There is a brutal crisis in Venezuela that is tensioning the country once again, just as mass movement in Latin America. A complex process that demands categorical answers from the revolutionary left wing, which will surely draw a line in worldwide left wing.
The first element that becomes evident before worldwide vanguard is the deep rotting of the Maduro dictatorship and Chavism as a nationalist-bourgeois regime. While they made statements against imperialism, they developed a new bourgeoisie – the boli-bourgeoisie -, from the businesses derived from the management of the State apparatus. They also increased the fortunes of broad sectors of the traditional bourgeoisie. This led the country to the current situation.
A Great Scale Crisis
There is a dreadful economic crisis in the first five years of the Maduro administration, with a drop in the GDP of over 50%. A drop that, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), would deepen 10% for 2019, reaching 60% in total. There is also hyperinflation that reached 1.7 million % in 2018 and threatens to reach 10 million % in 2019. There are food and medicine shortages, which make survival the main preoccupation of Venezuelan workers, mainly those who have jobs.
One must add the greatest deterioration in decades of the public health and education services, the greatest hospital crisis in the history of the country, with the consequence of dead victims (mainly poor patients), the destruction of public universities, an enormous transportation crisis, cash shortages, brutal deterioration of phone and telecommunication services in general. In all, the outermost complete destruction of social mobility and structure.
Mass Break with Chavism
For a long time, the Venezuelan masses have been breaking with Chavism. This may be verified in the gigantic demonstrations in the streets, which now include the low-income neighborhoods of Caracas that used to be Chavism’s pillars like 23 de Enero, Petare, Catia and others.
In the last presidential elections and in the posterior municipal elections, even with the absurd control of the Chavist dictatorship, abstention prevailed. This showed the anger of the masses and the distrust of the population both of the Maduro dictatorship and the bourgeois opposition, which stood divided and strongly discredited due to its poor leadership and the betrayal of the mass’s expectation in the previous mobilization processes, like in 2017. While the youth and the masses demanded Out with Maduro in the streets (even dying there), they were led to the dead-end street of negotiations and fraudulent elections.
Since mid-2018, there was an uprising among workers (mainly among employees of public institutions and enterprises) in defense of the attacks by the dictatorship and the hunger wages. This began to take expression in a union struggle uprising, with multiple strikes and street actions. It could evolve towards an uncontrolled people’s uprising, a new caracazo, now against the Chavist dictatorship. The perspective of a general strike was also posed.
Right Wing and Imperialism Interfere
In this context, the right wing and North American imperialism entered action. Trump directly articulated Guaidó’s self-proclamation as a parallel government in Venezuela.
There is proof of a joint preparation by Trump and the Latin American and European governments for Guaidó’s presentation. This explains the immediate acknowledgement of the “new government” by most imperialist and Latin American governments.
Afterwards came Trump’s kidnapping of the Venezuelan oil profit that comes from selling the product by PDVSA in the USA, which is intended to go under Guaidó’s control. The active blockage of PDVSA in USA reaches 7 billion dollars, plus 11 billion dollars of future exports already hired. They will only be able to move through accounts controlled by Guaidó. Besides, there are upcoming conflicts in the case of naming authorities in the enterprises, both in the USA (CITGO) and PDVSA in Venezuela. This has not yet taken place, but it is in sight. The United Kingdom also refused to authorize Maduro to mobilize 1,200 tons of gold in the country.
This comes along with the direct military intervention threat from imperialism, expressed by Trump and Guaidó. Military intervention has not taken place, but it is actually part of imperialism’s hypothesis. In past statements, Guaidó said he had not discarded to authorize a military intervention, which confirms it is an alternative being considered, although not the first choice.
A variation of this is to disguise military intervention under “humanitarian aid”, which has been used countless times by imperialism. In Haiti, Lula’s PT administration helped. Currently, the Duque administration in Colombia and Bolsonaro’s in Brazil are lending their territories to open “humanitarian passage ways” through which the supposed “help” would enter Venezuela. Last February 12, in the demonstration summoned due to the Youth Day, Guaidó stated, “On February 23, humanitarian aid will undoubtedly enter the country”.
Maduro’s International Allies and the Dialogue Initiatives
International support to Maduro is practically limited to Russia and China, which obtain significant economic advantages, advancing over oil and Venezuelan minerals. He also has the support of Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Turkey.
There were recent news about economic aid from Russia to PDVSA, which would allow continuing operations with hardships through some time, alleviating the effect of the profit kidnapping and the actives and accounts blockage by the USA.
