Venezuelan Revolution

The crisis in Venezuela is not due to socialism, but due to the constant attempts to seek a compromise with imperialism and the Venezuelan ruling class. Back in 2005, Alan Woods, in The Venezuelan Revolution: A Marxist Perspective, explained that it is impossible to make half a revolution. Instead, he proposed the following way forward:

“[W]e have pointed out that the Venezuelan Revolution has begun, but it is not finished, and it cannot be finished until the power of the Venezuelan oligarchy is broken… This means the expropriation of the land, banks and big industry under workers’ control and management. It means the arming of the people. It means the setting up of action committees linked up on a local, regional and national basis. It means that the working class must organise independently and strive to place itself at the head of the nation. And it means that the Marxist tendency must strive to win over the majority of the revolutionary movement.”

The ongoing crisis in the country categorically proves that it is the ideas of Marxism, and not of ‘twenty-first-century socialism’, that would have shown the way forward.

The crisis in Venezuela is being blamed on socialism by reactionaries in all corners of the planet. It is, therefore, vital that all socialists have a good understanding of the history of the revolution. Marxist theory is the crystallised experience of the working-class movement. It is incumbent upon all activists to have a good understanding of the history of past struggles in order to apply the lessons to the future.

Just before dawn on 30 April, the Venezuelan opposition launched yet another attempt at a military coup. By the end of the day, the botched coup attempt seemed to have failed, with one of its leaders seeking refuge in the Spanish embassy, 25 of the soldiers involved requesting asylum at the Brazilian embassy and Juan Guaidó in hiding or on the run.

There is a certain trend of opinion amongst the liberal left, particularly in the US, which never felt very comfortable with the Bolivarian revolution. Now, in the midst of a serious and well-organised attempt by Washington to remove Maduro’s government, they insist on equally blaming both sides for the crisis, one which in their view can be resolved through “negotiations between the government and the opposition”. A chief representative of this point of view is Gabriel Hetland, who has written several articles on Venezuela for The Nation, Jacobinand other left-wing publications.

The failure of the 23 February “humanitarian aid” provocation on the Venezuelan border was a serious blow for Trump’s ongoing coup attempt. There were mutual recriminations between self-appointed Guaidó, Colombian president Duque and US Vice-President Pence. The US could not get a consensus from its own Lima Cartel allies in favour of military intervention.

Militias marching

So, 23 February came and went. This was the day that had been billed by the US and its local puppets as D-Day, when "humanitarian aid" was supposed to enter the country against the will of the evil Maduro, something which, as even the BBC correspondent admitted, had little to do with aid and everything to do with defying the authority of President Maduro.

“You are risking your future and your lives,” said Trump to Venezuelan military officers in a war-mongering speech in Miami on 18 February. “You will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You’ll lose everything,” he added, perhaps frustrated that there have been so far no significant cracks in the Venezuelan armed forces, a month after the beginning of the ongoing US coup attempt. 

The International Marxist Tendency rejects the current attempt by US imperialism to carry out a coup in Venezuela. What we are witnessing is a blatant attempt to remove the Venezuelan government of president Maduro by a coalition of countries, led by Trump. This is the latest episode in a 20-year campaign against the Bolivarian Revolution, a campaign that has involved military coups, paramilitary infiltrations, sanctions, diplomatic pressure, violent rioting and assassination attempts.

Even though the ongoing imperialist coup in Venezuela has not yet succeeded, the impression one gets is that there is an inexorable march forward in its implementation, which is pushed mainly from forces abroad rather than from within Venezuela itself. The next step in the plan is the use of “humanitarian aid” as a provocation on the border with Colombia.

Washington's efforts to remove the Venezuelan government, an imperialist coup attempt, proceed apace. On 26 January, the US announced sanctions on PDVSA and seized assets from the Venezuelan oil company. This is a very serious blow to the Venezuelan economy and government. It is clear that the Trump administration thinks it has a window of opportunity and it is going in for the kill.

As we have reported previously, a coup d'état is underway in Venezuela, promoted by imperialism and its lackeys of the Lima cartel; and executed by its puppets in the opposition. On 23 January, the coup entered into a higher phase of its execution when deputy Guaido took an oath as “president in charge of the republic”.

