The crisis facing Venezuela

We publish here a statement from Partido Socialismo y Libertad (PSL-Venezuela) on the political crisis facing Venezuela after the recent presidential elections 

The country is facing a serious political crisis, as a result of the narrow margin by which Nicolas Maduro, candidate of the PSUV and the Patriotic Pole, beat MUD candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski. In elections held on 14 April, according to official figures, Maduro obtained 7,575,506 votes to 7,302,641 votes for Capriles, winning the presidency by a margin of only 272,865 votes.

In this context, the MUD candidate and his supporters have demanded to extend the audit from 54% to 100% of the voting slips printed. Knowing that the MUD and its candidate are not an example of democracy, and that in the recent past they were involved in a coup and the oil strike and sabotage, we believe it is necessary to differentiate between what the pro-imperialist leadership of the MUD represents, and the legitimate demand of millions of people claiming the audit of all votes, which constitutes a democratic right. Maduro himself initially argued for the audit of 100%, as he expressed it in his speech on the night of April 14 on the occasion of his election victory, but the next day a change took place and the government military hardliners headed by Diosdado Cabello won, with the position of not extending the audit.

We already know about the arbitrariness and abuse of state resources by the government in these and other elections. These are the same procedures that the government trade union bureaucracy uses in the unions and community organizations to violate their autonomy; to oppose democratic and by the rank and file elections; to impose on workers councils from the management of state enterprises or to criminalize protest. The opportunism and irregularities prompted by the government legitimize the claim to extend the audit, although until now the MUD has not presented strong arguments to support the thesis of fraud.

The government has used this legitimate demand to argue that a coup plan by the pro-imperialist leadership of the MUD has been launched. Our party believes that until now there is no evidence that a coup is in development. The government lies again using the spectre of an alleged coup to unite their supporters and justify restrictions on democratic freedoms such as the ban applied to a call to march made by the MUD for April 17 in Caracas. Those who can give coups are the military and these and the General Staff, have spoken publicly and openly in support of the government. For now there are no calls to lockouts or acts of insubordination, nor are there any public calls for the military to insubordinate as we lived under the fascist coup and the oil strike of 2002. But we must make clear that would such an event occur in the future, our party will confront it the same way we did in 2002.

We emphatically condemn those responsible for the violence that has claimed the lives of seven people and left 60 wounded as a result of attacks by groups with fascist features. We strongly condemn the acts of violence perpetrated by both supporters of Capriles and the MUD against venues of PDVAL, MERCAL, CDI and other public services, thereby affecting workers and the people. And we also reject the violent actions carried out by motorized PSUV militants and government supporters, whose actions resemble those of “cabilleros adecos” [paramilitary group of the Fourth Venezuelan Republic, NT] of yesteryear. We make a strong appeal to the people to close ranks against expressions of fascist violence of those seeking to fish in troubled waters

For us it is essential to understand the meaning of the sharp drop in the vote for the candidate of the government, a fact that has caused the political crisis we are facing. No doubt this is a result of rejection and fatigue of an important sector of the population to the many problems that have accumulated over the years, even in popular sectors in which Chavism traditionally had a large majority.

The electoral debacle of the PSUV and Nicolas Maduro is a continuation of the decline that the government has lived for many years. Discontent has accelerated in recent months as a direct result of the devaluation of 46.5% implemented by this government last March that at a pen stroke reduced the real wages of workers. It is an expression of the weariness of the population to rolling brownouts, to low wages, to the deterioration of public services and social programs, including missions, precarious employment, non-discussion of collective agreements, the criminalization of protest. These are the real causes of the political crisis which opens today in the country.

Faced with this situation, we call the people not to place any trust in the political leaderships of the MUD and PSUV, who want to use as cannon fodder in a dull conflict that has nothing to do with our interests.

In this regard, we must impose an agenda of struggle for wage increases and for all the rights of the workers and the people. We must follow the example of the university workers who marched together on 4 April, teachers, employees and workers, pro-Chavez, anti-Chavez and independents, demanding higher wages and other labour claims. This march was the result of a process of unity of action that has been occurring between Fadess and Unete, a process that must be promoted in terms of achieving a unitary May 1, classist, autonomous and combative, wherein workers as a social class could address the country to present our proposal, which is nothing other than a true government of the workers and the people.

The recent political events put on the table the challenge of building a political option really revolutionary and socialist, from below. In the October election campaign in the April campaign we said that none of the two major candidates would solve the problems of the workers and the people, hence the importance of building a revolutionary socialist alternative, which becomes a tool of struggle for workers and the people.

For the Executive Committee of the PSL
Orlando Chirino, Miguel Angel Hernández, José Bodas, Armando Guerra, Simón Rodríguez Porras