[News] The Beginning of a Crucial Week in Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jul 25 12:30:09 EDT 2017


  The Beginning of a Crucial Week in Venezuela

By Jorge Martin – In Defense of Marxism , July 25th 2017

The Venezuelan opposition, backed by Washington and Madrid, has launched 
an all out offensive to prevent Sunday's Constituent Assembly elections 
form going ahead. We stand firmly against this reactionary attempt which 
can only be defeated by revolutionary means.

The opening salvo of this offensive was fired by US president Donald 
Trump who promised, in an official statement, to implement “strong and 
swift” economic sanctions against Venezuela if the Constituent Assembly 
goes ahead. There is a lot of discussion in the pages of the business 
papers in the US about the precise meaning of this threat. If the US was 
to impose sanctions on the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA that would cut 
the main source of foreign currency the government has. While PDVSA 
sells oil to a variety of countries, most of its sales to China and 
Russia are in payment for loans already given, while the US is its main 
cash customer. However, cutting oil imports from Venezuela would have an 
impact on the US market. While the US can always use its strategic 
reserves any disruption of supply from Venezuela would complicate 
matters for US refineries, which are fine tuned to use extra heavy 
Venezuelan oil. This disruption might lead to a temporary increase in 
the price of fuel in the US, something no American president wants to 
face. It is more likely that any sanctions would be a continuation of 
the current US policy (introduced by Obama) of targeted sanctions 
against Venezuelan high officials. However, more serious economic 
sanctions cannot be ruled out, at a time when US foreign policy in Latin 
America is driven by the mad-dog /gusanos/ in Miami and their 
representatives in the Republican party. One way or another, Trump's 
statement is a serious threat and an intolerable act of imperialist 

Today, an editorial in the Spanish paper El País, the voice of Spanish 
multinationals with crucial interests in Latin America, denounces 
Maduro's “assault on the democratic system” and demands that the 
“international community” makes an effort to “stop this institutional 
coup”. Of course El País and the Spanish ruling Popular Party know all 
about coups in Venezuela since they supported the short lived April 2002 
coup against president Hugo Chavez. El País further calls on Spain to 
“lead an effort uniting European and Latin American countries and the 
US” to send “the chavista regime an unequivocal message of the 
consequences of the final desctruction of the Venezuelan democratic 
system” “Maduro and his collaborators should know that their actions 
will not be left unpunished”. This is the extraordinary language of 
imperialist intervention in Venezuela, coming from those who have been 
consistent in defending the interests of multinationals and those of the 
Venezuelan oligarchy.

The current stage of the reactionary offensive (which has been going on 
for over three months) started with the so-called “consultation” on July 
16 in which the “democratic” opposition asked if people rejected the 
Constituent Assembly and refused to recognise its legitimacy, if they 
wanted to Army to intervene and if they approved of the formation of a 
parallel “government of national unity”. This was an attempt to 
legitimise their calls for a coup and to prevent the Constituent 
Assembly elections from going ahead.

As we have already explained elsewhere, the “consultation” saw a 
sizeable mobilisation of the ranks of the opposition (concentrated in 
the middle and upper class layers of the population), but also witnessed 
a significant mobilisation of the Chavista ranks in a simultaneous dry 
run for the CA elections. The figures of participation given by the 
opposition are clearly widely exaggerated, but that did not prevent them 
from going ahead with their plans.

Last Thursday, July 20, they called for a “civic strike”, which in 
reality was not supported from any section of the workers. All major 
state-owned companies were working normally as did the majority of 
private sector ones. What you had was a shut down of commerce and 
shopping malls, a paralisation of privately owned transport, as well as 
a large scale campaign of road blockades and barricades. There are many 
examples of workers arriving at their workplaces only to find themselves 
locked out by their employers. In Barcelona, Anzoátegui, for instance, 
workers at the Macusa factory (which makes leather seats for the car 
industry) were told they had to take a paid day off, something they 
refused. You will not find a single report of assemblies in the 
workplaces where workers decided to participate in the 

The opposition violence on the day reached a new peak. Groups of rioters 
with molotov cocktails and home made rocket launchers besieged and 
attempted to set on fire the building of the VTV state TV channel in Los 
Ruices in Caracas. At least one of the attackers was pictured holding an 
assault rifle. They were finally repelled by the joint action of the 
National Guard and VTV workers who came out shouting revolutionary 
slogans like “Chavez no murió, se multiplicó” (Chavez didn't die, he 
multiplied). In Cabudare, Lara, workers at the milk processing plant 
Lacteos Los Andes (nationalised under Chavez), also had to repel a 
similar attack by violent opposition rioters. These examples are 
significant and show the beginning of a working class reaction.

Riots and road blockades were more intense in the local councils which 
have opposition mayors, where the municipal police collaborated and 
defended the rioters, like in Baruta or in parts of Barinas. Again, the 
day's protest were mainly concentrated in the middle and upper class 
areas of the main cities, with little or no following in the working 
class and poor neighbourhoods.

The opposition has also stepped up their institutional challenge, by 
having the National Assembly to appoint a new set of Supreme Court 
judges. This is a clear attempt to create a situation of dual power in 
the state institutions. However, the opposition stopped short of 
appointing a new government, something they had promised to do. This is 
probably a reflection of splits within the opposition ranks between the 
old parties of the ruling class (mainly Acción Democrática) and the new 
young and more far right leaders of the opposition (like Maria Corina 
Machado, Freddy Guevara, Juan Requesens, etc). María Corina Machado in 
an interviewed explained that her party disagreed with the 
“governability pact” which the MUD (United Democratic Roundtable) had 
announced. Freddy Guevara on his part publicly praised the “Resistance”, 
that is the small groups of armed rioters which have been at the 
forefront of the clashes with the police and terrorist activities of the 
last three months.

