It is amazing how so-called leftist intellectuals want to kick chavismo now that it appears “down”. But it is a long way from being “out” despite the ongoing unconventional war being waged in the media, economically, diplomatically, and internationally against Venezuela.
This conflict is now entering its fourth year of serious economic war against the country with the aim of demoralizing the population so much that the voters will both stay at home and not vote, or vote for the US backed opposition that wants to sell the country to the highest bidder along with its huge oil and gas reserves.
Using this strategy the US backed opposition won its first major election victory in 16 years on December 6 by taking control of the National Assembly that represents one fifth of the powers of the Venezuelan state.
In light of this circumstantial victory it is now the right time to question international solidarity which had exercised vocal support for many years especially when chavismo appeared almost untouchable. While solidarity was writing untold numbers of articles supporting and praising the policies and ethos of the Bolivarian Revolution, the enemies of the Revolution were doing the same but with added ingredients. They marshaled social media before Chavez launched his @chavezcandanga Twitter account and blew them away; they had support of many, many web sites both criticizing the Revolution while lying and manipulating many aspects of it; but the main extra ingredient the right wing had was direct action – millions of US dollars, importing paramilitary sleepers and then the launch of the economic war during Chavez’s illness right at the end of 2012. These latter three ingredients were not combated effectively internally and even less by international solidarity.
Here in Venezuela we are still in the midst of a WAR – a 4th generation war – and no one sends us troops or international brigades to help us out as happened in the Spanish Civil War – all we had was international solidarity that is now, using the benefit of hindsight, gradually turning against the Revolution and labeling it as a “failure”.
Venezuela is still the key square on the international chessboard of humanity vs. barbarity and has been wounded by the economic war complemented by the international media campaign that never ceases. In fact, this campaign started even before President Chavez was elected on December 6, 1998.
The 2015 December 6 election loss is serious and has made the internal situation more complex than ever before. While we were running an election campaign the opposition was waging a war. The local media did the job for them by reporting on lines at all the supermarkets; shortage of basic subsidized products; induced criminal inflation and a complete disregard for the hundreds of thousands of tons of food and personal care items discovered as being hoarded or smuggled to Colombia. After three years people were desperate.
Smaller food outlets (shops) were closed in the popular areas as distributors stopped delivering basic products to them, forcing the barrios to come into town and stand in line outside middle class supermarkets to try and buy their subsidized products that they could afford and that were difficult to find. Even today if you see a 4 block long line outside a supermarket that is rumored to have milk or rice, then you can see that most of the people are from the barrios or popular areas due to the fact that most of them are mestizos and the way they dress. These make great photos for the propagandists.
And the shortages and spiraling prices are laid firmly at the door of the government and its “failed economic model” when in fact the following concise facts belie this gross manipulation. In Venezuela there are approximately 192,000 food outlets of all shapes and sizes. 92% of food production is still in the hands of the private sector; even worse 95% of the distribution chain is also in private hands. So, when I went yesterday to a popular market and stalls already had up signs saying “no milk, no corn meal, no coffee, no sugar, no cooking oil, no black beans, no rice, no toilet tissue…” – all products subsidized by the government so that prices are accessible for everyone – how can the government be to blame for this when in the almost 16,000 food outlets it controls (Mercal, PDVAL and the Bicentenario Supmarkets) you can at least find some of these basic products even though it is necessary to stand in line?
This war on the population depriving them of easy access to food and personal hygiene products (as well as not delivering fresh supplies of drugs and medicines to the pharmacies so far this year as the laboratories took two months off!!) is a blatant violation of human rights but the government has failed to take strong action. By strong action I mean declaring a State of Emergency based on the President’s powers attributed in the Constitution; immediate incarceration for anyone caught speculating, hoarding or cutting food or drug production; confiscation (not expropriation) of business involved in the economic war including delivery and distribution companies. Owners proven to have participated should be charged under the Organized Crime Laws and have all their assets confiscated as happens with drug traffickers here in Venezuela. The law is applicable to these dastardly acts.
Such action – hard and fast – may cause an international outcry and have president Maduro labeled a “dictator” by the international corporate media and the enemies of the Revolution but he is called a “dictator” anyway so there is little to lose. Resolving this problem and punishing the culprits would generate overwhelming support for the government virtually overnight.
Now let us return to reality. The result that none of these action were taken was that at least 2 million disillusioned chavistas did not vote and opposition increased its number of votes by just 300 thousand since what they promised was – as outlined in one of their few pre-election videos – that if they won control of the National Assembly, the lines would vanish and things would “return to normal”. Well, they won a landslide and things are worse than before. No subsidized products; long lines; and the denial that they ever made such an election promise.
These are the facts behind the election loss. All other social programs kept on running – perhaps not as efficiently as one would like – but they did not collapse – in the face of country-wide sabotage on all fronts with not enough action being taken by the government to combat it. This is in effect Chile 1970–1973 transplanted into the 21st century during 2013–2015 and now continuing into 2016.
The Economic Emergency Plan presented by the government has the support of wide swathes of the business community as they are participating in a strategy to revive national production. This plan has been ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court but the rejected by the opposition majority in the National Assembly. This is a clear sign that the opposition wants to keep up the pressure of the economic war they are running with large parts of the private food manufacturing and distribution sector.
The objective is to continue the same strategy to unseat President Maduro in a possible recall election later this year. The country and population as such does not interest them and by rejecting the Economic Emergency Plan have turned their backs on the voters – all 7.7 million – who elected them as well as the other 23 million people living in the country. However, this is no surprise as this is exactly what they did when in power from 1958–1998 – opulence for the few, struggle and strife for the rest.
As time ticks by and no firm action is taken to defeat the economic war, President Maduro’s position will gradually become more undermined and by extension the legacy of the late President Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution itself.
The crucial factor in favor of the Revolution is the unyielding support and loyalty of the Bolivarian Armed Forces who should be more active in defeating the economic war and encouraging Maduro to take the necessary drastic action in terms of what the author has outlined above.
Pussyfooting around has never stopped a rolling right-wing bid for power and this is no time to start “experimenting” with reasoning or negotiations with fascists backed by US imperialism waging a 4th Generation War against the whole country and egged on as the final prize will be the world’s biggest petroleum reserves located just five days journey away from US refineries in Texas and Louisiana.
Arturo Rosales writes from Caracas
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