The Venezuelan Supreme Court and the MUD Coalition’s persistent rejection of legality

venezuelan parliamentary cop attend

On 29 March the Venezuelan Supreme Court (TSJ) ruled that it had to assume Congress’s functions directly ‘to ensure the rule of law’ for an ‘interim period’. Contrary to the lies of CNN and other imperialist propaganda organs, this was not the ‘dissolution of Congress’. The ruling was made as a result of a serious impasse because legislation had been passed including the votes of three illegally-elected opposition MUD representatives, in contempt of the Supreme Court’s rulings. The Supreme Court decision provided an excuse for a storm of anti-socialist opinion in the Americas and caused disagreements in President Maduro’s Great Patriotic Pole alliance. On 31 March the President asked that the ruling be reconsidered, and it was subsequently withdrawn.


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Venezuela: Imperialist manoeuvres continue

marcha antiimperialista
We are socialists! Anti-Imperialists!

Imperialist machinations against Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution have continued into Trump’s presidency. At the end of February a bill providing for stronger US action against Venezuela was unanimously passed by the US Senate and is now before Congress. The bill supports moves by the leader of the Organisation of American States (OAS) to invoke its so-called ‘democratic charter’ to suspend Venezuela’s membership and to justify further intervention, isolation and sanctions. Pushed by Senator Marco Rubio, a hard-line Cuban-American, the aim is to remove Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) from office. Buoyed by US support, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro issued a further ultimatum, demanding Venezuela hold immediate presidential elections or face suspension from the OAS. Presidential elections are not due until 2018 and the opposition’s attempt to launch a recall referendum last year was stalled by delays and fraudulent signatures. According to Venezuela’s constitution, now that Maduro has served over half his term, a recall referendum would only allow for the Vice President to complete the four-year term.Sam Mcgill reports.


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Venezuela: the battles to come

Venezuela Rally

2016 was a challenging year for the Bolivarian revolution. Since winning a majority in 2015’s National Assembly elections, the Democratic Unity (MUD) opposition has launched multiple attempts to overthrow United Socialist Party (PSUV) President Nicolas Maduro. These include attempting to nullify his election by claiming he is really Colombian; launching a recall referendum; manoeuvring to impeach him, and calling violent street protests. This has been accompanied by a campaign to isolate Venezuela internationally. Obama renewed a 2015 decree declaring Venezuela an ‘unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States’, attempted to expel Venezuela from the Organisation of American States and attacked the country’s participation in the Mercosur trade bloc. The past year saw crippling inflation and the depreciation of the bolivar currency, a slump in oil prices and devastating drought. Despite this the PSUV government allocated 73% of its budget to social expenditure, guaranteeing free health care and education, launching a network of local committees for direct distribution of subsidised food and built over 370,000 units of social housing. Sam McGill reports.


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Negotiations give Maduro breathing space in the ongoing battle for Venezuela

Throughout November 2016, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro held successful talks with the country’s opposition coalition, in an encouraging sign for the future of the Bolivarian Revolution after a year of constant challenges to the socialist government. That the right-wing Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) agreed to negotiations at all is a triumph for President Maduro, who has for months called for a dialogue between the two sides, even accepting the opposition’s condition that the Vatican facilitate any such talks. Claire Wilkinson reports.

This dialogue comes after a period of intense political conflict between Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and the opposition coalition MUD. The opposition has controlled Venezuela’s National Assembly since it won a majority in December 2015. Its main objective since taking up its seats has been to oust President Maduro by any means possible. This has included massive electoral fraud committed while collecting signatures for the recall referendum, as well as rejecting the authority of both Venezuela’s Electoral Authority (CNE) and its Supreme Court, who have annulled decisions made by the National Assembly since opposition politicians began to attempt to change Venezuelan law in defiance of its constitution.


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What's going on in Venezuela?

Article by PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela)

Venezuela Parlament

1. The right wing won a majority in the National Assembly in December 2015.

2. Its principal objective since taking its seats in Parliament has been to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.


