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(en) Venezuela 2006: Anarchism against all odds

Date Sat, 11 Mar 2006 14:31:17 +0200

Comision de Relaciones Anarquistas (CRA), Venezuela
Our friends from abroad continuously ask us to explain our views about the
current situation in Venezuela. This reply is based on two recent texts by
the editing team of El Libertario, already published in their entirety in
the internet (in Spanish), and from which we extract our main points.
> Neither shameful anarchism nor shameless anti-imperialism: a reply to P. Moras
The article «Anarquismo, antiimperialismo, Cuba y Venezuela»
by Pablo Moras is a new attempt to nullify our perspective about the
Venezuelan reality with lies and ignorance. Let’s start by noting
what’s obvious upon reading it (it can be found at various
websites): Moras ignores essential points about Venezuela. Even
when he bothers to salute what he calls the El Libertario collective,
he questions those groups from the Iberian peninsula that consider
us a reference for understanding what happens in these lands. He
seems ignorant of the concrete proposals we make in the pages of
the voice of the CRA, or in other printed materials we have
produced, or in our website or in the numerous contributions we
have sent to many alternative media, where he could have found the
vision we’ll try to condense in this reply. This lack of knowledge
of what happens here is evident by the weak and generic paragraphs
Moras writes specifically about Venezuela, which we will insist upon
given his intention to invalidate, by means of platitudes, the
thorough analysis of the Chavez regime and the national situation
since Chavez assumed the presidency in 1999 that we publish in El
Libertario. A complete list of these works is available in the Index
section of our website www.nodo50.org/ellibertario.

In general, it is absurd to promote the Komintern-like idea that
“popular advance” and/or “anti-imperialism” is
whatever self-defines as such. In the case of Venezuela, the popular
advances in education, health and nutrition can only be seen as such
from a position of total ignorance of the local history, since after the
mid XX century oil income allowed for the fulfillment of certain
needs in these areas in exchange for supporting the elites in power,
exactly as it happens today (a detailed analysis in «Un Cardenal
sermonea sobre las misiones» [A Cardinal preaches about the
missions] El Libertario #45, November 2005). Regarding
Chavez’s anti-imperialism we have amply shown (see the
sections Petroleo, Coyuntura Venezolana [Oil, the Venezuelan
Situation] and Luchas y movimientos sociales en Venezuela
[Struggles and social movements in Venezuela] in the above
mentioned Index) how this government has supinely given in to the
imperial demands for the control of what matters most to capitalist
globalization: the energy resources and other natural products and
the market for manufactured goods, even those we are capable of
manufacturing ourselves or those we used to manufacture until
recently. The Comandante may shout whatever insults he likes
against Bush, but that loud-mouthed anti-imperialism means
nothing as long as he continues giving Chevron, Conoco-Phillips or
Repsol the control of our reserves of oil and natural gas, continues
giving Telefonica our communications, giving Grupo Santander and
BBV our bank sector, giving Cristallex our gold mines and to Vale
do Rio Doce or Peabody our coal reserves.

Moras talks about Venezuela using untenable statements. For
instance, he makes reference to workers and peasants in struggle,
alluding to the imaginative tales that Chavez’s propaganda
spreads abroad regarding factory and land occupations, something
that has happened in only a few instances and under government
control, nationalizing bankrupt or seriously troubled agricultural and
industrial enterprises, operating them in a regime of state capitalism
with no intention of putting them in the hands of the workers.
Perhaps such workers and peasants in struggle are what Moras
imagines union bureaucrats of UNETE to be, who use their leftist
running of the mouth to legitimize the forms of oppression that
workers now suffer. It’s enough to mention the
government’s conduct in their own co-managed enterprises,
besides the fact that the command structure in the governmental
administration is in the hands of soldiers and former soldiers. For an
actual description of this situation, see the writings in the section
Sindicalismo y entorno laboral [Syndicalism and the labor
environment] in our Index, particularly «Fabricas tomadas: mitos,
realidades y una postura libertaria» [Occupied factories: myths,
realities and a libertarian stance] (#38) «Cogestion
bolivariana-socialista» [Bolivarian-socialist co-management] (#43)
and «Venepal no es de los trabajadores» [Venepal doesn’t
belong to the workers] (#43).

On the coup of April 2002, Moras repeats the line that it was
“frustrated by the people”, a very questionable hypothesis if
anybody looks at the details of the power plays that took place
between the 10 and the 13 of April 2002. We have published the
work «Una encrucijada hacia ninguna parte» [A crossroads to
nowhere] www.nodo50.org/ellibertario/folleto-abril-02.doc, that
describes the essence of what we wrote at the time about this event,
which can’t be understood in the simplistic terms that
Chavez’s propaganda and its foreign accolades propose.

