by Rosa Cecilia Lemos – UST Venezuela.

Alberto, a young worker with two little children, is really upset. “This is criminal”, he states. And it is not a surprise, in front of the lack of basic food and lack of milk for his children: the “nutrichicha” (a compound of milk and nutrients) produced in Venezuela that he used to buy in the market, is now too expensive to buy. “It is not a lie we are starving, the adults are getting used to have only two meals a day, but the children…”, he insists: “this is criminal”. He makes some numbers, and the so called “Fair Prices” of Maduro do not exist, definitely. Between the speculation and the inflation, calculated in more than 700% for 2016, the devaluated bolivar [Venezuelan coin] is not enough to buy anything. “Besides”, Albert says, “our Union agreed a wage raise of 20%, and the government decreed a raise of 50% for all the workers, so we would have the right to a 70% raise, and the bosses now state the raise will be only 50%; they want to eliminate the agreement of 20% by collective contract”.

Just like Alberto, hundreds of thousands are in the same situation. They have to wait long lines just to get a bag of sugar or flour, or even bread, and in different places. In one border of the city you can get sugar, in the other you can buy flour. Huge lines for only one product, and that is if you get lucky, as when it is your turn to buy the product, it might be over already, and you have to start all over. The medicines are also in lack, and not to talk about cleaning products. Physiological saline solution, so necessary for children diseases, can cost up to $6000 bolívares, a bag of milk can be up to $5000, with a minimum wage of $22.000 bolívares. In June, the family basket was calculated in $365.101 bolívares. So, a five members family would need 16 basic salaries to survive.

The discontent of the population, specially workers and the poor, is only logical. The minimum wage is not enough even for a daily bag of milk. But there are still some mitigations: the food voucher, some kind of bonus, raises a bit the real income, as in some cases it duplicates or triples the salary, although in exchange of keeping the salary low, as the bonus is not a wage factor. In relation to food, transportation is very cheap. It is common to see people carrying lots of banknotes in a bag, because they worth nothing, actually. Some say if things continue like this, they will have to take the devaluated banknotes in a wheelbarrow.

The rage against Maduro grows

On the streets, in the lines, in family and social meetings, in the neighborhoods, in the factories, no one talks about anything else. People feels humiliated, they say they never lived a so deplorable situation as nowadays. They want Maduro out. The speeches of “defense of the Chavist revolution” are less believable each time, as well as the “conspiracy” and “coup attempts” speeches. For example, the days before the occupation of Caracas, called by the MUD [Democratic Unity Coordination], which gathers different sectors of the traditional bourgeoisie –inheritors of the old COPEY and AD parties-, the government announced through all the media, specially on television, the 1st of September the right wing was attempting a coup against the government. They arrested MUD leaders, whom they would have confiscated explosives and warlike material from. They created a tension and fear environment in front of possible violent actions, they denounced they stopped 500 paramilitaries, coming from Colombia, just a few meters away of the Miraflores Palace (government palace). The government, to respond to the MUD call, stated if the MUD occupied Caracas they would occupy Venezuela, and called for demonstrations in some important cities, which had a poor participation. In others words, Maduro’s government went for two different tactics to confront the rally of September 1st: to generate an atmosphere of terror, and to show he still has the support of the population. Non of them worked: the rally of September 1st, called by the bourgeois opposition, got to channel the discontent.

Are the masses turning to the right?

Through the Sabana Grande Boulevard all the way to the Miranda Avenue [center of Caracas], since early in the morning, people started arriving from the metro stations. Groups of 30, 50 or more came out crying slogans against the government, and starting their rally to the Miranda Avenue. A river of people walking, chanting “It’s gonna fall, it’s gonna fall, this government’s gonna fall!”. Meanwhile, in the stage built in Chacao, the leaders of the MUD demanded the recall referendum. All kind of people was present on the rally: a high middle class sector, completely convinced that the fall of Maduro and a government of the MUD is the solution to the crisis – they always hated Chavism, as they think his policies of subsidies to poor sectors of the population is what took their dearest Venezuela to the crisis; but there were also present many people from the poor neighborhoods of Caracas and other cities, who used to support Chavism until a few years ago, which are disappointed by the frightening crisis Chavism generated, specially Maduro’s government, and the only thing they know for sure is they do not want this government anymore. They see the recall as a way of Maduro to fall.

