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.
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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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Comandante Chavez: socialist, internationalist, revolutionary

Comandante Chavez: socialist, internationalist, revolutionary

28 July 1954–5 March 2013

‘I am convinced that the path to a new, better and possible world is not capitalism – that is the path to hell. The path is socialism.’

The death of Hugo Chavez, socialist leader of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, sent a shock wave around the world. The millions of Venezuelans who gathered across their country in mourning, with shouts of ‘Chaves lives, the struggle continues!’, had their counterparts not just across Latin America – where many flags few at half mast and national days of mourning were announced – but in Haiti, in Palestine, in the Philippines, across Europe and even in parts of the United States. Twenty-two heads of state and 50 international delegations attended Chavez’s state funeral on 8 March.

 

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Victory for Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution

Nicolas Maduro, candidate of the Bolivarian Revolution, has won the 14 April snap presidential election with 50.66 percent of the vote against 49.07 percent for his neoliberal challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski. With the turn out at nearly 79 percent of the electorate, the results were announced with 99.12 percent of the votes totalled and were considered an irreversible trend.

 

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SWP’s Mike Gonzalez says yes to counter-revolution in Venezuela

As the imperialist media and its hired lackeys foretell the end of the Bolivarian Revolution, Socialist Worker has once again entered the fray on their side against the Venezuelan people. (see www.revolutionarycommunist.org/index.php/latin-america/2832-swp-vultures-circle-bolivarian-revolution for their previous attempt in January this year)

 

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In memory of President Hugo Chavez

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Long live the Bolivarian Revolution!
28 July 1954-5 March 2013

The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from complications following surgery for cancer, is a huge loss to the revolutionary movement worldwide, and the Revolutionary Communist Group and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joins with the people of Venezuela in mourning the loss of a great socialist leader.

 

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Venezuela: masses mobilise in defence of Bolivarian Revolution

‘All of us here are Chávez, the people in the street are Chávez, the lady who cooks is Chávez, the soldier is Chávez…the farmer is Chávez, the worker is Chávez; we’re all Chávez.’

Elias Jaua, Minister of Foreign Relations, 10 January 2013

On 10 January, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez still recovering in Cuba from post-operative complications following surgery for cancer and unable to attend his inauguration ceremony, tens of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets in his place. With their symbolic tri-colour presidential sashes and rallying cries of ‘Yo soy Chavez!’ – ‘I am Chavez!’ and ‘Chavez is the people’, the vast crowd was proof once again that the power of the Bolivarian Revolution lies not in the hands of a single revolutionary but in the vast mass of that same Venezuelan working class which swept Chavez to a fourth presidential term in the elections of October 2012. SAM MCGILL reports.

 

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SWP vultures circle Bolivarian Revolution

[RCG 12.01.2013] For fifteen years, since Hugo Chavez’s first presidential election in 1998, we have been witness to a popular struggle in Venezuela for political and economic power by working class people which has withstood every attempt by imperialism and its local allies to destroy it.

Venezuelan militants protest in support of Chavez in January 2013The Bolivarian Revolution and its leader have given hope to hundreds of millions of people in Latin America and have inspired movements throughout the continent and indeed throughout the world. With the support of Cuba and other countries in ALBA Venezuela has put the US completely on the back foot: no longer can it treat Latin America as its back yard. Such developments should be celebrated by every socialist wherever they are.

Yet throughout this time, the SWP has repeatedly attacked the Bolivarian Revolution and denigrated President Chavez. The latest issue of Socialist Worker (12 January 2013) continues in this reactionary vein, joining the international ‘campaign of psychological warfare’ denounced by the Venezuelan government (see our blog).

