Venezuela: we categorically reject the false “Anti-Blockade Law”

By Marea Socialista

It is the instrument of a large-scale privatization assault, handing over public companies to foreign capital.

It contains massive violations of the Constitution, sovereignty, civil rights and would be fatal to workers.

On the occasion of the launch of the bill for the “Anti-Blockade Law”, President Maduro has had to acknowledge and give some figures about the disaster the country is in, but he presents everything as “the empire´s fault”, hiding the role of the bureaucracy and corruption.

The blockade greatly aggravates the crisis in Venezuela

Undoubtedly, the blockade and sanctions have a great impact on the situation of the economy and exacerbate the suffering of the Venezuelan people. They prevent or considerably hinder the importation of essential products for the country´s economic functioning and social activity, such as gasoline and other petroleum derivatives that are not being generated in Venezuela as was done before. They also affect the importation of products of all kinds, which are required for productive activity, for food, for health, for the proper functioning of services. In this sense, the blockade, supported by sectors of the Venezuelan right-wing opposition, is a criminal operation and a violation of Human Rights, applied by US imperialism and by all those who adhere to its discipline in the world market.

The parties of the traditional bourgeoisie have not spoken out against the economic sense of the “Anti-Blockade Law” because they agree with its privatizing nature.

Support for the blockade by sectors of the bourgeoisie and their parties in Venezuela amounts to an aggression against Venezuelans that cannot be tolerated or go unpunished. But its purpose, in part, will be fulfilled if the government opens the economy to foreign capital and distributes national resources with it. This is what US imperialism wants to provoke, but not with the Chinese and Russians as beneficiaries, nor with the PSUV bureaucracy as the preferred partner, of course. Hence, beyond some democratic and constitutional aspects, the traditional opposition does not question the economic approach of the “Anti-blockade Law”, because it gives capitalists and transnational corporations the possibility to participate in the business of the distribution of Venezuelan State companies and properties. They do not make a fuss about this because it is part of their policy.

But the blockade is not the initial cause of the situation we suffer

The blockade has aggravated pre-existing conditions, which have been the result, mainly, of the disastrous handling of the State by the government bureaucracy and the incidence of capitalist and anti-worker policies that, since long before this blockade, were being applied by the political will and at the convenience of the ruling bureaucracy: destruction of PDVSA’s productive capacity, ruin of basic companies, liquidation of productive capacities in all areas, elimination of wages (Zero Salary), dissolution of social benefits, disappearance of health systems for workers, suspension of collective bargaining, collapse of all public services to the point of taking us to the limits of barbarism…

The government does not recognize, of course, something very important and decisive for the situation of bankruptcy and extreme misery in which the country has sunk: its own responsibility, the result of its bad policies, the predatory action of embezzlement, of the payment of the illegitimate debt and the impact of the anti-worker measures that has caused an unprecedented level of misery.

Maduro argues in favor of the content of this Law as an instrument of a “State of War”, instead of referring only to the “State of Exception” with which he had been justifying his measures. This undoubtedly contains something significant, because in this context he seeks to assume greater powers and competencies over other State institutions, reinforcing authoritarianism and aggravating the violation of rights.

It is a Law that clearly violates the current Constitution and the entire legal system. It is placed above it, leaving the Executive without obstacles or effective controls of any kind, to modify the mechanisms of creation, ownership, management, administration and operation of public or mixed companies, both within the national territory and abroad.

It is not an Anti-Blockade Law, it is a law of dispossession of the Venezuelan people

The so-called “Anti-Blockade Law” does not actually implement any kind of anti-blockade mechanisms and its purpose is to completely open the country to the privatization and semi-privatization of State companies and public services, giving up sovereignty to attract “foreign investment”. That is, imperialist “investments”, privileging Chinese and Russian companies, without ruling out US and European ones; to the transnational capital that moves in the globalized capitalist world. We put the term “investments” in quotation marks, because in many cases it will become an auction or an exchange of foreign debt for shares in companies, leaving of course, a good portion or a substantial shareholding for the administrative bureaucracy of the Venezuelan State, to allow the bureaucrats to crystallize their conversion into a new bourgeoisie: the “revolutionary bourgeoisie”, as Minister Castro Soteldo calls it.

