Rest in Power, Comandante Hugo Chavez
On Tuesday, March 5, the people of Venezuela and workers all over the world lost the greatest revolutionary leader of our time, President Hugo Chavez. Chavez’s death was sudden, but it came after nearly two years of battling cancer that included four very invasive surgeries in Cuba. Chavez won re-election as President of Venezuela handily in 2012, defeating right-wing opponent Henrique Capriles at the polls.
Since he was elected President in 1999, Chavez dedicated himself to building socialism and an anti-imperialist mass resistance in Latin America and across the world. Chavez’s legacy was unabashedly revolutionary and pro-worker, cutting unemployment and poverty in half over the course of his 14 years in office. Working with other progressive and anti-imperialist countries around the world – from Bolivia to Cuba, from Syria to China – Chavez oversaw the creation of a new alliance of nations to curb the influence and expansion of the imperialist empire. The revolutionary accomplishments of Chavez’s government are impossible to list outright, although Venezuela Analysis has done an incredible job compiling articles about the Bolivarian revolution.
Return to the Source wants to publicly extend our condolences to the people of Venezuela on the death of Comandante Hugo Chavez. We also want to extend our best wishes and solidarity to Vice President Nicholas Maduro, a bus driver, trade unionist, and revolutionary socialist who will run for President as Chavez’s successor.
However, we want to take this time to emphasize the very real danger that the Bolivarian Revolution faces from the imperialist countries in the North, as well as corrosive elements on the Left that seek to divide the people. The following article was written by Professor Toad for The prison gates are open about the disgraceful left-opportunism by Trotskyite forces on the Venezuelan Left. It’s an important comment on the internal politics of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and revolutionaries should read it to better understand the need for solidarity with Vice President Maduro and the leadership of the PSUV against divisive, factionalist politics.
It’s also worth noting the shameful bashing of Hugo Chavez by many ostensibly on the Left in the United States, including MSNBC liberal talk show host Rachel Maddow, who repeated the same State Department falsehoods about Chavez’s legacy being one of repression. Revolutionaries know that the only repression that took place by Chavez was the repression of counter-revolutionaries seeking to further oppress the Venezuelan people, like we saw in the 2002 US-backed coup d’etat attempt. Even the International Socialist Organization couldn’t miss an opportunity to sneak in a few bizarre, ham-handed jabs in their assessment of Chavez’s government. Author Jeffery R. Webber repeats the same tired phrases about “Soviet-inflected, Cuban bureaucratic socialism” to describe Chavez’s brand of socialist politics, and he attacks Chavez’s legacy of international solidarity in the first three paragraphs of his piece, “What is Hugo Chavez’s Legacy?“
The Venezuelan masses have shown remarkable resistance in the face of imperialist attempts to stop the Bolivarian Revolution, and all of the slander from all of the world’s counter-revolutionaries will not stop the people from liberating themselves. The wretched of the Earth mourn the loss of Chavez and have firm resolve to carry on his mission.
Rest in power, Comandante Chavez.
March 5, 2013
A wave of mourning is sweeping over Latin America and the world over the death of Hugo Chavez. The leader of the Bolivarian Revolution shattered the ossified and corrupt political structure of Venezuela, ushering the country into a new era in which it put the needs of its own people first and stood on its own feet in the world community. Beyond that, Chavez’s revolution inspired movements which brought about deep changes in many countries. Although the left is notoriously sectarian, the overwhelming sensation of leftists the world over is sorrow at the passing of a man who moved the struggle so far forward. However, as Chavez’s health deteriorated in recent months, it became obvious that there were a few among us who would have, at worst, mixed feelings about his death, seeing in it definite elements of opportunity for their own political programs. The question is how soon in this period of deep mourning these snakes will let their true feelings show.
On January 5, 2013, the website havanatimes.org ran an article by a certain Roberto Lopez entitled “Possible Policy Scenarios”. This article apparently originated on a Venezuelan Trotskyist website called laguarura.net, but has found echo as well at the website internationalviewpoint.org, which is apparently the official website of a small Trotskyist sect which pompously calls itself the Fourth International.
The article is a disgusting call for a civil war in the Partido Socialist Unitaria Venezolana, the political party founded and led by Hugo Chavez. Although the article recognizes that the death of Chavez will bring an attack by imperialism, it unbelievably declares that only a sharpening of the internal conflicts of the PSUV can protect the Venezuelan Revolution. The reasoning is fascinating in the way that a bad car crash is fascinating.