Putin is apparently willing to help Maduro militarily. There are hundreds of news about Russian mercenaries sent to Venezuela to help Maduro. However, besides the diplomatic and financial support, there are no certainties of this military support, although there have been rumors for some time about the presence of Russian paramilitaries in the country. There are also rumors about Hezbollah in the country. Bourgeois opposition always uses these news to attempt to increase the discredit of the government. It acts the same regarding Cuban agents commanding Venezuelan headquarters.
There is an initiative by the Uruguayan and Mexican governments and Pope Francisco to mediate for a withdrawal of Maduro through anticipated elections in Venezuela.
A Very Weak and Pressured Government
The Venezuelan dictatorship is in the defensive. On one hand, it is facing great mobilizations and on the other, imperialism’s pressure.
Until now, Maduro has been willing to resist, supported mainly in the Armed Forces’ leadership. But there are clear signs of crisis in the military apparatus, and one cannot foresee until when Maduro will hold in office.
It is important to highlight that the leadership of the Venezuelan armed forces is the main nucleus of the boli-bourgeoisie. The Armed Forces’ leadership, besides directly owning important enterprises, still leads food, medicine, oil, and currency trade. They are multimillionaires in a miserable country. Not by chance, there are 2000 generals in Venezuela, more than seven times the number of Brazilian generals. This nucleus of the boli-bourgeoisie has much to lose if the Maduro dictatorship falls. So they resist.
Signs of Crisis in the Armed Forces and the Paramilitary Apparatus
However, there are clear signs of crisis. There have been significant desertions, like the military attaché in the USA and recently an aviation general. There are several hundreds of officers in prison, just as there have been deserters from the troop, mainly the National Bolivarian Guard (NBG). In the past months, there was a revolt attempt in a secondary military base. Maduro continues to have repressive capability, but the weakness of the dictatorship is evident. The riot control units are harder to force into a reactive attitude, which symbolizes their crisis and begins to reflect signs of impotency.
Repression to mobilizations continues, but it does not manage to end demonstrations or protests. Although the government represses with strength, it is growingly hard to do so, and each time, repression has less effect in dissuading mobilizations and protests.
There are stories of soldiers that do not want to shoot against their families and neighbors participating in the demonstrations.
Its political weakness and lack of popular support makes it impossible to stop Guaidó, who remains free thanks to Maduro’s weakness, not due to a “democratic” standing.
The “collectives”, paramilitary groups used by Chavism to repress mobilizations in the popular neighborhoods also show signs of crisis. Many have switched sides and now support the demonstrations. Others became common gangs, which sell to the best beater using their heavy arming. Others continue to support the government, usually in exchange for good payment. However, today, the collectives do not manage to provide complete guarantee of repression in the popular neighborhoods as in previous years.
The government, through its police and intelligence services, continues threatened and arresting political and labor opposition leaders, but this does not stop labor, social and political protests. The contrary is true. They increase as a reaction to repression.
Imperialist Pressure and the Bourgeois Opposition’s Policy
Imperialism pressures strongly Maduro and it advances. With the maneuver of Guaidó’s self-proclamation, they managed to establish a visible support, an attempt of bourgeois dual power in Venezuela between Maduro and Guaidó.
Maduro controls the country, supported by the Armed Forces. Guaidó does not control the country, nor its armed forces, he has no actual power in the country (therefore it is not actual bourgeois dual power), but he is directly supported by most imperialist and Latin American governments. This begins with the imperialist authorization to control part of the oil profit, and with the naming diplomats in the countries that support him, which in turn are acknowledged by these governments. In the past days, its “ambassador” in Brazil presented her credentials before Bolsonaro, besides receiving direct financing from imperialism.
It is a completely different situation from the enormous discredit of the bourgeois opposition existing a month ago. Now, there is a “government” of Guaidó, who also becomes a reference for the Venezuelan people facing Maduro.
The statement of a new government places the bourgeois opposition in a situation with no turning back (if they do not follow through with their policy they will suffer greater discredit as political leadership). For this, we foresee decisive scenarios for the political crisis that seriously compromise the government’s attempts of continuity. Imperialism (with the support of Venezuelan bourgeois opposition) will pressure all the way for a break in the Venezuelan Armed Forces to overthrow Maduro without the need of foreign military intervention or a people’s uprising. This is their true main policy.
Besides, imperialism keeps on the table the threat of open military intervention or disguised as “humanitarian aid”, in case they do not achieve Maduro’s immediate downfall.
A people’s uprising may escape imperialism’s control. This has never been imperialism’s policy. Besides, there may be a cascade effect in the case of the downfall of Maduro’s dictatorship through an actual people’s uprising throughout the continent.
Direct military intervention may generate polarization in the country and the continent, which could lead to a civil war with unforeseeable consequences.