For this week the opposition has called for two days of “general strike” 
on Wednesday and Thursday. This means in fact a bosses lock out in some 
companies, but above all a widespread campaign of road blockades and 
barricades, probably combined with sabotage of the electricity grid in 
key cities, in an attempt to bring the country to a standstill. Several 
opposition leaders have made public appeals for people to stockpile on 
food and basic products for the whole week and stay home.

One of the main opposition leaders, Henrique Capriles, has issued a call 
for a “take over of Caracas” on Friday 28, following on from their “48h 
national strike”, and even hinted that they “do not rule out marching on 
Miraflores Palace”, which brings ominous memories of the coup in April 
2002, which was triggered by an opposition march on the presidential palace.

On Saturday 29, the opposition is calling on its supporters to march on 
their local election centres and blockade them in order to physically 
prevent the elections from taking place on Sunday. “Further measures” 
will be announced for Sunday, the opposition leaders have promised.

The National Electoral Council has already made plans to allow people 
living in 74 of the country's 1141 parishes, where the opposition 
violence has concentrated, to vote in other polling stations other than 
their own.

This week, therefore, will be crucial in the insurrectionary offensive 
of the opposition and imperialism.

At the same time there is a lot of background noise about negotiations. 
It is said that the former Spanish president Zapatero has arrived in 
Caracas. He was part of the failed negotiations between the government 
and the opposition at the end of last year and also played a role in the 
release of opposition leader and coup plotter Leopoldo Lopez from jail 
into house arrest two weeks ago. President Maduro made yet another 
appeal to the opposition to negotiate in his Sunday TV program. Some 
leaders of the “moderate” wing of the opposition have been also 
cautiously using the word “negotiation” in their statements. In an 
article in El Nacional (the main opposition mouthpiece), a leader of 
Avanzada Progresista (the party of Lara governor Henri Falcón) called 
for a negotiation involving concessions on both sides.

This is the voice of those in the ruling class who recognise that while 
Chavismo has lost a lot of support, they have not been able to win over 
the masses in the working class and poor neighbourhoods nor to create 
any significant rifts within the army. They also fear a descent into a 
civil war which would not be in the interests of the ruling class if it 
could be avoided. However, these sectors are in conflict with the new 
breed of opposition leaders who base themselves on the frenzied petty 
bourgeois masses which make up their base and rely on the violent 
rioters of the “Resistance”. Both sectors have the same aims, their 
difference is one of tactics.

If the MUD was to come to power, with the support of imperialism, that 
would be clearly be a major set back for the Bolivarian revolution and 
would threaten all its conquests. The oligarchy would launch an all out 
assault on working people. They would introduce a brutal austerity 
package making the workers pay for the full price of the capitalist 
crisis, through cuts in health care and education, pensions, social 
housing, mass lay offs in the public sector, the privatisation of 
state-owned companies, the return of expropriated land to its former 
owners, etc. As well as this, they would unleash a campaign of 
repression and a politically motivated purge against revolutionary 
activists and their organisations.

Faced with this situation we cannot be neutral. It is scandalous that 
organisations like the misnamed Party of Socialism and Freedom of 
Orlando Chirino has in effect joined the opposition offensive, calling 
on people to participate in their “consultation” and giving public 
support to their “civic strike”. They have joined the camp of the 
capitalist class.

We are implacably opposed to the opposition offensive, which represents 
the interests of the capitalists, bankers and landowners with the full 
backing of US (and Spanish) imperialism. This is therefore a class 
struggle and can only be fought with class struggle methods. Faced with 
armed assaults against state-owned companies, workers should form 
Popular Defence Brigades (BDP), armed self defence organisations, like 
the ones peasant organisations have already set up in Zulia, Barinas and 
Apure. Last week a caravan of the BDP marched from Santa Bárbara de 
Barinas to Socopó, in a show of strength and made an appeal to others to 
replicate their example. It is the time to activate the reserve of the 
army in which many workers are already enlisted.

At the same time the so-called “48h general strike”, which in reality is 
a bosses lockout, can only be effectively fought with mass workplace 
meetings, factory occupations and the threat of expropriation. Any 
capitalist involved in the counter-revolutionary offensive should have 
its assets expropriated under workers control. As they say in Venezuela, 
“la culebra se mata por la cabeza” (“you kill the snake by its head”) 
and the reactionary campaign is organised and financed by big 
capitalists and landowners.

The opposition wants to prevent the Constituent Assembly from taking 
place and so maximum participation must be ensured. However, the idea 
that the Constituent Assembly itself will “bullet-proof” the revolution 
and guarantee “peace and dialogue” as the government argues is either 
naïve or foolish. The counter-revolution must be fought with 
revolutionary means. Also because only by revolutionary means can we 
start to solve the economic problems which affect millions of working 
class families. Only by unleashing the revolutionary initiative of the 
masses can the fighting spirit of the masses be rekindled.

*Only the people saves the people!*

*Hands Off Venezuela!*

*Expropriate the coup plotters!*

*Factory closed, factory occupied!*

*Down with the reactionary and imperialist offensive!*

*Defend the Venezuelan revolution! *

/Edited by Venezuelanalysis.com. /

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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