 

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Venezuela: on the frontline of the battle for socialism

From the beginning of 2012, the RCG grasped the tremendous significance of Venezuela’s October presidential elections – not just for the people of Venezuela, but for the whole of Latin America and, indeed the international working class. We began organising and raised money to send a delegation to Caracas and to make a film about the election period. Our aim was to understand better the process of the Bolivarian Revolution and to directly challenge the hostile propaganda and lies of the imperialist media. Over a period of two weeks, we saw how hundreds of thousands of working class Venezuelans thronged the streets of the city, braving torrential rain or baking sun, to express their support for President Chavez.

 

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Venezuelan presidential elections the state and the Bolivarian Revolution

We go to press on the eve of the October Presidential elections in Venezuela. The re-election of Hugo Chavez is crucial for the continuation of the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ that has decisively changed the political history of Venezuela and Latin America. Chavez’s opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonski of the Roundtable of Democratic Unity coalition (Mesa de Unidad Democratica, or MUD) is a right-wing extremist who participated in the 2002 attempted coup against Chavez. Whilst even opposition polls give Chavez an 18% lead over Capriles, the political outcome of the election will depend on the strength of class forces in the coming battles to implement government plans for 2013-2019. SAM MCGILL reports.

 

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RCG Delegation Heads to Caracas Today! - 26 Sep 2012

Hugo Chavez[RCG 26/09/12] TODAY, The Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) is sending a delegation to report on and film Venezuela’s presidential elections on 7 October, elections which will play a crucial role in determining the future not just of the country itself but of the whole of Latin America.

Our delegation team have been working hard updating our blog with news and articles but also fundraising, to ensure our film work can take place out in Venezuela and we can present a full-length documentary on our return to Britain.

 

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Venezuela elections: political violence and media manipulation

Political violence and media manipulation are going to be the campaign signature of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski in the run up to Venezuela’s October Presidential elections. The electoral campaigns officially began on 1 July for both the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (Mesa de Unidad Democratica – MUD) candidate Capriles and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) candidate Hugo Chavez.

Barely a week later controversy reigned at a MUD march through La Vega, a predominantly proChavez neighbourhood in Caracas. In a clear act of intimidation, Capriles’ supporters arrived carrying guns and wearing facemasks. Chavez supporters flooded into the streets to oppose the armed gang, resulting in the National Bolivarian Police (PNB) intervening to prevent violence and injury. This presented the private media with the perfect opportunity to denounce police repression which Ultimas Noticias, the media chain owned by the Capriles family, took advantage of.1 The next day in the eastern state of Mongas, four thugs wearing Tshirts of the MUD coalition party, Un Nuevo Tiempo, attacked a group of Chavez campaigners who were distributing leaflets in the city of Maturín. Geraldin Lara, one of the victims, described how the men ‘approached our campaign tent and attacked us with knives and bottles’. Ten people were injured and taken to a medical clinic after the men broke a bottle over the head of one victim, stabbed one man, and kicked and punched eight others.

 

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Venezuela and Cuba at the heart of Latin American independence

‘For how long are we going to be the backwards periphery, exploited and denigrated? Enough! Here we are putting down the fundamental building block for South American unity, independence and development. If we hesitate, we are lost!’ (Simon Bolivar)

On 2 December 2011 the 33 independent countries across the Americas – with the exception of the US and Canada – founded the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). CELAC is designed to counter the Organisation of American States, which the US has used as a tool for protecting its interests in Latin America since 1948. The new alliance is committed to promoting economic and social development across the region and undermining the unequal terms of trade with Europe and the US.

 

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Venezuela’s communal councils: socialism in construction

‘The issue of people’s power is the ability of the people to take action and take control…to appropriate this new structure which ultimately means the democratisation of the state in order to establish socialism’ (Comuna member, Barinas)

How do you build socialism in a country where the capitalist state has not been overthrown by force? This is the question facing Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution as it fights to construct what President Hugo Chavez has described as a socialism of the 21st century. It has ensured oil revenues are used to fund health, education, housing and food programmes, has nationalised many key companies and banks and is redisributing unproductive land. Through its radical constitution, referenda and mobilisations for national and local elections, the Bolivarian Revolution has given the masses a real sense of engagement with the political process.

