Yanis Iqbal writes that the debate over Venezuela's anti blockade law reveals the contradictions thrown up by efforts to implement a new economic model within a pre-existing bourgeois state.
Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution
Venezuela is confronting COVID-19 amid foreign sanctions, mercenary incursions and rising incidents of looting and riots. Green Left’s Federico Fuentes speaks to National Network of Commune Activists spokesperson Atenea Jiménez about the situation on the ground.
More than 300 international representatives from organisations such as the African Union, the Caribbean Community and the Electoral Experts Council of Latin America, as well as former heads of states, parliamentarians, trade unionists and solidarity activists, were present for Venezuela’s May 20 presidential vote. Among them was Eulalia Reyes de Whitney, a Venezuelan-born activist with the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN).
Campaigning is well underway for Venezuela’s May 20 national vote to elect the nation’s president and representatives to municipal councils and state legislatures. To get a sense of the campaign and situation in the South American country today, Federico Fuentes spoke to Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) Brisbane co-convenor Eulalia Reyes de Whitney, who has been back in her home country for the past several months.
While the voices of Venezuela's right-wing opposition are continuously amplified by the corporate media, rarely are the voices of grassroots activists heard. Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes spoke to Pacha Catalina Guzman, a leading activist with Venezuela’s largest peasant-based organisation, the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ), to get her view on the current economic crisis and how rural communities are organising to deal with the situation.
The approval ratings of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro rose to 23.2% at the end of September, according to a new poll conducted by private centre-right think tank Datanalisis.
The increase in the head of state’s popularity comes just weeks ahead of regional elections scheduled for October 15, when Venezuelans will choose their state governors for the next four years.
Workers in Venezuela are demonstrating what is possible when workers and communities take over the means of production.
Faced with a company shutdown and mass sacking, workers at the former Brahma beer factory in Barquisimeto, Lara state, occupied the factory in 2013. Today, the company is owned by the community, run by workers and geared towards meeting the need of local farmers and residents.
The Agricultural Social Production Unit (UPSA) Caquetios, located in Cabudare, in Palavecino municipality, Lara state, is run by the Brazilian Movement of Rural Landless Workers (MST). A campesino organisation, the MST shares similar objectives to those of former president Hugo Chavez and the pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution he led – in particular, land collectivisation as the best way to grow food and put an end to rural inequality.
In 2006, the MST was invited to Venezuela to take over a 40-hectare estate as part of Chavez’s attempt to transform Venezuela’s countryside. Since then, the group has been joined by several Venezuelan farmers, with both groups learning new experiences from each other.
Venezuela’s right-wing opposition announced on September 26 that its representatives would not attend the upcoming round of exploratory talks that were set to be held in the Dominican Republic the following day.
The boycott came one day after a small group of masked opposition militants took to the streets of the wealthy eastern Caracas municipality of Chacao in renewed anti-government roadblocks.
Having spent our first few days in Caracas, we travelled to Higurote, the capital of Brion municipality, in Miranda state, which is part of the coastal region known as Barlovento – a centre of African culture in Venezuela.
Travelling past El Calvario Park, just a few blocks from the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, we see a familiar image: an outline of late former president Hugo Chavez’s eyes, painted across several stairs.
This image can be seen all over Caracas. The government of President Nicholas Maduro has converted it into a recognisable trademark, much like the iconic image of Che Guevara that is splashed across T-shirts, flags and walls the world over.
Hurricane Irma has just passed through the Caribbean, in a procession of tragedies that have destroyed lives and left material damage behind.
In response to this natural disaster, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro sent humanitarian aid to Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda (with 95% of buildings in Barbuda destroyed), and the French colony of Saint Martin on September 10.
With the Venezuelan right-wing opposition in disarray after failing to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro through violent protest, and divided in the face of the upcoming October 15 regional elections, the frontline of the battle for Venezuela’s future has shifted outside its borders.
“The US is doing the same thing as it did with the economic blockade on Cuba, to try and suffocate the Venezuelan economy” explained Williams Camacaro, a long-time Venezuelan grassroots activist based in New York.
Speaking to Green Left Weekly in Caracas, Camacaro said “The sanctions will cause a lot of difficulties for Venezuela”, but “the reality is that a lot of time has passed since [the blockade was first imposed on Cuba]. Many things have changed.”
Flying into Caracas, the plane was full of middle class Venezuelans travelling home from Miami. On board, no one spoke to the passenger next to them for fear of finding out they were on the opposite side of the political divide.
In highly polarised Venezuela, these things are best left unsaid.
In recent months a small section of Venezuelans living in Australia have decided to embrace some of the aggressive tactics used by fellow right-wingers living in other parts of the globe.
With a campaign established to deport Lucia Rodriguez, the daughter of Caracas mayor and United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) leader Jorge Rodriguez – she was accosted in Bondi a few months ago – and two Venezuelans removed by police from the Latin America Down Under mining expo held in Perth, it is becoming apparent some Venezuelans view these types of actions as acceptable.