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(en) El Libertario #40 - Venezuelan Social movements or the phoenix bird

Date Sun, 25 Sep 2005 07:22:15 +0300

It is inaccurate to affirm that the results of the most recent regional elections
held on the 31/10/2004, respond to a growth in the political strength of Chavismo.
Even though it corresponds with their old wish of occupying as
much space in the power structures as possible, the current
monopoly of the State’s concierge has to do more with the
erosion of traditional political party’s, which only have a
quantitative presence relevant to a transformational strategy that is
represented through the Bolivarian rhetoric.
Let’s do a brief revision of Venezuela’s recent contemporary
history to explain our assertion. The ‘Caracazo’ of 1989
inaugurates a ferocious crisis of governability in the 4th
Republic’s model. From this February onwards civil society
starts to be configured, outside the status quo of political parties and
from the client-oriented state relations. To name a few of its new
shapes, we find that the first organisation of human rights, an
ecological group that impelled the Environment Penal Law, and the
social networks that provoked movements against Carlos
Andres’s ‘paquete’ (package of liberal economic
policies) were only possible in that context, when institutional
expressions of Venezuelan democracy clearly showed signs of

Chavez and his 1992 coup attempt overlap to the dynamic of this
movement and this increased alertness, managing to give a face
–thanks to media attention amplification- to this discontent. We
repeat: there was a qualitative and quantitative vitality which is
contemporary to this original movement and from which MBR-200
(Chavez) is just a part.

The paratrooper from Sabaneta executes an accurate and pragmatic
opinion of reality, covering from his militant abstention –phase in
which he achieved the sympathy of innumerable grass roots
movements- to the presidential candidacy. For which we should not
forget, he counted with the support of massive media groups and
financing from different capitalist sectors that presented the
“vanguard” in the fight against the Adeco-copeyano (the two
main traditional political parties) duality and in pro of the
“revolutionary” transformation.

The short-sightedness of traditional political parties and their own
mummification accelerated their implosion; a crisis disguised by
intense media attention during the events in 2002, but sooner rather
than later –as effectively occurred-ended in the dismantling of
the empty facade of these organisations.

Institutionalizing Rebellion

We said that Chavez managed to ride on a wave of popular
discontent that in1989 started to configure a social grid shaped by
infinite organisational embryos, with different and growing levels of
articulation among them. One of the victories of Chavismo was to
collect diverse unheard complains to incorporate them to his unclear
ideology, giving the sensation that Bolivarianism was the legitimate
expression of Venezuela’s cultural inheritance and the leftist
movement in the country.
The next step was to establish an incontestable direction,
paradoxically promoting the theme of a “participatory and
protagonist” democracy but imposing on his supporting base an
agenda decided from the top, basically limited to be re-legitimized
through elections.

This way, social movements incorporated into the political-electoral
logic have become worn down and have mortgaged their own
autonomy, and the key consequences for the imposition of an
authoritarian model, are immobilised groups who cannot pursue
independent claims.

In the imposition of organizational dynamics directed at pulse by one
person and the corrosion of citizen dynamics that preceded him, we
find the basic issues of the current Venezuelan situation.

Let’s name some examples. When the existing president was a
candidate one of his promises, winning the appeasement of the
environmental and indigenous movement, was to detain the
electrical network to Brazil. Once in Miraflores (presidential house)
he nurtures the terrain to continue with this project, dividing both
movements -pervasive ordinances, positions and money- plus
criminalizing sectors that were stubborn toward institutionalisation.
We all remember how the solitary action of the Pemon (indigenous
tribe) people in the Gran Sabana against the electrical towers, was
accompanied by a void reaction from a fragmented and seized
indigenous and green movement, this caused the easy
criminalisation of the demolishment of the electrical towers.

Another case of the same nature, during the second period of Rafael
Caldera (Venezuela’s president before Hugo Chavez) an
incessant ecological activism achieves to detain the pretension to
regulate mineral and wood exploitation from the Imataca reserve.
Now a “progressive” government through the usage of
blackmail and an agenda centred in the elections has approved the
same decree with no dispute.

