Statement on Venezuela by the Anti-War Committees in Solidarity with The Struggles for Self-Determination

A man is detained during clashes with the Bolivarian National Guard in Urena, Venezuela, near the border with Colombia, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Venezuela’s National Guard fired tear gas on residents clearing a barricaded border bridge between Venezuela and Colombia that day, heightening tensions over blocked humanitarian aid that opposition leader Juan Guaidó has vowed to bring into the country over objections from President Nicolás Maduro. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

There are a number of different perspectives regarding the current situation in Venezuela within the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice, and so we have chosen six articles that reflect that diversity in perspectives. This is part 5/6. Originally published on News and Letters on 12 February 2019.

  • No to the U.S. Intervention in Venezuela!
  • Oppose Trump’s threats to send troops!
  • No confidence in Maduro or Guaidó!
  • Corrupt Venezuelan generals and foreign creditors profit while the people face hunger!

A severe economic crisis coupled with a deepening crisis of leadership has left Venezuela vulnerable to U.S. attempts to orchestrate a political transition that protects the military high command and creates a regime directly subordinate to Washington. Nicolas Maduro offers no alternative to the economic crisis and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV by its acronym in Spanish), created by Hugo Chávez, is an obstacle to the popular mobilizations and struggles required to overcome the crisis.

Although the U.S. has recently taken economic measures to cut the Maduro government’s access to vital oil revenues, throughout the Chavista “revolution” of “21st Century Socialism,” the U.S. has been the biggest buyer of Venezuelan oil. Trump’s sanctions preventing Maduro and members of his inner circle from receiving oil revenues are effectively a blockade on oil sales to the US, but this recent development does not explain the hyperinflation and scarcity of food and medicines driving popular protests against the government.

The root cause of the hyperinflation immiserating the people is the Chávez regime’s attempt to purchase the loyalty of the military high command, keep paying the foreign debt and avoid directly challenging the economic power of Venezuela’s criollo elite through serious land reform and nationalizations aimed at breaking the power of landlords and monopolists, and securing food sovereignty and the ability to overcome Venezuela’s dependency on imports.

Chávez coopted the popular struggle that challenged IMF-imposed austerity in the Caracazo of 1989. That popular struggle swept aside the power pact between corrupt political parties in 1998 and defeated a coup attempt in 2002. Initially enjoying deep popular support, Chávez replaced the old political regime, and carried out a redistribution of oil revenues in popular social programs to alleviate poverty and increase access to housing and healthcare.  But these policies could only be maintained as long as oil prices remained high. Chávez did not break the country’s exclusive reliance on oil revenues to purchase imports of consumers goods. With the collapse of oil prices, the needs of the people competed with the colossal waste of resources spent purchasing the loyalty of the military high command and, worst of all, the uninterrupted service on the foreign debt.

Historically, the resistance against austerity in Latin America has been associated with struggles against measures imposed upon governments in or at risk of default to international banks. The populist redistribution of oil revenues by Chávez was praiseworthy. Today, however, the government’s policies following the collapse of oil prices have tightened the belt on Venezuela’s people in order to purchase the loyalty of the army; the result is a massive transfer of wealth to the generals. Workers’ wages are eaten up by hyperinflation. Venezuela imports everything except oil, and an artificially low exchange rate is reserved for the regime’s allies—in particular, the high command of the military. The result is a black market that fuels inflation. The military is in complete control of food imports and distribution, and it has become an enormous parasite sucking the lifeblood from the Venezuelan people. Under Maduro, the Chavista regime has gone from populist programs to aid the poor to effectively forcing Venezuela’s poorest to bear the burden of the crisis, while enriching the generals who maintain control over the military and guaranteeing debt service to foreign creditors.

The question of control over the military is key to understanding the political crisis in Venezuela. Up until recently, Juan Guaidó was largely unknown to Venezuelans. He has seized upon popular discontent to present his leadership over the simmering revolt, but his planned transition is based on amnesty for the same corrupt, criminal generals whose loyalty Maduro buys. The Trump administration, European governments, together with reactionary governments like Brazil’s and Colombia’s, have backed Guaidó’s claims that Maduro’s election in 2018 was illegitimate, but although much noise was made about corruption, none of the opposition candidates in that election opposed the foreign debt service nor seriously challenged the military’s control over food imports. In any case, no election result or constitutional crisis can bind millions of Venezuelans to endure years of misery. Political struggles aside, Guaidó and the National Assembly are in fact in agreement with Maduro on protecting the generals and continuing the debt payments.

Continue reading “Statement on Venezuela by the Anti-War Committees in Solidarity with The Struggles for Self-Determination”

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“The people no longer want Maduro, and no one chose Guaidó” by Marea Socialista

Courtesy Fernando Llano/AP

There are a number of different perspectives regarding the current situation in Venezuela within the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice, and so we have chosen six articles that reflect that diversity in perspectives. This is part 3/6. Originally published by Marea Socialista on 24 January 2019. We are including the introductory preface added by editors of the International Marxist Humanist Organization below.