 

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Venezuela: rebuilding a nation

Government figures released in September show homelessness in Britain has risen by 17% over the last year while council house building remains practically zero. In stark contrast to this, the Venezuelan state is tackling the country’s own housing crisis head on.

On 30 August President Chavez inaugurated the socialist city of Caribia on 30 August, opening the doors of 602 apartments to families made homeless by devastating floods earlier this year. The homes have been planned and built through ‘Mission Housing Venezuela’ as part of the push to build two million new homes in the next six years. Although Venezuela’s housing deficit is estimated to be 1.5 million, the housing mission plans to exceed this in order to meet the needs of a growing population. Caribia City, located in Camino Los Indios outside Caracas, was first conceived of by Chavez and the Venezuelan government in 2006 and will be a planned, holistic community, complete with schools, health clinics and employment. The project was constructed by ALBA Bolivarian, a Venezuelan-Cuban enterprise agreed under the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). This has been financed largely through 2.9bn bolivars ($674m) of nationalised oil revenue allocated by the Venezuelan government. The homes can be subsidised up to 100% if necessary depending on the occupant’s income.

 

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Venezuela defies US interference

chavez_supportersAmidst international media speculation about his health, on 5 July 2011, President Chavez address Venezuelans from Miraflores Presidential Palace, Caracas as part of a civic-military parade to mark 200 years of Independence from Spanish colonialism. Chavez had returned from Cuba the previous day, following an emergency operation to remove a pelvic abscess and small tumour discovered by Cuban doctors whilst he was on a tour of Latin American countries promoting further regional integration. Chavez has now returned to Cuba for further treatment.

Whilst Venezuela has been celebrating its historic independence from Spanish colonialism, the US has stepped up its aggression against the Bolivarian revolution.

 

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Chavez returns: The battle continues

Chavez returns: The battle continues

“ I swear to you that we will win this battle...we'll win it together. The battle for life, the homeland and the revolution!”

With these words, Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, addressed 100,000 Venezuelans from Miraflores presidential palace, Caracas as part of a civic-military parade to mark 200 years of Independence from Spanish rule. His return to Venezuela muffled frenzied media speculation surrounding his health and ability to lead the Bolivarian Revolution, for now.

Chavez had been visiting Latin American and Caribbean countries in advance of the founding meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations (CELAC). Whilst in Cuba, Chavez was unwell and underwent emergency treatment in early June to remove a pelvic abscess. Thanks to the high standard of Cuban healthcare and medical attention, repeated checks on Chavez's health by Cuban doctors uncovered a small cancerous tumour which was then removed. Adding to Cuba's reputation as a leading healthcare provider, Chavez was able to return to Caracas just in time for the bicentennial independence celebrations on 5 July.

 

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BBC distorts truth about Venezuela

‘Land of plenty, land of poverty, Venezuela ought to be soaring, a great success story in South America, with exceptional oil wealth spreading prosperity to all’. With these words James Robbins begins his documentary ‘Oil, Politics and Hugo Chavez’, part of the BBC’s Our World series first broadcast in February 2011. Sam McGill exposes this report as baseless propaganda.

Lack of investment in infrastructure?

Full of sloppy journalism, Robbins first claims that little of Venezuela’s oil wealth has been spent on infrastructure other than the iconic metrocable in Caracas, where he sets the opening scenes.

In 1998, before the election of Hugo Chavez, just one fifth of Venezuelans had access to primary health care. The average rate of infant mortality was 19 per 1,000 live births. Health care was a privilege, not a right. In 2002, following a political struggle to wrest control of Venezuela’s huge oil reserves, the Bolivarian Revolution was able to channel profits from oil into health care among other social priorities. This included an agreement between Venezuela and Cuba whereby, in return for subsidised oil, Cuba has sent thousands of educators and medical personnel to create a free health care (Barrio Adentro) and education system across Venezuela. This prioritises the needs of the poorest and hardest to reach communities, whilst providing training for Venezuelan students to become the next generation of doctors and teachers. By 2008 infant mortality had dropped to 13.9 per 1,000 live births and is expected to fall below 10 per 1,000 in the next few years.

