Venezuela: the Campaign of the Opposition is provoking a Revolutionary Backlash
Venezuela: the Campaign of the Opposition is provoking a Revolutionary Backlash
Written by In Defence of MarxismWednesday, 09 January 2013
Taking advantage of Chavez's ill health, the Venezuelan oligarchy and
imperialism have renewed their campaign of destabilisation against the
Bolivarian Revolution. They risk unleashing the wrath of the workers and
January 10th is the date by which Hugo Chavez has to be sworn into office
as the re-elected President of Venezuela. However, as the day draws nearer,
complications in his recovery from surgery in Cuba make this unlikely.
Since the beginning of the year, and even before, the Venezuelan right wing
opposition has unleashed a vicious and disgusting campaign of rumours and
lies about President Chavez's real condition with the aim of removing him
[image: ABChavez]The Spanish newspaper ABC has played a particularly
prominent role in this campaign, announcing in front page headlines that
Chavez was in an "induced comma" and his days were numbered. According to
this papers' unnamed "intelligence sources" he would soon be disconnected
from a life support machine. This was combined with a barrage of propaganda
and lies on social media networks, in a campaign organised directly by
prominent members of the so-called "democratic opposition".
The aim of this campaign is to achieve what the oligarchy could not get
through the ballot box (nor through previous coups, conspiracies, lockouts,
etc): the end of Chavez's presidency which would deal a serious blow to the
The hypocrisy of these "democratic" ladies and gentlemen knows no limits.
They now insist that the Constitution must be respected and that if Chavez
is unable to be sworn in on January 10, then he is no longer President and
new elections are automatically triggered. These are the same people who
first opposed the Bolivarian Constitution in 1999, mobilised against it,
burnt copies of it on their demonstrations, and then, at the first
opportunity they had, during the short-lived coup in April 2002, abolished
it. Now their only concern is that the Bolivarian Constitution be
respected. They are joined in this chorus of hyenas by the Venezuelan
Episcopal Conference - which also played a key role in supporting the April
Even from a narrow constitutional point of view, they are wrong. The
Constitution clearly says (Art. 231) that if the President is unable to
take an oath on January 10th at the National Assembly, he can do so in
front of the Supreme Court of Justice (with no date specified). From a
legal point of view, President Chavez requested permission from the
National Assembly to leave the country to undergo surgical treatment in
Cuba in December, which was granted.
This is precisely the Constitutional mechanism which was activated
yesterday, January 8, when Vice President Maduro informed the National
Assembly that president Chávez was unable (on medical instructions) to be
sworn in on January 10th and asked for the legislative body to refer the
matter to the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ).
Only in the case of an "absolute absence of the president" (Art. 233), new
elections would have to be called within 30 days. Absolute absence of the
president would be in cases of death, resignation or "permanent mental or
physical incapacity" certified as such by a medical team appointed by the
Supreme Court and ratified by the National Assembly.
Clearly, none of these cases yet apply.
[image: Pueblo Pa' la Asamblea]January 5 Rally PIC TeleSurTVThis, of
course, will not stop the opposition in its vociferous campaign. Opposition
leaders have declared that they have the "right to know" what is the "real
state of health" of the President and have organised a commission of "men
of proven reputation" to go to Cuba to investigate directly. They also said
they would make an appeal to the "international community" (What they mean
is Imperialism). All of those they have appointed to this commission were
directly involved in the April 2002 coup and where they really belong is in
The same capitalists, landlords, media owners and cardinals who organised
the undemocratic coup which removed the democratically elected President
from office in 2002, are now raising a hue and cry about a "coup" organised
by the Bolivarian leaders. They insist that unless Chavez is sworn in on
January 10, then he is no longer President.
In reality, leaving to one side the constitutional details (a field in
which they have no moral standing and in which they are wrong in any case),
the central fact they want people to forget is this: President Chávez was
re-elected on October 7th, when he received 8.1 million votes (55%) on an
astonishingly high 80% turnout. The opposition was soundly defeated and the
people voted once again to ratify the project of the Bolivarian revolution,
led by Chávez. The oligarchy now wants to undo their defeat at the polls,
revealing, once again, their true undemocratic character.
Just in case anyone thinks that the opposition leaders are really concerned
about constitutional rights, their campaign has been accompanied by calls
for a "national civilian strike" (ie. a bosses' lock-out like that of
December 2002 - January 2003) and a systematic campaign of hoarding of and
speculation with basic food products.
