Since the death of Hugo Chavez Frias on 5 March, the Venezuelan capitalist opposition has gained confidence and been more forcibly advocating a counter-revolution. The renewed offensive by the opposition has created a scenario which raises the question of how stable and confident the Bolivarian revolution is to continue and be able to win over greater sections of the population. Another electoral contest will take place on 8 December for the municipal councils, which will once again test the revolutionary project. Challenges facing the revolution come not only from the capitalist opposition nationally and internationally but also from within the revolutionary forces themselves.
Red Flag’s Roberto Jorquera spoke to Tamara Pearson, a socialist activist who has been living in Venezuela since 2007 and has worked as a journalist for venezuelanalysis.com since 2008. We have also translated and abridged a recent statement by Marea Socialista militants Carlos Carcione, Stalin Pérez Borges, Juan García, Zuleika Matamoros, Gonzalo Gómez and Alexander Marín. Marea Socialista is a revolutionary group.
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‘We have a short amount of time’: Interview with Tamara Pearson
What have been some of the challenges since the death of Hugo Chavez?
We are still organising, debating, painting murals, writing, planting and working as hard as before showing that a proportion of the population is conscious enough to fight even without Chavez’s rallying speeches and initiatives. The political stamina – marching and fighting after 16 elections and despite all the problems and attacks – is inspiring. The revolution has developed to a point where politics is a basic part of life.
However, I know PSUV activists who are utterly dedicated, honest revolutionaries, and others who are frankly reformist, opportunist and who promote capitalist values. For me the question is, “What are the challenges for the revolutionaries within the PSUV?” The main one is having some sort of an impact or influence – by organising as a faction, or a separate organisation, or through a website or newspaper or even the youth. In my opinion that organisation is necessary, because at the moment there are many bourgeois or reformist or corrupt elements that dominate the PSUV.
How strong is the opposition?
The opposition has grown, not just in terms of the number of votes they received on 14 April 2013 but also in terms of their actual mobilising power, their confidence and resolve. Their support extends across all classes; while it’s clearly predominant among business people and the rich, it also extends into the poorer and working class sectors, mainly I think as a result of the opposition’s ongoing and massive media campaign against the government and their economic sabotage. Their media campaign and their stunts, combined with, frankly, a lack of detailed information from the government, have, and will continue to have, an impact on a smaller portion of Chavistas who are not as ideologically strong or developed.
Now people are quite clear that the opposition will organise a recall referendum in three years, if it doesn’t manage to pull off anything sooner, and that we’ll probably lose that referendum. Therefore we know that we have a short amount of time to really take things beyond the point of no return so to speak, to really develop people’s ideological levels and organising ability, to the point where we either win that recall, or where we are organised enough to handle an opposition president.
Where to from here?
To deepen and protect the revolution, the activist bases and the revolutionary leadership need to be less disarticulated and start taking on more of a proactive role. But the government is seen to be, and is for now, the leadership – logical in a way, and in terms of many individual members of the government, often deserved. However, it is the grassroots organising – as workers, community, students, consumers, in cadre parties etc. – that is the antidote to all the bureaucracy, corruption and inefficiency. And everyone here knows that if those things aren’t truly smashed over the next three years, it will be hard to deepen the revolution, and we will definitely lose the recall.
I don’t think it’s possible or useful to try to predict what could happen in the future, at least in terms of a few years. All we can do is analyse are own strengths and weaknesses and the strategy of the opposition, within the current national and international economic framework.
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‘The time has come’
It is essential to analyse the full extent of the impact of the absence of Commander Chavez. The simple election campaign, based on a liberal bourgeois style by Chavista leaders ... is the empty shell of the legacy of Chavez. If you do not understand that we face a bourgeois state that guarantees the privileges of the local and transnational oligarchies and bureaucracies that administer them, we will rapidly lose the process.
The Bolivarian revolution is essentially a democratic revolution, a political revolution, distinct from the democratic revolutions in the anti-feudal sense that defined the classics of Marxism. It is an ongoing revolution with two determining events. Firstly the constituent assembly, discussion, approval and referendum that approved the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, which was an expression of some of the changes demanded by the poor people going back to the Caracazo and the proposals of the 4 February and 27 November 1992 insurrections.
Secondly was the popular rebellion of April 2002 and the defeat of the oil industry lockout and oil sabotage in 2002-03. This was a counter-revolution defeated by direct action. A revolution that is now at the crossroads, either moving towards anti-capitalist measures or moving towards a path of paralysis opening the way to the oligarchy to pass counter-reforms.
If the PSUV is to recapture the energy from the time of its founding, an internal revolution will be necessary to break with the vices, the deformations and clientelist degenerations it suffers today. A similar process of assimilation and depoliticisation and clientalism and cooption has been creeping into the union movement and social movements.
Thus, opening the floodgates of creativity and the revolutionary energy of our people is what will recover the political initiative. And more than a government of the streets, we will take the streets, the people, the workers, the youth, the indigenous people and revolutionary women to the government to debate and resolve with national organisation a leadership that will work towards revolution.
A revolution like ours cannot and should not have a single party of the revolution ... we must ensure that the public media, radio, television, give space to each political current of the revolution so as to help the development of a free debate of ideas for working people. At the moment it is not just a matter of breaking the media siege by the opposition against the elected government of 14 April 2013. We have to break our own media siege, open our means of communication to free debate and exchange of ideas amongst the various revolutionary currents, giving our organised people the ability to mobilise in a constituent assembly an indestructible fortress.
Now is the time to unleash the power of the people. Through that we will be able to save the revolution.
“Attention, MOVE. This is America. You have to abide by the laws of the United States.” This was the ultimatum given through a Philadelphia police megaphone to a group of Black activists trapped in their home in the early morning of 13 May 1985. The house on Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia was surrounded by hundreds of police. Thirteen MOVE members, including five children, were inside.
Striking workers and supportive students at the University of Sydney shut down the campus with a 48-hour strike, called by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), on 11 and 12 May.
Amjad Ayman Yaghi, a journalist based in Gaza, in a moving piece first published at the Electronic Intifada, pays tribute to his grandfather and commemorates ‘the catastrophe’ of 1948.