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Fact and fiction in Venezuela’s recall election

Venezuela Fiction

The Non Aligned Movement (NAM), whose presidency Venezuela has just assumed, has rallied to defend the country against US-backed counter-revolution. With its 120 member states and commitment to self-determination, NAM exists as a counter to the imperialist-dominated United Nations, and is the world’s second largest international body. At its most recent summit in September, held on the Venezuelan island of Margarita, NAM rejected all imperialist intervention in Venezuela. It made it clear that, despite a crushing economic crisis and never-ending attempts to topple the country’s socialist PSUV government, the Bolivarian revolution continues to defend massive social gains in health, education, and housing whilst upholding the rights of oppressed people the world over. Sam Mcgill reports.

September saw Caracas thronged with opposing white and red banners as the neo-liberal Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition pledged to ‘take the capital’, whilst Chavista socialists mobilised to oppose the threat of a coup. The protests have focused on the opposition’s efforts to hold a recall referendum to oust PSUV President Nicolas Maduro and force fresh presidential elections. The day before the largest demonstration, on 1 September, the authorities seized guns and explosives from opposition forces, dismantling a ‘paramilitary camp’ near the presidential palace of Miraflores. Some opposition protesters have since resorted to violence, burning cars, hurling Molotov cocktails and attacking police. Further protests are scheduled throughout October.


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Venezuela political assassinations target Chavistas as tensions mount

serra venezuela
Mass protests took place in Caracas against the assassination of pro-government figures following the murder of PSUV politician Robert Serra and his partner in 2014.

Despite the daily bombardment of shock headlines predicting Venezuela’s imminent demise, the international media have remained conspicuously silent on the surge of political assassinations that have targeted Venezuelan revolutionaries and community activists. At least 13 pro-government activists have been murdered since 2014, not including any of the 43 dead in the violent ‘La Salida’ street barricades earlier that year. This is part of a sinister campaign of intimidation, calculated in cold blood that aims to overthrow the Bolivarian revolutionary movement. Meanwhile, tensions are building over the recall referendum against socialist President Nicolas Maduro, and the opposition’s economic sabotage continues. Sam Mcgill reports.


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Venezuela: class struggle sharpens over emergency measures

President Nicolas Maduro

Venezuela is in the grip of a massive showdown. The opposition-controlled national assembly is demanding Venezuela’s expulsion from the Organisation of American States (OAS); opposition leaders are clamouring for a coup whilst launching a recall referendum to topple President Maduro; the threat of foreign intervention escalates as imperialism turns the screw. Sensing an opportunity to overthrow yet another progressive state in South America, the imperialist press is ratcheting up its rhetoric. International headlines scream ‘chaos’ and ‘starvation’, reporting incessantly on queues and shortages, backing this latest destabilisation effort to the hilt. In the face of this imperialist onslaught, President Maduro, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and the plethora of grassroots organisations that make up the Bolivarian revolutionary movement are pushing back, organising to take essential steps to tackle the economic and political crisis, mobilising the working class and poor to defend the gains made over the last 17 years.


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Venezuela: US backs counter-revolutionaries in campaign to oust Maduro

Venezuela’s right wing has restated its principal aim, vowing to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro by July and roll back 17 years of the Bolivarian revolutionary process. To do so would return the country to the rampant neoliberalism and crushing poverty that dominated at the end of the last century. Their campaign continues to be underwritten by US imperialism. Sam Mcgill reports.

On 8 March the opposition coalition, the Movement of Democratic Unity (MUD) published its ‘Roadmap for change’, a four-pronged campaign to overthrow Maduro and the socialist PSUV government. Jesus Torrealba, MUD’s executive secretary, declared: ‘We call on the entire Venezuelan people in order to force Maduro to resign as the President of the country’. The ‘Roadmap’ details plans to seek a constitutional amendment reducing the presidential term, launch a recall referendum, rewrite the constitution and mobilise on the streets. Meanwhile in March US President Obama restated his intent to destabilize the country, renewing a 2015 decree declaring Venezuela an ‘unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States’. The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) enables Obama to block transactions, freeze governmental assets and confiscate Venezuelan state property. Typically the IEEPA operates alongside increased covert and military interventions and media vilification. It has been used against Cuba, Iran, Syria and Russia. Following the electoral success of the right-wing opposition in December, when the MUD gained majority control over Venezuela’s National Assembly, US imperialism is ratcheting up support for the forces of counter-revolution.


