Workers' Voice mailing list
February 17, 2019
RE: True solidarity with the Venezuelan people
The situation in Venezuela is becoming more serious by the day, and hunger stalks the country. There are more and more threats from the Trump government, and deeper and deeper crisis inside Venezuela. Let's support the working people of Venezuela! Let's hear from the angry voices inside Venezuela that are independent of both Maduro and Guaidó! All three statements reproduced below oppose US imperialist intervention while providing some information on workers' demonstrations and strikes in Venezuela in the last year. Two interviews represent the views of certain left-wing parties in Venezuela; I don't endorse all the views of these Venezuelan parties, but their description of the situation gives a more realistic idea of what's going on then is available from most American anti-war groups. One statement is from a group of activists in the US who hold that the anti-war movement should focus on supporting the mass movements of those under attack, not repressive regimes.
Don't let the voice of workers and activists in Venezuela be drowned out by an international chorus of apologists for Maduro! Don't let the voice of Venezuelan workers and activists be silenced by imperialist intervention or the right-wing bourgeoisie in Venezuela! Oppose Trump's imperialist intervention, Maduro's Chavista bourgeoisie, and Guaidó's traditional bourgeoisie!
Solidarity with the working people of Venezuela!
-- Joseph Green, Detroit Workers' Voice <>
Below are extracts from an interview with Gonzalo Gomez of Marea Socialista (Socialist Wave) in which he declares that
"Maduro's government has lost its legitimacy because of its anti-worker policies, its terrible corruption, its predatory extractivism that gives away our resources to foreign powers, its unconstitutional decisions and the repressive authoritarianism by which it governs.
"It was elected under highly questionable conditions and has lost any claim to legitimacy with a whole number of serious violations to the Constitution. The vast majority of the working class has shown that they reject Maduro and his government -- there have been many mass manifestations of this rejection."
He also states: "We know that Trump and the U.S. government are driven by imperialist, colonialist and capitalist interests -- the geopolitical drive to dominate other peoples. We repeat our slogan: 'The people no longer want Maduro, but no one chose Guaidó.' We are against foreign interventions and seek a solution accomplished democratically by the people. ... "
"Speaking for Marea Socialista and the Citizen's Platform in Defense of the Constitution, we have proposed a call for a consultative referendum, under the terms of the Constitution's Article 71, which specifies that 'matters of national importance' can be put to a vote.
"That referendum could be invoked in an agreement between the Maduro government and the Opposition National Assembly or by gathering the of 10 percent of voters. We are working in alliances with other political organizations and popular movements to make this happen, as we do not want anything being decided for us behind closed doors. ..."
"The year 2018 was marked by workers’ and community protests and a union resistance emerging in an increasingly notable way. These struggles centered on defending wages that have been destroyed by hyperinflation and the government’s anti-worker policies; defending collective bargaining agreements that the government began to undermine by lowering benefits; and opposing the repression of workers’ protests.
"Also, working-class communities came out into the streets in greater and greater numbers to protest shortages and the scarcity of utilities like water, natural gas and electricity, public transportation; and health services and medications. ..."
"Workers’ struggles have begun expressing themselves around new Venezuelan workers’ organization, with activists and union leaders promoting and tying these struggles together from a class perspective, but with a diversity and plurality in their political alignments.
"Some are linked to the opposition, others are 'neither-nor,' and still others come from the current of dissident Chavismo that has developed as the PSUV trade union bureaucrats have become an instrument of the government, which is the main boss in the country.
"The Bolivarian Socialist Workers Central Union, the largest trade union, is today an arm of the state apparatus that assists in posing anti-worker policies, either justifying them or dampening protests in order to help manage the rebelliousness of the working class against the destruction of its rights by the PSUV government and the military.
"The situation with Guaidó puts this new surge of the union movement at risk. It was born of struggles from below, but a fight will be required to keep the movement independent of the different poles that would like to co-opt and dismember it."
Let's support the Venezuelan masses against hunger and repression, and let's listen to the voices of left-wing activists there. I do not endorse all the viewpoints of Marea Socialista, nor do I endorse "International Viewpoint", but I think it's important that people hear what Marea Socialista says about what's happening in Venezuela and in the mass protest movement. Don't let the voice of workers and activists be drowned out by an international chorus of apologists for Maduro. Don't let the voice of workers and activists be silenced by imperialist intervention or the right-wing bourgeoisie in Venezuela.
