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Venezuela: capitalists want to use Chávez’s healt h problems to strangle the revolution

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  • Cort Greene
    http://www.marxist.com/venezuela-capitalists-want-to-use-chavez-ill-health.htm Venezuela: capitalists want to use Chávez’s health problems to strangle the
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 12, 2012

      Venezuela: capitalists want to use Ch�vez�s health problems to strangle the
      Written by Jorge Mart�nWednesday, 12 December 2012
      [image: Print]<http://www.marxist.com/venezuela-capitalists-want-to-use-chavez-ill-health/print.htm>[image:

      On Saturday, December 8, Venezuelan president Ch�vez announced that he
      would have to undergo another surgical intervention in Cuba. Adding that
      �there are always risks in processes like this� he explained that �if
      anything happens to me that hinders me [from performing as president]�,
      vice president Maduro is his preference to replace him.

      [image: Chavez leaving hospital in
      leaving hospital in 2011The announcement came as a shock to the Bolivarian
      masses. This was the first time that Ch�vez spoke about his choice of
      replacement in the leadership of the revolution and this indicates that he
      is worried something might go wrong with his treatment. Tens of thousands
      of Venezuelans came out on Sunday, filling the Bolivar squares in every
      town and city to show their support for the president.

      The Venezuelan oligarchy and imperialism immediately jumped on this
      announcement in an indecent haste to get rid of Ch�vez. They argued that
      according to the article 234 constitution in the event of a temporary
      absence of the president, the vice president Maduro should assume the
      presidency. As a matter of fact, Ch�vez has used the provision in article
      235 of the constitution to ask permission from the National Assembly to be
      absent from the country for over 5 days. This was granted on Sunday,
      December 9.

      Behind these legalistic arguments there is the clear aim of the opposition
      to remove Ch�vez from office in the hope that he will not be able to come
      back. Let us not forget that ever since he was elected in 1998, the
      oligarchy, the owners of banks, the land, the media and big businesses, and
      imperialism have waged a relentless campaign to defeat the revolution and
      overthrow Ch�vez using all means at their disposal, legal and illegal. This
      included the coup in April 2002, the criminal lock out and sabotage of the
      oil industry in 2002-2003, the *guarimba* riots of 2004 (at which time 100
      Colombian paramilitaries were arrested in a ranch near the capital), the
      recall referendum of 2004, a constant investment strike, sabotage of the
      food distribution chain (including hoarding, racketeering and smuggling),

      Now, by insisting on the removal of Ch�vez as a president, they want to
      achieve what they could not get in the October 7 elections. There is a good
      reason why they are so fixated in the figure of Ch�vez: he plays a key role
      in the Bolivarian revolution. There is an almost symbiotic relationship
      between the president and the Bolivarian masses which are the motor force
      of the revolution. Ch�vez has always shown himself to be sensitive to the
      pressures from below and the masses consider him as one of their own.

      This is in stark contrast with many of the other top figures in the
      Bolivarian movement, ministers, governors, local mayors, etc. None of them
      has even a fraction of the moral standing and political authority Ch�vez
      commands amongst the working class and the poor which are the basis of
      support for the revolution. Many are seen as corrupt careerists out to make
      a personal gain from their allegiance to the Bolivarian movement. While the
      revolutionary people, the workers, the peasants and the poor came out on
      the streets against the coup in April 2002, many of the �Bolivarian�
      regional governors swore loyalty to the new illegitimate coup-government of
      Carmona, only to quickly switch sides again as the masses defeated the coup.

      In important states like Aragua, Lara, Monagas and others, we have seen
      �Bolivarian� governors jump ship (*saltar la talanquera*) and join the
      reactionary opposition. Others remain on the Bolivarian side of the fence,
      but act as bourgeois IV Republic type politicians, dishing out jobs and
      positions to cronies and family members, getting involved in all sorts of

      The bureaucracy in the state institutions in many instances acts as a block
      to the revolutionary initiative of the masses. In many occasions the
      workers and the poor have reached directly to Ch�vez over the heads of
      Ministers and governors to get things done. Just to give an example the
      heroic struggle of the workers of SIDOR, against the regional governor
      Rangel who sent the National Guard against them and against the then
      Minister of Labour Ramon Rivero, which finally got Ch�vez to decree the
      expulsion of the multinational and the re-nationalisation of this key steel
      plant in Guayana. Rivero also lost his job as a result.