First, the article assures us that the vice-president of Venezuela and the speaker of the Venezuelan national assembly are simply incapable as leaders: “We can infer that the present pro-Chavez leadership headed by Maduro and Cabello will deteriorate as time passes. Causes: none of them have the leadership qualities of Chavez and therefore none of them are able to generate the consensus that existed when Chavez was in office.” How this evaluation was arrived at we are not told.
Worse, however, they are apparently “bureaucrats”, a Trotskyist term of art referring to people who hold back a revolution: “The errors of the bureaucracy will not be forgiven by the people, as occurred when Chavez firmly held the nation’s leadership.” In this line, of course, they count Chavez among the wicked bureaucrats undercutting the revolution… A revolution which Chavez began and led, from victory to victory, throughout its life.
Now that we know that the people who brought literacy, medicine, housing, and so forth to Venezuela are in fact enemies of the Venezuelan people, the question is what must be done about them. But, really, how much of a question can this be? “If this strengthening of alternative revolutionary leadership does not occur, it is likely that reformist trends will end up predominating within the Chavista bureaucracy, pushing for a general agreement with the local bourgeoisie and US imperialism as a way to ‘save and sustain’ the Bolivarian process.”
Indeed, in order to protect Venezuela from US imperialism – which the article concedes will soon undertake “a widespread conspiracy” – it is necessary that the left within the PSUV increase the struggle against the current leadership, which we are told will soon seek a league with the United States.
The article makes clear that the reason the new leadership will seek a league with the United States is not any actual change in their political stance – Chavez, the article implies, though, perhaps from cowardice, refrains from frankly saying, was as much a villainous bureaucrat as Maduro or Cabello – but rather their weakness.
So, in effect, we are being told that Chavez’s chosen heirs, those who are concededly of the same political stance as he, will soon deliver the country to the United States. This belief is only possible for those who ignore completely the entire history of Bolivarian Venezuela’s relations with the United States; Those who do not remember the American sponsored coup of 2002; Those who do not remember Chavez’s remarks about the smell of sulfur attending George Bush at the United Nations; Those who do not remember the solidarity that Venezuela has shown with Cuba and Bolivia. And so on.
The empire has never made any bones about who its enemies were in Bolivarian Venezuela. US Senator Robert Menendez, who chairs the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, took the opportunity of Chavez’s death to declare that the leader had “ruled with an iron hand.” Representative Mike Rogers, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, by way of eulogy for Chavez, called him an obstacle to progress. Meanwhile, the wealthy escualidos in Miami have turned out in the city’s streets alongside their Cuban gusano brethren to celebrate the hero’s death. Here, then, we have a touching unity between the section of the left represented by laguarura.net and the imperialists.
The politics of this is, of course, rotten. Whatever grounds there are for criticizing Chavez – or Maduro and Cabello, whose leadership is so far largely untested – the suggestion that the most effective anti-imperialist course will be to break the unity of the Venezuelan revolutionaries is laughable. While the article insists that “the recent and resounding electoral defeats suffered by the opposition in October and December place the post-Chavez political dispute within Chavismo itself,” the reality is that Chavez’s death forces the country to go to a new presidential election within thirty days. The election will pit Maduro, who was until very recently a relative unknown, against a right-wing contender who, in fact rather than fantasy, won more than 44% of the vote even against the immensely popular Chavez. It would be an act of obvious foolishness not to take the threat posed by this looming election seriously.
Beyond politics, however, we can see here a weakness which is, in itself, enough to prevent this brand of Trotskyism from ever posing a serious political threat to capitalism: The article is completely divorced from the real, human feelings of the Venezuelan working class. The authors of the article see Chavez’s death as their opportunity to seize the leadership of the revolutionary movement he built, and if they had to physically step across his corpse to do so, the only danger would be that they would stumble in their haste. The Venezuelan working class sees the death of their long-time leader as a national tragedy.
It seems that laguarura has the political sense to move slowly in firing the opening shots of this war. Although the January 5 article firmly located Chavez within the ranks of the bureaucratic traitors, the article actually announcing his death refers to him as “our companion Chavez.” Perhaps the force of the workers’ reactions will keep these rats mostly in their holes for the foreseeable future. But the question remains, ‘When they will strike?’, rather than if.
Posted on March 8, 2013, in Venezuela and tagged anti-imperialism, bolivar, bolivarian revolution, castro, chavez, hugo, hugo chavez, imperialism, latin america, marxism, PSUV, revolution, south america, trotskyism, usa, venezuela. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.