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Venezuela’s State Elections: When Winning Comes be fore Revolution

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    Venezuela’s State Elections: When Winning Comes before Revolution Dec 12th 2012, by Tamara Pearson - VENEZUELANALYSIS.COM [image: Supporters rally for PSUV
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      Venezuela�s State Elections: When Winning Comes before Revolution

      Dec 12th 2012, by Tamara Pearson - VENEZUELANALYSIS.COM
      [image: Supporters rally for PSUV candidate for Merida, Alexis Ramirez.
      Their placards say �Alexis � governor, loyalty always� (YV]

      Supporters rally for PSUV candidate for Merida, Alexis Ramirez. Their
      placards say �Alexis � governor, loyalty always� (YVKE Mundial).

      �We�ll deal with it when the state elections are over,� a comrade said to
      me.

      �Ah, but then there�s the mayoral elections in April,� I replied.

      Internal debate and criticism of the PSUV and its current state election
      campaign, as well as proper grassroots involvement would be put off, and
      put off, because in this incredibly democratic country there is always some
      kind of election coming up. Yet for how long will such sacrifices be made
      in the name of defeating the capitalist opposition?

      Aram Aharonian, writing in
      Rebelion<http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=160268&titular=sin-ch%E1vez-en-campa%F1a-cada-quien-atiende-su-juego->
      last
      week, was right when he argued that this Sunday�s state elections aren�t
      just �one election, they�re 23 different elections�, because each state has
      its own socio-economic characteristics and different types of candidates
      running -from bureaucrats, to an indigenous minister, to the military, to
      the well known and the unknown.

      However, all of the 23 PSUV candidates were chosen by President Hugo Chavez
      and the national PSUV executive. The PSUV is a national �machine�, as we
      are prone to call it here, and despite some regional differences, its state
      campaigning has been conducted according to national lines and a national
      strategy. So, although this article will focus on experiences in Merida
      state, the problems discussed of treating PSUV members like voters rather
      than activists, of isolating political parties and movements that are not
      aligned to the PSUV and so on, are problems that are across the board, and
      though more pertinent in this election campaign, can be said to be general
      problems in the PSUV.

      *Chavez�s candidates*

      Not only one of the main election slogans, (here in Merida: �Alexis
      Ramirez, candidate of Chavez!�) the idea that the PSUV governor candidates
      are associated with, and chosen by Chavez is a key political strategy the
      PSUV has been using over the last few months.

      It�s a stance that suggests the party leadership are unconfident their
      candidates have merit on their own, and also that the PSUV�s objectives of
      socialism, justice, economic and land reform and so on, have merits on
      their own. It�s a dependence on the guaranteed victory the character of
      Chavez brings, but it has also been used as a way to make the PSUV the only
      �real� Chavista party, and to delegitimise other revolutionary, pro-Chavez
      organisations and parties which haven�t dissolved into the PSUV, such as
      the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), the Tupumaros movement, and even
      unions and the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP).

      As a member of the PSUV national executive, and also head of the national
      assembly, Diosdado Cabello told the press
      yesterday<http://www.avn.info.ve/contenido/cabello-tenemos-posibilidades-ganar-23-gobernaciones>,
      �Chavez has just one candidate in each state. We can�t impose any candidate
      on our allies, but what we ask of them is that they don�t say they are
      candidates of Chavez, because they aren�t.� He also made the exaggerated
      claim that �Socialist candidates [PSUV] will win in all 23 states on
      Sunday�.

      The tactic aims at preventing a divided vote; as Chavez said before he left
      for Cuba on Sunday, �Unity, Unity, Unity�, yet it is a unity that excludes
      anyone who isn�t in the PSUV.

      And then there is the big question of why, during a revolution, are these
      candidates Chavez�s candidates and not the people�s candidates? For Merida
      state, Chavez and the PSUV national executive, based far away in Caracas,
      picked the unknown Alexis Ramirez for the candidate for governor. Then they
      chose Rafael Ramirez, energy minister and president of PDVSA and not at all
      familiar with Merida; an agricultural state and not an oil one, in charge
      of the campaign. There was no consultation of PSUV membership. While
      perhaps primary elections are not the best road, since many registered
      members of the PSUV actually support the opposition, there was no reason
      not to call state wide meetings of the active membership of the PSUV and
      even other organisations, to both elect candidates and decide on
      campaigning platform, and strategy.

