On the evening of April 10, the main political representatives of the Venezuelan opposition attended a meeting at Miraflores Presidential Palace with representatives of the government and the Bolivarian revolution. The meeting generated a lively debate within the Bolivarian movement. We publish here the statement of Lucha de clases - the Venezuelan section of the IMT, together with some explanatory notes.
Present at the meeting, which started on the eve of the anniversary of the brief April 2002 opposition coup which removed president Chavez, were also international observers from UNASUR. This Dialogue for Peace was opened with a message from Pope Francis. The meeting took place as the two month long campaign of a section of the opposition to attempt to remove president Maduro through violent street protests has become reduced to very small groups of radicalised opposition supporters.
Statement of Lucha de clases (Class Struggle), Marxist Tendency of the PSUV
"... Every conspiracy was followed on by forgiveness, and every forgiveness was followed by another conspiracy which was in turn forgiven again" (Simon Bolivar, Cartagena Manifesto)
The famous quote from Bolivar seems to summarize the history of the attitude of the Bolivarian revolution to its class enemy, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie and its mentors in Washington.
In the last 15 years the Bolivarian revolution has remained within the framework of democratic formalities, while the oligarchy resorted to and continues to use, time and again, any means at their disposal to try to overthrow it. Guarimbas, lockouts, sabotage of the oil industry, economic warfare, sicariato killings, assassination attempts, bringing in Colombian paramilitaries, provocations on the border with Colombia, diplomatic pressure, media blockade, hoarding and speculation, etc: as we can see, the bourgeoisie has spared no effort, legal or illegal, to crush the revolution. They have always consistently defended their class interests. (1)
The alleged dictatorship
The national and international media have painted the picture that in Venezuela there is a dictatorial government, that attacks the human rights of unarmed and defenceless people in peaceful demonstrations. In reality if the Bolivarian revolution can be accused of anything, it is not of being dictatorial, but rather, of being too soft on its opponents.
This was graphically reflected on the night of the opening of the Dialogue: all opposition representatives present (and also those who boycotted the meeting and continued stirring their terrorist guarimbas) had participated to different degrees in the April 11, 2002, coup (perhaps with one or two exceptions). None of them were tried for those events. On the contrary, in an attempt by the government to call for peace and to try to prevent the attacks of the bourgeoisie, they were allowed to go free (unlike Hugo Chavez, who paid for the failed civilian-military uprising of 1992 with jail).
Moreover, when State Attorney Danilo Anderson began a criminal investigation of the events during the coup, he was assassinated with a bomb under his car. (2)
Lessons from the recent V Republic
It's time to learn from recent history. When the revolutionary people took to the streets on 12 and 13 April, splitting the military and returning the legitimate President Hugo Chavez to the Miraflores palace, what happened with the coup plotters? President Chavez, in a show of magnanimity, perhaps naively, called for dialogue and opened negotiations with the opposition.
How did the capitalist class answer? As we know: by organising the criminal bosses' lock-out and sabotage of the oil industry in December the same year, and the putschist military rebellion of Francia Square in Altamira.(3)Again it was the revolutionary people, in this case with the oil workers playing a leading role, who occupied closed factories, took control of PDVSA oil company installations and resumed production, and finally, with an impressive mass demonstration on January 23, 2003 it struck the final blow to the conspiracy.
In 15 years of revolution 19 democratic elections have been held, with the revolution winning 18 of them. The origin of the current campaign led by Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado to overthrow the government of Maduro through violent street protests, is precisely the refusal to recognize the double electoral defeat (14-A and 8-D) of the opposition in 2013.
The bourgeoisie - two sides of the same coin
Elsewhere there is the sector of the bourgeoisie which does not openly support the insurrectionary "Way Out" (La Salida).(4) It does not do so out of any democratic conviction, but out of strategic calculation. They do not think that it is possible at this time to defeat the revolution through action in the streets. So they would rather play to wear the revolution down, through an economic war of attrition. They consolidate their established positions in regional governments and municipalities and wait for a more propitious time in which they can win an election or create the necessary conditions of instability to take power by other means.
