By Izquierda Revolucionaria (CWI in Venezuela) Executive Committee
The situation in Venezuela has reached a critical point during the last twenty four hours.
The new leader of the Venezuelan right and far right, Juan Guaidó, (recently elected president of the counterrevolutionary national Assembly) has proclaimed himself President. He called on his supporters to take to the streets to force through the down fall of Nicolás Maduro’s government. Immediately, the most reactionary governments in Latin America and the world, with far-right Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil) and Donald Trump (USA) at the head, have recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s “only legitimate president”.
A coup d’état planned by imperialism and the Venezuelan and international right
Wielding all kinds of threats, the US Secretary of State (and former director of the CIA), Mike Pompeo, has demanded that the Maduro government resign immediately. “We have all the options on the table” said Trump. The Venezuelan ultra-right leader, also announced on television that “we are very close to the moment for which we fought for years” and told Maduro to resign “if he wants to save his life”. Latin American governments that stand out for their reactionary and antisocial policies and their servility to Washington enthusiastically support the coup while cynically claiming to stand “for democracy.” You only have to see who leads this ‘Holy Alliance’ to understand what is at stake: the Colombian president Duque (linked to Urribe narcoparamilitarismo), the Ecuadorian President Moreno (The Judas of the Ecuadorian left) President Macri (responsible for the brutal cuts that have provoked the Argentine people to rise up on their feet and fight) or the Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández (organizer of an electoral fraud with the support of the White House last year and responsible for the repression and murder of dozens of protesters). As is to be expected applauding enthusiastically from the other side of the Atlantic are the European right and far right in Spain with Pablo Casado from the PP, Albert Rivera (Cuidadanos) and the fascistic elements of Vox in the front line.
Guaidó and the Venezuelan right are trying to take advantage of the desperation and indignation felt by the Venezuelan people in the face of the economic and social collapse that the country suffers. GDP and living standards have fallen by 50% in the last four years and the situation has only worsened with price increases of up to 1000% since the beginning of this year.
As we write these lines, tens of thousands of people in different parts of Venezuela have responded to the call of Guaidó not to leave the streets until Maduro resigns or the military takes him down, copying the script of the failed right-wing coup against Chavez in April 2002. On the other hand, Government supporters who had gathered in the Plaza O’Leary of Caracas and other central points of the big cities have been called upon by Diosdado Cabello, leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), to go to the Miraflores Palace, as happened in 2002, and keep a vigil to defend it and Maduro from a possible opposition assault.
The pacts of the government with the capitalists open the way to the reaction
The main difference of this coup with that perpetrated against Chávez in 2002 is that the parasitic, corrupt and reactionary Venezuelan right is managing to mobilize not only young university students, professionals and small owners belonging to the middle classes, as happened during the violent guarimba that caused more than 100 deaths between March and July 2017. On this occasion, significant sectors of the youth, unemployed, and even workers, desperate because of the economic situation and the brutal price increases, are marching from poor neighborhoods called onto the street by the right and the extreme right.
Since August 2018, when the government of Maduro applied the so-called Economic Reactivation Plan and devalued the bolivar by establishing a new currency, the Sovereign Bolivar (60 BS equal to 1 dollar), hyperinflation – which was already out of control – has reach devastating levels. Before the start of this latest crisis, the dollar was exchanged for 3,000 sovereign bolivars! Some analysts forecast six or seven-digit inflation for this year.
A simple consultation in a private clinic, something to which not only the middle layers but also many workers are forced to have because of the collapse of the public health service, has soared in price in a few days from 2,000 to 15,000 BS. The state company mobile phone company Movilnet has raised its lowest rates from 169 to 1,300 Bs! While accepting these increases, or even applying them in services and products that depend on public companies, the governments’ only response was a “triumphalist”, a new salary increase of 400% ( from 4,500 BS to 18,000 Bs per month). That is worth barely $ 6, completely insufficient to deal with the rise in basic commodity prices.
The promised wage increases, that hyperinflation eats before being they are applied, together with the triumphalist and even contemptuous tone of the leadership and the PSUV bureaucracy against those who protest, the recourse to repression against many workers who have staged defensive strikes in recent months, together with the fact that most of the bureaucrats who wear the red flannel live with all kinds of privileges and material conditions similar to that of the capitalist class, has only intensified the rage of people. On this objective basis, the right has regained the initiative and launched this new assault for power.
But the victory of the right wing reactionary forces will not solve the problems of the working people. On the contrary! The objective of the imperialists who are pulling the strings behind Guaidó is to force an intervention by senior military officers or at least of a significant layer of them to overthrow Maduro and give power to the right. For years, Maduro has tried to stay in government by giving more and more concessions, economic power and weight in the government to the military high command. This has contributed to an increase in corruption and provoked unrest amongst workers and the people. However, it will not guarantee the loyalty of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) to Maduro.
