An imperialist coup
On 21 January, 27 soldiers failed in a coup against the government of President Nicolás Maduro in Cotiza, in Northern Caracas.
On 22 January, the street demonstrations organized by the bourgeois opposition parties continued. They should leave to a mass gathering on the 23rd, on the anniversary of the day when then-dictator, Marcos Perez, was overthrown in 1958.
On 23 January, the Chairman of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó appointed himself as the president of the country. Guaidó is a member of Voluntad Popular, a gathering movement built and funded by the US, including the informal movement National Endownment for Democracy (NED). Immediately after Guaidéo’s self-proclamation as the head of State, Trump recognized the new “president” of Venezuela. As the Chairman of the Parliament, Guaidéo appears to be the “only legitimate branch of government” of the country, since the Venezuelan people “duly” elected it.
Within a few hours, the governments of Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, Peru and Canada converged with this position, but the self-proclaimed president also received support from European policy makers, including the French president Emmanuel Macron, the Italian Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini and the German SPD Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas. It is under a proposal from Pedro Sanchez, the “socialist” head of the Spanish government –formerly Venezuela’s colonial power until the 19th century– that UE believed it had the right to threaten to recognize Trump’s puppet “if elections are not called within eight days”.
As in a textbook on the coups, what we see here is a carefully scheduled putsch that can lead to a military intervention by the US imperialism in Venezuela. Nonetheless, Maduro’s regime is not independent from all the imperialist powers. As a proof, the Chinese and Russian States immediately denounced “the interference of the United States”, which unveiled that they defend the Chavist regime. It is noteworthy that Chinese multinational companies buy 700 000 out of 1.5 million oil barrels daily produced. Poutine and Xi regularly renegotiate Venezuela’s debt. 96% of Venezuela’s receipts come from oil.
The crisis of Chavism
The demonstrations against Maduro’s government and his PSUV could only be both massive and exploited by the reaction because of the failure of the bourgeois nationalist politics that was practiced under the name of Bolivarianism, of Chavism or even of “Socialism for the XXIst century”.
His founder, Colonel Hugo Chávez, was the ultimate outcome of almost ten years of a severe economic, political and social crisis, which expression was concentrated on February 1989 “Caracazo”. A spontaneous revolt by a hungry crowd swept the country and was ruthlessly suppressed (3 000 dead) by then-president Carlos Andrés Pérez, who was the enforcer of the IMF measures and, at the time, Chairman of the “Socialist International”. A part of the middle and lower army hierarchy tried to rebuild a bourgeois State, while the former methods of domination were already unbearable. To do so, the Bonaparte wholeheartedly placed himself above the local bourgeoisie and proletariat and relied on a large mobilization of extremely depleted masses.
Hugo Chávez aimed to counter the imperialist influence in Venezuela but he never questioned the private ownership of the means of production or capitalism, even in his 1999 constitution. The external debts were refunded with absolute punctuality, the oil rent was taken over by the “friends” of Chavism, especially by the soldiers that led the national companies and by the fraction of the bourgeoisie linked with the army.
Yet, because of the opposition of the pro-imperialist fraction of the bourgeoisie and of the necessity for the regime to rely on the masses, a series of social measures in improved the living conditions of the poorest layers of the masses in several regions the first years of Chavism. They gave a large popular support to colonel Chavéz and to his Bolivarian movement.
An attempted coup supported by the US failed in 2002, in particular because the workers defended the Bolivarian government. After the failure of the first coup, Chavéz amnestied most of the pro-imperialist plotters and he dissolved the organs of power that had been created by the workers, especially in the oil industry.
The receipts from the oil rent enabled several measures to be financed, which modernised the education system, health… but they never questioned the capitalist basis. However, several dividing lines appeared when it was made clear that the “Socialism for the XXIst century” declared from above does not tolerate workers’ self-organization, or even the independence of workers’ organizations. The unions had to be incorporated in the Bolivarian movement (through the UNT) and in the State. The workers’ parties were required to join the nationalist bourgeois party. Like in all the other bourgeois States, the “Bolivarian” National Guard went after the workers in strike and the young people in demonstration.
The lack of a workers’ revolutionary party is particularly due to centrist and reformist currents that supported Chavéz. The Pabloist-Mandelist FI and, more importantly, the Woodist IMT acted as a fig leaf for the Bonaparte and for bourgeois nationalism. They defended Chavéz against the workers’ protests, they impeded the construction of an independent revolutionary workers’ party and they even supported the creation of a unique party, the PSUV. They talked of “Venezuelan socialism” while the bourgeois State was undisturbed and while capitalism was maintained.
The decline in oil price, the foreign economic sanctions, the mismanagement and corruption led to another fall in the mass living standards of the masses and to a wave of social protests.
After Chavéz died in 2013, Maduro succeeded him. Already in 2006, he and his wife started installing some of their family members in key positions within the government and firms. Because of the 2008 world economic crisis, the oil rent (energy being the only export of the country) fell down, with consequent crush of a weak economy under world imperialism’s domination. At the same time, strikes and demonstrations increased because of a worsening situation of the urban and rural workers. The lack of a revolutionary workers’ party favored the rise of the bourgeois opposition calling itself “popular” and “democratic”. Since 2015, the Venezuelan capitalism plunged into depression: hyperinflation (up to 1 000 000% of the value of the currency in 2018), huge black market, malnutrition, resurgence in disease like malaria, crime, depopulation…
Only the proletariat can resolve the crisis
Three million people left the country. The compradore section of the bourgeoisie, together with the US imperialism and with its allies in the region, takes advantage of people’s despair and of a weaker working class for openly taking power.
We warn the Venezuelan masses against illusions in the pro-US bourgeoisie’s siren songs. If they take the power, the remaining social gains will be discarded, democratic liberties will be weakened and the workers will be under attack. Guaidó’s and his followers’ overtly anti-socialist rhetoric follows the pattern that also raised with Bolsonaro’s power in Brazil: the start of a new wave of violent attack against the workers’ movement and against working people.
We call the international workers’ movement to prevent any imperialist attack against Venezuela!
The internationalist communists reject both the Bonapartist and corrupted PSUV’s regime and the reactionary plan of the imperialist bourgeoisie and of its local allies. Yet, we equally refuse any concession to Maduro’s regime against the imperialist threats. In case of an army coup or of a foreign intervention, the workers and the peasants, the rural workers and the peasants, the young people and poor people must get organized and fight.
Even if such a resistance should lead to a common action with the PSUV workers’ partisans, the workers should nevertheless keep their full political independence. They must set up resistance and action committees in the whole country, in order to prepare the fight not only against the coup but also against Maduro’s corrupt regime and against all the sections of the national bourgeoisie. To win, it is necessary to build a revolutionary party!
Imperialists, hands off Venezuela!
Independent organization of workers, poor peasants and young people!
Construction of committees (councils, soviets)! Dissolution of the repressive forces and of the bourgeois permanent army, armament of workers! Creation of workers’ militias!
Occupation of State firms, expulsion of military directors and workers’ control on the production!
Occupation and expropriation of big industrial firms, of banks, of big medias, of telecommunications under workers’ control!
Occupation and expropriation of latifundia properties, for being exploited by the agricultural proletariat and by the poor peasantry!
Seizure of money, food and medicine accumulated by the black market! Distribution in the population by the workers’ and peasants’ committees!
For a workers’ and peasants’ government that expropriate big capitalists groups!
For a socialist Venezuela with a socialist Federation of Latin America!