The confrontation between the bourgeois factions in Venezuela - between Chavismo and the opposition parties - has undergone a qualitative leap since the beginning of 2019. It takes place in a context of an unprecedented worsening of the economic and social crisis, the most evident sign of which is the increase in poverty experienced by a large part of the population. But it is also part of a scenario marked by worsening rivalries between the great powers - some giving their open support to the regime of Nicolás Maduro, others to the proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó.
It is the U.S. which has set the tone: after recognizing Guaidó as president of Venezuela, it has unleashed a more intense and comprehensive strategy that proposes to definitively remove Nicolás Maduro from power. The US threat, as voiced by senior officials and Donald Trump himself, does not exclude a US military intervention, using "humanitarian aid" as a justification. Support for Nicolás Maduro has come mainly from countries such as Russia and China, the main allies of Chavismo. However, rather than a direct military confrontation between the great powers, the potential danger lies in the use of the population and workers as cannon fodder in a war between bandits, resulting in greater bloodshed. More than 40 deaths and the brutal repression of the population (more than 900 detainees in the last two weeks of January alone) are just a small sample.
Faced with this escalation of the confrontation between the bourgeois factions of right and left in Venezuela, which transcends the borders of that country, it is important and urgent to call on the Venezuelan and world proletariat to understand the imminent danger of a massacre; to refuse to line up with any of the internal or external factions of capital, to remain on its class terrain and to reject this infernal slide into chaos and barbarism in the region, an expression of the decomposition of the capitalist system as a whole.
The emergence of Guaidó: a strategy "made in the USA"
Guaidó's emergence does not come out of nowhere; his sudden appearance has been scrupulously prepared by the US, with the support of members of the Venezuelan opposition in that country and other countries of the so-called international community (the Lima Group, with the exception of Mexico), which support the US strategy against Maduro's regime. The aggressive and determined action of the US against Maduro has been reinforced at a geopolitical level since it was supported by the triumph of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil (to which the USA also made a considerable contribution). It is no coincidence that the first declaration of Mike Pompeo (US Secretary of State) at Bolsonaro's inauguration was to call for a fight against "socialism" and re-establish democracy in Venezuela. Venezuela is being hemmed in at its most important borders, in the west by Colombia (the main US ally in South America) and in the south by Brazil. Several EU countries have also recently recognised Guaidó , although they have tried to develop their own policy of intervention through the so-called "Contact Group", which is trying to weaken US action.
This energetic reaction of the US and its allies in the region is taking advantage of the situation created by the emigration of Venezuelans fleeing from the misery and barbarity imposed by the left bourgeois regime of Chavismo-Madurismo (according to the UN, this already exceeds 4 million migrants).The Venezuelan opposition is now launching this offensive against Maduro, even though it was the conflicts of interest and the decomposition in its own ranks that opened the way for the rise of the adventurer Chávez in 1999. The opposition is seeking to take advantage of the protests and indignation of the workers and the population as whole, who do not have the strength to develop a coherent response to both the Chávez regime and the bourgeois opposition, precisely because of the divisions created by the incessant political confrontations between these factions of capital.
The opposition sectors, weakened by the conflicts of interest among them, now seek to unite behind the figure of Guaidó, in another adventure that is gaining support within the population due to the desperation caused by hunger and misery. The action of the majority of the regional and world bourgeoisie that have now turned against Maduro demonstrates the hypocrisy of the exploiting classes, since they now speak of "respect for human rights", after years of praising Chávez as the "defender of the poor”, who supposedly managed to "lift millions of poor people out of poverty and invisibility" in Venezuela and distributed gifts to the population thanks to high oil prices, when in reality Chavismo was laying the bases for the barbarism that we see today, enriching the military and civilian elites that today defend their privileges with blood and fire.
