Venezuela 2020: Facing Blow Against Workers and the People With Mobilization and Organization

By Marea Socialista

We received 2020 with a panorama that continues to strike the Venezuelan working class and people strongly. The economic, social and political crisis is a consequence of the destruction of work as a social fact; it has caused the precariousness of the quality of life and loss of many of the conquests achieved in the heat of the struggles that occurred during the revolutionary process, at this point already closed by the Maduro-Military-Bureaucracy-PSUV government. Within that framework, we are faced with the challenge of confronting both the “red” and the traditional bourgeoisies with an adequate analysis and characterization, mobilization and organization in a scenario of social suffering, repression and cutting of democratic freedoms.

The brutal austerity against workers deepens, while the agreements and concessions that are made to the bourgeoisie and transnational capital are increasingly exposed, which translates into even more suffering for those of us who live solely from our job. They exempt from taxes and give (de facto) prerogatives to the great national and transnational businessmen, while the monthly minimum wage is equivalent to 4 dollars, they impose unpayable taxes for basic documents such as the passport (between 100 and 200 dollars), without access to health care and public education, destruction of the national transport system, rationing of electricity and water, shortages of gas and gasoline, dysfunction of telephone and Internet connections, in addition to corrupt and criminal commercialization of institutions, especially of justice and public safety.

While the new bourgeois caste that holds political power imposes the extraction of all the surplus value from the workers through blackmail, persecution, harassment, and gives the new and traditional entrepreneurship all the legal and habitual framework for them to take part of the feast that keeps workers in conditions of misery and political marginalization, they are consolidating not only as part of the bourgeoisie but also the regime is consolidated in power through negotiations in which the military, businesses and corrupt politicians participate, through an extractivist and predatory model of natural resources, in a declared or underground society with global capitalism, Yankee-European imperialism or the emerging imperialism of China and Russia, with Cuban mediation.

Thus, the working people receive blow after blow from two sides. On one hand, the government that strikes through a “Bonapartist”, militarist, authoritarian, totalitarian and mafia regime. In the dispute and the “give and take” to get its hands on the country´s resources, the United States, more confronted from the inter-imperialist point of view with the Chinese than with Maduro himself, has applied sanctions that fundamentally harm ordinary citizens, imposing more suffering to the ordeal that the Venezuelan population is going through.

However, the US government is aware of how functional the Maduro government is with respect to the basic interests of capital and hence the backroom negotiations, while the business leadership of Fedecámaras comes to recognize that without changing the government they have managed to “change the government”; that is to say, to assimilate it more and more to its interests and to have it apply tolerable or moderately convenient plans for this sector of capital, something that also comes from the needs and interests of the new bourgeoisie arisen from the state with the accentuated bureaucratization and destruction of the Bolivarian Revolution.

Job destruction

Capitalism in crisis is expressed in various ways and there are many ways and mutations to accumulate private capital, but they have one element in common: attacking workers and poor people. The destruction of the basic state industries and the country´s main industry (oil) is one of the concrete expressions of the destruction of work as a social fact. The extreme reduction in the value of wage labor, creating ultra-cheap labor for the benefit of the bureaucracy and capital is one of the mechanisms of accumulation and extreme transfer of wealth in favor of official and unofficial elites. The escalation in the capture of income and the scandalous reversal of their levels of redistribution with respect to the period of greater mobilization and rise of that majority of the people that was agglutinated in the Bolivarian revolution during the first two decades of this century, is another sign of the change we have experienced with Maduro´s government in the country.

In the shadow of the state and the PSUV bureaucracy, a new importing, landowner, associated, extractive and very corrupt bourgeoisie has emerged that, from its position in government, was responsible for betraying and burying the great purposes of change that had arisen from the historically marginalized sectors by the Adeco-Copeyano bipartisanship during four decades. Today, that same political leadership keeps traces of that old discourse of the Bolivarian revolution that, in the face of the devastating reality, only serves to show their cynicism.

In this context, the union bureaucracy has total and absolute co-responsibility, as cooperator in this assault for the almost absolute appropriation of the surplus value generated by workers. They are a key instrument of betrayal and deception, in addition to being characterized by the absence of union praxis as a tool for the struggle and organization of workers. The lumpen-proletarianization of an important sector of workers through precarious forms of work or dependency and client submission to obtain income that allows them to eat, has disrupted society and eroded the internal development of the working class.