During its previous offensive to take power in 2017, the Venezuelan right had already managed to open a breach in the state apparatus with the support of Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz and the resignation of some senior military officials. Then, a key factor for the military leadership, was that the right wing opposition strategy was not enabling them to secure the mass mobilizations they hoped for and they did not spread from the urban middle class to the working class and poor neighborhood’s. In addition, the terrorist actions of the fascist gangs convinced hundreds of thousands of workers, who were very dissatisfied with the government’s policies, to give the PSUV and its National Constituent Assembly (ANC) a last chance. But now the situation has undergone a qualitative transformation.
The PSUV bureaucracy does not defend socialism
The media of the ruling class and international world reaction present the events in Venezuela as the failure of socialism. In Venezuela itself, with the inestimable help of the bureaucratic leaders of the PSUV – who classify this disaster and its policy of pacts with businessmen of a “transition to socialism” -, the right uses the economic collapse to sow confusion amongst the masses, undermine its morale and discredit the idea of socialism, workers control and in general everything that smells left or revolution.
In fact, the program applied by Maduro and the PSUV leaders are light years away from socialism and what millions of people expected in 2013, when they voted to keep the social plans and reforms carried out by Chávez in trying to respond to the aspirations of the working class and the most oppressed sectors of the people.
Since then, Maduro and his collaborators, also inspired by the Chinese government and a whole legion of Stalinist “fellow travelers”, have tried to convince the Venezuelan and international ruling class that they could manage the worst crisis in the history of Venezuelan capitalism with less social upheavals than the right wing would mean. During recent months they have approved very hard social cuts and wage reductions, the dismissals of thousands of workers from public companies by trying to cover them up with a fraudulent and impotent “revolutionary mysticism”. Through these policies they have only managed to erode in record time the massive social support that the PSUV had. Now the same bourgeoisie and businessmen who benefited from the government aid and signed agreements with the regime are manoeuvring with imperialism to regain direct control of government and state power. This crisis is the result of the bureaucratic “socialist” model of a caste of demoralized and corrupt officials, military and politicians, who have risen totally above the living conditions of the people who have been fighting to maintain their privileges. Their actions have undermined the conquests of the Bolivarian revolution and allowed the reaction to advance.
Organize action committees in each neighborhood and each factory. Build a united front of the left to defeat the coup and end capitalism and the bureaucracy
Guaidó is like a wolf in a lambs clothing and speaks of a government for all and reconciliation. Yet if this right-wing reactionary and the forces that support him come to power, the result will be a nightmare for millions of workers and peasants, who are suffering from the social and economic crisis. Their political and economic agenda can only be applied with even more massive layoffs, brutally cutting social spending and repressing unions, social movements, and activists on the left, on an even more brutal and bloody scale than they do in the countries of their sponsors – Duque, Bolsonaro and Macri .
The first task of the working class and the politically conscious and combative people of Venezuela is to organize resistance against the coup. We must begin by denouncing the true objectives of Guaidó, the right wing and imperialism. We have to organize assemblies in each company and place of work to discuss what our needs and demands are and how the economic plans and policies of the right mean a mortal danger. It is urgent to create action committees in defense of the rights of workers and the people in each work center and each neighborhood, defending a genuinely socialist class program, which proposes the expropriation of the big private monopolies and banking to end the hyperinflation and corruption, the abolition of the privileges of the bureaucracy and that strives to transfer real power to the hands of the working class and the oppressed. We must organize massive mobilizations and the legitimate self-defense of the people against the violence of the right.
The experience of recent years shows that we cannot have the slightest confidence in the Maduro government, the bureaucracy or the senior army officers if we want to prevent the victory of the reaction. It has been Maduro’s policies, his bureaucracy and his corruption that have opened the way to the right wing and the coup. The only way to avoid a tragic result for the working class and the people of Venezuela is to raise a united front of the left, completely independent of those who have caused this disaster, to openly fight for the conquest of power to establish a democratic administration of the workers’ and exploited people, based on direct democracy in all aspects of social and economic life, that advance an economic plan, through the expropriation of capitalists and the management and democratic control of workers, to create employment and increase production and the social conquests won previously.
There is no time to lose. Massive resistance must be waged against the blow of reaction and imperialism with mass mobilization from below, raising a revolutionary socialist and internationalist program. The peoples and the working class of the whole world, beginning with those of Latin America, have the duty to reject the bloodbath that the rightwing coup and its international mentors are preparing. Only the working people can save the people!