[NOTE: This is a reply from a reader to America Vera-Zavala’s article, ‘Venezuela, Country of Parallels’]
Hello Ms. Vera-Zavala,
I appreciate your thoughtful column, and like your analysis of how the revolution in Venezuela is building new parallel institutions. However, having recently returned from covering the pro-government and opposition May Day marches in Caracas for Epicenter News Service (see www.EastBayNews.org), I must take issue with a number of major points which you make.
First, the political situation is no longer in turmoil, but is actually very stable. The opposition no longer represents a dire threat to the revolution. They have played all their major cards and lost every round decisively. The U.S. has no viable options to pursue a regime change. The opposition is in complete disarray and the coalition of revolutionary parties which comprise the government is not in upheaval, but maintaining an astonishingly high level unity in action. The armed forces are now completely in the hands of the revolutionaries and the troops are mainly from low income Venezuelans who overwhelmingly support the government.
The very fact that there are 8 revolutionary parties in the coalition government is something your article ignores. This coalition includes revolutionary parties which reflect most every major radical Left tendency in Venezuela, including the Communist Party of Venezuela, two Trotskyist parties (Movement Towards Socialism and Patria Para Todos), and the Socialist Party of Venezuela. Christian socialists, indigenous revolutionaries and other non-Marxist revolutionaries are also part of the Alliance for Change. The junior parties in the government coalition have many members in key government positions. For example, the Venezuelan Ambassador to the U.S. in Washington, D.C. is a Trotskyist.
In addition to the 8 parties formally in the coalition government, there are literally dozens of smaller revolutionary Left organizations which support the revolutionary government. One of the most common slogans written on walls all over Caracas was the initials of one of the very many revolutionary Left organizations under which is written “con Chavez.” This is a critical point in understanding the nature of the Bolivarian Revolution, and a point which in my experience almost all U.S. leftists are completely ignorant of. It is very important to educate the U.S. Left on the critical importance of revolutionary pluralism in Venezuela.
While much of your critique of the MVR and Pres. Chavez is worthy of consideration, you have missed the point that it is Pres. Chavez and the MVR which is key to maintaining the revolutionary coalition government. If Pres. Chavez and the MVR wasn’t committed to maintaining this unity, it wouldn’t exist, because the MVR and Pres. Chavez could refuse to cooperate with the other parties in forming a joint list of revolutionary candidates for elections and could simply decide to dominate the elections and the government on their own. The fact that neither Pres. Chavez nor MVR has sought this is proof that there must be an ideological and political commitment to revolutionary pluralism.
In an interview I did with the National General Secretary of Patria Para Todos, Juan Albornoz, I asked how critical the unity of the revolutionary Left parties has been? Mr. Albornoz replied that it has been everything. That for decades the revolutionary Left fought with each other and made little progress. Since the formation of the Alliance for Change, the revolutionary Left has focused on unity in action rather than their differences. “Now, we only win, we never lose,” said Mr. Albornoz.
While your point about many politicians continuing to reflect the old style of bourgeois politics, including careerism, patriarchy, and corruption, is correct, but it is hardly surprising and not nearly as important as the changes which have occurred in electoral politics, and the impact the revolution has had in reshaping politics.
The biggest change of all is that low income and poor workers have been mobilized, organized, educated, and empowered to such an extent that the mass revolutionary movement has now become the driving force of this revolution. This can easily be witnessed at the grassroots level. In dozens of interviews with workers randomly selected out of the pro-government May Day march organized by the UNT, I found the lower income workers to be impressively articulate about what the revolution is about, how socialism and other revolutionary policies are improving their lives in concrete ways, and how and the government, now belongs to them. The mood of the marchers was pure jubilation, a celebration of 6 years of victories over their ruling class and U.S. imperialism and the power they now know they possess.
Finally, your article seems to want the reader to believe that Pres. Chavez and the MVR are insufficiently revolutionary and the masses are becoming impatient with them. While I’m sure there are many Venezuelan Left activists who might agree with your analysis, it is absolutely not true of the masses. Pres. Chavez’s popularity is at an all-time high (a recent poll showed Pres. Chavez’s approval rating at over 70 percent). An overwhelming majority of low paid workers will tell you right off with passion of how they love Pres. Chavez, how he is such a good man, how they are sure that he seeks nothing for himself, and how he is their President – the first to do anything for them. A common expression, which I heard repeatedly from workers, is that Pres. Chavez is so brave, he has four balls.
Pres. Chavez has been consistently underestimated by the U.S. Left, as has the Bolivarian Revolution. This is disrespect. It’s time for this to change.
Jonathan Nack Managing Editor, ENS