In Venezuela, public sector workers work in many cases to obtain a bag of carbohydrates per month to help them with their degraded diet. In addition, they have taken a poor youth and turned it into armies of unconscious spirits through the so-called “youth chamba” where they are paid with bags of food, or with bonuses through the “homeland card”. They militarize areas of activity and state services with an underpaid and obedient militia. By not giving them the status of workers, they are forced to blindly submit themselves to the guidelines of the government bureaucracy. This is, of course, a way to reduce state spending and leave a larger portion of the cake to the bureaucracy, even if they do not announce massive layoffs or drastic reductions with closures of ministries and state-owned companies, as typical neoliberal governments have often done; however, the results or effects of their policies are equivalent for similar purposes.

The private sector is the most benefited from all this anti-worker policy. In order to not lose the labor force that abandons work due to “zero salary” or emigrates, private companies pay “higher” salaries than the state, accompanied in some cases by miserable “dollar bonds”, but which do not cover as income the cost of the basic basket (nor even the food basket) and remain below the salary of very poor countries like Haiti. The state has already done them the great favor of reducing the weight of the wage burden and consequently increasing their profit margins.

The role of the union bureaucracy at the service of the government is to act as the executing arm of the government´s anti-worker policies, while the union bureaucracies grouped outside the pro-government center have used the needs of the different unions to put them at the service of pro-interventionist right-wing politics, while at times they shamelessly negotiate with the government and divert the struggles of the working class.

They cannot avoid their responsibility before a government that has used blackmail, repression and deprivation of liberty, imprisoning workers and even submitting them to military courts for the sole purpose of raising their voice against their designs. The consequences are that in Venezuela entire families live off the remittances of super-exploited or lumpen-proletarized migrants in the region. Under these conditions, the austerity package is applied without yet the strength to resist it.

This is the result of the defeat of a revolutionary process perpetrated by those who led it and diverted it by taking away the progressive elements it once had. For now, the corrosive and corrupting action of the bureaucracy has prevailed over the people´s dynamic of struggle. But the winds that blow in the world and in Latin America, with the masses in the streets challenging neoliberal governments and confronting their policies, also objectively go against governments like Maduro’s that have a seemingly opposite discourse but do very similar (or in some cases worse) things as tyrannical and exploitative governments.

Guaidó, a Provisional and Disposable “Leader”

The beginning of 2019 was marked by the prefabricated leadership of the self-proclaimed “president”, Juan Guaidó, who was the provisional figure behind which traditional right-wing parties converged, demonstrating from the beginning their interventionism, coup-mongering, corruption and vassalage to Trump’s designs.

However, Guaidó temporarily obtained support from an important sector of the masses who, desperate from Maduro´s government’s actions – not only from the point of the material conditions of existence, but from the point of view of democratic freedoms – believed in the coup and interventionist adventure of this Trump and White House puppet, all under the auspices of United States and countries that formed the Lima Group and that today face important uprisings by their people for their policies of cuts and austerity. Such is the case of Piñera in Chile, who has demonstrated his highly repressive and murderous face before a people that stand in revolution against a government at the service of the rich and powerful; Iván Duque in Colombia, who faces large mobilizations and strikes and has not doubted before continuing the historic repression and murders against the Colombian population; Lenin Moreno in Ecuador, who saw his mandate shaken by indigenous mobilization; Bolsonaro in Brazil, who deals with mobilizations against his conservative, predatory and misogynist government; and the coup government of Bolivia that, taking advantage of Evo Morales´ inconsistencies, has emerged in a racist and murderous offensive (Bible in hand). All these governments, despised by their own peoples, offered their support in Venezuela for a coup policy of a sector of the world bourgeoisie commanded by the United States.

