Venezuela: The Suspension of the Recall Referendum, the Sharpening of Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries

In the face of right-wing coup efforts, the PSUV must abandon reformist conciliation and radicalize the revolutionary process, argues Lucha de Clases. 


Last Thursday, the criminal courts of Monagas, Carabobo, Aragua and Apure states, among other states, annulled the collection of the 1% of signatures needed to activate a recall referendum, after they upheld claims of electoral fraud which were brought before them in relation to accusations of forgery and identity theft committed during the process. Such a judgement  means that the final step prior to the invocation of a recall referendum, the collection of the signatures of 20% of the electorate, is automatically suspended. The CNE (National Electoral Council) then proceeded to issue a statement in which the suspension of the collection of signatures was ordered across the country.

This has essentially ruled out any possibility of a presidential recall referendum being run this year or next.

In response to this measure, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie and its political representatives of the MUD (United Democratic Roundtable) have publicly accused the Venezuelan government of being a dictatorship, and have denounced  these actions as “a coup carried out by the government of President Maduro against the Constitution”.

As a result, on Sunday 23rd October an extraordinary session of the National Assembly was held, which adopted a resolution declaring that the government had committed a “breach of the constitutional order” and new members were appointed to the CNE and new judges were appointed to the Supreme Court. The National Assembly also discussed the possibility of impeaching  and politically prosecuting President Maduro.

Any declarations and protests by the MUD about the “violation of democratic freedoms” are utterly hypocritical. Those who today speak of a coup by the Government and the overthrow of the Constitution, and those denouncing “before the whole world” the breakup of the democratic order in Venezuela are the same people who supported the fascist coup of April 2002 and who on the 12th April viciously repressed the masses who stood up to the usurpers, jailing and even killing Venezuelan citizens who fought against tyranny, while they themselves dissolved all state powers during the few hours in which they ruled the country.

Indeed, bourgeois democracy is a farce, it is only a thin disguise behind which the dictatorship of capital takes cover. The bourgeoisie defends to the death this “democracy”, whenever and insofar as it allows them to maintain a tight grip on society in order to continue to amass immense fortunes from the exploitation of the working masses. That’s what took place in Venezuela during the 4th Republic.

But when the same game of electoral “democracy” allows the revolutionary forces of society to open a gap in the bourgeois regime, as happened with the arrival of President Chavez to government in 1998, then they put aside their hypocritical defence of democracy, and start to work to defend their privileges with blood, violence and fire, using any anti-democratic and anti-constitutional mechanisms that they deem necessary.

In this regard, the recall referendum is nothing more than the new, primary means by which the bourgeoisie is attempting to regain political power in the country after the failure of the many violent attempts to regain power in the last 17 years, in order to carry out its counterrevolutionary program of dismantling the historic gains made over the course of the revolution by the working class, the peasants and the poor of the country, so as to restore their traditional class privileges.

As is well known, this counterrevolutionary program would inevitably involve the privatisation of the latifundia nationalised by the revolution, the privatisation of all nationalised companies, a drastic reduction in social investment, the privatisation of education and healthcare, mass lay-offs  in the public and private sector, and the freezing of wages and pensions amongst others measures intended to crush the revolution, and we therefore consider the behaviour of some sections of the left who have come out “in defence” of the right to recall the government of president Maduro as utterly absurd.

Clearly the bureaucracy, which now leads the PSUV and which decides the policies of the Bolivarian Government, is far from being revolutionary. On the contrary, it is carrying out a clear policy of class conciliation with the bourgeoisie, to the detriment of the interests of the working class.

However, despite all this, supporting the right to call a recall referendum represents an act of unbelievable stupidity, when it currently constitutes the main political banner of the bourgeoisie and imperialism against the Bolivarian Revolution.

As such we, the Marxist Tendency of the PSUV- Lucha de Clases, distance ourselves from political forces, represented for instance by Nicmer Evans, and organizations like Marea Socialista (Socialist Tide) and the Platform in Defence of the Constitution which, taking their starting point as an ultra-left  opposition to the bureaucracy, have ended up making a common front with the bourgeoisie by defending the slogan of the recall referendum against the Government.

On the other hand it is wholly necessary to hold up the arguments that some sectors of our leadership have utilised  following the suspension of the referendum to revolutionary criticism.