So what is it that one can negotiate with the bourgeoisie? Prominent spokespersons of the Bolivarian leadership have made clear that what is being talked about is neither a negotiation with the opposition nor reaching an agreement, nor betraying the revolution behind the peoples' backs. So what is this dialogue about? There is talk of creating conditions for peaceful coexistence with the opposition. Perhaps some reformists think that it is possible to establish a modus vivendi with the bourgeoisie in which they respect democratic rules and the Bolivarian Constitution, in a sort of renewed Punto Fijo Agreement.(5) In our opinion this is a very dangerous illusion.
If anything is clear it is that both sections of the bourgeoisie – those who openly support the overthrow in the street, as well as that section which thinks it can achieve electoral victory – agree on the same goal of defeating and crushing the revolution. They only have an apparent disagreement about the method to get to it.
Bourgeoisie and working people - antagonistic interests
What we have in Venezuela is not only a set of progressive policies pursued by a government with popular support. What we have is a revolution – i.e. the direct interference of the masses in politics which threatens to put an end to the bourgeoisie as a ruling class.
In his speech at the opening of the first ideological congress of the PSUV, in November 2009, President Chavez said it clearly: "We have to be very weary of those currents which are not clearly defined, be very weary of reformism. What we are carry out is not reform, what we are carrying out here is a revolution. It is not a market economy, nor capitalism with a human face, nor to disguise capitalism with a mask – to liquidate capitalism and build socialism, that is what this is about."
That's something that, for obvious reasons, the bourgeoisie cannot accept. How can they reach a peaceful coexistence with a revolution whose stated goal is to end capitalism? On the contrary, what the bourgeoisie wants is to put an end to the revolution and restore the status quo ante of the Fourth Republic, where politicians of the day were nothing more than the boot lickers of the oligarchy and the ruling class had firm control of political and economic power.
The Bolivarian revolution has violated key laws of capitalism, when trying to implement measures to benefit the majority of the people, the workers and the poor masses. Currency controls, regulation of prices, the expropriation of businesses and land, regulation of rents, the experiences of workers' control and factory occupations, etc: all these measures, benefiting the majority, affect the normal operation of the mechanism of private accumulation of capitalist profit.
To all of this must be added the large-scale use of oil revenues to meet the most urgent needs of the population (health, housing, education, pensions, food). The parasitic bourgeoisie wants to regain control of oil revenues, for itself and in the benefit of multinational interests.
In addition, the Bolivarian revolution has created a very strong feeling among the masses that they are now the ones who rule, that they have been able to defeat the oligarchy in the revolutionary struggle on numerous occasions. Such a feeling of power is very dangerous from the point of view of the bourgeoisie which has partially lost control of the state apparatus.
For all these reasons it is impossible for the bourgeoisie, capitalists, bankers and landowners who still control two thirds of the country's economy, to be reconciled with the current state of affairs. There cannot be peaceful coexistence, because the bourgeoisie neither wants it nor can it accept it. This is the most important lesson of the last 15 years of reactionary attempts and conspiracies.
What does the bourgeoisie expects from conciliation
In order to understand what the capitalists want, it is enough to look at the proposals the representatives of the bourgeoisie have brought to the negotiating table. The capitalists, through Fedecamaras president Roig demanded: fiscal discipline (ie cuts in social spending); national production with free market (ie lifting prices and profits controls); to encourage productivity (ie abolish job security and destroy the labour rights contained in the Organic Labour Act); property rights guarantees (ie, no more expropriations or nationalizations) and liberalization of foreign exchange controls (ie, free access to oil revenue dollars). These measures, taken together, mean in practice brutal shift in the balance of forces between the capitalist class and the workers and a savage policy of adjustment for the working class.(6)
The political proposals of the opposition are on similar lines. All talk of socialism and revolution should be stopped (as "it is not in the Constitution"), the release of "political prisoners" (that is to say, impunity for those involved in the terrorist guarimbas, including the murderers of Danilo Anderson and the few that are in prison for the 2002 coup), fairness of public institutions (ie they want to regain direct control over important levers of the state apparatus), disarmament of colectivos (ie criminalization and destruction of the rank and file organizations of the Bolivarian revolution).(7)
Indeed, while a section of the bourgeoisie and imperialism are openly playing the card of the immediate overthrow of the revolution, there is another sector that plays a medium-term war of attrition.