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Venezuela: new battles lie ahead

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro

On 6 December 2015, the Bolivarian revolution suffered its greatest ever electoral defeat, losing 56% of the vote to the right-wing Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition. Over the last 17 years of socialist rule, the poverty index in Venezuela has dropped from 21% to 5.4% in 2015 – a record low. More than 36,000 people were lifted out of poverty in 2014 alone, despite an economic slowdown caused by economic sabotage and falling oil prices. 84% of retired people now receive pensions; free health care and education cover the whole population. A million units of social housing have been constructed. Now these extraordinary gains for the working class are under threat. Sam McGill reports.

Counter-revolutionaries get to work

On 5 January 2016 the right-wing opposition took control of the National Assembly for the first time in 17 years. Its 109 seats, along with three pro-opposition indigenous representatives gave it a two-thirds ‘super-majority’ over Chavista forces, who had won only 55 seats. A two-thirds majority enables the right-wing to block spending on Venezuela’s extensive social missions, impose or remove ministers, dismiss the vice-president, call a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution and initiate a process to remove President Nicolas Maduro. 

However, that majority was called into question by the fact that three of MUD’s representatives, from the state of Amazonas, have been suspended pending an inquiry into allegations of electoral fraud. Nonetheless, the new President of the National Assembly – the right-wing leader of Accion Democratica, Henry Ramos Allup – went ahead and swore the deputies in. He also ordered the removal of pictures of Hugo Chavez and independence leader Simon Bolivar from the chamber. In response, the deputies of the PSUV and its allies walked out, joining mass pro-Chavista protests on the streets outside.


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Venezuela's right-wing have a fight on their hands – all power to the communes!

'Self-criticism is to correct, to rectify, not to continue doing everything in a vacuum ... either independence or nothing, either the commune or nothing!'

Hugo Chavez – 'Golpe de timon' (Strike at the Helm) speech, 20 October 2012

Venezuela's 6 December National Assembly elections represent the biggest electoral loss for the Bolivarian Revolution in its 17-year history. The Venezuelan right-wing have secured a two thirds 'super majority' with the Round-table of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition winning 109 seats, alongside the election of three opposition aligned indigenous national assembly legislators. This gives the Venezuelan opposition a massive majority over the coalition aligned with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) which only won 55 seats. The death of Hugo Chavez in 2013, the prolonged economic war and the international campaign against Venezuela, coupled with the PSUV government’s reluctance to confront head on the private sector’s strangulation of the economy, pushed many to switch sides and vote for the MUD's undefined promise of 'change'.


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Venezuelan opposition win National Assembly elections: Now is the time to defend the gains of the revolution

UPDATED: 7 December 2015

As feared, Sunday 6 December saw the Venezuelan opposition sweep to victory in the National Assembly elections. Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) has now published the preliminary but irreversible election results, detailing that the MUD opposition coalition has won 99 seats compared to the PSUV’s 46 seats, securing the opposition a simple majority.

This landslide victory will allow the opposition to grant an amnesty to Leopoldo Lopez, leader of the Popular Will party imprisoned for his role in the violent street barricades last year,  block public spending on social programmes beyond the budget approved for 2016, block or push through international treaties and essentially block the PSUV government’s every move. 


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Venezuela acts to secure its borders

Demonstration in support of the government campaing against smuggling

We will launch a sweeping plan with the support of the people. Enough of the criminal economy and economic sabotage ... I will intensify the Operation for the Liberation and Protection of the People so that it reaches every last corner of the last municipality of the country.’ President Nicolas Maduro, 8 August 2015.

It is estimated that 40% of Venezuela’s subsidised goods have been smuggled out of the country to Colombia, at a loss to Venezuela of $2bn each year, as well as 100,000 barrels of oil a day – an annual loss of $3.65bn. Currency manipulation, speculation, hoarding and fraud have long been central to the economic war within Venezuela against the Bolivarian Revolution. The economic sabotage being carried out across the country’s western border has opened up a new external front, prompting Venezuela’s robust response, as SAM McGILL reports.


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Venezuela-Guyana border dispute: Britain’s colonial legacy

US oil giant ExxonMobil is at the centre of a renewed border dispute between Venezuela and neighbouring Guyana. Earlier this year the Guyanese government unilaterally accepted a $200m deal from ExxonMobil to begin offshore oil exploration in the disputed Essequibo zone, which has been under official mediation by the United Nations since 1966. In May 2015 the company reported a ‘significant oil discovery’, fanning the flames of regional tensions. Sam McGill reports.

