Venezuela: After the Chavez victory

22 December 2012 by Franck Gaudichaud

The state of health of Venezuelan president Higo Chávez is such that it is possible new elections will have to take place following his victory in October 2012. International Viewpoint correspondent Franck Gaudichaud was in Venezuela in October and made this assessment of the outcome of that election.

On Sunday, October 7, Hugo Chávez celebrated his third presidential election victory, with 55.1% of the vote against 44.3% for his main opponent, the neo-liberal candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski. The political polarization was such that the other four candidates in the running were literally swept aside |1|. Chávez’s popularity, ability to mobilize and charismatic leadership remain then solidly demonstrated, entrenched and dominant among the popular layers, with electoral participation exceeding 80% of the electorate. The demonstration of hundreds of thousands of people (possibly more than a million!) who occupied the streets of Caracas on Thursday, October 4, was a clear demonstration of vitality of the “Bolivarian revolution” and also the omnipresence of the president at the time to raise the enthusiasm of the crowds. This under the auspices of a campaign slogan quite far removed from socialism: “Chávez, heart of the homeland”.

We find here certainly the strength of popular nationalism as it is incarnated in Venezuela: that of a progressive and anti-imperialist “Caesarism” (in the Gramscian sense) or again this post-neoliberal “populist reason” described by Ernesto Laclau |2|, which has managed to create, reconstitute at top and bottom, a new popular political community in Venezuela, throughout the last decade. However, if there is fervour, it is not the unique result of some “irrational” policy, as can be read regularly in the dominant press or a simple discursive plebeian emergence. This popular mysticism is also thanks to the social balance Balance End of year statement of a company’s assets (what the company possesses) and liabilities (what it owes). In other words, the assets provide information about how the funds collected by the company have been used; and the liabilities, about the origins of those funds. sheet, real and well understood, of the Bolivarian process: in contrast to what was going on under previous governments, much of the oil revenue was used to fund social policies. “The (many) humble shouting “Viva Chávez!” are probably the millions of people who, every day, resort to the different programmes - Mercal, Pdval, Bicentenario, Farmapatria - where they can buy basic necessities at subsidized prices. The youth who get excited – “Chavez will win!” - are evidence of the policy of inclusion and education at all levels, the free books and computers (canaimitas) that they are given. The old people who dress in red t-shirts do so probably because the 200,000 retirees receiving an old age pension at the end of the Fourth Republic have become 2,300,000 today. When the mothers of families speak fondly of the “comandante”, this is because the different “missions” put in place gave them access to health, because two million of them and their loved ones have been provided for by the social security system. That the inadequately housed are supportive has come as no surprise: the great Venezuela housing mission, certainly created too late, has built tens of thousands of homes since its inception eighteen months ago ’ |3|.

According to the UN Economic Commission for Latin America, Venezuela is the country that has seen the most spectacular decline in poverty in Latin America: between 2002 and 2010, it went from 48.6% to 27.8% and 22.2% to 10.7% with regard to extreme poverty. In addition, the country now has one of the lowest levels of inequality in the region, which is not insignificant in the most unequal continent of the planet. The changes are therefore very real, very different from the neo-liberal years of the IV Republic (1958-1998). We should add to this the creation of spaces of popular participation, particularly through thousands of communal councils or peasant cooperatives emerging from the land reform; the recent reform of the labour code, the most progressive on the continent; the implementation of the highest minimum wage in the region and the return of the discussion on popular sovereignty, socialism and anti-capitalism, far beyond activist spheres alone. The Chavez campaign program was also clearly oriented around these strategic orientations.

The election also had a clear geopolitical character. A defeat for the candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and its allies of the Great Patriotic Pole (including the Venezuelan Communist Party) would have strongly degraded the continental relationship of class forces, threatening social and democratic conquests made in the last decade, but also threatening the new relative autonomy of the South in relation to imperialism, the very young Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and above all, derailed innovative, although still incipient or limited, projects such as the ALBA or the Bank of the South.

