[News] Venezuela - Pursuing National Liberation and Socialism

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Sun Sep 13 11:55:43 EDT 2020


https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14994 Pursuing National Liberation
and Socialism: A Conversation with Oscar Figuera
By Cira Pascual Marquina - September 11, 2020
------------------------------

*Oscar Figuera is the general secretary of the Venezuelan Communist Party
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/tag/pcv> [PCV]. As a 17-year-old metal worker
in Aragua state, he cut his teeth as a union organizer in the Venezuelan
Worker’s Unitary Central [CUTV, the PCV-led union federation], becoming the
union’s general secretary in 1986. Today, Figuera is a member of the
National Assembly [2016-2020 term]. In this exclusive interview, Figuera
talks to VA about both the recent transformations of Venezuelan capitalism
and the Popular Revolutionary Alternative
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14963>, a broad coalition that aims to
regroup leftwing Chavista forces in a front that is independent from the
PSUV <https://venezuelanalysis.com/tag/psuv>.*

*In 2018 the PCV, the [Homeland For All party] PPT
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/tag/ppt>, and all other parties of the Great
Patriotic Pole <https://venezuelanalysis.com/tag/gpp> [GPP] supported
Nicolas Maduro’s presidential campaign. However, in recent months the PCV,
the PPT, and other political organizations joined forces to create the
Popular Revolutionary Alternative [APR]. This electoral coalition will
present independent candidates for the December 6 parliamentary elections.
What has changed in Venezuelan politics since 2018 and what can you tell us
about the APR?*

First, I should say that the APR is not an electoral initiative, although
in its current configuration it is triggered by the upcoming elections.
This is a project with a strategic projection that must reach beyond the
electoral process. For us, the electoral process is a tactical opportunity
to regroup forces, revolutionary currents, and other expressions of
grassroots Chavismo. It’s about building a space for the joint construction
of a popular agenda.

In fact, the APR is an outgrowth of prior coalitions such as the Popular
Revolutionary Bloc [Bloque Popular Revolucionario] and the Patriotic
Anti-imperialist Alliance [Alianza Patriotica Anti-imperialista]. The
objective of the APR and its precursors is bringing together the
working-class, campesino, and communard forces in a revolutionary way.

In other words, our strategic objective is not the December 6 elections,
but regrouping the popular revolutionary currents that identify themselves
with Chavez’s most advanced proposals.

We have been careful in our way of proceeding because we see imperialism as
the main enemy of the Venezuelan people, and that is why we supported
Maduro’s 2018 presidential bid. But the truth is that, beyond the
capitalist crisis, the exhaustion of the Venezuelan dependent rentier model
[of economic development], and the impact of the imperialist siege, there
is plenty of evidence pointing to a real political shift in the project of
the governing forces [in Venezuela].

Chavez’s death was a tremendous blow to the Bolivarian Process. In fact, it
affected the whole continent – and I would say the globe – but obviously
the biggest and hardest impact was on the Venezuelan project.

The progressive processes that came to power in Latin America over the last
couple of decades were reformist and social-democratic in character. The
processes had a low ceiling, and when they reached it, they began to slide
back. Nonetheless, Chavez’s discourse gave the Bolivarian Process some
elements that set it apart from the other processes [ín the continent].

Why? Because Chavez, despite socialism not being built, was convinced that
socialism was the path. Today, Chavista politicians talk about socialism in
a rote way, but they are not committed to it. Government officials
disassociate discourse and practice: they talk about socialism and national
liberation, but in real terms the political and economic policies have a
liberal bourgeois character.

So, at the end of the day, the class character of the current government
differs from that of Chavez’s government.

Our confrontation with the government is not personal. We have no problem
with the government’s representatives, taken one at a time… In fact, those
who fall into a personalist approach to politics hurt the popular movement
by erasing the class character of the confrontation.

