The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the focal point of a political shift to the left that has affected most of the Latin American continent for just over a decade. For several years this has been met with denunciations of the nation and its president, Hugo Chavez, from TV personalities like Glenn Beck and Pat Robertson to establishment figures like George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all of whom liken the nation to a military dictatorship.
Trade unionists from more than 30 countries met in Caracas for the Third Union Encounter of Our Americas also expressed their support for Venezuela and willingness to mobilise to stop any possible aggression. “In the face of any attempt by Colombia or any other country, to obstruct the revolution [in Venezuela], the working class will come out bravely to defend the process and the country”, said Marcela Maspero, a national coordinator of National Union of Workers (UNT) in Venezuela.
In further moves to strengthen the state’s role in the economy, Venezuelan President Chavez announced on May 11 the creation of a publicly owned import-export company as part of a broader plan to combat “the hegemony of the bourgeoisie”, speculation and inflation. Despite price controls and a fixed exchange rate, inflation reached 25.1% in 2009 — the highest in Latin America. Central bank figures reported inflation climbed 5.2% in April (double that of March), bringing accumulated inflation for 2010 up to 11.3%.
The May 2 internal pre-selection of United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) candidates for the September 26 national elections was an example of the mobilising force of this mass party in construction. More than 2.5 million party members participated. This demonstrated the PSUV is the largest national political force, and highlighted its democratic and participatory nature. The participation rate was greater than the 2.3 million people who voted to pre-select PSUV candidates for governors and mayors in 2008.
The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) concluded its five-month extraordinary congress on April 25 with the approval of highly anticipated party principles and statutes. This was just in time for primaries on May 2, in which millions of PSUV members will choose parliamentary candidates to run against a newly united opposition platform called the “Democratic Alternative” in September.