Rosales acknowledges that he has lost but denounces alleged manipulation to widen the gap and calls for his supporters to build a new movement

Rosales, the majority of the counterrevolutionary leaders and imperialism were confronted with the choice of accepting the victory of Chavez or to denounce alleged fraud and call for a struggle they know they cannot win. They resorted to a halfway position.

A first appraisal of the new strategy of the counterrevolution

Rosales, the majority of the counterrevolutionary leaders and imperialism were confronted with the choice of accepting the victory of Chavez or to denounce alleged fraud and call for a struggle they know they cannot win. They resorted to a halfway position.

Rosales has accepted that Chavez won, but in order to keep his supporters radicalised and mobilised and divert the attention away from the scale of the defeat he played thelast  card he had in his pocket, claiming that there was fraud or an alleged manipulation of the results which, according to his view, had the effect of broadening the difference between the votes of the two competitors. It does not matter if this accusation is entirely false, it is part of a new global strategy drawn up by imperialism. This new strategy has consistently conditioned the behaviour of the counterrevolutionary opposition in the last few months.

The aims of imperialism and the counterrevolution

Since Manuel Rosales imposed himself as the only candidate for the counterrevolutionary Venezuelan opposition Marxists have explained that this decision was imposed by US imperialism and was incorporated into a strategy to try to recollect and strengthen the social base of the counterrevolution in order to wage a new offensive when the conditions would allow it.

All of Rosales' electoral campaign was aimed at this target. Firstly, he aimed to motivate and to gather together the social base for reaction, then to mobilize its forces to a certain extent. The point of view of imperialism, from an opposite class standpoint, has some common features with that of the Marxists. The imperialists as well as us can see the internal contradictions that exist within the revolutionary forces. The struggle between the reformist and the revolutionary wings, the clash between the aims of the masses - magnified by Chavez's revolutionary speeches - and the pro-capitalist bureaucracy whichs grows in all the state institutions. This counterrevolutionary bureaucracy is trying to use demagogically the endemic problem of social and economic inequalities generated by capitalism to undermine the forces of the revolution and to build a base of support within the most downtrodden and less politically conscious sections of the population.

The chauvinist language against the selling of oil at solidarity prices to Cuba and other Latin American countries, the distribution of the "My Black" card, a credit card given out which could supposedly be used in the event of a Rosales victory to buy all sorts of goods, were ways of testing the water. They were testing the revolutionary moral of the masses, to see whether they could break it or not. The results were much worse than they thought they would be, but a section of the counter-revolutionary leadership, closely tied to imperialism, have judged that at least they were able to mobilise a part of their social base, mainly in the middle class. However, the opposition did not have the hoped for impact on the more politically backward sections of the masses, who they hoped to use to as a good base for launching a destabilising campaign.

This is combined with its tactic of negotiating and pressuring the reformist sectors of the Bolivarian movement in an attempt to put the brakes, or at least to slow down and distort, the development of the revolution. In this way they hope to exploit the contradictions that exist in the revolutionary camp, to deepen them, in order to change the balance of forces.

Everything indicates that the Venezuelan opposition is divided. On the one hand, there is the more radical and impatient section of the opposition, which was ready to enter into a decisive battle on Sunday or even before. And on the other hand there are sectors that have raised the idea of not standing in the elections, and others who raised the idea of withdrawing from the elections or launching an all-out violent offensive on the election day after rejecting the victory of Chavez. In view of this, there were many rumours pointing to the fact that Rosales and, it was said, Petkoff were in favour of a counterrevolutionary "wait and see" approach.

Destabilisation and negotiation: two faces of the same counterrevolutionary coin

If they manage to strengthen their social base to such a degree and rhythm that would allow them to launch a fresh coup attempt or a destabilising campaign, they would, even with the minimum possibility of success, try to do it. However, what is most likely, and what would suit the situation better, is for the counter-revolution to continue manipulating and manoeuvring in order to prepare a new offensive in the medium term by using its social base, which has returned to mobilisations and is partially radicalising, believing in the large rise in financing from the imperialists. Because of this they believe in certain victory and that they will finally be able to finish the hated Chavez government. If any doubts remained, the massive response last Sunday on the part of the revolutionary masses to the opposition march on Saturday, and the mood of the mobilisation, organisation and willingness to struggle of the masses that intensified before, during and on the day of the elections showed them clearly that to launch a new offensive would be counter-productive.

Fear of the revolutionary masses

This fear of the mood of the masses to fight to the end is why the opposition has decided to step back and not seek a direct confrontation - at the moment. It is not, as some of the reformist leaders of the Bolivarian movement claimed on election day, a result of the "democratic maturity of the Venezuelan population" (which is the most abstract of all abstractions), or a change in the nature or way of thinking of the leaders of the opposition. This was finally demonstrated in the cynicism with which Rosales "accepted" his defeat - "They have beaten us, but by a smaller margin". They do not say openly that there was fraud, which would force them into a fight they could not win, but neither do they say to their followers that the elections were clean because they fear that this would prove their deceit. The opposition told its followers that they would definitely win, and this deception could cause their followers to become demoralised. On the other hand that would also allow some of the more impatient sections of the counter-revolution to build and strengthen their social base.

The objective of the counter-revolution and of imperialism is what the CMR explained a few months ago: to use the political situation surrounding the elections to begin preparing a new counterrevolutionary offensive in an attempt to bring down Chavez and the revolution. To do this they will continue with their demagogy, with their wearing away at the revolution, and their lies and falsifications against the revolution and attempt to sabotage any progressive economic policies by using the fifth column, the bureaucracy, which has infiltrated the revolutionary movement.

At this time the opposition finds itself in a very complicated situation. The overwhelming victory of the revolution will strengthen the spirit of the revolutionary masses, and although the counterrevolution will be able to maintain a nucleus of its social base, their defeat will generate demoralisation and scepticism in their ranks. There is but one way to stop the counterrevolution from raising its head and attacking again: we must use this new victory to break its power completely through the expropriation and nationalisation of the banks, the big businesses and the land under workers' control. The present state apparatus must be replaced with a workers' state based on the elected and recallable representatives of committees formed by the workers, peasants, and the popular revolutionary masses. If we do not do this, the counterrevolution will gather together and strengthen its social base in the middle class and use the disillusionment and frustration of the most politically backward sections of the masses to attain its counterrevolutionary goals.

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