Since its outset, the Donald Trump administration has ratcheted up pressure on Venezuela and radicalised its positions, writes Steve Ellner.
There is a growing body of pro-establishment statements in the United States opposing the possibility of US military intervention in Venezuela, writes Steve Ellner.
The latest expression of this position is a New York Times editorial titled “Stay Out of Venezuela, Mr. Trump”, published on September 11.
At first glance the editorial is a welcome statement that counters the careless war-mongering declarations coming from the ilk of Marco Rubio and a number of high-ranking Trump administration officials, as well as Donald Trump himself.
The refusal by presidential candidate Henri Falcón to recognise the results bodes poorly for Nicolas Maduro’s new term as president. The consolidation of a moderate bloc within the opposition that Falcón represented — which recognises the government’s legitimacy — would have significantly cut into the strength of the more intransigent or radical parties on the right and provided Venezuelan politics with much needed stability.
Plebeian Power: Collective Action & Indigenous, Working-Class & Popular Identities in Bolivia
By Alvaro Garcia Linera
Haymarket Books, 2014
345 pp, US$28.00
Alvaro Garcia Linera, twice-elected vice-president of Bolivia, is the continent’s most prominent theoretician-politician to place 21st century Latin American left thought in a Marxist framework.
Venezuela is again grabbing headlines in the media, amid allegations of lack of democracy and exaggerated accounts of nonetheless very real economic problems.
Much commentary puts the problems facing the country down to the alleged “failed populism” of Venezuela’s pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution. Last month, the New York Times even compared Donald Trump to Venezuela’s late socialist president Hugo Chavez in an article titled “What Hugo Chavez can teach us about Donald Trump”.
“Oil didn’t wreck Venezuela’s economy, socialism did.” That’s what Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, of the Washington-based conservative think tank Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote earlier this year in his reflection on Venezuela’s deepening economic crisis.
Gobry, a prolific writer for Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, criticised Venezuelan analysts who scapegoat oil, even though he recognised that declining oil prices have aggravated the nation’s difficulties.
“The culprit is clear and obvious,” Golbry contends. “The problem is Venezuela's authoritarian socialism.”
Protest against Guarimba, Caracas, January 21. Photo: Cory Fischer-Hoffman.
Leftists in Venezuela have put forward several explanations for the pressing economic difficulties and growing discontent that have beset the nation recently. These difficulties raise the possibility of an opposition takeover of the National Assembly in this year’s elections.
It is a point of honour for the Venezuelan government that despite the sharp plunge in oil prices and acute shortages of goods, President Nicolas Maduro has ruled out austerity measures.
In a recent TV interview with former vice president Jose Vicente Rangel, Venezuelan Central Bank president Nelson Merentes explained why, saying: “Do you remember what happened on February 27, 1989?”
The private media and important actors both at home and abroad, including Washington, have downplayed, and in some cases completely ignored, the terrorist actions perpetrated against the Venezuelan government over the past three months.
Among the latest examples that have gone underreported abroad is the assassination in late April of Eliezer Otaiza, a historic leader of the Chavista movement and president of the Caracas city council.
The violent anti-government protests that shook Venezuela in February have again thrust the issue of the pace of change into the broader debate over socialist transformation.
Radical Chavistas, reflecting the zeal of the movement’s rank and file, call for a deepening of the “revolutionary process”. Moderate Chavistas favour concessions to avoid an escalation of the violence.