For its part, the Chávez regime declares itself "socialist" and "revolutionary", when in reality what it has implemented in Venezuela is a regime of integral state capitalism, in the style of the dictatorial regimes of Cuba, China, North Korea or so-called "Arab socialism". The regime declared itself to be fighting against "unrestrained neo-liberalism", but the effects of its "socialism" have been equally devastating for the population: extreme poverty has reached 61. 2% of the population and poverty measured by family income 87%; more than 10% of the child population suffers severe malnutrition: in 2017 between 5 and 6 children died per week, due to malnutrition and diseases; between 2017 and 2018 hyperinflation surpassed one million per cent. In addition, Chavismo effectively eliminated collective negotiations and established a repressive regime in the workplace.
These models of capital management like the Chavista regime have nothing to do with the communism fought for by Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Rosa Luxemburg , who proposed to put an end to the bourgeois state (whether governed by the right or the left) and to the blind laws of the capitalist mode of production. We must keep in mind that neither the left of capital nor the bourgeois right can offer a solution to the crisis of decaying capitalism. We see for example how the right in Argentina, after displacing the left governments of the Kirchners, is now plunged into a much worse crisis which it is duly unloading onto the workers. The same will happen with the Bolsonaro government in Brazil.
Both Chavismo and its leftist sidekicks in the region and the world, as well as the different oppositions of center and right, by spreading all kinds of lies and confusions, have tried to deform or erase completely the historical and theoretical heritage of marxism and the lessons handed down by the struggles of the working class. This is true whether they proclaim themselves "marxists," or when they vilify "21st century socialism" as an example of "communism”. They have all tried to maintain their class domination; now it is the turn of the right and center-right, saying that "communism" must be extirpated from Latin America, with which they identify Chavismo or Castroism.
The great powers fuel chaos in the region
As already mentioned, Guaidó has been promoted by the US in order to re-establish as close a control as possible over its backyard. China, with its penetration into Latin America and other countries of the world, and now with the vast "Silk Road" programme, intends not only to expand the markets within its reach but also to achieve a strategic imperialist implantation on a world scale. Using economic means, China wants to set up an imperialist network on a world scale, in order to undo the siege that the USA had woven around it since the Obama administration (using Japan, South Korea, Philippines, India, etc.). In this sense, alliances with Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, etc., are very important for China's imperialist ambitions. The "Guaidó operation" on the part of the US is a counter-attack that adds to the positions won in Argentina and Brazil, and through the traditional loyalty of Colombia.
The first step of the US imperialist operation is the deployment of so-called Humanitarian Aid. It is the height of cynicism and hypocrisy that hunger, the shortage of medicines, the desperate situation of millions of workers and exploited in Venezuela, are used to carry out the first phase of their strategy against the Maduro regime. The trucks carrying food and medicine and parked on the famous Tienditas Bridge in the Colombian city of Cúcuta are the equivalent of missiles and bombers. With them, US imperialism tries to put its Chavista imperialist rival in an uncomfortable position, where it might have to reject food and medicine for the hungry and ailing population. The repugnant cynicism of both the Americans and the Chavistas, the supporters of Guaidó and those of Maduro, is thus revealed. The first exploiting the hunger of the population as a weapon of war, repeating an operation that in 1998-99 Clinton carried out in Serbia where tons of food were thrown from planes to weaken Milosevic's regime, or a similar manoeuvre in Haiti in 2004. The latter, led by Maduro, rejecting the aid, thereby demonstrating what is obvious: they don't give a damn about the hunger and unspeakable suffering of the population.
Maduro will resist as long as possible and, no doubt, China and Russia will do their best to support him. So far, the army and repressive forces have closed ranks with Chavismo. The aim now is to weaken the "unbreakable" adhesion of the military-repressive apparatus to Maduro. In carrying out this destabilising operation, the danger of armed confrontations is appearing on the horizon. Given the imperialist rivalries lurking in the background, and the high degree of ideological, political, economic and social decomposition taking place in Venezuela, there is a real potential that the situation will end up in a civil war or, at least, in a succession of bloody confrontations, an increasingly chaotic spiral that could lead the country and the region to collapse. This perspective is also fed by the information provided by the Observatorio Venezolano de la Violencia, according to which there are 8 million illegal firearms in the country. In addition there is no precise data on the number of weapons in the hands of the organised underworld, to which can be added the threat of the Chávez government to hand over 500,000 rifles to its militias.
