[News] Venezuela: Revolution in the Revolution or is it just cultural?
News at freedomarchives.org
News at freedomarchives.org
Mon Nov 8 11:33:03 EST 2004
Venezuela: Revolution in the Revolution or is it just cultural?
VHeadline.com guest commentarist Richard Smith writes: With the regional
elections over, and the map of Venezuela predominantly painted red, with
the Bolivarian government controlling 90% of states and 80% of mayoralties
up and down the country, the time has come to make the great leap forward
so as to implant, and then consolidate, the necessary structural changes in
The phrase great leap forward was first coined by Mao Tse Tung in 1965 as
a harbinger of the Cultural Revolution in the PRC, when bourgeois
revisionists and reformers were weeded out of the Chinese state apparatus,
schools, universities and public institutions so as to cleanse society and
rehabilitate these ideological misfits into the ranks of the ongoing
It is no coincidence that Chavez Frias has used the selfsame expression
(gran salto adelante in Spanish) to describe what he sees as the next
step in the peaceful, democratic and participative Bolivarian revolution,
currently underway in Venezuela.
Failing this ... as expressed by Chavez himself .. could mean that the
revolutionary process could degenerate and turn out to be no more than a
set of reforms in the context of the prevailing Venezuelan State -- a far
cry from the sea change in society and state which Venezuela badly needs,
if more than 500 years of endemic poverty is to be vanquished by 2021, by
giving power to the poor.
In fact, Chavez said he would rather die, than see this happen!
Chavez has called upon the Mayors of the revolution to combat
inefficiency, bad bureaucracy and corruption so as to combat the counter
revolutionary elements still controlling a great part of the state. These
elements, mainly life-long members of AD and Copei, have used their
positions and power to sabotage the social missions, by holding up payments
to the participants and thus making life difficult for them and their
families, with the strategy of placing the blame on Chavez himself and his
Venezuelan labor laws make it impossible to fire these saboteurs.
The rallying call to the Bolivarian Mayors to operate on a local level
working with the common people is a logical step to take, so that the
impetus of change comes as a groundswell from the base, and is not imposed
from air-conditioned offices in Caracas or other State capitals ... where
understanding and getting to grips with local problems is limited to an
objective, intellectual level, rather than identifying with and empathizing
with the people, as well as by living and sharing their problems in common
This lack of empathy with local officials and candidates is one of the
major causes of the high abstention rate in the Regional Elections of
almost 55% nationwide and is not a good sign for the country as a whole.
Whereas the people voted massively in the August 15 Presidential recall
referendum ... since they identified with, or totally rejected Chavez ...
the October 31 regional elections were frankly a disappointment, especially
when gauged in the context of the Bolivarian Constitution of 1999 which
emphasizes participative rather then representative democracy.
* Voter participation was relatively poor even though historically,
abstention has been over 50% in Venezuelan regional elections since they
were first introduced some 15 years ago.
It also begs the question as to how politically conscious the Venezuelan
people have become since 1998.
Yes, they identify with Chavez and, therefore, it is certain that many
people voted for candidates of the MVR and the coalition parties as a
further endorsement of the leader.
But do they identify with the lower echelons of the revolutionary
leadership? Or was it primarily the hard core of government supporters who
voted on October 31?
If the coordination of society is to be achieved by commencing at municipal
level with the Mayors ... working up through the State Governors, to
Ministers and finally to the Executive Branch itself ... then the hard work
has to start at base level, where the abstaining voters are, so that they
will participate in society and will be less likely to abstain in the future.
Chavez has made it abundantly clear that the responsibility with the
communities -- i.e. the great mass of the population -- starts at municipal
level, and thus Mayors as municipal leaders have the task of educating and
encouraging the people to participate in the development and the
revolutionizing of society for the common good, and thus defeat
individualistic attitudes so prevalent in Venezuela.
People power and participation not only includes running Local Planning &
Health Committees, but also Social Control & Audits of the missions, health
services and how the municipal budget is being allocated and spent -- this
has to be run by the local population itself so as to eek out ingrained
corruption and the trafficking of influences.
