[News] The Crisis of Rentier Capitalism in Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 11 13:48:13 EDT 2019


  The Crisis of Rentier Capitalism in Venezuela: A Conversation with
  Oscar Figuera

By Cira Pascual Marquina – October 10, 2019

/Oscar Figuera is secretary-general of the Venezuelan Communist Party 
(henceforth PCV or Communist Party). As a 17-year-old metal worker in 
Aragua state, he began union organizing with the Venezuelan Worker’s 
Unitary Central (CUTV, the PCV’s union). In 1986 he became 
Secretary-General of the PCV union. Figuera was elected to Venezuela's 
National Assembly for the period 2016 to 2020. In this exclusive 
interview, Figuera presents his party’s case for how Venezuela should 
attempt to overcome its economic and social crisis./

*How do you analyze the situation of the Venezuelan working class and 
the pueblo in general? What do you think are the roots of the crisis.*

For us, it is important to begin by characterizing Venezuelan society. 
For the Communist Party, what has entered into a serious crisis in 
Venezuela is the capitalist, dependent mode of production which is 
characterized by a rentier model of accumulation: we find the roots of 
the catastrophic crisis that we are currently facing in that model.

I should add that we are paying the consequences of recent mistakes: the 
model of accumulation wasn’t transformed during the Bolivarian Process. 
It wasn’t transformed with President Chavez and much less so now, during 
the presidency of Nicolas Maduro.

This, in turn, brings us to another question: why does the PCV consider 
that Venezuela, since Chavez’s arrival to power, is in a process of 
national liberation? To that, we would say that we considered that 
Chavez’s program brought forth one of the key elements to breaking with 
dependency and building a new Latin American and Caribbean system: an 
organized effort to build a united bloc of our continent’s peoples.

This is a line of work which we historically promoted and which is, from 
our perspective, fundamental, if we are to advance toward breaking with 
imperialist domination and the longstanding dependency of our region. We 
adopted the project put forth by President Chavez from a tactical and 
strategic perspective.

Actually, we go as far as saying that, from our point of view (and we 
said this when President Chavez made the proposal), Venezuela’s 
[economic] development isn’t mature enough to move toward socialism. We 
understand that when Chavez began to speak of socialism, his call fit 
with a particular political scenario, but it didn’t correspond with the 
development of the country’s productive forces (what we generally call 
the objective conditions), nor with the subjective conditions of the 
Venezuelan people. So, again, we are where we are because there is a 
profound crisis of the capitalist and dependent rentier model which 
wasn’t transformed in the twenty plus years of the Bolivarian Process.

Another key to understanding our support of Hugo Chavez is the issue of 
oil sovereignty. With Chavez, the Venezuelan state was able to control 
the nation’s main source of wealth: oil. Before Chavez, ninety percent 
of the oil profits were expropriated by large transnationals. With 
Chavez, part of the oil revenues, which has been the backbone of 
Venezuela’s economy for the past one hundred years, was put at the 
service of attending to the social, cultural, and political needs of the 

However, Venezuela didn’t advance in other aspects which are key to 
building a sovereign nation, such as the development of productive 
forces. Chavez did initiate a politicization of the pueblo, which became 
actively engaged. Chavez’s era politicized the Venezuelan people and 
that is, in part, one of the keys to our people’s resilience today. With 
Chavez, there was an important leap in understanding that US 
imperialism, its European allies, and the national oligarchical forces 
aligned with international capital are our fundamental enemies.

*How does the PCV analyze the Bolivarian Government’s direction in 
recent years? Some celebrate Nicolas Maduro’s leadership – he has 
defeated coups d'état, won elections, and resisted the onslaught of 
imperialism – whereas others criticize his pro-capitalist solutions to 
the crisis: privatizations, cuts in social spending, elimination of 
workers’ rights, and so on.*

Since early 2019, as an outcome of the PCV’s XVII Plenary, our position 
has been that the policies pushed forth by Maduro’s government are 
liberal ones, and this means that the weight of the crisis is borne by 
the poorest. This was ratified in our XIV Plenary just a couple of 
months ago.

As I mentioned before, at the root of the crisis is the model of 
accumulation – that, combined with the imperialist aggression. But we 
believe that liberal [economic] policies are not going to bring us out 
of the crisis.

Within the party, there is an ongoing debate about the precise 
characterization of the government’s economic tendency. Is it 
neoliberal? The answer to that is still pending, but we believe that the 
measures that have been implemented privilege capitalist investment, 
national and particularly foreign. In that sense, we have witnessed a 
deregularization in the sphere of labor, and a spectacular fall in the 
price of the labor force, large-scale layoffs, reforms, etc.

