When Venezuelan oppositionist and newspaper editor Teodoro Petkoff died on October 31, at the age of 86, the world’s capitalist media and reactionary intellectuals on the continent piled in to sing his praises. However, to workers in Venezuela above a certain age, he is remembered as “Teochoro” (Teothief), the man who as Minister in the Caldera government in the 1990s carried out a brutal program of privatisations and above all stole the workers’ social benefits.

Venezuelan Communist Party leader, Luís Fajardo, was killed on the evening of Wednesday 31 October, as he was returning home with his brother-in-law, Javier Aldana, who was also killed in the attack. Both men were riding a motorbike at 9pm when they were struck by a burst of gunfire from a moving vehicle. They were peasant activists and communist militants involved in the struggle for agrarian reform in the South of the Maracaibo Lake region and had already asked for protection as they had received death threats.

At 5.41pm, 4 August, a powerful explosion was heard near the rostrum from which Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro was addressing a parade at Bolivar Avenue in Caracas to mark the 81st anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard. President Maduro was unharmed, but seven members of the National Guard were injured.

The aggravation of the economic crisis is making life unbearable for working people in Venezuela. The destruction of the purchasing power of wages has been combined with the collapse of all basic infrastructure (water, electricity and public transport). Workers in different sectors have started to organise and protest, demanding higher wages; while peasants in the countryside are fighting attempts to destroy Chavez's agrarian revolution.

The Venezuelan elections on 20 May were merely an episode in a long saga of imperialist aggression, economic crisis and the deterioration of living conditions for the working class and poor. The reelected Maduro government has continued its policy of making concessions and appeals to the capitalists. If it wasn’t for the escape valves provided by subsidised food parcels, migration and the dollar-based economy, the situation would have led to a social explosion already. The mood of the chavista rank-and-file is increasingly angry and critical of the leadership.

Nicolas Maduro was re-elected for another term of office in the Venezuelan presidential election on Sunday 20 May. The majority of the reactionary opposition, with full support from Washington and Brussels, had called for a boycott, which led to a very low turnout in the middle-and-upper-class areas of the main cities. Their demand that the elections be cancelled was echoed by right-wing governments in the region. This meant that many in the working-class and poor areas turned out to vote as a way of rejecting brazen imperialist meddling. However, even here turnout was visibly lower than in previous elections. The deep economic crisis is the major issue in people’s minds and many are sceptical about the government’s ability to deal with it.

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