      *�Loyalty� to a person rather than to a program or to proposals*

      Two more words or slogans that have been thrown around a lot during the
      PSUV campaigning, both at the state and national levels, are �loyalty� and
      �discipline�. Yet the discipline doesn�t refer to good, serious,
      revolutionary organisation, nor to waging a hard campaign, nor to combating
      bureaucracy and corruption, but rather to unquestioning support for the
      handpicked candidates.

      Here in Merida, we were given Alexis Ramirez, a young geographer, a local
      legislator, who in the last five years I have never seen in any of the
      political marches or rallies or events, or even when Chavez spoke here a
      few weeks before the presidential elections. There is also evidence that
      Ramirez committed serious acts of corruption as a legislator, and it is
      felt that he is largely a puppet and that there will be other people behind
      the scenes, people we don�t know, governing for him.

      One comrade said to me, �Those who don�t support Alexis [Ramirez], are
      called traitors...I have to be �loyal� to Chavez by lying to him and
      telling him his candidate is the best, no I can�t do that. This electoral
      campaign has been about persecution and fear�.

      The comrade said he will vote for Florencio Porras, the candidate the PCV
      has put up. Porras, who was governor of Merida from 2000-2008 and is
      �revolutionary light� (that is, a pro-Chavez reformist) will likely get a
      significant vote, though he won�t win. PSUV members have stuck up posters
      around the city calling Porras a traitor. One poster has modified the PCV�s
      symbol, the red rooster, to be a rooster with crutches, labelled a �gallo
      cojo� or lame rooster, a message that is disrespectful of people with
      disabilities. Another PSUV poster shows Lester Rodriguez, the opposition
      candidate, taking off a mask that is Porras� face.

      The PSUV communication committee has also posted graphics around Facebook
      with quips such as �You say you�re more revolutionary than me, but you�re
      campaigning for a candidate that�s not one of Chavez�s?� and �In battle,
      division is betrayal�.

      Even though Chavez has gone to great pains to encourage and legitimise
      criticism and self-criticism and the denouncing of bureaucracy and
      corruption, clearly any PSUV bureaucrats hoping to be in power are not
      going to do the same.

      *The clubs of friends within the PSUV leadership*

      Unfortunately, for many of the PSUV�s candidates, winning the elections
      comes before real revolution (participation, grassroots organisation,
      transparency, accountability etc) because that is what is more important to
      them. They are using the PSUV to gain positions of power and money.

      The blind �loyalty� and �discipline� they promote benefits them. Further,
      once PSUV members go along with such loyalty, refusing to criticise, they
      are then taken for granted and used by the PSUV bureaucracy, which will not
      feel pressured to listen to them.

      In many revolutionary parties around the world, especially, but not
      exclusively in situations of repression, a kind of loyalty towards the
      leadership is called for. But it is conditional on active members electing
      that leadership, or in cases of repression, at least knowing and trusting
      that leadership. That is not the case here. In Merida we did not choose the
      regional leadership (nor the national one for that matter), we don�t know
      them, they never organise mass meetings with us, nor are they accountable
      or transparent in anyway. The communication committee puts out many press
      releases promoting the party, the government, and its achievements, which
      is good, but it never informs the membership of who its leadership is, why
      or how they were chosen, what decisions have been taken and why, or what
      the state of finances are.

      Had we been able to choose our candidate (and our regional leadership), it
      is much more likely we would have chosen someone who is a true activist,
      and who we support and are willing to campaign for. Of the 23 state
      candidates, it�s possible that in some cases we would have chosen the same
      candidate as the national executive � Elias Jaua, running in Miranda state
      for example, is well respected and trusted. But the clubs of friends, the
      invisible power groups within the PSUV bureaucracy, who scheme and
      manoeuvre so that their own people are where they want them, would not
      support that.

