Hector Navarro: Critical Revolutionary Voices Must Reach the National Assembly

Ex-minister and leftwing Chavista dissident Hector Nevarro discusses the current economic and political crisis in Venezuela. Critiquing the corruption and lack of self-criticism marring the PSUV leadership, he calls for the Venezuelan people to send critical, revolutionary delegates to the National Assembly. 


Note from the interviewers Carlos Carcione and Lucero Benítez of the party Marea Socialista. 

We interviewed the professor Hector Navarro and the National Assembly spokesperson Ana Elisa Osorio, both former ministers of President Chavez and ex-members of the PSUV’s National  Leadership Council. Navarro was “thrown out” without the right to a defense or a party hearing for exercising his right to dissent, while Ana Elisa is presently being ignored [by the party]. They are both, along with other political figures, currently driving the Platform for Public and Citizen Audit against the Embezzlement of the Nation. We spoke about the current crisis and the situation of the PSUV in the upcoming National Assembly elections.

Below is the interview with Hector Navarro. The interview with Ana Elisa Osorio is forthcoming.

What is your understanding of the current conjuncture? 

I would say that we are in the midst of a very important crisis, which is the result of two economic factors and one political factor that I will mention later on.

The first is a global capitalist crisis. There is an indubitable crisis of the structure of capital, the logic of capital is ceasing to be functional. The speed of capital accumulation through financial speculation is much grater than the production of wealth. Also, technology is permitting the circulation of great capital masses without them being a viable representation of wealth produced. This is why we have the situation of a global, a world crisis. 

The idea of economic growth in itself is an absurd notion, given that an economy cannot grow indefinitely, and that cannot be the objective. Leftist government and leftist economists have fallen in this trap when they set down the need to grow the economy, without taking into account that growth is not the same thing as development…we have to develop in order to satisfy our needs. 

Developed countries are those that can guarantee their people access to all goods and services, including those of a spiritual kind.

That’s one side, on a global level.

The second factor to take into account, in the framework I mentioned earlier, is the crisis of our rentier model, which is a model that has been exhausted. It is a method of accumulation that does not only have economic results, but it also affects the mentality on the people, or a cultural level.

The revolution fell into the trap of its own method of accumulation. Independently of whether Hugo Chavez was able to reroute important amounts of petroleum wealth to cancel out social debt, he could not control it in its entirety. The revolution captured the rent, but it did not generate wealth.

Additionally, thanks to the victory that raised petroleum prices, we raised our expenses to be on par. That accustomed us to having expensive habits, and in difficult moments of low oil prices such as now, it is supremely difficult to reduce costs, and more so to adapt to those reductions.

This rentier model castrates people’s initiatives for production [a phenomenon known in English as Dutch Disease.] Part of our tragedy is that the industries were created are paralyzed today. We used to be able to buy products made in Venezuela and now we can’t, so something definitely happened there…

It is these factors that are exploding at this moment, to which a third factor is added- the political factor. Something that Jorge Giordani calls the problem of hegemony. I believe we have lost hegemony.

The National Leadership Council of the PSUV at this time, according to what I’ve heard, has not met for 18 weeks. Chavez used to demand that the party meet weekly, and would even go so far as to check each person’s attendance.

And so this is the third element. The crisis of hegemony, the political aspect, the organization of the party. That which has not developed a collective direction for the process and for popular power, which functions democratically. The consequence of this is that leadership has no political backing from the bases, and this is creating significant fatigue.

These three factors have coincided to produce our misfortune, and that of the Bolivarian revolution.

The exhaustion of the rentier model in Venezuela has also produced important psychological effects, one of which being that people in the street are dissatisfied. Hugo Chavez bequeathed something very important to us, he left a political stock in the people. Chavez is still alive in people.

In that sense, Chavez was at the same time the strength and weakness of the revolution.

Do you believe that the National Leadership Council of the PSUV is conscious of the situation you’ve just described?

It is part of the hegemonic crisis. My way of looking at it is through another problem that is fundamental in reaching the conclusions I’ve just drawn.

I have data from the CEPAL [Economic Commission for Latin America] which shows that between 2006 to 2014 there was a transfer of capital from inside Venezuela to overseas amounting to 200 billion dollars. This figure corresponds with those we have arrived at from our Platform for Public and Citizen Audit, as well as declarations made by Edmee Betancourt and information managed by Jorge Giordani.

There is a deficit of the political. The impositions of the National Assembly candidates [ie. without public primaries], the fact that people such as Ricardo Sanchez can become a candidate for deputy, has caused great discomfort in party youth and at the bases.

I remember that Hugo Chavez, somewhere around 2011 shortly after the founding of the party [in 2008], told us that there had been capitalist digressions in the heart of the party, and that there was underway what he himself defined as a process political corruption.

The National Leadership [of the PSUV] and Nicolas Maduro, with actions such as those we have seen during the National Assembly primaries, go against the party’s democracy… and that is a step backwards.

Corruption is not only manifested economically, but also politically. After all, corruption is part of the rentier model, and part of the logic of capital. It is not that I am ignoring the presence of an economic war, because I believe that there is one being promoted by imperialism and from within the institutions. The question is that they are doing the economic war a favor from the inside. One example is the scandals of CADIVI and the General Barroso, who was not investigated but rather put at the front of other institutions. Nepotism inside the PSUV and inside the government adds itself to this problem [the economic war].

Of what importance do you think the upcoming National Assembly elections will be?

In the middle of this situation I have just described, there is a “jump forward, jump back” motion acted out by president Nicolas Maduro. I believe there are advisors misguiding the president, with the intention of ending the revolution from the inside. This is the circumstance in which we are closing in on the next electoral period.

In that sense, we must recognize the importance the National Assembly has, and how much depends on it. The results will be as important for the government as they are for the revolution, in that this time the government runs a higher risk of losing.

Chavez, who was there to accompany all the campaigns of those candidates for the National Assembly, and who mobilized people, is no longer here.

If we were to fall directly into the hands of the Right- because I believe we are already partly in the hands of the Right- it would be a grave step back. I prefer this government to a government of Maria Corina Machado, Leopoldo Lopez, or Capriles Radonski.

But at the same time, it would seem that the revolution does not want to win these elections, as a result of the digressions which have sprung up and not only play a role in the revolution, but are currently putting the government at risk, as I mentioned earlier.

When faced with this change of course of the government and the party, what should revolutionaries do?

The debate is not about socialism at this time, that is a battle we have lost. Part of the calamity we are in is that we have lost track of those discussions, of socialism. The PSUV leadership has been responsible here, for not accepting critique.

No official media outlet is making critiques, but on the other hand the right-wing media do so with the intention of taking advantage of the situation. And those who have criticisms do not wish to go to a right-wing outlet in order to do so. In this sense, Aporrea [community media forum aporrea.org] is one of the only spaces left where this is possible.

In regards to your question, I consider that during times like these, it is necessary to turn to our subjectivity. It is important to do so to sanction corrupt officials, seek out those responsible, and overcome corruption.

It is necessary to create a trench from which we can combat corruption and confront the traditional imperialist right wing. We must abolish it. The Chavista people must recognize those that have a genuine revolutionary vision, critical and independent, and through them have a voice in the National Assembly. 

Translated by Venezuelanalysis.com