Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/333/5630

From The Socialist newspaper, 7 February 2004

Venezuela: Workers Struggle Against Reaction

ON A recent Miami television programme, a group of Venezuelan ex-military officers openly called for a US invasion to overthrow the twice-elected radical, nationalist government of President Hugo Chávez.

Alistair Tice

This reflects the increasing desperation of sections of the anti-Chávez opposition who have given up on constitutional change and are courting American military intervention.

Currently, the National Electoral Council is checking the signatures from the opposition petition drive for a referendum against Chávez. The opposition coalition, Democratic Co-ordinator, claimed they collected up to 3.8 million signatures in December (they need 2.4 million to force a recall referendum).

But a taped phone conversation between opposition figures has revealed that the US funded opposition organisation SUMATE, which provided logistical support during the petition drive, had counted only 1.9 million signatures.

Chávez has described it as a "mega-fraud" citing examples of petitions containing the names of people who were not registered, of people who voted two or more times, or were deceased!

Even before the referendum petition drive, other opposition leaders were calling for "civil rebellion" to oust Chávez. In another taped phone conversation, the fugitive ex-leader of the pro-bosses Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV), Carlos Ortega, (and a leading figure in the April 2002 right-wing coup attempt), was heard saying: "They are fucked... the government is going to fall... We are going to need about 10, 12 or 15 years of dictatorship to rescue the country, I have no problem with that."

Sabotage

THESE REVELATIONS expose the 'democratic' credentials of the Venezuelan elite who claim they want to remove Chávez because he is authoritarian and wants a "Castro-type" dictatorship. The truth is that the ruling oligarchy (the rich capitalist class) who have pillaged the country's oil wealth and monopolised political life for decades, despite their domination of the private media organisations, have not been able to undermine Chávez's support amongst the workers and poor.

Indeed, following the failure of the April 2002 right-wing coup and the ten-week bosses' strike and work lock-out from December 2002 to February 2003, support for Chávez has begun to increase again (now around 40% in the polls which is probably an underestimate).

The economy, which suffered a catastrophic collapse in 2002-03 due to the capitalists' sabotage, has begun to recover, albeit from a dire situation. GDP (annual productive wealth) is expected to rebound by 6.7% in 2004 and unemployment has fallen to 15% from 20% last January.

This mild economic recovery has come about as a result of the restoration of production at the state-owned oil company, PDVSA, and Chávez's programme of publicly funded reforms.

These include government spending on construction projects, aggressive support for small and medium sized businesses and social programmes for the poor, land distribution to peasants, deeds to urban slum-dwellers, degree sponsorship for several thousand high-school drop-outs, a literacy programme that has helped 1 million people to read and write in just 6 months, and the "Barrio Within" plan in which Cuban doctors have set up shop in slum areas to provide free basic healthcare attending 10 million cases.

All these have reinforced Chávez's support amongst large sections of workers (especially in the informal sector which accounts for 50%) and the poor in the barrios.

Zigzags

HOWEVER, Chávez, by his own admission, is not a socialist. He was initially elected with 80% support, including the middle-class, promising a Bolivarian revolution, a mix of nationalism and reforms. Without overthrowing capitalism, he has zigzagged between attacking the 'oligarchy' and compromise. This has driven the capitalists mad but also lost support amongst the middle-class and some more privileged workers, whilst the economic dislocation has hit the poor the hardest.

At the recent Summit of the Americas, he attacked the neo-liberal economic model, but upheld US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his 1930s New Deal as his alternative. He is also trying to promote with other 'radical' Latin American governments, a regional trading bloc as a counter-balance to the US inspired Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA).

Whilst Chávez may, especially if the recall referendum fails, be able to go much further in his reforms, ultimately these half-way house measures cannot solve the huge social problems of capitalist crisis-ridden Venezuela. The oligarchy may have to bide their time longer, but perhaps after US Presidential elections, they might try to oust Chávez again along the lines of Chile's president Allende's overthrow in 1973.

