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(en) A Venezuelan anarchist viewpoint on Chavez

From "Chris R" <christopher@nodo50.org>
Date Sat, 14 Dec 2002 09:24:09 -0500 (EST)


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A conversation on how Venezuelan anarchists view the Chavez crisis with
Rafa, a libertarian comrade of the CRA (Commission of Anarchist
Relationships) of Venezuela on "Canarias Libertaria" on 10/12/02.

.....

With this we are trying to contribute a different vision from what the media
is giving (even those that call themselves "alternative"). We are neither
for Chavez, nor for Fedecamaras or CTV or Coordinadora Democratica... We are
for fomenting autonomy and self-management. We recommend you visit the web:
http://www.nodo50.org/ellibertario. There you will find abundant information
that is permanently updated. We earnestly request that you publish that URL;
now, with so much informative intoxication, it is convenient that the vision
of the Venezuelan comrades gets to all sides.

Q) How are you?

A) We are trying to inform on what is happening, we are hanging info on the
web..

Q) How is the situation and how are the libertarians?

A) Some food is getting scarce and petrol too. All the anarchists are well,
because we are not directly part of the sectors in conflict, although we are
on the list of counterrevolutionaries that the Chavez supporters circulate
on the Internet. In our web El Libertario you can read a report on what is
happening, far from the hysteria of both sides. Regrettably, Internet is
full of media that claims to be alternative and this misinforms as much as
the private media. An example has been the lamentable deaths last Friday.
The alternative media are circulating the version that it was a set-up of
the opposition. And although that might be a hypothesis, it is very
different of assuring that "that's the way it is", without proof. For me
this is something very serious.

I can summarize our position: the strike called by the bosses and the CTV is
not worthy, by any means, of our trust. But rejection of the strike doesn't
mean, in any way, that I support to the regime, which has fallen into the
errors, bad habits and exclusions that it claims to combat. So we are trying
to connect with people who want to slowly but steadily build up an
alternative to both sides. In fact there are many groups in this mindframe,
leftwing people with which one can take a few steps, a few, I repeat.

Q) With the polarization in Venezuela (as the media describes the
situation), it must be very difficult to remain between the two fires...

A) That is what we have tried

Q) That is recommendable.

A) We try to explain that the dissatisfaction with the regime is legitimate,
but not to let that rage be used by others. On the one hand, criticizing the
Chavez bureaucracy but not their membership. With the latter maybe, in the
future, we can do things and right now, to insert two values: autonomy and
self-management.

Q) Does it seem that Chavez has not given answers to Chavezism? The
expectations have turned into nothing, haven't they?

A) Chavez is an incognito. Regrettably, many of them know that Chavez
politically doesn't have any preparation, but they need him where he is to
be able to be in power. Here everything is all mixed up together. But Chavez
is government and he has NOT exercised his authority (his own followers say
this). For example, none of the corrupt are in prison, nor is any "golpista"
[participant in the coup] behind bars, nothing is known about what happened
on April 11th ... because it is in the interest of the Chavez bureaucracy to
have the "phantom" of a coup to be able to deviate attention from the
important things; the fiscal and economic crisis. After April 11th, the
radical sectors of The Chavez movement believed that it was their chance to
radicalise the revolution. But they stopped the participation from above...
it is incredible how Chavez copies the style of his predecessors: changing
everything in order to change nothing. For example, from beginning of
November the official sector has been welcoming the arrival of Christmas,
organizing parties in the streets, with Christmas trees and bagpipes,
putting ads in the papers...

Q) Do the Chavez supporters want more? Do they want changes in their
situation, in their lives? Do they hope the regime will provide it for them
or do they already know that it will only be possible if they obtain it
through their own means?

A) The Chavist supporters DO want more, but they believe that it won't be
possible due to the "sabotage of the people behind the coups." That is to
say, they excuse the government's errors saying that [ex-President] Carlos
Andres is behind a permanent destabilising plan that doesn't allow Chavez to
get on with his work (sic). And the worst thing, they silence his critics in
order to not give arguments to the right" (sic).