      One woman wrote on Alexis Ramirez�s Facebook
      page<https://www.facebook.com/alexisgobernador?filter=2>,
      �Alexis, I support Chavez all the way, but this time I won�t accept
      impositions because I don�t consider myself anyone�s sheep, and if today we
      accept this selection of you ... later we�ll be exposed to similar
      eventualities, so I don�t support you... let the PSUV know that the people
      shouldn�t be treated in such a way, with such threats�.

      A few people have suggested that perhaps if the PSUV loses these elections
      in Merida, �they�ll learn�, yet this is not the first time they have made
      the mistake of hand picking regional candidates from far away Caracas. It
      is not in their interest to learn.

      *A choice: guarantee financial resources, or guarantee a process of
      participation*

      Another comrade, a member of my communal council, said to me, �We have to
      vote for Alexis [Ramirez] because we need to keep the government in power,
      so that we can guarantee [financial] resources for Merida�.

      We�ve also all been receiving pro-Alexis campaign messages to our phones,
      one of which read, �Alexis is the guarantee of coordinated team work with
      the national government and local governments�.

      Another young comrade, a public sector worker but also a dedicated fighter,
      argued that revolutionaries should vote for Alexis because, �It�s a very
      critical situation... we have to defend the process, we have spent so many
      decades in misery, we can�t make mistakes, we can�t go back to that�.

      He made a very good point; it would be terrible if after twelve years of
      reformist, but pro-Chavez governors, Merida were to go to the opposition
      candidate, Lester Rodriguez, who supported the violent and armed opposition
      while he was rector of the University of Los Andes (ULA), among many other
      things. Yet how much should we sacrifice, in terms of debate and
      participation, supposedly in order to prevent the opposition coming into
      power? What are we defending exactly, if we�re campaigning for anti-worker
      politicians such as the PSUV�s candidate for Bolivar, Francisco Rangel? How
      will Alexis help the revolution deepen, if he�s not even accountable to the
      people? He can guarantee financial resources from the national government,
      but he can�t guarantee participatory democracy.

      As a group of us went visiting the neighbours in our community, talking to
      the youth to see if they would get involved in an alternative cultural
      activity, one young female comrade expressed her exasperation, �There is no
      revolution here... where is the popular power? They don�t listen to us,
      there�s no organisation�.

      She was frustrated that day, and I think she knows that there is indeed a
      revolution, if a problematic one. The point is, even if having Alexis as
      governor guarantees that a certain amount of resources do get spent on the
      people rather than diverted towards underhanded things in the case of the
      opposition, under revolution that is more or less meaningless if the people
      aren�t listened to and don�t have a say on just where those resources go.

      Alexis has talked very little about his government plans, should he be
      elected, but his proposal is available
      here<http://alexisramirez.org/inicio/index.php/propuesta>.
      It�s based on the national socialist plan 2013-2019 that Chavez campaigned
      on, which means it�s very good: education, health, community based culture,
      community generated alternative news, and so on, but which also means that
      it is not tailored to the specific regional needs of Merida. If he had
      listened, we could have told him that we also need pubic toilets, and to
      close the centre from the unmoving and contaminating traffic, we need help
      in setting up community based recycling systems and more urban agriculture,
      we need a drug rehabilitation centre, and so on. Had his proposal for
      government come from us and been more concrete and related to our specific
      reality, that would be another reason people would have been much more
      motivated to campaign and vote for the PSUV.

      *Elections aren�t revolution*

      Alexis and his PSUV team have been campaigning hard: there are posters and
      banners everywhere, he�s done rallies and house visits in all the
      parroquias of the state, he had a mass rally in Merida in the Plaza de
      Toros (Bull fighting plaza), and he�s spoken at meetings of various
      specific sectors of society, such as teachers, transport workers, and the
      Lawyers� Front.