The full interview can be found at
February 9, 2019. <>
Below is an interview with Simón Rodríguez Porras, of the Venezuelan Party for Socialism and Freedom. This is an English translation as reproduced by Oakland Socialist.
1- What is the situation of the majority of salaried employees in Venezuela? In addition to the oil industry in cases, where there is registered employment, what are the salaries in dollars and what do they achieve for a person or family?
The government has been applying an inflationary adjustment program, especially in the last five years, reducing the minimum wage from about $300 per month to less than $10 per month. Additionally, it has tended to equalize wage scales downwards, around the minimum wage, ignoring collective bargaining agreements. In this way, more than 80% of Venezuelan wage earners earn below the internationally recognized extreme poverty line, because they do not even make a dollar a day.
These wages imply a regime of semi-slavery because they do not even cover a daily meal for a month. The basic basket of goods exceeds between 15 and 20 times the minimum wage. Because of hyperinflation, this proportion changes from week to week.
2- Originally the “missions” were welfare policies. Have they now become just food rationing, or is there still at least coverage for food for people who because of their employment status or other reasons could not access basic goods? Are there Venezuelans completely out of all help and access to food?**
The old missions have receded in their scope due to the brutal cut of social spending on the part of the government to sustain the payments of the external debt. Imports were also cut by more than 80% and GDP was reduced by half. The government’s effort has focused on distributing boxes with some food at a subsidized price, through a mechanism known as CLAP, which is supposed to be universally accessible, for all people who register in a census for that purpose. However, the distribution of such food is used for political extortion, workers and people of the popular sectors are threatened with taking them out of the census if they defend their rights in protests or do not go to vote in fraudulent elections. For the rest, this mechanism does not allow a family to cover their food needs, since the distribution is clearly insufficient, and corruption is widely documented in the purchase of low quality food in Mexico and other countries with surcharges.
3- The mass media in general tend to focus on Caracas as the epicenter of economic and political activity. How is the situation in the rest of the country? Are there reasons to think that Maduro’s policy was progressively strangling Venezuela’s food production capacity?
The situation of the interior is worse than that of the capital. In much of the country there is a shortage of gasoline, power cuts are common, cooking gas is not available, there are problems with access to water.
Venezuela abandoned its agricultural vocation several decades ago by becoming an oil country, subsidizing imports, including food. But that tendency was exacerbated to levels never before seen during the Chavista period. An agrarian reform was not carried out to promote production in the unproductive latifundia, but a small amount of land was distributed to small owners without technical support, and the currency was overvalued, liquidating most of the scarce national food production, favoring the import of finished products and the flight of capital. The advance of organized crime and the proliferation of military checkpoints on national roads in which carriers are extorted are also elements that make food production more expensive and difficult.
4- What is the status of refineries in Venezuela? Is Chavismo leaving an obsolete oil industry, which would make a change in government useless as far as creating economic growth? Or is it a problem of poor administration and low wages? Why are there people who want to leave their jobs in PDVSA?
Venezuela’s oil wages are the lowest in the world, which has forced thousands of workers in all areas to resign and seek work abroad. In addition, Chavismo imposed a wild divestment policy that led the industry to reduce its production from three million barrels per day to one million barrels per day. We went from being an exporter of refined products to having a negative trade balance in refined products, we import more than we export. The workers who have denounced these criminal policies, such as the revolutionaries of the current C-cure and the Socialism and Freedom Party led by the general secretary of the oil workers’ federation, José Bodas, have been persecuted, criminalized and dismissed in many cases. These are framed in a situation where a planned economy tried to overcome the pitfalls given by a certain form of the development of the productive forces.
Most of the production is no longer in the hands of the state-owned company but rather of mixed companies with transnationals such as the Yankee Chevron, which has become a real orgy of imperialist oil looting. It would require large investments in the oil and petrochemical industry to recover production, hence it is necessary to nationalize the oil industry and apply a rational investment policy with resources that are currently squandered or directly plundered by the Chavista bourgeoisie and the transnationals.