They say that it is meant to prevent new confiscations of Venezuelan assets abroad, but they already lost the “lomito” in the most irresponsible way, by keeping the PDVSA subsidiary, CITGO, in the United States, and permitting the chance to take it under the pretext of handing it over to Guaidó´s “interim government”. On the other hand, Maduro´s government also delivered Venezuelan monetary gold to British banks, as collateral for their financial operations, putting the country’s resources, which are in dispute, at risk.

That is to say; the law comes late for the purposes it falsely claims to serve and is obviously not what it claims to be. Its real purpose is another one: to give the bureaucracy and the ruling neo-lumpen-bourgeoisie – created from the accumulation of private capital with state funds and resources, to associate with foreign capital – the opportunity to take possession of public assets in conjunction with transnational corporations and, especially but not exclusively, with the emerging imperialists (China, Russia). And this is being prepared after scraping the pot everywhere and ruining the economy.

Why is the government doing this?

It is necessary to explain why the government is launching this bill at this time, what intention it has; because it is not about simple “mistakes” by “social democrats” or “reformists”. For this, we want to warn that we are not appealing to adjectives susceptible to the application of the infamous “Law Against Hate”, but we are making class characterizations, based on the Marxist method. This government is not “reformist”, because it does not reform, but rather dismantles what was reformed in the Chávez period. It is a frankly reactionary and absolutely retrograde government that has been applying, for quite some time, a profound counter-reform and an openly anti-working class policy, in order to liquidate all the conquests and transformations that were gained throughout the Bolivarian revolution. And why is that? Because all this is done at the service of sectors of the State bureaucracy and the new opportunist bourgeoisie, fed with corruption and authoritarian abuse: it is a caste of government officials and the PSUV party, military, neo-bourgeois and figureheads, which has been installed from the degeneration and defeat of a revolutionary process, from the destruction of a democratic and anti-imperialist revolution that existed in Venezuela for some years with Chávez, and that no longer exists.

It turns out that a simple bureaucracy depends on maintaining the political and administrative control of the State, but if it does not have its own economic power: properties, investments, industries, lands, banks… it does not have a way to reproduce the capital it accumulated with the criminal capture of income, and if it loses that political and administrative control, it would be deprived of its source of income. That is why it needs to consummate its conversion into a capitalist class and this is what the caste that today controls the bourgeois State has been doing; that State that they have never wanted to replace with “People’s Power”, but, on the contrary, have been reinforcing it as its instrument of domination against the working class and against the people, in competition and dispute with the old bourgeoisie that previously administered it.

It is one thing to take state money for the benefit of a caste and a group of high public officials, and another to take root with properties in important industries and very lucrative businesses, in partnership with bourgeois and foreign capital, in an impressive anti-national operation. On the other hand, they could get plenty from the commissions and “bribes” of the distribution, to have more capital to invest in the appropriation of public goods or in the installation of private companies, such as those that are being established, for example, in the commercial import sector.

The top political leadership of Chavismo, and particularly the Madurists, not only did not break with capital, but has also been seeking ways to become the proprietor class, instead of socializing the economy. Therefore, many of the policies that caused the crisis are the same that the bourgeoisie has been applying in the countries where harsh neoliberal austerity was implemented against the working class and against the people, in favor of capitalist sectors. Consequently, what exists in Venezuela has nothing to do with socialism and is its most absolute negation, not only in the economic sphere, of the social relations of production and property, but also in the political sphere, because the plan of the pro-capitalist bureaucracy led it to impose a very repressive authoritarian regime against the working class and the popular sectors, which are supposed to be the subject of the revolution. What little organization and popular power remained was dismantled to establish the almost absolute social and political dominance of the bureaucracy.

Sectors from the left and from the periphery of Chavismo have been forced to step away from this Law, but we need a Left Opposition and not a satellite left

Sectors of the left have been timidly distancing themselves from the government, in the face of its marked pro-capitalist and authoritarian course. This is the case of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and the groups of the Popular Revolutionary Alternative (APR). These organizations announced an “electoral demarcation” with their own candidacies for the parliamentary elections scheduled for December 6, clarifying that it did not mean being against the Maduro government. But with the appearance of a project as unacceptable as the “Anti-blockade Law”, they are now being pushed into a stronger stance. Thus, the need and the possibility of a broad confluence of the left and popular movements to go against the approval of this law and agree on unity of action against the anti-worker policies that the bureaucratic government has been applying and intends to continue applying is now raised. All this could force the PCV, the Uzcátegui sector of the PPT, and the other members of the APR to discuss whether it is time to dare to take the step of a clear and definitive break with the government, which could open the way to the discussion of the idea of ​​forming a “left opposition” that aspires to offer an anti-capitalist alternative to the workers and the people in general.

