Venezuela: Chávez and the Con of the “Bolivarian Revolution” survive, for now

Text from the Latin American comrades

Venezuela, a country of great importance due to the vast reserves of oil it commands, has become the latest Latin American setting for high political drama as a military coup, supposedly coming to the aid of those disenchanted with the Chávez regime which dresses up its bourgeois programme in populist rhetoric and pseudo - revolutionary slogans, friendly with Castro’s Cuba, was met with a pro -Chávez “contra-contra-revolución” (counter-counter-revolution) which saw Chávez return to the Presidency. The following are extracts from our Latin American sympathisers who were compelled to rapidly renew their analysis of the situation as it unfolded. Although the main point coming through was that Chavism, despite its antagonism with U.S. interests, is a powerful force, not to be underestimated as its ability to weather the latest storm demonstrates, it is ultimately unable to deliver the goods to the working class who constitute the overwhelming majority of the country. Like all the nationalist/reformist/populist/leftist trends which on an international scale claim to oppose voracious capitalism’s globalised evolution, it has no future in a world where capitalism’s very survival depends on the demolition of all barriers to maximum profitability. It is the communist movement alone which can liberate the working class and suffering humanity, and there is no substitute for the establishment of national sections of a centralised International Communist Party to lead the working class out of capitalism’s hell.

Yesterday afternoon, Hugo Chávez performed the last act of his tragic-comedy. A "civic-military" pronunciamiento overthrew it. The reins of government have been assumed by a military and bosses junta headed by the Venezuelan capitalists’ well-known boss, Señor. Pedro Carmona (President of Fedecamaras, one of the two main capitalist associations). In his first declarations, the new president has underlined that the newly constituted régime will stay only as long as is necessary to demolish the work of the Chávez administration: the Bolivarian constitution will be annulled, the chambers and political organs of Chavism will be dissolved - as well as all the mechanisms and political devices which organised the mass of its followers -, the military, social and economic reforms of State-capitalism will be rolled back....The coup against Chávez, then, was no surprise. The conspiracy of the Yanqui government, Fedecamaras and Coindustria, the big landowners and the CTV workers’ aristocracy, also involving, for military-strategic reasons the ultra-reactionary Colombian government (1), was so obvious and explicit that even Chávez, this man who suffers extreme myopia, could see it.

Saturday afternoon saw a Chavista counter - coup which put an end to the civic - military junta headed by the Pedro Carmona. In spite of the bourgeois and imperialist mass media distortions and cover-ups today it is known have been known that from Friday 12th of April, in the night Chavez’ so-called "Bolivarian Circles” surrounded the military outposts of Caracas and, in spite of suffering more than 20 dead, they succeeded in persuading to the military to give up the coup. On Saturday morning the number of Chávez supporters in the street approached a million. This enormous and imposing multitude, that the TV just decided to show at night, had important armed sections which circulated on motorcycles. In the afternoon, the mass had already taken over all radio and television stations and transmitted messages calling for a return to the “Bolivarian Revolution” and the restoration of Chávez, the constitution and the government ratified in five elections with 80% of total votes. Similar actions were repeated throughout the whole country and, it seems motivated the decision of the pro-Chávez sector of the army to endorse the so- called "Bolivarian government”. Everything indicates that the base of the army and low-ranking officers identified with the figure of the colonel and his slogans, fraternized with the Chavistas, leaving the coup - leading Generals isolated. Naturally, in the darkness of the caverns of Power there have been negotiations and pacts whose content have not yet been exposed to public light. Anyway, everything suggests that the combination of the two mentioned forces have overturned Friday’s coup. The fifth republic has not died and Chávez is back from the dead saying "the dead that you killed enjoy good health."

Certainly the drama of Chile’s Unidad Popular has not been repeated, but this is not due to Chávez’ greater electoral support - Allende’s Unidad Popular, on the eve of the 1973 coup, had also received strong ratification in parliamentary elections which did not prevent his downfall - but on two main conditions; firstly the division of the army and secondly Chavism’s capacity for popular mobilisation, neither of which were sufficiently considered in our first analysis of the situation which immediately followed the coup d’état.

The masses - meaning a very high percentage of the population, as has been confirmed in recent days, - came out in defence of Chávez and his “revolution” upon realising that the other option meant losing even the shirt off their back. For them things were posed all too clearly: Chávez is the people, he is “our man”, Carmona represents, on the other hand, “the dictatorship of the powerful” as could be read on the demonstrator’s placards. Chávez is agrarian reform, Carmona is “the law of the funnel of the rich” (the wide end for them, the narrow end for the people) according to the popular adage. For us these are obviously relative, even purely rhetorical expressions, but for the desperate masses, who have never received anything from their governors but lead, they have the ring of truth.

[...] the revolutionary decantation of the masses can only be produced by the downfall of Chavism and/or the exhaustion of the populist political experience. Such a decantation will begin with a clear class demarcation which will provoke a change in the current “Bolivarian Circles” - that is to say, those organs where the masses have undergone their own political apprenticeship and developed a feeling of power - into truly autonomous organs, capable of acting in accordance with class tasks and perspectives, as is, in effect, occurring in Argentina with the Piquetes. But even so the passage to communism is not guaranteed, given the absence of the party and programme which transmit this guideline to the proletarian movement.

(1) The only Latin American government which recognised the civic-military junta presided over by Carmona was that of Colombia through a public declaration via her own embassy and various cabinet ministers. As soon as the bosses and military coup in Caracas registered, the USA government rushed to authorise a credit of several hundred million dollars to help the “new government” and “contribute to the reconstruction of 'democracy' in Venezuela”.