      Then, the workers in the basic industries demanded that workers� control
      should be introduced, again, in opposition to the stated position of
      managers, directors and ministers. Finally Ch�vez called a meeting to
      establish the Socialist Guayana Plan and agreed to the workers� demands,
      nominating a series of worker-directors in the key state owned factories.

      There are many other examples like this which have solidified the
      relationship between the president and the revolutionary masses and at the
      same time strengthened a deep rooted current of suspicion and distrust
      towards the bureaucrats and reformists at the top of the movement.

      The ruling class and imperialism are calculating that while Ch�vez is
      �unpredictable� (meaning he is quite capable of taking bold decisions and
      of striking blows against their interests), anyone who replaces him will be
      easier to defeat in elections and at the same time more amenable to the
      pressure of bourgeois public opinion towards conciliation and concessions. *
      Chavismo*without Ch�vez, they think, would lose its revolutionary edge,
      becoming much safer for the interests of private property.

      [image: Portada de El Nuevo Pa�s]Immediately after Ch�vez made his
      announcement, opposition supporters used the twitter hash tag #RIPChavez,
      revealing the disgusting lack of any morality on the part of more crazy
      elements of this �democratic� opposition. In the same vein the most
      extreme opposition commentators declared the end of the revolution (*El
      Nuevo Pais* published a frontpage headline declaring "The Revolution is
      Over"). The most intelligent representatives of the ruling class however,
      took a different line. Attempting to disguise their jubilation at the news
      of Ch�vez�s ill health, they stressed the need for national unity across
      the political divide, for reconciliation and dialogue, etc.

      The business organisation Fedecamaras (which played a crucial role in the
      April 2002 coup), issued a statement along the same lines. In a press
      conference on Monday, December 10, they asked for an urgent meeting with
      vice president Nicol�s Maduro �to agree urgent macro-economic adjustments�
      which they think Venezuela requires. They are basically asking for
      concessions from the government regarding exchange controls (a possible
      devaluation), liberalisation of prices of regulated food products, etc.

      Fedecamaras president Jorge Botti did not mince his words: �Let�s not wait
      until January. Decisions need to be taken now; we ask directly the acting
      president of the Republic, Nicol�s Maduro, to jointly take together with
      his economic area ministers the necessary decisions as soon as
      possible.� (Patronal
      pide reuni�n a Maduro y dice Venezuela est� virtualmente

      Notice the arrogance of this people. They were soundly defeated in the
      presidential elections just over two months ago and they now want to rule
      the country and take the most important economic decisions.

      The financial press and investment analysts have insisted in describing
      Maduro as a man of dialogue, �someone we can talk to.� Stratfor described
      him as �pragmatic�, while Barclays Capital said earlier this year that if
      Maduro was to lead the government �we could expect a more moderate
      approach� from him. Whether this is just wishful thinking on the part of
      the capitalists remains to be seen. What they wish for is clear: for Ch�vez
      to be out of the picture and for a new government to make all sorts of
      concessions to big business and multinationals and abandon any idea of
      moving towards a nationalised planned economy.

      There is another field in which the oligarchy is testing the terrain: the
      so-called political prisoners and exiles. Immediate after their election
      defeat on October 7th they started a campaign around this question. They
      say that all those who have been imprisoned for �political reasons� and
      those who have had to flee the country because of �political persecution�
      should be amnestied. First of all let us be clear about this question, we
      are not talking here about people who are persecuted because of their
      political views, but about politicians who broke the law and are either in
      jail or (the majority of them) have fled the country to escape justice.

      These are the people who carried out the coup in April 2002 (including
      brief coup-president Pedro Carmona in �exile� in Colombia), the people who
      organised the sabotage of the oil industry 10 years ago now, Manuel Rosales
      who was charged with corruption and left for Per�, others who are wanted in
      relation to the assassination of state prosecutor Danilo Anderson (who was
      investigating the April 2002 coup when he was killed), etc. These people
      should be tried and made to pay for their crimes, for which they have not
      even apologised or shown any remorse.