      But the campaign hasn�t had the same sort of energy, passion, and daily
      street presence as during the campaign for Chavez for president a few
      months ago. Nor is it that different, in essence, to a typical election
      campaign in a country like Australia, with fairly meaningless slogans,
      posters with just the candidate�s face, red t-shirts that say �Alexis�, and
      relating to people as voters more than anything else.

      In Miranda, revolutionaries seem to be a bit more inspired, with Jaua
      offering an exciting alternative to the abandon and lack of governance,
      especially of the poorer areas of Miranda, by Henrique Capriles, who
      recently ran for president for the opposition.

      Back then, Capriles made a great effort to resemble Chavez, taking on
      revolutionary jargon � talking about �justice for the poor� and about
      �improving the missions�, because he knew how strong Chavez and his cause
      is. Now, Capriles has gone back to his old self, claiming that Jaua�s
      proposals were written in Cuba, saying, �We aren�t going to hand Miranda
      over to Castro-communism�.

      Here in Merida, Lester Rodriguez has hardly done a thing. In fact, some of
      us are wondering if he�s still off holidaying in Europe. His team has put
      up a few posters with the banal and pathetic slogan of �Proudly Meride�an�,
      and he seems to have put out a few press releases, suggesting that the PSUV
      gets its funding from PDVSA, but that�s about it.

      Had things have been done differently, as I�ve outlined, we could have won
      easily in Merida. But despite associating Alexis with Chavez, most people
      are pretty clear that they are not the same, and some people feel that the
      PSUV doesn�t represent the sort of revolution we want.

      The electoral battles have to be fought to protect and safeguard the
      revolution, and even at times propel it, but many PSUV �leaders� don�t
      understand, or don�t want to understand, that revolution is when the people
      organise and take power in their communities, work places, and at the state
      and national levels too. A revolution is not unelected bureaucrats signing
      and stamping papers in air-conditioned officers, with the rest of us
      wearing a red t-shirt with the name of one of those bureaucrats, and then
      we vote for them.

      Giving so much importance to these elections, calling them �critical�,
      reinforces the idea that we should expect such people to do everything for
      us. In reality, if the opposition wins Merida state, and any other states,
      that�s a good reason to deepen the revolution, distribute more resources
      directly to the people�s organisations; the communal councils, communes,
      workers� councils, the movements, the Social Production Companies (EPSs)
      and so on. That, and involving those organisations in deciding where and
      how resources are distributed, is revolution. Gradually taking power away
      from the structurally corrupt state governments who lack accountability
      towards or consultation of the grassroots, is necessary.

      *Our disorganised criticism*

      Despite the current climate of labelling anyone who criticises Alexis, a
      �traitor�, there has been a lot of debate and open criticism among
      revolutionaries in Merida � a positive thing which shows the development
      and maturity of many of those who are most active. Many people will vote
      for Porras- more as a statement of criticism than support for him
      particularly. Many others have written articles for alternative media site
      Aporrea expressing discontent.

      Unfortunately, for now, such criticism is disorganised, and hence isn�t
      being converted into strong pressure.

      We�re still learning and �rehearsing� revolution, as one writer, Jose
      Duque<http://tracciondesangre.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/y-entonces-que-cono-es-una-revolucion.html>,
      put it, �like a one year old learning to walk and falling over every half
      metre�. It is natural that those with power resist change, and it�s okay
      and useful that there are problems and obstacles for us to face. As we
      fight them we learn, we become stronger and the revolution becomes harder
      to defeat.

      Looking at the behind the scene dynamics of the PSUV like this, things can
      seem quite dire and worrying. But it�s important to remember how complex
      this revolution is, and that in this analysis I�ve just examined one aspect
      of it. On the other hand there is the urban agriculture springing up
      everywhere due to grassroots initiative and government support, there are
      prisoners learning to make documentaries, there�s the free dental care
      three blocks from my house, there�s the youth rapping about climate change
      and anti consumerism in our local plaza last Sunday, there�s the kids in
      the barrio becoming dignified through democratic, alternative education,
      and much more.

