As Venezuela’s social crisis deepens, the contradictions always present in Chavismo are coming to a head. A look at the Bolivarian Constitution, Chavismo’s relationship to the Arab Spring, and its dependence on high oil prices and a top leader illuminate the crisis.
Despite difficulties, there are tendencies within the Left in Venezuela and Latin American who are critical of Maduro and trying to work out support of the Venezuelan masses, along with opposition to neoliberalism and U.S. imperialism.
During this time of economic, political and societal crisis, including shortages of food and medicine, can Venezuela’s people build a society that is truly human, thus showing the way for the rest of the world?
The essay takes a critical look at the “Latin American Pink Tide” (a decade of progressive governments in South America), its limits and contradictions, and poses the question: Is there a way forward that does not substitute statism for the action and thought of the masses?
Venezuela is in ever-deepening crisis–including electricity shortages, outrageous inflation, food shortages–because of neoliberal politics. Colombia sees a cease-fire agreement signed between the government and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia/FARC while agricultural injustice, a major cause of increasing poverty, remains. Peru elects Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a right-wing neoliberal, as their new president, defeating Keiko Fujimori, daughter of jailed former president Alberto Fujimori, who committed many human rights abuses while in office.
It was a stunning defeat. Where to now for the Venezuelan masses who supported Chavez in power, but many of whom feel disappointed in the post-Chavez period?
Governments which could never have come to power without the social movements’ mobilizations are using vague expressions of anti-capitalism, socialism, resource nationalism, anti-imperialism, etc., to impose developmentalism on their populations, often in collaboration with neoliberalism.
What began in early February as a small student protest against a sexual assault at a university campus in the state of Tachira, which the government repressed, spread to a number of other campuses and cities, where demonstrations were also repressed and students arrested. Seizing the moment, a faction of the right-wing opposition party called for more protests, demanding the removal of President Maduro from office.
The close Venezuelan elections of recent years have likely represented the tensions inherent in Chavismo itself. While Hugo Chavez did do things to benefit many of the poorest Venezuelans, he also maintained a relationship with the business community.
The new May-June 2013 issue of News & Letters is available on the web:
News & Letters, Vol. 58, No. 3
May – June 2013
You may view this issue of News & Letters in pdf form here
Draft for Marxist-Humanist Perspectives, 2013-2014
Capitalism’s violence, masses’ revolt show need for total view
The world today is riven between the creativity of masses in [=>]