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In view of the defeat of Chávez in the Referendum

Declaration of the Juventud de Izquierda Revolucionaria of Venezuela in view of the defeat of Chávez in the Referendum on the Constitutional Reform After the defeat of Chávez’ government in the referendum on the constitutional reform was announced, celebrations by the right wing filled the streets, while in sectors related to chavismo, bewilderment was obvious, […]

Left Voice

December 13, 2007
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Declaration of the Juventud de Izquierda Revolucionaria of Venezuela

in view of the defeat of Chávez in the Referendum on the
Constitutional Reform

After the defeat of Chávez’ government in the referendum on the
constitutional reform was announced, celebrations by the right wing
filled the streets, while in sectors related to chavismo, bewilderment
was obvious, whichever way one looked at it. And there was a reason
for that: it was the first time in his nine years of governing, and in
more than five consecutive elections called by the President – without
counting those of governors, legislators, mayors and civil parishes –
that Chávez lost an election, and especially, in a referendum where,
according to the President himself, a constitutional reform that would
finally give form and content to the his political project and
guarantee him the power to run for the presidency of the Republic as
many times as he wished, was at risk.


The final result of 50.7% for the opposition’s NO and 49.29% for
the government’s YES, with a 44.39% rate of abstention, does not
completely illustrate what the percentages show. The numbers reveal
that the right-wing opposition has not surpassed what it had
historically gotten, and it is nearly identical to what it had
obtained in the 2006 presidential election. However, the government
lost nearly three million votes. If we discount the small percentage
of votes for the NO from some sectors that were favoring chavismo, the
right wing did not advance at all in numerical terms, given that for
the first time since their defeat in the coup attempt and the
sabotage-work stoppage, they were 100% united in their politics, their
call to vote NO. Therefore, the government is the big loser, not only
because of the narrow difference in percentages of the relative
numbers, but because almost 3 million voters decided not to go along
with the government this time. The right wing won, not so much because
of its own strength, but because of the big defection that originated
in the ranks of the pro-chavismo voters. The big lesson is that it is
not possible to fight for “national liberation,” and even more so for
“21st century socialism,” while the action of the mass movement – the
same masses that defended Chávez against the April 2002 coup – is
being strangled, while the autonomy of their unions and the rest of
their independent organizations is being curtailed, and the most
advanced struggles of the workers’ movement, like the struggle at
Sanitarios Maracay, are being repressed. As we stated earlier in
numerous articles, the constitutional reform the government was
proposing, far from being an “advance towards socialism,” as [the
government] tried to present it, constituted an attempt at
perpetuating a bourgeois Bonapartist regime that essentially favors
the “new Bolivarian rich people,” and engages anti-imperialist
rhetoric, but only bargains with it, without affecting any of their
fundamental interests, as is expressed in the mixed enterprises of the
oil sector.


From the Juventud de Izquierda Revolucionaria, we have defined the
political regime of Hugo Chávez as a Bonapartist regime that was
seeking support in the mass movement in order to negotiate with
imperialism and the big Venezuelan bourgeoisie under better
conditions, constantly resorting to plebiscite elections to legitimize
its policies, elections that, until just now, it won comfortably. The
constitutional reform project aimed at strengthening these political
forms of the government and regime to make them more Bonapartist. The
result of the referendum makes it clear that this attempt at permanent
arbitration has been defeated. Chávez could consolidate above to
coordinate his policies and arbitrate between the classes, because he
was getting and keeping a majority in the votes. Therefore, we can
state that plebiscite Bonarpartism as it has existed, is tending to
disappear. Like all the bourgeois nationalist Bonapartists, Chávez has
developed a politics without a favorable strategic solution for the
exploited, since if he had won, as we have charged, it would have
meant an advance in the process of regimenting the movement of
workers, campesinos and the people, the only possible actors in any
revolutionary transformation of society. His defeat, as it has come
about, offers a political victory on a tray to imperialism and its
most direct agents, both within Venezuela and on the continent,
pro-imperialists like Uribe or social liberals like Lula in Brazil or
Bachelet in Chile, among others.


This electoral victory, immediately converted into capital by the
right-wing enemies of Chávez, does not mean an automatic defeat of the
movement of workers and the poor of Venezuela. We are witnessing a
self-defeat by Chávez, but there is no decisive advance by the right
wing. After the defeat of Sunday, December 2, Chávez cannot go on
governing as he has been doing. The most probable thing is that we
will see the rise of new political forces (or old ones recycled)
originating both from the ranks of chavismo, because of the internal
decomposition that could unfold in view of the electoral defeat, as
well among the ranks of the opposition, which is not at all
homogeneous. This decomposition within the ranks of chavismo (a new
emergence of political forces) began with the exit of Isaías Baduel –
a man from within chavismo, descendant of a long line of military men – who is trying to appear as a third option between chavismo and the
opposition by appealing to his political trajectory. On the right, the
differences between the various political parties are clear, and even
within the emerging right-leaning student movement, big differences
exist among the main ringleaders, since each one of them is aligned
with different parties of the right wing. This could give rise to a
new Venezuelan political realignment, where the chavismo-antichavismo
dichotomy tends to disappear, with the re-emergence of numerous
political organizations. But we must not make a mistake: chavismo, or,
more strictly speaking, Chávez, still keeps enormous strength from the
masses. Chávez, whose presidential term lasts until 2012, still has a
broad area for maneuver as a political tendency, enjoying great
sympathy in Latin America, and he is sitting on an economic bonanza
and a strong social base.


