006), the MAS,
Pablo Medina, Luís Miquelena, Baduel, Ismael Garcia and PODEMOS and we
could name many more. But this time, it is likely that Falcón will be
able to organize wider layers of discontented middle class and bourgeois
elements under the banner of “Chavismo azul”, “tolerance” and
Counter-revolution promotes chaos and violence
To this should be added recent opposition activity which is aimed at
sabotaging and creating unrest wherever possible. In January we had the
opposition middle-class students demonstrating and promoting violence in
the streets with the excuse of the supposed closure of RCTV (a
television channel which was taken off the air by its private license
owners temporarily because they didn’t respected Venezuelan
constitutional rules). These activities left one chavista student
activist killed in Mérida and several injured in other parts of the
Then on March 21 we saw the 36-hour transport “strike” in Caracas. In
reality it was a bosses’ lockout, where the owners of the privately
owned means of transportation decided to shut down traffic. But workers
organized in the United Transport Union of Caracas, led by its president
Richard Manbel, rejected this lockout and most of the bus drivers went
to work anyway. Only 5% of the workers joined the strikeiv
and services were therefore running more or less on a normal level.
Thus the attempt on the part of the bosses failed miserably. Just as in
the bosses’ lockout of December 2002, it was the actions of the
working class which saved the situation.
Another key aspect of the counter-revolution’s attempt to destabilize
the country is the ongoing sabotage and speculation in the food sector.
A recent investigationv
shows that the ratio of diversity of food products available was at its
lowest in the months prior to the Constitutional Referendum in December
2007, which Chávez lost with a narrow margin, while food scarcity was
at its highest:
This was by no means a coincidence. The capitalists in the food
sector made a deliberate, and successful, attempt to saw confusion,
demoralization and frustration among the masses who had previously voted
for Chávez. They knew that they wouldn’t be able to win the
masses to the opposition camp, but their aim was to demoralize
them. This was precisely what happened: Nearly three million people in
the Bolivarian mass base abstained from voting, thus giving the escuálidos
a marginal victory. Food scarcity in Venezuela is part of a concerted
and well-organised counter-revolutionary campaign.
The possibility of this being repeated in the months preceding the
September parliamentary elections is clearly present, as the main food
distributors and markets are still in the hands of the Capitalists.
Chávez is trying to extend the state-owned Mercal food markets, but in
reality the expansion is very limited and only amount to 7%vi
in total quantity of food available.
This cannot make up for the
colossal loss that is created by hoarding, speculation and the big
inflation in the entire privately owned food sector.
The main problem is twofold: The privately owned food sector remains
largely untouched (with small exceptions, such as Éxito and Cargill) and
there is no monopoly on foreign trade. On the other hand, national food
production remains very low and the agrarian reform of 2001 hasn’t
produced any significant distribution of the land to the poor peasants.
Those peasants who did get a piece of land were in many cases refused
the cheap credits that they had been promised and thus the land remains
The logical conclusion from this is that private property of food
production, processing and distribution sectors is in direct
contradiction with the democratic will of the majority of Venezuelans.
The only way to solve this problem (which represents a deadly threat to
the revolution) is by expropriating these industries and putting them
under the democratic control of workers, consumers and peasant
cooperatives, so that they can plan them rationally according to the
interests of the majority of the people, and put an end to this
counter-revolutionary and undemocratic sabotage.
The parliamentary elections
Gustavo Tarre Briceño, one of the hardened counter-revolutionaries
and former leader of the social-christian COPEI party, recently said
that “the government was that bad that it was actually possible to win
the elections”. Obviously this is a crude exaggeration, which turns
everything on it’s head. The governments in the Fourth Republic were
vicious protectors of Capital and served to maintain the exploitation of
the great majority of workers and poor. Chávez was the first to break
with this. Nonetheless, it is true that many reformists and bureaucrats
surrounding Chávez are incapable of solving the most pressing problems
of Venezuela, such as electricity, housing, food scarcity and people’s
insecurity. The main reason for this is that they do not dare break with
capitalism and private property.
In the same interviewvii,
Tarre Breceño explains the strategy of the opposition. He stated that
even in the case of the Opposition not gaining a majority in the
National Assembly, “parliament will convert itself into a center of
national debate” and that this in itself would “represent a qualitative
change”. Here we have an outline of the counter-revolution’s
perspective. Even if they only manage to win, say 40%, they will use all
these MP’s to block or delay government initiatives. They will make
these legal representatives travel the country back and forth and
mobilize the volatile masses of petit-bourgeois and middle class
elements. This is the first part of a plan, the goal of which is to get
rid og Chávez and bury the revolution.
Among the Bolivarian masses there is profound concern about this, but
also a deep-rooted discontent with bureaucracy in the PSUV. This was
reflected in an interesting interview a couple of months ago with
Alberto Müller Rojas, the former PSUV vice-president, who said that
“Chávez is sitting in a nest of scorpions”viii,
referring to many of the reformists in the government and the party.
In the same Alo Presidente in which Chávez attacked Falcón
and declared that there can be no agreement with the ruling elite, he
once again stressed that the capitalist state must be done away with and
criticised those who advocated “market socialism”, the most recent
mantra of the reformists within the Bolivarian movement. These ideas
connect with the critical mood which has developed amongst the rank and
file of the PSUV.
It is in this context that the ideas of Marxism have a keen audience.
Recently, the Assembly of Popular Movements in Caracas adopted the
proposal of a programme for the PSUV presented by the Marxists as its
own, and as a result it has been circulated for discussion to all
congress delegates. The same ideas were enthusiastically received at
assemblies of the Juventud Bicentenaria, the new front of revolutionary
youth organizations. This confirms that the rank and file will keep
struggling to change the PSUV and transform it into a tool that can
complete the revolution once and for all.
Caracas, March 25, 2010
Noticias, 21 de Marzo de 2010, pag.16
Noticias, 16 de Marzo de 2010
de Orinoco, 23 de Marzo de 2010, pag. 2
statistics is taken from Correo de Orinoco, 21 de Marzo de 2010,
Noticias, 21 de Marzo de 2010, supplemento dominco, pag. 6-7