Chavez is the contention wall between this radical sector and the moderate
sector that has occupied all the ministries: the PPT, the officialist MA,
the MVR. So the grassroots sectors have been abandoning their own demands
for what they consider the "defence of the revolution", but many already are
fed up with being the government's cannon fodder. An example was Chavez
supporters inside the university. After several actions, such as taking over
the Dean's office of the UCV, the line imposed on them was to make street
actions defending Chavez and paradoxically, they didn't carry out any more
actions inside the university. That is to say, they lost the grassroots
space they had won. It happens this way in neighbourhoods and other areas.
With these grassroots people, we believe that, when they see for their own
eyes what the bureaucracy of the State means, we can do things together.
Some documents have already circulated that lightly criticize the "process",
lightly because I imagine they don't want to be accused of being traitors.

Q) Here the TV news says that they are beginning to glimpse an electoral
solution to the crisis and that Chavez is becoming inclined to that. Do they
say same thing there?

A) Yes. In fact, we are so sure of it that we have already made the
documents that we will distribute. The bureaucracies will end up making an
electoral pact so that they can all get a piece of the cake. The solution
will be an amendment of the constitution to allow early elections. At least
that it is the line of the PPT.

Q) And what do the Chavez supporters say to that?

A) They say it is a betrayal. For that reason, the conversations are taken
done with great care and discretion, because Chavez has gotten tired of
saying that the others are some in favour of a coup  and that their methods
are faked.

Personally, I will love to see how they will explain it to their people.
Here there is NO political discussion, what there is is very primitive. The
speeches are full of adjectives and insults without substance, each side
rejecting its opponent. So the opposition will also have to loosen up in its
principles that "Chavez resigns immediately."

Q) Why have the Chavez supporters not taken over the factories acting
autonomously from the Chavez bureaucracy? Wouldn't that be the logical thing
to do?

A) It would be the logical thing... But they don't do it, because on one
hand there isn't any union organization that moves this message amongst its
members. That is to say, the workers don't know what this fully means,
because Chavez has used this argument like a threat more than as a political
strategy and on the other hand Chavez has declared the "inviolability of the
private property."

Q) Then Chavez grassroots movements don't exist as such, they are only
followers of power?

A) There is a bit of everything, you cannot generalize. There are those in
the "Circulos Bolivarianos" with the best of intentions, with a priceless
grassroots activity, and others, to my knowledge in a greater number than
the previous, to whom the word 'revolution' is synonymous of a 'sure wage'.
An example in the trade unions: I agree that the CTV is a rotten
organisation, but to substitute it we need, I believe, short-, medium- and
long-term strategies, educating people in the vision of a different
syndicalism, organizing unions, spreading a programme. But the Chavez moveme
nt became left alone as a threat to overthrow the leadership of the CTV.
That's why they organized union elections... which they lost!! And they
argued that it was because of an electoral swindle, but they were the ones
who organized them!! So they have tried to raise a grassroots union base
with a short-termed vision that is frightening, based on money, sinecures
and talk, but without a short- and medium strategy, because the political
vision is now a military one, confrontation and measuring forces as is
currently occurring, and in this one of the people to blame is Chavez.

Part one of a series of two parts of a conversation on how Venezuelan
anarchists view the Chavez crisis with Rafa, a libertarian comrade of the
CRA (Commission of Anarchist Relationships) of Venezuela on "Canarias
Libertaria" on 10/12/02.

Q) Is the revolution just verbosity spoken by the powers that be to stay in
power? The revolution is not "felt," is not "treasured" by the general
population, therefore they do not autonomously rally round it, is that it?

A) Correct. There is no self-criticism. Someone else is always to blame: the
supporters of a coup d'etat, the CAP [political party], the FMI,
imperialism, the Martians.... If we eliminate the other side, everything
will magically fall in place. For example: the private media, it is certain,
have carried out a very slanted news campaign, but The Chavez movement has
been unable to mount their own sources of information that are not a replica
of what they criticize. So watching Channel 8 (the State Channel), it like
watching Globovision [the anti-Chavez channel] but with everything changed
around. For Channel 8, "everything's calm and cool", the "the strike has
flopped," etc.

Q) Latin American "magical realism"...; -)

A) From above they have tried to have their own newspapers, but the
experiences have failed, not for a lack of readers, but due to the
administrative disaster and internal corruption. For example, "El Correo del
Presidente." In the same way the support they give to the community media,
who do the job of [providing] counterinformation for the State, is dual. Of
course the State supports those who guarantee them political coverage.
Diffuse autonomy: in the case of radio stations, you receive the
transmission equipment, you are not the owner, you are responsible for it
for a while. That links you infinitely with the State, as the manager of a
community radio. The self-censorship is evident, for the fear of displeasing
those who have offered you their support.