In other words, municipal power lies in the hands of the population, and
not exclusively in the hands of the mayor as the legal representative.
* The town halls have to be turned into a meeting place for the people
to express themselves and participate in ALL the decisions taken which
affect their lives and communities.
This is an advance over and above the concept of FIDES, where 20% of the
municipal budget is granted by law to projects presented by communities, so
as to encourage people participation. FIDES is an excellent concept ... but
it is more of a reform than a revolutionary idea, since the decision to
approve projects and make funds available is still taken by bureaucrats and
not by the communities themselves.
All the pieces of the revolutionary puzzle are still waiting to be put
together, and the edges of the puzzle start at community level with the
Mayor. What does the Mayor have to do? This is simple but rare, even
nowadays in Venezuela. The Mayor has to be in the street, walk up and down
steep alleyways in the popular districts, converse with the population,
understand how they feel and appreciate their problems -- all this with the
objective of encouraging active, and even better, PROACTIVE participation
of the young and old, of men and women so that they automatically include
themselves in society. The Mayor has to implement projects within the
Popular Economy, so as to generate employment, educate about cooperatives,
organize seminars on history, health, even Venezuela
the list is
At the end of the day, the Mayor should live in the communities with the
people, as the doctors of the Barrio Adentro (Into the Neighborhood)
primary health mission. The local councilors should also be doing the same
... instead of looking for business opportunities using their influences
This is the type cultural change that is needed in Venezuela, where
organized, mass people power comes to the fore led and encouraged by the
Mayors, the councilors and their electoral teams, which already exist in
the from of the UBEs -- Units of Electoral Battle, soon to be designated
as Units of Endogenous Battle or Development, now that the elections are
* Such massive participation and by extension Social Control & Audits
will be the spark for Revolution in the Revolution, or major cultural
change based on collective values and benefits, rather then the Im
alright Jack attitude.
With this sort of social movement of massive people power becoming the
norm, it would not take long to combat inefficiency, bad bureaucracy and
corruption as Chavez has demanded.
Mayors and councilors, as public servants, get out of your offices and into
the street. Take active part in the historical process underway in
Venezuela. In this way, you will also defeat the tendency to abstain, and
virtually reassure your own reelection as you become a real leader, in the
street, not in your office in the town hall; you will gain credibility and
become the most important local politician for the communities for which
you ... and the people as a whole ... are responsible.
Ideologically speaking, you will be following the precepts of the 1999
Bolivarian Constitution of participative and protagonistic democracy.
If you dont, and continue as if the country is till in the IV Republic --
well, you stand a good chance of being revoked from office in 2006
(half-way through your mandate), as the President will certainly call for
parasites and corrupt officials to be revoked if they have not performed
between now and October 31, 2006.
With Social Control & Auditing, these traitors will easily be detected.
In a nutshell ... Revolution in the Revolution is massive people
participation and power.
Some would say so ... but even the cynics cannot deny that the Venezuelan
people did not need the political parties or any local politicians to lead
them when they demonstrated their capabilities on April 12 and 13, 2002.
Richard Smith is based in La Victoria (Aragua). He was born 1950 in
Wolverhampton (UK), and obtained a Masters Degree from the University of
London and the University of Marburg-an-der-Lahn (Germany) forming close
contacts with Latin America and more especially Venezuela since 1977. An
expert in international marketing, he is a regular contributor to the
specialized press directed at the leather industry (Spanish and English),
represents a global fair group in Latin America and recently launched the
cyber magazine Leather Press. One of his main concerns are the
establishment of some form of social justice in Latin America since: As
I grew up in a post WWII society where free health care, education, jobs
and social security were taken for granted, it came as an ugly surprise to
discover that these elements do not exist for 90% of Latin Americans. Thus,
social organization at the base is essential if the dispossessed are ever
to ease their way put of the poverty trap. Richard Smith may be contacted
at email <mailto:richardsmith98 at hotmail.com>richardsmith98 at hotmail.com
<http://www.vheadline.com/smith>More VHeadline.com commentaries by Richard
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News