This despicable campaign has now turned the mood amongst the revolutionary
masses from one of worry, sorrow and praying for the recovery of Chavez,
which dominated over Christmas and the New Year, to one of anger and
militancy. Once again, the whip of the counter-revolution has spurred the
On January 5th, the day on which the National Assembly elected its
presidency, thousands of workers and poor gathered in the centre of Caracas
to show their support for Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution. That
mobilisation came from below and it was initially called for by rank and
file revolutionary activists. Representatives of the militias were also
[image: MILICIA POPULAR! #EVENTO elección y juramentación de la nuev... on
Twitpic]People's Militia at Jan 5 RallyOn the day, both the vice-president
Maduro and the president of the National Assembly Cabello made radical
speeches and issued stern warnings to the opposition. To the assembled
masses Diosdado Cabello declared: "with sadness but firmly we tell you,
gentlemen of the bourgeoisie, don't make a mistake. You would pay dearly"
and vice president Maduro added: "there is only one transition here, from
capitalism to socialism, with President Chavez at the head, elected,
re-elected and ratified".
There was even a clear statement to the effect that the rank and file was
going to be consulted in the selection of candidates for the forthcoming
municipal elections. This is significant as the appointment of candidates
from above was a major source of criticism from the revolutionary rank and
file during the December regional elections.
In the following days different official bodies, partly relying on
intelligence supplied by revolutionary organizations on the ground, carried
out a series of operations against hoarding and speculation, which Maduro
warned would be dealt with by "an iron fist".
[image: sugar seized in Aragua]Sugar seized in AraguaIn Carabobo, 494 tons
of pre-processed maize flour (a key product in the Venezuelan staple diet)
were found in a warehouse in La Yaguara belonging to the private food
monopoly POLAR. Similarly, 237 tons of maize flour were found in a POLAR
plant in Cumaná, Sucre. In Nueva Esparta, 26 tons of the same product were
seized from a POLAR warehouse, when the product had been missing from
private shops in the Margarita Island for weeks. In La Victoria, Aragua,
8,000 tons of refined sugar were found in a raid on a private warehouse.
Similar raids took place in Táchira, Zulia, Anzoategui, Bolivar, and other
states across the country. These are just some examples which show how
there is an orchestrated campaign to artificially create a scarcity of
basic food products in order to provoke malaise and unrest amongst the
Now, a massive national rally has been called for on January 10, the day on
which the president is supposed to be sworn in. Already people are
mobilizing to attend what could be yet another huge show of support for the
revolution. This is the correct step. This issue cannot be solved by
lawyers and experts looking at the Constitution with a magnifying glass,
but through the mass mobilization of workers and the poor.
The mood amongst the people is clear: the opposition, again, wants to steal
the votes which gave Chavez a clear victory on October 7, and the people
will not allow them to do so. A revolutionary activist from the communal
councils of the working class neighbourhood of 23 de Enero put it this way
when interviewed during the rally on January 5: "The Venezuelan people will
continue to set the pace of this revolution, even if we lose the
leadership," and he added that in such a scenario "the people, the
oppressed classes would take the reins" to continue forward.
It is clear to all that the state of health of the President is very
delicate. This has clearly posed the question of what next in the minds of
millions of Bolivarian supporters. The answer that is coming loud and clear
is "*we* are the people, this is *our* revolution, and it is up to *us* to
take it forward."
The most far sighted sections of the oligarchy and imperialism are acutely
aware of this and are attempting to play a more cautious role. The Spanish
newspaper El Pais, as well as publishing vitriolic attacks on Chavez and
the Venezuelan people, pointed out that the opposition had been caught
unawares by the situation and was impotent and unable to take the
initiative. The defeated opposition presidential candidate Capriles has
been surprisingly silent throughout, not giving public backing to the calls
from more extreme sections of the opposition for a "civic strike." However,
they are not in control, even of their own ranks.
The momentum is being created for a situation in which the revolution could
be completed. The wrath provoked by the crass opportunism of the oligarchy
should be used to strike decisive blows against the property-owning class.
Faced with speculation and hoarding workers at POLAR and other companies,
which monopolise food production and distribution, should organise workers'
control committees in conjunction with the communal councils and demand the
expropriation of the saboteurs.
This would mean, as a matter of fact, the expropriation of the Mendoza
family, owners of the POLAR group of companies. This family played a key
role in the 2002 coup, in the 2002-03 bosses lock-out, their lorries were
used to blockade the roads during the guarimba riots of 2004, and they have
played a decisive role against the revolution in every attempt to sabotage
the food distribution chain in the last 10 or 15 years. Many in Venezuela
are asking themselves how much longer they will be allowed to continue with
their undemocratic actions against the will of the majority.
The Minister of Information also issued a strongly worded letter to
Globovision, demanding that they should stop referring to Maduro as "acting
president", when he is in fact the Vice President. Again, revolutionary
activists are demanding that finally this is used to revoke the
broadcasting license from a channel which played a decisive role in the
April 2002 coup and in all counter-revolutionary conspiracies since.
Faced with the threat of a bosses lock-out (under the guise of a "national
civilian strike"), workers' control committees should be organized in all
factories and workplaces to exercise revolutionary vigilance and act under
the slogan of the struggle against the 2002 lock out: "Factory closed,
This struggle can only be won if the revolutionary working class puts
itself at the head of the Bolivarian people showing a clear way forward to
implement what the people voted for on October 7: Socialism!
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