The cycle of mobilizations and demonstrations that began last April and included broad sectors of Venezuelan masses has passed, after reaching its highest point in July this year. Maduro established the fraudulent National Constituent Assembly (ANC) after a voting with fraud, pressure, and threats.

By Victor Quiroga – UST Venezuela.

 

Let us remember that this ANC was summoned without previous consult to the people, which is demanded on article 347 of the 1999 Constitution. Also, the voting criteria [bases comiciales in Spanish[1]] which ignore proportionality and universal voting, is not contemplated in the Constitution, either.

The ANC, far from investing in the discussion and editing of a new constitution, has become an essential tool of the regime, which allows it to “legalize” its actions. Although the FANB (the National Bolivarian Armed Forces) is the main institution that supports Maduro’s dictatorial regime, they need to sustain a legal appearance.

The steps to consolidate the coup

Despite the statements, the 1999 Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has actually stopped ruling. Maduro’s Constituent has taken the powers of the National Assembly [NA] (which had a majority of opposition, and has now remained without its own powers and is demanded to subordinate to the ANC) constituting a de facto government: they dismissed the Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz and named Tarek Williams Saab as interim Attorney General. This power is exclusive of the NA. Along with this, they intervened the Public Ministry to “restructure it,” unchaining persecution to all dissidents within the institution.

On the other hand, it decided to declare itself “plenipotentiary” and function during the next two years. All powers must subordinate to it. The Constituent Decree is very clear in subordinating all powers to it, “The normative actions and decision dictated by the National Constituent Assembly on this matter will be ruled by the principles of legality, responsibility, efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, publicity and citizen participation, and at the same time, the 1999 Constitution and the remaining ruling legal system, will remain valid in everything that does not collide or contradict these acts […] Besides having dictated a Law, composing the Comisión para la Verdad, la Justicia, la Paz y la Tranquilidad Pública” [Commission for the Truth, Justice, Peace and Public Peace] according to the Offical Gazzette No. 6.323 of August 8, 2017.

Besides, Maduro, through the remaining institutions of the regime that are close to him – like the National Electoral Council (CNE), the Supreme Justice Tribunal (TSJ), the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), among others – has increased political persecution against opposition leaders. He used political disqualifications and issued arrest warrants, and even imprisoned political and union leaders, majors, and representatives who stood out as possible candidates in regional elections.

Along with this, and verifying that the 155 and 156 sentences of the TSJ of March sustained the removal of powers to the NA, the Supreme Justice Tribunal, for example, adopted the formation of the mixed corporation Petrosur. Its representative is precisely José Blanco Balín, former representative of the Spanish corporation REPSOL, linked to Francisco Correa, involved in a well-known case of corruption (GÛRTEL), in which the National Court of Spain proved the links with a corruption network linked to the Partido Popular.

The sentence, on July 10, by the TSJ says of Petrosur that “the authorization and approval are proceeding,” a corporation owned by PDVSA and the Stichting Administratiekantoor Inversiones Petroleras Iberoamericanas society, represented by Blanco Balín.

Petrosur will be valid for 25 years and Stichting Administratiekantoor Inversiones Petroleras Iberoamericanas will pay a bonus in favor of Venezuela for 400 million dollars to access the oil reserves.

In other words, Maduro uses the TSJ to over-rule the National Assembly, which should be the one approving the formation of this mixed corporation.

In this framework, the Constituent also modified the summons to regional elections for October, although without setting dates, something the CNE should have done. It also decided not to summon the elections for regional parliaments, arguing lack of logistic and technical resources, although the true reason was to preserve the majority of the governing party today, which has the majority in twenty-three out of twenty-four regional parliaments in the country – a condition they are likely to lose if those elections took place.

All these data verify that there is a substantial change in the “institutional” functioning of the regime, which already presented dictatorial traces, although “disguised” as bourgeois democracy and the formal validity of the 1999 Constitution. Now, there is an attempt to consolidate the attacks on these democratic freedoms.

The role of the MUD and imperialism

The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD, Mesa de la Unidad Democrática in Spanish) summoned most mobilizations since April this year. Although one must point out that many demonstrations emerged spontaneously, mainly in the popular neighborhoods, without the leadership or summoning of the MUD, these were not able to surpass all the obstacles, limits, and diversions imposed by the bourgeois leadership of the opposition.

However, the popular discontent of broad sectors is indisputable; it is greater than the sympathizers of bourgeois parties are. Thus, the government insisted in a savage repression that generated most of the deaths (whether through official repression or through armed civil groups, the “colectivos”), attempting to avoid demonstrations to further spread. There were also groups that tried to surpass [turning] to “the right,” with provocations rejected by broad sectors of the population.

For this reason, the MUD attempted to control the mobilizations permanently, to avoid being surpassed. While most of the mobilized wanted out with Maduro now, the MUD attempted to negotiate with the government, with a fracture of the FANB, to pressure, and to international sanctions. The union leaders who adhere or are sympathizers of the MUD parties have played a similar role, like Rubén González de Ferrominera, Marcela Máspero of the UNETE Federation, etc., stopping the working class from playing a significant role in the protests.

However, due to the terror to an independent mass mobilization (used mainly as a pressure mechanism), the MUD made it impossible for the “Out with Maduro” to take place through popular action in the streets. Furthermore, they incentivized expectations on the pressure made by Donald Trump, the OAS, the Mercosur, and Pope Francisco, for Maduro to suspend the election for the Constituent. This did not happen and it generated great demoralization and crisis.

