Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Venezuela: Against Imperialist Sanctions and for the Freedom of Working-Class and Poor Prisoners

The PTS of Argentina is proposing that the parties of the Left Unity Front begin a continuing campaign in solidarity with Venezuela that raises the struggle against imperialist sanctions and the fight for the freedom of working-class and poor prisoners.

Christian Castillo

October 17, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Photo: Getty Images

The situation in Venezuela is critical. The United States recently imposed more crippling political sanctions, and many Venezuelans are destitute. Amid these conditions, the National Constituent Assembly has passed the scandalous “anti-blockade” law to protect foreign investments. The law authorizes President Nicolás Maduro’s executive branch to hand over state-owned companies and natural resources to private companies and foreign governments, expressly violating the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic. The new law has generated opposition even within some government sectors.

The United States, after the failed attempt to impose Juan Guaidó as president, continues to interfere in Venezuela, imposing numerous economic and political sanctions that suffocate the economy and exacerbate the suffering of the Venezuelan people.

The Maduro government’s repressive policies, increasingly implemented by the armed forces, include the persecution and even imprisonment of dozens of union leaders and working-class activists — victimized under the widespread discretion the regime has granted. This is in addition to the extra-judicial executions carried out by the FAES (Special Action Forces) of the Bolivarian National Police, with the excuse of “fighting organized crime.”

The criminalization of union activity, job-related struggles, and, in general, workers’ demands and grievances has intensified in recent months, with an increase in cases of workers being prosecuted or simply imprisoned. In some cases, they have come under attack in their homes by the agents of repression. These latest instances add to a deplorable list of cases such as that of trade union leader Rodney Álvarez, who has been imprisoned for nine years. 

Just as pardons were being negotiated for right-wing opposition politicians, the FAES arrested six peasants in the community of La Virgen, in the northern state of Yaracuy. Their relatives claimed that the judge, with no hearing and without even entertaining the allegations, had already ruled in accord with the Public Ministry to sentence them to five years in prison. The relatives said this was done for the Ebenezer poultry production company in Yaracuy.

Many political forces that have criticized the Maduro government from the Left have also been harassed — including some that had even supported the government until recently. 

The aim of this repression is to curtail the spread of working people’s demands against the government’s austerity measures. The deep social crisis in all Venezuelan sectors is not only the result of the imperialist sanctions, but also of the government’s own policies. Maduro has continued to pay the foreign debt and moved forward with handing over oil and other natural resources to private companies and foreign governments. At the same time, with the stroke of his pen he has implemented brutal anti-worker economic adjustments, eliminating collective bargaining, authorized massive layoffs, and given free rein to private capital to violate labor rights. He has also cut social benefits while promoting measures to liberalize the economy — measures that will accelerate under the new “anti-blockade” law. 

In Venezuela, one of the main initiatives to denounce this situation took place on June 27, when a number of  different organizations came together with relatives of imprisoned and persecuted workers to promote actions around the demand #FreeWorkersPrisoners. These organizations Liga de Trabajadores por el Socialismo (LTS), Marea Socialista, Partido Socialismo y Libertad (PSL), Sindicato Nacional de los Trabajadores de la UCV (SINATRA), Federación Unitaria de Sindicatos Bolivarianos del Estado Carabobo (Fusbec), Organización Indígena Intercultural Wainjirawua La Guarura, Relatives of Darío Salcedo, Lxs Comunes, Movimiento Popular Alternativo (MPA), Agrupación juvenil anticapitalista Barricada, Liga Unitaria Chavista Socialista (LUCHAS), and rank-and-file workers from the Maderera Masisa and Ministry of Labor. 

U.S. imperialism uses the Maduro government’s repression to justify its policies of interference and to assume the pretense of the moral high ground over the repressive right-wing governments of the region, such as those of Piñera in Chile, Añez in Bolivia, and Duque in Colombia, where some 1,200 political and social leaders have been assassinated since the signing of the Peace Accords. That was the logic of the resolution approved by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) earlier this month that condemned the Venezuelan government’s repression and extended by two years a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations in the country. The government of Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez, along with the governments in the region that are friendly with President Trump, all voted in favor.

This situation poses two positions we must reject. On the one hand, there are those who contend that the Venezuelan government must be confronted by right-wing and pro-imperialist forces because of the regime’s quasi-dictatorial and repressive character. There are even those who, from this perspective, maintain that it was correct to vote in favor of the UNHRC resolution, equating the situation in Venezuela with the denunciations of the 1976-1983 Argentine military dictatorship to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS). This view neglects the obvious difference in magnitude between the two situations: the Venezuelan government is repressive, but not carrying out genocide. It also neglects that back then there were no imperialist sanctions against Argentina or pro-Yankee coup attempts, as there are in Venezuela.