The blood-stained hand of British colonialism is at the root of this historic border conflict. In 1811 Venezuela became one of the first Spanish American colonies to declare independence and its recognised territory included the region west of the Essequibo river. However, the first republic was destroyed, and sovereignty was only attained after Simon Bolivar’s liberation armies won the Battle of Carabobo in 1821. Venezuela’s borders immediately came under threat from Britain, which controlled what was then British Guiana. Explorer Robert Schomburgk was commissioned by the British government to conduct a survey of British Guiana’s geographical boundaries. He identified the Essequibo and the Orinoco river basins as geopolitical strongholds from which to advance deeper into the continent, drawing the infamous Schomburgk line which attempted to claim the Orinoco river mouth for the British empire. Britain’s interests were further stoked by significant discoveries of gold in the region. In true colonial fashion, a map was drawn up in London and a border declared with scant regard for the region’s inhabitants.


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Venezuela - The threat of a good example

Venezuela's armed forces and civilian militias mobilised in solidarity with the government

On 9 March, President Obama invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), declaring Venezuela an ‘unusual and extraordinary threat’ to US national security whilst sanctioning seven Venezuelan officials. The act enables Obama to block transactions and freeze the assets of any Venezuelan government entity or official and take steps towards confiscating Venezuelan state property such as the CITGO oil company, which provides subsidised heating oil to poor US citizens.

This executive order will now operate alongside the United States’ covert subversion, military intervention and media vilification, a pattern illustrated in the string of other countries currently subject to IEEPA including Cuba (since 1977), Iran (since 1979), Syria (since 2004) and Russia (since 2014). It is an overt act of aggression against Venezuela. Sam McGill reports.


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Venezuela: Fighting sanctions and sabotage

In the face of plummeting oil prices, US sanctions, recession and inflation, in January President Nicolas Maduro promised that Venezuela would invest in production and slash government salaries, including his own. He went on: ‘We will never cut one bolivar of what we spend on education, food, housing – on our people.’ Sam McGill reports.

War of attrition

In the same week that US President Obama announced the re-establishment of diplomatic ties with socialist Cuba, he signed a law freezing the assets of Venezuelan officials for alleged human rights abuses during the opposition’s orchestrated ‘Exit Strategy’ violence in spring 2014. What the new law ignores, of course, is that the majority of the 43 deaths during the clashes were caused by street barricades erected by opposition gangs; four are attributed to state security forces. These sanctions were imposed scarcely a week after the US Senate intelligence committee reported on the brutal torture methods used by the CIA. At least Venezuela’s attorney general has launched a criminal investigation into the deaths that occurred at the hands of the state security forces. Obama on the other hand has categorically refused to prosecute any US official implicated in using or ordering torture.


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Venezuela: The battle against police corruption and counter-revolution

At the beginning of November, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for ‘a revolution’ within the police and a purging of the state security forces. His comments came after a Caracas police officer was implicated in the brutal assassination of a Chavista politician and members of a collective in the capital were shot in cold blood by police. The two events illustrate just some of the problems facing the country’s PSUV government as it attempts to build socialism in the face of vicious counter-revolution and tackle the endemic corruption and violence that are the legacy of years of neo-colonial government prior to 1998. Sam McGill reports.

On 1 October, PSUV activist and national assembly member Robert Serra was stabbed to death in his home alongside his partner, Maria Herrera. His bodyguard, a Caracas police officer, later confessed to allowing the six murderers into Serra’s apartment. According to Venezuela’s Justice Ministry, a Colombian/Venezuelan paramilitary, Leiva Padilla Mendoza was paid $250,000 – by whom, it is not clear – to organise the killing. He was arrested by Interpol in Cartagena in early November and is now in prison in Colombia.


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PSUV Congress agrees Bolivarian Revolution’s line of march

President Maduro addresses July's PSUV Congress

In July 2014 the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) held its third Congress, the first since the death of the party’s founder Hugo Chavez in 2013. The Congress ratified the political programme put forward by Chavez and reaffirmed Nicolas Maduro as party leader. It identified the fundamental tasks of the Bolivarian Revolution over the next five years as ‘the construction of a productive economic apparatus and the advancement and transition towards a socialist economy’, with ‘state transformation’ a key objective. The subsequent cabinet shake-up, campaign against smuggling and focus on food production and popular participation are crucial steps in the struggle for socialism in Venezuela. Sam McGill reports.


