Position of revolutionary socialists on the death of Hugo Chavez

By Miguel Sorans, leading member of UIT-CI

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Revolutionary socialists, those who are part of the International Workers’ Union-Fourth International [UIT-CI in Spanish), sympathize with the pain of the Venezuelan people due to the death of President Hugo Chavez. We express our solidarity with his family and with the thousands of supporters that Chavez and his movement have in Latin America and the rest of the world. Similar thoughts have been expressed by our sister organization, the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSL) of Venezuela, led by Orlando Chirino.

The impact of his death transcends the borders of Venezuela, because Chavez has been a mass political leader who opened huge expectations of change for millions of workers and popular sectors. Millions who—in Venezuela and throughout Latin America— are fed up with imperialist plunder and the subservient local allies, multinationals, oligarchs and the rising levels of poverty while the rich are getting richer. In fact, millions of people have been fighting the austerity plans.

Chavez’s death raised the question of how far his politics responded to those expectations and what will be the future of his movement.

Chavez emerged as a response to the Caracazo crisis

Chavez was an unknown military man in the early 1990s. And he became president in 1998 in response to mass rejection of the old capitalist leaders and political parties that had led Venezuela to social disaster. The Venezuelan “they all must go” political moment – in reference to the old political class—happened in 1989, in the social rebellion known as the “Caracazo”. Back then, thousands took to the streets against the economic adjustments. Chavez emerged to fill this huge political vacuum, raising nationalist, anti-imperialist and popular banners. He ended up consolidating it when the pro-US coup of April 2002, supported by Bush and the old oligarchy of the country, failed due to the revolutionary mobilization of the Venezuelan people.

Our socialist current in Venezuela, made up of long-time militants like Orlando Chirino, José Bodas, Miguel Angel Hernandez, Armando Emilio Bastidas and Armando Guerra, among others, were supporting the working class and the people driving the mobilizations to defeat the pro-imperialist coup and defending the democratic rights of the people who had elected Chavez. They earned the political authority to express their disagreement with the political project of Chavez and his movement, from a position that is consistently anti-imperialist and socialist.

In 2005, Chirino, as one of the main leaders of the UNT union federation, noted:  “the political project of President Chavez is still cemented in the illusion that it is possible to develop a bourgeois nationalist project Therein lies our strategic difference with what, so far, president Chavez has been raising. The only social class that is willing to go all the way, is precisely the working class, the workers … The claim that to promote a project based on the alleged “social function” of capital is neither new, nor unfortunately is socialism.” (from the book Interviews with UNT leaders, June 2005, pages 65 and 67).

Thus Chirino expressed the limitations that the Chavista project had in terms of achieving fundamental solutions for the workers and the people. Indeed, the project was nothing new. From the start, Chavez’s project  had similarities what was in the 1950s Peronism in Argentina. Peron also had brushes with imperialism and could give some social concessions due to a good post-war economic situation. But on not having broken with capitalism, he never really managed to solve the underlying problems of the workers and the people. Chavez also took advantage of an economic situation of high oil prices to give some concessions such as the Missions. But maintaining the capitalist structure of the country, coexisting with multinationals, bankers, big business and a new bourgeoisie, the so called “Bolivarian bourgeoisie”, after 14 years in office, the vital problems of the Venezuelan people (wages, health, education, affordable housing) still remain unresolved.

The struggle of the workers and the people of Venezuela will continue

Today in Venezuela, the grief over the death of Hugo Chavez will put a pause to the struggle. Tomorrow the Venezuelan people will continue their struggle for their demands and the social changes to which they aspire.

We know that large sections of the masses still have expectations that, even without Chávez, the PSUV government will not respond to their aspirations. Respecting that view, we will continue telling them that with this project, whoever is in power from Maduro to Diosdado Cabello, there will be no solution to the problems of working people.

The people will continue to suffer from hyperinflation and low wages, caused by the economic adjustment that Maduro is applying which, according to him, was approved by Chavez. Based on a devaluation of 46, 5%, a typical measure of capitalist adjustment. The struggle for the defense of wages and against the criminalization of protest will continue as evidenced by the brutal repression the Yukpa people have suffered again with the murder by a hired assassins of their leader Sabino Romero. Neither is the solution of the leaders of the pro-US bourgeois opposition recycled in the MUD (right wing), right wing reactionaries who are now pretending to appear as the champions of the Constitution that they trampled with during both the coup and the oil strike sabotage in 2002.

For all this, the UIT-CI we make ours the proposal raised by the PSL in Venezuela, which “proposes specific transformations to move towards a much more just and united society, starting with oil that belongs 100% of the Venezuelan state, without mixed nor transnational companies, and it is directly and democratically run by workers and technicians from our main industry. Based on the recovery of our main resource, we will be able to face the problems of the country, making it a great economic leverage in the service of free health and education for all, decent housing, minimum wages at the level of the basic food basket, social and personal security; pensions paid in time and retroactive social services; for decent and productive work as well as industrial development and land reform in the framework of a model without exploitation of human beings by others that is against depredation of nature.

For our party, it’s only through autonomous labor and popular organization and mobilization, in the perspective of the struggle to achieve a government of workers and the exploited, that we will be able to find a solution to the problems that ails us. Hence, in the current situation facing the country, we ratify the need to build an alternative truly revolutionary and of the left, and which overcomes the false socialism for the 21st century and the false democracy which the right wing proclaims.  That is, a political alternative that will become a fighting tool for workers, communities and youth on the streets in the universities, in the factory gates, in the oil areas and in the electoral arena”.(Statement by PSL, 16 January 2013).


Translated and revised by SC