5- Is it true that the security forces together with other elements of the bourgeoisie live clearly better than the rest of Venezuelan society? Is this group today the main support of the government? In any case of transition agreed between Maduro and Guaidó, would this group consolidate its power?
Clearly, Venezuela is a capitalist society with a social gap between the bourgeoisie and the truly abysmal working class. There are shopping centers and luxury restaurants where a lunch can cost the same as a worker’s monthly salary. The bourgeois can buy luxury imported products and the latest fashion, have private security and live in fortified mansions. There are both chavista bourgeois and traditional big businessmen who, although they also ultimately accumulate capital based on seizing oil revenues, are politically more akin to the right-wing opposition.
The military leadership is part of the new Chavista bourgeoisie. They own companies that contract with the State, import, control state networks of food distribution, have a mining company, a television channel and even direct PDVSA.
The Yankee intervention and the policy of Guaidó, in addition to counting on finishing the strangulation of the economy with oil sanctions, calculated to produce the greatest misery and suffering possible to the Venezuelan people, focuses on bribing the military with the promise of total impunity for related crimes with human rights, corruption and tax crimes. So far that coup policy has not worked, the military continues to support Maduro and the regime emerged from his own coup in 2016, when Maduro annulled the functions of the opposition parliament and suspended constitutional guarantees. But the sanctions of January this year will plunge the country into much greater chaos in a few weeks. As opponents of the left, we categorically repudiate them.
6- What is the relationship between private and state unions in Venezuela? Are strikes being repressed with the same force as protests in the country? What expectations do bureaucracies have in this crisis, and what do they think combative directions in the country?
In 2018 there were large workers’ protests and some strikes, several of them repressed militarily. Currently there is a great teachers conflict in several states of the country. The government has dozens of political workers prihttps://oaklandsocialist.com/2019/02/07/interview-who-governs-venezuela-should-be-decided-by-the-venezuelan-people-not-the-chavez-military-let-alone-the-yankees/soners, including the secretary general of the Ferrominera del Orinoco union, Ruben González, and the worker Rodney Alvarez, kidnapped by the government seven and a half years ago without the right to trial. A further demonstration of the anti-worker character of the capitalist government of Maduro, beyond its false socialist discourse.
The militant and left-wing sectors of the workers’ movement, which participate in the Intersectorial of Workers of Venezuela, try to promote an independent policy so that it is the workers and the popular sectors that defeat with their own methods of struggle, such as the general strike, Civic-military regime, closing the way to the criminal intervention of Trump, the European Union and the right-wing governments of the region such as Duque, Bolsonaro and Macri. Who governs Venezuela should be decided by the Venezuelan people, not the Chavez military, let alone the Yankees.
Oaklandsocialist comments: It has been [our] position for some time that the Venezuelan regime represented a form of bonapartism – in other words, a regime that has partially risen above the major classes in society. In its earlier years, it used the oil income to redistribute wealth downwards. That was of course positive and made it massively popular, but even then, it was not under the control of the working class itself. Then, as the price of oil collapsed, the same regime had to reverse course. As the crisis worsened, it used capital/currency controls to try to prevent massive capital outflows.
From the interview in Oakland Socialist. <>
Below is a statement from a group of activists that have been seeking for several years to build an anti-war movement that is in solidarity with the mass movements of the people in countries under attack, but not with dictatorships. It denounces in detail US imperialism, Maduro, and Guaidó, and has some information about the stand of the workers' movement In Venezuela. It also says the American anti-war movement is in crisis, as seen in the leaderships of coalitions and groups like ANSWER, UNAC, and Code Pink having "reduced opposition to imperialist interventions to a mechanical isolationism that abandons popular struggles to the repression of dictatorships."
Anti-War Committees in Solidarity with the Struggles for Self-Determination: Statement on Venezuela, February 12, 2019
No to the US
Intervention in Venezuela!
Oppose Trump’s Threats to Send Troops!
No Confidence in Maduro or Guaidó!
Corrupt Venezuelan Generals and Foreign Creditors Profit While the People Face Hunger!
