Venezuela: between the imperialist robbers and the parasitical bureaucracy

It is the point of highest tension in the international situation. In Argentina, it is on the agenda for various reasons. Last week Guaidó and U.S. imperialism escalated their offensive. On the other side, the Maduro government exhibits all its cowardly impotence. The people of Venezuela are besieged by a double threat: Trump on one side, and senile Chavism on the other. Our position.

The meddling of the United States in Venezuela leaves no room for doubt about the fight over the looting of the country´s natural resources. From the statement about Maduro´s “illegitimacy” and the self-proclamation of Guaidó as “interim president”, an escalation of the process has been advancing, which exasperates the situation´s contradictions. The militarist provocations of White House military adviser Bolton and Trump´s vice president´s threats intend to strengthen a political blockade to force Maduro to give up. The possibility of a military intervention cannot be dismissed beforehand, though it does not seem to be probable at the moment. Rather, everything seems to indicate that the pressure on the Venezuelan government consists of increasing the economic collapse, splitting the military and expanding Maduro´s international isolation. It is obvious, from its history and present, that all the “democratic” hippocracy of U.S. intervention has the objective of recovering hegemony over the control of oil extraction, now extended to the Mining Arc of Orionco, and to displace the Chinese and Russian capitals that have occupied a prominent space in that plundering. This is why the recognition -or, better said, promotion- of Guaidó as “interim president”, when no one has chosen him; the pressure exerted by the puppet governments of the region like Colombia´s Duque, Brazil´s Bolsonaro and Argentina´s Macri; the growing economic choke hold imposed by Trump and the United Kingdom on the Maduro government, by freezing accounts and effectively confiscating the main Venezuelan oil company in the United States, define Trump´s road map, for now. Therefore, we first of all affirm a categorical rejection of any form of imperialist intervention in Venezuela, which includes, of course, positioning ourselves in the military camp of the resistance in case of an eventual aggression, always maintaining political independence from the bureaucracy.

The gravediggers

All the aforementioned can by no means over up the catastrophe that Venezuelans have lived the last five years, without any imperialist invasion or blockade. During his first period and especially since 2015, Maduro and the bureaucracy of the government and the PSUV began to dismantle, one by one, the progressive conquests, economic as well as political, obtained by the Bolivarian process in the first decade of this century. They barely maintained some assistentialist and clientelar policies. At each step, they ceded sovereignty, workers´ and peasants´ rights, effectively eliminated natives peoples´ rights by opening the road to the sacking of resources through new forms of contracting with PDVSA, which eliminate labor rights and conquests to the point of rendering collectively bargained contracts useless. In violation even of the Bolivarian Constitution, Maduro decided to cede 12% of the country´s territory for the exploitation of metals to multinationals, private Venezuelan companies, mining mafias and all kinds of criminal organizations led by civilians and military brass, in the project named Mining Arc of the Orinoco. He went on to design special economic zones for foreign investment, where labor and fiscal laws are disregarded. That is, zones turned over to be ransacked. On another note, the punctual payments of the external debt, regardless of the growing misery of the Venezuelan people and the oil trading with the United States, contrast starkly with Maduro´s hollow anti-imperialist discourse, and have generated a level of dependency that allows the current sanctions to strangle the country´s economy, worsening the plight of the Venezuelan people. The building of an authoritarian and repressive political regime, of a Stalinist mold, has accompanied this economic counterrevolution. Detentions without due process, torture, kidnappings and assassinations have become every day forms of political persecution. The same can be said of the elimination of much of the constitutional guarantees. We say this with the authority of being part of the current that, through Marea Socialista in Venezuela, intervened with no sectarianism, though independently, in support of the Bolivarian process in its initial stage. Coming from that political experience, we adamantly affirm that the economic disaster and the authoritarianism, not against the right, but in first place against the critical and independent currents of the process itself, are the cause of the current situation and the best excuse for U.S. intervention and the reactivation of the right in Venezuela. Unlike previous episodes of imperialist intervention and coup attempts of the old right that Guaidó represents, like in 2014 and 2017, this time a sector of the people who had supported Chavism has broken with Maduro. This was confirmed the days before January 23, when spontaneous protests sprang up in the popular neighborhoods, in the traditional bastions of Chavism. Also with the participation of a popular sector in the marches of January 23 across the country, as a continuity of the over 11.000 protests registered in 2008 in relation to the social and economic situation. For wages, collective bargaining, working conditions, lack of funds in hospitals and universities, collapse of water and electricity service, supply of food, medicine and natural gas, are among the reasons. This is why we have no doubt: we reject all forms of imperialist intervention, we reject Guaidó, who nobody chose, but the ruling bureaucracy is the gravedigger of the Bolivarian process and holds the main responsibility in the current situation. They have nothing to do with the left, socialism or revolution at all, and it is fundamental to clarify this in the Argentinian vanguard.

Anti-imperialist rhetoric, cover up and electoral speculation

There is a sort of division of labor in the Kirchnerist camp. On one hand, it is up to Larroque, Gabriela Cerruti, Boudou, Alicia Castro, the Papal Grabois and D´Elia, to manifest their rejection of an “imperialist coup” and to support Maduro more or less explicitly. This position is limited to just this: anti-imperialist rhetoric, since the most concrete measure they took was to hold a testimonial “vigil” at the Venezuelan embassy in Buenos Aires. Of course, not a word about the social catastrophe generated by Madurism, which they deny even exists.