On the other hand, the anticipation of regional elections for October and the participation of the main opposition parties in them increased the critiques to the MUD leadership on behalf of several sectors that had mobilized, as well as the separation of Corina Machado. From there on, practically all political protests in the streets ceased and the MUD dedicated to its “electoral campaign.”

Far from fulfilling the Chavista prophecy, of military invasion and oil blockage, a prophecy shared by broad sectors of the left worldwide, Donald Trump, just like Obama, has been very careful when it comes to intervention.

Until now, beyond the speeches, they have been pressuring Maduro for negotiation. The sanctions to employees, as well the last ones, much harsher, closing the possibility to renegotiate debts and issuing new debt, do not affect the oil business. Venezuela will be able to continue selling and buying oil to and from the USA, as well as to import the growingly scarce medicines and foods. All this does show not a change in politics but, instead, the continuity with Obama’s term: to pressure until the end for a bargained exit, with increasing levels of pressure.

This is a heinous imperialist policy and we must reject it. Neither North-American nor European imperialism will impose a “democratic solution.” They have supported dictatorships and invasions, and they support and tolerate dictatorial governments; they have no moral authority to interfere in Venezuela.

The role of the left

The unfortunate role played by most of the left in Venezuela has made it impossible to build a pole that groups the workers and youth vanguard in the midst of the great mobilizations. A sector led by The Communist Party of Venezuela, accompanied by smaller groups like Redes and the PPT – who answer to the Trotskyist leader Allan Woods, – among others, explicitly support the government – or shamefully, with “criticism,” but support anyway. Another important sector who opposed the government but refuse to raise the slogan of the streets, Out with Maduro! is Marea Socialista, and Nicmer Evans, who was the first spokesman of this group before building a different movement. In general, this sector vindicates “Chavez’s legacy” and pose that the mobilization resulted from a false polarization between the MUD and the government, and they are not an expression of a genuine struggle of broad popular sectors. Other smaller groups, who answer to international currents like the Partido Obrero [PO], or the Partido de los Trabajadores por el Socialismo [PTS], from Argentina, despite agreeing that we are facing a “Bonapartist degeneration” of the regime, do not stand to overthrow the government and the regime that sustains it and do not dispute the leadership from the reactionary MUD. Thus, we say that, for different reasons, these sectors stopped the building of an alternative, independent, workers’ pole. (See article: Debates with the Left Currents)

Where are we going?

The government took advantage of the demobilization process to advance in consolidating its coup. As we stated before, Maduro and his Constituent have advanced in taking anti-democratic measures. Although he has withdrawn in the trials, by military courts, of prisoners of several states, he keeps them under military jurisdiction, holding political prisoners illegally, and increasing persecutions to opposition leaders.

In the same way, he has silenced many means of communication, the most recent one being the FM stations of two important radio circuits of the country, threatening to control social networks, the “good conduct certification” for candidates to the regionals [elections] yet maintaining these elections in the limbo.

However, even if elections were to take place, it would not be a solution for the deep crisis of the country. It could lead to confusion, even to some expectations. However, the solution would continue to be the struggle, the unitary mobilization, to take out the government and defeat the dictatorial policy.

The government is bragging that the Constituent brought “peace and tranquility.” Nevertheless, it only deepened the causes that originated the protests. The economic crisis continues to advance.

For the masses, to take a plate of food to their children’s table is harder each time. The wage is too low. Misery advances. The social problems of violence and insecurity continue. The lack of medicines and the decline of the health system continue to generate diseases that had disappeared, like diphtheria, malaria, tuberculosis, among others, and the death of children and elder, mainly among popular sectors. The maternal mortality rate grows exponentially due to lack of good nutrition of mothers and lack of prenatal care.

The Venezuelan foreign debt consumes practically all the resources and dollars that come into the country. The fact that Maduro says that he has paid 65 billion dollars of the debt only shows to what extent the government is willing to deepen the misery to sustain the financial business of the regime with imperialism; it is not a symptom of how good the economy is.

All this foreshadows a situation that will continue to be, at least, unstable, and even explosive.

We do not believe that the situation of “peace and calm” proclaimed by Maduro will have an extended duration. We must prepare ourselves for a deeper crisis. The government has managed, with the MUD’s complicity, to postpone the time of definitions.

Eventually, the masses will return to the streets to demand the government to leave, because it is incapable of solving the people’s problems.

It is necessary to seize the current situation to advance in the building of unity spaces of all those who want to struggle for the government to leave. Tasks must be posed: unity to face the government and the adjustment, to defeat the coup and the dictatorship; a workers’ program to end the crisis, and the need to build a workers’ political alternative.

-Out with Maduro and his fraudulent Constituent!

-General and free elections!

-Freedom to all political prisoners!

-Stop the payment of the foreign debt!

-Expropriation of multinationals and the Boli-bourgeoisie!

-Oil and mining 100% nationalized!

***

Translation: Alejandra Ramírez.

Notes:

[1] The bases comiciales were defined by sectors (workers, peasants and fishermen, students, people with any disabilities, indigenous peoples, retired, businessmen, and communes and communal councils,) to elect 364 members in total, according to an alleged proportional territorial criteria.