[News] Venezuela - Standing by a Radical Chávez

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 20 13:07:40 EST 2020


https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/15055 Standing by a Radical Chávez: A
Conversation with Rafael Uzcátegui
By Cira Pascual Marquina – November 20, 2020
------------------------------

*Rafael Uzcátegui is a historical figure in Venezuela’s popular movement
who was key to the forming of the Popular Revolutionary Alternative
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/tag/apr> [APR]. The APR is a leftist and
Chavista electoral bloc that represents an independent and plural option in
the December 6 National Assembly elections. Uzcátegui was the longstanding
Secretary-General of Patria Para Todos
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/tag/ppt> [PPT] before Venezuela’s Supreme
Court [TSJ] intervened <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14976> in the
party, replacing its original leadership. In this interview, Uzcátegui
talks about the APR’s revolutionary project, while analyzing the
government’s “neoliberal” turn.*

*What is the APR and why is this group of popular Chavista parties and
movements not joining forces with the PSUV (as they did previously under
the aegis of the Patriotic Pole) to flip the National Assembly in favor of
Chavismo?*

A regrouping of popular forces is underway within Chavismo, which aims to
build a revolutionary alternative. There are dozens of organizations in the
APR, from old and consolidated parties such as the Communist Party
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/tag/pcv> [PCV] and the majority of the PPT [a
party that grew out of the working class and popular struggles in the 70s
and 80s] to communal and regional organizations and social movements.

Some of them had grown apart from the PSUV and the government which –
through its liberal economic policies and its tendency to disregard other
voices from within – has alienated many. Others had critical constructive
positions from within the Patriotic Pole, and their voices were not heard
either.

In any case, and beyond any critical position that we may have on
particular policies and practices, what separates us from Nicolás Maduro’s
project is our political vision. We aim to reaffirm a left revolutionary
initiative rooted in Chávez’s radical project. The Maduro government has
turned away from that. Ours is a left Chavista project… and when we
identify with Chavismo, we are talking about a radical Chávez
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/tag/chavez-radical>.

*Can you be more precise regarding the APR’s identification with a “radical
Chávez”? Are we talking about the Chávez of the commune, about the Chávez
that moved towards limiting capital’s logic, or about the Chávez that
nationalized means of production?*

We defend a Chávez that understood capitalism’s catastrophic tendencies and
actively opposed its logic both in his discourse and in action. We stand by
the Chávez that understood contradictions but had a strategic objective:
socialism. We are talking about the Chávez of the “Strike at the helm
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/tag/strike-helm>” [2012 speech], about the
man who called-out his cabinet and insisted on an urgent change of course
toward the left.

This was the Chávez that understood popular power as the force that is
charged with building the revolution – by communes, workers’ and *campesino*
organizations… In other words, we identify with the Chávez committed to the
people that work and struggle, the Chávez that understood the people’s
needs and desires and projected a better future instead of the grey-on-grey
“pragmatic” politics that characterizes Maduro’s government.

*Can you characterize Maduro’s government for us with more precision,
understanding also that Venezuela is under a harsh blockade?*

The sanctions are criminal, and they have a real impact on our economy.
However, when a country is under siege, the solution cannot be to turn away
from society and opt for a project of a few. What is happening is that the
sanctions have become a pretext to abandon the socialist project and the
perfect excuse to foster the creation of a “revolutionary bourgeoisie,” as
they like to identify their kin!

If you look at the government spokespeople’s discourse (and their actions),
you will see that for them the subject of change is no longer workers, the
poor men and women from the *barrio* and from the *campo*. As they see it,
the people who will build the future are the bourgeoisie, in a process of
rapid capitalist expansion fostered by laws eliminating workers’ rights and
privileging opaque privatizations and investments.

A sector of Chavismo in government became rich. They are millionaires
locked here because of the sanctions, and they are not satisfied with that.
Now they want to be bourgeois, so they are looking for an openly neoliberal
solution.

To give you an example, yesterday I learned that casinos are operating
again [they were prohibited during Chávez’s government]. Obviously, casinos
are places where money laundering is the goal. On top of that, opaque
privatizations are the order of the day. Add to that the Orinoco Mining Arc
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14092>, which is the opening of
one-sixth of our territory to the most predatory mining practices, and you
get the picture. We have shifted from a rentier economy based on oil
extraction to a rentier economy based on gold exploitation that liquidates
nature to privilege a dangerous speculative economy.