However, what is telling is the absolute silence of the chief of that political space, the ex president Cristina Kirchner. Evidently, this is due to a purely electoral speculation, since the main figures of the “non-K” PJ -like Massa, for example- with whom CFK is building an “anti-Macri” alliance, are fans of Trump´s line on Venezuela. Moreover, all of Kirchnerism agrees with Maduro´s extractivist model and denies the authoritarian and Stalinist repression happening in Venezuela.

From sectarianism to opportunism: a debate in the left

A sector of the left has taken up a unilaterally anti-imperialist position, with mild criticism of Maduro, in the FIT´s case, and directly sugar-coating him, in the case of the MAS. The public statements the FIT´s figures seem to imply that a military invasion of the coalition headed by Trump is imminent, and any opposition to Madurism is diluted in formal mentions. This is possibly another case, especially in the case of the PTS, of adapting its positions to electoral needs, avoiding clashes with the Kirchnerist electorate. However, not responsibilizing the PSUV bureaucracy for this situation, is a serious form of opportunist claudication. There is already a precedent in the Nicaraguan process, during which the FIT, and especially the PTS, did next to nothing to denounce the Ortega regime and support the mobilized people of Nicaragua, independently from the right-wing sectors who attempt to co-opt those actions for their own ends.

The PO takes up a similar line: a recent article signed by Altamira dedicates practically the whole of its arguments to explaining Trump´s role, the interests of China and Russia, it criticizes Kirchnerism, but what sticks out is the absence of something fundamental: the total collapse of the country in hands of Maduro´s bureaucracy. Very soft on the parasitical anti-workers regime, Altamira.

The position of the MAS is even sharper: they present Maduro as a government of “relative independence from imperialism” and therefore, “though we may not like it, it is the government that the people chose”. They reach the point of demanding the “international community´s recognition of the government”. They insist on the probable imperialist invasion and, consequently, practically silences all mention of the government which has buried the Venezuelan process.

What stands out in the cases of these organizations, is that at the highest point of the Bolivarian process, of real confrontation with the forces of the right, during the coup of 2002 of the bosses strike of 2003, or the working-class and popular mobilization which formed the base of the PSUV in Chavez´s time, they all adopted an abstentionist and totally sectarian position, criticizing political experiences like Marea Socialista´s, of participating critically and independently within the process. That is, when there was an authentic anti-imperialist mobilization and progressive measures were being won through social pressure, they showed ultra-leftism and abstention. Now, with economic counterrevolution and Stalinist bonapartism, they moderate their criticism of the bureaucracy to the border of opportunist claudication. The famous law that has always characterized opportunists and sectarians repeats itself, they are two sides of the same coin.

Self-determination, reshuffle and a new hand

Trump and Guaidó are the beached, not of democratization, but of a global plan of appropriation of Venezuela´s resources. On the other side, the gravedigger bureaucracy with China and Russia (who also aspire to maintain their capitalist businesses”, complete the array of obstacles the people Venezuela have before them. This is why, starting by rejecting the interventionist block, our position is also apposed to any political support of the Maduro bureaucracy. With that regime at its head, the Venezuelan people have no chance of defeating the right and the empire, and will sink further into misery and repression. The bureaucracy is not independent, it is parasitic of Venezuelan resources and business partner to important local and transnational bourgeois sectors.

It has to be said that the current process has a sharp contradiction: the independent process of mobilization has not given rise to democratic organisms though which an alternative course could be traced from the dominating polarization. Even faced with this reality, our sister organization in Venezuela, Marea Socialista, does not comment on the situation from the sidelines, but intervenes with its own principist and revolutionary politics. It raises the necessity of a united front with an anti-imperialist and anti-bureaucratic position, that rejects Trump-Guaidó put also the parasitical Maduro, and proposes a democratic path, alongside other critical sectors of the process, including a referendum to vote all public offices. Within that unity, Marea also defends a strategy of general constituent process to reorganize Venezuela on the basis of an anti-capitalist break and a workers´ government. They do the same in the labor movement, where it promotes, alongside other classist groups and union leaders, the Intersectorial of Workers, which proposes the independent action of the working class against imperialism and against the bureaucratic regime.

The key to the current situation is whether the Venezuelan masses are able to build an autonomous, independent way out of the crisis, to define a democratic path for Venezuela. The struggle for the recovery and defense of democratic and political rights and liberties is a matter of self defense for the working class. By stopping the imperialist intervention and defeating Maduro´s totalitarianism, the people will gain the oxygen necessary to impose a plan of economic emergency to recover the control of the country´s oil and mineral resources (without Trump, bureaucracy, China or Russia); on that basis, apply basic measures of food emergency, raising the minimum wage to the cost of living, respond to the sanctions and imperialist escalation with elemental defensive expropriations in retaliation to the blockade and the confiscation of Venezuelan patrimony that the U.S. is carrying out, immediately suspend payments of the foreign debt; immediately call a broad national and international mobilization in support of an anticapitalist and truly socialist reorganization of Venezuela. This path, rejecting all intervention and the bureaucracy, has the strategy of conquering a government of the workers and popular sectors and a real constituent process to lay the foundations of a different country, without corporations or bureaucrats. Socialists and authentic anti-imperialists around the world have the task of clarifying positions in the vanguard that hates Trump and the right, but should not be confused about Maduro; and to mobilize to demand of our governments, starting with Macri, to reject U.S policy and defend the Venezuelan people´s right to self-determination and an independent path away from the PSUV bureaucracy. No to Trump-Guaidó. No to Maduro-China-Putin.

Mariano Rosa / Carlos Carcione