Q) How do you perceive the future in the mid-term?

A) I believe it will end up in elections.

Q) Will Chavez run again?

A) I imagine that Chavez will convince his supporters to campaign and to try
to defeat the others through votes. So the Chavez followers will be busy
plastering walls with posters and giving out flyers for the next few months.

The administration of the Chavez government has been very, very bad, but the
economic crisis has been overlapped by the political crisis.. The extra
income due to the rise in the price of the petroleum has filled the arks of
the State several times, which they then empty in populist plans and
expenses.

Q) With the elections, the most radical sector of The Chavez movement will
break off and go their own way, won't they?

A) That is what you would expect.... but maybe, just maybe, they might be
seduced again with that of "defeating the coup with votes" and starting
afresh. I believe that if the elections were held tomorrow Chavez would win
again, firstly because the opposition doesn't have a reliable leader;
secondly, their arguments do not connect with the popular classes; thirdly,
politicians from the past, from the IV republic are making all of their
racket, so the notion that a lot of people share is that of "I prefer Chavez
before going back to the past". I believe that a more solid strategy would
be to allow Chavez to govern and let the economic crisis show its face and
the inability of the State to improve the standard of living, plus the cases
of corruption.. I think both sides can summon up more or less the same
amount of support.

Q) So the chances of a civil war is out of the question?

A) There are uncontrollable groups on both sides, but here the deaths of
April 11 and the deaths of last Friday have soaked in deep. Maybe it is
necessary to use a magnifying glass to look at the sectors of armed radical
followers of Chavez who, if they end up breaking away from The Chavez
movement, a difficult thing, but it could indeed happen.

The capacity of tricking yourself here is tremendous. Nobody questions what
happened to Lucas Rincon, for example. The trustworthy official of Chavez
who announced to the country on April 11 that Chavez had given up. When
Chavez returned to power, not only was the guy not openly reprehended, but
they promoted him to Minister of Defence! And a few days later he was sent
off as an ambassador outside the country!! Now he has been retired, but
nobody inside the Chavez movement, has asked why that announcement was made,
why he continues to be a man of trust, why they rewarded him, why they don't
prosecute him for participating in the coup.... Here there are intentional
amnesias, forgetfulness for convenience's sake... I don't forget. There are
things on both sides that force you, to keep a distance. Coherence, I say, a
minimum of ethics. Here they say that there is nothing more "adeco" [???]
than a Bolivariano... The same cultural mould which has to be replaced in
order for a change, of whatever nature, to occur.

Q) Hey, from here, apart from circulating this information, can we help in
any other way? If you want, I can tidy up the conversation and put it on the
Canary Islands Libertarian list?

A) As you wish, comrade. It would be useful, because regrettably some
anarchists outside the country are criticising us saying that we are part of
the "counterrevolution". On the other hand, there are others who are talking
about a  supposed anarcho-Chavez movement (we know about the messages that
circulate A-infos and other lists). I believe that for us the position is
clear: it is necessary to build an alternative with the sectors with which
we can, trying slowly but steadily to take firm steps. If only this were a
revolution, albeit a Marxist one. We would have different angle of
opposition, criticism, confrontation, and even of construction.. But,
regrettably, it is just more of the same thing, with some advances and many
setbacks.

We are thinking about how to get the most out in the future of the
discontent with the armed forces and to take some steps in that direction.
Get the soldier back to the barracks, conscientious objection, no military
instruction in the schools... I think that in a next future, the way things
are now, it is possible to open those windows, because there is a lot of
talk about the error of giving belligerency to the armed forces.

Q) How can we help from here?

A) It would be a lot of help that you spread the message of our project of a
centre for libertarian social studies, we want to open an ateneo here.

Q) Hey, we'll carry on another day, ok?

A) Sure compa.

Q) A big hug.

A) A hug. Greetings to all the libertarians from the Canary Islands.

......

Taken from the Canarias Libertaria mail list.
Full Spanish transcript on:
http://red-libertaria.net/noticias/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=11
9
For more news on Venezuela, visit: http://www.nodo50.org/ellibertario
Translation by Red Libertaria Apoyo Mutuo www.red-libertaria.net -
internacional@red-libertaria.net


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