Class contradictions, which express themselves in the political and
ideological projects, have become more acute. That is why, on the one hand,
the PCV calls for a process of demarcation, regrouping, and confrontation
when it comes to Venezuela’s internal issues. On the other hand, we call
for maintaining unity on the anti-imperialist front.
apr.jpg <https://venezuelanalysis.com/files/aprjpg>

[image: PCV and ample sectors of the PPT are leading a new alliance that is
independent of the government for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Other organizations involved include Izquierda Unida, Lucha de Clases, and
Red Autonoma de Comuneros. (Tal Cual)]
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/files/images/%5Bsite-date-yyyy%5D/%5Bsite-date-mm%5D/apr.jpg>

PCV and ample sectors of the PPT are leading a new alliance that is
independent of the government for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Other organizations involved include Izquierda Unida, Lucha de Clases, and
Red Autonoma de Comuneros. (Tal Cual)

*When you talk about the government’s liberal-bourgeois turn, are you
saying that it represents a new sector of the bourgeoisie?*

Yes, and this connects to your previous question. The fracture is not new.
Here I will speak on behalf of the PCV. One of the first important
differences that we had with the government in its current incarnation is
that it considers socialism a matter of speech: it’s not about doing, it’s
about saying. This is not a new issue.

In our party’s XV Congress [2017] we decided that, in order to advance, we
had to confront the government, define our separate objectives, and
accumulate strength. Why did we formulate this orientation? Because we
believe that the Venezuelan political project is moving backward, that the
strategic project of national liberation and building up to advance towards
socialism is broken. We are retreating, and that is only useful for the
recomposition of capital.

After that congress, during the 2018 presidential campaign, we had a very
heated debate about whether our party should support Nicolas Maduro’s
candidacy. Concerns ranged from the government’s economic, labor, and
social policies to the existence of rampant corruption and bureaucratism.
Further issues were the curtailing of participative and protagonistic
democracy as well as the state (and semi-state) control mechanisms that had
been put in place to limit the scope of popular organization, or sometimes
even liquidate it.

After two days of intense debate, the Communist Party came to the decision
that we would support Maduro’s presidential candidacy only if a binding
agreement <https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/13690> was signed. The
binding agreement committed the government to opposing monopolies,
reinstating labor rights, and reversing the agrarian policies underway,
among other things. In other words, we drafted a document that pointed the
way to national liberation, always with socialism as the [ultimate] goal.
On February 28, 2018, Nicolas Maduro signed that agreement.

Yet, the government rapidly broke the deal after Maduro’s election. It did
so by continuing to implement liberal economic policies and through
anti-democratic practices. In the current electoral context, this left us
with two options: continuing to endorse a strategic project that goes
against the interests of the masses, our principles, and Chavez’s own
project; or we could build a popular alternative. We opted for the second
possibility.

That is where the APR comes from. It is committed to national liberation
and socialism while confronting tame reformism, fascism, and imperialism.

*On August 17 the PCV, the PPT, and other organizations officially launched
the APR in a press conference, telling the nation that the APR would have
one single, independent electoral list for the National Assembly elections.
Four days later, Venezuela’s Supreme Court intervened
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14976> the PPT, the second largest force
in the APR, imposing an ad hoc leadership that was willing to participate
in an electoral coalition with the PSUV. What can we make of all this?*

The Supreme Court meddling in the internal affairs of the PPT is an
expression of the class struggle underway. Venezuela is a capitalist
country and, as a consequence, the state has a bourgeois character.
Furthermore, in the last few years, there has been a change: a new
bourgeois nucleus has emerged within the government or in a tight
relationship with it. We are talking about a new sector of the bourgeoisie,
which employs a socialist discourse, but needs the bourgeois state to
continue if it is to maintain its newly-acquired wealth and social
privileges.

Many people who got to power with Chavez in ‘98, most of them from
middle-class sectors, have joined this bourgeoisie. Their class condition
has changed and, in the process, their conscience has shifted. We find the
roots of this in the fact that a truly revolutionary organization, capable
of directing the Bolivarian Process, did not emerge.

Among the forces in the government, the Supreme Court expresses the
interests of those who exercise power now, both political and economic. To
retain its [economic] privileges, the enriched sector needs a united
electoral ticket, even if that means taking control, through judicial
intervention, of a Chavista party like the PPT.

Nonetheless, the APR will go forward, both as a long-term joint project and
as an electoral front for the December elections. Of course, the
newly-configured PPT will endorse the candidatures imposed by the PSUV, but
the APR will present its bid for the National Assembly composed of [the
core of the] PPT, the PCV, and all the grassroots, communard, and Chavista
organizations that have joined forces.

In the APR, there are no bosses. We are building a common space. As it
turns out, only the PCV has a viable ballot [due to the TSJ’s intervention
of the PPT], but the candidates that will appear on our ballot represent an
alliance with forces that have a revolutionary perspective and share
strategic objectives.

