Maduro steps up his attacks against critical-Chavismo

Originally published in Venezuelan Voices

Photo credit: ANTV

Following the fraudulent elections of the National Assembly (AN) in December 2020, the de facto government headed by Maduro has stepped up its threats against Chavista sectors that critically or conditionally support him, such as the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV, Stalinist).

In these elections, the PCV was part of the Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APR), a coalition of Chavista organizations that presented independent candidacies calling to rescue the original political legacy of Chávez and for Maduro to “rectify” his mistakes. Maduro’s response consisted of police persecutionraids to premises, arrests, layoffs and limitations to access to state and private media.

PCV denounces a raid in its Puerto Cabello office in August 2020. Photo credit: PCV Twitter account.

The fraudulent election resulted in the official Chavismo taking 256 of the 277 seats, the collaborationist right wing opposition 20 seats, and the PCV one seat. Maduro used terms traditionally employed by the Venezuelan right wing to criticize the PCV as representatives of an “outdated left” and on January 23 he raised the tone of his attacks accusing the PCV of being “divisive” and of being at the service of US imperialism, exerting pressure on the PCV to either assimilate into the parliamentary faction of official Chavismo or that of the right wing pseudo-opposition if they want to have the right to speak at the parliament. On that occasion the PCV responded with a contradictory communiqué calling on the government to rectify and build unity, criticizing Maduro’s attacks against the party and warning about the possibility that such attacks could lead to the assassination of its members, adding that the government should define whether it is in favor of the capitalists or the workers, and that there is a danger that the government would completely become right wing, sliding into fascism.

On February 4, a new skirmish took place during the discussion at the AN over an agreement to commemorate the failed military rebellion led by Chávez in 1992. The PCV Deputy, Oscar Figuera, voted in favor but abstained in one of the sections of the document, stating that Maduro’s government has departed from Chávez’s path and that it is necessary to “rectify”, one of the slogans that define the critical-Chavismo position. The President of the AN, Jorge Rodriguez, responded with a furious attack, reiterating the accusation that the PCV is at the service of Yankee imperialism. In response to these attacks, several Stalinist parties internationally, which supported Chavismo for decades, responded with an international declaration of solidarity with the PCV. From the Venezuelan left opposition, the PSL (Trotskyist) also repudiated Maduro’s retaliations against the PCV.

President of the AN, Jorge Rodriguez, launches a furious attack against PCV Deputy, Oscar Figueroa. 
Credit: ANTV

The persecution and repression against sectors of Chavismo that criticize Maduro for supposedly deviating from Chávez’s original political line is not new. In 2015, the organization Marea Socialista which was part of the Chavista trade union bureaucratic organization, the CBST and the PSUV, tried to register an electoral card to participate in the parliamentary elections of that year. The authorities denied them the right to initiate the process, without any explanation for their refusal.

In 2018, the government committed a blatant electoral fraud against the critical Chavista activism organized around the peasant community of El Maizal, whose candidate, Angel Prado, had defeated the official Chavista candidacy in the Simon Planas municipality in Lara State. Then, in June 2020,the government launched an armed attack against the peasant community, with the participation of militants and officers of the ultra Chavista group Gayones (Stalinist-Hoxhaist).

Organized Chavista peasant of El Maizal. Credit: La Clase

In 2019, Ali Domínguez, a dissident Chavista youth leader, was brutally murdered after an enforced disappearance. During Chávez’s government, numerous activists were also imprisoned and murdered, who in spite of sympathizing with Chavismo, mobilized independently in defense of the rights of workers and popular sectors. Such was the case of the indigenous leader Sabino Romero, imprisoned by Chávez between 2009 and 2011 andmurdered in 2013 by police officers of the Machiques municipality, ruled by the official PSUV party.

The governments of Chávez and Maduro have also harshly repressed revolutionaries who have politically opposed the capitalist policies of Chavismo. The most important trade union current of the left, C-cura, was decimated between 2006 and 2010 with the assassinations of several of its main leaders in Aragua State. Ironically, the PCV unconditionally supported Chavismo against the revolutionary left for years, including the government’s slanders against it accusing them of “playing the game of imperialism”.

Now it is their turn to experience the same methods, as Maduro’s government demonstrates its unwillingness to accept even the shyest or partial criticism.

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