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Venezuelan presidential elections: a narrow victory for the revolution – what next?

Bolivarian revolution
 link to www.marxist.com

Venezuelan presidential elections: a narrow victory for the revolution - what next?
Written by Jorge Martin
Monday, 15 April 2013


Bolivarian candidate Nicolas Maduro won the Venezuelan presidential
election of April 14 by a narrow margin. With 99.12% of the votes counted,
there was a 78.71% turn out, with Maduro receiving 7,505,378 votes
(50.66%), and Capriles 7,270,403 votes (49.07%). Capriles declared that he
does not recognise the result and demanded an audit of 100% of the vote.

Masses
gather outside Miraflores Palace in anticipation of victory - Picture: AVNThe
results were announced by the head of the National Electoral Commission
(CNE) Tibisay Lucena at 11.45 pm local time after a long and tense wait.
The reason for the delay was clearly the fact that results were so close
that they wanted to announce them only once they had counted a number of
votes which would make the result irreversible. This was the case
particularly as the opposition campaign had been spreading rumours that
they had won and Capriles himself announced that the government was
planning to "change the results".

The
Bolivarian masses had rallied outside the Miraflores Palace to celebrate
the expected victory and they were addressed by Nicolás Maduro. Meanwhile
the mood was sombre in the opposition campaign headquarters. Small numbers
of opposition supporters rioted in upper class residential areas like El
Cafetal in East Caracas, burning tyres and blocking the streets.

RadonskiCapriles announced that he did not recognise the results
and demanded a full 100% audit of the vote, alleging that over 3,200
irregularities had taken place. He was backed by CNE rector Vicente Díaz
who also asked for an audit of all ballot boxes. The truth is, however,
that the opposition had conducted a relentless campaign for weeks to try to
discredit the CNE and Capriles and other opposition spokespersons had cried
fraud hours before any results had been announced. This was their strategy
all along.

*Read also:*

LIVE BLOG: presidential elections April
14< http://www.handsoffvenezuela.org/live_blog_presidential_election_april_14.htm>



Manifesto of Lucha de Clases on the April 14 presidential
election< http://www.marxist.com/ldc-manifesto-for-april-14-elections.htm>



Venezuela: the April 14 presidential elections and the tasks of the
revolution< link to www.marxist.com



Hugo Chávez is dead: The fight for socialism
lives!< http://www.marxist.com/hugo-chavez-is-dead-fight-for-socialism-lives.htm>

The first thing that needs to be said about the results is that this is yet
another election victory for the Bolivarian revolution, however narrow. The
so-called "democratic" opposition had no problem when Capriles won the
governorship of Miranda by 40,000 votes, or when they won the 2007
constitutional reform referendum by the narrowest of margins (1.4%). At
that time the Bolivarian revolution accepted the democratic results. The
pattern is clear, whenever the oligarchy wins they accept the result, but
when they lose, they cry fraud.

As Maduro pointed out in his victory speech, Bush was declared the victor
of the US presidential election in 2000, even though he got fewer votes
than his rival (and there were widespread allegations of fraud which were
never investigated). Throughout the campaign Maduro had insisted that he
would recognise the results given by the CNE, even if these were against
him by just one vote. Capriles on the other hand had consistently refused
to say he would do the same and refused to sign a document along those
lines drafted by the CNE.

The turnout was over 78%, only 3 points below the massive turn out on
October 7 last year when Chávez was re-elected. Despite all the attempts of
the opposition and imperialism to question the democratic character of the
election, all international observers agreed that they had been conducted
in a free and fair manner and that the voting system was foolproof and
efficient.

People
qeueing up to vote Election day itself had started early, as is traditional,
with revolutionary activists sounding the wakeup call at 3am and large
numbers of people voting throughout the morning in the working class
districts. The opposition issued instructions for their supporters to come
out and vote massively in the afternoon, though there did not seem to be
long queues in the middle and upper class residential areas at any point
during the day. Throughout the day the mood was tense as it had been during
the last days of the campaign. Colombian and Salvadorian paramilitaries had
been arrested in the country, accused of attempting to carry out actions of
destabilisation. They were armed and some had Venezuelan army uniforms in
their possession. The armed forces had also seized a cache of weapons,
ammunition and explosives.