As we have insisted in several statements and numerous political
articles, the right wing raised its head thanks to the government’s
own politics, of agreements and negotiations with the right. In all
the assaults [by the rightists], once they were defeated, Chávez
extended his hand to them. We saw this during the April 2002 coup and
other political situations. The right-leaning student demonstrations,
that recently became strong, were the new face that this right wing is
trying to use, that was hoisting the most reactionary and
violent-rightist (“gorilas”) banners that could be imagined. Besides
all the reactionary banners and false statements that Chávez would
attack private property and found a “totalitarian socialist regime,”
the right wing, with great cynicism and impudence, seized democratic
banners in response to the project of making the government more
Bonapartist, even including using the democratic banner of the
Constituent Assembly, since the government refused to discuss its
reform project in this type of political institution.

Hugo Chávez, when he was developing different social plans (through
the Missions) for the most impoverished sectors, also favored the big
business sectors, Venezuelan as well as international, at the same
time the new “Bolivarian” rich people were increasing. Chávez’
“anti-imperialism” has not gone beyond rhetoric; not the slightest
sign of the expulsion of the transnational corporations from the
country and the expropriation of their wealth, as a consistently
anti-imperialist measure. He tried to present the setting up of mixed
companies with the petroleum giants as a big “nationalist” measure. He
has not taken a step towards putting the industry under democratic
control of its workers. And, even worse, when the workers advanced to
start up factories the bosses had closed, like Sanitarios Maracay,
they were repressed. The imperialist oil and gas corporations
peacefully co-exist and profit in our country, allegedly in a
“revolution.” Chávez has not been capable of giving a real response to
the agrarian problem: his policy has not ceased to be a timid
redistribution of some “idle” lands for these 9 years, that, without
bigger changes, have left big agrarian property in the hands of the
landowners. The social contradictions unresolved during these years
could emerge during the crisis of the chavista regime.


In the referendum, various sectors were dazzled by Chávez’
constitutional reform project and scandalously called for voting for
the YES, alleging that the road to socialism is embodied in this
project, when it was nothing more than a policy of strengthening
Bonapartism and control over the organizations of the masses, and
moving forward, to be sure, in Chávez’ “socialism with businessmen.”
Within the left wing of chavismo and fanatical militants inside the
PSUV, sectors like Marea Socialista, in solidarity with the
Argentinean MST, the PSOL of Brazil, and other groups of lesser
breadth and smaller size, like the El Militante tendency, shamefully
supported this policy. But those who called to vote for the NO were
not lacking, as the international tendency of the PSTU of Brazil did,
mixing its banners with those of the right-wing pro-US opposition that
commanded the bloc against Chávez. Far from what the international
tendency of the PSTU did, the key lay in sharply separating oneself
from both chavismo and the reactionary bourgeois sectors, on the road
to forging workers’ independent politics.


A new perspective for workers’ independent politics is opening,
because of the current process of experience with chavismo. Chávez’
Bonapartism, the fact that while he was talking about “socialism” and
making some timid reforms from above, he was trying to act as an
“arbiter” between the interests in struggle, by regulating the
trade-union and political life of the exploited, this Bonapartism has
entered a serious crisis. Now Chávez’ statement that “We are not
mature [enough] for a socialist project,” is totally a justification
and a message to all the political sectors for changes to the right in
political direction, to assure “governability” with new negotiations
with the opposition. In this context, it is necessary to prepare
ourselves to fight against the possible agreements that a defeated
chavismo will make with the right wing behind the backs of the people,
and that will be a continuation of the “gentlemen’s agreement” that
they made during the night of December 2 to make known the results.

It is also necessary to deepen the struggle to defend the full
autonomy of the unions and workers’, campesinos’, and popular
organizations, against all regimentation and subordination to the
bourgeois state. We have declared that, in view of the experiment
that sectors of the vanguard have begun to make with “their own
government,” the possibility of unifying the advanced sectors of the
workers’ movement with their own program, independently of the
government, to mobilize broad sectors for their demands, is beginning.

On this road, it is possible to take steps to build a workers’ party
to have influence independently in national political life.

The proposal for a big independent workers’ party based on the masses’
own organizations of struggle is intended to try to overcome the
distance between what the workers see as their own organizations of
struggle (the independent unions) and the need for a political
leadership belonging to the workers that is independent of the bosses’
parties, including the PSUV, the party of “socialism with businessmen”
that Chávez is building. A big independent workers’ party based on the
organizations of representation and struggle of the workers and based
on the methods of workers’ democracy, to raise a clearly
anti-capitalist program, with the perspective of a government of
workers, campesinos and the poor, as the only real way to take steps
toward the resolution of the main workers’, campesinos’, and popular
demands, against all meaningless chatter about “twenty-first century
socialism.” The key today is to unite those who claim to belong to the
revolutionary left behind the politics of a party of this type, since
in the absence of an independent position, we will almost certainly
head towards a lurch to the right with a new Bonapartist or
semi-Bonapartist regime, agreed upon behind the backs of the people.

From the Juventud de Izquierda Revolucionaria, we called for casting
an invalid ballot the same as Comrade Orlando Chirino and his
political tendency. In this sense, we call Chirino, his political
millieu, and all those who are opposed to Chávez, from the
class-conscious left, to a furious struggle for the defense of the
demands of the workers, for the independence of their union
organizations and for the formation of a party belonging to the
workers themselves.


Juventud de Izquierda Revolucionaria

Member of the Fracción Trotskista – Cuarta Internacional

* Translation by Yosef M.

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