Venezuelan presidential elections: massive red tide sets the stage for Bolivarian victory

Millions of people turned out on April 11 in a huge red tide filling seven avenues in Caracas for the closing rally of the campaign of Bolivarian presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro. The presidential elections are set to take place on Sunday April 14.

This was a show of strength only three days before the presidential elections that are set to take place on April 14. The campaign, which have been quite short, has been particularly polarised and has seen massive rallies organised throughout the country.

All opinion polls give Nicolas Maduro a substantial lead (between 10 and 17 percentage points) over Washington’s candidate Henrique Capriles. Even General James Cappler, the US National Director of Intelligence, in a report to Congress yesterday admitted that “Maduro is expected to win.”

The strategy of the opposition therefore has been one of attempting to discredit the democratic and fair character of the elections. The opposition mouthpiece El Nacional had an editorial article calling the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE) Tibisay Lucena a liar and the main opposition spokespersons have spent the whole campaign sowing doubts about the CNE, the electoral register, etc. This despite the fact that the CNE is exactly the same as it was in the October 7 presidential elections which the opposition recognised as fair and democratic, and the electoral register is exactly the same.

maduro-elections-rally-12-april-2013-1The opposition has also complained about unfair coverage in the state-owned media, ignoring the fact that the majority of private media outlets (TV and papers) have acted as part of the opposition campaign, that Capriles has prevented state media journalists from attending his press conferences (in one case they were violently thrown out and ended up in hospital) and has refused a written invitation by the main state TV channel VTV to explain his program.

The truth is that they know they are going to lose and they are therefore preparing the terrain to explain their defeat in terms of “fraud”.

The campaign has been extremely polarised along class lines. The opposition opened the campaign by attempting to ridicule Maduro as “just a bus driver” and therefore unfit for the office of the president. Clearly this backfired, mobilising working class support for the revolutionary candidate who turned up at all his rallies driving his own campaign bus. Maduro has presented himself as a “workers’ and socialist candidate” and received support from one group of workers after another. He has insisted that his task is to continue and develop the socialist program on which Chavez stood on October 7 last year.

maduro-elections-rally-12-april-2013-2Even before the campaign had started the United States opened fire. Secretary of State for Hemispheric Affairs Roberta Jacobson said that it was going to be “very difficult” to have “free and fair elections,”. She complained that there were no international observers (which is a straight lie) and added in a scandalously arrogant way that “Capriles would make a good president.”

The opposition campaign has not only limited itself to public attacks against the revolution, the memory of Chávez and personal attacks on his family, but has also been marred with violence. Two different groups of paramilitaries from El Salvador were identified as having entered the country to create destabilisation during the campaign, a number of people were arrested as having taken part in sabotage of the electricity grid and offices of the ruling PSUV party were attacked by thugs in Táchira. During an opposition rally in Mérida a group of drunken opposition thugs attempted to assault the Bolivarian governorship building. Also in his final rally, Maduro revealed that another group of Colombian paramilitaries had been captured in possession of weapons, explosives and Venezuelan army uniforms. None of these “details” were of course reported by the capitalist media internationally which has played a crucial supporting role in the campaign of the oligarchy and imperialism to discredit the elections.

It is actually a cruel irony that the opposition complains about “lack of democracy” precisely at the time of the anniversary of the coup it organised in 2002, on April 11. The same parties, newspapers, TV stations and individuals who played an active role in the organisation of the coup - without ever even apologising for it and without being put on trial - are now pretending to be great “democrats” and complain about the government’s “fascist” and “authoritarian” methods.

In reality, all these attacks have had the effect of mobilising the Bolivarian masses of the workers, peasants and the poor, and on April 14 they will deliver a crushing blow against the right wing oligarchic opposition.

The crucial question will come afterwards. The campaign of economic sabotage, hoarding, speculation, and relentless strike of capital on the part of the ruling class will continue, with the intention of wearing down support for the revolution amongst the masses.

The Bolivarian government has two options faced with such an assault. One the one hand it can continue to fudge the issue, hoping to be able to control the situation by introducing regulations on the normal functioning of the capitalist market – an option which would actually only make the situation worse. On the other hand it can decide to move forward by striking decisive blows against the oligarchy and expropriating the big monopolies, banks and latifundia so that it can move towards the democratic planning of the economy under workers’ control. This would be the only way to put an end to the economic dislocation caused by the constant sabotage of the ruling class.

As has happened after previous election victories, the revolutionary masses will demand action, not only against the oligarchy but also against bureaucrats and reformists which act as agents of the capitalists within the Bolivarian movement. The death of Chávez has greatly strengthened the idea that “it is now up to the people” to make sure the revolution is completed in the direction of socialism. This is reflected in the slogan “Chávez somos todos” (We are all Chávez).

The next Bolivarian government will be judged by the masses on how it stands up to these aspirations. A sizeable victory for Maduro will further demoralise the ranks of the opposition and create even more favourable conditions to move decisively forward.

The defeat of Capriles on April 14 should be the prelude for the crushing of the economic and political power of the oligarchy.