Let’s divert our attention from the ecologists and observe other
movements. The last 12th of October a group of popular
organisations decided to carry out an independent action against the
so called “Dia de la raza” (Day of race, named after the
discovery of the American continent by Christopher Columbus). As
a response three of these individuals were detained and were blamed
for “vandalism” and “anarchy” from the high spheres
of government. Hugo Chavez, showed evidence once more of being
king, he accused these groups of “not accepting leadership”
–his of course- and said that the implicated in these incidents,
had been manipulated from those who posses “personal
projects”. When the affected made a protest in solidarity with
their imprisoned members they managed to convoke a minute group
of 50 people. Even the website that concentrated on the faith of the
detainees later focused its attention on the regional elections,
silencing the fortune of their own political prisoners.

Another sad case is Women’s organisations. After the horrific
case of the tortures inflicted on Linda Loayza by her partner, the
response from gender groups was very poor. In a protest done on the
26th of October about a hundred activists went to Supreme Justice
Tribunal (Tribunal Supremo de Justicia), one of the members of the
National Women’s Council (Consejo Nacional de la Mujer)
declared bitterly about the scarce assistance: a hundred people most
of which were women.
“We have to learn that Hugo Chavez is not the only person that
can summon concentrations, where are the women of this
country?” This example is very clear. Diverse grass roots
movements have granted the V Republic a blank check with the
hope, many times naïve, of having a space of action where their
demands will be accomplished. The result has been an autocratic
Frankenstein with a new bureaucracy concentrated progressively on
power, repeating the vices and exclusions of their predecessors.
Even the questions that arise from the inside are being silenced
under blackmail, so “no weapons are given to the enemy”
(the opposition).

Singing the electoral ballad “Florentino”, the
pro-government activists have in front of them the pressure of being
vigilantes for the next elections, a fight against windmills till at least
2006. In the mean time the economic policies of the government
continue giving the worse concessions ever know to global
capitalism since the period of Juan Vicente Gomez (1908-1935).

Weaving the social cushion

While some leaders of the opposition blame the debacle on the
abstentions of the regional elections. From our perspective we affirm
that the fall of traditional political parties obeys a telluric movement
initiated in 1989. A disaster partially hidden by the circumstantial
and leading role they had in the media during recent years.
But these organisations cannot hide their real face: an empty facade
of proposals, with a lot of nerve, and with the same guidance and
vices inherited from the past (puntofijismo). If the V republic has
managed to capitalise on the blackmail of preaching “with us or
with the past”; their definite manifestation and the Bolivarian
control over the grand majority of the country will definitely uncover
their demagogy, their lack of project and their circumstantial charade
of legitimacy. If Chavez and his court are part of a crises inaugurated
in 1989, it is now that new mechanisms of social movements will
start from the bottom and antagonistically.

No Government and no State promote true and profound changes.
Social movements of diverse types that act at different levels are the
only guaranty for transformation. If the Cordinadora Democratica
(Democratic Coordinator, Opposition’s grouping of political
parties) and members are sinking, let’s make weight for their
definitive disappearance. People must find solutions for their own
people, establishing organisational dynamics based on territory and
with a political agenda that will not be postponed or bought out.
Shyly some embryos are acting in diverse spaces, but as the
scarecrow of puntofijismo is dying, the true moment of protagonists
has come. This is done without hurry’s but without stopping,
the path for freedom and justice identifies no shortcuts. This is why
the insurmountable task at this moment is the reconstruction of the
social web, a cushion of organisations and heterogeneous initiatives
that will balance the autocratic military-state represented by the
current Venezuelan president. Discarding the politics of
representations and media favouritisms, new values such as
horizontality, direct democracy, antimilitarism, the construction of
non hierarchical networks, autonomy and self management will be
the gears on which new movements will be able to hold themselves.
The process of legitimising the cursed Bolivarianism has achieved its
climax, from here onwards its destiny is slow and progressive decay.
(Translation: R. Hernandez)
(Published in El Libertario No 40, November-December 2004)

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