In other words, little has changed in the APR since the Supreme Court
intervened in the PPT: there is still the collective appreciation that the
Bolivarian Process needs to correct its course. The government’s liberal
turn is not going to resolve the crisis that affects the destitute masses.
Our collective belief is that the APR must express the interests of the
dispossessed sectors in these elections and beyond.

*You talk about the government’s “liberal turn.” Could you be more precise?*

The PSUV – not its bases, but its direction – is rapidly advancing towards
the liberalization of the economy in order to guarantee the recomposition
of capitalism. This means that privatizations are in vogue, collective
bargaining eliminated, and workers’ rights to organize curtailed, while the
minimum salary remains under US $2 a month. Meanwhile *campesinos* – whose
right to vacant lands was recognized by Chavez – are violently displaced
and the land given to new and old *terratenientes* [large landowners].

We also see a tendency toward the judicialization of struggles. Campesinos,
communards, and workers are put behind bars, while corrupt officials are
free and fascists are granted presidential pardons. The case of PDVSA
workers Aryenis Torrealba and Alfredo Chirinos
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14903> is emblematic: they were
arrested more than six months ago under bogus charges. Their real crime?
They were denouncing important corruption schemes in PDVSA. To this day
they remain jailed with no due process.

*What is the goal of the electoral struggle at this time? Is the idea to
pressure the government? To build a left opposition? *

In the Bolivarian Process, elections became the main form of struggle and
for the time being, this remains so. The way in which class struggle
develops will determine if other forms of struggle emerge.

For us, the December elections are also a tactical moment in the process of
regrouping and accumulation of forces. Additionally, elections are a space
for ideological struggle. This is all the more important at a time when
large swaths of the population are willing to listen. Of course, there are
sectarian groups that shut themselves from debate, but there undoubtedly
exists a thirst for a popular alternative within Chavismo.

Elections are a space to promote the ideological debate, present proposals,
and contrast the programs of each organization. Elections are useful to
bring together and recompose forces, and that is precisely what the APR is
looking to do. Finally, the National Assembly is also a tribune to defend
the interests of the Venezuelan pueblo in the face of liberal reformism in
power while denouncing the imperialist aggression.

*It is no secret that there are large cracks or rifts within the Bolivarian
Process. Without personalizing the matter, who is responsible for the rifts
between the Bolivarian government and a wide swath of the popular movement,
which includes the PCV?*

Let’s go from the general to the particular. The roots of the rupture can
be found in the growing class contradictions inside the Bolivarian Process,
which widen as the crisis of the dependent, rentier capitalism here pushes
more and more of the population into frankly catastrophic conditions.

This is precisely why we don’t personalize the situation. It’s not about X
or Y doing this or that. It’s about the class interests within an
organization. Each class fraction has a political expression, and those
political expressions confront each other. Personalizing these issues hides
the essence of the contradiction.

At the end of the day, we don’t know what will happen, but it will be
decided by the correlation of forces within the class struggle.

*Today, it is common to say that in Venezuela we need unity, using a
“fortress under siege” analogy, because of the real danger that US
imperialism poses to Venezuela’s sovereignty. How do the APR and the PCV
understand unity in this difficult situation?*

I’ll talk about the PCV’s conception, since the APR is still under
construction and there are ongoing debates.

The PCV understands unity on two levels. On the one hand, there must be an
ample anti-imperialist and antifascist alliance, and we understand that
that should be the role of the Great Patriotic Pole [GPP]. Instead of
attempting to liquidate other patriotic forces, the GPP should be a space
for the collective preservation of our sovereignty. Differences at the
national level shouldn’t be cause for liquidation. In fact, the GPP has
great potential to forge a wide anti-imperialist and antifascist alliance.

On the other hand, there is the need to build a revolutionary unity on the
basis of the class interests of the working class, of *campesinos*,
communards, and other popular sectors. Building this kind of unity is
urgent so that revolutionary organizations don’t become an appendix of tame
reformism.

We have to come together in the context of the anti-imperialist struggle
while, at a national level, we must confront the tendencies that want to
liberalize the economy.

The APR is precisely the space for building the revolutionary unity of the
working class, *campesinos*, communards, and popular masses, which should
also incorporate revolutionary intellectuals and honest sectors of the
armed forces.
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