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Venezuelans celebrate one year of resistance to U.S. coup attempt

By Jim Byrne

President Maduro speaking in Caracas Jan. 23.

Caracas, Venezuela – On January 23, thousands marched in Caracas and listened to a fiery speech from President Maduro to mark two important historic events. In 1958, mass movements joined with patriotic forces in the military to bring down the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jímenez. This was the model of civic-military unity that President Hugo Chávez used in his vision of a Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. Unfortunately for Venezuelans, the fall of the Jímenez dictatorship was a short-lived victory. The betrayal of this victory ushered in 40 years of violent repression of communists and other dissidents and disastrous economic policies like import substitution and neoliberal privatizations of important public services. By 1989, the massive poverty created by neoliberal policies led to an urban rebellion of workers and the poor, which led to a vicious police crackdown that killed over 3000 people. Three years later, paratrooper commander Hugo Chávez led a military uprising that ultimately failed but created a lasting popularity in the minds of millions of Venezuelans.

Also, On January 23 one year ago, the largely unknown National Assembly member Juan Guaidó, with full support and coordination from billionaire President Trump and the U.S. government, declared himself the new president of Venezuela. Like the U.S.-sponsored coup attempt against Hugo Chávez in 2002, it was the masses of working people and campesinos who rescued their leader and saved their revolution from the oligarchs in the opposition.

From the historic balcony of the Miraflores Presidential Palace, former union bus driver President Nicólas Maduro recounted the past year of coup attempts and mocked the political circus of the opposition to the crowd of supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution. “Did they win?” he asked the crowd. “No!” they roared. “Did their actions serve the people?” “No!” “Are they more divided?” “Si!” “Are they powerless?” “Si!” went the exchange between Maduro and the crowd of the various sectors of social movements.

Maduro continued with his plan to create dialogue between the government and the right-wing opposition by inviting international partners like UN General Secretary Antonio Gutierrez to observe this year’s National Assembly election. “We want everybody to participate in this coming National Assembly election so that we can crush the opposition and leave no doubt!” boomed Maduro to a thunderous approval.

At many points during his speech Maduro addressed the hundreds of international delegates from the World Anti-Imperialist Congress in attendance as he declared the firm position of anti-imperialism of the Bolivarian Revolution.

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