Some fallacies and deceptions of the government to confuse the workers and the people

In a deceptive maneuver, the government stammers the offer of this Law as an alleged way to recover wages and benefits, which serves to say that it is necessary to “hold on” in silence and wait for the plan to work, striving to “recover production” without salary, without protests of any kind by workers and the poeple, because within the framework of the blockade and the “State of War” any protest would be taken advantage of by (US) imperialism and by the right-wing opposition (the other right, the traditional one, because these others are the official right, the “revolutionary bourgeoisie” with its “red” clothing from the “left”, already quite faded).

In the bill they speak of “incentives”, both for investors and for “workers” and “professionals” who develop “initiatives”, which in reality would be the provision of certain crumbs for the union bureaucracy and for officials of the state apparatus. There is no doubt that with the changes in the ownership of the companies or with the constitution of new capitalist companies with state resources, there will not come more jobs or much better remuneration, because the transnational companies that are already here have been reducing personnel and applying layoffs and benefiting from the advantage of having a government that has managed to implement Zero Salary, unpaid labor, which does not even reach half a dollar a day. This is not a promise for the working class, but rather a present for capital, with conditions of semi-slave super-exploitation and guaranteed profits, in a highly repressive labor regime, for the containment of the class struggle.

The Government applies the economic policy of the right-wing opposition (as if it were guided by the MUD Program and Guaidó’s Plan País)

Politically, this law serves the bureaucracy to justify itself and try to mask its actions of surrender and robbery, and incidentally, leave the traditional right-wing opposition in bad shape as co-responsible for the blockade. As we said, the right-wing opposition is being cautious and prefers to remain silent on this Law, which is not strange, because to a large extent it responds to its own policy and the government, definitely, seems to have changed its Programa de la Patria for the MUD´s program and Guaidó´s Plan País. With such a law, the distances between the Maduro government and the traditional right would practically be erased in economic matters.

One would have to wonder if this privatization and handover law would open some kind of government negotiation with the right-wing opposition, which responds to the traditional bourgeoisie, and if they plan to leave some margin to make deals with the United States (business leads to politics, and vice versa) or if it is only for the bureaucracy and actors of the the global economic sphere that dispute with Western capitalism in world geopolitics, as is the case of the China. If we start to see, the capitalists and Guaidó have not been touched; they maintain their properties and move politically with impunity, despite crying out for the United States to militarily invade the country and constantly plotting coups.

Secrecy, to prevent information and allow bureaucratic impunity

Something completely scandalous is the introduction of information secrecy, which is already a common practice of the bureaucracy against the laws and the Constitution. Citizens lose all right to be informed of the transactions that are made with State properties or with new investments (capital transfers). Formally, it is said that it is in the name of “security” and against the blockade, but we know that it is about secrecy at the service of shady businesses and impunity, regardless of national sovereignty. Whoever dares to make use of the Social Comptroller’s Office will be criminalized and prosecuted and the corrupt official will remain in secret with impunity, as is now the case with the “Law of Hate” used to muzzle and repress anyone who denounces the atrocities of the government against the people.

Without any obstacles, the bureaucracy guarantees itself to be part of the appropriation of public assets.

Being categorically against privatizations and the expansion of private shares in State companies, and flatly rejecting that false “Anti-Blockade Law” as hypocritical, as a cover for privatization, it must be questioned, however, that there are no legal impediments to prevent government officials, their families or front men from taking personal advantage. To publicly expose this, it is necessary to ask why they did not place articles that expressly prohibit the participation of officials, relatives and direct associates in business, taking into account the Anti-Corruption Law, conflicts of interest or the provisions against nepotism. The answers are obvious.

Let us call all the people and all the sectors of the left to oppose this unconstitutional capitalist law.

We need to fight and make a great political campaign, within the broadest unity of action, so that this law of plundering of public property is not passed. All political sectors, critical currents, movements and groups of the working class and the popular sectors that are struggling have to declare themselves in state of emergency and in radical refusal to this law, demanding that it be withdrawn by the government or denied by the ANC ( regardless of our position on the validity of that organism). The PCV and the APR have the duty to assume a radical and combative position in this regard; and against this there can be no other response than a frank break with the government.

