[News] Venezuela: The Imperfect Revolution

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 27 14:30:34 EDT 2010



Venezuela: The Imperfect Revolution

By Eva Golinger - The Chavez Code, May 25th 2010
http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/5384

If you come to Venezuela with glistening eyes, 
expecting to see the revolution of a romantic and 
passionate novel, don’t be disappointed when the 
complexities of reality burst your bubble. While 
revolution does withhold a sense of romanticism, 
it’s also full of human error and the grit of 
everyday life in a society – a nation – 
undertaking the difficult and tumultuous process of total transformation.

Nothing is perfect here, in the country sitting 
on the world’s largest oil reserves. But 
everything is fascinating and intriguing, and the 
changes from past to present become more visible and tangible every day.

After 100 years of abandonment, as President Hugo 
Chavez puts it, the Venezuelan people have awoken 
and begun the gargantuan task of taking power and 
building a system of social and economic justice. 
But it’s easier said than done in a culture 
embedded with corrupt values, resulting from the 
nation’s vast oil wealth, combined with an 
overall feeling of entitlement. The bureaucracy 
is massive and often intimidating, as the people, 
including the President himself, struggle to 
eradicate it every day, and replace it with a 
more horizontal political and economic model.

 From the outside, it’s easy to criticize 
Venezuela. Inflation is high, the economy is in a 
difficult place, although growing, and relations 
with countries such as Russia, China and Iran are 
often painful for foreigners to comprehend. Media 
portrays much of the power in the nation as 
concentrated in the hands of one man, Hugo 
Chavez, and rarely highlights the thousands of 
positive achievements and successes his 
government has obtained during the past ten 
years. Distortion and manipulation reign amongst 
international public opinion regarding human 
rights, freedom of expression and political views 
opposing those of President Chavez, and few media 
outlets portray a balanced vision of Venezuela today.

While it’s true that there is awful inflation in 
Venezuela, much of it has been caused by business 
owners, large-scale private distributors and 
producers, import-exporters and the economic 
elite that seek to destabilize and overthrow the 
Chavez administration. They sell dollars on the 
black market at pumped up rates and speculate and 
hike the prices of regular consumer products to 
provoke panic and desperation among the public, 
all with the goal of forcing Chavez’s ouster. And 
despite ongoing economic sabotage, the economy 
has still grown substantially in comparison to 
other nations in the region. In fact, according 
to the neoliberal International Monetary Fund 
(IMF), Venezuela is the only South American 
nation to forecast economic growth this year.

How do you build a socialist revolution in an oil 
economy? It’s not easy. The Chavez government 
promotes a green agenda, but at the same time, 
the streets of Caracas – the capital – are still 
littered with stinky garbage and the air is 
contaiminated with black smoke emissions from 
cars and make-shift buses that go uncontrolled 
and unregulated. Part of the problem is 
government regulation, but most of the problem is 
social consciousness. Revolution is impossible if the people aren’t on board.

So, the government gives out millions of free, 
cold-energy saving lightbulbs, to replace the 
over-consuming yellow ones, and programs are 
underway to allow a free trade-in of diesel 
consuming cars for new natural gas vehicles. The 
Chavez administration is funding solar energy 
exploration and research institutes, building 
wind energy units along the northern Caribbean 
coast and has implemented a major environmental 
conservation campaign nationwide. Part of this 
incredible effort resulted from a horrific 
six-month long drought that pushed the nation to 
energy and water rationing, causing countrywide 
blackouts that weren’t well received. Ironically, 
one of the world’s largest oil producers is more 
than 70% dependent on hydroelectric power for 
internal energy consumption, thanks to the 
governments past, which only were interested in 
selling the oil abroad and not using it to 
improve the lives of their own citizens.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

The foremost achievement of the Bolivarian 
Revolution, as it is called in Venezuela, taking 
the namesake of liberator Simon Bolivar, has been 
the inclusion of a mass majority, previously 
excluded and invisible, in the nation’s politics 
and economic decisions. What does this mean? It 
means that today, millions of Venezuelans have a 
visible identity and role in nation-making. It 
means that community members – without regard to 
class, education or status – are actively 
encouraged to participate in policy decisions on 
local and even national matters. Community 
members, organized in councils, make decisions on 
how local resources are allocated. They decide if 
monies are spent on schools, roads, water 
systems, transportation or housing. They have 
oversight of spending, can determine if projects 
are advancing adequately, and even can determine 
where the workforce should come from; i.e. local 
workers vs. outside contractors. In essence, this 
is a true example of an empowered people – or how 
power is transferred from a “government” to the people.

