Above Photo: From PopularResistance.org.
There was no popular defeat harder than the 27th of February, 1989*.
Rebelling against the economic measures levied by the International Monetary Fund, thousands were murdered in the streets, while neither the left nor any patriotic officials were able to coordinate efforts to defend them.
Almost as serious as the above was the defeat of February 4th, 1992*. Neither the masses nor the left wing managed to organize manifestations in their support; dozens of patriotic military officials lost their lives or careers; the triumph of the right seemed definitive.
Let’s not fool ourselves. The dispute for political power in Venezuela is only a medium for controlling a fifth part of the planet’s hydrocarbons.
To that end the opposition has just obtained 112 of the 167 seats in the National Assembly. Three of them correspond to indigenous representatives to whom Bolivarianism granted more rights than any previous government.
This is even more than the two-thirds and three-fifths [majorities] that the Constitution demands for extremely serious measures. And it doesn’t correspond to a growth of the right wing, considering that in the presidential election of 2013 the right obtained 7,363,980 votes compared with the recent 7,707,322 – only a 4.22% increase. This is about about an abstention in the Bolivarian vote in response to the inaction of the government faced with corruption, speculation and hoarding.
In [this excerpt from] his book Los Cuentos del Arañero, Hugo Rafael Chavez recounts how Fidel (Castro) told him –
“Look, here’s a conclusion I’ve come to; you said in your speech…”. And he scoured my speech, which he had a complete copy of, with a summary and analyses noted in his own hand, along with footnotes. He told me, ‘You said in your speech a sentence, a statistic, that ten years ago there were 600,000 university students in Venezuela, and today there are 2.4 million.’ And it’s true, there was a growth of 400 percent.
But he had a long list of advances in eduction, health, and everything we had achieved – all the other social advances of those ten years. He said to me, ‘I’ve come to the conclusion, Chavez. No revolution that I know of, not even the Cuban one, was able to do so much socially for its people in so short a time as the Bolivarian Revolution […] And I’ve concluded you don’t want to take political advantage of these social advances.”’
Ideological formation. There have not been consistent experiences in terms of training revolutionary cadres. The people have been given everything: free medical attention and medicine, subsidized fuel, 900,000 furnished homes in the past few years, 350,000 pensions, thousands of new taxis, computers for primary school students and tablets for students of higher education, almost all of which is completely free. Due to the lack of an educational campaign, a part of the people have come to believe that this all fell from the sky, and that it wasn’t the result of a lot of work nor is it necessary to defend it – that the first neoliberal demagogue who exchanges promises for votes could better it.
The government’s abstention in combatting corruption, speculators, and hoarders led directly to the people’s abstaining from the vote.
But the ultra-right works incessantly, with its errors favoring the left. One year remains before the elections of state governors and the state legislative assemblies.
During this scarce year the right will continue its uninterrupted mission of the past 17 years to destroy Bolivarian power. It will argue that the [electoral] defeat of the Bolivarians is a plebiscite which should oblige the president to step down; it will convoke a referendum; it will remove vice-presidents and ministers with motions of censure; it will refuse resources for the Budget Law and additional credits; it will eliminate the Enabling Law and all that makes up social benefits; it will withhold its authorization for contracts in the national interest; it will refuse permission to designate new chiefs of permanent diplomatic missions. It will name new members of the Supreme Court, new rectors of the CNE, new public spending auditors and public defenders as soon as the allotted period for those authorities expires – unless they are able to to remove them under any other pretext. They will legislate the restitution of those senior officials of the upper echelons of PDVSA who tried to destroy the company. They will promote the re-privatization of all strategic national companies. They will try to remove the president by means we will not explain here so as not to give them ideas.
But in this one year before the governor and state legislative assembly elections, the right may chase away all the votes it disingenuously obtained by applying again those neoliberal measures that lost them the power in the first place and which they cannot cease to apply. They will continue raising prices to unobtainable levels while hoarding, disappearing goods and speculating. Convenient laws will eliminate current social benefit measures for workers, they will consecrate the bosses’ right to fire at whim, and reestablish indexed credits, with interests upon interest. Other norms will liberate prices, rent, and interest rates, while they will progressively annihilate free education, subsidies, and missions and will reformulate the national budget to reduce the 61% of public spending dedicated to social investment by half. Amnesty laws will give liberty to terrorists, corrupt officials, assassins, banker delinquents and paramilitaries. The impunity of the para-police [a form of paramilitarism] will occupy an established role in the institutional block, ready to create a frame of violent confrontation which will serve as pretext for a foreign intervention.
The lack of sanctions for corruption, speculators and smugglers may have given rise to the loss of Venezuela and Latin America. It’s unimaginable just how much the impunity of those companions have cost us!
But before we ask ourselves what the right has in store, let us resolve what the progressive forces should do.
First: Exercise the right of presidential veto against laws that destroy social rights or institutions indispensable to our sovereignty.
Second: End impunity for the corrupt; hoarders, speculators, smugglers, and sanction in an exemplary and implacable manner to prove to the abstaining electorate that there is no complicity between those delinquents and the government.
Third: Reform the communicational apparatus in charge of efficiently explaining to the people the true sense and advantages of socialism, and make clear what neoliberalism will take from them.
Fourth: Put in motion the struggles of social movements, unions and other organizations against the forthcoming neoliberal assault which will mean mass firings and the rollback of labor rights and pensions.
Fifth: Make use of the constitutional regulations which legislate that social achievements as irreversible.
Sixth: Maximize the police and security measures against paramilitarism, which has profiled itself as the armed hand of neoliberalism.
Seventh: Initiate a profound restructuring of the Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and other organizations of the Patriotic Pole, to correct errors, inefficiencies, bureaucracy and the opportunist uses of power.
Eighth: Radically dispose of any ideas of pacts or “pragmatic” agreements with the business class and the right, in sight of the catastrophic results our cohabitation has so far seen.
Ninth: Reinforce the ideological formation of militants and the people in general.
Tenth: Teach through the most convincing argument: the example.
*Here the author is referring to the Caracazo, when thousands of Venezuelans were slaughtered when they took to the streets to protest against economic restructuring by the IMF
*The attempted coup carried out by Hugo Chavez’s secret MBR-200 movement from within the Venezuelan military
*After the 1992 coup attempt by rebel soldiers and led by Hugo Chavez failed, Chavez famously said “Compañeros, for now, our objectives were not reached.”