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/FRFI 230 Dec 2012/Jan 2013

FRFI 230 December 2012/January 2013

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 /FRFI 229 Oct/Nov 2012

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 229 October/November 2012

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 / 228 Aug/Sep 2012

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 228 August/September 2012

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.

Until recently Capriles had refrained from making any public commitment to accept the outcome of the election. This had been accompanied with a welloiled media campaign to question the legitimacy and transparency of the National Electoral Council (CNE). Capriles had previously accepted CNE supervision of the opposition’s primary elections and recognised it when it declared him winner of the 2008 governor’s elections in Miranda State. Now he is sowing the seeds of doubt stating ‘the CNE has to guarantee the electoral process is transparent, and it’s not a secret to anyone that there exists a level of inequality in the elections’. Yet with its sophisticated technology coupled with secret ballots and employment of international observers, the CNE is considered to administer one of the most advanced and secure electoral processes in the world.

On 9 July, Leopold Lopez, the opposition campaign coordinator, presented an ‘agreement for balance and electoral fairness’ to the CNE, stating that ‘candidates commit to accept the results as long as they are a product of a transparent electoral process which reflects the will of the voters...the current president commits to not using, until 8 October 2012, radio or television channels to promote himself, he won’t use public funds nor disguised propaganda’. Given that Hugo Chavez engages almost daily in a variety of programmes to discuss, decide and disseminate governmental plans, the ‘agreement’ presented by the MUD coalition is laying the ground for rejecting the election results. With even oppositionowned polls such as Hinterlaces giving a 20% lead for Chavez over Capriles, it is clear that the rightwing opposition strategy is to cry fraud and call for destabilisation in October.

In the battle between imperialist domination and national liberation, the Venezuelan presidential elections have international implications, not least for the future of Latin America. This was sharply demonstrated in the June ‘parliamentary’ coup in Paraguay. Venezuela, alongside the majority of Latin American countries, immediately denounced the coup, refusing to recognise Franco’s government, withdrawing its ambassador and cutting oil shipments to Paraguay. Whilst serving as vice president, Franco had opposed Venezuela’s entry into the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) and opposed Paraguay’s entry into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), rejecting the process of Latin American integration. Tellingly, the MUD coalition and Capriles oppose the suspension of oil shipments and Federico Franco stated his opinion that the removal of Lugo has saved Paraguay ‘from becoming a proChavez satellite’.

The battle lines are being drawn. On the one side are the forces of imperialism: the MUD coalition and Capriles, with $20m funding from US organisations such as USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy,2 and backed by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, by the former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, by Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and by Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to name just four. On the other side stand the forces of national liberation, opposing the domination, military occupation and exploitation of Latin America by imperialist interests. This was expressed in the declaration of the XVIII São Paulo Forum of social movements and progressive political parties held in Caracas on 4 July which pledges support for Chavez’s campaign alongside support for the 2012 election campaigns of Xiomara Zelaya in Honduras and Rafael Correa in Ecuador. Emphasising the Venezuelan election’s central importance for the strategy of the Latin American left, the forum called a ‘Global Day of Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution’ on 24 July with events taking place across the continent.

With the deepening global economic crisis provoking an ever more desperate quest for profits and resources, Latin America is set to be a key battleground over the coming months. As Chavez himself has declared,

‘Venezuela is at the centre of an international battle ... The future of humanity is in play here: between socialism and capitalism...in the next 100 days, the next 100 years in Venezuela are going to be decided’.

Sam McGill

1. www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/noticias/actualidad/pnb-impiden-caminata-de-capriles-radonski-en-la-ve.aspx

2. www.chavezcode.com/2011/08/us-20-million-for-venezuelan-opposition.html