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Venezuela: Imperialist lies, socialist advances

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 240 August/September 2014

As the Bolivarian Revolution resists the most recent wave of destabilisation, official statistics on poverty in Venezuela for 2013 are deliberately manipulated, becoming yet another stick with which to beat the socialist government. Yet despite headlines in pro-imperialist Venezuelan newspapers crowing that ‘Over 700,000 Venezuelans slipped into extreme poverty in one year’ (El Pais, 28 May) and ‘Poverty in Venezuela swells from 21.2% to 27.3% in one year’ (El Universal, 23 May), a closer look at the actual figures shows that, under the Bolivarian Revolution, structural poverty fell to a record low in 2013. Sam Mcgill reports.


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Venezuela: The battle for the socialist heart of the Bolivarian Revolution

Venezuela has faced down the most serious challenge to its Bolivarian Revolution since the 2002 attempted coup. Despite a wave of street violence orchestrated by the opposition, with the specific aim of creating a pretext for imperialist intervention (see FRFI 238), the government of President Maduro has managed to restore near-stability. Sam Mcgill & Cat Allison report.


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Venezuela fights counter-revolution

Last summer, Venezuelan opposition leaders met with a group of international reactionaries, including the viciously right-wing former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe and the director of USAID for Latin America, Mark Feierstein, to pen the following strategy:

• ‘Maintain and increase sabotages that affect public services... that will enable responsibility to be placed on the government for supposed inefficiencies and negligence’;

• ‘Emphasise social problems, provoking social discontent, increase problems with supply of basic consumer products’;

• ‘Create situations of crisis in the streets that will facilitate US intervention, as well as NATO forces, with the support of the Colombian government. Whenever possible, the violence should result in deaths or injuries’;

• ‘Extend the image of a severe crisis in Venezuela to more external media and possible countries as a means of managing international public opinion’.


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Venezuela: New year, new battles

‘[2014] is going to be a year of establishing a new internal economic order... at the service of the population.’

President Nicolas Maduro

A significant victory in the December municipal elections has enabled President Maduro to begin 2014 in a strong position. This year will be the first since 2006 that the Bolivarian Revolution has not been put to the test in the ballot box. Socialists must use this opportunity to win the economic war, consolidate the bases of popular power and push ahead with Chavez’s Programa Patria plan for socialist development which was passed by the National Assembly at the end of 2013.


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Venezuela: Bolivarian Revolution faces renewed violence

On 12 February, fascists attacked the presidential Miraflores Palace in Caracas and the Attorney General's office. Exploiting the 12 February Day of Youth celebrations, when annual processions commemorate the role of youth in the independence battle in La Victoria in 1814, violent groups of masked thugs took to the streets in several cities across Venezuela. During clashes with revolutionary forces in Caracas and Merida, student Basil de Costa and community activist Juan Montoya were killed, and 23 were injured.


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Venezuela economic battlelines are drawn in run-up to elections (updated)

 Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 236 December 2013/January 2014 

They underestimated me. They said Maduro was an amateur… what you have seen is little compared to what we’re going to do to defend the people’s rights.
(President Maduro, 19 November 2013)

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has passed a series of economic decrees to protect job stability and savingsOn 19 November, Venezuelan President Maduro secured the votes he needed from the National Assembly to empower him to legislate by decree for 12 months. This ‘Enabling Law’, as he explained, gives the Bolivarian Revolution vital powers to ‘fight corruption, usury, money-laundering and the economic war unleashed in recent times against the country by the national oligarchy’.1 It follows a series of active measures taken by the government to exert greater control over the Venezuelan economy. 

Eduardo Saman, the new head of the price-control organisation Indepais, has continued to take a hard line against speculation despite an assassination attempt on his life in early October. During November, inspectors and soldiers entered more than 1,400 shops accused of extortionate price-fixing and corruption – for example, the country’s largest electrical chain, Daka, was forced to slash prices marked up to 1,200% of import costs.


