Venezuela

“Thousands of government supporters converged on Venezuela’s National Assembly, carrying banners reading ‘Yes to the reform, on the path to 21st Century Socialism’”, the BBC’s website reported on August 16, as Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez announced proposed constitutional reforms to provide a legal framework for the increasingly radical direction of the revolutionary process led by his government. This process aims to create a system of popular power and socialism.

Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution, and in particular its experiments with workers’ co-management and in some instances workers’ control, is at the cutting edge of the global movement against capitalism. With the bosses’ lockout in 2002-03, which shut down much of the Venezuelan economy for a period of two months, hundreds of factories were closed down and workers turned out onto the streets to fend for themselves.

Venezuelan private television station RCTV, owned by multi-millionaire Marcel Granier, began broadcasting via cable and satellite television inside Venezuela on July 16, according to a July 31 Wall Street Journal article. RCTV had previously been broadcasting via the government-owned Channel 2 airwaves, however the station’s 20-year concession to use Channel 2 expired on May 27. The government decided not to renew the concession, citing the role played by RCTV in helping to organise the 2002 US-backed military coup that briefly overthrew the elected government, as well as more than 600 violations of Venezuela’s broadcasting law.

As part of the expansion of the pro-poor social programs — known as “missions” — promoted by the government of socialist President Hugo Chavez, Venezuelanalysis.com reported on July 26 that Chavez had announced plans for the construction of 15 new hospitals. The article reports that building new hospitals, along with the transformation of run-down existing public hospitals, make up the third and fourth stage of one of the government’s best known and most successful missions — Barrio Adentro (“Into the Neighbourhood”).

The Venezuelan revolution, led by socialist President Hugo Chavez, has captured the imagination of millions of people around the world with its increasingly successful challenge to US imperialism and US-backed neoliberal policies that have caused widespread impoverishment across Latin America. Since Chavez’s re-election in December on an explicitly socialist platform, there has been a struggle to significantly “deepen” the revolutionary process towards creating a “socialism of the 21st century”.

Various leaders of Venezuela’s primary pro-government labour union, the National Workers Union (UNT), have called on all sectors of the organisation to join together and hold elections later this year. At a press conference on July 17, labour leaders Marcela Maspero and Orlando Chirino invited all sectors of the UNT to a general meeting on July 26 to organise general elections and, in that way, unite the principal labour union of the country that has remained divided in recent years.

The revolutionary student movement in Venezuela is divided into countless tiny organisations, often with bases in just one faculty or one campus. One of these organisations, the Popular Revolutionary Movement of Fire (MPR Fogata), in a statement issued in June called for “the revolutionary student movement of Venezuela to strengthen the forces in favour of unity”. The statement argued: “Now we are presented with the possibility of deepening these forces and gradually making that [unity] a reality.”

The dramatic advances of the Venezuelan revolution, and the alliances it has forged with other insurgent peoples and governments resisting imperialism, are creating an historic opportunity to strengthen international anti-imperialist collaboration and rebuild the revolutionary socialist movement worldwide.

Like the rest of Latin America, Venezuela’s history is scarred by colonialism’s racist legacy — Venezuela’s people were dispossessed in 1520 following Spanish settlement. In the following centuries, they were systematically killed and their land exploited. Slavery, which allowed the colonisers to plunder Venezuela, existed until 1854, and at the time of the 1830 constitution neither indigenous people nor those descended from Africa were recognised as Venezuelans.

According to a June 25 Venezuelanalysis.com report, the formation of the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) has entered a new phase. Officials and party militants had met in Caracas the previous weekend at the “National Meeting of Candidates for PSUV Militants in Caracas”. According to the report, “Record numbers of Venezuelans have registered to be members of the new party” and the grassroots process of forming the PSUV “continues with wide participation”.

Pages

Subscribe to Venezuela