      The levels of general political interest and understanding are increasing,
      and the courage, the fight the grassroots has, its resolve, is inspiring.
      These things are part of the antidote to the sour elements in the PSUV.
      ------------------------------
      *Source URL (retrieved on 12/12/2012 - 8:22pm):*
      http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/7548
      Venezuela�s State Elections: When Winning Comes before Revolution

      Dec 12th 2012, by Tamara Pearson - VENEZUELANALYSIS.COM
      [image: Supporters rally for PSUV candidate for Merida, Alexis Ramirez.
      Their placards say �Alexis � governor, loyalty always� (YV]

      Supporters rally for PSUV candidate for Merida, Alexis Ramirez. Their
      placards say �Alexis � governor, loyalty always� (YVKE Mundial).

      �We�ll deal with it when the state elections are over,� a comrade said to
      me.

      �Ah, but then there�s the mayoral elections in April,� I replied.

      Internal debate and criticism of the PSUV and its current state election
      campaign, as well as proper grassroots involvement would be put off, and
      put off, because in this incredibly democratic country there is always some
      kind of election coming up. Yet for how long will such sacrifices be made
      in the name of defeating the capitalist opposition?

      Aram Aharonian, writing in
      Rebelion<http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=160268&titular=sin-ch%E1vez-en-campa%F1a-cada-quien-atiende-su-juego->
      last
      week, was right when he argued that this Sunday�s state elections aren�t
      just �one election, they�re 23 different elections�, because each state has
      its own socio-economic characteristics and different types of candidates
      running -from bureaucrats, to an indigenous minister, to the military, to
      the well known and the unknown.

      However, all of the 23 PSUV candidates were chosen by President Hugo Chavez
      and the national PSUV executive. The PSUV is a national �machine�, as we
      are prone to call it here, and despite some regional differences, its state
      campaigning has been conducted according to national lines and a national
      strategy. So, although this article will focus on experiences in Merida
      state, the problems discussed of treating PSUV members like voters rather
      than activists, of isolating political parties and movements that are not
      aligned to the PSUV and so on, are problems that are across the board, and
      though more pertinent in this election campaign, can be said to be general
      problems in the PSUV.

      *Chavez�s candidates*

      Not only one of the main election slogans, (here in Merida: �Alexis
      Ramirez, candidate of Chavez!�) the idea that the PSUV governor candidates
      are associated with, and chosen by Chavez is a key political strategy the
      PSUV has been using over the last few months.

      It�s a stance that suggests the party leadership are unconfident their
      candidates have merit on their own, and also that the PSUV�s objectives of
      socialism, justice, economic and land reform and so on, have merits on
      their own. It�s a dependence on the guaranteed victory the character of
      Chavez brings, but it has also been used as a way to make the PSUV the only
      �real� Chavista party, and to delegitimise other revolutionary, pro-Chavez
      organisations and parties which haven�t dissolved into the PSUV, such as
      the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), the Tupumaros movement, and even
      unions and the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP).

      As a member of the PSUV national executive, and also head of the national
      assembly, Diosdado Cabello told the press
      yesterday<http://www.avn.info.ve/contenido/cabello-tenemos-posibilidades-ganar-23-gobernaciones>,
      �Chavez has just one candidate in each state. We can�t impose any candidate
      on our allies, but what we ask of them is that they don�t say they are
      candidates of Chavez, because they aren�t.� He also made the exaggerated
      claim that �Socialist candidates [PSUV] will win in all 23 states on
      Sunday�.

      The tactic aims at preventing a divided vote; as Chavez said before he left
      for Cuba on Sunday, �Unity, Unity, Unity�, yet it is a unity that excludes
      anyone who isn�t in the PSUV.

      And then there is the big question of why, during a revolution, are these
      candidates Chavez�s candidates and not the people�s candidates? For Merida
      state, Chavez and the PSUV national executive, based far away in Caracas,
      picked the unknown Alexis Ramirez for the candidate for governor. Then they
      chose Rafael Ramirez, energy minister and president of PDVSA and not at all
      familiar with Merida; an agricultural state and not an oil one, in charge
      of the campaign. There was no consultation of PSUV membership. While
      perhaps primary elections are not the best road, since many registered
      members of the PSUV actually support the opposition, there was no reason
      not to call state wide meetings of the active membership of the PSUV and
      even other organisations, to both elect candidates and decide on
      campaigning platform, and strategy.