On two occasions, the workers and poor have come out in their millions to defeat the right. To an extent they are organised in 'Bolivarian Circles' (pro-Chávez semi-militias) and neighbourhood committees but these are not linked together to provide an alternative base of class power to that of the capitalist state.

What is needed is an independent workers' party to not only defeat reaction but also develop a class programme capable of leading the struggle for socialist change.

The first steps in that direction may have been taken as a result of the split away from the corrupt CTV. The UNT ("Unete") was founded last April bringing together 120 trade unions and 25 regional federations.

Although pro-Chávez, at their first national congress in August they adopted a more radical action programme, calling for nationalisation of the banks and cancellation of the external debt, nationalisation of failing enterprises, a shorter working week and elements of workers' control.

However, some important unions, especially the steelworkers from the south, have not yet joined with UNT, which so far represents only 12% of the workers in the formal sector of the economy. Links will also have to be made with the unorganised workers in the informal sector, as well as the urban poor and peasants.

The masses have shown repeatedly that they are the real power in the land. That needs to be consciously organised in democratic action committees at every level, laying the basis for a government of workers and the poor that can complete the reform process, creating a socialist Venezuela as a beacon to the rest of Latin America.

 

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 7 February 2004:


War and occupation

No More Lies

War Crimes and Whitewashes

We demand a real investigation

BBC Workers Angry At Hutton Attacks


Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

The Trade Unions And The Labour Party

Trade Union Left Convention

Civil Service Strike: Around the Picket Lines

Strike threat forces negotiations in civil service pay battle

Leicester Lecturers On Indefinite Strike

Stop These Council Cuts


International socialist news and analysis

Brazil - Movement For A New Workers' Party Is Launched

Venezuela: Workers Struggle Against Reaction


 

Home   |   The Socialist 7 February 2004   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Venezuela:

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Lessons from Venezuela for Corbyn

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: Venezuela - the fight for genuine socialism

triangleEast London Socialist Party: What's happening in Venezuela?

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Venezuela - for a real socialist alternative to corruption and imperialism

triangleThe Socialist inbox

US:

triangleCongress 2020 appeal: Donate to help us renew vital resources

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Can Sanders win the US presidency?

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: Can Sanders win the US presidency?

triangleThem & Us

Socialist:

triangleSocialist sellers

triangleCouncil cuts could cost Labour another general election

triangleBezos gives $10bn for climate - nationalise the rest!

Capitalist:

triangleGermany: Right-wing terror attacks - fight racism, fight capitalism!

triangleThis is the BBC: fight the cuts - and the capitalist media

Hugo Chávez:

triangleVenezuela: resist the pro-imperialist coup!

International

International

26/2/20

Germany

Germany: Right-wing terror attacks - fight racism, fight capitalism!

26/2/20

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland's strike wave

19/2/20

China

Coronavirus crisis shakes Chinese regime

19/2/20

Yemen

Yemen's desperate civil war fuelled by imperialism and regional powers

12/2/20

Ireland

Sinn Fein harnesses working-class anger to top poll

12/2/20

Lebanon

Lebanon - mass protests cut across sectarian division

5/2/20

Israel

Israel/Palestine: Trump 'peace plan' promises further conflict

5/2/20

Syria

Syria: Assad regime consolidates power after brutal counterrevolution

29/1/20

Trump

Trump's trashing of the environment - Dump the capitalist profit system!

29/1/20

CWI

CWI round-up

29/1/20

Libya

Libya: Civil war and chaos follow interventions by world and regional powers

29/1/20

Turkey

Turkey: Reinstate union members at SF Trade Leather!

22/1/20

India

India: Huge general strike but a missed opportunity

22/1/20

Iraq

Iraq - a brutal legacy of imperialist intervention

22/1/20

France

France striker speaks: real, deep anger needs union strategy

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999