From Marea Socialista, we raised our voice and said “Not Maduro Nor Guaidó”. This later character did not take long to defraud the legitimate expectations of the population that wanted to get rid of Maduro. The puppet quickly began to unmask himself with the so-called entry of “humanitarian aid”, the coup d’etat of April 30, evidence of corruption, clashes between sectors of the right-wing opposition. But above all, the support was limited to the extent that Maduro has made important concessions to the transnational bourgeoisie. They negotiate through the extractivist and predatory model of the Orinoco Mining Arc in which they have given great concessions to Chinese, Russian, Turkish and also American capitals. They and their accomplices take the gold they collect from our territory at the expense of an unprecedented ecocide in our lands.

At all times and on all fronts we opposed feeding this policy, which has always been at the service of interference, interventionism and is the enemy of the workers. Our call has been to organize ourselves from the perspective and needs of workers and popular sectors, even to conform a left pole from our own struggles.

For Workers´ Mobilization and Organization

Marea Socialista has been part of efforts for the construction of trade union and combative collectives to participate in the struggles and put them at the service of workers´ needs, to act autonomously against the parties of the traditional bourgeoisie or the government. This is the reason we were among the promoters, in mid-2019, of the group known as “Workers in Struggle”, which was constituted with a clear class definition and a program of struggle accorded at its founding event and disclosed in a public document.

Unfortunately, we find ourselves in the framework of this experience with which some political organizations and some unions, in the name of broader unity, promoted in parallel a supposed unity of action with the union leadership that responds to sectors of the most reactionary and pro-coup right wing for the only reason that it has an orientation to intervene to take advantage of the protests, leaving them to continue trying to capitalize on the workers’ malaise. This sector has openly pronounced itself in favor of foreign intervention.

Political organizations that claim to be from the left against Maduro, with the accompaniment of some trade unionists, put themselves in the line of preferring to consolidate their relationship with the political-union organizations that respond to the interests of the traditional bourgeoisie to the detriment of the possibility of being able to consolidate Workers in Struggle and its characteristics as a necessity in the midst of the collapse of labor organizations, which are widely delegitimized before workers throughout the country who do not see an alternative that really arises to fight for everything that the mafia bosses in power have taken from us.

Workers in Struggle was another attempt that has been seriously hampered to develop, but from Marea Socialista we will insist on purposes that lead to the greater unity of workers based on objectives clearly defined from our interests and from all the sectors attacked by the crisis. It is more than proven that we can only trust ourselves and our ability to organize ourselves, without betting on shortcuts that lead us to delay the urgent task of achieving a real political reference according to who we really are in the population as a whole.

Venezuela and the Latin American Spring: Organization and Mobilization Predominate

The mobilizations of millions in the countries of the region, Chile, Haiti, Colombia, Ecuador tell us of the struggles against the austerity and repressive politics that are installed in various regions of the world. They unmask governments that got tired of saying that they would “save” us from Maduro´s repression and violation of human rights and act with more similarities than differences with respect to the government of Venezuela or Ortega-Murillo in Nicaragua. They apply austerity and repress the working people without mercy.

For a salary equal to the basic basket as established by Art. 91 of the CRBV. We demand that this conquest of the workers be fulfilled. It is embodied in the current Constitution, which is why, at the service of the struggle, we introduced an appeal at the TSJ. For the rescue of social benefits and our labor rights. For the repeal of Memorandum 2792 that liquidates collective bargaining and gives ludicrous privileges to private and public employers.

It is inexorable to boost the struggle of young women, workers and popular sectors who suffer more fiercely the policy of Nicolás Maduro and his government. For free access to contraceptives, for the legalization of abortion, for the right to care in obstetric and pediatric centers, for salaries that cover at least the basic basket, because the figures related to women are shown and justice is done in each and every case of femicide and personal and institutional sexist violence.

Against the Orinoco Mining Arc, the theft of our mineral resources and the destruction of a large territory that includes part of the Venezuelan Amazon, vital water sources, extensive biodiversity and forest, as well as being a habitat of indigenous peoples .

For a public audit and non-payment of the external debt, which was acquired and administered in a corrupt, illegitimate and mafia manner.

It is necessary to re-promote a truly independent, sovereign and popular constituent process, not submitted or manipulated by bureaucratic and bourgeois constituted power.

For a government of workers, women, youth and the oppressed.

Marea Socialista makes the broadest call to join the anti-capitalist, eco-socialist and anti-patriarchal struggle.

All out solidarity to our sisters and brothers who fight in the region and in the world.