      *�Loyalty� to a person rather than to a program or to proposals*

      Two more words or slogans that have been thrown around a lot during the
      PSUV campaigning, both at the state and national levels, are �loyalty� and
      �discipline�. Yet the discipline doesn�t refer to good, serious,
      revolutionary organisation, nor to waging a hard campaign, nor to combating
      bureaucracy and corruption, but rather to unquestioning support for the
      handpicked candidates.

      Here in Merida, we were given Alexis Ramirez, a young geographer, a local
      legislator, who in the last five years I have never seen in any of the
      political marches or rallies or events, or even when Chavez spoke here a
      few weeks before the presidential elections. There is also evidence that
      Ramirez committed serious acts of corruption as a legislator, and it is
      felt that he is largely a puppet and that there will be other people behind
      the scenes, people we don�t know, governing for him.

      One comrade said to me, �Those who don�t support Alexis [Ramirez], are
      called traitors...I have to be �loyal� to Chavez by lying to him and
      telling him his candidate is the best, no I can�t do that. This electoral
      campaign has been about persecution and fear�.

      The comrade said he will vote for Florencio Porras, the candidate the PCV
      has put up. Porras, who was governor of Merida from 2000-2008 and is
      �revolutionary light� (that is, a pro-Chavez reformist) will likely get a
      significant vote, though he won�t win. PSUV members have stuck up posters
      around the city calling Porras a traitor. One poster has modified the PCV�s
      symbol, the red rooster, to be a rooster with crutches, labelled a �gallo
      cojo� or lame rooster, a message that is disrespectful of people with
      disabilities. Another PSUV poster shows Lester Rodriguez, the opposition
      candidate, taking off a mask that is Porras� face.

      The PSUV communication committee has also posted graphics around Facebook
      with quips such as �You say you�re more revolutionary than me, but you�re
      campaigning for a candidate that�s not one of Chavez�s?� and �In battle,
      division is betrayal�.

      Even though Chavez has gone to great pains to encourage and legitimise
      criticism and self-criticism and the denouncing of bureaucracy and
      corruption, clearly any PSUV bureaucrats hoping to be in power are not
      going to do the same.

      *The clubs of friends within the PSUV leadership*

      Unfortunately, for many of the PSUV�s candidates, winning the elections
      comes before real revolution (participation, grassroots organisation,
      transparency, accountability etc) because that is what is more important to
      them. They are using the PSUV to gain positions of power and money.

      The blind �loyalty� and �discipline� they promote benefits them. Further,
      once PSUV members go along with such loyalty, refusing to criticise, they
      are then taken for granted and used by the PSUV bureaucracy, which will not
      feel pressured to listen to them.

      In many revolutionary parties around the world, especially, but not
      exclusively in situations of repression, a kind of loyalty towards the
      leadership is called for. But it is conditional on active members electing
      that leadership, or in cases of repression, at least knowing and trusting
      that leadership. That is not the case here. In Merida we did not choose the
      regional leadership (nor the national one for that matter), we don�t know
      them, they never organise mass meetings with us, nor are they accountable
      or transparent in anyway. The communication committee puts out many press
      releases promoting the party, the government, and its achievements, which
      is good, but it never informs the membership of who its leadership is, why
      or how they were chosen, what decisions have been taken and why, or what
      the state of finances are.

      Had we been able to choose our candidate (and our regional leadership), it
      is much more likely we would have chosen someone who is a true activist,
      and who we support and are willing to campaign for. Of the 23 state
      candidates, it�s possible that in some cases we would have chosen the same
      candidate as the national executive � Elias Jaua, running in Miranda state
      for example, is well respected and trusted. But the clubs of friends, the
      invisible power groups within the PSUV bureaucracy, who scheme and
      manoeuvre so that their own people are where they want them, would not
      support that.