The ongoing attempt by Washington and the reactionary Venezuelan opposition to remove President Maduro will reach a key stage today. The opposition have called for mass protests and Mike Pence issued a public statement giving the green light for “regime change”. As we have explained before, in Venezuela, there is an ongoing attempt to remove president Maduro through a military coup instigated by Trump, Bolsonaro, Macri and Almagro.

An imperialist coup d'état attempt is underway in Venezuela. On 10 January, President Maduro was sworn in for a new term of office. He had won the election on May 20. At that time, one section of the opposition decided to participate and another to boycott the elections. On 11 January, Juan Guaidó, the president of the opposition National Assembly (in contempt since 2015), refused to recognise President Maduro and declared himself willing to assume the presidency “with the support of the armed forces, the people and the international community.”

At 5.41pm, 4 August, a powerful explosion was heard near the rostrum from which Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro was addressing a parade at Bolivar Avenue in Caracas to mark the 81st anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard. President Maduro was unharmed, but seven members of the National Guard were injured.

The aggravation of the economic crisis is making life unbearable for working people in Venezuela. The destruction of the purchasing power of wages has been combined with the collapse of all basic infrastructure (water, electricity and public transport). Workers in different sectors have started to organise and protest, demanding higher wages; while peasants in the countryside are fighting attempts to destroy Chavez's agrarian revolution.

The Venezuelan elections on 20 May were merely an episode in a long saga of imperialist aggression, economic crisis and the deterioration of living conditions for the working class and poor. The reelected Maduro government has continued its policy of making concessions and appeals to the capitalists. If it wasn’t for the escape valves provided by subsidised food parcels, migration and the dollar-based economy, the situation would have led to a social explosion already. The mood of the chavista rank-and-file is increasingly angry and critical of the leadership.

Nicolas Maduro was re-elected for another term of office in the Venezuelan presidential election on Sunday 20 May. The majority of the reactionary opposition, with full support from Washington and Brussels, had called for a boycott, which led to a very low turnout in the middle-and-upper-class areas of the main cities. Their demand that the elections be cancelled was echoed by right-wing governments in the region. This meant that many in the working-class and poor areas turned out to vote as a way of rejecting brazen imperialist meddling. However, even here turnout was visibly lower than in previous elections. The deep economic crisis is the major issue in people’s minds and many are

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As the Venezuelan presidential election on 20 May draws closer, the campaign of imperialist aggression by the US and its allies intensifies. The aim is clear: to implement regime change. At the same time, the economic crisis gripping the country has reached intolerable levels for the workers and the poor, and the government’s policies are impotent to resolve the situation. A revolutionary alternative is required, one capable of fighting the right wing andshowing a real way out of hyperinflation, scarcity and economic depression.

Today marks the anniversary of the defeat of the coup that attempted to remove President Hugo Chavez from power in 2002. Within 48 hours, reaction was defeated by a magnificent movemenet of the Venezuelan masses. Here we reproduce the analysis of those events written by Ted Grant and Alan Woods, originally published on 14 April 2002.

Five years have passed since the death of Hugo Chávez. I had known him for almost ten years and had an enormous respect for his courage, honesty and dedication to the fight against oppression and exploitation. For this he earned the hatred of all the forces of the old society: the bankers, capitalists and landowners, the imperialists, the CIA and of course the so-called ‘free press’ that is merely the slavish mouthpiece of the old order.

It is clear that US imperialism and its lackey countries have increased aggression against Venezuela in recent weeks. The aim has been declared publicly: to trigger a coup d'etat against the government of President Maduro and allow the capitalist oligarchy to take control again. It is necessary to respond with revolutionary measures that strike a blow at the economic power of the oligarchy: the agents of imperialism in the country.

The economic situation facing the masses in Venezuela has suffered a sharp turn for the worse over the Christmas period. The problems that already existed have worsened, with prices spiralling out of control, a further collapse of the transport system and an aggravation of scarcity (of food, fuel and cash). This has led to scattered protests and incidents of looting.

As was expected, Venezuela’s municipal elections on December 10 produced a landslide victory for the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV). It won 308 out of 335 local councils winning in 23 out 25 state capitals. The opposition, which stood divided and largely boycotted the election, only managed to win two significant local councils, those of San Cristobal, the capital of Táchira and Libertador, the capital of Mérida.

