Venezuelan referendum – a victory for all anti-imperialists

Venezuelan referendum – a victory for all anti-imperialists

The victory for the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela in the referendum on 15 August is not felt only within Venezuela, but is of huge significance to the Cuban Revolution and the whole of the revolutionary movements in Latin America. With 58.25 percent of the vote, the Venezuelan people ratified President Hugo Chavez and the revolutionary process.

Rock around the Blockade was involved with the Hands off Venezuela campaign in organising a week of action in solidarity with Venezuela in the lead-up to the referendum, culminating with a march and rally outside the US Embassy in London on 15 August.

During the week there were meetings, musical events and film showings. Rock around the Blockade members spoke alongside Socialist Appeal at a meeting focusing on the anti-imperialist struggle in Latin America and the Caribbean. We also co-hosted a meeting with the Global Women’s Strike on the topic of ‘Creating a caring economy’. The Global Women’s Strike had been present at the referendum and spoke of the palpable enthusiasm among the Venezuelan people and their commitment to continue building the Bolivarian Revolution. Rock around the Blockade used data from Cuba on health, education, literacy, the Battle of Ideas, youth, older people, gay people and people with disabilities to illustrate how a socialist society is able to care for its inhabitants, their quality of life and their future. We also used the Cuban example to show how only by basing itself absolutely on the interests of the vast mass of the population can a revolution withstand the inevitable attempts of imperialism to destroy it. There was a lively debate about the importance of socialists and progressives in this country offering unconditional support to all those fighting imperialism by any means around the world.

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Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution

• Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution: Hugo Chávez talks to Marta Harnecker, translated by Chesa Boudin, Monthly Review Press 2005, 193pp, £10

• Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution, Richard Gott, Verso 2005, 291pp, £9.99


‘Chávez may go, but Chávez is not only Chávez...The situation we are in has awakened very radical tendencies, feelings. I’m sure that no matter what happens to me, these radicalised sectors would keep going and new leadership would emerge...I’m certain that the process is irreversible. This...revolution, will not be stopped.’ Hugo Chávez, June 2002
(Harnecker pp102-3)

Since 1994, the revolutionary national movement in Venezuela has successfully developed as a popular movement guided by determined anti-imperialist military officers and civilian leaders. As President Chávez says, the aim was to convert the already existing popular rejection of the oligarchy into ‘a bottom up avalanche’ (Harnecker p153), and to do this peacefully ‘but not disarmed’ (p45).

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Venezuela: PSUV success in regional and local elections

FRFI 206 December 2008 / January 2009

The first electoral test of the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the 23 November 2008 regional and local elections was a significant success. The government now faces the task of deepening the revolution as world capitalism struggles with its crisis.

With a 65.45% turnout of almost 17 million registered voters (exceeding all previous non-presidential elections) and 95% of the vote announced, the PSUV and its allies increased their vote by 1.1 million over the last national turnout – the December 2007 constitutional amendment referendum. This reversed that vote’s abstentions. President Chavez and his supporters have now won 13 of 14 national elections and referenda held since 1998. In 40 years prior to Chavez’s election, Venezuela staged only 15 national electoral contests.

In the 2004 regional elections, the opposition refused to stand, so this time some seats in reactionary wealthier and middle class districts were expected to change hands, with the help from much of the media. The PSUV and its coalition allies won 58% (5.5m) of the popular vote for a total of 603 elected positions. The opposition received 200,000 fewer votes than in the 2007 referendum. Pro-Chavez parties won 17 of the 22 governorships, one of two Metropolitan mayoralties, 265 of 328 municipal mayoralties – 41 more than in 2004 – and the majority of the 251 local state legislature seats up for election.

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Venezuela: deepening democracy / FRFI 207 Feb / Mar 2009

FRFI 207 February / March 2009

I’m not going to tell Obama what to do, but by immediately withdrawing from Iraq, from all of the military bases they have all over the world, he could use those billions of dollars to buy medical equipment for the people of the United States, and provide social security, free healthcare, education.’ President Chavez

Obama – a new train on old tracks
In a provocative two-part interview shown on 13 and 18 January by the US Spanish-language network Univision, Obama declared that Chavez has ‘been a force that has interrupted progress in the region’. With the standard incantation ‘We need to be firm when we see this news, that Venezuela is exporting terrorist activities or supporting malicious entities like the FARC,’ he stated ‘This creates problems that are not acceptable’. In response Chavez noted that the US was the world’s top exporter of terrorism and harshly criticised Obama’s silence over the bloody assault on Gaza by Israel, saying ‘There is still time’ for Obama to change his views. ‘No one should say that I threw the first stone at Obama. He threw it at me.’

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Venezuela: A Third Way?

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Like many Latin American countries, Venezuela possesses immense natural wealth. Yet although it holds the sixth largest oil reserves in the world (more than 75bn barrels, sufficient to last 60 years), and although it is the largest foreign oil supplier to the USA, the overwhelming majority of its people — 80% of its 23 million population — live in poverty.

Other figures give a graphic demonstration of a country held to ransom by imperialism:

• 70% of the people earn less than $2 a day — twice as many as 25 years ago;

• 36% get less than $1 a day;

• a quarter of the adult working population is unemployed;

• the poorest fifth of the population consumes only 3% of the GNP;

• the infant mortality rate is three times that of Cuba.

Such wealth as exists is in the hands of the few: 60% is owned by the richest fifth of the population. Recently, however, a new electoral coalition has broken the back of the two ‘traditional’ ruling parties. The key question is what will this mean for the working class and poor? Will the new government be able or willing to meet their aspirations?

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