On the other hand, Moras presents an idyllic version of the
self-organization of popular sectors, which would be the result of the
Chavez process. Here we refer to the precise picture we painted in El
Libertario of how this regime –with valuable help from the
social-democratic and rightist opposition – has been nothing but
an obstacle for the advancement of autonomous social organization,
by imposing political agendas that have denatured social
mobilization to the point of near disappearance. The transformation
of Bolivarian circles into purely electoral groups (now named Units
of Electoral Struggle) is a clear example. The most recent
references, among many others included in the section Coyuntura
Venezolana [Venezuelan Situation] where we discuss this topic, are:
«Más alla del Referendum» [Beyond the Referendum] (#39),
«Propuestas para la coyuntura inmediata» [Proposals for the
current situation] (#39), «El eclipse de los movimientos sociales»
[The eclipse of the social movements] (#40) and «El socialismo
Chavista» [Chavez’s socialism] (#42), as well as the editorials
of almost all of our issues of 2004 and 2005. Moras’ key
argument is that it is treason to “support the struggle against the
Venezuelan state” as that would be “turning your back on
ample sectors that are currently self-organizing”. As we point out
in these texts and is easy to verify observing the local reality, this
self-organization is a huge lie, and the grotesque experience with the
remotely controlled organization of cooperatives is enough proof,
since what takes place under the guise of the Bolivarian
pseudo-revolution is just clients devoutly following the enlightened
leader. Therefore, the only option for anarchists is to promote
self-management outside of the institutionalized organization whose
slogans, financing and dynamics come from the chief and his

Words like “weakening capitalism” and the “timid
advances in socialist culture and economy” sound quite
diplomatic and serve to ingratiate you with the heirs of
Marxism-Leninism that support Chavez today, but they ignore how
efficient government has been in promoting transnational control of
key sectors of the local economy, as well as other features that are
the absolute opposite of any kind of socialism. Is it “weakening
capitalism” to substitute the comprador bourgeoisie of the IV
Republic by the “Bolivarian” comprador bourgeoisie? Is it
appropriate to showcase as “popular advances” the fact that
key indicators of welfare such as health, housing, nutrition,
employment, social security, etc. function as badly as they did 10, 20
years ago, under a government that enjoys the biggest oil income of
Venezuela’s history? (Statistics are available at
www.derechos.org.ve). Is it natural of anti-imperialism to
unconditionally follow the one and only leader and to worship the
pedestrian wisdom that emanates from his endless TV appearances?
Is it advancing the socialist economy the construction by decree of
cooperatives to sell breakfast or tend the gardens of the state’s
oil company while the latter signs huge contracts with that
Halliburton so well known in Yankee-occupied Iraq? Is it an
example of socialist culture the fact that soldiers, active or retired,
have taken by assault the control of the state’s apparatus, and
that from that very same military root the majority of the new
comprador bourgeoisie is emerging? Can anybody seriously think
that the corrupt elite of followers of the leader that govern Venezuela
today are the enlightened vanguard of revolutionary anti-capitalist

We find unacceptable that Chavez’s anti-imperialism, all talk
and no action, is the excuse used to push the anarchist movement
towards joining the chorus of that Marxist left of useful idiots and
fellow travelers that deify the Venezuelan military today. It’s
impossible to understand the country’s situation while
remaining fixated on the deceitful image they sell us, that of each
man for himself but playing a suspicious counterpoint, that of either
a Chavez government or its social democrat and rightist opposition.
The CRA and El Libertario have assumed a difficult path, but a path
coherent with the anarchist ideal, building a vision and a road to
action capable of breaking with the cheating proposals of those who
vie for power. Faced with such gangs, we can’t choose a
chimerical “lesser evil” or an impossible “tactical
alliance”, since doing so would mean abandoning that which is
specific to and non-negotiable in the anarchist ideal. If Moras wants
to do so, that’s his problem … We continue in our struggle,
because we have a new world in our hearts and that new world is
growing right now.

º Talking about the Venezuelan situation
[From an interview with La Rosa Negra – counterinfo from
Mexico in January 2006]

- We know that you fight in three fronts: a) against pseudo-leftist
Chavista groups in power; b) against the anti-Chavez opposition
directed by the social democrats and the right; and c) against groups
or parties of the traditional left. Could there be a ghetto imposed by
the state, the right and its social democrat allies and the traditional
left for anarchists in your country, or is a retreat necessary?