So Mendoza had no problems in turning up to the "Economic Dialogue for Peace."(8) Cisneros published lengthy opinion articles in English and Spanish in the main capitalists newspapers internationally demanding "dialogue" with Vatican mediation (an outrageous proposal considering that the hierarchy of the church, represented by the Episcopal Conference was also an active in the Carmonazo coup).(9) And finally Lula has no qualms about the need to "lower the confrontation" and apply a "coalition politics". In other words they want to entangle the revolution in the web of bourgeois diplomacy to better strangle it.
The Allende government in Chile was drowned in blood, but the Sandinista revolution was slowly strangled by a war of attrition (economic sabotage and paramilitary terrorism) and finally drowned in the Esquipulas negotiations under international mediation.
What should be the response of the Bolivarian revolution?
Everyone is in favour of peace in the abstract, but peace can only be achieved with justice. The empty words of the reactionary opposition about dialogue and negotiation have to be clearly answered:
- We demand the trial and punishment of all those guilty of violating democratic legality (including participants in the 2002 coup);
- expropriation without compensation of the companies, banks and land of all those involved in acts of economic warfare (sabotage, hoarding, currency fraud, CADIVI double billing, etc).(10)
But above all, the best way to shield the revolution against the onslaught of the bourgeoisie and imperialism is by implementing a sharp rudder turn moving decisively towards socialism:
- Expropriate the properties of all those involved in coup plots and guarimbas since 2002 to date, laying the foundations for democratic planning of the economy in the benefit the majority, eliminating shortages and scarcity;
- Establish workers' control of production at all levels to fight bureaucratism and corruption;
- Develop the announced Workers Militia and extend the widest revolutionary agitation and organization within the Armed Forces, giving soldiers the power to choose their leaders, in order to combat coup plotting within the military.
Anyone could understand the justice and democratic nature of these measures. This is not a matter of personal retaliation or "spirit of revenge" as the bourgeoisie and their political minions would want to present it, but a perfectly lawful response in defence of the interests of the people in general. Anyone who sabotages the economy voluntarily and knowingly, is attempting criminally against the stability of the working class. Fines are not enough sanction, because the bourgeoisie can pay them with a small portion of what they have stolen from the people through the speculation.
Such measures would solidify the base of support of the revolution, would arouse the enthusiasm of workers and poor people, and also allow the revolution to win over important sections of the middle classes (as demonstrated in the offensive against the economic war before 8D).(11)
No agreements, no conciliation - complete revolution!
No peace without justice - trial and punishment of the conspirators and coup plotters against the democratic will of the majority!
Turn the rudder - forward toward socialism!