The opposition bourgeoisie, gathered in the MUD; the one whose leaders are the sons of the bourgeoisie that has been exploiting and oppressing workers and the Venezuelan people for years; the one of the packages of the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez, of Caldera, and others; that bourgeoisie, today recycles and presents itself with new faces as the one that will save the people of one of the deepest crisis, not only in Venezuela but in other countries of Latin America as well –in which the so called “alternative” governments, be them Popular Fronts, as the PT in Brazil, or nationalist bourgeois, like Chavism, Morales in Bolivia, Bachelet in Chile, Kirchner in Argentina, Correa in Ecuador, supported and defended by most of the Latin American left wing, are showing their real nature. They are showing capitalism has no human face, and its policies (subsidies and some concessions to the impoverished masses) do not change the bourgeois nature of their states, neither the capitalist nature of their economies. They are showing their recalcitrant nationalism does not protect them from the global imperialist crisis, and their national economies, dependent of the imperialism, are also reached by the recessive crisis.

It is not the masses turning to the right. The masses are struggling against the effects of the devastating capitalist policies, and mobilizing against the governments that implement those, but they unfortunately cannot find a strong leadership, one that leads them to a revolutionary outcome, to the left of those governments; because the vast majority of the “left” capitulated, and continues to capitulate, to these “alternative” governments. The reformist left offers the masses the “lesser evil” as an alternative; it has defamed the concepts of revolution and socialism. To them, the revolution is made through votes, and to build socialism it is not necessary to have real social revolution; there is no need to change the structure of the society or the State. It is enough to “take the power” through the elections. This is the true reason why the masses do not see another alternative, and the bourgeoisie rides on the processes of the class struggle. This is why these movements are being abandoned by the workers’ masses and the most exploited and oppressed sectors. It is unacceptable that, as a product of their failed projects of embellishing capitalism, they blame the masses “because they are turning to the right”. This is what is happening in Venezuela, Brazil, and other Latin American countries: when the revolutionaries pose the necessity for the masses –and among it, the working class and the workers- to defeat these governments with and independent mobilization, they accuse us of capitulating to the right wing.

To build an alternative against the MUD and against Chavism

The MUD is kidnapping the legitimate feeling of the ones below against the government of Maduro. It uses it to pressure the government to approve a recall referendum. It demonstrated on September 1st, and they are now calling for another demonstration, this time in the main capitals, on September 14th. They know the people who demonstrated the 1st, in front of Maduro’s response of holding the power and postpone the referendum even more, is thinking: “so, what now?”. This is why they call for a new demonstration. But they also know the danger of losing control of the demonstration and be left behind. That is why their policy is to demonstrate, but to channel everything through the election (they made it very clear in the last demonstration). Now they pose the liberation of their political prisoners as the main demand. The MUD is not interested in the hunger of the people; it is using it to control the government again, and implement the tax adjustment the IMF is demanding.

The possibility of a social explosion is also on the table. The objective situation is more exasperating each time, and everything shows the government of Maduro does not have the ability of resolving the lack of food and growing inflation quickly, as much as the speculation benefiting some sectors, among them the militaries, responsible of the provision plan and food control, by the Ministry.

It has beginning to emerge, from the left, a still small sector, a minority, posing a program of defense of the workers and the poor, proposing a workers’ outcome, different to the one of the PSUV and the MUD. It is the platform of People in Struggle and Critic Chavism. Several sectors are gathered there, proposing a different political alternative to the ones of both bourgeois sectors currently disputing. It is still embryonic, but it is the best chance to propose the workers, the exploited and oppressed ones, the ones from below, always victims of the capitalist exploitation, to take their fate into their own hands. For them to be the ones to offer the Venezuelan people a revolutionary alternative, through the independent mobilization. This group aims to unify the workers’ struggle, something that no other group is interested in. It is conformed by the Critic Chavism; a sector of Marea Socialista that broke with the government of Maduro; the PSL [Liberty and Socialism Party]; the UST [Workers’ Socialist Unity – IWL-FI], and the popular group Toromayma, besides workers organized in unions and groups of popular struggles, among others. From the IWL, we put all our effort and commitment to this possibility.

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Translation: Sofía Ballack.