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(en) Venezuela: All of them must go!

From "Chris R" <christopher@nodo50.org>
Date Thu, 19 Dec 2002 07:01:52 -0500 (EST)

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

By El Libertario - Comisión de Relaciones Anarquistas (CRA)

Different types of power present in Venezuelan society have intentionally
created two supposedly antagonistic social factions, which have reached
their moment of maximum tension after the call for the so-called "national
civic strike" last December 2. One of the sides portrays the conflict as
"constitutionality versus golpismo"; the other as "freedom versus
dictatorship", in coarse simplifications aimed at minimizing reflective
thought and criticism and in favour of the status quo of the representatives
of both sides. The inhabitants and ordinary people of this land called
Venezuela, face a false dilemma and intentional mass media polarization that
hides the essence of the conflict: the concentration and dispute over pieces
of power.

We can briefly describe what is happening as a dispute between two ways of
organising and understanding society, the centralised State versus order
under the laws of the Market, and it is no less certain that they come from
the same cultural mould. For this reason they equally share the style of how
to activate the ins and outs of politics and the transformation of society.
For this reason, the behaviour of the two sectors, only differed by
rhetorical shades, is exactly same. Both possess media aligned with their
interests, which only transmit the versions and information that ratify
their statements. Both need massive mobilizations of citizens to legitimate
the decisions, made behind closed doors, of their leaders. One and the
another are elitist projects that have been insufficient in other latitudes
to reach the objectives of social justice and freedom.

Facing the series of events that have happened in the country, we believe it
pertinent to make the following considerations, which help to understand the
nature of the events, to establish viewpoints and postures distanced from
the sectors in crisis and to suggest strategies of action for the present
and the future.

1) The government of Hugo Chávez is a victim of the institutions that it has
not wanted to change during its legislative period. Their revolution of
words is contradicted by the facts that have allowed the continuity of
diverse public bodies which operate with the methods of the past: perverse
bureaucracies whose officials were inclined to the regime. The Supreme Court
of Justice, PDVSA (state-owned oil company) and the National Electoral
Council are clear examples of this.

2) The belligerency granted to the armed forces continues to give them a
leading role in the political life of the country. Although the callers of
the strike have not broken away from a military solution, the Bolivarian
regime presents its executive and political control of the Army as the
greatest guarantee of stability. The road to legitimising coups  has been
established by the current government, mysticalising its own origins
(February 4th 1992), diversely defending this event and decreeing the date
as a national celebration. In this headstrong way they have promoting
military superiority over civilian society.

3) The callers of the Strike have shown a strategy of dark, unclear and
contradictory opposition. They have indistinctly requested the President's
resignation, a referendum, immediate elections, the application of the OAS
(American Organization of States) Interamerican Democratic Charter, and an
uprising of part of the armed forces. The definition of their strategies are
made behind the backs of the people who go to all of their demonstrations.

4) The dissatisfaction with the regime is legitimate because the regime has
not fulfilled any of its electoral campaign promises (decrease of poverty,
fight against corruption, a real change of the institutions, increase of the
standard of living, political opening for the participation of all
citizens...), it has tamed and channelled the revolutionary fervour of
society and its has repeatedly shown its incompetence to solve the problems
of the country. This unhappiness is being capitalized by a sector of the
society as elitist as the previous one and representative of the political
forces that impoverished Venezuela during four decades.

5) The relationships of Venezuela with its main trade partner, the United
States, has been normalized during the last months, even being qualified as
"cordial" by the government's spokesmen. An example has been the punctual
payment of the country's foreign debt and the establishment of a mechanism
of double taxation, broadly favourable to foreign investments. The supposed
confrontation with the United States is an intentional version of the
left-wing sector of the government and only present in rhetoric, because in
practice it follows a program based on capitalist and neo-liberal economics.

6) The informative practices of state and official media are indistinctly
slanted and manipulative. The minimal autonomy of the alternative and
community media that have arisen in the last three years has placed them
clearly with one of the factions, injuring their own independence and

7) The Army, the National Guard and all the policemen carry out the monopoly
of power employed by the State. The transformation of their repressive
nature or winning over their members for a revolutionary process necessarily
implies breaking them up.

8) Impunity hangs over the deaths that occurred in Plaza de Altamira (in
Caracas). Ignoring the petition of a prompt and impartial verification of
the events, the bodies have been used, without any type of reliable tests,
as an argument against the opposition. Such a practice reveals the political
integrity of the competitors, the irresponsibility of the media and prepare
the path for the non-clarification of the crimes. Both the government and
the opposition have sabotaged the setting up of a "Commission of the Truth"
to reveal those responsible for the murders that took place from April 11th
to 13th, and they don't give any sample of a desire to change.

9) The spokespersons of both the government and the opposition have
repeatedly transmitted messages of violence, intolerance and confrontation
whose aftermaths are born out by the rank-and-file members of both
tendencies and not by their leaders. The above-mentioned demonstrates the
authoritarian and elitist crafts of both sides and the manipulation of their
followers to their convenience.

10) A revolutionary solution to the current situation would imply the
rejection, on the part of a wide social movement, of the factors that are
limiting a real change. This starts with Hugo Chávez and the new bureaucracy
embedded in government, as well as with the supposedly representative
opposition of the big time businessmen in Fedecámaras, the union bureaucrats
of the CTV and the clever politicians of the Coordinadora Democrática, in
addition to the confinement of the armed forces in their barracks. Although
elections would be an immediate solution, on their own they do not change
the systemic and structural origins of the crisis and would turn into a new
reorganization of the bureaucratic control of power by its current main

11) The growing deception of the citizens with the representatives of both
tendencies should be changed into a leading desire to build a different and
antagonistic alternative to both sides.

12) Any long-term process of change, that takes into account the risks of
"immediatism" and seeks to have a solid politically-aware social base,
should take advantage of the spaces opened by current grassroots
participation and the experiences of the civic mobilizations lived over the
last few years. Autonomy and self-management, understood in all their
dimensions and implications, will be two concepts with a starring role in
the future.

13) Libertarian Venezuelans, individually and collectively, are
participating in diverse initiatives that try to outline a different and
real reference to the current spokesmen of State and Market capitalism. We
have joined our particularities to non-Chavist left-wing groups, student and
human rights organizations, environmentalist communities, indigenous sectors
and communities that have found little echo in the private and state means
of communication when not belonging to either of the two factions, but whose
horizontal grassroots actions, as well as their style of relating to one
another other, represent one of the so many hopes for the future of

More information with an anarchist perspective on the Venezuelan crisis on

El Libertario and the Comisión de Relaciones Anarquistas (CRA) can be
contacted at: ellibertario@nodo50.org and ellibertario@hotmail.com
Translated by Red Libertaria Apoyo Mutuo

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