Venezuelan Revolution

Chavez five years 6 Image chavezcandangaThe Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela can be traced back to 1989, when the masses of workers and poor rose up against an IMF-imposed package of austerity measures. Carlos Andres Perez responded by sending the army to kill unarmed protesters, leaving hundreds dead. This led to a failed uprising of junior military officers, led by Hugo Chavez, against the government in 1992. On release from jail, Chavez stood in the 1998 presidential election and won against the joint forces of the regime, opening up a revolutionary period.

Faced with imperialist aggression and coup plotting by the oligarchy, Chavez used the country's oil resources to carry out a widespread programme of social reforms, particularly in the fields of housing, education and healthcare. Companies were nationalised and workers occupied their factories. In 2005, Chavez declared that the aim of the revolution was socialism. But this revolution was never completed.

Back in 2005, Alan Woods, in The Venezuelan Revolution: A Marxist Perspective, explained that it is impossible to make half a revolution:

“[T]he Venezuelan Revolution has begun, but it is not finished, and it cannot be finished until the power of the Venezuelan oligarchy is broken… This means the expropriation of the land, banks and big industry under workers’ control and management. It means the arming of the people... It means that the working class must organise independently and strive to place itself at the head of the nation. And it means that the Marxist tendency must strive to win over the majority of the revolutionary movement.”

The current crisis in Venezuela is being blamed on socialism by reactionaries in all corners of the planet. It is, therefore, vital that all socialists have a good understanding of the history of the revolution, its achievements and its shortcomings. 

Venezuela's National Electoral Council released the result of yesterday's recall referendum on the government of President Hugo Chávez Frias. It was revealed that the opposition failed to obtain more votes than those who wanted Chavez to stay on as President. Even so, the opposition has refused to recognize the result and has charged that the "no" victory was based on electoral fraud. But does the result mean the opposition has suffered a decisive defeat? The internal and external enemies of the Venezuelan revolution cannot be reconciled by elections, referendums and negotiations. They will only be satisfied when the revolution is defeated.

Genuine Marxists oppose the attempts of the Venezuelan oligarchy, backed by imperialism, to overthrow President Chavez. Why do we take this position? Because a defeat for Chavez in the referendum would be a heavy blow against the workers and peasants of all Latin America. It would be a victory for imperialism and the forces of reaction everywhere. The barricades have been drawn in this class war and it is necessary to take sides clearly and unambiguously.

The attitude to revolution is the acid test for revolutionaries. Yet surprisingly many of those who call themselves Marxists have proved organically incapable of understanding the Venezuelan revolution or intervening in it. Two years ago, when the attempted coup against the Chavez government was defeated by the revolutionary movement of the masses, the response of most of the Left internationally was a deafening silence. Now the ultra-left have suddenly been getting hot under the collar - not about the Venezuelan revolution, but about the apparent opportunism of the Marxist tendency, gathered around this web site. Alan Woods points out a few elementary points that to any serious Marxist

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All attention is now centred on the forthcoming August 15th recall referendum. The "opposition" has all kinds of tricks it can play, but one thing is sure: the masses are gearing up to defend the revolution. Unfortunately there are elements within the leadership of the movement who are trying to hold back the masses. Jorge Martin and William Sanabria, in Caracas, report on what is happening and look at the possible developments.

In spite of the blatant fraud of the opposition, the decision has been taken to go ahead with the recall referendum in Venezuela. This has disappointed some layers of the Bolivarian movement and enraged others. Many have gone along with it out of their loyalty to Chavez. The decision is a serious mistake. Jorge Martin looks at the what the movement should do now.

A diplomatic crisis has opened up between Mexico and Cuba. Mexico's Vicente Fox government has demanded the recall of the Mexican ambassador from Havana and ordered the Cuban diplomats to leave. The response of the masses was anything but favourable. Thousands demonstrated in Mexico, while a million marched through Havana. This has deepened the political crisis in Mexico and further undermined Fox and his right wing PAN government.

The Venezuelan revolution is at the crossroads. Having twice defeated the counterrevolution, the revolution is faced with a new and furious offensive on the part of the oligarchy and its imperialist backers. How can the revolution stop reaction? The only way is by completing the revolutionary process. The workers must take power.

The developing revolution in Venezuela has brought into sharp relief what the correct Marxist approach should be to this phenomenon. Unfortunately many who claim to be Marxists have revealed that they really have no understanding of the reall essence of Marxism. Alan Woods looks at the traditions of the movement going right back to Marx himself.

Last week Alan Woods visited Caracas to attend the Second International Gathering in Solidarity with the Venezuelan Revolution. He spoke at several meetings, putting the Marxist case, mainly to audiences of workers and poor people – activists of the Bolivarian Movement and the main protagonists of the Venezuelan Revolution. "I also had the opportunity to meet and talk with the President of the Bolivarian Republic, Hugo Chavez. As a writer and Marxist historian I am used to writing about men and women who have made history. But it is not every day that one has the opportunity to observe a protagonist of the historical process at close quarters, to ask questions and to form an

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Two years after the brief April 2002 coup, Venezuela is still living through an unfinished revolutionary process. The masses of the people and the workers have defeated the counterrevolutionary conspiracies of the local oligarchy and imperialism twice, but the revolution has not been completed and thus the danger of a new reactionary coup is still ever present.

The opposition in Venezuala has mobilised armed gangs of provocateurs on the streets, with the aim of destabilisng the country. This article is based on material published in Venezuela, which we are making available to our readers in Spanish (See below). We ask all our readers and supporters to step up the campaign we launched last week in defence of the Venezuelan revolution. Keep collecting the solidarity signatures, organise meetings, raise money, spread the word about what is happening in Venezuela.

Hundreds of thousands gathered in Bolivar Avenue, Caracas, on April 13 to commemorate the first anniversary of the popular uprising that defeated the reactionary coup of April 11, 2002. The different events that have been taking place a year after the coup give us a clear picture of the current balance of forces between the classes in Venezuela.

On Thursday February 20 at midnight, the Venezuelan police arrested the president of the bosses’ organisation Fedecamaras Carlos Fernandez, accused of five different charges: betrayal to the fatherland, rebellion, instigation to crime, association to commit crime, and devastation. This action of the justice system reflects clearly the pressure of the revolutionary movement and the new balance of forces after the complete failure of the attempted coup.

The reports from Venezuela indicate a sharpening of the struggle between the contending forces.The revolutionary camp must be on its guard against provocateurs who have undoubtedly infiltrated themselves into the mass movement, with a view to causing disorder and panic. Their aim is to drag the mass movement into futile armed conflicts that can end with a large number of casualties. This is the main aim of the counterrevolutionaries. That is why the ideas of "foquism" and individual terrorism are so harmful to the movement. The groups that advocate such tactics are very easily infiltrated by the police and secret services and manipulated for sinister purposes. It is necessary to firmly

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As Alan Woods had just finished writing this article, we received a letter from a Venezuelan Marxist commenting on yesterday's article by Emilia Lucena and we are publishing extracts from it relating to the present situation, followed by comments by Alan Woods.

The revolution in Venezuela has reached the point of no return. In two stormy days in April, the bourgeoisie attempted a coup d'etat against the reformist government of Hugo Chavez. Although it was backed by big business, right-wing trade union leaders and the US embassy, the coup failed. In just 36 hours the whole thing was over.

Today marks the anniversary of the defeat of the coup that attempted to remove President Hugo Chavez from power in 2002. Within less than 48 hours, reaction was defeated by a magnificent movemenet of the Venezuelan masses. Here we reproduce the analysis of those events written by Ted Grant and Alan Woods published on April 14, 2002.