All this is done, as I mentioned, with one aim: encouraging investment. 
That, however, is not going to happen for one very simple reason: 
foreign investment only comes to Venezuela when the price of oil is 
high, and it comes here with the sole objective of directly profiting 
from the wealth generated by oil sales. Capitalists have never developed 
this country, they have never invested a penny. And now that the oil 
prices are low, all that we can expect them to do is to come here to 
profit from our gold, coltan, and the other strategic minerals that are 
found in our territory.

So instead of liberalizing [the economy] and seeking foreign investment, 
which will not work, Maduro’s government should focus on attending to 
the needs of the people with social programs, while looking for a 
revolutionary way out of the crisis of the capitalist rentier model.

We are against the route of class-conciliation, which privileges and 
gives advantages to foreign investment. All this is particularly 
problematic when that route is wrapped up in a socialist discourse that 
has no connection with reality… We believe that that socialist discourse 
hurts the masses because it distorts our reality. Tragically, many are 
rejecting socialism because they identify what is happening now with the 
project, and others take it to mean that socialism demands a great level 
of sacrifice. Of course, it is true that socialism demands sacrifice. 
Socialism requires a great deal of sacrifice because it confronts the 
forces of capital, but socialism is not only that, it’s also about 
building something new, and that perspective is nowhere to be found in 
the present.

In addition to addressing the people’s urgent needs, which is something 
that the government must do, we also argue for the centrality of the 
working class and the role of the campesinos and the communards in the 
solution to the crisis. Should we attempt to come out of the current 
crisis together with transnational capital? Should we let the 
bureaucratic perspective prevail? Or is the path out of the current 
crisis in the hands of those who produce with their hands? We cast our 
lot with the latter.

Now, one could ask, given our conditions, isn’t it necessary to pursue 
some alliances with sectors of capital? Yes. We are not inflexible. We 
understand that the state has no resources to jumpstart production, so 
some concessions must be made. Venezuela has to look for allies, but 
seeking alliances with transnationals is not the way to go. They will 
not bring investment and will bring foreign interests along. Instead, 
Venezuela should seek investment from sectors that accept that we have a 
process of national liberation and that the construction of an 
autonomous and independent model is one of our key goals.

In any case, the role of the working class, the role of campesinos, the 
role of communards must be brought into play, not in merely discursive 
terms but with real participation in the process of recovery of the 
productive apparatus. That is why we have to build a broad 
anti-imperialist alliance, with all sectors, including the government of 
President Nicolas Maduro. All those committed to social change should be 
brought on board, including the patriotic capitalist sector.

After all, we are in the midst of an inter-imperialist dispute between 
world powers. This confrontation is, actually, at the core of the 
aggression against Venezuela. The world powers don’t want us to 
establish alliances with China, Russia, and India, because those 
alliances are key to breaking with our dependent situation. We have to 
move in the direction of those alliances, and we have to, in parallel, 
build the union of Latin American and Caribbean countries, which is the 
only means to weaken imperialism’s chains.

*There have recently been dialogs between the government and some 
sectors of the opposition. These dialogues took place without the 
participation of any Chavista organizations, except the PSUV. 
Additionally, and according to your party’s own statements, the PSUV has 
broken the PSUV-PCV Unity Agreement to Confront Crisis of Venezuelan 
Capitalism <https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/13690> (February 26, 
2018), which was the basis for the PCV’s support of Nicolas Maduro’s 
2018 candidacy. Do you consider the PSUV to be capable of listening to 
the popular movement and Chavista left?*

The PSUV is not listening to the diverse voices, which includes other 
patriotic and revolutionary forces. There is one simple reason for that: 
for those of us on the left, it is very difficult to separate ourselves 
from the alliance with the government and the PSUV, because we have one 
common enemy – our main enemy – which is US imperialism, its European 
allies, and the internal right-wing.

Given this fact, the government and the PSUV think they do not need to 
discuss anything with us. They act unilaterally. It is a serious 
mistake, since construction benefits from collective participation. The 
working class, the campesinos, and the communards, we all have analyses 
and proposals that can help bring Venezuela out of the crisis.

It could be that the government or the PSUV don’t share the views or 
proposals that come from the popular camp. Within the PSUV there are 
different ideological currents, including social democrats, social 
Christians, and even liberals. However, the political leadership should 
understand that we are in a diverse alliance (“unity within diversity”), 
and this requires spaces of collective construction.

Additionally, the contradictions that arise should not be understood as 
a problem. Much the opposite, contradiction can be constructive. The 
problem is not that there may be contradictions inside the movement; the 
problem is how we deal with them! If contradictions are dealt with 
badly, that can produce ruptures, and in a moment like ours, fractures 
weaken our collective project.

Since the PSUV understands that we will not ally ourselves with the 
right or with imperialism, they close spaces for common construction. 
They act in an arrogant manner that (even if it doesn’t lead to rupture) 
produces confrontations. That is what is happening now.