First, it is necessary to explain that during the collection of signatures to recall President Chavez in 2003-2004, the MUD also committed serious crimes of forgery and identity theft. However, at that time the president saw the referendum as an opportunity to inflict a new political defeat on the bourgeoisie and to strengthen the legitimacy of the revolution before the masses.

At that time, the mass movement was rising, i.e., the masses were in a phase of political awakening, increasingly shifting to the left; they were radicalised and their support for the revolution was increasing. Now however the situation is completely different. The movement of the masses is undergoing a serious process of ebb.

The rapid degradation of the material conditions of life of the masses over the past three years, as a result of the economic war and the reformist policies of our leadership, have led to the demoralisation, exhaustion and demobilisation of the working masses of the country, which have always been the political basis of support for the Bolivarian revolution. This was starkly illustrated in the result of the parliamentary elections of December 2015.

On that basis, the holding of the recall referendum would have no doubt meant a tough defeat for the revolution. This is the underlying reason as to why when faced with the fraudulent actions of the MUD regarding the forgery of signatures today, the Government decided to bring the process of the referendum to a halt, in contrast to 2004 when it went ahead.

However, the underlying problem is not legal but political, and cannot therefore be resolved through administrative or legal measures.

Many honest rank and file militants may draw the conclusion that these measures can successfully block a new counter revolutionary attempt to defeat the revolution and take back political power. However, such an assertion would be completely false.

As long as the Bolivarian government keeps its reformist policy of class conciliation, it will be impossible to defeat the economic war. In fact, it is this policy that has allowed the bourgeoisie to step up its economic sabotage and attack working people hard. The raising of the prices of regulated products for example, a measure taken to use higher profit rates to encourage an increased production of these products, far from improving the supply, has favoured the bourgeoisie while the working class is forced to stand in the same queues to pay for regulated products at higher prices. The bourgeoisie is determined to put an end to the revolution. Therefore, no amount of concessions will make them stop sabotaging the production of basic goods – causing more shortages, inflation and speculation – until they have completely broken the social base of the Bolivarian Government.

In that sense, the reformist policy of our government is paving the way for the defeat of the revolution.

Second, the suspension of the referendum will serve as a basis for the most radical sectors of the bourgeoisie to plot new insurrectionary plans against the government. As we have previously explained, the bourgeoisie saw the referendum as its chance to defeat the revolution by bourgeois democratic means. But once that option is ruled out, the fascist sectors of the bourgeoisie will put the question of overthrowing the government, by violent means, on the agenda again.

The session of the National Assembly on Sunday, was in practice the legal and political prelude to the new insurrectionary plan of the MUD against the government. In addition to the points set out at the beginning of this statement, the resolution of the National Assembly also makes an appeal for foreign intervention in Venezuela, through the International Criminal Court and other international bourgeois institutions. It also issues a formal call to the Armed Forces to ignore the mandate of executive power and the other powers of the state. The opposition also called for an opposition march on Wednesday, October 26,  to go all the way to Miraflores palace. There is no doubt that a new coup will be attempted by the bourgeoisie in the coming days.

A serious threat hangs over the Bolivarian revolution. As long as the reformist policies of class conciliation is maintained, there is no way out of the current economic situation, and as long as that is not solved, the process of demoralisation of the masses will deepen to a dangerous degree, leading inevitably the revolution to defeat in the near future.

Only the radicalisation of the revolution, through the expropriation of the bourgeoisie under workers’ control and the dismantling of the bourgeois state, can offer a real way out to the economic war, defeating the bourgeoisie once and for all. Faced with this new coup plan, the working class must take a step forward to definitely radicalising the revolution. Committees against the coup should be organised in all unions, factories, neighborhoods, universities and in the countryside. These committees must link up at a local, regional and national level, through elected and recallable delegates, accountable to the rank and file in order develop a revolutionary plan of action against the economic war. Worker’s control must be applied in the companies which are participating in the economic sabotage, bakeries should be occupied along with supplies stores, warehouses and other shops that are participating in acts of smuggling, hoarding and speculation so that products that are distributed are sold to the communities at fair prices. At the same time the merchandise of black marketeers and smugglers must be confiscated and other revolutionary measures should be taken against the economic sabotage, smuggling and speculation. The time has come to radicalise the revolution, failure to do so will mean to open the doors of the country to the triumph of the counterrevolution.

  • Enough conciliation, time for radicalisation!
  • Radicalise the revolution is the only way out!
  • Expropriation of the bourgeoisie under workers control!