The composition of the political direction has changed. Its leaders are no
longer the young revolutionary soldiers that rose up against the rule of
the few in 1992 [a failed military insurrection led by Chávez]. Now they
are millionaires that aspire to be bourgeois with the word “revolutionary”
as an epithet.
caroni_cuenca_0.png <https://venezuelanalysis.com/files/caronicuenca0png>

[image: Caroní River Basin in the Orinoco Mining Arch. (Observatorio de
Ecología Política)]
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/files/images/%5Bsite-date-yyyy%5D/%5Bsite-date-mm%5D/caroni_cuenca_0.png>

Caroní River Basin in the Orinoco Mining Arch. (Observatorio de Ecología
Política)

*Are you saying that it is the same people in power, but that their class
condition has changed?*

There was a mutation in the leadership of the process, and it took us a
while to understand this. Its character has changed, and with this change
came a transformation in policies.

There is a blockade, yes. Trump (and any representative of imperial
interests) is against all expressions of popular sovereignty. However, the
sanctions became an excuse to open the path to a new logic, which is
expressed in the “revolutionary bourgeoisie.”

Mind you, the term [revolutionary bourgeoisie] was coined by [Agriculture
Minister Wilmar] Castro Soteldo – a retired officer of the Armed Forces who
participated in the November 27, 1992 uprising. There was a broad popular
rejection of Castro Soteldo’s words, but Nicolás Maduro later said that
whoever criticized his ministers was criticizing the president himself.

The Bolivarian Process mutated… it took us a while to understand this, but
now, for the forces of the APR, this is clear. It took quite a few years
for the left to understand that the Soviet Union had mutated into a
non-socialist project, and in some people’s minds the Soviet Union is still
alive and well! Something similar happened with China, which has become the
first capitalist commercial power in the world, and some take it as a
positive example. Well, the same is happening here: the project is changing!

This is a new situation, and as such, we have to organize politics in a new
way.

*When you talk about this shift, it brings to mind something that you said
in a Ciudad CCS interview
<http://ciudadccs.info/2020/05/14/el-drama-de-la-izquierda-es-el-drama-del-pais-su-dependencia/>
a few months ago. You observed that we are going through the collapse of
the social pact based on the distribution of the oil rent. The end of that
social pact has brought about a social (and economic) crisis. Can you talk
to us about this shift?*

The global pandemic has brought about a new, tighter world order. In
Venezuela, a new order is emerging as well, and it is indeed the end of a
social contract that lasted two decades.

Of course, the collapse of the old order and the emergence of the new one
comes with a huge crisis. Every day there are dozens of protests and
mobilizations throughout Venezuela, and they are not promoted by the right.
They are workers demanding living wages, *barrio* dwellers demanding water,
electricity and gas, *campesinos* demanding access to fuel, etc.

Interestingly, all this happens while the formal right is politically
cornered by its own catastrophic mistakes. It has no legitimacy among the
people. The popular masses demand their rights, while the government
demands that they make sacrifices. All the while, no government
representative is making sacrifices as happened, for instance, in Cuba
during the harshest years of the blockade.

*How is the APR campaign coming along?*

The APR is a left Chavista alternative that recognizes the mutation of the
process. That is why we decided to become an electoral alternative.
However, the electoral proposal is not the beginning or the end. The union
of diverse autonomous Chavista and left organizations had been brewing for
a while.

Today the campaign is in the territory, in the *barrios* and in the *campo*.
It is growing strong while it is silenced by both public and private media.
To give you an example, the official media gives voice to the right-wing
alternatives, but the APR is being ignored and hidden.

Nonetheless, we are convinced that on December 6, a new, strong force will
emerge. This is not too different from the months prior to Chavez’s 1992
military rebellion <https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/6001>. The
uprising was clandestine while our proposal is public (though hidden by the
media), but the elections – as did the military rebellion – will likely
change the course of things.

The APR’s revolutionary forces are alive and well. We have more than 500
candidates and they are working the streets to build a new majority.