The massive exodus of the Venezuelan population to countries in the region such as Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Peru (with walking caravans similar to those going from Honduras to the United States) is also a factor in the spread of chaos. It is a problem that cannot be underestimated, and the bourgeoisies of the most affected countries have responded by launching racist and xenophobic campaigns presented as a means of opposing the threatened chaos.
Only the proletariat offers an alternative for the future of humanity
The crisis of capitalism is unstoppable; it feeds day by day on the contradictions of the capitalist social relation. For this reason, the solution to the crisis by the exploited will only be possible through the unified struggle of the proletarians of Venezuela, the region and the world. In the current period of the decomposition of capitalism, there is no country in the world that is not threatened with the barbarism that is being lived through now in Venezuela. Neither the populisms of the left nor of the right, nor the defenders of neo-liberalism, represent a way out.
The workers in Venezuela must reject any enlistment in the ranks of the warring factions, rejecting the siren songs of the opposition bourgeoisie that call the exploited masses behind their struggle; in the same way, they must resist falling into the mesh of the parties, groups and unions of the left, including the leftists that oppose the regime, so-called "Chavismo without Chávez", which peddles a more radical version of Maduro’s regime of exploitation.
We have seen that in Venezuela there have been a large number of protests during the Chávez regime. In 2018 alone, there were more than 5,000 demonstrations (an average of 30 protests a day), most of them demanding basic necessities such as food, water, services and better wages. In recent years, we can point in particular to the struggles of doctors and nurses, who have not only dared to challenge the repressive forces of the state, but have also shown a very class-based solidarity, identifying with patients who have no medicine or possibilities of care, calling for unity with other sectors, such as teachers and lecturers. However, these struggles have not been spared the penetration of trade unions who aim to control and sabotage them, although it is worth noting the fact that there has been a tendency to reject both Chavismo and the opposition, to try to keep their struggles more independent. The workers must continue their struggles against the regime of bourgeois exploitation on their own ground. In their struggle, the workers must seek to bring other non-exploitative layers behind them; only the proletariat has the capacity to transform social indignation into a real political programme for social transformation.
The revolutionary organisations that descend from the communist left, as well as the most politicised minorities in Venezuela, the region and the world, must call for the development of a movement on the proletarian basis of solidarity and common struggle with the exploited masses who are experiencing situations comparable to what is happening in Venezuela. The world proletariat has the answer to the prospect of sinking into barbarism; for this reason, it must defend its class autonomy tooth and nail. That means rejecting all sides in the conflict and affirming its own demands as a class; it means fighting for the unity of all workers around the slogan: Here or Abroad, the Same Working Class!
International Communist Current 12-2-19
1] To understand in depth this notion of the decomposition of capitalism, see our Theses on Decomposition, https://en.internationalism.org/ir/107_decomposition
2] See “The crisis in Venezuela: the proletariat suffers the misery, chaos and repression of capitalism”, https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201710/14408/crisis-venezuela-...
3] See Un proyecto de defensa del capital. Un gran engaño para las masas empobrecidas https://es.internationalism.org/cci-online/201303/3694/un-proyecto-de-de...
4] We have denounced on numerous occasions the Great Lie of the 20th century, the supposed "communism" of countries such as the USSR, China, Cuba and North Korea. See “The Russian Experience: Private Property and Collective Property”, https://en.internationalism.org/ir/131/russian-experience. Also “Five Questions on Communism”, https://es.internationalism.org/accion-proletaria/200510/246/5-preguntas...
5] See “Behind the ‘humanitarian’ operations of the great powers, imperialist barbarism is unchained” https://en.internationalism.org/content/3568/international-situation-beh.... Also: “The fraud of ‘humanitarian aid’ in Haiti”, https://en.internationalism.org/wr/2010//331/
6] See “Migrations in Latin America: Only the proletariat can stop the barbarism of decaying capitalism”, https://es.internationalism.org/content/4377/migraciones-en-latinoameric...