Source: Lucha de clases
1. ‘Guarimba’ is a Venezuelan term for a campaign of violent street barricades and road blockades. The bosses lock out took place in December 2002 to February 2003 taking place simultaneously as a sabotage of the operations of the state-owned oil company PDVSA. Several dozen Bolivarian activists, trade unionists and agrarian reform militants have been killed by hired guns of the bosses in the last 15 years, these contract killings are known as sicariato. In May 2004, 55 Colombian paramilitaries were arrested at the ranch of then opposition leader Roberto Alonso, while preparing an attempt to kill president Chávez. During the presidency of Uribe in Colombia there were constant provocations in the two country's common border with allegations that Venezuela was harbouring Colombian guerrillas, the installation of US bases in Colombia, etc. Ever since the collapse of the 2002-03 bosses' lockout and the introduction of price controls for basic products, there has been a continued campaign of economic sabotage through speculation, hoarding and profiteering on the part of the capitalists, this is known as the economic war. [back]
2. Danilo Anderson was the State Attorney who opened an investigation about the April 2002 opposition coup. He wanted to determine the responsibilities of those involved. The attendance list to the swearing in of the new coup government of Carmona read like a who's who of the Venezuelan capitalist class: bankers, capitalists, landowners, newspaper directors and owners, private media owners, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, leaders of all opposition parties, etc. Obviously he was touching very powerful interests. In November 2004 he was killed with a bomb, made with C4 explosive, under his car seat. Since then two people have been arrested for having carried out the attack, but none of those behind it were ever prosecuted and his investigation on the coup was abandoned. Today the opposition considers the Guevara brothers, people arrested for his killing, as “political prisoners” and demands their release. [back]
3. Starting on 2 December 2002, the opposition and the corrupt CTV trade union leaders called for a “national strike” against the Chavez government. This was in reality a bosses lock-out without any support in the working class. Simultaneously a group of high ranking military officers declared themselves in rebellion and gathered at Francia Sq in Altamira, in the affluent East of the capital. (See: Venezuela: Opposition "strike" or bosses lock out? - An eyewitness account). [back]
4. On January 23, 2014, Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado, representing a small section of the Venezuelan opposition launched a campaign of street demonstrations with the stated aim of overthrowing the democratically elected government of president Maduro under the name of “La Salida” (“the Way Out”). In that same press conference they called on their supporters to "set the streets on fire". This quickly turned into a campaign of violent street barricades and road blockades which have provoked over 40 deaths in the last two months. [back]
5. The Punto Fijo Pact was signed in 1958 by representatives of the three main political parties (AD, COPEI and URD) with the aim of recognising the results of bourgeois democratic elections and for broad coalition politics. It turned into a bipartisan system which ruled Venezuela for 40 years in the interests of the oligarchy and excluding any real opposition. [back]
6. These demands were made by the main bosses’ organisation Fedecamaras at the Economic Peace Dialogue Roundtable on February 26, 2014. Fedecamaras was a key player in the 2002 coup, its president Pedro Carmona Estanga becoming the president of the country during the short-lived coup. [back]
7. ‘Colectivos’ are revolutionary rank and file organisations, urban land committees, health care committees, political and cultural groups, etc. The opposition and the media have attempted to demonise them by presenting a picture of colectivos as being groups of armed thugs attacking opposition demonstrations, but have provided no concrete proof that this is the case. [back]
8. Lorenzo Mendoza is the owner of Grupo Polar, the country's largest private sector company, which has near monopoly control over food production, processing and distribution and has played a key role in the economic war of attrition against the Bolivarian revolution. He is listed amongst Forbes’ World's 500 Wealthiest Billionaires. [back]
9. Gustavo Cisneros is one of the country's main oligarchs, though he now lives in the Dominican Republic. Owner of Cisneros Groups with interests in beverages, media and real state, he is also listed in Forbes 500 list. His article “Vatican diplomacy could be Venezuela's salvation” appeared in English in the Financial Times. [back]
10. CADIVI was the state body which until recently dealt with the allocation of dollars to the import industry at preferential prices. The parasitic Venezuelan capitalists were involved in all sorts of fraud to benefit from this favourable exchange rate. Ghost companies were created for the purpose of getting CADIVI dollars and then syphoning them to the black market (where the rate was between 5 and 10 times the preferential rate they were getting them at), whole containers of junk metal were imported and then billed as imports of parts for industry, the difference in dollars again syphoned to the black market, etc. The government has denounced this fraudulent behaviour and promised to publish a full list of companies involved. [back]
11. In the run up to the December 8 regional governor and municipal elections, the government launched a campaign against hoarding and speculation (see: Venezuela: Against the economic war - workers' control and expropriation of the oligarchy). Led by Eduardo Samán, at the head of consumer rights body INDEPABIS, the campaign seized warehouses of products which were being hoarded and forced the companies to sell them at “fair prices” to the public. This measure was received with wide popular support, even amongst opposition voters, and was one of the key factors in the Bolivarian victory in those elections (see: Anti-capitalist offensive delivers Bolivarian victory in Venezuelan municipal elections). Having won those elections with an increased majority, INDEPABIS was then merged into another state body and the popular Eduardo Samán removed from his position. [back]