Yet, this new electoral victory - very clear and indisputable - cannot hide the many problems unresolved after 13 years of power, the “dilemmas” and the intense contradictions of the Bolivarian process, beyond the speeches on “21st century socialism” (of which we can still barely see the blurred outlines). Let’s mention some of the more obvious:

- Corruption, which remains endemic, and at all institutional levels (and in particular at the level of the governors of the federated states), to the point that we can talk of it begin structural and encysted, the heritage of a rentier oil-dependent state which has not been transformed;

- Bureaucracy, inefficiency and low institutionalization of public policies, lack of productivity of state-owned enterprises, the permanent waltz of officials in the departments and, as acknowledged and repeated by the president himself during the campaign the lack of monitoring of projects, including those intended to improve access to electricity, to diversify the productive model or to ensure food sovereignty in a country that still imports more than 75% of its food;

- Insecurity (especially in the cities) and the magnitude of crime, making Venezuela one of the countries with the highest rate of homicide by light firearms on the continent (excluding armed conflict): a concern and a daily ordeal for the popular sectors, widely exploited by the right and the oligarchy, despite some real progress with the recent reform of the police and a beginning of taking into account of the phenomenon;

- The weakness of the structuring of the trade union movement, the defeat – and including the repression - of experiences of worker’s control and co-management (such as at SIDOR or Sanitarios Maracay) co-management, the questioning of the independence of the working class, powered by the permanent temptation for control from above of trade unionism by the executive, verticalism reinforced recently by internal divisions and the crisis of the UNETE (Unión Nacional de Trabajadores de Venezuela) and the creation (in 2011) of the CSBT (Central Socialista Bolivariana de los Trabajadores), effectively under the thumb of the Ministry of Labour;

- The issue of the omnipresence of Hugo Chávez, sometimes called “hyperpresidentialism” and therefore the level of personalisation of power, in a context – moreover - where the president is seriously ill with cancer and therefore considerably weakened;

- The maintenance of a rentier model of development (and a state) originating from the paradoxical “curse” of oil abundance: a sustainable model essentially based on exploitation of this resource and a mixed capitalist economy where more than 70% of GDP GDP
Gross Domestic Product
Gross Domestic Product is an aggregate measure of total production within a given territory equal to the sum of the gross values added. The measure is notoriously incomplete; for example it does not take into account any activity that does not enter into a commercial exchange. The GDP takes into account both the production of goods and the production of services. Economic growth is defined as the variation of the GDP from one period to another.
is still in the hands of the private sector, while a caste - referred to as the “boli-bourgeoisie” - grows in the shade of this windfall and an “endogenous right” to government embodied by a few strong (and wealthy) men, such Diosdado Cabello (now President of the National Assembly);

- Foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, where on behalf of a “campist” anti-imperialist strategy, Chávez has chosen to support, come what may, a number of autocratic, indeed bloodthirsty, governments in the region: a strategy renewed as early as the day after the election, when the president at a press conference reaffirmed his friendship for Bashar Al-Assad in the face of “terrorists” and NATO NATO
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NATO ensures US military protection for the Europeans in case of aggression, but above all it gives the USA supremacy over the Western Bloc. Western European countries agreed to place their armed forces within a defence system under US command, and thus recognize the preponderance of the USA. NATO was founded in 1949 in Washington, but became less prominent after the end of the Cold War. In 2002, it had 19 members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK, the USA, to which were added Greece and Turkey in 1952, the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955 (replaced by Unified Germany in 1990), Spain in 1982, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic in 1999.
.

However, and this is what we have seen during our stay in Caracas during the last election, more and more voices from the “critical Chavismo” collectives are renewing their conscious support for the process (and its conquests), while denouncing its stagnation and the lack of progress in many areas, and explaining that if a part of the popular electorate has decided to vote for Capriles it is in order to express its displeasure or distress. As noted by Patrick Guillaudat: “looking closely at results, the victory is fragile, despite the fact that Chavez won against Capriles in 22 of the 24 states of the country. Between the last presidential elections in 2006 and those of 2012, Chávez gained 752,976 votes while the opposition gained 2,175,984, or more than three times as much. In the popular districts of Caracas (Petare, 23 de Enero, La Vega and so on) the Chavista vote fell by 6 to 9%. We see the same movement in the other cities of the country. On the other hand, the accurate count of the votes of each candidate, divided party by party, showing that more than a fifth of the votes obtained by Chavez came from parties other than the PSUV. [...] Defiance or criticism was also expressed by a vote for organizations other than the PSUV, including the PCV. In the days that followed the election, conflicting signals have been launched. On the one hand, Chavez advocates dialogue and openness towards the opposition. On the other, PSUV militants are demanding a “rectification” in the sense of a deepening of the process” |4|.