* Whatever the socio-political situation in any given country is,
those who wield or want to wield power will try to curb any symptom
of consistent libertarian struggle by building “ghettoes” of
repression, open or hidden, where to confine it. It is natural for the
anarchist militant to confront the intentions of the powers that be, it
is a task we must carry on without fail, and above all, without
resigning ourselves to the supposedly inevitable condition of being
excluded. In no way does the CRA retreat or hide within our shell
waiting for better times, and whoever has direct contact with our
activities or simply reads El Libertario with due attention and
frequency, will find enough evidence that we’re not a group who
stares at its own navel.

- We get the impression that the triumph of abstention in the past
elections (12/4/05) and the retreat of civil struggle groups towards
“no participation” is fertile ground for the forceful imposition
of state (Chavista) initiatives. Is this perception true?

* We make clear that according to the government’s own
statistics abstention, understood as the no participation in an
electoral process of sectors of the population that could rightfully
vote by virtue of being Venezuelan citizens and having the age to
vote, has been the norm in all elections in this country since 1989,
even during the referendum to recall the president in 2004, when the
gangs from the political opposition and the demagogue government
made a supreme effort to bring the incredulous masses to the polls.
It is an error to qualify as civil struggle groups certain figureheads of
the opposition that opportunistically gamble with abstention today,
they aren’t in any way representative of real social forces in
Venezuela. As to the rest, no doubt the Chavez regime tries to
impose state control mechanisms everywhere, but being such a
corrupt and inept government, blinded by thinking that is building
solid popular support turning part of the poorest people into clients
dependent on the state’s dole, it’s going to cost them plenty
to make any advances in that contradictory chimera that it calls
“XXI Century Socialism”, which is nothing but an
underdeveloped capitalism of the XIX Century.

- Likewise, we think that the Venezuelan anarchists’ struggle
became trapped in a sea of supposedly anti-imperialist propaganda,
promoted by what we at LRN call the
Kirchner-Chavez-Morales-Castro axis. Is this true? And if it is, will
the Venezuelan anarchist resistance need to double its effort?

* We can’t understand how that perception exists, anybody
who’s followed our actions and our thinking will find that we
have not been duped by the fallacious “you’re with Chavez
or else you’re with Bush”, as we have clearly shown
evidence to dismantle this farce. It hasn’t been easy to uphold
this position that smashes the simplistic schemes that have led the
Latin-American left from failure to failure for over 80 years, and
multiplying our efforts to keep our position has been the order of the
day, but our consistency begins to produce results, undoubtedly
modest but full of hope that fall within the renewed activity and
presence of anarchism in South America, still a minority political
expression but one that has made advances between the decade of
the 90’s and today that are, quantitatively and qualitatively
speaking, very important compared to what happened during the five
or six previous decades. The challenge is to transform this modest
renaissance into the ability to make a significant mark on the process
for positive social change sorely needed in our continent.

- The Kirchner-Chavez-Morales-Castro axis has several faces: it
presents itself as the triumph of parliamentary democracy and
conversely, as the standard of struggle against the empire, as
mediator of popular social movements and consequently, as the
catalyst for civil resistance. What defensive wall do the Venezuelan
anarchists have?

* You’re asking us about our main proposal for action right now.
Let’s quote a paragraph from our editorial of El Libertario #44:
“We are not, nor do we want to be, contenders for the control of
institutionalized power: we are anarchists and we aspire to the
disappearance of state power and any other oppressive hierarchical
structure. This is not just a profession of faith; our actions here and
now mean assuming the commitment to promote and empower the
autonomy of any social movement consistent with the ideal.
Therefore, we are not interested in building ‘anarchist social
movements’ that would prove as useless to collective progress as
the Bolivarian circles or those opposition parties disguised as
NGO’s. We bet on social movements that build the dynamics
for independent action and organization, based on the widest
participation on all levels that will allow the formation of different
modes of direct action and self-management away from the
state’s control or any other instance of oppression, it is the only
way to consolidate spaces of freedom, equality and solidarity that will
be the seed and support of the future we struggle for. Our position
can be summarized with these words from John Holloway: to
change the world without taking power”.

- In view of this, does the CRA-El Libertario think a wider effort to
spread anarchist ideas is called for?

* Considering Venezuelan history, this educational task is a priority,
because we have an environment where ignorance of libertarian
ideals was almost totally absolute. After 10 years of activity we can
point at some successes in this area, but they are hardly the
beginning and there’s still much to do, so the spreading of
anarchist thought is still a constant problem for those of us in this
collective, and we invite all to get to know our work, getting in touch
with us, personally or via email, visiting our locals and social clusters
where we do our activities – such as the Centro de Estudios
Sociales Libertarios of Caracas, www.centrosocial.contrapoder.org.ve
and getting information about the CRA and El Libertario.


Nelson Méndez <mendezn-A-camelot.rect.ucv.ve>
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