With the National Electoral Council setting April 22 as the date for the country’s presidential election and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) confirming current president Nicolas Maduro as their candidate, leftist organisations in Venezuela have been debating what position to take.
Among those is the Bolivar and Zamora Revolutionary Current (CRBZ), a radical grassroots current within the PSUV. The CRBZ was largely set up by activists from the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ) and Simon Bolivar National Communal Front (FNCSB). Today, it is one of the largest radical currents within Chavismo, with a presence in 14 states (out of 23).
CRBZ national coordinator Kevin Rangel spoke to Prensa CRBZ about the position of his organisation. The interview was translated by Federico Fuentes.
What is the CRBZ’s position regarding the presidential elections announced for April 22?
The CRBZ has decided to join, with all our strength, with all our force and without hesitations, the campaign to re-elect Nicolas Maduro, because we understand the historic moment and international context we are in.
We will join the campaign with the position we have always had, which is a critical position, a position of disagreement regarding certain practices we have questioned, a position that involves questioning corruption, bureaucratism and reformism.
We, as a current of revolutionary thought and action, that operates with a daily and tangible revolutionary practice wherever we are present, understand the current context. As such, have decided to join the campaign.
Also, because we are members of the PSUV and we recognise the political lines and policies of the party. Beyond any internal contradictions there may be in regards to methods and practices, we understand that the current moment demands that we close ranks because there is a greater contradiction to resolve: the confrontation with imperialism.
Imperialist and foreign aggression against Venezuela should serve as a call to revolutionaries to close ranks behind the unity candidate that we must confront this electoral battle with.
In this sense, we call on the people to unite, on Chavismo, the revolutionary movements, to build a patriotic unity.
We have to understand that the homeland is being threatened by a political, diplomatic aggression, an aggression against our currency and our economy. We are not confronting just any enemy, we are confronting a superior enemy, which controls the world’s financial and economic power; we have to be clear on this.
We say this because sometimes there are comrades who lose sight of this. We have to keep our feet on the ground and understand the contradictions that exist and deal with them in order to overcome them.
The vanguard elements need to understand these phenomena in a more conscious manner, place ourselves above them, have a complete view of the situation and take a position.
Faced with this permanent aggression that you spoke of, which will continue during this election campaign, what does the CRBZ propose?
We call on all revolutionaries to be part of an election campaign in defence of the homeland, preparing the people to be able to defend and guarantee peace. The Venezuelan people, Chavista and non-Chavista, must organise themselves for defence, because the aggression is not only against Chavistas; imperialist aggression affects everyone.
That is why the CRBZ has proposed the formation of Hugo Chavez Popular Defence Brigades (BDPHCh). We have proposed this to the president and to Diosdado Cabello who heads up the anti-coup and anti-terrorist plan to guarantee peace.
We have put forward the BDPHCh as an instrument to organise the people as a whole, in the areas of defence, surveillance, social oversight, social intelligence; to detect the enemy’s movements, attempts to sabotage the electricity grid and the healthcare and communication systems; and to be able to respond and act quickly.
The BDPHCh are a broad instrument, for Chavismo, for patriots, for nationalists who oppose the aggression and understand that they have to defend the national territory.
It is worth recalling that we began to form the BDPHCh last year. The CRBZ took the initiative to organise them, to convene them, bring people together, and these brigades played an important role in the corridors where we were able to form them, as is the case in the Andean corridor, in Barinas and Tachira, from Pedraza to El Pinal.
There the BDPHCh played a very important role in guaranteeing peace, in pacifying the situation in Socopo, which was attacked and besieged by paramilitary and fascist violence: there the BDPHCh responded firmly and guaranteed peace.
With this experience, we have called for the rejuvenation and reorganisation of the existing brigades and the formation of new brigades for this new electoral campaign.
How will the CRBZ participate in the campaign?
We are in full campaign mode.
In the regions where we have a presence, we have issued statements outlining our plan, our actions in the community, beginning with a communication campaign, and helping to organise the people for the electoral battle ahead. We are in the phase of organisation and deployment.
We will push to explain to the people the historic moment and the importance of this electoral battle.
We will defeat the enemy in the community, we will defeat them in the battle of ideas. Today, more than ever, we need to wage a battle of ideas with the people, combat the media campaign against the homeland, against the president and against all revolutionaries.
In this context, the best strategy is working in the grassroots, working with the people, day to day, accompanying the people in their struggles, to resolve the big problems we face.
We believe in building concrete solutions. To get out of the economic crisis and the political crisis, the crisis of leadership, we have to be with the people, organising, educating and mobilising the power of the people, as the CRBZ has always done.
And what comes after the elections?
It is also important to evaluate the potential post-election scenarios in this new phase of the revolution. We stand with Maduro but we have to take into account the aspirations of the Venezuelan people. There are issues we still have to deal with.
For example, the broadening of democracy, to give more participation to the people, to promote with force the transformation of our economy, together with the people. The people want to overcome the crisis and build a sovereign model, incorporating the promotion of national industry, the national production of seeds and inputs for agricultural production, so that it is a self-sustaining model.
This needs to be the premise for breaking the economic and financial embargo on Venezuela. We should not only seek ways to “bring” things to the country but seek a structural solution that involves concrete mechanisms and plans to develop national production, that look inwards to our own potentials and, starting from there, develops production.
[The Latin America Solidarity Network (LASNET), with the support of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) and others, is coordinating an Australian tour of a CRBZ leader in March. For more information email LASNET at email@example.com or AVSN at firstname.lastname@example.org.]