It is also important to note that the panorama of the opposition has largely evolved: it can even be said, as the Marxist Manuel Sutherland has said, that Capriles Radonski, the candidate of the oligarchy and imperialism, is in one sense a “winner-loser”. The candidate of the MUD, (Mesa de Unidad Democrática), a broad coalition of 30 organizations (ranging from ex-Maoists to the extreme-right splinter groups), managed to win in primary, including against the main parties of the historic “ancien regime”: COPEI (Christian Democrats) and Acción Democrática (Social Democrats). In his thirties, of bourgeois origin, leader of Primero Justicia (a new party created in 2000 with the support of US ultra-conservatives) and very active during the coup of 2002, Capriles has largely achieved his goal: by imposing his strategy, he also rejuvenated and revitalized the image of the opposition, performing with brio at many meetings across the country. This was far from the semi-fascist hysteria of previous years, with a propaganda campaign of centre-left, “humanist”, tones, identifying with Lula and attached to social progress. while soft pedalling a program which was violently neo-liberal. Sutherland concludes: “Capriles Radonski clearly gave the impression of being a rival, who is preparing to take power in the medium term (2018), at a more favourable electoral context, that is at a time where the deterioration of the popularity of Chavismo because of increased problems within Venezuelan society (insecurity, high cost of living, unemployment and so on) will be crucial. If electoral trends continue to evolve in these directions on both sides, Capriles could well be the next and most neo-liberal President of Venezuela” |5|.

The regional elections (elections of governors and federal parliaments) from mid-December will no doubt be a new test for the Bolivarian camp. And already some unease is felt inside militant Chavismo, faced with the candidates selected, all appointed from above and representing the bureaucratic leadership of a PSUV ever more distant from its base or directly originating from the military regime that surrounds the President. For example, in Bolivar State, we find Francisco Rangel Gomez, who aspires to a second re-election, even though he had been known in 2008 for his fierce opposition against the workers of SIDOR or again in the State of Lara, the former governor and soldier Luis Reyes Reyes will again wear the Bolivarian colours, although accused by many social movements of being responsible for violations of human rights in the past.

Nevertheless, and in spite of this openly critical panorama (which seems necessary in order to know how to express our internationalism as well as to confront the intense anti-Chavez media campaign waged by the oligarchies of the South and North), the Bolivarian people (and its struggles) remains alive, dynamic and rebellious. The process is therefore not dead, far from it. Just browse the “ranchos” of the big cities, the streets of Caracas, the factories of Ciudad Guyana or the interior of the country to find out. What the political scientist Edgardo Lander has called a “strained alternative project” thus remains a central component of the political coordinates of Venezuela today. This project, though characterised by a “tension between control by the top and autonomy at the base”, crystallizes around the core notion of all Bolivarian political discourse - the sovereign people.

And the next few months will depend precisely on this latter. According to “La Jornada” columnist Guillermo Almeyra: “those who vote for Chávez are not blind to the problems of corruption, of verticalism, of bureaucracy, the military leadership of a process which requires, on the contrary, the decisive participation of the population, open discussion of the various options to resolve the major problems, and popular control of governmental institutions and activities”. He adds “instead of presenting an independent and anti-Chavista candidacy like that of the combative trade union leader Orlando Chirino, separating socialists from Chavistas, the revolutionary left should work together with the Chavista supporters of socialism to reinforce the self-organization of workers and, after the defeat of the right, battle in better conditions against the verticalism and bureaucrats-technocrats who await the disappearance of Hugo Chávez to control the state apparatus. Because the major battles will take place after October”.

This option is shared, notably, by Marea Socialista, an anti-capitalist current in the PSUV. During the presidential election, these activists - strongly involved in the trade union movement and among youth - launched a campaign around the slogans “October 7: president Chávez; October 8: rid the revolution of its bureaucrats” and “for a government of working people without capitalists!” They regrouped in May 2012 in the APR (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria) which is trying to build an autonomous Bolivarian mobilization, not restricted to the structures of the state or the PSUV, alongside the peasant organization “Revolutionary Bolivar and Zamora Current”, the movement of pobladores, the National Association of Free and Alternative Media Communities (ANMCLA), Surco (a university education collective), feminist organizations and so on.

