Picture: Oswaldo Pacheco, Caño Amarillo in Caracas
Our third year publishing on the Venezuelan situation was marked by an ebb in social struggles. It was also a year in which the resounding decline of the economy came to a halt, after 8 disastrous years in which the Maduro government managed to reduce the size of the economy to less than a quarter of its size in 2013. The modest growth and the end of hyperinflation, despite the fact that Venezuela still has a monthly inflation higher than what many countries have in a year, making it necessary in October to implement a new currency denomination by take six zeros from the worthless bolivar, were enough for Maduro to say he should be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Undoubtedly, if there were a prize for economic destruction, it should be given to Maduro, who under the flags of a fake socialism that doesn’t actually question capitalism, managed to deepen Chávez’s destructive legacy. After the “big” increase in the minimum wage in mid-March of this year, Venezuelan workers no longer earn 1.6 dollars a month, but still earn less than a dollar a day.
Our publications reported that in repressive matters there were no reasons to be optimistic about a substantial improvement either. In March 2021 the Venezuelan Army deployed a huge operation against Colombian guerrilla dissidents, and as is their usual practice, they carried out executions of civilians to present them as guerrillas killed in combat.
Outside the Venezuelan borders, the spring revolution broke out in Burma in February last year, a process of struggle that continues to this day and which internationalist leftist organizations such as Venezuelan Workers Solidarity support in solidarity.
Some Chavista organizations continued to distance themselves semi-critically from Maduro, receiving threats and persecution in response, despite the fact that in the case of the Communist Party of Venezuela, its only member of the National Assembly has continued to vote in favor of many of the laws promoted by the government.
A surprising development was to see the government itself forced to backtrack on its version of some of the crimes committed by its repressive forces, discarding the conspiracy theories it had previously elaborated to cover up brutal murders, thus seeking to evade the investigation process opened by the International Criminal Court on human rights violations in Venezuela. In any case, what these admissions by the government implied was a tacit acknowledgement that the allegations of the victims and their relatives were in fact true and that the government had always lied. It should be remembered that it even threatened to criminalize those who contradicted its false versions of crimes as serious as throwing a political prisoner out of a window of a political police building.
In May 2021, a wave of denunciations by a local Mee Too Movement emerged and shook the country, bringing with it indignation and anger but also hope of change for women.
While all this was going on, the Democratic Socialists of America International Committee was planning a “revolutionary tourism” trip to Venezuela, to participate in an official event and give public support to the Venezuelan government. Venezuelan Workers Solidarity warned in advance that the trip would be functional to government propaganda and that the “tourists” should at least consider meeting with grassroots activists, workers, leftists and victims of repression, in order to have a more plural and diverse view of the Venezuelan reality. In those days of June, the regime even committed a new scandalous arbitrariness by sentencing Rodney Alvarez, a Ferrominera del Orinoco worker who is the longest standing political prisoner in Venezuela, to fifteen years in prison without evidence. We published a statement by Rodney repudiating the sham trial. The sentence would later be annulled, given its enormous flaws, but Rodney continued in prison into his eleventh year behind bars unjustly.
When the visit of the DSA delegation took place, the controversy grew, as all the predictions about its complicity with the government were confirmed, including meetings with the Foreign Minister and President Maduro himself, in which the tourists went to extremes in their praise of the government. This prompted new responses from revolutionary socialists such as union leader Orlando Chirino, and even debates with liberal opposition sectors that took advantage of DSA’s disastrous behavior to attack the leftist opposition.
However, there were also reactions of sympathy and support as reflected in Andy Heintz’s report on the left opposition. The question of internationalist solidarity with the Venezuelan people was developed in an interview by Eva Maria with Simon Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, the government continued flirting with the traditional bourgeoisie and achieving rapprochements on the basis of subsidies and advantages for the capitalists. Not so cordial, however, were the primary elections in the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, plagued by violence and corruption. Threats and intimidation continued against grassroots Chavistas such as the indigenous rights defender Lusbi Portillo or the activist Aidaliz Guarisma, who suffered incommunicado detention in the gloomy Helicoide detention center.
The opposition right wing, for its part, continued to sink after its failed adventures in 2020. Just as during the previous year Guaidó, Borges and López supported the repression of Moreno, Duque and Piñera against demonstrators in Ecuador, Colombia and Chile, before the Chilean elections López traveled to Chile to support the ultra-right-wing Kast, without being deterred by the xenophobic statements against Venezuelan immigrants made by the Pinochetist candidate. López’s bet, as we already know, ended in a new failure, with Kast’s electoral defeat. The winner of the contest, Boric, beyond his own questionable trajectory during the process of the Chilean social outburst, is clearly not a Chavista, and his distancing from Ortega and Maduro has earned him early criticism from spokesmen of Latin American reformism such as Atilio Borón.
The November regional elections, despite their fraudulent character, revealed the weaknesses of Chavismo and handed a symbolic defeat to the government in Chávez’s home state of Barinas, despite all the maneuvers, including the fraudulent annulment of the first lost election, only to lose the second one by an even greater margin.
The commemoration in Caracas of March 8th of this year, International Working Women’s Day, was a new instance in which the government’s policy of intimidation against any form of social dissent was evidenced.
Finally, the invasion of Russian imperialism into Ukraine, has been an occasion to evidence the reactionary character of the Venezuelan government, which immediately jumped to the defense of Putin’s offensive. The increase in international oil prices and the meetings of U.S. government representatives with Maduro to offer the lifting of oil sanctions as part of new negotiations which will likely put an end to the Guaidó fantasy interim government, a strategy long ago defeated in fact, will be the subject of future publications.