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(en) Venezuela: Crossroads to nowhere (ca)

From "Periodico El Libertario" <ellibertario@hotmail.com>
Date Fri, 24 Jan 2003 13:28:29 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

[This article was written at the request of the Madrid group,
Molotov, and serves to give an anarchist perspective on events in
Venezuela. - ed.]

VENEZUELA: CROSSROADS TO NOWHERE by Rafael Uzcátegui (Periódico El Libertario)
On 2nd December 2002, the government of Venezuela, presided over by
Hugo Chavez, was facing 3 work stoppages called by sectors like the
CTV (main union), Fedecámaras (employers' association) and the
Coordinadora Democrática (the coalition of opposition parties and
various civil organizations). In just one year, the government has
suffered a general strike, a coup d'état, 2 work stoppages and the
increasing popular mobilization of rejection or support of his
mandate. What has happened to the so-called "Bolivarian Revolution"
(elected in 1998, and confirmed in 2000 by an overwhelming majority
in the ballot boxes)? What has caused the political crisis which
this South American country is going through at the moment?

Since its beginnings, the constituent process, summoned in 1999, has
blocked real, popular participation. It took 6 months to bring about
the writing of a new constitution, which the pro-government majority
in the Assembly elected for just this purpose carried on with no
real debate or consensus. The Constitutional Assembly is not an
exception, but an example of bureaucratical waste and the
camouflaged exclusion behind the calls to popular mobilization. The
main Chavist political parties (the Movimiento Quinta Republica/MVR,
the Movimiento al Socialismo/MAS-oficialista and the Patria para
Todos/PPT), in addition to figures from the Armed Forces, held the
main state decision-making posts without transforming, either in any
substantial or revolutionary way, key institutions like the National
Electoral Council, the Supreme Court or the country's main industry,
Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA).
Another catalytic element of the crisis has been the manifest
impossibility of carrying into effect promises to fight corruption,
to reduce poverty and to increase the quality of life in general.
(For numbers, see the Annual Report of the Derechos Humanos Provea
organization at www.derechos.org.ve).

By Wednesday 4th December, only two days after it had begun and with
relative success in medium and large private industries, strike was
showing signs of weakness. The incorporation of workers from the
merchant navy and the PDVSA signified a definite boost, adding to
the progressively inter-class mobilization of people without party
connections, many of whom voted for Chavez at the last elections.
The callers of the strike, however, demonstrated some obscure
strategy which was contradictory and rather unclear. They
indifferently asked for the president's resignation, for a
consultative referendum, for immediate elections, for the
application of the OAS Democratic Interamerican Charter and for an
uprising on the part of the Armed Forces - a coup d'état. This last
request was avoided after the "suggestion" by the US Department of
State that "early elections" be held as a means of getting over the
Opponents of Chavez can be found over a wide political spectrum that
goes from the most recalcitrant right-wingers to the far left. Old
intellectuals and revolutionary activists like Domingo Alberto
Rangel, Agustín Blanco Muñoz, Rafael Iribarren, Humberto D´Carli and
Nelson Méndez have expressed the inconsistencies of a government
which talks fire but acts in an incompetent, populist manner; in
addition to a clear arrangement with those sectors that impoverished
Venezuela over four decades and who have capitalized, with relative
effectiveness, on discontent with the regime.

As we are writing this report (at the request of the Molotov
collective in Madrid) discussion is taking place on the dates for
the consultative referendum, on an electoral method to be enshrined
in the new Constitution but, paradoxically, eluded by the president
who decreed it. Sectors of the officialdom and the opposition are
beginning to air the possibility of making a constitutional
amendment that would shorten the presidential mandate and smooth the
way towards an early general election. Another proposal which has
been raised is that of re-starting the constituent process, this
time without the limitations and manipulations of the previous time.
On the other hand, the formation of the so-called "Friends of
Venezuela" group, headed by Brazil and including countries like
Mexico, Chile and the United States is trying to promote the work of
mediation of the conflict that the Secretary-General of the OAS,
César Gaviria, began a few months ago in Venezuela. All this in a
context of polarization and intolerance, in which political violence
has caused the death of at least 48 Venezuelans during the last year
in street confrontations during demonstrations and riots.
If the notion still exists that Chavez is carrying out some form of
socialist revolution, then people should think again about his
government's recent negotiations for the operating concession of the
biggest gas reserves in the country, the Deltana Platform, to the
transnationals British Petroleum, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco and
Statoil for 30 years. Undoing his revolutionary mirage is an arduous
task as much inside as outside the country, and those of us who do
so from a revolutionary position have to put up with all sorts of
accusations ("CIA agents", "lackeys of the oligarchy" etc.) and
threats (Blanco Muñoz, to give one example, has estimated that he
has received over 40 death threats by telephone).
And what do libertarians make of all this? It is clear to us that
elections will simply become a chance to share out the state pie,
realigning alliances between the parties and the organization in
power of the new and old bureaucracies. Our work must not fall prey
to the risks of spontaneism by sowing autonomous, anticapitalist
values and policies in the effervescence of the situation. The best
motivation for building a distinct, antagonistic alternative to both
tendencies is the transformation of the increasing deception of the
citizens by the media of both tendencies - to "capitalize"
conscientiously on the open spaces which presently exist for popular
participation and the experience of the mobilizations of the people
which have taken place in recent years. The inoperability of
Chavez's statist project and the neo-liberal proposal through the
means of the Coordinadora Democrática (reflected in the mirror of
our Argentine neighbors) will be an incentive to continue
establishing networks which can strengthen our ideas of
anti-capitalism and self-management.
We have a new world in our hearts - a world which is growing as we

[translation by nestor mcnab for ainfos]

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