For this, imperialism pressures for a division in the Venezuelan Armed Forces to achieve Maduro’s downfall and Guaidó actually entering office as president. They do not want the Venezuelan masses to overthrow Maduro.
The Controversy with the Reformist Left Wing
The Venezuelan scenario is complex. The responsibility of the country’s current situation belongs to Chavism and the current Maduro dictatorship.
The Latin American reformist left wing is also responsible for the inexistence of an independent workers’ alternative to face Maduro.
The alternative posed since the beginning of the process was polarization between Chavism and imperialism, disregarding the fact these two are bourgeois alternatives. Therefore, no independent workers’ alternative was built in Venezuela. This opened space for the pro-imperialist right wing to capitalize Chavism’s crisis.
Furthermore, in the masses’ consciousness, Chavism is identified as “left wing”, as “socialist” due to this reformist left wing. Therefore, the crisis of Maduro’s bourgeois and corrupt dictatorship is being capitalized by the right wing as “the crisis of socialism”.
From the International Workers League, we reject these false alternatives. We fight directly against Chavism since its birth, showing how it was bourgeois nationalism from the beginning, never socialist, and never breaking with imperialism.
In addition, we stood next to the Venezuelan masses, in the front line against the 2002 imperialist coup d’état and against the patrons’ oil strike and lockout in 2002-2003 (pushed by the main sectors of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie and imperialism), who attempted to oust Chavez. Mass mobilization defeated both imperialist attempts.
As Revolutionaries, We must stand Next to the Masses to defeat the Dictatorship and face Imperialist Attempts
Today, the enormous mobilizations in Venezuela are not against imperialism, but against the government.
Venezuelan masses precisely stand for Out with Maduro. Now, the people’s neighborhoods in Caracas, which were the main resistance center against the coup and other imperialist initiatives, are part of the mobilization against Maduro.
The evident contradiction is that the leadership of these mobilizations is Guaidó, the imperialist puppet. He wishes to negotiate the transition with Maduro. He is just a card to be used during the political crisis and this transition.
In this context, we stand in favor of participating in demonstrations against Maduro, for Out with Maduro and against imperialist intervention. We want the Venezuelan masses to overthrow Maduro, not imperialism.
Our policy is focused in two axis: “Out with Maduro” and “Out with imperialism from Venezuela”.
We reject the reformists’ standing, like the Brazilian PT, who stand against imperialism, but stand in political defense of Maduro.
On the other hand, imperialist intervention already exists with the “self-proclaimed government of Guaidó” and the kidnap of the oil profit. This demands from us a response that agrees with our programmatic tradition, of complete rejection to imperialist actions.
We also reject those who stand against Maduro and ignore the imperialist intervention. They objectively stand in unity in action with Trump and Guaidó.
We are part of the Venezuelan workers’ struggles and mobilizations against Maduro, and we fight the pro-imperialist leadership of these mobilizations. We say, Out with Maduro! And out with imperialism from Venezuela! Out with Guaidó!
We call the rank and file of the Armed Forces of Venezuela to break with the dictatorship and join the mobilizations.
It is necessary to push from the rank and file bodies of struggle, which have emerged to coordinate the contract negotiation demonstrations, now directly to organize the fight to overthrow Maduro.
It is necessary to build a general strike from the rank and file to overthrow Maduro and point to an independent workers’ alternative. Against the dictatorship and against Guaidó-Trump. We call the Workers’ Intersectorial of Venezuela (ITV), as the most progressive element in the movement reorganization, to lead this process.
We stand against those who defend Maduro, just as those who defend a “negotiated outing” against Maduro. We want the masses to overthrow Maduro.
We already spoke against imperialism’s “humanitarian aid”, which would be a disguised imperialist military intervention.
In case an imperialist military intervention takes place, we will stand in the frontline of combat against it. Despite this is not imperialism’s main policy, it is a possibility. We are not saying that this military aggression is in progress, but it may happen.
In this case, when it happens (if it happens), we will stand categorically against imperialist military intervention, in Maduro’s military field, without any political support. As part of this, we will demand Maduro to distribute arms to the people to resist imperialist invasion, and to expropriate oil multi-nationals that continue to act in Venezuela.
For the Venezuelan masses, not North American imperialism, to oust Maduro!
Out with imperialism from Venezuela!
Out with Maduro!
Guaidó is imperialism’s lackey! Out with Guaidó!
All support to demonstrations against Maduro! No trust in Guaidó’s leadership!
For a General Strike to overthrow Maduro!
For the expropriation of imperialism’s and the boli-bourgeoisie’s enterprises, under workers’ control!
For the nationalization of imperialist enterprises and the confiscation of the boli-bourgeoisie’s fortunes!