International Appeal

The tasks of the Left in response to Chávez’s project

April 10, 2007

Appeal of the Trotskyist Faction-Fourth International to the International Workers League (LIT) and its principal organization, the PTSU of Brazil, The Coordinating Committee for the Re-foundation of the Fourth International (CRCI) led by the Partido Obrero (PO) of Argentina and the Partido Obrero Revolucionario (POR) of Bolivia for a united campaign for the nationalization without compensation and under workers’ control and management of all companies and strategic industries of Venezuela and to fight for an independent workers’ party and for a government of the workers, peasants and the poor. While we stood together with the millions of workers in Venezuela in order to defeat the reactionary and imperialist coup in April 2002 and the lockout-sabotage in 2003, our international organizations maintain today political independence from the Chávez project, representing the only basis for a united campaign.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has recently announced various “nationalizations†in several key sectors of the economy, The crisis of American hegemony and the relatively positive economic situation due to increased oil revenue have allowed for governments like that of Chavez to arise. Chávez by using strong rhetoric directed against the United States hopes to negotiate for a part of the country’s exportable resources but without questioning the structural basis of imperialist dominance.

Though American imperialism, under the leadership of Bush, initially sounded the alarms after the Venezuelan government announced the new measures, it is notable that even sectors of the international financial organizations, including even those which encouraged the coup d’état of April 2002 and the lockout-sabotage of the oil industry have stated that the “nationalizations were done properly and therefore investors have no need to lose confidence†as the secretary general of the IDB, Enrique Iglesias maintained. The owners of transnational corporations recently placed under state control were pleased with the purchase of company shares “in accordance with the terms of the contracts and with fair compensation†and “companies which accepted the terms are contractually committed to continue offering their servicesâ€
In contrast, is the emergence of a combative new sector of the workers, represented by the February 8 march of over 6,000 workers who took to the streets of Caracas calling for the “nationalization of strategic industries without compensation and under workers’ control.†The example of worker control over production has been demonstrated by the Sanitarios Macay factory of Caracas. For three months, its 800 workers have kept up production under their own management, demanding the state takeover without any compensation whatsoever. While Chavez shows the true character of his discourse as he prepares to pay market value for the shares as quoted by the Caracas and New York Stock markets, even going beyond the real value of the assets, a sector of the workers has pressed for the measures be extended to the rest of the country’s industries without any compensation and under its own control.

Under Chavez’s new policy of concentrating power, a new Bonipartization of the regime and of the government has developed, leaving open the possibility for a potential shift to the right or the adoption of unpopular measures in the event of an international crisis which would cause a drop in the price of crude oil or lead to a rise in inflation. This goes hand in hand with the policy of indefinite reelection and the modification of the nation’s Constitution, creating the legal mechanisms necessary for a sort of “Bonapartism by referendum†in which the poor majority vote repeatedly for Chavez but no substantial changes occur nor are the structural problems of the workers and campesinos solved, nor are these sectors able even to discuss and democratically resolve their problems, as we have seen over the course of the last eight years.

In order to finalize his political program, Chávez has called for the construction of a United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) inviting “nationalist business owners†to help build the PSUV, emphasizing once again that what he wants in actuality is a political organization which would group together the highest officials of the Armed Forces and “nationalist†business leaders with the workers and campesinos. Far from “deepening the Bolivarian Revolution†as described by the capitulatory sectors of the Left, the PSUV represents an attempt to contain the masses and any effort on the part the workers to forge a path independent of bourgeois nationalism.

Chávez has run into trouble with US imperialism for his support of Iran and his opposition to the imperialist invasion of Iraq and the Zionist Israeli army’s occupation of Lebanon. We will readily defend Venezuela in the event of any imperialist retaliation. But we assert that these declarations do not signify an anti-imperialist struggle. That is to say, they do not call for the mobilization of the workers and the oppressed people of the world but rather for strengthened diplomatic relations with capitalist governments who administer the exploitation of Latin America like those of Lula and Kirchner and even imperialist governments such as that of Spain.
No significant changes are to be seen from Chavez’s strategic plan for the “Venezuelan road to socialism†under which capitalist exploitation has and will continue to dominate. The perspective of “21st Century socialism†proposed by Chávez is limited to the bourgeois semi-state takeover of a few sectors of the economy while paying off the parasitic groups which for decades filled their pockets at the expense of the hunger and misery of millions of workers and consumers. The plan allows sectors of the national bourgeoisie and major imperialist corporations to continue doing million-dollar business in many other sectors of the economy, including even in Venezuela’s principal industry, oil. The moderate bourgeois nationalist plan of Chávez doesn’t go beyond promoting and developing the non-monopolist sector of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie, dependent on the aid and protection of the state and at the same time continuing to guarantee business between the state and the monopolies, the major national corporations and transnationals.
But the Chávez’s rhetoric has had an impact beyond the Venezuelan borders, (anti-spam-(anti-spam-winning)) the sympathies of the masses throughout the continent, and even reaching active support for the Chavez plan. It is notable that the vast majority of organizations on the Left internationally, including many of those claiming to be Troskyist, acquiesce to Chavez’s bourgeois nationalism. For this reason, we revolutionary Marxists must join forces and raise a program which is clearly differentiated from that of Chávez and which promotes the political independence of the workers.