You will read in the capitalist media all sorts of reports about alleged
actions of violence against opposition supporters, but the truth is that it
was Bolivarian activists who were on the receiving end of all sorts of
provocations and violence. It is worth giving a few examples. A group of a
few dozen opposition thugs attempted to set the governor's building on fire
in Mérida at the end of a Capriles rally. A PDVSA worker, who was letting
off celebratory fireworks at the end of Maduro's huge closing election
rally on April 10, was shot dead by two assassins on a motorbike. On April
14 itself, a camera man for community TV station Barrio TV was shot at in
El Valle while reporting on the elections. Detailed destabilisation plans
worked out by opposition youth organisation JAVU were also discovered and
made public. Bolivarian supporter*Potro *Alvarez, a known baseball player
and singer, was assaulted by a frenzied opposition mob (See video to the
right) as he went to vote in the upper-middle class district where he
lives, in Baruta, East of Caracas. Also on election day, a group of
revolutionary activists holding an information "red point" in Los Ruices
(East of Caracas) were surrounded by an angry, violent opposition crowd and
had to be protected by the national guard. As polls closed there was an all
out cyber attack with the hacking of the twitter account of Maduro, a
number of ministers and prominent Bolivarian activists, as well as the
defacing of Maduro's campaign website and the bringing down of a whole host
of government and ministerial websites. This was all calculated to create
uncertainty and fear at a crucial time when everyone was waiting for the
election results. This is the real face of the so-called "democratic"
opposition, which are exactly the same individuals, parties and economic
forces which organised the April 11 coup in 2002.

[image: people-receive-maduro-at-pres-palace-avn]< link to www.marxist.com
Palace in the evening- Picture: AVNA detailed breakdown of the results has
not yet been announced but from the state by state figures
released< link to www.avn.info.ve
it
can be seen that the opposition has this time managed to recover a lot of
the ground it lost in the October 7 presidential elections and the December
regional elections. It has won in Mérida, Táchira, Zulia, Lara, Nueva
Esparta and Miranda, which it held before, as well as winning over
Anzoátegui, which it had already won in the National Assembly elections in
2010. Significantly, the opposition has won in the key state of Bolivar
where the main state owned basic industries are situated and where there is
an extremely critical mood amongst the Bolivarian rank and file against the
governor Rangel and the bureaucracy in general because of their role in
fighting against workers' control. Still, Maduro won in 16 out of the
country's 25 states, including in the Capital District and the industrial
states of Carabobo and Aragua.

Maduro
speaking at MirafloresIn his speech from the peoples' balcony of the
Miraflores palace Maduro touched on an issue which is very sensitive for
the revolutionary masses: that of making concessions or conciliating with
the oligarchy and imperialism. He explained that he had received a call
from Capriles an hour before the election results were announced offering
him a pact. Maduro said that he had rejected any such pact and had replied
that the precondition for any talks was the recognition of the election
results, which Capriles of course refused to do.

Maduro repeated what he had already said earlier in the day, that there
would not be any dialogue with the bourgeoisie and that this was no longer
the time when things were negotiated away "behind the backs of the people".
While not rejecting having talks or a conversation with "reasonable
spokespersons of the opposition", he insisted that what was needed was a
genuine dialogue "with the worker, with the soldier" and that a debate
should be opened "in the factories, in the neighbourhoods in order to
develop the *Plan de la Patria *(the election program Chavez stood on) and
Chávez's legacy," which he said was the "building of a socialist country".

He explained how during the campaign he had come up against a systematic
campaign of economic war and sabotage. "Every state I visited there would
be an electricity black out, only for power to be restored as I left," he
explained. As a matter of fact, some 23 people have been arrested accused
of participating in the sabotage of the electricity grid. The same can be
said for the sabotage of the food supply chain, with speculation and
hoarding. Finally, he admitted the need for self-criticism and an "in-depth
rectification" and for the people to participate in that process.

The
hard truth is that this was a victory, but only by the narrowest of
margins, which should serve as a serious warning call for the revolution.
Since October 7, the Bolivarian revolution has shed 680,000 votes, while
Capriles has won the same number. The mood amongst the revolutionary masses
is one of celebration at having achieved yet another victory, but at the
same time there is an angry militant mood of self-criticism. The
accumulated discontent at the "Bolivarian" bureaucracy and the reformists
is turning into a militant demand for action against the saboteurs and
infiltrated elements within the revolutionary movement, particularly all
those local mayors, regional governors and state functionaries who swear by
Chávez and wear a red shirt but in reality are just careerists,
opportunists or even worse, corrupt. There are growing calls for a purge
within the PSUV.

