At half past one in the morning, the results from the trade union elections at SIDOR were announced, the huge iron and steel plant in the city of Puerto Ordaz (Guayana, Edo. Bolivar). In a competition characterised by a hard-fought margin amongst the candidates, José Luís Hernández of the Revolutionary Orinoco Movement was re-elected as the president of SUTISS (The Union of Workers in the Iron and Steel Sector). 

My visit to Venezuela at the end of June coincided with the speculation, rumours and finally announcements about the health of Hugo Chavez. This incident revealed a number of important questions about the Venezuelan revolution, the role that President Chavez plays in it and the character of the counter-revolutionary opposition.

As part of my recent trip to Venezuela I was invited to speak about the world crisis of capitalism and the class struggle in Europe at two meetings of PDVSA oil workers in Monagas, in the east of the country. One of the meetings took place in Maturín, the capital of the state and where the PDVSA management for the Eastern Region is based, and the other one in the PDVSA installations in Punta de Mata, a city built around a massive oil field.

At the end of June I had the opportunity of visiting Venezuela where I attended the national conference of “Class Struggle” (Lucha de Clases), the Venezuelan section of the International Marxist Tendency. What I witnessed is an increased polarisation between left and right, but above all an open clash between the revolutionary wing of the Bolivarian movement and the reformists and bureaucrats. In a series of articles I will attempt to illustrate this.

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