The other position we face is the one of those who refuse to confront the Maduro government’s policies of repression and austerity, and its continual violations of basic democratic freedoms, only because the Venezuelan regime is being subjected to imperialist aggression. This is the position adopted by sectors of Kirchnerism, which opposed Argentina’s UNHRC vote.

Our comrades of the LTS in Venezuela (who are, together with the PTS, part of the Trotskyist Fraction-Fourth International and the La Izquierda Diario International Network) have always maintained a position independent of Chavismo and denounced Maduro’s repression and austerity, while at the same time being on the front lines of confronting the imperialist and right-wing offensive against the working people of Venezuela.

The PTS has proposed to the parties of the Left Unity Front to begin a continuing campaign that will simultaneously raise the struggle against the imperialist sanctions and the fight for the freedom of the prisoners. Both demands are part of the program approved at the Virtual Conference of Latin America and the United States that took place July 30-August 1 and in which 50 organizations from across the continent participated.

We see this as an urgent task, one that can promote the emergence of a Left opposition to the Maduro government. Such an opposition can prevent the disastrous effects of the combination of Maduro’s policies and imperialist aggression, which promise either a right-wing outcome or the continuation of a sellout regime that, beyond its rhetoric, is increasingly anti-worker and against the poor.

First published in Spanish on October 14 in La Izquierda Diario.

Translation: Otto Fors

Facebook Twitter Share

Christian Castillo

Christian "Chipy" Castillo is a sociology teacher at the University of Buenos Aires and the University of La Plata. He is a leading member of the Socialist Workers Party (PTS) in Argentina and was a deputy in the parliament of the Province of Buenos Aires from 2013-2015.

Latin America

Under Xiomara Castro’s Government, the Garífunas in Honduras Still Await Answers in the Struggle for Their Land

The Garífunas in Honduras persist in their struggle for their ancestral lands, while eviction attempts and threats against their leaders continue. Almost 10 months into Xiomara Castro’s administration, her campaign promises to the Garífuna communities remain unfulfilled.

Marisela Trevin

November 19, 2022
Argentina's Party of Socialist Workers (PTS) holds an assembly for workers to discuss working-class solutions to Argentina's crisses.

Thousands of Workers and Young People Participate in Socialist-led Assemblies across Argentina

Last weekend, the Party for Socialist Workers (PTS) in Argentina held over 100 democratic and open assemblies in cities and towns across the country to debate the inflationary crisis, government’s the austerity program, and a working-class solution.

Robert Belano

November 15, 2022
Jair Bolsonaro pictured on election day. Wearing a yellow Brazil shirt and smiling.

Bolsonarism Will Not Be Defeated in Brazil without Organizing Independently of the Lula Government

Lula won by a narrow margin in yesterday’s elections in Brazil, but his government is unwilling to truly challenge the Right’s advance. A Brazilian socialist describes the fight ahead for the country's workers and Left.

André Barbieri

October 31, 2022

Fascism or Bonapartism? Lessons from Trotsky for Understanding Brazil Under Bolsonaro

Is genuine fascism rising in Brazil? How should the working class respond if so? Marxism helps us to characterize the Bolsonaro government and spells out the method for confronting the extreme Right.

André Barbieri

October 29, 2022


The Roots of the Rebellion at Foxconn

Jenny Chan is a researcher and professor at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. She is co-author of the book Dying for an iPhone. She spoke with La Izquerda Diario about the causes of the rebellion by workers at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, China.

Josefina L. Martínez

December 7, 2022
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa in a suit

“Farmgate” Threatens the Very Foundations of Capitalist Stability in South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa faces an impeachment vote Tuesday. More than a simple case of corruption, it’s a political crisis of the ruling party and of capitalist stability in the country.

Sam Carliner

December 5, 2022

Understanding the Carnage at Colorado Springs

The heinous violence displayed in Colorado Springs is a stark reminder of the menacing, lethal threat that today’s determined far right continues to pose to trans and queer people, and anyone living outside capitalism’s imposed sexual and gender boundaries.

Keegan O'Brien

December 4, 2022
Mapuche people standing with a flag

The Case of the Mapuche: What Can Trotsky Teach Us about the Fight against National Oppression?

Trotsky’s reflections on the social aspect of permanent revolution have deep implications for building working-class hegemony through solidarity with oppressed peoples.

Juan Valenzuela

December 4, 2022