We are publishing this article from Venezuelan socialists in order to stimulate discussion about how to oppose imperialist pressure/intervention against their country by the reactionary Trump administration and its allies. As revolutionaries, many of us based inside the imperialist countries, we need to direct most of our fire against Trump and other would-be interventionists. This is especially crucial given the administration’s outright threat of a U.S. military invasion of Venezuela and the sanctions it imposed on importing oil from Venezuela on January 29, which will have a devastating impact on lives of its people. This marks the most open and virulent effort on the part of the U.S. to violate the sovereignty of a Latin American nation in 30 years. At the same time, our opposition to imperialism is on a Marxist-Humanist basis. Therefore we also oppose the Maduro regime’s increasingly anti-democratic and autocratic policies, without in any way supporting the U.S.-backed opposition.

Only the sovereign mobilized people can decide its destiny, in a referendum and general elections

The Venezuelan people, mobilized along all social sectors, taking to the streets from the poor neighborhoods, is demonstrating that it is fed up with Maduro. The people will no longer tolerate the policies of hunger and destruction of labor rights, elimination of the right to healthcare and medicine shortages, degradation of public services, extreme corruption and routine repression.

This explains why a large part of the population mobilized to the marches called by the self-proclaimed Guaidó. Not because they are prepared to recognize whomever wants to snatch power, but because broad sectors of the population are fed up and don´t want any more of this. Even those who work in the public sector who remain silent or are forced to go to the government’s mobilizations to avoid retaliations at work, seeing their reception of CLAP subsidies affected, or endangering their Misión Vivienda homes. Word of mouth, within Chavism, also reflects exhaustion, annoyance and the progressive loss of fear.

Workers and the people have not been able to build an independent alternative of their own, to represent their real interests and anguish, and are trapped between the bureaucracy and capital. The result of this is the resurgence of polarization between the politicians of a corrupt government that controls power, and the parliamentarians of the parties of the capitalists that exploit workers.

Because the bosses that finance and promote the opposition parties of the traditional right, are also benefited by paying the miserable wages imposed by the government of Maduro, the PSUV and the military. And their proposal is no different in respect to continue unloading the cost of the crisis on the people while they secure their profits.

From the National Assembly, they aim to form a new government and use the people´s energy in their favor, because we lack strong organizations of our own to channel the struggle against Maduro’s government. But the National Assembly and the United States cannot impose governments on the Venezuelan people; neither can Maduro. They are all usurpers and they fight over the control of the state to maintain the people subdued and exploited.

Our unions and popular organizations are largely destroyed, corrupted or subordinated to the state apparatus, and another part of them has ceded its political independence to the leaders of the capitalist class that exploits us. This is why, not having yet escaped the authoritarian trap of Maduro, we are already falling into the trap of Guaidó’s coup (of the Voluntad Popular party), backed by the United States, who defends its own interests, opposed to those of the Venezuelan people.

We are now in danger of a confrontation between two governments-both illegitimate, and one of them supported by the United States-escalating into a civil war, or more direct forms of imperialist intervention by the Trump administration. We must also alert that the government takes advantage of each attempted bower grab by the right to unleash a wave of repression to submit the people and silence all protest.

In this situation, Marea Socialista calls on people to continue on the streets protesting against the oppressive government, but we must move with our own working class and peoples’ agenda, and not behind the right wing parliamentarians or the PSUV bureaucracy, and we must not accept any foreign intervention.

Marea Socialista calls for uniting all who understand the necessity of building our own fighting organization, to raise a new political alternative of our class and popular sectors who are suffering, to defend our interests and rights.

  • The people no longer want Maduro, and no one chose Guaidó.
  • Popular referendum for the people to legitimize all powers (Art. 71 of the Constitution).
  • Renovation of the National Electoral Council to reclaim its independence and call for new elections.
  • Emergency economic plan in favor of workers and the people, to confront the crisis, recover wages and access food.
  • No to the relinquishing of sovereignty.
  • No to the intervention and meddling of the United States and the Lima Group.
  • Let´s continue the struggle for our living conditions: wages, labor rights, public services, democratic rights.
  • No coup or negotiations behind the people’s backs.
  • Political autonomy for workers and popular sectors.
  • No more following the politicians of the ruling bureaucracy or the capitalists.
  • Not bureaucracy, nor capital!
  • They must all go!
  • The people must exercise its sovereignty.
  • No repression: liberation of all political prisoners, respect for human rights.
  • For a government of the workers and the people, not of the traditional bourgeoisie nor of the “reddish” bourgeoisie.