 The fact that the main Venezuelan opposition parties have decided to boycott the December 10 municipal elections has opened the space for candidates representing the revolutionary wing of the Bolivarian movement to stand against official hand picked candidates from the ruling PSUV party. The bureaucracy and the state have responded by using all sorts of tricks to prevent them from running. The campaigns of Eduardo Samán in Caracas and Angel Prado in Simón Planas (Lara) have brought out the simmering contradictions within chavismo.

The fascist bourgeois opposition, with the support of North American and European imperialism, threatens to crush the Venezuelan revolution and to wreck its achievements. The fascist attacks, in working-class neighbourhoods and against Chavista, are a taste of what is to come if the opposition takes power. This ultra-reactionary opposition must be defeated now, and only the workers’ revolutionary initiative can achieve this.

Even before the National Election Council had announced the results of Sunday’s Constituent Assembly elections in Venezuela, the opposition and western imperialism had already declared there had been massive fraud and that they would not recognise the legitimacy of the Assembly. Since then, they have piled up pressure on all fronts. What is to be done?

Oscar Alberto Perez

Things in Venezuela are changing by the day, sometimes by the hour. Yesterday, June 27, a police officer commandeered a helicopter and attacked the buildings of the Ministry of Interior and Justice and the Supreme Court of Justice, at the same time broadcasting an appeal for others to join in and overthrow the government of Maduro.

It is eighty-five days since the beginning of the current right-wing offensive backed by imperialism  against the Venezuelan government of President Maduro, which has left 85 people dead. So far the reactionary opposition has not achieved any of its aims. As its ability to gather large numbers of people in the streets has diminished, rioting has become increasingly more violent and deadly. The government has called Constituent Assembly elections on July 30, which will be a major test of its level of popular support. The opposition has declared it is in “disobedience” and has vowed to prevent the election from taking place. What comes next?

The calling of a National Constituent Assembly (ANC) has been issued in the middle of one of the worst offensives of the counter-revolution and imperialism in the last eighteen years. In this political situation, the convening of a Constituent Assembly has awoken important revolutionary aspirations among sections of the workers’ and people's vanguard, who are ready to fight to elect deputies to the Constituent Assembly who come from the rank and file and defend a programme of revolutionary demands.

During his speech at a massive Bolivarian May Day rally, Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, has announced the convening of a National Constituent Assembly, which he described as a workers’ and communal assembly. The Venezuelan opposition has immediately rejected this as part of the “regime’s coup” and has called for an escalation of protests.

“There’s been a coup in Venezuela! Maduro has carried out a power-grab!” Just a few days before the 15th anniversary of the short lived coup against the democratically elected president Chavez (11-13 April, 2002), those who carried out that coup (the Venezuelan oligarchy, their masters in Washington and its lapdogs in Buenos Aires, Brasilia, Santiago de Chile and Lima, cheered on by the media wolf pack in Madrid and the US) are now shouting and screaming like hyenas against an alleged “self coup” by president Maduro.

Last Thursday, the criminal courts of Monagas, Carabobo, Aragua and Apure states, among other states, annulled the collection of the 1% of signatures needed to activate a recall referendum, after they upheld claims of electoral fraud which were brought before them in relation to accusations of forgery and identity theft committed during the process. Such a judgement  means that the final step prior to the invocation of a recall referendum, the collection of the signatures of 20% of the electorate, is automatically suspended. The CNE (National Electoral Council) then proceeded to issue a statement in which the suspension of the collection of signatures was ordered across the

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This thesis documentwas drafted, discussed, and approved by our members this past October 2015. Although it was written some months ago, it still remains valid. It reflects a correct understanding of the events that have taken place, and shows how our warnings were confirmed in the face of serious threats from the counterrevolution. We believe that the document serves as a tool in the debate that is developing within the ranks of the Chavista movement in general.

The assault against the Bolivarian revolution has intensified in the recent days and weeks. Editorials and front pages in US and Spanish newspapers are screaming about hunger in Venezuela and demanding the removal of the “dictatorial regime”. Ongoing scarcity problems have led to instances of looting. The right-wing opposition is attempting to trigger a presidential recall referendum, but is also threatening violent action and appealing to foreign powers, including in some case for military intervention. What is really happening in Venezuela and how can these threats be faced?