A severe economic crisis coupled with a deepening crisis of leadership has left Venezuela vulnerable to a US orchestrated attempt to secure a political transition that protects the military high command and restores a regime directly subordinate to Washington. Maduro offers no alternative to the economic crisis and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV by its acronym in Spanish), created by Chavez, is an obstacle to the popular mobilizations and struggles required to overcome the crisis.
Although the US has recently taken economic measures to cut the Maduro government’s access to vital oil revenues, throughout the Chavista “revolution” of “21st Century Socialism”, the US has been the biggest buyer of Venezuelan oil. Trump’s sanctions preventing Maduro and members of his inner circle from receiving oil revenues is effectively a blockade on oil sales to the US, but this recent development does not explain the hyperinflation and scarcity of food and medicines driving popular protests against the government.
The root cause of the hyperinflation immiserating the people is the Chavez regime’s attempt to purchase the loyalty of the military high command, maintain service on the foreign debt and avoid directly challenging the economic power of Venezuela’s criollo elite through serious land reform and nationalizations aimed at breaking the power of landlords and monopolists, and securing food sovereignty and the ability to overcome Venezuela’s dependency on imports.
Chavez balanced atop the popular struggle that challenged IMF-imposed austerity in the Caracazo of 1989, swept aside the power pact between corrupt political parties in 1998, and defeated a coup attempt in 2002. Initially enjoying deep popular support, Chavez replaced the old political regime and carried out a redistribution of oil revenues in popular social programs to alleviate poverty and increase access to housing and healthcare, but these policies could only be maintained as long as oil prices remained high. Chavez did not break the country’s exclusive reliance on oil revenues to purchase imports of consumers goods. With the collapse of oil prices, the needs of the people competed with the colossal waste of resources spent purchasing the loyalty of the military high command, and worst of all, the uninterrupted service on the foreign debt.
Historically the resistance against austerity in Latin America has been associated with struggles against measures imposed upon governments in or at risk of default to international banks. The populist redistribution of oil revenues by Chavez was praiseworthy. Today, however, the government’s policies following the collapse of oil prices have tightened the belt on Venezuela’s people in order to purchase the loyalty of the army; the result is a massive transfer of wealth to the generals. Workers’ wages are eaten up by hyperinflation. Venezuela imports everything except oil, and an artificially low exchange rate is reserved for the regime’s allies—in particular, the high command of the military. The result is a black market that fuels inflation. The military is in complete control of food imports and distribution, and it has become an enormous parasite sucking the lifeblood from the Venezuelan people. Under Maduro, the Chavista regime has gone from populist programs to aid the poor to effectively forcing Venezuela’s poorest to bear the burden of the crisis, while enriching the generals who maintain control over the military and guaranteeing debt service to foreign creditors.
The question of control over the military is key to understanding the political crisis in Venezuela. Up until recently, Guaidó was largely unknown to Venezuelans. He has seized upon popular discontent to present his leadership over the simmering revolt, but his planned transition is based upon amnesty for the same corrupt, criminal generals whose loyalty Maduro buys. The Trump administration, European governments, together with reactionary governments like Brazil’s and Colombia’s, have backed Guido’s claims that Maduro’s election in 2018 was illegitimate, but although much noise was made about corruption, none of the opposition candidates in that election opposed the foreign debt service nor seriously challenged the military’s control over food imports. In any case, no election result or constitutional crisis can bind millions of Venezuelans to endure years of misery. Political struggles aside, Guiado and the National Assembly are in fact in agreement with Maduro on protecting the generals and continuing the debt payments.
The desperation of Venezuelans disillusioned with Maduro will probably soon give Guaidó the upper hand, especially now that the US has announced the inner circle of the regime will no longer be able to access oil revenues. Resolving the constitutional crisis, however, leaves open the question of who is to suffer the pain of overcoming the economic crisis. Guaidó can rely on US aid while he allows the exchange rate to float, but freed prices will not break Venezuela’s dependency on imports and stabilizing the country’s currency will require a tight control on wages and social programs for the poor. Guaidó, and US imperialism know that the military as an institution may soon be required to confront new popular rebellions for basic necessities. The generals’ continued control over the Venezuelan military is a serious threat to the people, illusions about a democratic transition that leaves the generals in command are dangerous. US imperialism wishes to preserve the military as the institution to restore order in the likely event Maduro falls and impoverished Venezuelans refuse to accept a transition government that imposes austerity—without the populist demagoguery--to continue paying the debt.