Against the desire of a part of the government for reconciliation with the opposition or the oligarchy, which has seemed to emerge in recent weeks, these critical sectors emphasize that only social struggles and the deepening of the democratic conquests, forms of autonomous participation and control over the economy and the functioning of the state, and the creation of forms of real popular power will be able to give substantive content to calls for “21st century socialism”. And starting thus to transcend the obstacles and contradictions of the Bolivarian process, without allowing the return of the neoliberals and agents of Washington to the country. It is certainly the last opportunity in this new political sequence which is opening after 13 years in power. And nothing says for the moment that it is the most probable outcome, far from it, even if it remains the most desirable from the point of view of consistent anti-neoliberals and anti-capitalists.

Interview

We publish here an interview conducted by Franck Gaudichaud with the members of the National Coordination of Marea Socialista, a current in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV): Gonzalo Gómez (founder of the website Aporrea.org), Stalin Perez Borges (trade union leader), Juan García, and Zuleika Matamoros. The interview took place in Caracas on October 9, 2012.

In your opinion, what importance does the recent election victory of Hugo Chavez have? What are the main points and what will its regional impact be in Latin America?

Gonzalo Gómez: firstly, in the light of the election results, it should be noted that Chavez has won and that with him, it is the people who won. The Chavez re-election means that the revolutionary process remains open in Venezuela and continues the opportunity for further progress of the social and political transformations that have marked the Bolivarian revolution.

Juan García: Actually, the October 7 election has not allowed the bourgeoisie and imperialism to halt the Bolivarian revolution. The country continues to pursue an orientation of relative independence in relation to imperialist domination. The bourgeoisie has not managed to gain the space that would allow it to restore its neo-liberal policies and its direct control of the state, of which it was deprived by the revolutionary process.

Gonzalo Gómez: With regard to the regional impact, with the victory of Chavez, the relationship of forces in Latin America continues to be favourable to the revolution and the so-called “regional integration”. The interventionist imperialism option was weakened and delayed, which opens the way to other strategies which they attempt to use to neutralize the Bolivarian revolution on the Latin American geopolitical scene.

Zuleika Matamoros: Having said that, even if we begin our analysis by recognizing the significance of the triumph of Chavez, we must also recognize the growing threat of the right. In this election the gap in favour of Chavez was slightly more than 11% of the votes, which is very significant. But we must not forget that, compared to previous elections, like the presidential election of 2006, Chavismo has lost its lead in percentage of electors and the right has made advances.

Juan García: Of course, Zuleika is correct and we must draw attention to this in the debate which will take place on the results of the elections. In 2006, Chavez won almost 63% of the vote while the candidate of the right won nearly 37%. The difference in favour of Chavez was 27%. At the election of October 7, 2012, Chavez won with slightly more than 55% while Henrique Capriles Radonski got slightly more than 44%; the gap has been reduced to less than 12%. In number of votes, Chavez received 7,500,000 more than in 2006, while the right won 2,100,000 votes - there were more than 3 million new voters (these are approximate figures published today). Chavez won in 22 of the 24 States and the right lost the majority in many regions that it led, but it has also been strengthened in many big cities and has progressed significantly, both in percentage and in number of votes.

Stalin Perez Borges: This is why you need to draw attention to the danger posed by this trend. If electoral behaviour continues to evolve in the same way as we observed on October 7, there is a serious danger that the next Bolivarian presidential nominee (either Chavez or anyone replacing him) would lose the Presidency: the right would have a great chance of winning. The same risk may occur halfway through, if the bourgeois opposition were able to call a presidential recall referendum, as it did in 2004. That is why, although we were celebrating the victory, we say that there is a problem because Chavez has gone backwards, while the right has gone forward. And this has happened when the rate of abstention was the lowest of all recent national elections. So we can speak of electoral erosion for Chavez.

Before we talk about the causes, reasons explaining this result, can we talk a bit about the outline of the programme of the candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) during this campaign

Gonzalo Gómez: Chavez presented a program around five historical objectives. The message of his campaign sought an emotional attachment, an emotional bond Bond A bond is a stake in a debt issued by a company or governmental body. The holder of the bond, the creditor, is entitled to interest and reimbursement of the principal. If the company is listed, the holder can also sell the bond on a stock-exchange. with the people. To do this, he used the slogan “Chavez, the heart of the country”. But this slogan, beyond the psychological impact it can have, was by no means an ideological definition of the left and could be used by his opponent to the right, Capriles Radonski. Of course, he doesn’t have the emotional impact of Chavez in the population and his image is not associated with the feelings of patriotism, sovereignty and national independence that Chavez wanted to express. But in reality the objectives set out in the programmatic proposals of Chavez were little discussed and his campaign was more focused, especially in the final weeks, on the denunciation of the threats posed by the neoliberal agenda of Capriles and his right wing Coalition of Democratic Unity (MUD) to the national independence obtained during the fourteen years of the Bolivarian revolution.