With 53% of the votes the Venezuelan opposition has managed to secure 112 seats in the National Assembly. This gives them a sweeping two third majority and wide ranging powers. Drunk with victory and seething with revenge, they have started to announce plans to reverse every single one of the gains of the Bolivarian revolution. This has provoked ferment amongst the revolutionary rank and file, which at the same time is directing part of their anger at bureaucrats and reformists within its own ranks.

Late into the night on 6th December, the Venezuelan National Electoral Council announced provisional but conclusive results for the parliamentary election. The counter-revolutionary opposition MUD had won 99 seats to the Bolivarian PSUV’s 46, with another 22 remaining to be allocated. This is a serious setback and it is our duty to analyse the reasons and explain the likely consequences.

Venezuelans will go to the polls on December 6 to elect deputies to the National Assembly. A combination of factors have made this one of the most difficult challenges the Bolivarian Revolution has faced in the 17 years since President Chávez was first elected in 1998. In addition to the usual challenges of a profoundly undemocratic opposition and belligerent imperialist provocations we have to add a combination of national and international economic factors which have put Venezuela in a very tight spot and which lead to one conclusion: either the revolution is completed, or it will be defeated.

In this article we will be analysing the objective conditions which led to the emergence of SIMADI and the currency exchange controls in general, which since their implementation have been unable to reach their stated objective of preventing capital flight.

The statement by president Obama that Venezuela represents an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to US “national security” represents an important escalation in imperialist meddling against the Bolivarian revolution.

Sixteen years since Chavez came to power, the Bolivarian revolution has still not been completed. A revolution cannot be carried out partially. Either it goes all the way in removing capitalism once and for all, or it opens dangers for itself, which in the long run can lead to defeat, with the oligarchy regaining full political control. In this article written last year, Jorge Martin looks at what needs to be done to complete the Venezuelan revolution.

Two years have passed since the death of Hugo Chávez. His death, as I wrote at the time, was a great loss for the cause of freedom, socialism and humanity. I had known him for almost ten years and had an enormous respect for his courage, honesty and dedication to the cause of socialism.

The historical experience of Chile, Nicaragua and Cuba demonstrates that as long you do not remove the class enemy from power within the country, they will not stop until they have crushed the revolution. This is very relevant to the situation faced today by the Venezuelan revolution. Read the statement of the Marxist Tendency of the PSUV, the IMT in Venezuela.

This article was written for the first edition of a new Venezuelan magazine called “Proceso: revista crítica de izquierda” (Process: critical left magazine), published by the political education school Escuela de Gobierno Hugo Chávez Frías of the Merida governorship.

To the degree that the reformist and class collaborationist nature of Heinz Dieterich’s ideas has been exposed, he has met with rejection. In Venezuela his pro-bourgeois views and his close relation with the counterrevolutionary General Raul Baduel discredited him and led to a radical break with Chavez. Recently by him was published in the well-known left-wing website Aporrea. In response to requests from activists in Venezuela, Alan Woods has written a reply.

On the evening of April 10, the main political representatives of the Venezuelan opposition attended a meeting at Miraflores Presidential Palace with representatives of the government and the Bolivarian revolution. The meeting generated a lively debate within the Bolivarian movement. We publish here the statement of Lucha de clases - the Venezuelan section of the IMT, together with some explanatory notes.

It is often the destiny of revolutionary leaders that after death those that attacked and vilified them during their lifetime begin to praise them, while simultaneously distorting their ideas, watering them down, reducing them to impotence, just as one neuters a troublesome tomcat.

After a week of “guarimbas” (public disturbances organised by the Right Wing) one thing has been obvious – these protests have been carried out by a minority which represents only itself with the sole aim of creating chaos and sabotage. The only way to confront them is through the conscious and organised mobilisation of the working class and the revolutionary people. 

Using the slogan of “Unity on the Streets” the right wing in Venezuela has launched a new “guarimba” (1) (attempts by right wing opposition to create public disorder and unrest on the streets –Ed.) against the Bolivarian revolution.