On the other end of the spectrum, the PSUV’s campaign looks much like a
campaign of the old AD [Acción Democrática, the most important Venezuelan
political party during much of the 20th century].

Nicolás Maduro’s son’s campaign, a National Assembly candidate, has become
a permanent giveaway event. He is giving away TVs, bonuses [economic
incentives], construction materials, etc. Why? Because Nicolás Maduro
Guerra [President Maduro’s son] has no virtues of his own. He is not the
expression of any popular movement. He is a sort of prince with a “destiny.”

*Some believe that in recent years there has been a process of curtailing
popular democracy. Can you talk about this?*

We are going through a process of judicialization of politics. Most parties
have been intervened by the Supreme Court [TSJ]. In the case of the PPT,
the TSJ imposed <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14976> an ad hoc
direction that would toe the PSUV’s line. In other words, they removed the
elected direction and they imposed a junta that didn’t represent the
majority of the party.

Additionally, the National Electoral Power [CNE] is not allowing any left
parties to register, while they *are* registering parties associated with
the right.

The state is actively intervening in the political life of the Venezuelan
left. Not only do they prevent internal union elections – keeping the
proletarian forces from representing themselves – and have put a hold on
university elections, which is a right granted by law, but now the state is
intervening in political parties!

This is not Russia in 1919 when – in the midst of a civil war – Lenin
banned all parties but the Bolsheviks. Here we have a Constitution that
grants us the right to organize but the courts are liquidating this
prerogative. There is a tendency toward the judicialization of politics,
and we are concerned.

Nonetheless, the APR is an ample alliance with many Chavista and left
organizations within. It includes de PCV, which is the only party that, due
to its long history and international relations, is allowed to freely
exist. And so, since the official [i.e. intervened] PPT became an appendix
of the PSUV, the APR will have to be represented by the PCV in the ballot.

*In addition to displacing the US-backed right that now controls the
National Assembly, what is the importance of the upcoming parliament’s
composition?*

The outgoing National Assembly, with a majority representation of the
right-wing, gave up its prerogatives by turning itself into a body with the
sole objective of overthrowing Venezuela’s democratically-elected
president. In so doing, they lost face with the people and missed their
opportunity to influence the direction of the country according to their
interests and ideology.

The next parliament will have to hold a public debate about the national
budget (which has been drafted in silence over the past four years),
oversee economic transactions and public policies, legislate, etc. The new
Assembly will also choose new Supreme Court members, the Public Defender,
the Attorney General, the General Comptroller, the National Electoral
Council, and the Venezuelan Central Bank board.

Additionally, the APR’s objective in the legislative body is to work for
the people by bringing the Constitution back to life. Issues such as a
living wage and the right to organize are guaranteed by the Constitution,
and we will work to reinstate them. Finally, we will also “dust off”
Chávez’s Homeland Plan <https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/7091> [2012]
which gives strategic coordinates to bring the Venezuelan people out of the
current crisis.

*Briefly, what is the APR’s program?*

It is time to overcome the personalist alliance between President Maduro
and the Armed Forces. The structure of the government needs a counterweight
from the people to ensure the continuity of the revolution.

Our program is socialism, and to move in that direction we have the
Constitution as the cornerstone and Chávez’s Homeland Plan as a roadmap.
All this must be done, again, without messianism, collectively, with the
*pueblo*. The APR is going to be neither a destructive force nor a “yes
man” organization. Instead, we will work to turn the National Assembly into
a deliberative space for popular power.

We are calling the people to vote for the APR to bring legitimacy,
autonomy, and popular sovereignty back to the National Assembly.

However, we are not promising miracles. We don’t promise that the new
National Assembly will bring an end to all the need to make queues [as the
right did in the 2015 elections], and we won’t use the criminal actions of
the national and international right as a cover for all political and
economic ills. We will promote “house cleaning” so that the limited
resources can be channeled towards the people. All those who use their
power to become millionaires and use institutions to consolidate their
class condition must go.

We are going to the National Assembly not just for empty talk. We are going
there to turn it into a revolutionary instrument and to break the
imperialist yoke. That cannot be done by turning one’s back to the people,
as has happened under the excuse of the sanctions. Imperialism can only be
defeated with the *pueblo*.
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