      One woman wrote on Alexis Ramirez�s Facebook
      page<https://www.facebook.com/alexisgobernador?filter=2>,
      �Alexis, I support Chavez all the way, but this time I won�t accept
      impositions because I don�t consider myself anyone�s sheep, and if today we
      accept this selection of you ... later we�ll be exposed to similar
      eventualities, so I don�t support you... let the PSUV know that the people
      shouldn�t be treated in such a way, with such threats�.

      A few people have suggested that perhaps if the PSUV loses these elections
      in Merida, �they�ll learn�, yet this is not the first time they have made
      the mistake of hand picking regional candidates from far away Caracas. It
      is not in their interest to learn.

      *A choice: guarantee financial resources, or guarantee a process of
      participation*

      Another comrade, a member of my communal council, said to me, �We have to
      vote for Alexis [Ramirez] because we need to keep the government in power,
      so that we can guarantee [financial] resources for Merida�.

      We�ve also all been receiving pro-Alexis campaign messages to our phones,
      one of which read, �Alexis is the guarantee of coordinated team work with
      the national government and local governments�.

      Another young comrade, a public sector worker but also a dedicated fighter,
      argued that revolutionaries should vote for Alexis because, �It�s a very
      critical situation... we have to defend the process, we have spent so many
      decades in misery, we can�t make mistakes, we can�t go back to that�.

      He made a very good point; it would be terrible if after twelve years of
      reformist, but pro-Chavez governors, Merida were to go to the opposition
      candidate, Lester Rodriguez, who supported the violent and armed opposition
      while he was rector of the University of Los Andes (ULA), among many other
      things. Yet how much should we sacrifice, in terms of debate and
      participation, supposedly in order to prevent the opposition coming into
      power? What are we defending exactly, if we�re campaigning for anti-worker
      politicians such as the PSUV�s candidate for Bolivar, Francisco Rangel? How
      will Alexis help the revolution deepen, if he�s not even accountable to the
      people? He can guarantee financial resources from the national government,
      but he can�t guarantee participatory democracy.

      As a group of us went visiting the neighbours in our community, talking to
      the youth to see if they would get involved in an alternative cultural
      activity, one young female comrade expressed her exasperation, �There is no
      revolution here... where is the popular power? They don�t listen to us,
      there�s no organisation�.

      She was frustrated that day, and I think she knows that there is indeed a
      revolution, if a problematic one. The point is, even if having Alexis as
      governor guarantees that a certain amount of resources do get spent on the
      people rather than diverted towards underhanded things in the case of the
      opposition, under revolution that is more or less meaningless if the people
      aren�t listened to and don�t have a say on just where those resources go.

      Alexis has talked very little about his government plans, should he be
      elected, but his proposal is available
      here<http://alexisramirez.org/inicio/index.php/propuesta>.
      It�s based on the national socialist plan 2013-2019 that Chavez campaigned
      on, which means it�s very good: education, health, community based culture,
      community generated alternative news, and so on, but which also means that
      it is not tailored to the specific regional needs of Merida. If he had
      listened, we could have told him that we also need pubic toilets, and to
      close the centre from the unmoving and contaminating traffic, we need help
      in setting up community based recycling systems and more urban agriculture,
      we need a drug rehabilitation centre, and so on. Had his proposal for
      government come from us and been more concrete and related to our specific
      reality, that would be another reason people would have been much more
      motivated to campaign and vote for the PSUV.

      *Elections aren�t revolution*

      Alexis and his PSUV team have been campaigning hard: there are posters and
      banners everywhere, he�s done rallies and house visits in all the
      parroquias of the state, he had a mass rally in Merida in the Plaza de
      Toros (Bull fighting plaza), and he�s spoken at meetings of various
      specific sectors of society, such as teachers, transport workers, and the
      Lawyers� Front.

      But the campaign hasn�t had the same sort of energy, passion, and daily
      street presence as during the campaign for Chavez for president a few
      months ago. Nor is it that different, in essence, to a typical election
      campaign in a country like Australia, with fairly meaningless slogans,
      posters with just the candidate�s face, red t-shirts that say �Alexis�, and
      relating to people as voters more than anything else.

