Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Chavez Dead - Whither Venezuela

Hugo Chavez is dead - BBC.  According to reports earlier in the evening his Deputy, Nicolas Maduro, had appeared on TV giving a long rant about his illness having been caused by US agents.  Some US citizens have been expelled from the country.  That has all the hallmarks of a preparation for the introduction of some kind of authoritarian regime, probably overtly backed by the military from which Chavez came, and from which he drew much of his power.

Venezuela was a strange mix.  In some ways, it is tempting to describe Chavez as just another in a long line of Bonapartist, charismatic leaders that have peppered the history of Latin America during the 19th and 20th Centuries.  Despite the rhetoric, he was at root simply a bourgeois left, nationalist.  His policies were designed to support domestic Venezuelan national capital, against multinational capital.  His power base was in the armed forces, but like all Bonapartists, he needed popular support, and that came from the Venezuelan poor, of which there are many, and from the Venezuelan working-class.

On the other hand, Venezuela did have many democratic features that even the most bourgeois-democratic of Bonapartist regimes, do not achieve, and when Chavez failed to win a majority in the referendum a while ago - something in itself which never happens under most Bonapartist regimes, where the plebiscite is used merely to give a democratic rubber stamp to decisions already determined - he accepted the result with good grace.

But, the attempt to cling to power, after Chavez became too ill to perform his duties, and looked unlikely to be able to do so for some time, is an indication that the regime is unlikely to simply go ahead with the new Presidential Elections, which are now required, and which are expected would see a victory for the opposition.

The Venezuelan workers, and their organisations, which are numerous and powerful need to steer a steady course.  Concern for a victory for the opposition should not cause them to side with the regime at the expense of retaining basic bourgeois freedoms.  This is not a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils.  Given the development of the PSUV, the time has come for the Venezuelan Labour Movement to ensure a clear distinction between itself and the regime, and to begin the process of creating a mass, independent workers party, standing in opposition to the regime, and defending basic bourgeois freedoms, and workers rights.

That also has to be combined with a concern that although we should not be blinded by the regime's propaganda, nor should we be blind to the fact, that US Imperialism will see this as an opportunity to intervene inside the country, which has been a thorn in their side, and which has been a force encouraging further opposition to Imperialism within the region.

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