In the event of any attempt at an imperialist attack, we will be in the front ranks in order to fight back against the national and foreign reaction as we did, together with the millions who mobilized against the April coup and oil industry lockout-sabotage. But the deceitful “nationalizations†of the Venezuelan government and its attempt to restrain the possible radicalization or strengthening of the workers’ and peasants’ struggles and to assure that independent tendencies within the working class do not arise or that they be easily co-opted by the PSUV demonstrate that it is necessary, now more than ever, to fight for a true anti-imperialist program and for the political and organizational independence of the working class.

It is on this basis that we make this appeal to tendencies such as the International Workers League (LIT) with its principal reference in the PTSU of Brazil, the Coordinating Committee for the Re-foundation of the Fourth International, led by the Partido Obrero (PO) of Argentina, and the Partido Obrero Revolutionario (POR) of Bolivia which all currently maintain an independent position towards the Chávez government. Unfortunately in Venezuela, Trotskyist organizations such as the majority sector of the PRS, influenced by the UIT-CI (Izquierda Socialista of Argentina) and supported by the Argentine MST have continued to bring the workers in line with the policies and initiatives of the government, as shown recently by the decision of the trade union C-CURA , the only real force with the influence of the PRS, to join the PSUV, representing the culmination of a policy of class reconciliation within the bourgeois pseudo-nationalism of Chávez.

As a first step towards the political independence of the workers, we believe it is necessary to fight for the nationalization without compensation of all strategic industries and companies in Venezuela under the control and management of the workers.

We revolutionary socialists must fight both on the national and international scale for the expropriation without compensation and under workers’ and consumers’ control of all private companies with the aim of expropriating all large corporations, the (anti-spam-(anti-spam-Bank))s and strategic industries such as the hydrocarbons by a government of the workers that will rationally plan the entire economy for the benefit of the workers and popular majorities ending once and for all the imperialist exploitation of the country’s wealth. To achieve these ends, we call for the solidarity of workers of the transnational corporations in their home countries to make theirs this program. The Venezuelan working class must rely only on its own resources and methods of struggle. Only in this manner will it build a true anti-capitalist alliance of workers, campesinos and the poor which would have as a strategic horizon the fight for a workers’, peasants’ and poor people’s government
With regards to the politics of the PSUV, it is essential that the workers are represented in a completely independent manner within the political processes of their country. For this reason, it is absolutely necessary that the workers fight for their own party, an independent workers’ party based in the representative organizations of the class struggle (the militant trade unions, workers’ associations, factory committees, etc.) run under workers’ democracy and raising a clearly anti-capitalist program. This would be a first step towards the construction of a powerful revolutionary workers party to fight for a workers’ and peoples’ government and a true socialist revolution.

In short, comrades, we call for a united campaign on three fundamental points.

a) For the nationalization without compensation of all strategic industries under workers’ control and management and opposition to the false nationalizations of Chávez.
b) For an independent workers party so that the working class may begin to influence national politics free of all varieties of reformism and bourgeois nationalism.
c) The perspective of a workers’, campesinos’, and peoples’ government as the only method for achieving the demands of the workers, the peasants and the poor against the farce of Socialism of the 21st Century†.

We call for the building of a united campaign directed towards currents within Venezuela, especially the PRS and the trade union C-CURA and to fight for this perspective in each one of our countries and internationally. We await a prompt reply.

Juventud de Izquierda Revolucionaria of Venezuela (Open Faction of the PRS), Partido de Trabajadores Socialistas (PTS) of Argentina, Liga de Trabajadores por el Socialismo of Mexico (LTS), Liga Obrera Revolucionaria por la Cuarta (LOR-CI) of Bolivia, Liga Estrategia Revolucionaria (LER-QI) of Brazil, Clase Contra Clase of Chile, Clase Contra Clase of Spain and the Trotskyist Faction - Europe