Juan García: You know this people has been marked, historically, by its reaction in 1989 against attempts to impose a neoliberal package of measures designed by the International Monetary Fund IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.

http://imf.org
. It was the revolt of February 27, 1989, which initiated the revolutionary period that we live through, that is how the figure of Chavez emerged as well as the constituent process which took place after he came to power in 1998. That is why the denunciation of Capriles’ intentions to challenge these policies has had a great impact. Here, the “spectre of communism” that the right always uses to scare people into believing that they will lose their personal property, has an opposite effect. This time it’s Capriles who has embodied the threat that the Venezuelan people would lose the gains accumulated under the mandate of Chavez: access to health, education, housing, pensions, the reduction of poverty and so on.

Zuleika Matamoros: With regard to the people’s movement, it was stifled by the PSUV and the machinery of government. The Great Patriotic Pole, which had generated great expectations and was seen as an opportunity to create an enthusiastic campaign, which was to be a space of participation for the rank and file and social subjects, was deflated because its policy initiatives were sequestered by the PSUV and the electoral machine, which imposed their line. It is distressing, because during the elections of 2006, the participation of the rank and file was much more vigorous and gave better results. This election campaign was much more bureaucratically controlled and it is a source of political damage. The PSUV was not up to it, it was not the true engine of the campaign because of the insistence of the bureaucracy on stifling the initiatives of the rank and file and the autonomy of the social movements. Ultimately, the most important factor in this campaign was Chavez himself, who really threw himself into it during the last weeks, as well as the participation of the population, aware of the threat posed by the right, despite the fact that its enthusiasm has been undermined by bad experiences of the bureaucratisation of the process.

How do we analyze the Capriles campaign, his achievements in the construction of a united opposition for the presidential elections, his actual ability to mobilize the masses well beyond the “hard core” of the right (and the oligarchy) and his electoral results in Caracas and in the provinces?

Stalin Perez Borges: With the help of imperialism and at its dictation, the right has managed to unite through a primary election, regardless of its tensions and its minor fractures. From the point of view of its own objectives, it has waged a very successful campaign and has been able to reach disgruntled popular sectors, who, despite the benefits obtained, resent the abuse of the governmental bureaucracy within public institutions and state enterprises, just as they resent its lack of consistency and its ineffectiveness with regard to the issues which cannot be resolved in the context of capitalism. For the first time in years - in fact since the failed coup of 2002 - the right was able to mobilize in the centre and west of Caracas, in Chavista and popular areas, and gather some 150,000 people in the capital on Bolivar Avenue. But the Chavista popular reaction on October 4 brought together, in various nearby avenues, more than five or six times more people at the same time. That said, it is clear that the right has been able to penetrate little by little into the popular sectors, in particular the so-called “middle class”, who feel dissatisfied and make Chavez responsible for unsolved problems, such as insecurity and delinquency.

After this victory a new period of six years of government opens. Which will be the last government of Hugo Chavez, how is he going to address important issues such as bureaucracy, clientelism, state inefficiency and insecurity?

Gonzalo Gómez: If we follow the trend of electoral growth for the right and take into account the uncertainty generated by the possibility that the right will not have to confront Chavez at the next election, we cannot rule out the possibility of seeing here what happened to the Sandinistas at the end of the 1980s, when the bourgeoisie returned to power. If we do not advance the anti-capitalist measures and if the bureaucratization continues, if we do not build a collective leadership, working class and popular, of the revolutionary process, if the extreme dependence on Chavez continues... the erosion may be irreversible. That is why Marea Socialista says we need to promote, with all our strength, the exercise of social control and genuine participatory democracy against bureaucratism. We say it is necessary that Chavez opens a permanent consultation with the organizations of the working class, the peasants, organs of popular power and social movements active in the process, so as to share Share A unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset, representing one part of the total capital stock. Its owner (a shareholder) is entitled to receive an equal distribution of any profits distributed (a dividend) and to attend shareholder meetings. the design and approval of policies. We need a revival of the constituent experience, around the new program presented by Chavez in this election, and with the participation of the social actors of the process in the exercise of governance of revolutionary type. It is with these movements that we need to identify the priorities and the measures to be implemented.