We must demand that the members of the ANC who are not willing to become accomplices of this assault to speak up, and also call conscientiously those who may still have some attachment to what were the founding principles of the PSUV, to denounce and refuse to approve this monstrosity. Some very recognized voices such as that of Luís Brito García have already taken a step forward in this regard, which other intellectuals and recognized figures should not delay in taking.

On the other hand, a matter like this would have to be submitted to a Consultative Referendum due to its serious implications and national significance. And, if even so, they were to approve it, we would have to immediately fight for the law to be annulled, within the framework of the most active surveillance and denunciation (despite the threats and sanctions to those who provide information about the transactions of purchase and sale of State assets), as part of the exercise of the right to the Social Comptroller. We will never be able to accept a law of this type, and we will have to fight to cancel it or subject it to a Derogatory Referendum.

We need a government of the workers and the people, and to free ourselves from the domination of bureaucracy and capital.

Beyond this, in the face of a government that promotes the appropriation of national assets, which are of a public nature, and that in the name of the Anti Blockade carries out himself the ultimate goals of that blockade – to submit and sell the country – we are placed in the need to say that we have to overcome this reactionary government, this other right wing that has betrayed the Bolivarian Revolution and has denied its economic, social, political and anti-imperialist elements. With the mobilization of the working class and the popular sectors of Venezuela, we need to go forward to a true Constituent Assembly, authentically Democratic, Popular and Sovereign, which allows to truly transform the country, recover lost rights and fix the reactionary measures created by the bureaucratic government of Maduro-the Military-PSUV and by the ANC.

Now, in contrast to the capitalist and pro-imperialist route that this law marks, what is our alternative to get Venezuela out of the crisis? What is the truly revolutionary, working-class and popular way out, from our point of view?

To justify the law of dispossession and surrender, the government today appeals to the same arguments with which the traditional right was previously refuted: that to recover the economy and generate well-being it is necessary to “open the economy to private capital and attract foreign investment” that can manage the fundamental areas of production and services, including the strategic ones that the Bolivarian revolution and the 1999 Constitution reserved exclusively for the control of the Venezuelan State for socio-economic, sovereignty and national security reasons.

But the best times that the Venezuelan people have lived were not the product of private control of strategic areas of the economy and services, but rather of their management by the Venezuelan State to meet public needs. It was not state property but corruption that melted the economy. And the situation would have been different if social property and genuine and democratic control of workers and organized citizenship over the economy, as well over all the public sphere, had been developed, preventing the looting carried out by the bureaucracy and by the bourgeois sectors that benefited from it. So the problem was not state property or social property (the latter never really existed) but the lack of sufficient democratic participation, control over management and strong exercise of social control.

Recovery is possible with other economic measures, which point towards socialization, rather than bureaucratic statism or monopoly property. Instead of doing what the government is doing in the interests of capital, a democratic and free discussion could be opened within the workers, professionals and technicians of state-owned companies, with the participation of citizens. and of the communities, to discuss what to do with the companies that are public patrimony of Venezuelans, and how to do it, as an alternative to the pretense of taking them away for the benefit of private capital.

Doing this would truly be in accordance with the socialist approach, with the building of a system where the collective property of the people predominates and where the government is exercised by the people themselves through their own democratic organizations and not the old bourgeois state that the capitalists created in their image and likeness to exercise their class domination and guarantee the enjoyment of the profits of the exploitation of the great majority.

So what we propose is to socialize instead of privatize, and make a democratic planning based on the participation of workers, peasants, communities and organized citizens, to solve the problem of energy, services, fuel, production and supply, salary recovery, among many others. But this cannot be done neither by a government of bureaucrats who want to be capitalists nor by the bourgeoisie who want to take back control of their state as they did before. This cannot and will never be done by a government like Maduro’s, nor by a government like the one that Guaidó intends to implement, who by the way, despite being “interim” is already stealing the resources that imperialism confiscated from the Venezuelan State .

That is why from MS we say: Neither bureaucracy nor capital, nor Maduro with the Chinese, nor Guaidó with Trump (or whoever assumes the administration of the United States government). We are for a government of the workers and the people and for a sovereign relationship with other countries.

To have a government of this type we need a new revolution and for that we need to build a political tool of the working class and the popular sectors, independent of the bourgeoisie and without bureaucracy, forging a class culture that prevents it from reproducing the bourgeois and bureaucratic vices within it, as unfortunately did happen with the PSUV.