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Venezuela: Class struggle in the fight for food

Recent struggles by Venezuelan workers have exposed the opportunism that still exists within the management structures of industry, permeating through nationalised companies, and even the highest levels of government. This point has been illustrated in a series of protests and victories in state food companies throughout July and August. They show that the forward momentum of the Bolivarian Revolution depends on the socialisation of production and the deepening of worker controls throughout the country.


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Venezuela: the fight against corruption

At his inauguration in April 2013, President Maduro said his presidential term would be ‘a revolution within the revolution – efficiency or nothing’, stressing that ‘Only with the people, with socialism’ was it possible to live humanely. In the last few months, Maduro has taken steps to implement this vision by cracking down on corruption and battling against food shortages, speculation and hoarding.

Following the violent aftermath of the April presidential elections, when fascist opposition gangs ransacked and torched public services and state buildings leaving 13 dead, the Venezuelan government has faced down continuing attempts by the imperialist-aligned opposition to destabilise the Bolivarian Revolution. The opposition’s accusations of electoral fraud were exposed as empty posturing when the results of a two-month audit of 100% of the votes found a 99.98% correspondence between paper and electronic votes. Those present at the audit included candidate representatives, external auditors, electoral council technicians and 141 representatives from civil society groups. This transparency, coupled with broad international recognition of the results, has left the opposition scraping the barrel for fresh smears, such as claiming that Maduro was in fact born in neighbouring Colombia, making him ineligible to be president – a claim easily disproved.


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Venezuela: Class struggle sharpens in wake of presidential elections

The snap April presidential elections following the death of Hugo Chavez have provided the pretext for a sharpening of the class struggle and political polarisation in the battle over Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution. Winning by a narrow margin of 1.5%, Nicolas Maduro represents a commitment to socialism and the deepening of the Bolivarian Revolution. His opponent Henrique Capriles, who facilitated a brutal attack on the Cuban embassy in the bloodstained 2002 coup, represents a continuation of the interests of finance capital that have orchestrated violence and unrest over the last decade. The accusations of election fraud are part of pre-meditated plan to destabilise the country. Sam McGill reports.


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Protest to defend the Venezuelan embassy

Right-wing Capriles supporters who planned a demonstration outside the Venezuelan embassy in South Kensington, London, to oppose the democratically-elected government of Venezuela were thwarted today, Saturday 20 April, by solidarity protesters. Numerous Latin-American and socialist groups agreed the previous night to defend the embassy from reactionaries who refuse to accept the election of Nicolas Maduro as President on Sunday 14 April. Even the British government has now recognised Maduro’s victory.
bwd  Set 1/6  fwd
The call for an emergency demonstration was made during a meeting called by Hands off Venezuela on Friday afternoon. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) activists were among those who responded to news of a second protest planned by the Venezuelan right-wing since the election by calling for a solidarity protest to defend the embassy. On Tuesday 16 April, around 300 supporters of the neo-liberal Capriles surrounded the Venezuelan consulate near Warren Street harassing diplomatic staff and blocking their exit. An embassy statement said: ‘The Diplomatic Police had to intervene to prevent the crowd from attacking a local employee of the Embassy, who they insulted…’ FRFI and other activists were determined to prevent a repeat of this attack on Venezuela’s sovereignty. 


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Why the majority of Venezuelans will vote Maduro for President

Nicolas Maduro is set to win Venezuela’s presidential election on 14 April, not because of his manipulation of Chavez’s death, as the opposition is shamefully claiming, but because of his record as a committed socialist.

Maduro’s political career started as a union leader while he was a Caracas bus driver. He even drove himself in a bus to and from registering his candidacy for the presidency on 11 March, mocking the opposition who have attacked him for not having a university degree.


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Chavez’s legacy: the fight for socialism

The death of President Hugo Chavez on 5 March has prompted fresh presidential elections in Venezuela on 14 April. Former Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, whose candidacy was proposed by Chavez, is widely expected to win. On 19 March, results published by private poll Datanalysis gave Maduro a lead of 14% over Henrique Capriles, the candidate of the opposition’s Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition. Capriles himself has recognised his minimal chance of a victory, comparing his candidacy to being ‘led to a slaughterhouse and dropped into a meat grinder’. Despite winning 44% of the votes in October 2012’s presidential election (the opposition’s best electoral result to date) the coalition lost all but three of Venezuela’s 23 states in December’s governor elections and has become increasingly divided. Sam McGill reports.


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