The president has been weakened by his illness and, at the same time, he was very present in the last weeks of the campaign and there is no doubt that his popular and charismatic leadership was fundamental for the victory. Is a “Chavismo without Chavez” imaginable?

Juan García: Without Chavez as a factor and without the construction of a collective leadership originating from the organized people, we believe that “Chavismo” will sink into dispersion and confusion. That is why we are saying we need to build a new government that would be the real expression of the popular movement and organizations of the working class.

What are the prospects for the December local and regional elections?

Zuleika Matamoros: Some speak of a “knock-on” effect from Chavez’s electoral victory of October 7. But we believe that the designation from above of the candidates for governor, without taking into account and even ignoring the popular rejection of some names, will not contribute to reversing the clear trend in the rise of the right. There is a real risk of loss of regional government and allowing the right to obtain an even more favourable relationship of forces.

What are the medium and long term perspectives of the Bolivarian process, as well as the positions which compete in the political space of Bolivarianism concerning the deepening – or not – of the conquests and ways of transcending its contradictions? What are the positions defended in this debate by your current, Marea Socialista?

Gonzalo Gómez: We increasingly insist on the need for a radical left current in the revolutionary process. While the government spoke recently of the need for a “responsible right”, with which it is possible to have a dialogue and reach an agreement, we and a good part of the radical activists believe that what is needed is a consistent revolutionary left able to pressure for a change of direction. It must be a force able to guide the implementation of the policies that we will take to complete the break with capitalism, which allows us to go beyond the “mixed economy” schema and thus facilitate the transition to socialism. Because the construction of the new society has been slowed and bureaucracy slows down the solution of important problems, both urgent and structural.

Where are we in relation to the experiences of popular participation such as experiences in workers’ control (at Sidor for example) and popular power at the neighbourhood level (communal councils) and the communes? We hear much about 21st century socialism, but the campaign has focused on more “emotional” or general slogans such as “Chavez, the heart of the homeland”: what does “21st century socialism” mean beyond the rhetoric?

Stalin Perez Borges: As you have noticed, the rhetoric often takes precedence over the concrete policy. In the case of workers’ control, we recognize that Chavez has opened the possibility of trying it out, on the basis of the fight that the workers led; but the behaviour of the state bureaucracy stifles and perverts these experiences. Of course, the challenge that we face is to overcome these challenges by combative capacity and revolutionary consciousness. As for popular power, with the neighbourhood councils and communes, even though this is a very progressive experience, it remains confined to the local level and these emerging organizations must also face bureaucratization, cooption by the State and clientelist relations, while there is no specific policy which would allow them to pass from the neighbourhood level to a real involvement in the exercise of territorial and national power. That is why we say that Chavez should make a call - and we must demand it – so that what has been built as structures of popular power, as well as the social movements, have a right to expression at the level of the government and the policies it will impose, in close consultation with the people. We need a clearly anti-capitalist and socialist orientation and that means the real implementation of the power of the workers and the people.

Franck Gaudichaud is a lecturer at the University of Grenoble-3 and a member of the Latin America working group of the NPA. He is co-president of the association France Latin America and participates in the editorial committee of the site www.rebelion.org, and in the review ContreTemps (contact: franck.gaudichaud@u-grenoble3.fr).

Source: International Viewpoint


Footnotes

|1| Orlando Chirino, a revolutionary trades unionist, Trotskyist activist and candidate of the PSL (Party of Socialism and Liberty) obtained 4,140 votes (0.02% of the vote)

|2| E. Laclau. “On Populist Reason”, Verso, London, 2057

|3| Maurice Lemoine, “Au Venezuela, les électeurs ont “confisqué” la démocratie”, “Le Monde Diplomatique”, October 2012

|4| “Tout est a nous! La Revue”, December 2012

|5| M. Sutherland. Apporea.org, October 2012

Author

Franck Gaudichaud

is a doctor of political science, lecturer in Latin American Civilization at the University of Grenoble (and currently visiting researcher at the University of Chile) and author of several books on Latin America. The latest is Chili 1970-1973. Mille jours qui changèrent le monde, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2013. He is co-president of the association France Latin America and participates in the editorial committee of the site www.rebelion.org. He is also a member of the Latin America working group of the NPA.l.


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