For the first time in Venezuela’s history, every 
voice is valued, every voice has the possibility 
of being heard. And because of this, people 
actually want to participate. Community media 
outlets have sprung up by the hundreds, after 
previously being illegal and shunned by prior 
governments. New newspapers, magazines, radio 
programs and even television shows reflect a 
reality and color of Venezuela that formerly, the 
elite chose to ignore and exclude. Still, a 
majority of mass media remains in the hands of a 
powerful economic elite that uses its capacity to 
distort and manipulate reality and promote 
ongoing attempts to undermine the Chavez 
government. Lest we not forget the mass media’s 
role in the April 2002 coup d’etat that briefly 
ousted President Chavez from power, and a 
subsequent economic sabotage in December of that 
same year, that imposed a media blackout on information nationwide.

Despite claims by private media outlets alleging 
violations of freedom of expression, Venezuela 
remains a nation with one of the world’s most 
thriving free and independent press. Here, almost 
anything goes, even plots and plans to kill the 
President or bring the nation’s economy to its 
knees; all broadcast live on television, radio, or in print.

The contradictions of building a socialist 
revolution in a capitalist world are evident here 
every day. The same self-proclaimed 
revolutionary, bearing a red shirt, wants to buy 
your dollars on the black market at an elevated 
rate. You can get killed in the streets of 
Caracas for a Blackberry; don’t even think of 
whipping out an iPhone in public. Even President 
Chavez himself now fashions a Blackberry to keep 
his Twitter account up to date. Chavez has 
“politicized” Twitter, and turned it into a 
social tool. His account, the most followed in 
Venezuela, receives thousands of requests and 
messages daily for everything from jobs, to 
housing to complaints about bureaucracy and 
inefficient governance. He even set up a special 
team of 200 people dedicated to processing the 
tweets, and he himself responds to as many as he 
can. Ironically, Chavez has found a way to 
reconnect with his people in a virtual world.

Deals with Russia, China, Iran, India, European 
nations and even US corporations are diversifying 
Venezuela’s trade partners, ensuring 
technological transfer to aid in national 
development and progress, and opening up 
Venezuela’s oil-focused economy. Some question 
Chavez’s deals with certain countries or 
companies, but the truth is, today, Venezuela’s 
economy is stronger and more diverse than ever 
before. Satellites have been launched, automobile 
factories built and even the agricultural 
industry has been revived thanks to Chavez’s 
vision of foreign policy. When beforehand, 
relations with foreign nations were based on oil 
supply and dollar input, today they are founded 
on the principles of integration, solidarity and 
cooperation, and most importantly, the transfer 
of technology to ensure Venezuela’s development.

Revolution is not an easy task. What is happening 
in Venezuela is possibly one of the most socially 
and politically compelling and challenging 
experiences in history. Massive changes are 
taking place on every level of society – 
economic, political, cultural and social – and 
everyone is involved. There have been no national 
curfews, states of emergencies, killings, 
disappearances, persecutions, political prisoners 
or other forms of repression imposed under 
Chavez’s reign, despite the coup d’etat, economic 
sabotages, electoral interventions, assassination 
attempts and other forms of subversion and 
destabilization that have attempted to overthrow 
his government during the past ten years. This is 
an inclusionary revolution, whether or not everyone wants to accept that fact.

Washington’s continued efforts to undermine 
Venezuela’s democracy through funding opposition 
campaigns and actions with over $50 million USD 
during the past seven years, or supporting coups 
and assassination plots against President Chavez, 
while at the same time pumping up military forces 
in the region, have all failed; so far. But, they 
will continue. Venezuela – like it or not – is on 
an irrevocable path to revolution. The people 
have awoken and power is being redistributed. The 
task at hand now is to prevent corrupt forces 
within from destroying the new revolutionary model being built.

So while things may not be perfect in Venezuela, 
it’s time to take off the rose-colored glasses 
and see revolution for what it is: the trying, 
alluring, arduous, demanding and thrilling task 
of forging a just humanity. That’s the Venezuela of today.

Eva Golinger is an award-winning author and 
attorney. Her first book, The Chavez Code, is a 
best seller published in six languages and is 
presently being made into a feature film. Her blog is www.chavezcode.com.




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