      In Miranda, revolutionaries seem to be a bit more inspired, with Jaua
      offering an exciting alternative to the abandon and lack of governance,
      especially of the poorer areas of Miranda, by Henrique Capriles, who
      recently ran for president for the opposition.

      Back then, Capriles made a great effort to resemble Chavez, taking on
      revolutionary jargon � talking about �justice for the poor� and about
      �improving the missions�, because he knew how strong Chavez and his cause
      is. Now, Capriles has gone back to his old self, claiming that Jaua�s
      proposals were written in Cuba, saying, �We aren�t going to hand Miranda
      over to Castro-communism�.

      Here in Merida, Lester Rodriguez has hardly done a thing. In fact, some of
      us are wondering if he�s still off holidaying in Europe. His team has put
      up a few posters with the banal and pathetic slogan of �Proudly Meride�an�,
      and he seems to have put out a few press releases, suggesting that the PSUV
      gets its funding from PDVSA, but that�s about it.

      Had things have been done differently, as I�ve outlined, we could have won
      easily in Merida. But despite associating Alexis with Chavez, most people
      are pretty clear that they are not the same, and some people feel that the
      PSUV doesn�t represent the sort of revolution we want.

      The electoral battles have to be fought to protect and safeguard the
      revolution, and even at times propel it, but many PSUV �leaders� don�t
      understand, or don�t want to understand, that revolution is when the people
      organise and take power in their communities, work places, and at the state
      and national levels too. A revolution is not unelected bureaucrats signing
      and stamping papers in air-conditioned officers, with the rest of us
      wearing a red t-shirt with the name of one of those bureaucrats, and then
      we vote for them.

      Giving so much importance to these elections, calling them �critical�,
      reinforces the idea that we should expect such people to do everything for
      us. In reality, if the opposition wins Merida state, and any other states,
      that�s a good reason to deepen the revolution, distribute more resources
      directly to the people�s organisations; the communal councils, communes,
      workers� councils, the movements, the Social Production Companies (EPSs)
      and so on. That, and involving those organisations in deciding where and
      how resources are distributed, is revolution. Gradually taking power away
      from the structurally corrupt state governments who lack accountability
      towards or consultation of the grassroots, is necessary.

      *Our disorganised criticism*

      Despite the current climate of labelling anyone who criticises Alexis, a
      �traitor�, there has been a lot of debate and open criticism among
      revolutionaries in Merida � a positive thing which shows the development
      and maturity of many of those who are most active. Many people will vote
      for Porras- more as a statement of criticism than support for him
      particularly. Many others have written articles for alternative media site
      Aporrea expressing discontent.

      Unfortunately, for now, such criticism is disorganised, and hence isn�t
      being converted into strong pressure.

      We�re still learning and �rehearsing� revolution, as one writer, Jose
      Duque<http://tracciondesangre.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/y-entonces-que-cono-es-una-revolucion.html>,
      put it, �like a one year old learning to walk and falling over every half
      metre�. It is natural that those with power resist change, and it�s okay
      and useful that there are problems and obstacles for us to face. As we
      fight them we learn, we become stronger and the revolution becomes harder
      to defeat.

      Looking at the behind the scene dynamics of the PSUV like this, things can
      seem quite dire and worrying. But it�s important to remember how complex
      this revolution is, and that in this analysis I�ve just examined one aspect
      of it. On the other hand there is the urban agriculture springing up
      everywhere due to grassroots initiative and government support, there are
      prisoners learning to make documentaries, there�s the free dental care
      three blocks from my house, there�s the youth rapping about climate change
      and anti consumerism in our local plaza last Sunday, there�s the kids in
      the barrio becoming dignified through democratic, alternative education,
      and much more.

      The levels of general political interest and understanding are increasing,
      and the courage, the fight the grassroots has, its resolve, is inspiring.
      These things are part of the antidote to the sour elements in the PSUV.
      ------------------------------
      *Source URL (retrieved on 12/12/2012 - 8:22pm):*
      http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/7548


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