Workers' Voice mailing list
January 30, 2019
RE: The crisis in Venezuel
By Joseph Green, Detroit Workers' Voice
There is a deep crisis in Venezuela. At one time the presidency of Hugo Chavez brought immense benefits to the Venezuelan poor and workers, albeit it was done mainly through oil money, sufficient at one time to simultaneously finance social measures, bribe the military, and pay off a section of the bourgeoisie. But the days of the Bolivarian revolution are over in all but name. The country is now reeling from rampant corruption, the lack of sufficient food and medicine, spectacular inflation, mass emigration, and political repression. Hunger stalks the country. While a handful of Chavista bureaucrats and allies live in luxury, many Venezuelans have fled the country in order to survive. Meanwhile politically, the workers and the poor are caught between Maduro's bureaucrats and the traditional rightist bourgeoisie in Venezuela.
No to Trump's intervention in Venezuela -- from sanctions to the threat of military action. In desperation, some Venezuelans, not just the bourgeoisie, look towards outside intervention from anywhere. But there is a long-standing US imperialist policy towards Latin America. The US government has historically backed the most despicable forces in Latin America, and not hesitated to see popular movements drowned in blood. The US government opposed the Chavez government at a time when the condition of the masses was improving, and now sees the misery under Maduro as an opportunity. Trump, whose administration lauds the fascist-sympathizer Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of Brazil, is intervening in Venezuela, not in the interests of freedom, but to restore the domination of the traditional bourgeoisie.
No support for the head authoritarian, Nicolas Maduro, whose policy is simply to stay in power at all costs, no matter what the population thinks or how many people starve. The Maduro presidency is dependent, not on the will of the people, but on the continuation of support from the military, whose chieftains have enriched themselves under Chavista rule. The Venezuelan government's policies are the main cause of the economic and political crisis in Venezuela. The Maduro government has relied increasingly on continuing Chavez's centralization of power in the presidency. And as he lost popularity, Maduro took to more and more falsification of the voice of the people and repressive police measures. Elections have seen the banning of various opposition parties and leaders, and the coercion of those receiving social assistance or having a government job. Having lost the National Assembly to the opposition despite everything, Maduro called in 2017 for a Constituent Assembly to revise the Bolivarian constitution created under Chavez. In the elections for the Constituent Assembly, the vote of a person in a small town was worth well over 10 times that of someone in a big city like Caracas. That's an example of what passes for legality and democratic procedure under Maduro.
No support for Juan Guaido, who has declared himself the interim president of Venezuela. The mass disgust with the Maduro government doesn't mean that the bulk of the protesters support the leaders of the opposition or that they have a clear plan of their own. The opposition's political wing is dominated by bourgeois and neo-liberal forces, including the traditional right-wing, and Guaido appeals to outside powers to help him take over in Venezuela. He has no plan to deal seriously with the immense crisis at present in Venezuela. The opposition has a majority in the National Assembly, but it is fragmented, with nothing but opposition to the Maduro regime uniting it.
As the crisis has deepened, the discontent with the Maduro government has spread to a number of poor districts that previously backed the Chavistas. A recent article in NACLA reports that
"Much has changed, though, since the days of the April 2002 coup, when, in response, the Venezuelan poor famously came 'down from the barrios' to defend President Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. ...
"Nearly two decades later, Venezuelan President Maduro faces a far different scenario.
"Protests against Maduro and confrontations with
police have been documented throughout many working-class
neighborhoods, including Catia, which has been a Chavista stronghold
for almost two decades, in addition to sectors like La Vega, El Valle,
Petare, and San Agustin. Marches against Maduro have vastly outnumbered
those in support of him. Some sources have even said that participants
at Chavista events are prohibited from taking pictures and videos due
to low turnout." (Rebecca Hanson and Tim Gill, January 24, 2019, https://nacla.org/news/2019/01/24/venezuela-another-crossroads).
But while the discontent is growing, the masses don't have any sufficiently-large political movement that speaks in their name against both Maduro and the bourgeois right-wing. The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD is its Spanish acronym) is dominated by the bourgeois forces, while the left-wing movement is in disarray. This means that whether Maduro presidency survives the crisis, or Guaido takes control, or there is a negotiated agreement between the Chavistas and the opposition, the working masses are going to remain at the bottom of the heap. Even if the opposition and the government make a deal, possibly on the basis of throwing Maduro under the bus while preserving the role of the army and many bureaucrats, the masses will face more austerity and sacrifice.
struggle of the Venezuelan working people against repression and
intolerable living conditions deserves support from the working class
around the world. The best situation would be that the working people
develop an independent trend in the course of fighting for their
immediate needs. Such a movement could lead towards unity against
Trump, Maduro, and Guaido, and help pave the way for a revival of a
truly socialist movement in Venezuela. 
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Posted on February 2, 2019
Some typos have been corrected.