Venezuelan Revolution

Six years after the coup against the democratically elected government of Hugo Chávez was defeated by the magnificent mobilization of the masses, the contradictions within the Venezuelan revolution are as sharp as ever.

More than 13,000 tonnes of food have been seized in the last two weeks in Venezuela as part of the Food Sovereignty Plan launched in order to fight speculation, hoarding and sabotage in the food distribution chain. In announcing the measures in his radio programme Allo Presidente on January 22, president Chávez said that "among the responsibilities of the government one of them is to attack the capitalist model, the monopolies and rackets, so that the people, the workers, together with the revolutionary government can take the country forward".

The Venezuelan revolution has inspired the workers, peasants and youth of all Latin America and on a world scale. Over the past decade the revolutionary masses have achieved miracles. But the Venezuelan revolution is not completed. It cannot be completed until it expropriates the oligarchy and nationalizes the land, the banks and the key industries that remain in private hands. After almost a decade this task has not been accomplished and this represents a threat to the future of the revolution.

The proposals for constitutional change have been defeated by 50.7% to 49.3%. The opposition hardly increased its absolute vote, but there was a high level of abstention. This is a warning. The masses are demanding decisive action not words! It may be that this defeat will have the opposite effect. It can rouse the masses to new levels of revolutionary struggle.

Economic sabotage is an underexposed and underreported tool of the counterrevolution in Venezuela. It is part and parcel of a general plan of destabilisation of the revolution in the run-up to the referendum. The limits of reformism in combating food scarcity stress the need for bold measures, like nationalisation of the food industry and the mobilisation of the masses. No time can be lost!

No sooner had I finished my article,Venezuela: counterrevolution raises its head - Heinz Dieterich and General Baduel (parts One and Two)when I was sent yet another of Dieterich's articles, which the Professor seems to produce with the same ease as a machine churning out sausages. This time it was a reply to my Cuban friend and comrade Celia Hart, who has clearly incurred the Professor's wrath by her negative comments on the very same article I have dealt with here.

The Marxists have long argued that the only way forward for the Venezuelan revolution is to strike blows against the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie, by expropriating the bankers, landlords and capitalists, etc. However, there are other voices saying rather different things. One of the most persistent of these voices is that of Heinz Dieterich, who has been waging a noisy campaign in favour of what he calls “Socialism of the XXI Century” - a strange kind of socialism indeed in that it differs very little from capitalism.

In the build up to the forthcoming December referendum on constitutional reform some of the reformist elements within the Bolivarian movement are coming out with their true colours. General Baduel, recently resigned Minister of Defence, has openly joined the Opposition, as has "Podemos" a party that was part of the government coalition. Open appeals to the military officer caste to rebel are also appearing in the media. This highlights the dangers to the revolution and the urgent need to complete it.

The overwhelming victory of Chávez in the presidential elections last December marked a new shift to the left in the Venezuelan revolution, followed by the setting up of the PSUV, nationalisations, workers' control, enabling power. In a speech at the summer school of the International Marxist Tendency, Jorge Martin analysed the stage the revolution is at, the dangers it faces and outlined the way forward.

The non-renewal of the broadcasting licence to private TV station RCTV in Venezuela has been used by the oligarchy and imperialism to unleash the coup-plotting campaign they were unable to launch at the time of the December 3rd elections. Despite all the hue and cry over “freedom of expression” the real aim of the oligarchy in Venezuela is to create a situation of chaos, violence and confusion.

Chavez has announced sweeping measures of nationalisation. This represents a big step forward for the Venezuelan revolution and would be a serious blow against capitalism and imperialism. Big enemies are lining up to stop this process, the most dangerous being inside the Bolivarian movement itself. It is now time to go all the way and put an end to capitalism in Venezuela and spread the revolution to the rest of Latin America.

Using the old and tested mechanism of organising economic sabotage from within, the Venezuelan oligarchy is consciously manoeuvring to organise “food shortages”. The government has imposed price controls and is attempting to set up publicly owned food industries, but in order to successfully combat this sabotage it must go all the way and expropriate the oligarchy as a whole.

At the swearing in of his new government, Hugo Chavez announced radical new measures, including an enabling law that would allow for the nationalisation of key sectors of the economy. He also explained that it is necessary to “dismantle the bourgeois state”. All this confirms what the Marxists said after the elections in December. The balance of class forces has tilted enormously in favour of the masses.

After the massive electoral victory on December 3, Chavez has put a big emphasis on the need to turn towards socialism. As part of this he is proposing a new party, built from the bottom up, to bypass the bureaucracy.