In our most recent Plenary session, we developed the slogan “confront, 
separate, and accumulate forces to advance towards the construction of 
the working class, campesino, communal, and popular force” [“confrontar, 
deslindar y acumular fuerzas para avanzar en la construcción de una 
fuerza obrera, campesina, comunera y popular”]. The idea is to move 
toward an ample anti-imperialist alliance to confront and defeat the 
external aggression while also confronting internal reformist and 
submissive currents which, with a false revolutionary discourse, are 
developing alliances that go against the process of national liberation 
and whose perspective is the opposite of the socialist one.

*And what is the PCV’s approach to the recent dialogues 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14657>? *

The most recent dialogues have led to an agreement with one sector of 
the opposition. We believe that [the idea of dialoguing] was correct, 
and these dialogues are important because they show the world that the 
ultra-right opposition is not the only one in our country. However, that 
agreement was built without the participation of other sectors [of 
Chavismo]. That has led to a situation that isn’t easy to navigate.

One of the agreements was that representatives of the Patriotic Pole 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/tag/gpp> would be incorporated into the 
National Assembly. However, the Communist Party has decided to not 
incorporate itself into that organ. [Our reasons are:] first, that an 
explanation hasn’t been given to us as to what the tactic would be in 
that space, and, second, that the National Assembly continues to be in 
contempt [of the law], and it is the key tool of imperialist aggression 
in our country. The National Assembly is a body that does not recognize 
other public powers, including Maduro’s presidency, and our 
participation there would lead to creating more confusion among the 
people. Our presence would legitimate a tool that is in the service of 
counterrevolutionary conspiracy.

When faced with this dilemma, we decided to not incorporate ourselves 
into the National Assembly, although this is an issue still on the table 
and it will be debated soon in the XV Plenary [session of our party]. 
Frankly, our understanding is that the National Constitutive Assembly 
should have taken forceful action when Juan Guaido, who is the president 
of the National Assembly, proclaimed himself president. The National 
Assembly is part of a conspiracy and should be dissolved.

Now, if the PSUV were to explain to us that there is a route to overcome 
the conspirative character of the National Assembly, them we might well 
reincorporate ourselves to the space, following an internal debate.

There have been new forms of protest in recent years: protests that do 
not seek regime change, but rather solutions to concrete demands in the 
face of serious problems. These range from people protesting for gas and 
water to campesinos demanding justice and protection from landowners. 
How do you understand this new phenomenon?

Emanating from the popular and patriotic movement and from those sectors 
committed to transforming Venezuelan society, there is a growing 
tendency to stage legitimate protests. These protests no longer come 
from the right, but rather from the popular revolutionary movement, from 
the force that has come to be known as Chavismo. They put forth demands 
but also proposals that have to do with labor policies, agrarian, and 
campesino policies, and so on. These protests share one concern: the 
course of the Bolivarian Process and the living conditions of the people.

The Communist Party believes that it is important to bring together 
legitimate grievances, to create a nation-wide front that will stand 
firm when faced with imperialism but will also confront the government’s 
promotion of liberal policies.

That is our aim in promoting the National Struggle Front of the Working 
Class [Frente Nacional de Lucha de la Clase Trabajadora]. This front is 
not an appendix of the Communist Party. We are just one factor inside 
it. There are Trotskyist sectors there, and there are sectors from the 
PSUV’s bases. Actually, they are the majority.

We are also promoting the work of the Nicomedes Abreu Campesino Current 
[Corriente Campesina Clasista Nicomedes Abreu], trying to work with 
diverse communal actors, among them El Maizal Commune and other communes 
that have truly important work but are not under PCV leadership. We 
believe that we have to come together in a bloc with these communal 
organizations, because they are instances of self-government that 
question the bureaucratic conception of power.

*Finally, in the face of the imperialist aggressions and the drifting of 
the government toward “reformist” or even “liberal” position, what is 
the role of internationalist solidarity with the Bolivarian Process?*

The Communist Party has a line of work toward fostering solidarity, and 
we do this with thorough presentation of what is going on here when we 
travel abroad. To the forces of the left, to the communist parties and 
other organizations, we do not hide the contradictions that we are 
facing – the complexities of the process and the tendencies that 
confront one another –, but we always make it clear that our main enemy 
is imperialism. We struggle inside the process, but when faced with 
imperialism, we are unified and disciplined. Thus, we explain [the 
complexities of what is going on inside], but we also demand solidarity.

If US imperialism, its European allies, and the continental right put 
their hands on Venezuela, the situation will resemble the one at the end 
of the 1980s with the fall of the Soviet Union and the East bloc. That 
was a very hard blow to revolutionary forces worldwide. Even though the 
problems we face here are huge, Venezuela continues to be a flagship in 
the anti-imperialist struggle. We need a Venezuela that can hold its 
ground, while we struggle within.

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