Venezuela: gears up for December elections

On 3 December the Presidential elections will be a vote on the decision of the ruling party, the Movement of the Fifth Republic, to build socialism in Venezuela and reject the long interference of imperialism in Latin America.

After US pressure, the remnants of the opposition parties agreed on a single opponent – Manuel Rosales, governor of the wealthy and heavily populated Zulia state. Since it is impossible to campaign against the progressive steps taken by the Chavez government, the right wing programme is a ‘law and order’ campaign against ‘delinquency’, demonising the youth that support Chavez. Open bribery of the electorate is also proposed by offering voters direct hand-outs from the country’s oil wealth, the ultimate in populist politics of which Chavez is accused!

President Chavez has fought to release Venezuela from imperialism, understanding that unity and mutual support amongst those threatened by the US is central to Venezuela’s success. Democratising the country is an inseparable part of the process. Reinvigorating OPEC and stopping the theft of Venezuela’s own oil revenues was the start. In China, in August, Chavez called for the prosecution of Israeli leaders for genocide in Lebanon. In Cuba, in September, he stood out as a leading spokesperson for the Non-aligned Movement. Addressing the United Nations Chavez accused the US of ‘hegemonic pretensions...placing at risk the very survival of the human species’. Later, speaking of Fallujah, Chavez demanded that ‘the President of the United States must be charged with genocide’.

After the re-establishment of state control over the oil industry in 2003 new contracting arrangements have been established with western corporations to prevent the wholesale theft of resources. New contracts, first with European and then Latin American states, were established, to reduce the previously forced relationship with US capitalism.

Seeking further to break the US grip on its economy, new agreements were made in July with Russia to buy attack helicopters and advanced fighters, with plans to produce Kalashnikov rifles in Venezuela. Gazprom and Lukoil are exploring in Venezuela. Venezuela’s supplies of 150,000 barrels of oil a day (bpd) to China are to rise to one million bpd by 2016. China is investing in oil tankers, rigs, mining and infrastructure and will build 20,000 new homes as part of the battle against homelessness. A new ‘Chinese Wall’ is being built against the stranglehold the US has had over the Venezuelan economy.
Alvaro Michaels

FRFI 193 October / November 2006


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