Maduro is correct in saying that what the revolution is up against is an
economic war of attrition on the part of the ruling class. All the
necessary conclusions must be drawn from this. The only way to complete the
revolution, and defend its massive social gains, is by dealing blows
against the economic power of the capitalist class, which they use to
sabotage the democratic will of the majority. This means expropriating the
means of production, the banks and the *latifundia*in order to allow for
the democratic planning of the economy in the interests of the majority of
the population. This in itself would allow the revolution to deal with
problems such as inflation, hoarding and speculation, which are clearly
having the desired impact of eating away at the social base of support of
the revolution amongst the workers and the poor.#

*A report of how the day started in the working class revolutionary
neighbourhoods in the West of the capital, Caracas:*

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xsRNWeXnjUM



The problems of corruption and bureaucracy can only be dealt with by
introducing workers' control and management at all levels of the economy.
How is it possible that in a state company like Corpoelec, the electricity
generator and distributor, there is widespread sabotage? Revolutionary
workers in the company have been denouncing this for some time. The way to
deal with it is through workers' control, which is the same way in which
the problems of large scale theft and inefficiency of the basic industries
in Guayana can be dealt with.

The obstacle in the way of adopting these measures is not so much the
strength of the opposition. Despite their strong electoral showing on
Sunday, still 70% of the people think that the Chavez presidency was good
for the country. The overwhelming majority of the people support the social
programs introduced. If a significant number has been convinced by the
siren calls of Capriles, it is partly because of the inability of the
government to deal with the problems of economic disorganisation which are
the result of the continued existence of the capitalist market, not the
opposite. The last two months have shown that the Bolivarian masses are
still aroused and are far superior to the forces of the opposition when it
comes to mass mobilisation in the streets.

The obstacle in the path of completing the revolution towards socialism is
not the "low level of consciousness of the masses" as the reformists argue.
Quite the contrary! What more can be asked of the masses of Bolivarian
workers, peasants, youth, women, the poor? Once and again they have proven
to have a fine revolutionary instinct, a very developed political
understanding and a fighting will. They are the ones who have saved the
revolution in all crucial junctures, including yesterday, and propelled it
forward after each victory.

The pressure on the Bolivarian leadership for conciliation will now be
extremely powerful. The bourgeois media internationally has already built
up the discourse of a "divided country", the "fading appeal of chavismo",
Maduro having "no mandate", etc. *The New York Times* was pushing for a
reconciliation with the United States when it published a statement by OAS
representative and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson to the effect
that both Maduro and Foreign Affairs Minister Elias Jaua had approached him:

"Bill Richardson... said Mr. Maduro called him aside after a meeting of
election observers on Saturday and asked him to carry a message. "He said,
'We want to improve the relationship with the U.S., regularize the
relationship,' " Mr. Richardson said. The foreign minister, Elías Jaua, met
with Mr. Richardson on Sunday, and said Venezuela was ready to resume the
talks that it had cut off, Mr. Richardson said."

What the NYT and the US ruling class are talking about is not so much the
resumption of diplomatic relations but rather that Maduro should move to
the right and conciliate with imperialism. This was also the meaning of
former Brazilian president Lula's poisoned message of support for Maduro,
when he said that he should "form alliances with other sectors." Ignacio
Ramonet was pushing in the same direction last night on Telesur, when he
referred to a "political dialogue with businessmen, investors, sections of
the opposition." With advice from friends like these, who needs enemies?"

A layer of bureaucrats and careerists will now start to consider whether
the Bolivarian camp is the one which gives them the best guarantees for
furthering their own careers, which is all they are interested in. A number
of regional governors have already joined the opposition in the last few
years and now the pressure to jump ship will be much stronger.

If the oligarchy is intelligent (and that is not certain), they would play
it out for the medium term, combining pressure on the question of the
so-called "election fraud" and the audit of the results with economic
sabotage, while at the same time offering a hand to different sections
within the Bolivarian bureaucracy.

The revolutionary working people are the only guarantee against these
manoeuvres, which would mean a death sentence for the revolution. The
revolutionary vanguard, which is present in every working class
neighbourhood, peasant community, factory and military barracks urgently
needs to get organised around a clear program of how to complete the
revolution, how to carry out the legacy of Hugo Chávez of a socialist
country.

The strengthening of the Marxist current within the Bolivarian movement,
gathered around the *Lucha de Clases* (Class Struggle) newspaper is
therefore crucial, as revolutionary Marxism is the only ideology which
provides a finished expression to the instinctive revolutionary aspirations
of the Bolivarian masses.

*Defend the election result through mass mobilisation and vigilance!*
*Fight sabotage through workers' control!*
*Fight economic dislocation through the expropriation of the means of
production, banks and big landed states!*
*Build a strong Marxist tendency in the Bolivarian movement!*