      The fact that it was suggested by opposition deputy Edgar Zambrano, who is
      travelling around the world to get a full list of these �exiles� (in Miami,
      Madrid, Bogot�, etc), that the �government through Nicol�s Maduro has
      expressed political will to solve this issue�, is scandalous and created an
      uproar amongst Bolivarian activists. No government spokesperson has refuted
      this statement so far.

      What we can see is a situation in which the capitalists are exerting
      pressure on the leadership of the Bolivarian movement towards conciliation
      and concessions. On the other hand the Bolivarian masses want to push
      forward, towards the completion of the revolution, but they find themselves
      without a clear leadership and without any democratic revolutionary
      structure through which they can decide over the course of the revolution.

      It is worth remembering that for the last 14 years the masses have
      responded in their millions any time they have had a chance to get
      organised. In the Bolivarian Circles at the very beginning, in the
      Electoral Battle Units during the recall referendum, the launching of the
      Frente Francisco Miranda, the creation of the UNT trade union, the founding
      of the PSUV, the founding of its youth organisation JPSUV, and many
      others. Within these organisations, the masses have also instinctively
      rallied to the different leaders which appeared to be more radical, more
      consistent in maintaining their links to the rank and file and waging the
      most decided battle against the oligarchy. Every single time, after a brief
      period of enthusiasm, democratic discussion and revolutionary fervour from
      the rank and file and activists, the bureaucracy has managed to close down
      these spaces and organisations.

      *The PSUV Youth had its founding congress in 2008 at which the attempts to
      introduce an undemocratic constitution were defeated, and has not had
      another congress since then. The PSUV itself had a very democratic and left
      leaning founding congress and then an ideological one in 2010, but its
      structures had been reduced mostly to an electoral machine. The members did
      not even have a say in the selection of the candidates for the forthcoming
      regional elections on December 16.*

      *The Bolivarian revolution is clearly at a crossroads, in which different
      political lines are being proposed as to what is the way forward.*

      *The bureaucracy for instance has destroyed the Plan Guayana Socialista
      which we described before, removing all of the worker-directors in the
      basic industries. *This was done through a concerted campaign of open
      sabotage, discrediting, slanders and physical violence, orchestrated by all
      those who, for their own different reasons, are against workers� control.
      The FBT trade union faction has played a key role in this campaign and so
      was the regional governor Rangel G�mez. The discontent is so great amongst
      the worker activists in the region that there is growing support for the
      other Bolivarian candidate Arciniega, standing on a Communist Party ticket.

      *Sections of the Bolivarian leadership advocate a sort of mixed economy in
      which the �socialist� elements would progressively spread and finally,
      sometime in the future, overcome the capitalist ones. In this way,
      allegedly, we would get to a socialist society without upsetting the ruling
      class too much too early. In our opinion this is a suicidal course, because
      it means that the normal functioning of the capitalist market economy is
      being disrupted without it being replaced by a democratic plan of
      production based on nationalisation of the means of production. This
      situation leads to scarcity, sabotage, inflation and general
      disorganisation of the economy which hits mainly the poorest sections which
      are the natural base of support for the revolution.*

      In his speech on Saturday about the situation of his health, Ch�vez made an
      appeal for unity of the movement. We are the first ones to be in favour of
      a united revolutionary movement. But the differences exist and are real.
      The only way to achieve unity is if the revolutionary movement as a whole
      can discuss them and make an informed decision. It is precisely when the
      bureaucracy curtails the democracy of the movement that division ensues.

      Once again, the masses, on October 7th delivered yet another electoral
      victory to the Bolivarian revolution by voting for president Ch�vez. He
      stood on a program which talks about a socialist economy and doing away
      with the old state apparatus. Now it is not the time for conciliation or
      for talks with the capitalists. It is time to put this program into
      practice. In our opinion this can only be done through the expropriation of
      the means of production, the banks and the big landed estates under
      democratic workers' control.

      The illness of president Ch�vez brings out clearly the fact that one single
      man cannot carry out a socialist revolution. It is the time for the working
      class and the poor to take the initiative into their own hands.

      A national revolutionary congress should be convened with delegates elected
      in each factory, workplace, working class neighbourhood and peasant
      community so that it can take the necessary decisions about what should be
      the next step.

      *No conciliation � forward to socialism!*
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