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Analysis: Venezuela refuses to retreat

By Sean Orr

Steel and iron workers in Bolívar State gather to make proposals for the Constit

Milwaukee, WI – Venezuela has been in the news lately. For the first time in decades, the threat of war between the United States and a Latin American country hangs over our hemisphere.

The Colombian government, led by the far-right paramilitary ally Iván Duque, openly calls for the end of the Bolivarian Revolution by any means necessary. Their call is echoed by war-hungry Luis Almagro, secretary-general of the pro-imperialist Organization of American States (OAS), and the Trump administration, which has been revealed to be in open collaboration with putschist military officers and other anti-democratic elements in Venezuela.

In South America, the Venezuelan government is as isolated as it has ever been. Former allied governments in Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Ecuador are long gone, replaced by politicians who coldly work in the interests of imperialism. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) – the result of years of hard work by Chávez and Maduro to create a continent free of imperialism – is defunct. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) has been weakened with the withdrawal of Ecuador, putting progressive projects like TeleSUR at financial risk, and by the surprising explosion of violence in Nicaragua, a key player in the formation.

A years-long economic crisis, the result of foreign intervention, internal sabotage and structural economic weaknesses, has caused severe harm to Venezuelan society, and thousands have moved to neighboring countries as a result. This in turn has added fuel to the calls for intervention, as far-right politicians in Brazil and Colombia call for more troops to be sent to their borders with Venezuela to respond to the “humanitarian crisis.”

Without a doubt, this is the most challenging moment yet in the 20 years of the Bolivarian Revolution, inaugurated with the election of Hugo Chávez to the presidency in 1998. How is the national democratic movement, now headed by Nicolás Maduro, responding to these attacks on all sides? Is the goal of “Bolivarian socialism” in peril? Is retreat on the agenda?

The answer is a resounding “no.” The Maduro government and the Venezuelan masses – daily threatened by reactionary violence, economic ruin and imperialist war – are resolute in their commitment to building a sovereign nation, and continue forward despite all of the odds.

Venezuelan workers and the new economy

At the 4th Congress of the United Socialist Party (PSUV), President Maduro announced the government’s Plan for Economic Recuperation, Growth and Prosperity, a sweeping program that aims to rebuild and transform Venezuela’s economy into one that is self-sustaining, independent of monopoly capital, and that works in the interests of the Venezuelan people.

The national government has already begun to implement the Plan’s monetary policy, converting the hyper-inflated national currency, the bolívar, into a new bolívar soberano currency, and placing all currency exchange under the control of the Central Bolivarian Bank.

While much-needed monetary policy is being decided by the national government, the goal of economic transformation is being left to the Venezuelan people themselves. Labor Minister Eduardo Piñate describes the economic program to Noticiero Digital as “an integrated program of transformation that has at its center the contradiction between capital and labor, within the development of class struggle. And the position of the government is to favor labor in the framework of this contradiction… [the Plan] is a profoundly revolutionary proposal which will guide the construction of our Bolivarian socialism.”

To determine the roles they will play in the new economy, national assemblies of different social sectors are being organized by the Bolivarian movement. The first to be gathered is the Constituent Congress of the Working Class, which began on August 31 and will continue until Sept. 28. It will soon be followed by a similar congress for campesinos and for communes.

In every corner of the country, workers are gathering to discuss the role their class will play in the new economy. The overwhelming answer seems to be: the leading role. Trade unionists are hosting local and regional assemblies to gather the proposals of the workers, which will then be brought to the Constituent Congress by elected representatives. At the center of the debated proposals is the ownership of production itself, and there is serious talk of formalizing a “socialist sector” – made up of state-run, worker-run and communal enterprises – that will be dominant yet coexist alongside private ownership.

Alongside the debates, workers are taking action to take control of the economy themselves. Workers’ Production Councils (CPTs), which were legalized in January and allow workers to control production at their workplace, are being formed across many economic sectors. They have the full support of the Labor Ministry. As of this month, there are over 900 workers’ production councils in control of businesses in Venezuela, with the twin goal of worker control and elevating production in the interests of ending the economic crisis. When asked by the newspaper Última Noticias on the role the councils will play in the coming economic debate, Piñate stated “the working class is the vanguard of socialist construction, and the CPTs are its concrete expression.”

China stands with the Bolivarian Revolution

On September 16, President Maduro signed over two dozen bilateral agreements with the government of Xi Jinping, strengthening a strategic alliance with what is quickly becoming Venezuela’s main international ally. Included in the agreements was a $6 billion loan to help re-activate oil production.

All told, the Chinese government is the largest creditor for Venezuela, further enabling the country’s economy to separate itself from U.S. monopoly capital. A strong commitment of support from China gives Venezuela something it desperately needs – a way to function in the global economy while facing crippling sanctions from the United States.

Many leaders of the Bolivarian Revolution hope to learn lessons from China's success in building socialism with Chinese characteristics in their goal of building a new economy. Nicolás Maduro's first official act in China was to lay a wreath at the mausoleum of Mao Zedong. While there, the Venezuelan president called Mao “one of the great founders of the multi-polar 21st century,” a century where “the future of humanity will be marked by a common destiny, one of diversity and peace, and without hegemonic empires that blackmail and threaten the world.”


Given all of this, it is no surprise that the lackeys of U.S. monopoly capital openly talk of war with Venezuela. Every day that the Bolivarian Revolution continues, it advances further down the road of national and economic freedom. And with every step towards this goal, it becomes more unacceptable to and incompatible with U.S. interests. The empire has done monstrous things to movements in the past that have taken a similar route in the Americas. From Mexico to Chile, millions of families have had loved ones cut down by death squads and reactionary militaries. They are testament to the iron will of U.S. imperialism, which refuses to step back from the global stage even though its time has clearly come. We must work together with all progressive forces in the Americas to bring down the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.

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