At present there is no identifiable alternative to Guaidó and
Maduro, but the leadership that must arise will come from the popular
struggles for basic necessities. Guaidó claims Venezuela’s constitution
gives him the right to declare himself president, but that same
constitution also extends important legal guarantees to Venezuela’s
working and poor millions. In response to the constitutional crisis, the
Venezuelan Workers Confederation (Intersectoral de Trabajadores de
Venezuela), which recently led a strike by health care workers to
demand Maduro’s government index wages to inflation, recently stated:
“The lack of democratic principles and the intensification of
repression against the population, go hand in hand today with the
violation of constitutional rights to work, to food, to health, quality
education, decent wages, and intangibility and escalation of labor
rights. The Constitution is being violated in its entirety and must be
defended in full.” Their demands included freedom for imprisoned trade
US imperialism has a long sordid history of intervention and support for military dictatorships in Venezuela and throughout Latin America, and clearly the Trump administration seeks to take advantage of the political crisis that has resulted from the popular repudiation of Maduro. Guaidó is surely counting on the promise of humanitarian aid to facilitate his transition, but Maduro’s rejection of offered aid is a sick joke. There is nothing “revolutionary” about rejecting desperately needed aid. Politically condemning the Trump administration’s cynical intentions is appropriate, but the people do not eat revolutionary propaganda. Maduro’s tough talk is at the service of the parasitic generals he relies upon to stay in power.
On principle, Trump’s threats to use US troops in Venezuela must be opposed, but this opposition should not translate into support for Maduro. More than one imperialist power is working against the Venezuelan peoples’ struggle for self-determination. Under Chavez and Maduro, firms and banks linked to the Chinese and Russian governments have acquired significant economic power in Venezuela. No confidence should be given to the government that surrendered as debt collateral 50% control over CITGO (a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state firm PDVSA) to the Russian state oil company Rosneft. Chinese state banks hold at least US$60 billion of Venezuela’s foreign debt. There is nothing “anti-imperialist” about selling off the country’s assets to Russian and Chinese imperialism.
Solidarity with the Venezuelan people cannot be built around loyalty to leaderships that leave unchallenged the forces that impose hunger. Opposition to US imperialist intervention in Venezuela is a matter of principle, but the alternative to wars and interventions can only be found in solidarity with the mass movements, and to the extent that leaderships consistently fight for the interests of these movements, support is warranted.
The US anti-war opposition forces are today in a deep crisis because coalitions such as ANSWER and UNAC have openly supported the Assad regime and its genocidal repression of the democratic struggle in Syria, while other leaderships, such as Code Pink, have maintained a shameful silence in the face of the repression. These leaderships have reduced opposition to imperialist interventions to a mechanical isolationism that abandons popular struggles to the repression of dictatorships. A new principled anti-war leadership is required, one that builds solidarity with the people, not dictatorships!
Trump and reactionary leaders in Latin America
conspire against the Venezuelan people!
-- Demand debt forgiveness for Latin America and an end to US intervention!
No Confidence in Guaidó or Maduro!
Solidarity with the Popular Struggles for Basic Necessities!
Neither Maduro nor Guaidó challenge the debt and dependency at the root of poverty in Venezuela!
Maduro and Guaidó protect the generals whose control of the army is a real danger to the people!
Venezuela’s self-determination requires an end to the foreign debt that strangles her people!
-- Condemn Maduro’s repression of popular protests!
-- Reject Guaidó’s undemocratic amnesty for criminal generals! The generals do not serve the people!
No Confidence in Assad’s Apologists! Build
Solidarity with the People in Struggle, Not Dictatorships!
The US leaderships that have apologized for Assad’s atrocities and war crimes in Syria have no moral authority to lead an anti-war opposition!
Maduro’s support for the murderous Assad regime betrays the Syrian people!
-- From Venezuela to Syria, solidarity with the democratic struggles for self-determination, not dictatorships, is the only alternative to wars and imperialist interventions!
Anti-War Committees in Solidarity with the Struggles for Self-Determination <>
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Posted on March 14, 2019
Some typos have been corrected.