We are speaking about the creation of a democratic revolutionary party or a great movement that responds to the interests of the working class, peasants and popular sectors, instead of being an instrument for the careerism of bureaucrats and military men with a capitalist vocation or of the bossed who use politics to subdue the people.

We are against both the privatization model and bureaucratic statism, and instead we are in favor of the socialization of key areas of the economy and fundamental services. We vindicate the need to return to the lost course of the revolution, the path that it had begun to follow in 2002 and that the bureaucratization frustrated, especially since the last years of Chávez. That is why we say that a second revolution is needed in Venezuela, and we insist that the way out is not to the right but to the left. But not labelling as “left” the right-wing policies such as those applied by the government of Nicolás Maduro and the bureaucratic caste.

The current disaster in the world is precisely the failure of these policies of privatization and looting of countries at the hands of foreign capital.

For an Emergency Plan to overcome the crisis, at the service of the workers and the Venezuelan people.

On previous occasions we have proposed an Economic Emergency Route as an alternative to the policies adopted by the government and the proposals of the right-wing opposition. Among these proposals, which we put up for democratic discussion, are some measures such as the following, which we believe necessary to apply to get out of the current situation and moving forward in favor of the interests of the workers and the people, instead of favoring the bureaucracy and the national and foreign private capital. Of course, here we only expose a part of the essential measures that in our opinion should be part of that program:

*Struggle so that the so-called Anti-Blockade Law, or any other instrument equivalent to it involving privatization and the hand out of national assets and resources, is not approved or for it to be repealed. Neither the granting of advantages to foreign and national capital that are harmful to the sovereignty or the interests of the country and our people. Warn countries, transnationals and foreign or national capitals about the invalidity of any “agreement”, transaction, negotiation or treaty, given the unconstitutional nature of these laws, which would expose them to the effects of the reversal of all decisions. Repeal all anti-constitutional Investment Protection laws approved by the ANC.

*Actions for the recovery of embezzled resources and resources lost to capital flight, criminally extracted from the country. Expropriation of embezzlers and those found to be involved in acts of corruption.

*The country is already in default for some sections of the External Debt, but it is necessary to suspend all payments and carry out a Public and Citizens Audit, to identify the corrupt and illegitimate debt and allocate those resources in response to the needs derived from the pandemic, in social needs and in the recovery of the national productive apparatus. Reject any debt swap operation that involves the handover or transfer of ownership of public sector companies, be it PDVSA and its subsidiaries, basic industries, large services operated by the Venezuelan State or state companies created for production of essential consumer goods.

*Stop the destruction of nature caused by the Orinoco Mining Arc and use the resources that are possible to use without compromising environmental integrity, to truly dedicate them to national development and to alleviate the impact of the crisis on the people.

*Establish high taxes for large capital and allocate the proceeds to a Fund for Economic Recovery and Social Aid for the People. Eliminate VAT. Establish a budget in foreign currency. Leave without effect the “no double taxation” treaties that exempt foreign capital from tax payments in the country.

*Abrogation of the Law for the Promotion and Protection of Foreign Investment, which favors capital from the same countries that harass, sanction and block the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Apply reciprocal measures of confiscation of companies and assets that the United States may possess in Venezuela, in response to the confiscation of CITGO, as well as the expropriation of companies and capital from those who promote and collaborate in the so-called “Economic War” with speculative actions or actions of economic sabotage, especially those capitalist sectors linked to Juan Guaidó and María Corina Machado, instead of persecuting workers who make labor claims. Place these companies under the democratic control of the workers, professionals and technicians, commissions of the scientific and academic unions, under close surveillance of social control agencies.

*Prepare a productive plan associated with the progressive recovery of wages, which allows, in principle, that the minimum wage covers the cost of the Food Basket and, in the shortest possible time, to scale up to cover the cost of the Basic Basket as established in Art 91 of the CRBV. Adjust salaries in correspondence with Art 91 every time the cost of the Basic Basket exceeds their purchasing power.

* To restore to the workers the value of their social benefits, canceled by the monetary reconversion and other circumstances. Revalue pensions and reestablish health and social security mechanisms for the working class.

*Put State companies to function to the maximum of their capacity, for the recovery of production and supply potential,under the control of their workers and with the exercise of strict social control.