 

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Venezuela: revolution mobilises after disastrous floods

Despite disastrous flooding across the region, the socialist government in Venezuela has continued to push forward the Bolivarian Revolution through land and other expropriations, and by developing popular participation in tackling the housing crisis. Floods and landslides affected over 40% of the country, leaving 138,000 Venezuelans homeless and killing 35 people. In response, Venezuela’s National Assembly approved an enabling law on 15 December 2010 allowing President Hugo Chavez to enact decrees related to flood recovery independently of the National Assembly. These powers are limited to a maximum period of 18 months; Chavez has said that he will return these powers to Congress in May.

 

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Venezuela: PSUV acts to provide food and housing for all

In the recent 26 September National Assembly elections, Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won 96 seats; the opposition’s United Democratic Roundtable coalition (MUD) won 63 seats, leaving the PSUV short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass new laws. However, the PSUV still gained seats over the opposition compared to the 2000 elections which, due to its boycott of the 2005 elections, were the last in which the opposition participated. During the 2001-2005 term, the Movement for the Fifth Republic became the PSUV and various splits and mergers resulted. Throughout these years, pro-Chavez parties held between 83 and 92 seats at any given time, while opposition parties held between 73 and 82 seats. Therefore, in comparison to the last elections they participated in, the opposition lost around 20 seats, whilst the PSUV gained seats.

 

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Venezuela: key elections imminent

On 26 September 2010 Venezuela will hold elections for the National Assembly. These will be decisive for the path towards socialism in the republic and in the continent as a whole. Sam Mcgill reports.

Until 1999, Venezuela had a corrupt congress where former presidents were awarded lifetime senate seats and only the Accion Democracia and COPEI ruling class political parties were permitted to participate in elections. Then the Movement for the Fifth Republic (MVR), led by Hugo Chavez, demanded proportional representation and popular democracy, initiating a new Bolivarian constitution and National Assembly. Now the Assembly has 110 deputies elected via first-past-the-post elections in 87 different electoral circuits, 52 deputies elected via state-based lists, to ensure an element of proportional representation, and three indigenous representatives selected by indigenous peoples themselves (The indigenous population forms approximately 2% of the Venezuelan people).

 

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PSUV speaks in Liverpool and Manchester

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On 24 April, Venezuelan comrade Rafael Ramos spoke in Liverpool to an audience of 40 people and the next day in Manchester to 50 people, about the revolutionary process in Venezuela. Rafael is an art student at UNEARTE (The Experimental University for the Arts) in Caracas, and a member of JPSUV (the youth wing of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela).

 

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Venezuela: the battle for workers’ control

Over a decade has passed since the Bolivarian Revolution swept to power in Venezuela under the leadership of Hugo Chavez. Five years later, Chavez announced that they were building socialism for the 21st century. However, while millions were pulled out of poverty by the government’s social ‘missions’ and employment creation, and marginalisation was reversed by the integration of the poor into national politics, the majority of the means of production remained in private hands and Venezuela’s dependency on oil exports, particularly to the US, continued. This contradictory situation raised questions – about the extent to which it was possible to build a parallel economy; state ownership, or socialised production, alongside capitalist industry and financial institutions – and about the limits to the revolutionary or socialist character of the Bolivarian process in Venezuela, without serious inroads being made to capitalist social relations and bourgeois political institutions. Under the leadership of Chavez and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), set up in 2008, the Bolivarian Revolution has begun to tackle those contradictions by extending state ownership and socialised production. Sam Mcgill reports from Venezuela.

 

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